Disclaimer: See Chapter 1.
Dedication: This chapter is dedicated to Ivy and Blue. I miss you both.
Author Notes: Sorry for the ridiculous delay; I actually forgot I hadn't posted this chapter yet...and I was dreading doing it. Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this experimentation of mine, I know it's been slow paced, so thanks for sticking with it. It has been very interesting seeing people's different reactions. This is the final instalment in the 'Therapy' series; I hope you've enjoyed it.
Side note: I read somewhere that the suffix address for doctors was '-senpai', if this is wrong, my sincere apologies. It's too complicated to go back and change it all now if I made a mistake.
Read and review.
Session 4 – Group Therapy
"Excuse me, do you have an appointment?" A polite voice inquires, the barest hint of unease lurking behind its professionalism.
"Oh, I think Tetsuo will see me." A younger voice growls darkly.
"Tetsuo-senpai is with a client, you can't just-!"
A door is kicked viciously open and then slammed shut, cutting off the protests.
A moment of shocked silence.
"It seems I have an unscheduled visitor." A surprised voice remarks. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this interruption?"
"N-Natsuki…?" a stunned Kyoto-accented voice whispers.
"You!" Snarls the angry voice in a distinctly accusing tone, clearly missing the whisper and indeed, the presence of another person in the room. "Leave Shizuru the hell alone!"
"I beg your pardon?"
"You damn well-" The brash younger voice stalls and falters. "Sh-Shizuru?" Horrified; "O-oi! Get away from her, grandma! Hit on someone your own age!"
"Ah. You must be Miss Natsuki." The older voice is deceptively calm.
There is a rustling as someone stands and footsteps making their way towards the door.
"Hey, don't try to run away from me!"
The protest is ignored.
"Ms. Saki there is no need to contact the police, but please ensure that if my two o'clock arrives early they are told I am slightly behind schedule and will be with them as soon as possible. Make sure they are provided with enough refreshments."
"…O-of course, Tetsuo-senpai."
Warmly; "My thanks, Ms. Saki. I knew I could rely on your assistance."
The door is gently closed.
An awkward silence, then finally the older voice steps in;
"What exactly is it I can do for you, Miss Natsuki? As you can see, Miss Shizuru and I are in the middle of a private session."
"Oh yeah, I bet you are." The younger voice is laced with bitterness.
"Good. Well, if you have nothing of importance to say I think you should go outside and wait until Miss Shizuru's appointment has finished." The still-calm voice adroitly ignores the insinuation.
"You think," the angry voice begins, its volume rising to a yell; "that I'm going to leave you alone with Shizuru to do God knows what to her?! I won't let you hurt her anymore!"
There is a quiet rush of air as someone moves quickly and then a slight rustle of clothing as though someone is being held tightly.
"Shi-Shizuru!" The brash voice loses its rage, stuttering as though its owner is blushing profusely.
"Natsuki should not be rude to Tetsuo-senpai. She has been very kind to me."
"Ara, I am flattered that Natsuki was so concerned for me that she thought to confront Tetsuo-senpai." This time there is an edge of teasing. "My cute, brave protector." A blissful sigh of happiness.
The younger voice sounds utterly mortified. "Shizuru!"
"I believe Miss Natsuki, that you have grossly misunderstood the situation." The older voice interjects patiently.
"Like hell I have…" Grumbled the noticeably-less-angry voice.
"I am a psychologist. Miss Shizuru is my client. That is all." A frosty note enters the voice. "And I most certainly am not taking advantage of Miss Shizuru in any fashion." The frost hardens into ice. "Aside from the moral and ethical restrictions of such a relationship, I am quite happily married."
"Married?!" Shock disbelief colours the voice. Then, a beat after, more softly as though speaking to itself; "-Wait, did he mention that…?"
Somewhat dryly, the older voice responds; "So my spouse delights in reminding me. With surprising frequency."
"But-but she's been acting weirdly…and looking really upset…" More quietly; "…even avoiding me…" Then more loudly; "A-AND that was always after seeing you."
"Natsuki, I…" The elegant voice sounds pained and helpless to explain.
A sigh goes unheard by the two younger voices.
"It seems there is no help for it." Murmurs the older voice, as though to itself and then more loudly steps in, stemming the tide of fumbling sentences forming; "Are you familiar with the concept of 'projecting', Miss Natsuki?"
"What?" The confusion is clear.
"It is a commonly used Freudian term describing the attribution of one's own emotional state or attitudes onto others' behaviour."
"And what does that have to do with me."
"Why don't you tell me." A pause. "Why was the first conclusion you leapt to when you discovered Miss Shizuru's sessions with me, one of a romantic or sexual nature?"
"I-that's, I mean, you can't-ah, well-"
The spluttering continues for several long seconds.
"Would I be correct in deducing that it is you who have a romantic attachment to Miss Shizuru? That you are attracted to her and therefore assume others would share that attraction?"
A low gasp.
"N-Natsuki?" The Kyoto-ben sounds frail and almost tremulous.
"It is nothing to be ashamed of, Miss Natsuki. On the contrary, in this case I would submit that the truth would be extremely beneficial for all parties concerned."
"Shut up dammit! Just-just shut up!"
"Perhaps you should see a doctor yourself about those bags under your eyes, Miss Natsuki. You appear quite worse the wear…having difficulty sleeping?" The older voice is light and casual, despite the unrelenting barrage of words it's unleashing. "Stress is most commonly the underlying factor behind insomnia, did you know? That, or a fear of sleeping." Musingly; "I wonder…perhaps you've been having some…troubling…dreams lately…?"
"How do you know about those." The barely leashed horror threatens to engulf the suddenly hoarse voice.
"So I am correct?"
"HOW DID YOU KNOW!?" Roars the voice furiously.
"Natsuki, please…" Begs the elegant voice.
Silence, except for the harsh and rapid breathing of a single person.
"What…what's happening to me…" The no-longer angry, but broken-sounding voice whispers. "Why does it hurt…"
"Natsuki." The Kyoto-ben is pained.
"Well, it appears I have little choice. Miss Natsuki, if you ah, and Miss Shizuru would seat yourselves, I believe we should get to the heart of this matter. That is, if Miss Shizuru has no objections?"
"Of course not Tetsuo-senpai."
A tense silence falls as there comes the twin sounds of furniture softly creaking at new weight.
"Ah, Miss Shizuru…" The older voice is hesitant and yet trying to hide its amusement.
"Yes, Tetsuo-senpai?" The innocent tone brings to mind unmelted butter in the speaker's mouth.
"Is it…really necessary to sit that…closely to Miss Natsuki?"
"Mou, I did not know Tetsuo-sensei would be so cruel as to deny my Natsuki the comfort of my…body." The teasing purr is obvious.
There is a loud, high-pitched yelp, as though a startled puppy has been stood on.
"Now, now Natsuki, I may accidentally fall on you if you don't stop moving…"
Somehow the light-hearted teasing gradually relieves the room of its almost-painful tension.
Dead-pan; "Well, if both of you are quite comfortable…" A polite pause. "In that case, I have a question for Miss Natsuki."
"What." The tone radiates subdued hostility.
"Forgive me for asking Miss Natsuki, but may I enquire about your home situation? Do you live with your parents?"
"What has that got to do with anything!"
"Natsuki, please cooperate with Tetsuo-senpai…"
A tired sigh.
"…Fine." A short breath. "My mother…died…when I was six. Happy?"
"I am sorry for your loss, Miss Natsuki."
A cynical snort.
"And your father?"
"It's alright Natsuki…" Whispers a soft voice lovingly.
"He…he left afterwards. Found another woman. I don't know if they were seeing each other before she died."
"I see. What happened then? Who looked after you?"
"I don't need anyone to look after me! I can take care of myself!"
"I don't doubt your ability to do so now, but back then you were only a child. All children need love, care and attention. They need adults to protect them as well."
"Well I didn't! I got along without him just fine!"
"Are you though?"
"All this anger, all this pain…are you truly 'fine', Miss Natsuki? Or is this precisely what is causing you heartache now?"
"You don't know what the hell you're talking-"
"Tell me Miss Natsuki, how many people you've cared for since both your parents left? How many friends you've had? How many people have loved you? How many people you've loved?"
"Shut up! I have friends –Mai and Mikoto! And I have Shizuru!"
"So you do." The calm voice agrees. "I believe you love Miss Shizuru a great deal, do you not?"
"That's none of your damn business!"
"On the contrary, you have made it my business. Bursting in on a private session in such a disrespectful manner, flinging accusations of gross misconduct carelessly around without thought to the consequences. You have stepped into my realm, therefore you must abide by my rules. And unfortunately, they include getting to the heart of this 'damn business'." A fortifying breath. "Now. It doesn't take much to see that you seem to be very reluctant to acknowledge emotional attachment to others-"
"I don't know what you-"
"More distressingly, you even seem to have difficulty in recognising your own emotions. No, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that you refuse to recognise them." A thoughtful pause. "To be fair, that is not through any fault of your own, however. The absence of stable parental influence is most likely the cause. You appear to believe separating yourself from your emotions protects you from being hurt by people, am I close?"
A speechless silence.
"It is not healthy to be so disconnected from your emotions. Humans are social creatures, Miss Natsuki, much the same as wolves, chimpanzees and dolphins. Even rats need social interactions, despite people's misconceptions about them. They all need to feel, need to care and they need to love –it ensures the survival of their species, you see? It makes them stronger; gives them the purpose and strength they need to fight -to survive."
"You're crazy." The words are spoken with flat conviction.
A deep, controlled sigh.
"You miss my point. Feeling emotion –feeling love– is not a weakness as you seem to perceive it." A barely audible intake of breath. "The love you feel for Shizuru makes you stronger."
"I love Shizuru as a friend!"
There is an awkward, pained pause.
"I see. You have two other friends you mentioned, did you not?"
"Ah, uh yeah?" The younger voice seems confused by the switch in focus. "Mai and Mikoto."
"Well then you must love them the same as you do, Miss Shizuru, isn't that correct? After all, they are your friends."
"I-well, I mean no, not exactly…" The younger voice sounds uneasy at the way its logic is being used against it.
"Indeed? That is intriguing. Might you explain why not?"
A resentful silence.
"Please, Miss Natsuki. Humour me."
"…Just…it's…Shizuru…she –she sees me." A sharp bark of unamused laughter. "I can't…ever…hide anything from her. It's like she, well…I mean…" The verbal fumblings become even more stilted; "It's calm. Around her. I can…breathe. Relax. Even when she, ah, teases me…I know…I know, she's always…got my back." Hushed; "She…is my precious person…"
"Natsuki…" The usually serene younger voice sounds muffled, as though its owner is pressing their face against something –or someone. "…is also my precious person."
A few moments pass, until the older voice cuts in, politely ignoring the moment.
"And what of your other friends?"
"Hmh? Oh. They're…fun. Make me laugh. They've…helped…me a lot and I can trust them to watch my back. I…I like hanging out with them."
"I see. That seems to be quite a dramatic difference in emotion, wouldn't you say Miss Natsuki?"
"Whatever." The younger voice feigns indifference.
"In fact, I believe I would go so far to say that it is probably the strongest positive feeling you have held for another person since your parents -am I close?"
The calm voice continues as though a proper reply has been given. "But regardless, your mind still labelled her as a 'friend' didn't it?"
"She is my friend!" The indifference cracks.
The older voice placidly ignores the outburst. "And therefore I would conclude that the emotions you felt for her were also labelled 'friend'."
"I love Shizuru as a friend!"
"No Miss Natsuki. You are in love with Shizuru, who is your friend. You already know this. Why else would you be concerned with whom Miss Shizuru associates herself, especially assuming her intentions were of a romantic nature."
"N-Natsuki…I…You…?" The voice is laced with confusion and tremulous hope.
A longer silence.
"…I...that's…Shizuru…I'm…I'm so sorry…I didn't…I didn't mean to hurt you…"
There come the sounds of harsh, trembling breathing, as though someone is trying to choke down some strong emotion.
"Don't cry, Natsuki." The Kyoto-ben is filled with awestruck joy. "Please don't cry. I-" The voice cracks for a moment. "I love Natsuki too. So very much."
"Don't…don't leave Shizuru! Please don't ever leave me…I d-don't want anyone to leave me a-again…I-I" Then, in barely a whisper; "I love you."
For a moment, it seems as the entire room pauses, not a breath nor sound disturbs it.
Then there is a shaky exhalation, close to a sob, or perhaps a laugh.
"Natsuki." The Kyoto drawl utters softly, the wonder and joy coming across clearly despite only voicing a single word.
"I love y-you, Shizuru." The younger voice repeats, sounding stronger, despite the shakiness disrupting its speech. "Just, just don't l-leave me…"
"I will never leave Natsuki by choice." The steel in the tone doesn't seem to be directed at anyone in particular, but is still clearly a solemn vow nonetheless. The harsh breathing seems to increase in frequency, though now relief colours the sounds.
"I– need to…use the bathroom…" The younger voice finally stammers after several long minutes, obviously embarrassed by the display of 'weakness'.
"Of course, you'll find it past the reception and on your first left. Ask Ms. Saki if you are unsure." The older voice volunteers.
"Does Natsuki wish me to accompany her?" A note of anxiety present in the deceptively placid voice.
"I'm okay Shizuru. I'm not going to run away either." A shaky smile is almost audible in the younger voice.
"Ara, Natsuki is so innocent…" A seductive purr teases.
"Hmh? Why else would you want to come-?! Eh!? O-oi, Shizuru!!" The voice shouts loudly, the tears forgotten for a moment. "N-not in front of…" It trails off.
"But of course, my Natsuki. Later would be more…private…after all…"
"S-Shizuru!" Yelps the voice again, promptly stumbling noisily out the room and slamming the door.
A chuckle is released, the sound one of pure happiness.
"Well, it appears Miss Natsuki provides you with much more sport than I do." Notes the older voice, somewhat dryly.
"Ara –is Tetsuo-sensei jealous?"
"Ah, you have found me out Miss Shizuru." The voice dead-pans drolly, then continues more seriously; "It is good to see you really smile." A pause. "Can you believe that you are truly forgiven now? Do you believe Miss Natsuki could really love a monster who delights in causing people pain? Who is not deserving of forgiveness?"
"…No. Natsuki couldn't."
"You must also forgive yourself, Miss Shizuru. It is clear Miss Natsuki will be a source of great support you in the weeks to come, but I believe it is still important –now more so than before, perhaps– for you to continue your sessions with me." The voice suggests sincerely. "Insecurities do not disappear over night. Nor does guilt. You must learn to control and channel the strength of your emotion; to not make the same mistakes again."
"You…are correct, Tetsuo-senpai."
A reflective silence.
"Oh, and Miss Shizuru?"
"Be gentle with Miss Natsuki. Blushing so much must be detrimental to one's health."
"Mou, Tetsuo-senpai ikezu…" Pouts the younger voice mischievously.
The door opens.
"Tetsuo-senpai was being cruel to me, Natsuki…"
"Yeah right." Snorts the younger voice cynically, sounding much calmer.
There is a cautious knock at the door.
"Yes?" Calls the composed voice.
The door slowly swings open again.
"Ms. Saki? Is there a problem?"
"I didn't want to interrupt you, Tetsuo-senpai…but you've overrun by thirty-five minutes –and Yoyuki-san is getting ah, difficult to put off." The prim voice turns a bit disdainful. "Especially after she saw, ah, this young lady leave and enter again…."
"Our apologies for taking up so much of your time, Tetsuo-senpai." Interjects the smooth Kyoto drawl. "We will let you get on with your day. Natsuki? Wasn't there something you wished to say to Tetsuo-senpai?"
"Natsuki." Behind the playfulness lies a warning.
"Sorry for barging in like that." A pause. "And calling you 'grandma'."
"Apology accepted. But please, next time if you feel the desire to visit me, make an appointment beforehand."
"It was very nice to meet you too, Miss Natsuki. Miss Shizuru, I believe we made important progress today. Please make an appointment with Ms. Saki on your way out."
"Ookini Tetsuo-senpai. For everything."
"Take care, both of you. Ms. Saki –see them to the door and then show Mrs. Yoyuki in when I call for her, please."
"Of course, Tetsuo-senpai."
The closes finally, leaving the room in silence.
"Good luck Miss Shizuru…" The older voice murmurs softly.
Rather abruptly, a harsh ringing of a telephone breaks the mood.
"Ah, I was wondering when you were going to contact me. Mr. Yamada, wasn't it?" The voice sounds vaguely cautious. "I must confess, this has all been highly irregular, not to mention bordering dangerously on breach of practice."
A surprisingly undignified snort follows.
"Yes, well I wasn't presented with much alternative by your…associates…was I?"
"Yes, she came here. Though I was led to believe you would contact me when she was ready to confront me."
A dry laugh.
"Ah, well that would explain a great deal."
An even drier laugh.
"Yes, she made quite an…entrance. What exactly was it you said to her? She appeared quite ready to throttle me."
A frustrated sigh.
"No, of course I didn't let Ms. Saki call the police."
"Not at all, Mr. Yamada. However, I must insist that you leave me and my affairs well enough alone from this point forward. I cannot afford to have such shady people connected to my practice. Keeping my therapist's licence as technically a foreigner is difficult enough without drawing unwarranted suspicion to myself."
A surprised laugh.
"Yes, she was a bit perturbed by my 'perceptiveness' -your information was invaluable. I was surprised at how easy it was to read her, however. I imagine she must be a poor poker player."
Pause, then slowly; "You must care for her a great deal."
Longer pause, then somewhat kindly; "I see. I am afraid the details of the session are strictly confidential, Mr. Yamada…but yes. She looked very happy. They both did."