Entering this fandom peacefully, with my dear Rodriguez and our goodly Muraken in about four hundred words. The review rate isn't high here, so I won't worry exactly if I don't get anything, but it would be nice to hear back. This piece is, if about anything, about a love of details.


"Christine."

The name came out only as a whisper, but he had promised himself he wouldn't say it at all.

Rodriguez had his office door open a crack, and was peeking out like a nervous schoolboy at the family of three sitting on the blue waiting-room chairs, and trying to get the lump out of his throat. "Hhhah." He turned away from the door, swung his arms into the air, paced to the large wooden desk that dominated the room, and sat on it; then made his Wing Zero action figure bounce across the desk's surface. He whistled out a few sound effects. He shot down an imaginary Epyon suit. He took deep breaths.

He had gone a long way out of his way to have this patient, all the way from Japan, a long way from where he usually practiced—but, after all, this patient in particular was his business to take care of. He had appropriate degrees in pediatric psychology, and Bob had pulled a string or so to help make sure that this family came over the ocean to this doctor with their son's problems. The receptionist's voice came through the door, rather deadened by the wood, announcing the doctor's readiness. So now the boy would be getting up from between his parents, crossing the waiting room's ugly carpet alone. Let me talk to him man to man, without you listening: it will foster trust, he had told the parents. Which was quite true. No child would trust you, if you wanted the other grown-ups around to back you up against him. The door opened. The brief figure that had opened it paused on the threshold, hand still on the doorknob, staring at the strange, dark-faced doctor with an action figure.

"José Rodriguez," said the little boy with the wide, guarded eyes and the gently curling hair, and then his round face got a doubtful look, as if he had said something he shouldn't, and he swung the door sharply closed behind him.

"Ah," said Rodriguez, and he smiled. "You do remember." The boy's large eyes went larger, and he didn't let go of the door. "It's probably still all confused, right, Ken-kun?" Not Christine. Never Christine again. Never really Christine at all, some people would have said. But she had been real, and this boy, this solemn little boy whose parents thought he was insane, was real now. "Would you like to sit down and talk it out with me?"