Banks sat back in his seat and folded his hands on top of his desk. Artemis was still leaning forward slightly as he awaited Banks' diagnosis. This should be interesting.

"I think you find my diagnosis rather disappointing, Artemis. If you are dysfunctional in an interesting way, I have yet to see it. Playing mind games is an annoying symptom of your own boredom, rather than a marked pathology," Banks said.

Artemis blinked. "Are you implying that there's nothing wrong with me?" His tone was curious rather than accusatory.

Banks shrugged. "I could give you a more comprehensive diagnosis if you felt inclined to tell me about yourself. However, from what I've seen from you, you don't appear to have any conventional pathology, aside from being very young and highly intelligent. That is most certainly a problem for those around you, but nothing that can really be cured, per say. I could suggest behavioural modification therapy, but something tells me you probably wouldn't go for that."

Artemis gave an unpleasant sort of smile. The suggestion didn't even warrant a vocal response.

"Of course," Banks continued, "being as intelligent as you are, I'm sure you're more than capable of hiding any pathology or dysfunction. Trying to prove the absence of something is unscientific and extremely difficult. The onus of proof is on finding the presence of something," the psychiatrist finished.

Artemis nodded, but his eyes still held scepticism and suspicion.

"Don't be disheartened," Banks continued, "you are still very special in your own way." The doctor's tone was completely serious.

Artemis' eyes widened in sheer disbelief. "Did you just attempt to tell me that I'm 'special' in the manner one would address a three year old?"

"You know, sometimes it's better to laugh at yourself than to choke on your indignation," Banks suggested. "Your expression led me to think that you were dissatisfied with my diagnosis, so I was merely attempting to reassure you."

Artemis paused for a few moments while he resisted the urge to glower.

"It merely comes as a surprise to me that you would diagnose me as being essentially sane. I have had many individuals give me all sorts of interesting labels. This is certainly a novelty and almost a shock," Artemis explained.

"A lot of individuals don't like to admit that the problem is that their patient is smarter than them and enjoys being difficult," Banks conceded with a smile.

"I'm not the only individual in this room who enjoys being difficult," Artemis replied mildly.

Banks shrugged again. "It was the only way I would receive even a hint of credibility in your eyes. Some patients are sceptical about my field. Such individuals often need to be challenged before they'll engage in any way."

Artemis considered the diagnosis and frowned. "If you don't think there's anything wrong with me, will you concede the inherent pointlessness of further 'treatment', doctor?" he enquired.

Banks smiled. "Believe it or not, it helps to talk to someone who's being paid to listen and be confidential, non-judgemental and professional. In my experience almost everyone has something that would benefit from discussion. We are vain and self absorbed creatures who seek meaning in the events of our lives. Getting to know one's self is one of the most worth while things a person can do. As Plato himself wrote, 'a life unexamined is a life unlived.'"

"I am familiar with Plato, although the translation that I have read is 'the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being'."

"Mine has more of a ring to it."

Artemis sniffed.

Banks sighed. "I'm not going to pretend that this isn't a bias opinion. I'm a psychiatrist. Naturally I'm going to believe in the merits of my profession. Obviously I think that everyone should attend sessions and that psychology should be compulsory in schools. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle."

"How clichéd," said Artemis.

Banks shrugged. "That doesn't diminish the argument, just my communication skills."

Artemis sighed. "Why would I need treatment from others who, frankly speaking, are beneath me?"

"Firstly remember what I told you about uniqueness and equality? Some professionals are bound to know more about psychiatry than you and–"

"Professionals like you?" Artemis cut in with a patronising little smile.

Banks shrugged again. "It's certainly possible."

Artemis frowned again.

"You see," Banks continued, "the other reason is that you're too close to yourself. An outside perspective may be of some help."

Artemis frowned. "Then where does that leave these sessions, if continued treatment is merely your personal opinion of something which may be good for me?"

Banks' expression became serious. "I'm happy to sign on the dotted line and give you a nice big 'sane' stamp. That should satisfy your school. But as soon as you start acting out, you'll be back with me, or more likely, someone who hasn't written you off as fine."

Artemis knew that 'acting out' was not a habit that he was going to suppress. He would not suffer fools and if that meant pointing out a teacher's faults or mistakes in front of the class, then so be it. If there was pressing business to attend to during school hours, then school would always be a second priority. Eventually one of his teachers would complain and a behavioural or personality disorder would be blamed. Then the cycle would continue again. Ad infinitum. Artemis sighed.

Banks gave his patient an appraising look. "Off the record, you could always keep up your sessions here, treatment notwithstanding. You could even take up my offer of perusing the bookshelf. They couldn't send you to yet another psychiatrist if you're already seeing me."

"A highly effective smoke screen and it certainly wouldn't do your paycheque any harm either," Artemis pointed out. His smile took the edge off his words.

"I'm only thinking of the wellbeing of my patient," Banks smirked.

Artemis snorted.

It was a tempting offer, but… "I think I'd rather take that 'nice big sane stamp', thank you," said Artemis.

Banks sighed. "Well, if you ever feel the desire to talk…"

Artemis gave a genuine sort of smile. "You'll be the first to know."

Banks blinked. Then he inclined his head. "Thank you, Artemis."

Artemis shrugged.

"I'll have a certificate drawn up for you. I assume you'll want to hand it over to the principal in person," Banks stated with a wry smile.

"You read my mind, doctor."

Artemis was still smiling when he left the room, but it had become somewhat more sardonic. After all, this was the final battle in their war and Artemis had won. It was an unconventional victory, but a victory nonetheless.

He had revealed nothing significant to Banks and had still managed to acquire professional certification of his sanity. This meant that instead of having a new succession of psychiatrists, or worse yet psychologists, to break, he had a few months of relative freedom before his school created a new ultimatum and forced him to seek another professional.

Artemis decided that he would continue to retire incompetent counsellors when the opportunity presented itself, but the competent professionals would be spared. Such individuals would recognise that there was nothing for them to cure and report back to the school that he was essentially sane. This way he would have periods of respite without well-intentioned and pointless interruption.

It wasn't as if he had spared Banks out of any sense of humanitarianism, or even respect, it was just neater and more efficient this way. Artemis was nothing if not efficient.


The End

Thank you, all