"You don't have to be so tense, Bolin. Relax. These chairs are overstuffed for a reason. I've had patients fall asleep on me before there," Dr. Qin said. Bolin stopped twiddling his thumbs and gave an uneasy grin.
"Yeah, right, sorry, Doc."
"You don't have any reason to apologize, Bolin. What're you thinking about? What's on your mind right now."
"Well, uh, I've heard stuff. You know, things. About docs. Like you."
"What have you heard?"
"That you get into people's minds and use your super-secret training to control them to act accord to your whim, and that you and your colleagues are fighting a super-secret shadow war that is bent on taking over the United Republic from within, as many famous, rich, and powerful people all see shrinks," Bolin admitted. Dr. Qin blinked, smirked, started writing on his pad. Bolin started to shiver and shirk away from Dr. Qin. Dr. Qin's hands shook, then snorted, and then burst into laughter. Bolin let out a few nervous 'heh's', himself, now frightened.
"I'm sorry, Bolin, but that's a new one," Dr. Qin admitted, "I mean, patients tell me all sorts of things about being nervous with seeing a psychologist. But that was a new one. Where…Where did you hear that?"
"A…Buddy of mine. Ex-Triad," he gulped, "You're not gonna tell Mako I still hang out with Shin, are you? I mean, I've known the guy since I was a kid, and he's not doing so great these days, and-"
Dr. Qin held up his hand, "Bolin, everything you say here is under strict confidentiality. I would lose my Doctorate if I told anyone."
"Anything? What if I told you that I'd murdered someone?" Bolin raised an eyebrow, "Or that I'd heard super secret state secrets, that I can't tell to ANYONE under the most dire of circumstances, but I just can't! Keep! Them! On! My! Chest!" Bolin was standing and clutching his shirt.
"The only circumstances I could tell anyone anything, including that you were one of my patients, was if I thought your life, or the life of someone else, was in danger, and even then, there's only so much I could say to the authorities," Dr. Qin explained, "And no, Bolin. I'm not fighting a shadow war with the intent to take over the government."
"Oh. Good. So long as you're honest about it," Bolin sat back down.
"You mentioned your friend, Shin. Who's Mako?"
"Oh, right. Mako, he's my brother. He's a firebender. He's handsome, cool, charming, you know. Perfect at everything."
"He's got a job as a Police Officer now, and what am I doing? His old job! Leading the Fire Ferrets! I'm not even doing well at that! The only record the Fire Ferrets hold, is quickest loss!" Bolin groaned, pacing across the room, "And…And he! He had the most amazing girlfriend, you know? Smart, pretty, super rich, smart, did I say she was pretty?"
"You mentioned it."
"Yeah! And you know what he does? He dumps her for Korra, who I was interested in! That he knew I was pursuing! I mean, it's bad enough he's good at everything as it is!"
"It seems that you don't agree with his choices, and you resent his success."
"Yeah! He's got everything, and I'm stuck with whatever he discards!" Bolin sat back in the fluffy chair with a soft 'fwump.'
"I understand that you two are orphans? Did you have anyone raising you?"
"No, it was just me and him. Coupla street kids. Nothing from our parents, just a scarf. That he got. But Mako…He kept us fed. Kept us alive. I love him, he's my brother, and I'm grateful that he's been there for me for so long, but…"
Bolin rested his arms against his knees.
"We're still making our own way, and I'm still following him. I want to lead the Fire Ferrets, and do a good job, but I don't know how to lead my team. Or even put one together. I didn't get any advice, and I'm afraid to ask."
"Why is that?"
Bolin snorted, "'Cuz Mako's gonna be like, 'Bolin, weren't you listening? You gotta do this! You gotta do that! No you're doing it wrong, nyeh nyeh nyeh!' I'm supposed to be the boss now, not him."
"You don't want him to take your authority away now that you have some of your own."
Bolin paused, thinking about that. He made a slow nod, "Yeah. I hadn't thought of it that way."
"That's why you pay me the big bucks."
"I thought the government was covering this?"
"It's a figure of speech, I'm sorry. Maybe you should approach Mako a different way about getting his advice for your team. Don't ask for his advice, have a discussion. Sit with him, as equals. You now share a position with Mako: Captain of the Fire Ferrets. Don't be his little brother, be his colleague, his peer."
"I've seen you in the ring, Bolin, you're good at what you do. I hate to see you fail now just because you've got a new roster."
"You follow the Pro Bending matches?"
"Aww, yeah! The way you stood up in that tiebreaker, bringing your brother aside like that? Man, my buddies and I were chatting for weeks about that! Then you kicked that guy's butt, ONE TWO! Stuff of legends, Bolin!"
"Heh, thanks, Doc. I appreciate that."
"Now, what about Shin?"
"Shin. He looked out for us, too. He always seemed like a scumbag to Mako, but…He gave us work when we didn't deserve it. He's not a saint, and he's certainly no brother. But I remember, this one time, Shin was going to get food for the rest of the guys, and Mako asks him to get us some food, too, and he gives Shin all of our money, which is not enough for an equal share of the food. Shin just looks at us, nods his head, and takes our money. And he's the one who hooked us up at the Bending Arena in the first place. We owe him a lot, even if we cut ties with the Triad."
"But you still affiliate with Shin."
"Yeah, I mean, we still hang once in a while. I like to get him away from the rest of the Triad, walk along the docks and stuff, talk it up. Just hang out, old buds, you know?"
"Nothing wrong with that."
"I don't think Mako would approve, though, if he knew."
"Mako's approval means a lot to you."
"If Mako told you to stop spending time with your friend, what would you do?"
"I…I don't know…"
"Well, that's what therapy is for, Bolin. You have to understand your own feelings and emotions first. Then you can make better decisions about the things that you want."
Bolin nodded slowly, "Yeah, all right. So…What…What do I feel about Shin?"
"That would be one of my questions for you, yes."
"Take your time, Bolin."
"He's…Part of my past."
"He's someone that I…I did things for. He helped protect us. Found us places to sleep. It was always in exchange for something. Shin had a business arrangement with us, but now that I'm on my own, I can know Shin as a person, not just as a member of the Triad. And I think that Shin appreciates the time we share together, because with me, he can just be Shin, and not Shady Shin. And that…That makes me feel good. And I want more of that."
Dr. Qin nodded, "Very good. People think they understand what they feel, but when it comes down to it, until the articulate what they feel, they don't really understand it. That's why we say people do things they don't understand. People feel, but not think about their emotions."
"Right, right. So, uh, by talking about my feelings, I can figure out exactly what it is that I'm feeling?"
"Like your feelings toward Mako."
"Right. With his two-timing of Asami. I mean, after all she's done for us, he's gonna stab both her and me in the back? If I hadn't been there for her, I don't know if she would have made it through her father's trial."
"Did you and Asami become close?"
"Well, yeah, we've been through a lot together. I mean, not, like, well, you know, as a couple. She's my friend. I mean, should…I? Does she…?"
"I don't know, Bolin. What do you feel about Asami?"
Bolin stared at the impressionist painting on Dr. Qin's wall. There was a line sticking out of a perfect sphere, which became erratic and split off the further it got from the sphere.
"I…Want to be there for her. The way I am for Shin. I like being there for people. I like making them smile, and making them feel like themselves. There's no lies, it's all honesty, and I like being honest. I like being honest with my friends, my brother, and myself. If Asami feels more than that for me, then…Then I can work with that. But I don't want to…Ugh, I don't want to say it like that. I don't want to exclude anything with Asami, but it's not on my mind."
"Good. That is excellent, Bolin. I think this has been a very productive session."
"Wait…Is that it?"
"For this week."
"Oh, okay. So, uh, I guess…I'll, uh…I'll go…Then…Find…Something to do."
"Do you want my advice?"
"That's why I pay you the big bucks."
"Take some time to contemplate what you've learned today. Find something that relaxes you, and sort out what you want to do. What are some of the things we talked about?"
"We talked about Shin, and Mako, and the Fire Ferrets, and…Uh…Oh, Mako leaving Asami."
"Right. So, think about what's important to you. What do you want to do first, and what do you want to do about it. And then, if you want the most out of these sessions, go and do it."
"Right. Contemplation. Action. Got it."
"Knock 'em out, there, Champ," Dr. Qin smiled as Bolin marched confidently out of the office.