Third up to bat is a Dr. Fuji Wan, quirk unknown, temperament calm so far.
“So Fuma-san, how have you been adjusting?”
He takes a few practice swings, but everyone does good in practice, no point in applauding.
“So, so. I don’t want to go to school.” But testing hadn’t been that hard. Or more like cheating at testing hadn’t been that hard. There was a pretty nice school in the area, which apparently had a pretty active engineering department despite being a middle school, so I went for that. Test scores were pending for entry, but the internet is a vast place and the websites I copied from were all well respected and cited sources.
“School is an established institution, and a great way to make new friends.” He came up to the plate and readied his stance.
“Yeah, I don’t care.” I stated bluntly.
“Well, that doesn’t really matter. It is a point of law.” Ball, it was a low pitch and he defaulted to simply not swinging.
“So, your predecessor tell you about me?” I replied. A stronger pitch for certain.
“I like to face my patients fresh.”
Strike one. Flat out lie. I know for a fact he had my file on his desk when I walked in and recognized the last therapist’s handwriting.
“Really? Well, what do you know about me then? You must have heard something.” I ignored the slip for now. It wasn’t the worst lie someone had ever told me.
“I’m more interested in what you have to tell me about you. So please, Fuma-san, how would you like to start things? What do you think I should know?”
A good set up, solid stance. He seemed ready.
“Well Dr. Wan,” I took in a deep breath and met his eyes, “I’ve seen people die before.”
There was silence for a moment, but to his credit, he didn’t break eye contact immediately. Instead there was a sharp inhale of breath before leaning forward. “Would you like to elaborate on that?”
“When I was eight, I watched the wholesale slaughter of almost everyone I was raised with. You see, another faction sent a force to kill everyone where I live, at the same time there was an attempted assassination of the leader of the complex. So the confusion caused by that made the management decide that the best way to delay a horde of killers was to throw about two hundred twelve year olds, and me, at them as a distraction. As a result, seventy percent of us were killed.”
Watching his face I saw the eyes but I also heard the click of the pen and the eye drop. “And how did you react to this slaughter?” I saw him writing now.
“Insomnia, regular outbursts, nightmares, low appetite in general, as well as clinging to the people whom I had left.”
“You had left, tell me about them.” He looked up at me, “Who did you have during this stressful time?”
That was definitely a ball, though I don’t blame him. That was a hard pitch. He was still faring better than the other two. The first one had struck out by this point and the second was at his second strike.
Still, I was here to attempt to talk, so I did. I told him an abridged version about every one of my siblings. As well as a nice little story about the time we ganged up on Minami as retribution for her constant pranking. He wrote down things the entire time before glancing upwards.
“You seem very close to this adoptive family of yours.”
“Yeah, that happens when all the adults in your life systematically fail you, and you have to cling to other children to survive.” I said dryly.
“It was also the only time during this entire session that you smiled.” He noted, “Particularly when you said that story about them. Do you have another?”
“You want to hear another story about them?”
“If that’s what makes you feel better, then yes.” He replied, “That is the goal of this counciling.”
I raised my eyebrows, “Really now, not to prescribe drugs to me or make me accept I have to go to school?”
“Is that something my predecessors suggested?” He started writing again, “Well I’ll be quite frank, the school thing isn’t something I have to convince you of. That is simply something you will have to live with and a non-factor. As for drugs, I’ve been informed you have a quirk that relates to your biology directly, considering how varied it is, it would be inadvisable for me to try and suggest you be put on any medication since the side effects would be hard to gauge. Even if you appear close to what is considered baseline, the nature of quirks makes such things a point of trial and error. With someone as young as you, it is especially inadvisable.”
That was actually a hit, low pitch and all, but still. It matched everything I read. Quirk medicine was a really complex field, beyond the most basic medications, there were always lots of warnings and trial periods for medicating anyone with mutation based quirks. Which is what my so called quirk was classified under. Well, technically it was a hybrid mutation/emitter type. Not that this stopped doctor number two from suggesting it. “So, okay, what story would you like to hear?”
“That’s up to you, or maybe something you share in common with one of your adoptive family? Like a hobby you like.”
I knew it was kind of juvenile but I did perk up. So I started talking about tea pots. I had a few on my person, but my collection was back in my world where Kiriko had them in a nice little case. I remembered when I showed her all the ones I collected during our trip and how she loved the new colors.
When the time was called I’d talked a good bit about that and other fun things I did with my siblings. It was more enjoyable than I thought it would be and I almost didn’t do what I wanted to do next.
Unfortunately my suspicious nature got the better of me and I ended up swiping what he was writing the entire time when he left the room to do something when he thought I was already in the waiting room.
“Yeah, Ume-san wants to switch counselors again,” Koichi leaned into his phone as he unlaced his outdoor shoes.
There was a word of complaint from Naomasa-san on the other end, but he paused to inquire why as Koichi pulled on his slippers and headed towards the fridge. “She won’t tell me, but she’s more upset about it than the other ones.”
Ume-san had been quiet the entire train ride back. She even rejected them going to the library on the way home. Instead, she just played on Koichi’s spare phone, before discarding it to go take a shower.
Opening the fridge, he pulled out some meals his mom had dropped off for him to heat up. Grabbing the boxes, he started up the rice cooker and loaded the side dishes into the microwave as Naomasa-san aired a few half hearted complaints in his ear. Though the last one was an inquiry.
“No, she’s not going to make it for new years. She barely made it to Christmas and even then she had to fly back on the 26th since she has to arrange a charity gala for the captain.” Pulling up his arm to grab the phone as he poured in the water for the rice, he gave it a stir before he closed the lid.
Naomasa made a few more inquiries but nothing much past that before he promised to look into another therapist. Clicking the button off, Koichi reached for the sink only to remember that the dishes had already been put away. Despite needing a stool to reach the sink, Ume did the dishes almost as soon as they were dirtied. In fact, she tidied up much of the apartment when she wasn’t reading or looking things up online. While Koichi was capable of cleaning up after himself, he usually just put off the work on his days off and did it all at once. Now the constant state of normal clean that was his place reminded him of the times his mother came to visit.
Not that she didn’t visit fairly regularly. When Koichi was working, his mother came here to watch Ume or to take her out and about. Usually to the library, sometimes to the mall. He didn’t really think Ume would really do much besides reading if she wasn’t supervised. Ume didn’t seem to have much interest in going about the city or even leaving the small apartment. Still, some light purchases were made in her name. Mostly the basics, a toothbrush, indoor and outdoor shoes, some more specialized lotions and soaps he didn’t have when Makoto wasn’t around.
And as Ume wore as she exited the bathroom, cartoon print pajamas.
The three chibis on the pale pink t-shirt with a heart pattern were actually some sort western homage to eastern media, three large heads, three different hair styles, three different sets of brightly colored eyes attached to small rectangle bodies with arms and legs that looked like stretched dough. The towel was draped over her shoulders and her hair was mostly dry as she had a set of band headphones on. That was one of the two gifts she got during the holiday, the other being the new phone. One his mother found on sale. It wasn’t the latest model, but it was a smart phone, which was Ume’s only real requirement to be glued to it.
Koichi grabbed the warmed side dishes and made up two bowls of rice which he set on the low table while Ume sat, flicking through the phone while the headphones hummed. Eating like she always did, with a posture and poise that seemed off for someone so young, they ate in silence. Pulling out his own phone he went through his messages as well as checked his email, reviewing the mailing announcement for the year end special for the newest All Might hoodie. He’d have to get up early to make sure they didn’t sell out of his size. His gaze wandered over to Ume as she ate, the reflection of the screen being the only real light in the small girl’s eyes.
Still it wasn’t a confrontation he wanted to initiate, even if he was curious. That sort of thing was supposed to be private.
Chopsticks down and bowl empty, Ume collected the finished meal and moved to do the dishes silently, which was even more impressive considering she was in slippers. By the time he’d gone over the route on his phone for the hoodie acquisition, she’d already cleaned the dishes and they were put away. It was at this point her cat slinked out from his hiding place -wherever that had been- and she moved to fill his dish. After dumping the can of wet food into it, she paused as she stared at the tile wall for a few seconds before removing the headphones. The piano accompanied by some english song belted out as she turned to Koichi, “Do you think I’m making things up?”
“What?” Koichi looked at the back of her dark red hair. “No, why would you?”
“Fanciful tales spun to try and elicit extreme reactions points to classic attention seeking behavior. Exerted from a child who has buried more mundane trauma under fantasy. Also shows signs of creating imagined companions to cope. Accounts lacking certain details suspect that each individual represents an aspect she seeks in adults that have failed her.” The words were clicked and clinical.
Setting down his phone, he rose slowly. Unlike her, his knees bumped the table as he stood.
“What an odd thing to think.”
He rubbed his arm. Maybe it was because he was with Makoto and her family with all their truth finding quirks, but exaggeration wasn’t really a problem. They knew if something was untruthful, it made surprises a little more difficult to plan but otherwise things were pretty open.
“He thinks I couldn’t have possibly seen anything I claimed, but be so poignant about it. That there was no way someone so young would have proper composure about it.”
“Well, you are really composed, but,” his eyes drifted to her back, “it just seems normal for you.”
He didn’t spend much time around middle schoolers, most of his school days were about studying, talking about heroes and running away from fights. Maybe she was different, but it didn’t seem inherently wrong. She was paranoid, cautious, a bit demanding, but never unreasonable and so far, not really untruthful as far as he could tell.
The only noise that stretched before them was the piano and high singing that hummed out of the headphone speakers. His attention reached her shoulders, which began to shake. Inching forward slowly, he saw the flush of red before he saw the reflection of the water.
“Oh, oh, hey,” He reached out a hand and paused, not moving to touch too much. She didn’t really like to be and oop, there she was. Her face dug into his button up shirt as her whole body shook.
Danny had taken note of this instance and, abandoning his dinner, hopped onto Ume’s shoulders.
Koichi reached up and lightly patted her hair as he breathed in and out. He didn’t really understand what was wrong, or why, but that didn’t really matter. For now, he just knew, they might need to ease up on trying to force her into going to another counselor.
Does Ume need therapy, absolutely. Are therapists with a modern mindset actually equip to deal with her? Also yes.
But would they believe her?
So in Plum In The Dark Ume has a lot longer to process under the illusion that she is in the same world, here that illusion is shattered immediately. She knows she’s not in Kansas anymore, and so lots of things are gonna take longer to deal with.