On the Emotional Impacts of Emotional Impact

<Kioku> \I wonder if she's been getting more people than usual lately… but I told Athene I'd come. It's just a shame I didn't make it here sooner…\ Akemi stands out side of Dr. Taylor's office, uncharacteristically nervous about the whole thing and trying to get herself to knock on the door. Or the doorframe. Or anywhere that will alert the (hopefully) occupant to her presence. \Shoganai…\ With a slight grimace, she finally raps against the door
<Kioku> a few times.
<LipstickThespian> "Come in," answers the voice of a middle aged North Eastern American Woman. She's currently sitting in one of the two comfy chairs situated against the right side of the room working on her laptop. Her desk, which lays at the back of the room going unused. The other wall reserved for bookcases and a small minifridge. All in all, it's a small room with frosted glass windows. Taylor
<LipstickThespian> herself is a small woman, thirty something, wearing simple jeans and a button down. Her brown hair cut to a medium length and kept in a pony tail. She looks up to greet her visitor.
<Kioku> Akemi nudges the door open, the tall-for-a-Japanese-girl student looking around before she steps in. \Get ahold of yourself. You can put on a pleasant, calm mask for anything, so why not this? You've done this before!\ "Dr. Taylor? I wasn't sure if I needed to make an appointment, or…"
<LipstickThespian> "Oh no no," Taylor says as she looks over at a small white board by her desk that shows her day plan. No student names, just appointment numbers to keep them safe. It seems this hour and the next are free, "walk ins are very welcome. So please, come in and sit down. There's drinks in the little fridge there, and I would love it if you told me your name."
<Kioku> Akemi nods slightly and steps in, nudging the door shut behind her. "Kimura Akemi." \They still haven't gotten the part where I've been kicked out of the family through their heads and into their records, so I have to say that for now…\ "I… have my own drink, but thank you." She carefully makes her way over to a chair, almost as though the floor were mined.
<LipstickThespian> Taylor types on her computer to bring up the name and starts to read. The floor, with it's simple office carpet squares might as well be mined with the way Akemi walks across it. Despite the idea of making an office as calm and approachable as possible, Taylor was never an interior decorator and it comes off as what someone might make a therapist's office look like in a movie. "Would
<LipstickThespian> you like to tell me about your day while I catch up," she says before looking up and going. "Oh! I forgot. I'm Doctor Taylor, you can call me Doctor, Doc, Taylor, Nicole, Nicky. Whatever you'd like. And you can tell me what you prefer to be called."
<Kioku> "Please call me Akemi. My… day? I suppose a little stressful with the lockdown, like every day lately, but… still alright overall. The hardest part is having to figure out how to use what little we have left in the dorm to make edible meals, since we can't go to the store anymore." Akemi's file should probably mention a single disciplinary incident of accidental curfew breakage - she went to a movie and didn't realize the time until after
<Kioku> getting back to campus, though there was an attempted mugging on the way. She keeps up an A average in most classes, though there are periods where her grades slip - always correlated with observable emotional events, even if many of them wouldn't be recorded. She's been on a /lot/ of missions for the school, and proven reliable for the most part on them. She was first picked up when her father tried to shove her off to another organization, but
<Kioku> the GWU heard about it and got there first; observations show that three or four 'factions' got there over the course of the next two days after she was picked up, but only one caused trouble. Records show a twin sister that died about seven years ago /this month/, but there's only one birth certificate for an "Asami" - Akemi doesn't exist - and the parents and brother all claim there never was a sister.
<LipstickThespian> "You know there's a cafeteria on campus that is still getting regular shipments in despite the lockdown," Taylor says in regards to the supplies in the dorm room. "So Akemi, tell me what you would like to talk about today." Taylor continues on through her laptop for a while, the school keeps a mountain of notes on students with the tenure the likes of Akemi. She closes it after a
<LipstickThespian> second and sets it aside, going to grab a legal pad and a pen to hold in her lap instead.
<Kioku> Akemi gives a small laugh. "I said /edible/ food. And… I don't really know. A friend thought it would be good for me to come here, but… I could never really think of why. What to say, what I haven't already dealt with on my own…" \Always with a way to make small talk, something to say, but in the face of this…<LipstickThespian> "I like the cafeteria food," Taylor says with a small smile on her face, "I think the egg salad sandwich has actual egg in it." She looked down at the pad in front of her and gave it some thought before she started writing. "I notice you haven't sought psychological help or counseling since you've come here. Is there a reason for that?"
<Kioku> "I… haven't really needed it." Akemi shrugs. "At least, I never thought I did. There was no reason to come until… well, until my friend asked me to. I guess I'm here more to reassure her and make her comfortable, than myself."
<LipstickThespian> "A lot of people don't think they need it," Taylor says, "but mental health is still part of your health. You get regular checkups done for your body, and I believe everyone should get regular checkups done for their mind. Don't you think?"
<Kioku> "I suppose. It seems like a self-checkup should be enough for that though, ne? Though if the one checking itself has a problem in its ability to check, it wouldn't know…" Akemi sighs. "I don't have any reason to think something is wrong, though…"
<LipstickThespian> "Well, we let mechanics check out our cars unless we've been trained ourselves, and even then sometimes a professional can see problems we don't see." Taylor says, "are you happy Akemi?"
<Kioku> "Usually." Akemi titls her head, glancing to the side. "Before the lockdown I was, I think. Not as much now, but… but that's not only because of me. It's everyone else too, there's a lot of people who are afraid and it gets to me…"
<LipstickThespian> "Part of your condition," Taylor says, "it's understandable. Everyone is uncertain about what will happen and they internalize that stress. You seem to be more receptive to those feelings than others. It can be a horrible feeling, surrounded by people you care about without any way to help them or fix the problem."
<Kioku> "It is," Akemi whispers. "Do you know what all that fear and stress feels like? Picking it all up and knowing it's not your own, knowing exactly why it's being felt and not being able to do anything, but having so much pile up that… having so many people's worth all at once… I guess maybe you do, people pour out their problems to you, but it's not the same as feeling it yourself as if you were them. Iyada… mazui… zettai mazui…"
<LipstickThespian> "The difference between you and me is I can only pick up on people's mannerisms and their words and their actions. You, it seems from what I've read, actually feel those feelings and internalize them." Taylor gives it some though, "I've very fortunate to life in Windvale. I'm able to leave campus and go home to rest from all of this. I do bring some of it home, I would be lying if
<LipstickThespian> I said I didn't. For you, there's no escape is there. No way to turn it off?"
<Kioku> Akemi swallows and shakes her head. "I can numb it some, feel it less, ignore it or try to focus only on a few people, but when there's this much… it's maybe like wearing earplugs. You still feel every sound, but it's muffled, it's easier to ignore, but you feel the sounds your own body makes even more than usual, your breathing and everything. But if somethings loud enough, or there are enough voices all trying to speak, it can still end up
<Kioku> painful. I haven't been around this many people so nearby, all unified in such negative feelings at the same time before. At least they're usually a little different from each other…"
<LipstickThespian> "It's a difficult time, to be sure."
<LipstickThespian> Taylor says as she writes down some notes, "if I promised you it would get better. Would you believe it?" She says it with a simple smile and then laughs it away just as quickly. "Akemi, I'm wondering something. In your file it says you operate the shrine that's on campus. Perhaps you can use that to create a zone of positive energy?"
<Kioku> "They need a distraction… or something good to happen, some news to alleviate their worries. But I don't think that sort of thing exists right now…" Akemi sighs. "The… shrine? Mm, it's there, but I wouldn't know how to block out those sorts of feelings even using it as a base. And I can't offer false hope that things will be better, when I don't know they will. Things might instead just get a lot worse…"
<LipstickThespian> "I've always found it odd how most of the students here have very bad upbringings, or came here from bad events. Yet we've kept this school so safe that they've almost forgotten how nice the past year has been." Taylor says with a sigh, "it's not like we're going to stop protecting them. That rumor about nuking the school is getting very old." She shakes the thought off, "there are
<LipstickThespian> a lot of people who stand behind this school and ensure it's student's future. That much hasn't changed, but a few protestors outside seems to make the kids here forget it."
<Kioku> "Mmh. But safe here doesn't mean… what about living normally? Or about after all this? We won't be here forever, and a world that… don't get me wrong, I know there will be a LOT more people who are either envious of us or think we're 'cool' than the very, very vocal ones who are more afraid than anything else. They even have a good reason to be, don't they? They're afraid of the girl who can't die, or the boy who can teleport, or… or the
<Kioku> girl who can get inside your head and make you feel whatever she wants…" Akemi shivers and looks down. "It really really hurts, being looked at that way, being feared for just being who I am. I know I wouldn't do what they're afraid of, but that just makes it worse since they're getting this way over a lie they tell themselves. Second-guessing everything. M-maybe I've always been afraid of being thought of that way by the other students, too,
<Kioku> of people worrying or running away even though I didn't do anything."
<LipstickThespian> "Of all the places in the world, you would think a school for students like you would be the place you wouldn't have to fear being judged." Taylor says, "and yet. The students here are cruel, they talk, they spread rumors, they fight. It's all very bleak, how much it seems like a real school with the politics. Only, with everything made more complicated by bullying. Despite your
<LipstickThespian> many friends there are probably just as many who would rather see you torn down, if only because of your perceived happiness." Taylor taps the pen to her pad, "when you feel the ways that everyone around you feels towards you. It must be hard."
<Kioku> Akemi gives a tiny smile and shakes her head. "It… a little maybe, but there aren't many people like that. I'm always afraid that they'll get the wrong idea, and… and it /does/ hurt a lot when someone does, especially a friend I really like, or when I start worrying what they might think… it's just a few that never goes away, even if it doesn't actually happen very often. But it is hard…"
<Kioku> "At the same time it makes things better some though. Makes me not have to worry quite as much that they might be feeling something when they're not."
<LipstickThespian> "You have a very good way to look at things, Akemi. You seem to look for the positive in a lot of situations which is very good." Taylor says, "I see in your notes that you're currently doing well in classes. Have a relationship with one of the other students. As well as record attendence on the school's missions. You seem to have everything in order."
<Kioku> "It's hard to balance, but… I try." \Harder when there was only one of me.\ "It's why I didn't think I needed to come, but… looking at everything now, I guess a lot /was/ buried after all." \But talking about it like this didn't fix anything… it doesn't really help besides make me more aware of it…<LipstickThespian> "Well, it's good to talk about these things to see what kind of problems we can address." Taylor says as she writes a few notes, "you're a very smart girl who seems to have a good head on her shoulder. You just have a lot of problems that are caused by stress and the world around you." She stands up and heads over to open her minifridge, leaving her notepad behind. Grabbing a diet
<LipstickThespian> coke, she looks up and back to Akemi. "Are you sure you didn't want anything to drink, Asami?"
<Kioku> Akemi stiffens and her eyes snap to Taylor. "Don't bring her up." She only mouths the words, doesn't speak them, but that doesn't stop her voice from coming out as whispers surrounding the room. "We're talking about my problems, not my sister."
<LipstickThespian> "Relax, we won't bring up Akemi if you don't want to." Taylor straightens up and seems to either be playing it completely cool. Or judging from her emotions feels like she's walking on glass shards, "are you sure you don't want a drink Asami?" She's pushing it, she knows she's pushing it but she seems set on following this trail of bread crumbs.
<Kioku> Akemi's eyes start going red, a malicious feeling pouring off of her, but she squeezes them shut and turns her head away. \No cursing the staff.\ "If you're going to start mocking me, I have no reason to stay."
<LipstickThespian> "Has anyone ever challenged you?" Taylor says as she walks back over to sit down. "Stood up to you and told you that you're wrong?"
<Kioku> "Plenty of times. About plenty of things. That has nothing to do with this."
<LipstickThespian> "I'd like to challenge you then," Taylor says, "about your sister."
<Kioku> "There's nothing to challenge." Akemi takes a deep breath and opens her eyes. "And professional or not, that isn't something I talk to near-strangers about. You have no right to bring her up."
<LipstickThespian> "You're very defensive about her," Taylor says, "to the point you won't talk about her to a confidential trained Doctor. Why is that?'
<Kioku> "I loved her. I failed her. Wasn't it my duty as her older sister to protect her, look out for her? I should have been able to… so it hurts to talk about. Even if it was a long time ago, even if I'm… mostly okay now. It's nobody else's business at all except ours. Everything about her is just between me and her."
<LipstickThespian> "Does anyone else know about her?" Taylor says, "there isn't much in your file and you seem very cagey about the subject. Have you talked about losing her before?"
<Kioku> "I have… to a couple of people." Akemi narrows her eyes. "When I felt ready to, with them. I've had the chance to talk about… everything surrounding that event already, so it's not like I'm keeping it bottled up."
<LipstickThespian> "But have you talked about the event itself?" Taylor asks, "when you failed her, as you've said."
<Kioku> Akemi nods. "I have."
<LipstickThespian> "And you don't feel talking to a therapist about it will help you at all?" Taylor asks.
<Kioku> "Iie." Akemi lets out another breath. "It wouldn't help."
<LipstickThespian> "How do you know it wouldn't help?" Taylor prods.
<Kioku> "How could it? It's over now… I know what happened, I understand it as well as anyone really can, and trying to go over it all again or explain it… it isn't something I'd want to talk about anyway."
<LipstickThespian> "Because you fear it." Taylor asserts, "it's understandable."
<Kioku> Akemi raises an eyebrow. "No. Because it's nobody else's business and shouldn't be pried into."
<LipstickThespian> "Then I guess we won't pry into it any further," Taylor says with a click of her pen. "Can I know what other topics you've already solved for yourself so that I don't bring them up?"
<Kioku> "If it's already been solved, then it's not a problem, so I wouldn't think of it as one to be able to answer that…"
<LipstickThespian> "Would you like to talk about your school life then?" Taylor asks, "beyond the recent lockdown. I'd like to hear what you've been occupying your time with."
<Kioku> "The same as anyone. Classes, studying, talking to friends, exploring the abilities that bring us here - mine and those of others." Seems that either the grudge she holds from trying to pry into that is either short lived, or surpassed by wanting to fulfill her promise to Athene. She digs in her satchel a little and comes away from it with a piece of rock candy. "Things like this are one way. Recognize it, if anyone in my dorm might have brought
<Kioku> it to the staff's attention or something when they were new?"
<LipstickThespian> "We've had reports," Taylor says, "we investigated. Decided to let it be." She motions towards it and holds her hand out for it. "You seem to do a lot of work in your dorm room. With yourself and other students."
<Kioku> Akemi passes it over. "Eh? All I ever do in my room is sewing and storing tea and rice. The only time others are there really is when I need to take measurements if I'm making them something. I /am/ a little surprised that nobody's simply asked about that though, the work I do with a couple of friends." \The people here want to research these sorts of things, don't they? But they all but ignore us…<LipstickThespian> Taylor takes it in her hand and turns it over and around, before offering it back. "Why ask when we can just observe?" She says with a smile, "you've done a lot of good for some of the new students here. Offering services like yours shows that an ecosystem exists within this school. Fueled by the students who care the most."
<Kioku> Akemi shrugs, but doesn't take it back. "Why observe when you can get more information faster by asking? Though I suppose if it were someone who wouldn't want to answer, or who would be more secretive if they cared about avoiding observation afterward… Still. If I didn't have to pay for the materials to make things like that and all it took was a bit of time, I'd probably be giving them away more, rather than rationing so much by handing out
<Kioku> one and trying to sell the rest. Even using the cheapest materials I can make work, though…" She glances in the direction of the gate.
<LipstickThespian> "If we ask you, then we get your version of the story. If we observe we can get a better picture of the things that are going on." Taylor says as she gives it some thought, "a question. How much of your items do you sell?"
<Kioku> "True…" Akemi gives a tiny laugh. "Very few, almost none. Actually, I usually end up giving them to my friends anyway, if it seems like they might be helpful. I think I'm turning a deficit overall." And she seems perfectly okay with that.
<LipstickThespian> "Well, businesses usually take a while to take off." Taylor says, "your friends. How are they holding up? The ones closest to you."
<Kioku> "They… they seem mostly okay. I'm not sure why, but most of them act less concerned than most of the school. Sometimes it's like they're ignoring the situation entirely.""
<LipstickThespian> "Does that frustrate you, or do you believe they're just acting in their best interest?"
<Kioku> "I think they'd rather ignore it since there's not much we can really /do/ about it right now… short of recording youtube videos or getting someone to broadcast a message, and what good would those be? What would we say that could make a difference? They'd mostly just be seen by the sort of people who already would support us, and probably wouldn't sway most who are already set against us. Those who don't have strong opinions either way wouldn't
<Kioku> go looking for them, and wouldn't see the message anyway."
<LipstickThespian> "It's an interesting idea, to see the take from the perspective of the students." Taylor says, "rather than a press release. Social media still has power, even in this day and age."
<Kioku> "Mmh. I'm sure some have already thought of doing that… maybe even done it. It's actually an area I'm not versed in, even if you'd think I would be. I never had a computer, and until several months after coming here only a very, very basic phone, so I've never been on a social media site. Only heard of them."
<LipstickThespian> "Well maybe you should orchestrate it, you do seem like a natural leader after all." Taylor says, "might give people somewhere to put their energy."
<Kioku> "I suppose I could mention it…" Akemi considers. "Mmh. Why not? We want to present a good image, and I think that most of us here would at least give a better one than the bigots would expect. Ah… except the bigots we have here… they would be pretty counter-productive, and everybody loves listening to detractors more…"
<LipstickThespian> "All things a good leader can indentify and try and correct. Don't you think?" Taylor says, "besides. Who better a spokesman than a simple teenage girl with a nice smile who is, beyong her abilities, normal as can be."
<Kioku> "Mm… and we have enough multinational students to reach many parts of the world in their native languages, besides. That's always a big plus."
<LipstickThespian> "You're a kind hearted person, this is your biggest problem right now, those around you."
<Kioku> "And it might alleviate some of the fear, if there's something we can /do/ about it, try to make a difference."
<LipstickThespian> "Well, I encourage you to try."
<Kioku> "I hope your employers would agree with that sentiment."
<LipstickThespian> "I can't speak to that," Taylor says with a wave of her pencil. "Things are complicated."
<Kioku> "They always are…" Akemi shrugs. "But we'll see, right?" She stretches a little. "Maybe I should get on that right away, then…"
<LipstickThespian> "You should come back and talk to me again, there's a lot we haven't explored." Taylor says. "A week or two, maybe?"
<Kioku> Akemi frowns a little. "I'll… I'll consider it." She shifts uncomfortably and gets up.
<LipstickThespian> "It can't hurt you, you know." Taylor says as she stands up. "Thank you for coming to visit, Akemi. At the very least."
<Kioku> \No… it /can/ hurt…\ "Mmh… thank you for seeing me." Akemi moves to the door, then closes her eyes and turns around with her hand outstretched.
<LipstickThespian> Taylor reaches out and shakes her hand. "Remember to be careful, it's dangeous with the protestors around."
<Kioku> "I'm sure it's dangerous for you too. Going home after work. For everyone here that could be followed home. Please be careful yourself."
<LipstickThespian> "Thank you, goodbye Akemi."

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