Late Morning, Thursday Sept 8th,
Power Testing Labs, Whateley Academy
Drying her hair, and with a polite expression on her face, Hikaru sat in the presented chair. “Thank you, Dr. Hewley.”
A bit flustered, the named doctor busied himself swiveling the screen that had her results, and his notes. “I’m sorry that Dr. Shandy isn’t here to help discuss, but we’re …”
“I understand, please, we are all running overwhelmed.” Hikaru kept her tone level, instead of saying ‘get on with it’ at the doctor, though from the looks of it, she hadn’t repressed her body language enough.
“Um, well. Yes.” Clearing his throat, he suddenly became more animated. “Well. As you might know from your testing elsewhere, at Langley and at the IOPS facility in Tokyo, you’re an avatar.” A flat look from the girl indicated that she was very much aware of this to the doctor. “Well, yes, of course you are. But what you don’t know, is how rare you are!” Hikaru felt like facepalming. “I mean, you’re the only recorded avatar of Amaterasu, of course, which you knew, but you’re also her paladin, and channeler!” Hikaru’s stare was retaining its flatness.
“Yes, I do know this, Doctor.” Hikaru couldn’t suppress the irritation. “If that’s the key, then why didn’t you trust IOPS or Virginia's own results?”
“Oh, that.” He shrugged. “On complex cases like you, or rarities, especially when dealing with Class 3 spirits, we really do want to double check as soon as possible. Mages, Avatars, manifestors and energizers always get tested or retested first. Much less someone who's gone through as extreme a change as you.” He suddenly looked at her. “And that’s not adding into the situation your several burnouts, Okami.”
Hikaru didn’t visibly wince, but the doctor clearly picked up on it, and continued.
“Anyways, Avatar ratings are of the ‘fluid’ nature, and given our best experts scientific and magical aren’t here to confirm, we’ll stick with the 5 rating, simply because of Amaterasu’s nature, though Langley's information seems to indicate otherwise. Now, for the really fun bit.” He grinned.
Hikaru couldn’t help but sigh. She knew that look, and knew that a spinning wheel was in her future, at least in a metaphorical sense.
“You’re a energizer, external, solar power, and it’s how you channel Amaterasu’s own power, of course, that you knew, and every test we ran confirmed it. However, what wasn’t apparent, is what you do with that power.” Hikaru blinked at the excited man’s words.
He continued with a wave at the screen. “You don’t have _any_ of the organs or support structures energizers like you who can warp, fire energy, fast heal themselves, or boost their strength can. And well, that leaves only one conclusion. You’re not using energizer powers.”
“Excuse me?” Hikaru couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You just…”
Dr. Hewley nodded and cut her off, to her frustration. “Yep. I said you were an energizer, and you are. But, what you're doing isn’t typical. Which leads me and Dr. Shandy to believe, you're doing something else. Given your avatar status, and other things, we’re going to have to retest you Monday, with several mages in attendance, so we’re sure of what’s going on.”
Hikaru blinked. “And…” Trailing off, Hikaru’s expression, contrary to her tone and previous impatience, indicated her emotions of curiosity and dread.
“You’re generating essence, we think, converting it to pre made spells.” The Doctor smiled. “Really, given how flexible your energizer abilities are, everyone should have figured it out, though I can guess they didn’t expect Amaterasu to create a magical girl.”
*... maybe because I don’t know maho?* Amaterasu snorted. *But you’d look so good in a magical girl outfit. Hmm..* Hikaru just facepalmed.
“Why me.” The Doctor did hear that, but tactfully kept from commenting, and hurried along.
“Well, running out of time, and we still have a few things to cover before you’re back in on Monday.” Hikaru looked up from her hands and focused on him.
Dr. Hewley cleared his throat. “Your exemplar ratings are inconclusive. You clearly don’t have the strength or toughness of what an Exemplar 4 has, but you have it in all other ways, and shading to the top end, and grew a bit since your last tests.” Hikaru brightened at this. “Given your regeneration rating, of 3, it’s quite possible you’re supposed to be an 5, in this regard, with your transformation pushing the reflexes and mental aspects first. Or it could be your burnouts have damaged those areas, leaving you no more than a 1 in strength and toughness for a long time or forever.” Shrugging, he added. “Or it could be something else. We really haven’t seen something like this very often, or much at all, much less… with an avatar as unique as you.” Pausing, he nodded once. “I’d agree with IOPS’ people here. Do an exercise program, see if that starts pushing it, it might, it might not. Anyways, an email will be sent for your further tests.” Hearing a knock, he stood up. “Sorry about…”
Hikaru restrained her dismay at the report. She was so… but, the doctor was right. Time would tell if she’d ever improve. “Thank you for your time.” Hikaru wanted to scream at him, and she internally winced at the flat tone that came out. She quickly walked out to keep from trying to apologize, though the doctor had looked understanding, but was distracted from saying anything else as the next student hurried in.
Thursday, Sept 8, 2016 - Afternoon
Doyle Medical Center, Whateley Academy.
Hikaru stopped at the desk she had been directed to, and was greeted by the receptionist. "You may go in, Miss Myoujin. Dr. Cody will be here shortly."
"Thank you." Hikaru bowed and went into Dr. Cody's office, looking around at the pleasant decor. Plants, comfortable chairs, and a setup so that the doctor wouldn't be looking at the student or patient over a desk all indicated a personality that preferred informality and comfort over anything else. Her eyes caught a photo of a family - a smiling red-haired wife and three young children - and her eyes narrowed a bit with a sad look in them, then closed. Opening them again, she picked a chair, deducing that the big oversized chair belonged to the doctor.
Pausing for a moment, she narrowed her eyes once more, more thoroughly scrutinizing the room as she examined it for the second time. Her visual inspection was interrupted when a bear of a man walked in, pausing to study her with a professional but brief visual inspection. Something seemed off to Hikaru; the giant man didn't seem really at home in his slacks, dress shirt and lab coat, but he apparently faked it well.
Before she could respond to the appearance, he spoke up, in a deep bass. "Good afternoon. I'm Dr. Wyatt Cody." He bowed precisely, a gesture that momentarily surprised Hikaru before she regained her composure and returned the formal bow. "I'm not only your academic advisor, but I'm also your psychological counselor. Please sit." He put his own words to action, seemingly falling into the chair Hikaru had figured was his.
Hikaru decided that he wasn't one for small talk and got right to business. "I believe my schedule was already sent to you, along with the one addition ..." She was cut off by his raising a hand, reminding Hikaru irresistibly of a paw.
"Yep. I have your schedule request, and the addition. Defensive Driving 100?" His eyebrows arched a bit, as he continued. "You're legally underage for a Japanese driver's license, I understand ... though I somehow doubt that'd be that much of an issue, considering what I've read from your file." He glanced to his side where a thick file rested on a corner of the desk nearest him.
Hikaru's eyes narrowed. "I like driving," she retorted stiffly to the psychologist.
His slight smile didn't waver, and he added, "You'll need a valid license for the class, you know."
"I'll have one by the end of next week," Hikaru asserted confidently. Her tone sounded a bit more arrogant than she realized, and certainly more than the self-assured tone she'd been shooting for.
"Mmm." Dr. Cody's smile didn't waver as he noted something on a tablet he picked up. "That works, I think. Your complete schedule and assessment periods will be e-mailed to you. Now, let's move on to other ... areas of discussion." Pausing for a moment, letting his smile drop, he studied her for a long moment. "I have your complete file, Okami ... or do you prefer Samurai?"
"I ..." Hikaru stopped for a moment, visibly startled at the information that Dr. Cody apparently had read, and with an effort, she gathered herself and continued. "I see. I go by Okami now." Settling her voice, she shot him a very wary - and disapproving - look. "I'm surprised."
"You shouldn't be. How do you want to be treated in here, Okami?" Wyatt leaned back, smiling to himself at her reaction to his simple question, and then he nodded. "I can treat you as the unofficial princess Japan has you listed as ... or I can treat you as who you were before your life was upended, or a mix. It's your choice. What isn't your choice, though, is you being here at least once a week. All things considered, you've got too many things to deal with any other way."
Hikaru paused, and clearly gathered her composure back. "I'm afraid I don't understand, Doctor. I've been ..."
"Coping?" Wyatt interrupted her, shaking his head as she gaped in disbelief. "Maybe. But not healing or dealing with the situations. You know as well as I do that people need teams, Okami ... no, Samurai." Leaning forward in his chair, he clasped his hands together, staring into her eyes. "No one, and I do mean no one, can go through life alone. If you want that driving so you can have some time for yourself, you have to give me some time, so we can work as a team. That means you talk, I listen and ask questions, and we help you get through this mission called life ... or haven't you figured that part out, yet?"
"... I don't need therapy!" Hikaru shot back angrily, scowling heavily.
"I never said that you did. You're not weak." Wyatt nodded as her eyebrows rose incrementally. "Just hosting Amaterasu alone would tell me that, girl. From the rest of what I've seen in your profile and life story? Frankly, I'm amazed that you're still here. I'm man enough to admit that I'm not sure I would be functioning as well as you are." Wyatt then looked her deeply in the eyes. "But even the strongest oak breaks if the wind is too fierce, and the wind's been blowing pretty hard in your life. I've got a bit of knowledge and experience at being a windbreak, someone to listen to you without giving a damn about anything else."
Hikaru paused, carefully controlling her temper. Words kept coming to her tongue, but she bit them back and refrained from speaking for a long moment. Before she could speak, though, a mental voice interrupted. *Listen, daughter, listen well, and consider his offer. Everyone needs someone to listen to them, even me.* Pausing, the voice continued. *You might think I can work for that role, if you ever considered it, but ... no, you would always be judging what I say or tell you through the lens of suspicion of my goals, of what I expect of you. This man - do you think he's unbiased, a person with no agenda or expectations of you?*
Pushing away the voice and its distraction, Hikaru blew out a breath and remembered her cousin's words from early summer as well as several others. "Fine. You want me here every week, so I can have my class?"
Wyatt smiled thinly as he nodded. "Yep."
"Very well." Hikaru's tone was clipped and short, as if she was restraining some choice words. "Is there anything else?"
Wyatt leaned back, studying the tense frame in front of him. "No, not today." With that, Hikaru flashed out, causing Wyatt to blink. For a long moment, he studied the place where the girl had been.
"What do you think, Baloo? Deja vu, I think." Wyatt stroked his chin.
*Not quite the same, not quite the same, I'm sure. At least I only had to deal with one overbearing royal, who needed a paw slap on occasion.* the spirit of Kodiak rumbled back.
Wyatt nodded. "And that'll be a problem ... or maybe not. I wonder." Standing up, he pulled off and hung up his lab coat and opened a hidden closet, pulling out a pair of jeans and a polo shirt. "I'm glad that's over with. I know that with someone like her, you have to dress and act the part, but ..."
*You prefer to be honest, and open, yes, but, as you've stated, it's much better to start off establishing your reputation and authority with those who don't know you. Or those who have reason to ... suspect your profession.* The voice was amused.
"Yep." Wyatt's voice was muffled as he pulled on the Polo shirt. "It doesn't help that she's got a double dose of that programming." Shaking his head as he sat back down to pull on his boots, he thought aloud, "And ... well, she'll be a hard case. But the ones who really need me often are." Pausing, he looked at the clock and nodded. "Time to meet the next one."
Early evening, Thursday, Sept 8th,
Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
With only her headphones and a skimpy bikini on, she was letting Kurenai do a mix track as she absorbed the sun's rays from her room’s balcony. It didn’t get much better than this, Hikaru thought as she sipped at her latest mocha. No problems, all the floor was quiet,and nothing to do or worry about for once. Hikaru returned to leaning back and letting Kurenai’s choices in music play.
*BOOM* Hikaru rolled off her lounger, headphones falling off as she scanned the area, reacting to the sudden noise and spike of adrenaline.
“Hikaru-sama, the explosion was at Velvet’s door.” Kurenai’s own internal sensors and link to the dorm’s security system had instantly spotted where the explosion came from. Hikaru didn’t respond to her assistant, but was already moving, scooping up her katana as she flung open her door. Sprinting down the hall, she skidded to a stop, staring at the blown out door, with a soot covered girl blinking as she stuck her head out.
“Oh. Hey, Hikaru.” The blackened girl spoke, blinking her eyes. Soot covered, her vivid purple eyes were the only non-black visible on the girl, whose black hair had been blown back, still in a wavy form. “Guess my devise was a bit touchier than I thought.”
“... And…” Hikaru stopped for a second, trying to think on exactly how to put this to who was apparently a crazy person, or at least crazy for a devisor. “Ah… how should I put this?” Hikaru kept from facepalming by sheer willpower, even though she wanted to just palm her face badly. “You do realize that devises of any possible explosive nature should be kept in the labs, don’t you?” J Dean had skidded to a stop behind Hikaru and another person, and Phoenix Down had joined them. Hikaru felt her superiors’ facepalms.
Velvet blinked her purple eyes in contrast to the rest of her face. “Um… but I didn’t think it’d blow up the first time I used it.”
Hikaru just knew what everyone else was thinking, ‘is this girl completely insane?’ had to be running through everyone’s head as Phoenix Down went to the devisor, and began checking for injuries. She felt J Dean’s eyes on her back, urging her on. “As that may be.” The junior RA paused for a moment, shaking her head. “All untested devises or gadgets need to be in the labs until they’re rated as non explosive and safe to be around others, generally, I do believe. It is in your handbook.” Hikaru’s memory flashed to the page where it stated that, and she reviewed the wording.
“But… I’ve…” The girl was cut off by J Dean breaking in.
“No buts, Hikaru’s right. Bloody hell, girl, you’re paying for the repairs, I hope you know.”J Dean’s voice was tired. “All untested devises or gadgets are in the labs until proven safe. Precisely to keep your RA’s from running around in their underwear.”
“Oh.” Velvet blinked as if that hadn’t occurred to her. “It doesn’t bother my parents… and when my little brother tries to blow me up… they sleep through it.” She shrugged and added. “That’s why I’m good at personal force shields. She’s been a great help.”
Hikaru blinked. Blinked again. Was there something she missed in Velvet’s file?
“Elisabeth.” Hikaru thought on how to put this. “... your parents sleep though your little sister blowing you up?” She paused, giving in to an urge she couldn’t resist anymore. “Why?”
“Ah..” Elisabeth noted everyone listening. “I, um…” Pausing, she nodded once. “Well, I manifested her, and turned her into a girl.” Nodding, she pulled out another devise that was slightly smoking, as well as a rag she began to use on her face. “Huh, Bev’s bombs didn’t force my field to spark.”
“Um.” Hikaru’s and Velvet’s heads turned to look at the speaker, Tia. “... you turned your little brother into your little sister?” Tia had begun to shake, and edge away from the clearly dangerous maniac.
“Yes… he got in the way of me testing a devise on a friend of mine who wanted…” Elizabeth began, only to be cut off by J Dean.
“Wanted to be a girl.” J Dean’s voice broke in. “So, as a devisor, you tried to make it happen, and your little brother screwed it up.” His tone was dry. “Sorry, Hikaru, I thought this was in her file for you.” Both RA’s turned to the sound of rapidly running feet, and noticed a pair of ears disappearing around the corner. “Great balls of fire. Forgot about that.”
Hikaru just nodded, finally facepalming. “I’ll… deal with it.”
Phoenix Down muttered dryly, “Better you than me…”
Elizabeth blinked. “Was it something I said?” Pausing. “Or me getting blown up again?”
Hikaru paused again, trying to understand how someone could take getting blown up so...
*Nonchalantly, daughter?* Amaterasu’s voice was bemused, trying to understand what her avatar was seeing.
“Ah…” Hikaru thought on how to put this. “You are from California, right?”
“Yup!” The cheerful devisor’s response caused all three RAs to look at her.
“... Do you watch the news, girl?” Phoenix's voice responded, a bit incredulous.
“Uh… no? Should I?” Elisabeth just shook her head in puzzlement.
“Check your email.” Hikaru stated coldly, as she looked at her boggling AI. “Kurenai?”
“Sent, Hikaru-sama.” The AI nodded as she disappeared.
Elizabeth Taylor, aka Velvet nodded once. “Okay, I’ll go do that right now!” She disappeared into the still hazy room.
“Oh, for the bloody love…” J Dean just sighed. Hikaru couldn’t help but comment as she went to tend to the hiding rabbit girl.
“Going to be a fun semester?” Hikaru’s dry tone as she looked at the walls would have peeled the paint off them, if the explosion hadn’t already done that. J Dean was already on his phone, clearly calling either maintenance to repaint, or to Poe to discuss the psychopathic little sister of Velvet that the Melville RA’s had discovered existed.
*Much fun, I think. Now if you can only wear more bikinis like this where more people can see you! Maybe one of these explosions that nice girl seems fond of can blow it off!* Amaterasu’s voice was clearly amused by the absurdity of it all.
Hikaru went to comfort Tia, but couldn’t resist shooting back to her spirit. *And Kako would cheer if it was in public, while the IHA would have a heart attack.* Delivered in the same dry tone as she used on J Dean, Hikaru turned her attention to Tia as Amaterasu broke down in peals of laughter.
Mid Morning, Friday Sept 9th
Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
Hikaru was sipping at her drink again, yet another mocha. One nice thing about being here was she could get good chocolates and chocolate drinks once again. Having Kurenai flip though the new rules and updates, plus what she hadn’t memorized rule wise, as she had her mocha, was a good use of her time. Settling into a fugue state as she memorized and internalized the information, Hikaru was shook out of her semi trance by a voice clearing it’s throat.
“My dear, I have to ask, what are you reading so intensely? I saw you outside the corner of my eye as I was walking by, and couldn’t resist.” The lean, old gentleman’s intense brown-hazel eyes twinkled at her, contrary to his deep and ominous voice. His leaning on his cane heavily contributed to his appearance as an old grandfatherly type. Hikaru’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly at his pose. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she felt he was overacting his need for his cane. “I mean, I am sure the school isn’t in session until next Monday, so it shouldn’t be schoolwork.” His eyes and words took out some of the sting that could be taken, given his voice and build. “A nice day like this, you should be out and about with your friends.”
Hikaru blinked, her mind flipping though who this could be. Coming up blank, she put on a polite face and smile, and asked. “Forgive me, but I don’t think we’ve been introduced. I am Myoujin Hikaru, an RA in this dorm.”
“Oh. My apologies, my dear. You can call me Geoff, if you wish.” He smiled slightly, head inclined to indicate he wanted to sit. Hikaru nodded with a slight smile. It wasn’t like the rules wouldn’t be there to read later. “I’m here helping out for a bit, taking care of some affairs that would normally be the responsibility of one of the missing staff. Saw you sitting here, like so many other students around campus, and I wanted to see how you are taking the … situation.” Shaking his head, as if still coming to terms with the news, he added. “I was stunned to hear the news, myself, and was quite surprised that I was one of those asked to help with the situation. Not that anyone could truly replace Mrs. Carson or those lost with her. This school will be quite different without them, I would say.” While everything the man said was correct and even his body language reinforced what he was saying, it still felt slightly off to Hikaru, as if he was portraying what he thought she would want to see with his words. As if he was not truly used to dealing with young adults.
Hikaru nodded in response, keeping her inner thoughts to herself, as she pondered his words. She tapped in the code to be still on her wrist, since Kurenai was starting to buzz her but she felt in this case that it would be rude to let her interrupt. Hikaru debated what to say to the old gentleman, given that this situation reminded her of something, but couldn’t quite figure out what. She knew this situation, dammit! Mentally snorting, she moved on and abandoned her attempts to figure the situation out without calling him on his acting. “You are correct, Geoff-san.” Pausing for a moment, she nodded. “That… situation has thrown us all for a loop. I was supposed to have some more time to learn my position, so…”
“Playing catch-up, I see.” He nodded, steepling his fingers as he laced them in front of his mouth. “Attention to detail and duty, is all well and good, I do believe. Still, are you sure you can do it?” His voice deepened on the latter, and his intense eyes seemed to bore into Hikaru.
Hikaru kept from reacting at the man’s probing, convinced he was more than he seemed. “Of course. I agreed to do it.” Not letting all her inner doubts out, or so she hoped. “While I would of course have preferred the time I was supposed to have… needs must, and I will do what I agreed to do.” Her voice sharpened slightly, as if she didn’t want to be questioned.
The older gentleman leaned back and smiled slightly, as if satisfied. “Oh, of course, no one can say you won’t do what is expected of you. Even if you don’t want to do it, or aren’t the best for it, isn’t that right?”
Hikaru bristled, internally, though by the flash in the man’s eyes, she knew she wasn’t successful in keeping it all to herself. “Duty is duty, if it’s chosen or one is born to it. I will do my best.”
“Aaa.” Geoff nodded. “Well, forgive me, but I have to go, at this point. I do have some other things I need to accomplish today, I do think.” Standing, he paused for a second, then nodded. In Japanese, he spoke one last line. <”A willow bends in the wind, young maiden, I do believe. Teenagers are a wind, themselves, so are you, now. Remember that, and remember, you are not in Japan, even if your tutors only taught you Japanese rules, remember what you learned before them, and you will do fine, I think.”>
Hikaru blinked at the man, as he departed. Blinking again, she shook her head, trying to parse the conversation, convinced that there was a lot more going on. Remembering Kurenai, she tapped her bangle.
“Finally.” Kurenai’s tone was annoyed. “That was Le Compte, Hikaru-sama.”
“Oh.” Hikaru blinked again, and realized what was going on. “Oh. Oh, my.” Hikaru’s stunned expression amused the AI, and would have amused everyone else who would have happened to walk by.
Early Evening, Friday Sept 9th, 2016
Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
“Aaaa.” Hikaru smiled as she leaned back into the custom tub sitting in her bathroom. It was nice being an RA, she decided, especially since they allowed the rooms to be customized, and a private bath was a very nice perk, since that allowed for a setup that allowed for even a rinsing area, and a place for a nice long soak. Putting a towel on her forehead, she settled in for the aforementioned good long soak, knowing she had time, and no interruptions should happen, the other girls were getting ready for the mixer, and she had dealt with all the possible issues already.
“Hikaru-sama.” Kurenai’s voice broke into Hikaru’s relaxed trance. “Kako-sama is on the line for you.” Hikaru blinked. Blinked again. It was 6am in Tokyo!
“... put her on the holo display, please, Kurenai-chan.” Hikaru sighed, plotting again another evasion session for her cousin. Putting the pleasant thought aside, she stepped out of the tub, and wrapped a towel around her body, padding to her room.
<“Ah, Hikaru-chan!”> Kako’s cheery voice came through loud and clear. “.... Um… why are you bathing?” Kako’s head titled. <“It’s only 6 pm there, I believe, so... And speak English, I need practice.“>
Hikaru rolled her eyes, as she sat down in front of the holo display on top of her vanity. “Ha, ha. I wanted to soak, been a long few days.”
“... yes, but, you’re predictable. You bathe about an hour before bed. Are you actually going to bed early on a friday?” Kako’s voice sounded scandalized. “I’m sure there’s things to do on campus, like hang out, meet and greet… you know, socialize?”
“I could ask you the same question, Kako-chan. Why are you up at 6 in the morning?” Hikaru threw back the question in a wry tone. “Or is it you haven’t gone to bed, yet?”
Kako rolled her eyes. “If you must know, I have a early function to attend. Now, spill. Tell me you aren’t going to bed early. And don’t lie!”
“I don’t have to.” Hikaru snorted. “Mixer tonight for Melville.” Hikaru shrugged, and added. “So, bathed early, then I’ll go make sure everyone else is ready.”
“Right. Well you have some time, right?” Kako eyed her cousin.
“Yes, I do. About… a half hour?” Hikaru studied the time nodding once.
“Good! Good! Now, because I know you, and know you’d not complain or say a word on your own, did everything get set up and painted correctly? Not to mention unpacked?” Kako’s left eyebrow rose a bit indicating it was a serious question.
Instead of answering, Hikaru picked up Kurenai, and walked into the bathroom, letting Kurenai transmit pictures of the soft rose room, with a Japanese style rinsing area, as well as the tub, to Kako’s nod. Then into the soft white room, with white carpet, she went in, padding along so Kako could see the bamboo plant near the door to the hallway, the miniature rose bush on a table near the patio door, and Hikaru’s bonsai, on her work desk. Kako nodded, as the display went over the bed, the armoire and dresser.
“Good!” Kako paused. “Still think we should have gotten you one of the programmable beds for the dorm.” She blew out a breath. “But noooo, you’d have complained it’s too much money. For someone as well off as you are, cousin, you can be downright stingy.”
“It’s not my money, it’s…” Hikaru was cut off.
“I know, I know, but you think they’d begrudge you spending it on things to make your life better?” Kako said softly. “You know better, Hikaru.” She carefully didn’t bring up Hikaru’s sudden sadness. “But! That’s not the point. We’ll discuss what you’re wearing tonight, in a bit. Hopefully you remembered rule one, taught to you by your elder cousin! Make the boys pant!”
“Kako!” Hikaru was jolted out of her mood by Kako’s teasing. “I swear… I’m not…” She was cut off by her cousin.
“You are too easy at times, I know.” Kako grinned at her cousin, and spoke. “However, it’s all good. Now… how’s it going?” A pause, and a nod. “Really, cousin, how is it going there?”
Hikaru sighed. “It’s going fine. Did you get Kurenai’s flash report?” Kako nodded. “Troublesome, it is.” Shrugging. “At least it’s Le Compte, the file on him you sent was useful.”
“Yes, Carson-dono’s succession plan in this case was quite inspired. He should keep up Whateley’s traditions, I do believe, little cousin.” Kako nodded in respect.
“One can hope.” Hikaru paused. “Well… besides that, trying to do the job of an RA, while meeting important staff. That reminds me, I need a license and a car, Kako-chan.”
Kako’s eyes narrowed a bit. “Ara?”
“I’m taking their driving course, and joining a club, so I can have a car on campus, but…” Hikaru grinned. “So. If you would be so kind as to arrange both, I would be so thankful.” Pausing for a second. “Thankful enough to forget exactly who signed me up for Home Ec. After all, whoever did that would gain evasion training… again.”
Kako paled a bit and then grinned. “Good one, Hikaru-chan!” Nodding. “I’ll arrange it. Any idea on the car?”
“Eh, a Fairlady NISMO’ed would work, I guess, charge it to my account.” Hikaru nodded,.
Kako rolled her eyes. “Not a problem, cousin. I’ll arrange the license and the car. Now. I want… details. Exactly what is being an RA like? Is it like being a class representative or student council member? Helping new students and your floor members with everything?”
Hikaru sighed, letting some of her uncertainly though. “I guess so, I’m supposed to meet them before the mixer.” She sighed again. “Semi formal, again, so. I doubt any of these girls knows what that means, not really.” She rolled her eyes, greeted by a nod from Kako. Neither of the two were fond of all the functions nor clothing they often had to wear, but it was part of their station.
“Going to make sure that like a good student council upperclassmen they’ll bring no shame to themselves, their floor, their dorm, their school and of course, their family, right, Hikaru-chan?” Kako’s voice was a bit serious. “You can do that, I know you can. Just remember what you were taught.”
Hikaru sighed again, looking though worried eyes at Kako, and responded. “I don’t know, these children… don’t have much in common with me, Kako-chan. I mean…” She stopped for a moment, then continued on. “I really don’t know if I’m the right person for this. These kids are… kids. And American raised. I don’t know … how to reach them.”
Kako snorted. “You’re their RA, Hikaru. Just make sure they know the rules and follow them. Like tonight. It’s semi formal, right?” Hikaru nodded, and Kako continued. “Just make sure they’re dressed right, and do what any good student president would do, make sure they follow the rules and dress code, you can do that, Hikaru. Seriously, it’s not that hard, just have confidence and do what you know, and they’ll respond! And you had that class, Miss Exemplar memory!”
Hikaru nodded, but still looked worried. “Seriously, Kako… was this…”
“Oh… for the love of.” Kako sighed. “Hikaru! How many times do we have to go over this? Yes, this is the right place, right idea. You need Whateley. Not for powers, but to learn who and what you are. You’ve been bad at being yourself, you know? I wonder at times about your family, and how …” Hikaru started to respond heatedly, only to be cut off by Kako’s hologram raising a hand. “No, Hikaru, listen. Your family has always done it’s duty, but most of them knew how to live too. Somehow you haven’t gotten that though your stubborn head, cousin. Hopefully Whateley will get it though to you, or do I have to arrange something else?” Kako eyed her cousin, who deflated. “Good. At least you’re doing something for yourself.” Kako grinned at Hikaru’s sudden blush. “And also. Stop being so uncertain, you’re able to do this, you’ve been taught by the best tutors the IHA could arrange for you, and you’ll be a good class representative and student leader! You’ve been taught by the best Japan has!”
Hikaru blew out a breath, and in a rare tone, sought reassurance. “So, what you’re telling me, cousin, is I need to just be a class leader, and student leader, as I was taught by those tutors the Household hired, right?”
Kako nodded. “Right! That’s all you need to do. It’s like being back here, in school. Except you’re the one telling them to bow!” She grinned. “Still, you also need to do things for yourself. Will you do that?” She pouted. “Please, for me?”
Hikaru sighed again. “Get me a car, and we’ll talk.” Uncertainty coloured her tone as she asked… “Exactly what else can I do… for myself?”
Kako blinked. “Are you asking?” Delight coloured Kako’s tone as she responded. “Well, well! Good! First, you find what you like. There are plenty of classes, and clubs at Whateley, and you’re more than able to do two clubs, so on club day, go look at them, and see what you think you might like. Take optional classes, since they’re not a track program. Play around. Find friends, see what they do, and see if what they do you like.” Kako raised an eyebrow at Hikaru again.
“... fine, I’ll do it, since everyone seems to think …” Hikaru stopped, and sighed, looking at the time. “Eh, I need to start…” Kako raised her hand again.
“Show me!” Kako demanded. “Spirits only know how you’d dress yourself, if you weren’t watched!”
Hikaru sighed, knowing full well she deserved this, in some ways. “Fine.” Walking over to the armoire, she pulled out a dress on a hanger, as well as a pair of shoes from the larger on the inside compartment.
“Hmmm.” Kako narrowed her eyes somewhat, and nodded. “While not too much sex appeal, baby steps, baby steps.”
“... I’m not…” Hikaru was cut off again by Kako.
“No, you’re not a dress up doll for me, cousin. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not trying that. I’m trying to get you to loosen up, and have men and women approach you for various reasons, so you can see if they’ll be friends.”
Hikaru narrowed her eyes. “Sex appeal isn’t the only way…”
Kako shook her head. “But it’s easy. Guys will turn their heads, and you like it. I know that.” She paused to Hikaru opening her mouth, then blushing slightly. “Good, I know you better than you think. I am observant.”
“I never denied that.” Hikaru shot back, returning to her uncertainly. “But… these are…”
“They’re people, nothing more, nothing less. You know, cousin. We might be Japanese, and required to put on our masks in public, but you do know we are allowed to let people see behind them, right?” Kako’s eyes bored into Hikaru’s. “You really need to do that. If I didn’t get you smashed at least once, I’d wonder if you were human.”
Hikaru blushed again at that reminder. “Kako…”
“Now, now. Go get dressed, go make sure your floor is properly dressed, then party!” Pausing. “Since it’s a party, make sure you tease the boys… or deliver on the promises.” Kako’s tone turned sultry. “It’s one way to get behind your mask!”
“KAHO!” Hikaru screeched, blushing.
“Well, you really do need to let them in, Hikaru… and you’re too stiff at times. Maybe a good…”
“KAHO!” Hikaru was now blushing. “You KNOW better… besides the legal issues can you...”
Kako’s graceful shrug made her point as well as her following words. “The IHA isn’t there, and tabloids know better than to mention that… so what Father and Grandfather don’t know, won’t hurt them… and you do need something to loosen up… or at least if you’re going to have a stick inserted… have a sword?” Kako grinned.
“...” Kako was treated to Hikaru going thermonuclear, and then screeching again. “KAHO!”
“Gotta go, bye!” The hologram disconnected.
Evening, Friday, Sept 9th
Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
Tia’s ears twitched, straining for the sound of heels tapping against the floor. She really wanted to see Hikaru’s expression at sight of the collected girls. Sure, as Michelle told her (and it explained some of the clothing in her closet), Whateley had sent out a list of required clothing for Melville-bound students, but apparently the list, or at least Hikaru’s note to the whole floor about evening wear of a semi-casual nature or better had not sunk in. Michelle for example, while wearing evening wear… it wasn’t casual. Bedroom, maybe, more thin mesh than lace, leaving almost nothing to the imagination, for sure. At least it was evening wear, no matter how not ready for public it was. Janelle Grey was the one who was aggressively staring at the rest of the girls, who now included the junior high students, all dressed properly, and muttering under her breath. Before Lapin could zero in on what she said, the door opened, and Hikaru walked in.
Lapin watched as the RA’s eyes swept over the crowd, glancing over the variations of cocktail dresses worn, like Lapin’s knee-high purple and black slit skirt number, or Heartfinder’s white belted sundress, finally stopping at Ms. Grey and Ms. Brown. She couldn’t resist a grin at the sigh the RA gave.
“Miss Grey, Miss Brown, Miss Taylor.” Hikaru’s voice cut through the quiet conversations. “Did you not get the note I left? I’m sure that I was clear on the requirements for tonight.” Lapin looked at the third named, who’s hair was a mess, and seemed to have just tossed a lab coat over a slightly burnt dress.
Before the other two could speak, Miss Grey, Sheba, snapped back at her RA. “Heteropatriarchal suppression of women! That’s what those clothes are! I’m not going to let some drooling thug, who wants me barefoot and pregnant, stare at me!”
Everyone turned to look at Sheba. Lapin just knew everyone was thinking the same thing. ‘Is she for real’? Finally Hikaru spoke softly, but with an undertone of something Lapin couldn’t quite identify. “Miss Grey. I really don’t understand your logic.” Pausing, she shot the girl a glare. “Nor, must I admit, care. You will change into proper evening wear, you will return. Or you will be spending your night alone. Part of the compact you agreed to, by picking Melville as your dorm, is that you would dress correctly for both school AND cottage only functions. If you don’t, you will not be in this dorm, anymore.” Hikaru shot another look around, then back to Miss Grey. “And the extra tuition you paid, is not refundable.”
Sheba stomped out of the room, clearly angry. As she did, Hikaru’s eyes swept the room again. “That goes for you all, as well as I. As Melvillians, we are expected and required to obey the extra requirements of this dorm, and it’s rules. This is intentional. With wealth or position, comes responsibilities, and Whateley is committed to teach you to at least try to live up to them. Or we won’t be in this dorm. Further, your choice of dress and behavior, not only reflects on you, and your family, but your roommates, your floormates, and, in the end, the dorm. Please remember that. We are your family, while here, and what you do and what we do, reflects on each other.”
“Well said!” Tiff walked in behind Hikaru, brushing off a hair from Hikaru’s scrunched gold tunic dress. Tiff’s eye swept down Hikaru, noting the red belt and red gladiator heels she wore. “Nice.” Sweeping her eyes, she clearly was counting and checking students. “… missing one?” Pausing, her eyes landing on Matsu, she blinked. “And…”
“I haven’t finished, no.” Hikaru sighed, and turned to Matsu, while Tiff just turned to the two Junior high girls. “Michelle.” Hikaru’s tone was resigned. “There is a time, and there is a place for such an outfit. Tonight, downstairs is not that time, nor that place. Please try again.”
Matsu opened her mouth, only to get a unimpressed look shot at her by her RA. “Fine, fine. How am I to properly hunt, though?”
“Consider it a challenge. Nubia or Nimah seem to … be able to understand.” Hikaru sighed again, as Matsu wandered out, hips swaying, showing she believed in g-strings. Lapin turned to look at the two mentioned girls, and realized as a boy, she’d be staring. Proper, yes, but, still. There was something about their outfits that suggested … everything.
“And as for you, Miss Taylor.” The named girl looked up from a device in her hands. “Forgot what time it was?” The sheepish grin Hikaru got in response, elicited another sigh from Hikaru, who added. “Well.”
“Yeah, I understand.” With that, Velvet, the named Miss Taylor, walked out, to Hikaru’s shaking head.
After making sure the two munchkins were properly attired, and in order, which was a bit of a challenge, Tiff finished by straightening out Janet’s blue sheath dress and turnedto look at Hikaru. “Don’t envy you, Hikaru, not with her on your floor, she’s soooo typical gadgeteer!”
Tia shuddered a bit, edging closer to the non device making students, she hoped. “Um, are we going to wait?”
Tiff and Hikaru shot a look at each other, and nodded. “Yes.” Tiff replied. “As Hikaru here has already said, we are family in Melville, we take care of our own, and we try to make sure no one reflects badly on the dorm as a whole. That also means we stand with each other, whenever possible…” She paused, letting Hikaru pick up the speech.
“If you are caught behaving in a manner that is unsuited for the House, you will be asked politely to change your ways.” Tiff nodded in response, and then Hikaru continued, rehashing what she had already said, to hopefully drive it into the girl’s minds. “If you chose not to, we will chose not to have you in Melville. That simple. Melville is a privilege that we have been granted, due to our status, and with that, comes responsibility.” Hikaru’s eyes swept the gathered girls, including Miss Grey who had slipped back into Hikaru’s accepting nod, approving of her simple gray sheath dress. “Previous students have not lived up to that responsibility, tainting the dorm’s name, the students who had not done anything wrong, and frankly, a reputation that is not desirable among our peers.”
Tiff nodded, standing up and adjusting her bodycon bandage black minidress, her eyes sweeping the crowd. “At least 3 of the students Hikaru’s referring to are either dead or in prison as we speak. And there’s a persistent rumor that the headmistress, Mrs. Carson, made sure another was going down personally.” Tiff nodded once. “You might ask why didn’t our predecessors as RA’s deal with them, and the answer is, it’s thanks to them and a growing student body, that we were appointed.” She eyed Velvet, who outside combing her hair into some semblance of order was presentable in a purple belted knee-length number. “We won’t rat you out to the staff, but we’ll try to make sure you listen to the rules, and we can suggest to Concierge, if you’re suited for the dorm. She will take our advice.”
Hikaru eyed Matsu, now in a little black dress without sleeves and a plunging neckline, and continued on for Tiff. “We aren’t here to make your lives difficult, but to help teach you and guide you. And to make sure you have everything you need to do well in life.”
“And with that, let’s party! Even the freshman boys should be down there by now, so let’s go tease them and have fun!” Tiff grinned. “We do do fun things, too, you know.” Tiff waved the girls out, Tia eyeing her RA’s slight look of relief as none of the girls stayed behind, chattering to each other, except Breakdance who seemed to follow her roommate around, slightly spaced out.
Tia fell in with Hikaru and Tiff, who was just shaking her head. “So… we’ll expect Matsu do that stunt often?”
Tiff rolled her eyes. “Hope not, otherwise, poor Hikaru will be ripping her hair out over her.” Hikaru shot Tiff a look. “Oh, come on, Hikaru, it’s not like you haven’t noticed she’ll go after anything that moves, and isn’t too fussy about looks or gender.”
Hikaru sighed. “True, that. I wonder…” Tiff shot her a look.
“It’s not our job to wonder, and not tonight. Party!” Tiff held the door open for the refitted ballroom, and nodded at the two girls. “Go, go, meet and mingle!” She grinned. “I’m going to go save poor Justin from his latest admirer since Becca isn’t here to save him. Coming, Hikaru?” Tiff’s last to Lapin’s ears was clearly not a question, but a statement to the younger RA. Hikaru apparently agreed and followed her senior, to Lapin’s amusement.
Evening, Friday, Sept 9th
Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
Tiff looked at her reflection in the mirror, giving herself a wink and a thumbs up.
Turning to Hikaru, she smiled. “You do really need to lighten up, Hikaru. These kids aren’t Japanese.” Shaking her head, she looked Hikaru over. “You’re way too much controlled and frankly, intimidating. Add in the Japanese school council president thing you seem to run with, you’ll have half of them plotting your overthrow, the other half too terrified of you to come to you. I know you know better, I think… But it’s almost like you’re reading off a script of what you’re expected by everyone else, instead of following your own path.”
Hikaru opened her mouth, then closed it, tilting her head slightly, considering her fellow’s words. Finally scuffing a tile with her sole, she muttered. “Blame my tutors.” Sighing, she shook her head. “Though with …”
“Yeah. Michelle. Jean. Elisabeth.” Tiff snorted. “But I can tell you the hardass ‘tude that you’re presenting as a overworked Ojou, isn’t going to work, not with the majority of them.” Snickering, she added. “You could also ask Phoenix for advice, she tried a similar tack too... She wised up.” Shaking her head at Hikaru’s badly hidden annoyance and slight puzzlement, she added. “It’s not that it’s a bad thing to be somewhat strict, Hikaru.” Tapping her chin she nodded once. “But mercy is it’s own sharp blade.” Hikaru stiffened at that.
“I treat…” Hikaru started, a bit heatedly. How dare the knockoff imply… She was cut off by Tiff.
Tiff snorted. “Not saying you don’t empathize or at least try to with the majority of your floor. Hell, you’re keeping a very tight eye on Tia, for one. I know that.” Tapping out her lipstick to touch up, she continued. “But the students don’t SEE you being there for the others, you just lurk. As if you’re sitting there, waiting for them to break the rules.. .so you can enforce them with glee.”
Hikaru winced. She wasn’t doing that… was she?
*Oh, I don’t know, some of these could use a … hand. But others a hug, so...* Amaterasu’s voice was amused. *But I’ll be back later, musume, enjoy the party.* Hikaru couldn’t respond before Amaterasu had departed for her own things.
“I… “ Hikaru took a deep breath. “With some of…” Tiff nodded.
“With some of them, you have to lay down the law fast. But until they prove otherwise, try talking, not lurking and watching? I’ve noted you tend to withdraw when possible.” Tiff snorted.
“I don’t run away.” Hikaru huffed. “I’m catching up, it’s not like…” Tiff just looked at the avatar. “Okay, so I try to get some time for myself, mostly to …”
“Mmm hmm.” Tiff shook her head. “Try getting to know them, Hikaru. Not be the distant figure, but their acquaintance who knows things and isn’t out to make their time here a pain, if not their friend. And as for that, you don’t have any here, do you? All work and no play makes Hikaru a dull girl. You really should find some freinds to hang out with, we’re not on duty all the time, like tonight. House parents are here, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves!”
Hikaru stiffened. It was on the tip of her tongue to deny Tiff’s question, but she couldn’t disprove it for some reason. She had a friend here, didn’t she? “I…” Sighing. “Dammit.”
Tiff’s eyebrow raised. “Oh?”
“Fine, fine.” Hikaru blew out a breath. “Still. It’s what I was taught after…”
“What’s good for japan, or what your tutors after your burnout thought was good for you, isn’t good here… or for you, maybe.” Tiff snorted. “We’re like no other school on earth, you know, so the rules here , and what you need to do…” She quirked an eyebrow.
Hikaru shook her head slightly. Looking up at the ceiling, she blew out a breath. “Be American, not Japanese?” Hikaru asked idly.
“Yeeep. Or at least more than you are. Sure if you got the tutoring after your burnout that I expect you did, you have an idea how Americans act, I hope.” She got a quirky grin from Hikaru. “Good!” Putting her makeup away, she looped an arm though the smaller girl’s own arm. “So, let’s go out and party. Shame no booze, I do know Japanese have different rules for that, but pretend you are drinking? Let your hair down?”
“... I’ll try.” Hikaru sighed. “But… I want something in return.”
Tiff’s eyebrow rose again. “Oh?~”
“Tomorrow morning… spar. You’re in AMA, right?” Hikaru shrugged. “I really need and want to burn my skills back in, and the only way to do so is a serious sparring session or 10.”
“Sure. Me and you? Maybe we should invite Kelly and a few others.” Tiff grinned. “To watch, he’s an avid martial artist student.”
“Oh, I have Taka to help you try to get my skills back in shape.” Hikaru smiled darkly.
“... this should be interesting.” Tiff mused. “Got to invite a few other people, got to.” Tiff grinned as she pulled Hikaru out of the bathroom. “But now, it’s time to paaaaaaaaarty.”
Late Night, Friday, Sept 9th
Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
*Exactly what do you think you were doing at that party, musume?* Amaterasu’s voice was a bit irritated.
Hikaru stopped pulling her heels off, and shot back, annoyed. “Mixing, thank you very much.” She resumed removing her heels, only to hear her spirit’s voice.
*I don’t call that mixing. I call it being… political, in a place where there was no need. You could have had fun, accepted some of the offers to continue dancing, played with the boys, talk about things. You know, enjoy yourself.* Amaterasu’s voice was a bit miffed. *Some of those boys were quite tasty, who knows, maybe vertical dancing could have…*
*... have you been talking to Kako-chan again?* Hikaru’s mental voice sounded resigned. *Because that sounds exactly what she’d say.*
*She is a good granddaughter, she is. Quite wise.* Ammy’s voice gave the clear impression of a nod. *It doesn’t change my question, daughter.*
*... First and foremost: Laws.* Hikaru paused, pulling off her dress. *Second off… I don’t have anything in common with the other girls.* Sniffing, as she pulled out a robe, and gathered a pair of panties, intending to take another bath, *So, exactly what small talk could I have made? And well, with Icarus and...*
*That reminds me. You really do need to… oh, how would some of these children put it? Oh, yes. “Loosen the fuck up.”* Hikaru stopped in shock at her spirit’s voice. *Take Avery-chan’s offer. Or if not that, maybe work on some of the boys… or maybe show Michelle that teasing gets you taken up on the offers.* Pausing. *As for the small talk, you could have discussed role-playing games, or some fiction you like, maybe, you seemed to like those, or some older video games with that Sidhe and Tiff.* Sniffing, Amaterasu went on. *You cannot, and I mean this, daughter, just count on driving to release your stress and take you away from all the pressures you are under.*
Hikaru couldn’t help to wince. *Why is everyone saying that? I can...*
Before she could finish, Amaterasu’s voice cut in a bit coldly. *You cannot. I’ve let this go on for too long. No one, not even me, can go on forever without taking me time, in more amount than you’ve ever allocated since you’ve become my daughter. Period. You should go to a strip club.* The voice sounded sly. *Maybe I can find one that Benten-chan or one of her people will perform at. If that doesn’t cause some other tension that she’d be quite agreeable to releasing for you, I don’t know what will. But, you will find things to do that are both fun and relaxing for you, and I do not care if my older descendant’s servants would be upset at it. Nor silly human laws, if that’s the way it falls. You are my daughter, not their perfect little prize, you will not be the perfect little princess, because no one can!*
Hikaru carefully didn’t respond for a moment, as she regained her movement into the bathroom *... I’ll think about it.* she finally stated. Couldn’t Amaterasu understand?
*Do more than just think about it. I didn’t go to the effort of activating you for Japan or others to use you. That would be quite contrary to my plans, or what I want from you.* Amaterasu’s voice was flat towards her avatar.
*No… you just…* Hikaru started to shoot back as she checked her water, but she was cut off again.
*Be the only one to ‘use’ you?* A snort rang though Hikaru’s head. *Not the plan, daughter, dear. But until you’re more human, more alive, more yourself and more willing to be yourself, I won’t detail out the plan, daughter dear.* A sigh. *Take care of yourself, first. Without that, you cannot do anything for anyone, not after a while.* Amaterasu’s voice faded but she had a parting shot. *And that is what you do not want to do, fail anyone… but what about failing yourself?*
Hikaru sighed, and commented after her spirit had withdrawn. “Easy for her to say… easy for her to say.” Looking at the bath, she shook her head. “I do do things for myself, don’t I?” Apparently everyone thought she didn’t. Maybe … first, get the car from Kako. That’d help, and maybe a class or two to take for herself, she did enjoy some classes back in school A fiction course? See what the voc rehab people said, and then plot.
“Yes. That’ll make them happy.” Hikaru nodded, disrobing for her soak.
Early Morning, Saturday, Sept 10th
Outside Melville Dorm, Whateley Academy
Hikaru felt Kelly’s eyes sweep the three who were here to spar. Tiff bouncing in a battle outfit clearly modeled on her likeness’ battle outfit, Kenshin in a gi with a few shinai grasped in his hand, and of course her. Since this wasn’t a formal spar or tournament, she had chosen to wear tights, a leotard and a loose t-shirt over the leotard, and her feet were in tai chi slippers.
“Right. You three have agreed to all the rules, as I loosely call them, and registered this with Security. So, separate, wait until I say go, and get it on!” Kelly nodded, walking away, shaking her head, once again female for the day, thanks to Slick Willy of all people.
Kelly waited till all three were roughly an equal distance apart, and clearly ready to begin. Hikaru had a quiver full of shinai strapped to her back, while Kenshin had dropped his pile of them next to his starting point. Tiff Lock was just waiting, checking her gloves. Sighing at the obvious stupidity of his fellow RA, Kelly nodded her head. “GO!”
Hikaru drew a shinai from her quiver, and hit the quick release on the quiver so it would fall to the ground and she wouldn’t be burdened by it, as Tiff rocketed forward, joined by Kenshin just a hair faster than the RA. Feeling a fire absent for too long begin to burn, Hikaru let everything else go, except the fight as she triggered her energizer boosts. These two would learn she still had the skills she worked too hard for too long to gain.
From the ‘sidelines’, Laura watched. Still slightly smarting over Kurenai’s text about the invitation to watch the spar, she grumbled. Stupid VI, not everyone could afford a top of the line phone. Complaining that hers wasn’t good enough. “I really need to get Hikaru alone. Her assistant is even more arrogant than she is!” The blue-skinned inventor grumbled. But what really caught her attention was the grins and smiles on all the participant’s faces as Hikaru dodged, bobbed and occasionally blocked punches and strikes from Kenshin with her shinai. It was hard to see an expression on Hikaru’s face, as the soft glow she was giving out blurred her features a bit from this distance.
“And that’s why you don’t use a shinai to block exemplar 4 punches, boys and girls!” a voice in the crowd rang out as one of Tiff’s punches shattered the wooden sword Hikaru was using. Laura winced as the lower half whacked Kenshin in the side, but he powered through to whack Hikaru’s blocking arm. The wince on the girl’s face, told Laura that Kenshin wasn’t pulling his strikes very much, but was quickly surpassed by Tiff’s high kick that while blocked from landing fully, still seemed to make some contact with Hikaru’s head.
“Hey.” Jimmy jogged up, startling Laura. “Did I miss anything? Kenshin said he’d be sparring here today Record, Tavi.”
“Tavi gots!” the ferret VI in his ninja garb responded, perching on top of Jimmy’s head, as Jimmy began to stare amazed at the speed and skill on display.
Laura couldn’t help but smile slightly as Hikaru was clearly on the defensive, though the other two weren’t able to land a blow on Hikaru’s body. “No, not really, though you missed Tiff breaking a shinai.” Both turned to watch as a flash seemed to appear in two places, as Hikaru scooped up her quiver, pulling out a shinai. Flashing forward in yet another flash of golden light, she had brought the stick down on Tiff’s head, breaking it, while twisting to avoid most of Kenshin’s blow to her head in exchange, though by the unstable landing, it was clear that Kenshin had gotten a good hit in.
Another flash of light from two places showed Hikaru had moved while Tiff was staggered to gain a clear space to charge Kenshin, her shinai’s tip almost touching the ground as she met Kenshin’s charge. Bringing it up, she smashed through Kenshin’s attempted block, slamming into his side, and lifting him off his feet by the force of the blow.
“Oh, my.” Laura turned to Tia who appeared behind her with Tanya next to her, Laura looked back to the fight, only to see Tiff get Hikaru in a headlock.
“Got you!” Tiff’s voice was cheerful, having clearly enjoyed finally catching the younger girl.
“Don’t think so.” Hikaru panted, as she suddenly swung her legs all the way up, slightly splitting them, then as she kept bringing her legs up and behind her head, closing them to box Tiff’s ears.
“OW!” Laura heard over the clearing, as Hikaru still seemed to be latched on to Tiff, via her feet, and she rotated herself up with her legs sliding across Tiff’s head, locking her in the V of her inner thighs as her legs locked. Laura knew her jaw was trying to imitate the others in the crowd as this fight progressed.
Laura couldn’t help but comment to the peanut gallery, as she watched Hikaru pull Tiff Lock skyward, by using her knees as a lever to pull her back as the younger girl landed on her hands, “This is going to hurt…” Everyone winced as Hikaru’s vice grip was released and sent Tiff at high speed into Melville’s wall with an audible thump. The older RA slid down the wall, clearly out of the fight, and Hikaru flicked a mix of sweat and blood off her forehead, the blood was from, as far as Laura could tell, Kenshin’s earlier strike. What troubled Laura the most, was the grin that she could see on Hikaru’s face. She was enjoying this!
“Uh, oh…” Tanya couldn’t help but comment as Kenshin, recovered from Hikaru’s previous strike, brought his shinai down, only to have it met by Hikaru’s newest shinai. Everyone’s jaw dropped in shock as both shinai broke under the pressures involved, and Kenshin’s shattered stump slashed down Hikaru’s face, tracing a bloody path down her forehead and cheek.
Everyone stared as that didn’t remove the grin from Hikaru’s face, as she brought her leg up, catching Kenshin in his kidney while she brought her elbow down on his head.
“STAY DOWN!” Hikaru shouted as Kenshin crumpled. Laura couldn’t help but shake her head as Kenshin fell onto the ground in a heap, the girl turning around, and as she looked at the fallen RA, Hikaru winced, clearly upset at herself, and commenting “Ooops, a bit too early on the release there.” Laura noted that while her words were light, it was clear Hikaru was upset by the state of the older girl.
All the bystanders took a step back as Hikaru’s eyes swept past the crowd. This was only helped along by the glow that she had, which was now stronger around her head, and clearly was helping to heal her injuries. Her eyes seemed to speak to Laura, of ‘I am more than ready to take anyone else on. Does Anyone Dare?’
Laura couldn’t help but both be terrified and eager to meet the challenge on. But before she could make up her mind, Hikaru blinked as her smile dimmed a bit. “Oh. That … stung.” Laura couldn’t help but facepalm as Hikaru joined the other two on the ground.
Mid Morning, Saturday, Sept 10th
Doyle Medical Center, Whateley Academy.
Hikaru’s first thought on awakening was a mental rebuke for pushing that hard. She knew she had gone overboard, simply reveling in the fact she hadn’t lost what she had been taught by the man, her last living Myoujin relative at the time, had taught her.
“I see you’re awake.” An unfamiliar voice drew her out of her inner musings. Opening her eyes, she spotted a tall and statuesque African American woman. Hikaru’s mental files instantly came up with a name, Amanda Tolman, the master of Whateley’s dojo who she had met the previous day. The named woman continued in an annoyed tone. “So… care to explain to me exactly what you were thinking in that spar?”
“Ah…” Hikaru paused, knowing that the sensei was right. “I have no excuse. Forgive me.”
A snort was her response, as she looked at the sensei. Hearing the next words, she couldn’t keep the dismay off her face. “Myoujin, those levels of spars need to be held under staff supervision. I don’t really care if all of you agreed to it, Miss Bandis at the least was not truly aware of what you meant by sparring in this case, and to be deadly honest, too many students saw the spar, and are quietly freaking out… Or not so quietly.”
Hikaru winced, and sighed. “Yes, sensei.” Pausing for a moment, she admitted softly. “I had … forgotten, I think just how …”
“Unprepared Americans in general are for traditional master or near masters going at it in full contact?” Amanda snorted. “I’d also say you forgot just how deadly you are, too.”
Hikaru nodded. “I cannot disagree, Sensei, I had… lost myself in the moment.”
“Uh-huh. Right. I’ll think of something to… remind you of what you’re about and just how to go about it. Girl, you were rated a master, and just from the video of the spar, I can tell you still are. But you’ve clearly forgotten what mastery means.” The sharp look at the girl in the bed was clearly judgmental. “Until you prove to me you can, your spars are restricted to my supervision or an appointed by me supervisor. Like it or not.”
Hikaru nodded. That was a mild punishment all things considered. “Of course, Sensei. It is your dojo.”
Tolman smiled, pleased at her response. “Oh, yes. And I will find something else besides letting you loose on American- raised children, so I can recertify your mastery myself. Until then…”
Hikaru couldn’t keep the dismay off her face, and the irritation out of her voice. “Hai, sensei.”
“Good. Miss Bandis wants to speak to you, I believe.” Tolman turned on her heel and walked out, apparently to get Tiff.
Hikaru stared at the ceiling, running her hand through her hair. She deserved that. She wasn’t’ supposed to lose herself in the moment.
Tiff bounced in, smiling. “Hey, Hikaru.” Grinning she playfully thumped Hikaru’s arm. “Next time, explain to me what you mean by sparring? I’d have done a few things differently!”
Hikaru blinked. “Ah…” Blushing slightly, she moved to apologize about her actions, but was cut off.
“Hush. Don’t apologize. I should have asked what you meant. I know you’re from Japan, like Taka, and well.” Nancy’s shrug was eloquent. “Just remember it next time!”
Hikaru blinked. “But… I nearly killed you by getting lost in the moment…” Hikaru’s tone was bewildered as if she couldn’t understand why Tiff Lock was taking this so cheerfully.
“Eh. Nearly, not did. You didn’t intend to, just… got lost in the fight. And you weren’t trying to kill me, that’s for sure, or I’d be dead. Thanks for that!” The older RA’s smile took the sting out of her words, as Hikaru responded with a fragile smile. Tiff pretended to not notice the fragility and continued on. “After all, it was good for me. I learned something important, not just about you, but about fighting. Villains won’t be as nice as you are!”
Hikaru blew out a breath she didn’t really know she was holding in, and took the older girl’s unstated offer and nodded. “True. But… how are we…”
“Up and ready to rock for today? Becca.” Tiff nodded at Hikaru’s ah of realization. “So, get out of bed, get dressed, and let’s go! Lots to do today!” Hikaru watched as her sempai bounced out of the room. Looking up at the ceiling she just shook her head, and proceeded to do what she was told.
Evening, Saturday, Sept 10th
The Tunnels, near Melville, Whateley Academy.
Hikaru adjusted her red blazer again, seeking to make it fit right, though knowing it was a lost cause. Snorting, as she moved to the buffet table laden with Chinese food, being underground was her issue, not her clothing.
“Myoujin-sama.” A startled voice interrupted her musings. Looking at a Japanese girl that was also at the buffet table, near Taka, she blinked and then sighed as the girl bowed deeply.
“Hikaru.” Hikaru was pleased that she managed to keep the annoyance out of her voice.
“I am Onishi Kiyoko, Hikaru-sama.” Kiyoko who had just named herself, bowed deeply again. “Please treat me kindly.” Hikaru wanted to scream at the girl’s behavior, but she had grown used to it in Japan, though she had hoped that it wouldn’t follow her to America.
“Just Hikaru, Kiyoko.” The avatar smiled, knowing it was a bit fake, but continued on. At least Kiyoko’s english was better than Taka’s. “We’re in America, and classmates, after all. When in Rome and all that, you understand?”
Kiyoko’s eyes widened and she nodded hesitantly. “Of course, Hikaru.” She clearly had to stop herself from using the suffix, to Taka’s quiet amusement. “Ah…” She clearly wanted to ask something but didn’t know how to bring it up.
Taka’s eyebrows rose at Hikaru’s actual natural smile, as the avatar spoke to the nervous girl in a reassuring tone. “I’m glad to finally meet you, I’ve been informed of your attendance here, as you might expect. I do expect you, like Taka here, to come to me if you have any problems.” Hikaru was rewarded by a flash of complex emotion in the girl’s eyes, and reaching her face for a millisecond, but then the girl’s expression calmed.
“I was…” Kiyoko paused, clearly thinking to herself, then continued. “Surprised, I think, that you would attend Whateley, but shocked that you would have no attendants.” The girl paused and nodded once. “Though as you say, when in Rome…”
“Quite so.” Hikaru smiled. “I was hoping to meet you sooner, but…” Hikaru trailed off, with a clear message to the other girl, who picked up on it.
“You must have been so busy, with all the delays, and the school opening so late.” Kiyoko’s tone indicated she took no issue, or that she’d have even considered taking issue as an impossibility.
Hikaru smiled again at the earnest girl, and opened her mouth to respond, only to be cut off by a cultured New England accent. “It is good to see nationals meet each other, but part of Pan-Asia’s reason for being, is so you can meet other students from our culture.” Hikaru, Kiyoko and Taka all studied the speaker. The petite, classic, mature Han court beauty who had spoken, spoke again. “As you’re all aware, I’m Professor Wang Ling, the Asian Studies and 2nd Sino-Japanese War History teacher.”
Hikaru stiffened ever so slightly, both in reaction to the Professor’s words, as well as the strange glitter in her eyes. It did not match the smile on her face, not at all. Before she could speak, Taka interrupted the flow of conversation, clearly having picked up on something.
“Sensei.” The word drew a twitch from the professor, but Taka continued on. “We are thankful for chance to meet others from fellow nations.” Taka looked pleased at his english.
“Good, good. This is a much better way than some previous methods your countrymen have tried, isn’t it?” Wang’s honeyed voice drew shocked reactions from all three Japanese, but before any of them could respond, the teacher continued on. “If you are not aware of them, you will be when you take my class. I’ve read some of what your Ministry of Education has approved for History textbooks.” Her smile grew sharp, as she plowed on, clearly enjoying the reactions she had gotten. “After all, a Han teaching Japanese is historical, isn’t it? It’s only proper that traditions be upheld, and students learn from proper teachers.” Her voice grew thoughtful, as she finished her statement, tapping her chin as she did so. “No matter how those lessons need to be delivered, or how the children treat their parents. Proper knowledge will be imparted.”
For an endless moment, the words hung in the air, as Taka went completely still, Onishi’s step back drew Hikaru’s attention to her fingers beginning to shape in the trigger for her lasers, and the challenging smile on the teacher’s face just begged for violence to Hikaru’s mind. She was glad that Amaterasu wasn’t paying attention to her avatar, for she knew what would be required, of her, by her goddess. Slowly, carefully, as if she wasn’t stunned and infuriated by the rudeness of the advisor, Hikaru spoke. “I am quite sure any lessons in your subject area, I am beyond them. As for Taka and Kiyoko, I am sure that Kansei-sensei will be willing to help them gain the knowledge for their future education.” Before anything else could be said, an interruption happened.
“Augh!” was heard in a young female voice as juice flew across the divide, drawing attention to a middle schooler, defusing the tension as all eyes focused on her as she sprawled on the ground. The young Japanese girl spoke up. “Um. Sorry?” she spoke in a San Franciscan accent. Looking up at the four older people, she sheepishly added. “I saw fire… but it was just a stupid vision.”
Taka was the first to move, to help the girl up. “Nee, nee, Janet-chan. It is fine.” He helped her stand, while Hikaru and Onishi moved to straighten the girl’s dress. “No harm, no fire, now.”
Onishi patted the girl, and spoke softly. “It’s alright.” Before anyone else could speak, a young man strode up. Fans of action movies would compare him to Jet Li, though the traces of blue in his hair would detract from that. His suave smile went along with his words, as he focused on Kenshin.
“Well done, as expected of a gentleman.” Smiling down at the two Japanese girls, he added, in a somewhat condescending tone. “However, I think the young lady needs to be taken to freshen up, wouldn’t you say?”
Hikaru’s hackles, not fully settled from the confrontation with the professor, rose again. Before she could bite the boy’s head off, Kiyoko spoke softly in her ear. “I will take care of it, Hikaru-sama.” Onishi put action to her words, and before Hikaru could react fully, had escorted Janet to the restroom.
Hikaru stood up from her kneel, as the Jet Li impersonator held out his hand to Kenshin. “I’m Louis Qiu. Sorry about stepping in, but the girls seemed to need a firm hand.” The fox faced Chinese girl behind him just rolled her yellow eyes at the young man’s statement.
Hikaru had to resist the urge to belt the smug smile off Qiu’s face, as Taka spoke in a confused tone. “Ara? Firm hand?”
Qiu’s face seemed to freeze in it’s smile for a moment, until Louis spoke again“You know, giving them direction, women are so… ah, well, you understand.”
Kenshin quickly turned to look at Hikaru, his face a study in confusion. Gulping at the fury he easily read in her eyes, he moved to defuse the situation he didn’t quite understand.
“Ah… so. I would not seek to instruct women, that I would not. Found that they know what to do better than I, they do.” Kenshin shook his head sadly as Kiyoko and Janet returned. “A man’s place is to defend and protect the home that the ladies run.” Pausing for a moment upon seeing the shocked expression on Qiu’s face as well as the amused expression on the girl behind him, he added. “Oh, give them the money earned by honest labour, too, that is also a duty.”
Before Qiu could respond, the girl stepped forward, holding out her hand to Hikaru. “I’m Marian Chou. I apologize for the neanderthal.” She shot Louis a look, as the Professor had already moved off, observing from a distance. Chou eyed Kenshin with a slight smile, and asked the two visible Japanese girls, as Janet had ducked behind Kiyoko, “Is he typical?”
Hikaru’s anger derailed by the whole conversation, turned to whimsy. “His mother did a decent job educating him in that regard, yes.” Her dry tone gathered a giggle from Onishi, a sigh from Taka himself, and a bigger smile from Marian.
Before any of the girls could speak, another male voice spoke up. The annoyed tone of it, drew everyone’s eyes to the classical Han warrior speaking, and contrary to the rest’s subdued western clothing, his mandarin outfit added to the draw of the eye. “... You interrupt Kowloon, Nushu?” His harrumph, and clear anger, instantly put everyone on guard. “If we were in China, now, you would not dare. Iron Dragon has restored the proper roles for men and women. As he will to the rest of Asia! You will learn your place.” He tilted his nose up, and turned to Kenshin. Before the girls could rip into him, he spoke in a condescending tone to Kenshin. “When the Iron Dragon removes your false Emperor, you will regain the freedom to be a man. This he has promised! And I will help to free you from your chains done by the west!” He looked pleased, and expected Kenshin to thank him, apparently, or ask for immediate freedom.
Qiu looked a bit taken aback, while everyone else was either staring at the fool, or hanging their head. The japanese couldn’t believe that anyone would be so… insane. Finally Marian spoke. “Hikaru, this is Eugene Lee, or as he likes to be called, Liu Yingjie. Our club’s resident maniac. Please don’t burn him to a crisp, we’d never get the smell out.”
Hikaru paused, trying to comprehend this night. Feeling the weight of over a dozen people’s eyes on her, she sighed, suddenly tired of all this, and wished to flee to her patio.
“Children posture, Marian, adults do, and adults do not punish children.” Turning her back on the two chinese males, she addressed her fellow Japanese, in Japanese. <”I will escort Janet-chan back, if you would be so kind, Taka-kun as to escort Kiyoko-chan? I find this environment is unhealthy for many people, and at the least, Janet shouldn’t be here.”>
Taka shot a look at the two other men, the older being glared at by Marian. <”As you say, Voice and Princess of the Celestial Heavens. So shall it be done.”> Turning to Kiyoko, who looked pale, he added. <”Shall we, Kiyoko-san?”>
Kiyoko nodded, and as her face returned to normal, spoke clearly in English. “Thank you, Taka, I accept your escort from this… distasteful environment. I am sure that it is just an aberration, brought on by the stress of a new school year. Would you not agree, Hikaru-sama?” These words, dropped in the silence following Marian’s words, deepened the hush.
Hikaru watched as several students and Marian winced at Kiyoko’s comments. “You are most observant, I have to say.” Hikaru’s eyes swept the gathering for a moment, and a slight smile crossed her face. “All of us are tired, the wisdom of holding this gathering so early, in this situation, might not have been correct. Forgive us, we must retire.” Hikaru put action to her words, as she shooed the middle schooler out in front of her, and the other two trailed her.
As the clubhouse’s door closed behind them, they were treated to Marian’s raised voice ripping at someone, while other voices responded.
Before the groups could separate Kiyoko asked a question “Hikaru-sama, why was Wang-sensei so....” she trailed off, clearly unhappy.
Hikaru paused, and looked at her bracelet. <”Kurenai-chan, did you record, and a report on Professor Wang, if you could.”>
The red dressed avatar popped up, and nodded in a somber tone. <”I always record, Hikaru-sama. Wang, Ling, Born 3/8/1922, somewhere in Nanking, China. Emigrated to the United States, mid 1938, by efforts of Reverend Jones, Methodist Church. Theorized to have manifested during the Rape of Nanking. Do you wish additional information?”>
Both Kiyoko and Hikaru looked stunned, while the other two Japanese appeared clueless. Finally Hikaru sighed and spoke. <”No, Kurenai-chan, thank you.”>
<”We… “> Kiyoko struggled with words, as she tried to explain her thoughts.
<”No need. Buddha’s tears.”> Hikaru swore in a hard tone.
Haltingly, Janet spoke up. In heavily accented Japanese, she asked. <”Should we not report her?”>
Before the two young women could speak, Kenshin did so. <”No, little one, we will not. This is for us to endure. She is a teacher, therefore her position is above ours, and deserving of respect. We aren’t Chinese who overthrow the Emperor, after all.”>
Late Morning, Tuesday, Sept 13th
Doyle Medical Center, Whateley Academy.
Hikaru watched from her chair as the vocational rehab specialist walked in. Hikaru had to be somewhat amused that the doctor was from Tulane, but she’d put it aside during the battery of tests she had taken in the last few days and this morning.
“As you might know, I’m Doctor Jensen. Normally with ARC.” The severe looking redhead eyed the young girl in front of her. “I am your assigned specialist, though I don’t have a complete file.” The doctor looked unamused at that. “Your previous education, where you got it from, and similar information has not been provided to me, just a listing of your skills. A very… comprehensive list of skills that if I wasn’t assured by others you did posses at one time, I would disbelieve.” Clearly putting aside that factoid, she went on. “And I have been informed any additional questions are not welcomed.” She clearly looked displeased to the young avatar.
“It is a …” Hikaru begun, only to be cut off.
“I already know it’s a security issue, Miss Myoujin. And no, I’m not going to ask questions. Nor will I speculate. That’s not the task assigned here.” The doctor gathered her thoughts, and continued on. “After as severe of a burnout as you have had in January, brain damage is to be expected, obviously, even with your regeneration abilities. In your case, it translates to lost knowledge and skills. What we will be doing, is determining exactly where you are skill wise, and what we can do to fix the gaps, if you wish them to be fixed. Some of which will be done by retaking classes and continuing on with your education, obviously, though in areas where the damage wasn’t as severe or limited to specific areas, in your skills, a tutoring system might be the better option. I will determine which applies per skill. Memories is something I cannot do anything about.” Dr. Jensen studied the avatar to make sure she understood.
“Hai.” Hikaru nodded. It sounded reasonable, and the doctor was no nonsense.. .but she had a question. “Ah…” Pausing for a second, she thought about it, and the doctor was patient enough to wait. “What if some of the skills lost are… not required or wanted anymore?”
“Then that makes recovery easier, and faster. We can determine that when we have a complete evaluation.” The doctor nodded. “It would make our tasks simplier, I will admit. As well, it is your choice on what you’re retrained on. Part of this process is your choices. While some skills or knowledge aren’t at your discretion, after all, you do need a high school education, other skills that you had are strictly optional. Unless you plan to be a special forces officer, that is. Then those skills would have to be reacquired.” Looking the younger woman in the eye, she continued on. “Also, unless you remember skills that you had, that are not on this list, we can’t recover those, either, be warned.”
Nodding again, Hikaru responded. “Understood, Doctor.” She carefully tried to mask her anxiety about what skills she had lost.
“You have tested for English skills in the area of verbal, grammar, writing, poetry, reading comprehension, spelling and reading speed. You also have tested for Math skills. We chose to focus on those areas, first, simply because they are the needed skill areas for your education, the rest can be tested over a longer period of time, since you are not taking any classes that would require more than those two skills, and even Math is not a critical skill for you, beyond the typical grade school knowledge.” The Doctor paused to see if the girl understood.
“Of course Doctor.” Hikaru responded. She knew what she had taken, she wanted the results, but the doctor was taking her time.
“Your math skills are approximately where we expect the average 7th grader to be, though you seem to have a bit of bookkeeping knowledge, still, but you’ll have to retake all pre- algebra and geometry based courses, via tutoring, then enter the normal educational pattern, I believe.” Hikaru winced at this, the only outward sign of her dismay.
“I see.” Hikaru took a deep breath, then let it out. “What is, is. I understand, doctor.”
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed slightly, then continued. “As for your English skills. Your grammar is more or less in simple structures, where we expect it to be for your age, your reading comprehension and speed is more than aquadate, and appears to not have suffered very much, if at all, your previous reported level makes gauging what you currently have more an art, than a science.” Hikaru nodded in response. “Your spelling… well, I am recommending a spelling tutor, it’s below the 6th grade level, not uncommon in speed readers who haven’t taken formal classes in a while for spelling. Use it or lose it, like any skill.” The Doctor paused and took a moment to let the student gather herself. “However, the real problem is your ability to write anything. At best it’s at an early 6th grade level, in structure, concept, organization and layout. Frankly, this is unacceptable for your future classes, so an hour a day will be spent relearning these skills, and since it's realistically the only area you’re weak in, you’ll be brought up to your previous level via tutors. The same with your Poetry skills, what little you possessed supposedly, once you relearn the structure and can consistently reproduce it, you will not be required to take additional classes.” Stopping, she studied the girl in front of her.
Hikaru paused for a moment. She knew her skills had fallen… but that bad? Taking a moment to lock her dismay away, and the anger she felt at Amaterasu, she presented a mask back to the doctor, though she wasn’t convinced she was successful in keeping the doctor from noticing it. “I understand, Doctor. If you think that is best.” Pausing, Hikaru looked at the clock. “Forgive me for taking more of your time than allotted to me.” She received a nod from the Doctor, and carefully walked out.
Dr. Jensen narrowed her eyes. She had caught that flash of emotion, but the girl had locked it away so fast, she couldn’t quite parse it. If the skills were right, she’d have every reason and should be extremely angry. Losing what she had in the areas tested… well. Most of her previous clients had expressed anger and dismay at the situation. “Hmm.” Turning to her computer, she tapped in a email to Dr. Cody. It wasn’t her problem how the girl was emotionally, outside how it’d affect her tests and reeducation.
Late Afternoon, Wednesday, Sept 14th
Doyle Medical Center, Whateley Academy.
Hikaru walked in, annoyed, and by the look in Dr. Cody’s eyes, aware of her inability to hide it completely. “You wanted to see me, Doctor.” She was pleased that she managed to keep the irritation, at being called in before her scheduled time, out of her voice at least, and settled into the one nice thing about the Doctor’s office, the sinfully soft chair.
“Eh. Kinda.” Cody sat down, and leaned back. Unlike before, while still wearing a lab coat, he was wearing jeans and a pull over. “More that some people don’t quite get Japanese reactions, much less those of a older style.” Playfully, he added. “We’ll just count this as your weekly time, and go back to the normal plan next week.”
Hikaru sighed in relief. She didn’t want to be here, she didn’t like psychiatrists, she really didn’t want to unload on anyone else, it’s not like her problems were anyone else’s to deal with, after all. “That would be… acceptable.” By the grin on Wyatt’s face, she knew she hadn’t kept her pleasure at his statement out of her voice.
“Well. Couple things I’d want to go over anyways, and this is as good of a time as any.” Wyatt leaned forward, and asked with a raised eyebrow. “So, did you enjoy proving you’re still able to kick ass and take names Okami?”
Hikaru blinked, then blushed slightly. “Ah… I did, though that wasn’t the purpose of the spar...” Wyatt grinned, waving his hand.
“Eh, don’t worry about losing yourself in the moment, it happens to everyone, and you didn’t lose complete control. Just get back to where you’ll not lose yourself.” He teased.
Hikaru nodded, a small smile coming to her face. “It was… pleasurable, to be assured that something I had worked on was still there in most respects.” Waving her hand slightly, she added. “Though I still need to get used to my new body fully.” A moue of distaste as she considered everything. “Not to mention … ah, a doctor wouldn’t want to hear about that.”
Wyatt smiled. “Wasn’t always a doctor, Hikaru. At times, well. You can ask a few teachers who were here a decade and change ago, and find out, I enjoy a good scrap and finding out who’s who, you know?” He grinned suddenly. “You know what? That might work with you. We goin at it… no, don’t think so, Wife would be… a bit upset with me.” He shot back.
Hikaru blinked at that statement, her eyes sweeping the doctor’s frame considering. She had to admit that might be fun. “Give me some time to reset my reflexes and fully adjust my style, and I just might want that.” She smiled cooly a bit. “It’d be fun proving to you bulk isn’t everything.”
Wyatt grinned back. “Oh, I’m down for that, you shrimp.” He grinned as she grinned back. “But… before we get serious, what do you mean reset your style?” Quirking a grin, he commented with an amused tone in his voice. “What I saw on that video was an ass kicker and name taker who was damned good at it. Even when, technically, going up against two sparring partners as strong and as fast as she was. Didn’t see any lack of skill there, girl, just a grin at finally being able to move and cut loose like you wanted to or at least show off that you still got it, which in that, you most clearly do.”
Hikaru tilted her head. “Eh.” Considering how to describe what she knew for a moment, she nodded once. “Don’t know how much of the theories and mindsets behind the martial arts you know, so…”
“Assume none, and you’d be fine.” Wyatt grinned. “Ito, our previous sensei wasn’t big on the philosophy and the theory behind it, outside the basics ‘I’m here to teach you how to kick ass’, by kicking OURS, usually.”
Hikaru nodded with a slight smile and let her eyes glaze as she thought. “Ah. Here we go.” Coming back to the here and now, she nodded once. “While I don’t subscribe to it, in a lot of ways, the easiest way would be to use the elemental theories of personality or fighting instincts. There is some truth to them.”
Wyatt leaned back, a grin on his face, as he saw animation and life come to the girl. He knew she never had a choice about being a martial artist, but it seemed she did like it at least. “Go on, I know a bit, but… you likely know way more than I ever would.”
“Right. Air, Fire, Water, Earth. All four are bets on your offensive philosophy, mostly, at least in this sense. Air bets the defense has a hole, Water bets it can be worn down, Earth bets it can hit harder than you can defend, and Fire bets it can break it in one shot.”
Nodding once. “I generally leaned towards Air theory, though at times Water worked better for me.” Spreading her hands out, she added with a rueful grin, “Even though my primary is a kenjutsu school, which is, when for real, one pass and someone wins or loses. Which would seem more based in Fire.” Wyatt nodded at her quirked eyebrow.
“Aaaand?” He drawed out, clearly pleased. “Your instincts have changed?”
“... not so much, it’s just…” Nodding once, Hikaru figured out how to put it. “Before, I was suited more to take the time, to look for the hole, or keep looking for ways to wear down, plus, honestly, I did more fighting of that nature without a blade.” Seeing his nod, she added. “Now I’m all about speed, speed, speed, just about.” Grinning slightly, she added. “That means Fire, plus…” Shifting a bit… “I tend to seem to want to take more risks now. Less planning, in a way.”
Wyatt waved his hand slightly. “Not uncommon to exemplars, Hikaru. Your brain is faster, slightly different chemically now, and of course, I’m sure you’re aware of the various syndromes paranormals are prone to.” He received a nod from her. “Though I don’t think it’s that, in your case. I can tell, I think, from the fight.” Hikaru’s eyebrow rose. “It’s that you’re very, very good. And you’re also aware of what your body can do, compared to those around you. You’re subconsciously adding that all up, and showing you can still do it.”
Hikaru blinked, understanding the message he was saying. “Ahh. You’re saying I’m processing faster and more instinctively my art?” She sounded pleased at that.
“Yeeeep.” Leaning back. “You might even have more talent now, since well.” He waved his hand a bit. “Isn’t the sun goddess associated with swords?” He got a nod.
“Hm.” Looking inward for a moment, she thought about it. “But…” sighing and quietly muttering, almost unaware of Wyatt’s presence. “Long road because of that gain.”
Wyatt carefully didn’t note that, and continued. “But, that’s not what we’re here for. Well, not all. I’ll admit I can enjoy talking about a good scrap or two myself, but well, got to do my job.”
Hikaru stiffened at his statement. She wasn’t sure why she was called in early.
“Your voc rehab specialist sent me a message saying you did not react with disappointment or anger enough for her taste.” He rolled his eyes. “Not quite sure she realized that you’ve been aware of this for a while, and that while this is just confirmation of the damage done, you knew this was coming.” Pausing, he noted that Hikaru’s mask was back on, and seemed to be disappointed a bit. “Not to mention, I’d have to admit, in your shoes, I’d be damned unhappy at the loss of my writing skills. I’ve published too, you know.”
Hikaru couldn’t keep a flash of anger from tightening around her eyes, and her mouth thinning at the reminder. She hadn’t brought it up with her spirit, but that was something she was still not pleased with, nor the hanging implications for the other skills she had sweated blood and time and effort, or worse, to keep herself going at times instead of just giving up. Taking a deep breath, for once, not concerned with anyone else, or how the man in front of her would take it. “Yes… it was most displeasing.” Looking him in the eye. “But I will deal with it and move on. And any other lost skills. Sometimes it’s a good thing, you might learn better the second time. Or get skills you should have learned, instead of the ones you did.” She mentally nodded at that.
“Oh, there is some of that, and some truth there.” Wyatt’s smile seemed to dim. “But, speaking as Avatar to Avatar, here, you really do need to have it out with your spirit. It can’t be a good thing that you aren’t happy about this. And don’t try to deny it. You’re not that good at masking yet, Okami.” He shook his head. “I can tell you that Baloo and I went at it for some stunts he pulled, that I blamed myself for, or some I pulled or had happen that weren’t his fault. It’s like any partnership.”
Hikaru considered that, only to have an inner voice break in. *He is quite right there, daughter. We will talk about your burnouts, and my part in them.*
Wyatt kept his silence, aware of what the avatar was doing. Finally, Hikaru returned to herself, and focused on him. “Your words... in this case, are wise.” It sounded like she was pulling teeth, but she continued. “I don’t think … no, don’t believe at all, she intended any of the lost skills.” Tilting her head… “But…”
“Yep, lance that boil.” Getting a flash of understanding from Hikaru, he continued on. “I see you have an handle on that, so we’ll move on, I can’t really help with your spirit directly, except listen to you bitch about what evil plots she has for you. I have a fairly powerful and old spirit myself and I know a few others who do as well, so, I know how it is with them.”
“I… see.” Hikaru didn’t comment, clearly not intending to bring up issues with Amaterasu with anyone, unless she had to.
“Last but not least.” Wyatt shook his head. “Are you really as much of a workaholic as you present?” He leaned forward, spearing her with his eyes. “Really, girl. Take the time and do some dancing. Play some music, hell, cut loose and let your hair down. Outside that driving course, I don’t think you’re doing anything fun, or outright what you want to do. And by you, I mean you, you personally! Spending all that time wound up and doing what everyone else wants you to do, isn’t healthy at all, girl. If you keep it up, you’ll burn yourself out, maybe literally, again. I don’t doubt you’d want to avoid that! You’ve already got a nice little file in Doyle about that, why add to it?”
Hikaru sighed. She seemed to be getting everyone saying the same thing. Fine, whatever. He wanted to see something that was her? Let him take some snark. “It’s not like there’s a pole dancing class, is there?” She shot back, gleefully indulging in what Kako’s and even better, the IHA’s likely reaction to that would be. Blowing out a breath, she returned to placating the doctor. “Everyone keeps saying that. I will, I will, just…” She was cut off.
“Make time, don’t wait til you ‘have’ time. As for the Pole dancing class… Huh. I know it’s popular in Asia as exercise now. Hmm.”
Hikaru blinked. He couldn’t be serious, could he? It was a joke!
*... You know, I actually want him to be serious, it would be something to see, and maybe I can show Uzume and Benten that MY daughter is better than their children!* Amaterasu’s voice was gleeful at the thought.
Wyatt looked at the clock and winced. “Well, we’ll pick this up next week, Hikaru. But… hm. Hmm… Well. Think about stuff you want to do for fun, or just to blow off some steam.” Pausing, grinning, he added playfully. “That’s legal, that is. And not against school policy, or I’d suggest a few things.” He was rewarded by a blush from Hikaru, which she was fighting to get under control.
“Of course, Cody-Sensei.” Hikaru was back in polite mode, hiding the horror at actually having to do a stripper class, though an inner personal voice was gleefully egging her on, and not her spirit, at that. She couldn’t help but wonder what it’d be like. “Thank you for your time.” She bowed and fled the office, in yet another flash of light, wondering exactly why she felt like teleporting away from the disturbing bear of a sensei again.