Dec 01, 2021 2:01 PM
group therapy on Wednesdays
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"The Dulce de Leche is pretty normal."

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"I'd take that one then."

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Marian glances around. "Right - was that everyone?" 

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"I think so! There's, uh, Julia Ennis Karen Rebecca Orion Jeremy Anemone Ayako Pen nine of us, sixteen chocolates, so there should be seven left?"

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"It's everyone except you! You're stressed too, right?"

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"I....guess? At least I don't have homework that will try to kill me!" 

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"Enjoy one," says Julia generously. "And then everyone can have a second except New York, counting Rebecca as New York, 'cause New York's got a secret chocolate stash so we need it less."

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"Does that mean I get access to the secret chocolate stash?"

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"On the same terms I get access to it which are I explain to the seniors why I need it and then they're like 'no you don't! you are weak and won't survive the winter!'. But if you seriously need it, yeah."

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"...what would be a seriously need it reason?"

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Marian will accept the offer of chocolate, and try the weird wasabi Black Pearl one, since it sounds both interesting and less likely to be popular with teenagers. 

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"Like, if someone dies, or a project you've spent a month on explodes, or you find out Zeke is cheating on you with the freshman murderer or something. - that was a joke. He wouldn't do that, even if it's a girl and she's hot."

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"...oh good."

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"Anyway, you know, everyone reportedly has a breakdown at some point and is like "I can't do this! I'm going to die!" and actually this does not presage death it just means you need hugs, and chocolate from the secret stash, and a weekend off snuggled up in the reading room with Karen's GameBoy or something if it hasn't gone bad, though it actually is bad if you do that repeatedly so save it for when you really need it."

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"Okay. I will try to budget my freaking out. I'm actually pretty okay so far I think! Like I'm homesick but in a year my family'll know I'm here, right, somebody can give them a letter, and I get to learn magic songs and stuff so that's cool."

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"That's the spirit. I'm actually pretty okay so far too, everything is pretty much how I was told except how ugly the place is, I'd seen sketches but it's even uglier than that. It's like living in a warehouse. All the people are really nice though! Except the murderer, but they'll catch 'em sooner or later."

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"I've mostly been pleasantly surprised in that it's somewhat less unpleasant here than I was led to fear. It's going to be a grind, though, and I'm not sure how well any - psychological... posture? will hold up over the years."

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"Yeah, I think - I'm actually doing okay so far? Like, sort of in a holding pattern, but like, a pretty solid holding pattern. Still need to figure out what else I need to be ready for when things get more dangerous, though."

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There was almost a war within the first three days and I have no idea how I'm going to get good enough to do this as fast as I have to would be an inconvenient way to be shaped right now so it's really fortunate that she's already in 'relatively chill social interaction' mode.

"Things are going pretty much fine for me? More chaotic than I had been expecting but I can live with chaotic." 

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"I'm a little freaked out by the serial killer? Classes, fine, learning Akkadian right out the gate, fine, terrifying monsters, when they show up, that'll be as advertised, but a teenage serial killer with a gun is a little heavy, this early in the year, you know?"

She runs her finger over her chocolate, because that's the step she's on in the chocolate experience.

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"Curiosity" is not the attitude you're supposed to bring to group therapy, Riley thinks guiltily. He shouldn't be wondering what the other participants are going to say, or what they're thinking or feeling- curiosity about human psychology is a waste of precious mental real estate. He needs to cut it out. But he is curious. He wants to know what everyone else is going through. It's less about what he expects to get out of it- maybe he'll cement his face and name in Julia's head- that would be a plus. Mostly, though...he just wants to know what people are going to group therapy for in a place like this. Most people will probably stay away, anyway; his sense of self-preservation is screaming at him, that this could be some kind of trick- but he's ignoring it. New York isn't going to be providing cover for the murderer. The main threat is mals, and he can handle those. Riley arrives just as they're...eating chocolate? That isn't exactly what he expected 'group therapy' to mean, but he's not going to complain.

"Sorry I'm late. If it's too crowded, I can wait out here."

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Oh no, now there isn't enough chocolate. ...that's probably not a very mature thing to go around thinking.

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It's what Julia is thinking too. But she says "come on in! And tell us your name and where you're from and what things you find relaxing."

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Riley comes in!

"Riley Finn, Kansas City. Heart of America, they call it. Lifting and carrying things is relaxing, because I can just turn my brain off."

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(Julia giggles.)

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