Working Title: Ostanes – Session Eight

Nice long chapter, that needs some work (internalization, descriptions – which would clear up the whole ‘talking heads’ thing – better worldbuilding, changing ‘Dochia’ to something not chuckle-worthy – thanks to the person who pointed that out – and some more I can’t think of now. Ostanes’ first name is going to get changed at some point – probably to Michael – and that bit will need smoothing out.

In general, the only editing I’ve done is changing the place names just now, and removing about 2/3rds of the times Ostanes says ‘doc.’ And probably half the times Neill says ‘Ostanes,’ although those didn’t stick out quite so badly (when I’m voice recording I don’t have as clear of a memory of what I’ve said, and I tend to have people address each other by name far more than is necessary. Additionally, I know there’s some stuff I covered in two different chapters, but I think I’ve edited most of that out.)

I’m trying to resist the urge to edit right now – I really need to let it sit for a bit, and work on other things. It’s very tempting though.

Anyway, that’s more than enough rambling from me, now for banter and stuff.

            “We had a deal, didn’t we?” Neill said on Monday, once Ostanes was secured. Neill had been thinking very carefully about this session.

“Yes we did.”

“You haven’t fulfilled your part.”

“What do you mean?”

“You said you’d tell me your name. And you haven’t told all of it to me.”

“Oh.” Ostanes paused.

“Are you going to tell me I haven’t earned it again?”

He looked at him, his eyebrows drawn slightly together. “Are you upset, doc?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m not upset, Ostanes.”

“Did he upset you?”

“I’m not upset, Ostanes.”

“If he did, I’m sure he didn’t mean to.”

“I’m not upset,” Neill repeated again. “But you haven’t told me your name.”

There was a pause, then he said, clearly, “Isaac Ostanes Trevino.”

“And his name?”

“What?” That was almost sharply said.

“He insisted you’re the same person. Aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you said your name for your face.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Well if you’re the same person.”

“I didn’t say ‘namess’, doc.”

“You told me all three of yours.”

“You’re twisting my words.” He actually sounded annoyed.

“I’m not,” Neill said. “You said your name for your face. You’ve gotten your face.”

“For an hour.”

“You’ll get it again on Wednesday.”

“For an hour.”

“Are you upset?”

“No,” Ostanes said.

“Are you sure?’

“Repeating me, doc?”

“Is this too exciting?”

“S-stop it.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Just stop, doc.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I want to go back to my room now.”

“Ostanes, what’s wrong?”

“I want- you need to stop,” he said.

“Alright. What did I do wrong?”

“I can’t tell you his name,” he said softly.

“Why not? Do you know it?”

“Of course I know it. I can’t tell you it, though.”

“Why not?”

“Doc, you’re upsetting me.”

“Really? How?”

“Doc, stop. Please, stop. No- no more questions. Please.”

“Ostanes. I’m sorry I’ve upset you.”

“I- it- I know you-” There was a long pause. “I know you’re just doing your job. Just, it’s hard. Only being yourself for one hour a week.”

“Wouldn’t he be bored here?” Neill said gently.

“Sure doc.”

“And you’re not? Because that’s your job?”

“That’s right.”

“Do you think that’s fair?”

“Sure. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Well. For you only to get the boring things and for him only to get the interesting things. You don’t think that’s unfair?”

“We are the same person and I agreed to it. I did it,” he stated as emphatically as he ever did.

“Do you remember how?”

“No. But that’s not the point.”

“What is the point?”

“I agreed. It was my idea.”

“Yours, personally? Or his?”

“We are the same person, doc.”

“So why can’t you tell me his name?” Neill asked gently.

“I can’t. There’s things I just can’t say.”

“Is that more alchemy?”

“That’s… part of the cost.”

“Like not being able to switch without the- the-”

“Yes. Without the face.”

“Is that another thing you can’t say?”

“I’m not as good with Greek,” Ostanes said. “I can’t get the accent.”

“I see.”

“I’m surprised, doc,” he said after a moment. “I thought you would have had to study Greek.”

“Not really.”

“Oh. Isn’t a lot of medicine in Greek? You are a M.D., isn’t that right? Psychiatrists are the ones that are M.D.s?”

“That’s right.”

“I heard,” Ostanes said carefully, “that you are a psychologist as well. Isn’t that a Ph.D.?”

“Yes. Psychologists have Ph.D.s.”

“And you are one?”

“You know I can’t discuss my personal life.”

“But this is your professional life, isn’t it?”

“Why do you care if I’m both?”

“I’m just curious, doc.”

“Do you find it interesting?”

“Sure.”

“I think interesting things were his.”

“Doc, that’s not nice.”

“You know it’s not my job to be nice, don’t you?”

“I know, doc, but you’ve been awfully nice so far, that’s all.”

“I’m trying to help you.”

“I know doc. I think, I’m just not having a very good day today.”

“Do you still want to go back to your room? I can call the guards early.”

“No. No, I’m alright now.”

Neill waited a moment, then asked, “You don’t think it’s strange that there are things he knows that you don’t know?”

“There are a few things that I know that he doesn’t,” Ostanes said.

“Really, like what?”

“Well… I know my mother’s name.”

“He doesn’t?”

“No, he doesn’t. Nor father’s.”

“What are they?”

“I don’t think I want to tell you, doc.”

“Why not?”

“Well, it’s not really any of your business, is it?”

“You never know.”

“How would it be your business, doc?”

“Well, why don’t you want to tell me?”

“You don’t talk about your personal life to me.”

“That’s not quite the same thing, Ostanes.”

“I know doc, but am I not allowed any secrets?”

“I can’t read your mind, you know.”

“You can try. Don’t psychiatrists try?”

“No one can know everything about someone.”

“Oh, they can, doc. It’s not easy, but they can.”

“Is that more alchemy?”

“You don’t think highly of alchemy, do you doc? Because it’s discredited?”

“I’m not sure. I’m trying to keep an open mind.”

“Oh. I appreciate that doc. I’m sure it sounds like a strange sort of thing to be interested in. After all, Isaac Newton went mad because he studied alchemy.” He looked at Neill. “I’ll tell you a secret doc: he wasn’t very good.”

“Then why were you named after him?”

“Well, my parents wanted to name me after alchemists. But father thought I should have a name that wouldn’t get me teased on the playground, so Isaac it was.”

“Oh, I see. Why didn’t he name you after himself?”

“That’s an awfully vain thing to do.”

“Or his father? There’s a lot of people named after relatives, you know.”

“A lot of people think that’s bad luck.”

“Do you?”

“I don’t believe in luck. It’s not very scientific.”

“And alchemy is a science.”

“And a philosophy.”

“And a religion?” Neill asked.

“No. No, doc. Religion takes things on faith. Philosophy and science question everything. It’s not really the same thing at all.”

“Are you happy with how you are, Ostanes?”

“Well, I’d rather not be in here. I’d rather not have made whatever mistake it was that got me caught.”

“What sort of mistake do you think it was?”

“Well… Probably pride. Hubris. That’s a good Greek word, isn’t it doc? That’s the kind of thing people like him suffer from, isn’t it doc? Hubris?”

“It can be. What’s sort of people do you think he is?”

“Well, doc, you talked about personality disorders our second session.”

“That’s right. Do you think he has one?” Neill asked.

“I don’t know. I’m not the doctor. It’s not really my field of study. So do you think he has one?” Ostanes asked.

“I haven’t diagnosed him yet.”

“Or me?”

“I haven’t diagnosed either one of you yet. I try not limit myself so early.”

“It’s been a month.”

“That’s only four sessions.”

“I know. The other doctors saw me for comparable amounts of time, some of them, and they wrote down diagnoses, didn’t they?”

“Why do you think that?”

“Well, did they or didn’t they, doc?”

“That’s not important.”

“Well, they had to have thought something, or I wouldn’t have been put on so many different drugs. Right? They don’t put you on something for no reason. Or do they, doc? You know, some of the patients think they drug you up just to keep you quiet. Do you think that?”

Neill swallowed. “It’s happened.”

“Would you ever do that, doc?”

“No, I wouldn’t. It’s not fair.”

“Oh. That’s nice, doc.”

“I don’t think drugs are the solution to everything.”

“A lot of psychiatrists do. They have power to prescribe them, so why not, right?”

“It’s not that simple though.”

“No doc, it’s not, is it? You can’t just take a pill and have everything be alright.”

“Is something bothering you, Ostanes?” Neill asked.

“No, I’m just not having a very good day today.”

“Why not? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s just the weather.”

“I wouldn’t think the weather would affect you that much in here.”

“I don’t know what it is, doc. I’d like to go home.”

“To Eillios?”

“Yes.”

“Why do you like Eillios?”

“Well, it’s very green. Dochia’s artificial.”

“Really?”

“Well, the green is. The deserts can be pretty. The natural deserts. But they have to put a veneer on it, don’t they? A pretty face.”

“And you don’t like artificial things?”

“No, not really doc. I think you should appreciate for what they are or change them.”

“Isn’t that what the pretty face is?”

“But it’s all propped up on a lie. They pretend that’s some fertile paradise and it’s not. They’re just- well, they’re stealing water from everywhere is what they’re doing, but more than that, it’s the whole system. Well, it’s Hollywood, is what it is, isn’t it?”

“You don’t like the movies?”

“Oh the movies are fine. It’s exciting. It’s fun.”

“You like going to the movies, do you?”

“Sure doc. Sometimes. Not all the time.”

“Does he?”

“No, no, he’s busy with his work.”

“Do you get to do any of the work?”

“Surre doc. I help.”

“By taking care of the boring things.”

“Yeah.”

“But movies aren’t boring,” Neill said.

“They are to him.”

“Oh. What else fun is boring to him?”

“Well, exercise can be. You know, it feels good.”

“Studying?”

“No, no. We both enjoy that.” Neill made a small noise. “What, doc, did you find studying boring in school?”

“Sometimes. Can’t it be?” Neill said.

“Well, sure, I suppose. Yes. I didn’t go to college. I think I said that.”

“You did.”

“So, in grade school, studying was boring, but that was mostly things I had already learned.”

“That your parents taught you?”

“Yes.”

“So why didn’t you jump ahead?”

“We didn’t want to make waves.”

“Why not? Wouldn’t it have been good for you?”

“My mother discussed it, actually, with the teachers. I think. Yes. And they didn’t want me to.”

“Why not?”

“Socialization, I think they said.”

“Oh.”

“They say it’s hard. I would’ve been skipping two or three grades actually.”

“Really?” Neill said.

“You sound surprised, doc. You’re not the only who’s smart, you know.”

“I’m not that smart.”

“Sure you are, doc. I’m sure. I know you are.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just can tell.”

“You’re observant.”

“That’s right. I try to be.”

“So you could’ve skipped two or three grades. In what grade?”

“Third.”

“You could’ve jumped to sixth.”

“Sure. Except I would’ve been so much younger than everyone else. They thought people would pick on me. I was small as a child, actually.”

“You’re not anymore.”

“No, no. I shot up.”

“I’m surprised that your parents chose such an unusual career, but didn’t want you to make waves.”

“They…” Ostanes licked his lips. “I don’t want to talk about that, doc, okay?”

“Okay. Why don’t you like to talk about your parents?”

“I don’t want to talk about that either, doc,” he said, quietly annoyed.

“Alright, what do you want to talk about?”

“Well. What is the weather like out?”

“Sunny.”

“Well of course.”

“It’s not always.”

“I know. I miss… I miss all the rain in Washington.”

“Really?”

“Sure. It’s nice. It makes things grow. It smells nice. The rain’s not actually what smells, of course, it just makes the natural smells stronger, you know.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Sure, the water makes all the smells stronger.”

“What else did you like about Eillios? It sounded like you don’t really like politics.”

“No, I don’t, but there are interesting people there and things to do. The movies. The theater, Broadway.”

“You like going to the theater?” Neill asked.

“Sure, it’s exciting, it’s fun.”

“But he doesn’t?”

“No. He doesn’t really like fiction, actually.”

“Really?”

“No, he likes things that are real, and history.”

“And science?”

“Yes.”

“Do you?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Is that another thing that you know that he doesn’t? All sorts of fiction?”

“I suppose. I hadn’t thought about it, but yes. I remember those things and he has no reason to. He could ask me, if he needed to.”

“Oh, you can ask each other?”

“Well, sure, doc.”

“You know, Ostanes, I’m not convinced that you’re not a multiple.”

“Oh? I suppose that makes sense, doc, but I’m not, really.”

“You sound like it, often. Median.”

“I guess. Maybe.”

“The way you talk about yourself, and him. Using separate pronouns even.”

“It’s just easier.”

“You say that, Ostanes, but no one else talks like that about themselves.”

“Is that something that’s wrong with me, then?”

“I’m not sure. I mean, it’s not wrong to be multiple, you understand.”

“It can be.”

“It’s not the fact that they’re multiple, it’s the fact that they’re dysfunctional. It’s like being a family; the family has to function together. Has to talk to each other.”

“I talk to myself, doc. Or isn’t that another sign of being crazy?”

“Not really, Ostanes. Everyone talks to themselves. Supposedly smart people talk to themselves more.”

“They probably just have more to say, doc.”

“That’s possibly true. What else did you like about Eillios?”

“Oh, well. There was less traffic, at least where I lived. That was nice.”

“Oh certainly, I’m sure.”

“Just, just little things doc. Just, it was home, that’s all.”

“And you miss it.”

“Sure doc. It’s just natural, isn’t it?”

“Yes. You said you were in Clermont for a while. That you were sent to Stomlin.”

“Oh? I don’t remember that, actually.”

“Really? Not at all?”

“No, it must not have been very long. I’m not sure why I would go to Clermont.”

“He said everything you do is to make the world better.”

“Well sure, doc. But there are specific things you do.”

“Maybe there was someone there you needed to kill.”

“Doc, it’s not nice to pick on someone when they’re having a bad day.”

“I’m not picking on you, Ostanes.”

“No, you’re not,” he said after a moment. “You’re not the kind to pick on people, I don’t think.”

“Ostanes, I’d like to run some of the standard tests on you. Would you be willing to do that?”

“Tests? What sort of tests?”

“You know, psychiatric tests. Things some of the other doctors tried and you wouldn’t respond at all.”

“I didn’t like talking to them.”

“I understand, because they tried to use you, right?” Ostanes nodded. “Would you do them for me? The tests?”

“I suppose. I don’t know if you’d get anything from it.”

“Well, that’s the point. I’d like to do them on you and him.”

“Oh? Why? Why both of uss?”

“Well, you’re very different.”

“Well, that’s true. Do you think the results would be different?”

“That’s what I’d like to find out.”

“Well, you’re a scientist, being a doctor. You have a theory?”

“Yes, I have a theory.”

“And what’s your theory doc?”

“If I tell you, that prejudices the tests, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, you’re right. That was silly of me, wasn’t it?” Ostanes said with a hint of a smile.

“So you’ll do them?”

“Yes.”

“And he will?”

“Yes. I said I would.”

“It’s bad practice to give some of them to people who have studied mental health science because they can know how to skew the results. So, have you studied anything like that?”

“Not really. I’m good with people, but I haven’t studied anything like that. I haven’t really felt a need to.”

“Alright. So we’ll start the tests next week.”

“You don’t want to start on Wednesday?”

“No, I’d like to do them with you first.”

“Oh. Alright. You have a plan for Wednesday?”

“Why? Will the pattern be different?”

“What?”

“On the face.”

“What pattern?”

“You don’t- Is that another thing you don’t know?”

“I guess not. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“When you were admitted, the pattern was black lines on red. When we were talking on Wednesday, it was two white dots on red.”

“It’s always red, doc.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“I’m not sure I should tell you.”

“Why not?”

“It’s alchemy and I’m not sure- Did you ever look up who I was named after?”

“No. I haven’t. It slipped my mind.”

“Really doc? I would’ve thought that would be something you’d think was important.”

“Really? Do you think it’s important?”

“Well, he was interesting.”

“Ostanes was interesting?”

“Well, I think I’m interesting. And, yes, Ostanes was interesting. Smarter than I am. He did a lot, actually. And you should look him up. Even if you won’t find most of what he did.”

“Alright. I will. See, I’m making a note of it now. I’ll do it before next week, alright?”

“Sure doc. Don’t do it just to humor me.”

“No. No, I should’ve done it before. It just slipped my mind, is all.”

“Alright.”

“Why weren’t you named after a relative?” Neill asked.

“Well. None of my other relatives were alchemists. And, to my parents, that was more important.”

“Oh? It’s not something that runs in your family?”

“No, actually, no.”

“What does the rest family do?”

“I’m not sure, actually. I haven’t talked to them in a long time.”

“Why not?”

“Well, my parents weren’t close with the rest of their families.”

“Why not?”

“They just weren’t, doc.”

“I’m sorry. Am I upsetting you again?”

“No. No. Well. Maybe a little.”

Neill had decided that the evidence pointed to Ostanes having not alexithymia, so much as just hiding his emotions more.

“Ostanes, why do act the way you do? Why… Why the monotone and the lack of expression? I would think acting more normal would make things easier for you, wouldn’t it?”

“Well, I suppose it would. But I am the way I am.”

“You do have emotions; you just hide them, that’s right, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s right. Not hide them, I just- I suppose I’m just not very expressive.”

“He is.”

“Yes, he is.”

“Is that another trade off?”

“No, I don’t think it was. I think- Well, you could ask him, but I don’t think it was.”

“He would know better than you, then.”

“He remembers the details better, yes.”

“Why didn’t you ever marry, Ostanes?”

“What? I’m not sure, actually. It never came up.”

“Have you had relationships?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Has he?”

“I don’t- I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“He’s busy with his work. Like you were, with your school.”

“You know I can’t-”

“I know, doc. But you understand. That’s what I mean. That sometimes other things can be more important than a relationship.”

“Yes, I understand that,” Neill said.

“That a relationship can be a distraction from something that’s more important.”

“I never thought of it like that, but yes.”

“Well. His work is very important.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Yes, I’m sure. You don’t think that making the world is better is very important?”

“I’m not convinced that he’s making the world better.”

“Oh, doc. He is.”

“Generally, when people kill a lot of people, they’re not making the world better.”

“That’s not all he’s done, doc.”

“No, he’s committed other crimes as well, hasn’t he? Arson, theft, destruction of property?”

“That’s not all he’s done, doc.”

“What else has he done?”

“Well, all sorts of things. Ask him, he’ll tell you.”

“He’s very vain, isn’t he?”

“No.”

“Well, you said he was very proud.”

“Well, maybe.”

“You said he was.”

“I said it was likely.”

“Well, you would know best, wouldn’t you?”

“You don’t always know yourself best, do you, doc? I mean, that’s why there are people like you, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s true.” There was a pause. “So what kind of people are you attracted to, Ostanes?”

“Me? Smart people. Interesting people.”

“That’s what he said.”

“Well, yes. Doesn’t that make sense?”

“He said exciting things make you uncomfortable.”

“They can.”

“Relationships aren’t exciting?”

“Well, surre doc.”

“They never made you uncomfortable?”

“Well, surre doc. You make me uncomfortable sometimes.”

“We don’t have a relationship.”

“Doctor / patient is a relationship, isn’t it?”

Neill swallowed. “Ostanes, are you attracted to me?”

“No doc. Do you want me to be?”

“No, I don’t. That would be inappropriate.”

“And you’re not attracted to me, are you doc?”

“No.”

“Then we’re alright, aren’t we?”

“Yes.”

“That’s good doc, because I do enjoy talking to you. He enjoyed talking to you too.”

“Oh. That’s good, I suppose.”

“He did make you uncomfortable, didn’t he?” Ostanes asked.

“A little,” Neill admitted. “But that’s alright. That’s my job.”

“I know, but he could be a little kinder.”

“Do you think he’s unkind?”

“Well doc, it’s unkind to kill people, isn’t it?”

“I don’t think that’s the first thing that comes to people’s mind, no. Do you think you’re a kind person, Ostanes?”

“Me? I’m not sure.”

“Well, when you were in relationships, did the people you were seeing think you were kind?”

“Yes, I think they did. But that’s different. You know, that first period of infatuation. People act funny then.”

“Did you never get beyond that?”

“Not much, actually.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I got uncomfortable.”

“Really? Isn’t that when it usually gets more boring?”

“Maybe that’s why I got uncomfortable, doc.”

“And he never dated?”

“Not really. He’s slept with people, you know, after a night at a bar or something.”

“Did you?”

“I don’t like bars. They’re too loud. I get a headache. But no, I don’t like one night stands. I like a little more romance.”

“I see. I suppose I should ask, men or women?”

Ostanes smiled faintly. “I like everyone, doc.”

 

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