Psychiatrist Un-Help: Part Two

James Wolfe 

James really didn't want to go. But he had little choice in the matter. It was this... or losing his job. The only thing he could do was keep up the mental shield, and he'd be safe from the incoming torture... that sounded like a good plan.

He heard his name called, and got up, feeling like a heavy weight had just settled over him. His feet dragged like he had difficulty trudging into the little room of horrors that lay beyond the door...

A second later, he straightened and clenched his fists. No matter what they were planning to do to him, James would not show his tormentor any fear. They would find no weakness they could pick on.

They were going to regret calling for him to attend the mental check-up.

"Hello, Dr. Rousseau," he said gruffly as he stepped into the psychiatrist's office. 

 

Moira Rousseau 

Good afternoon, Agent Wolfe,” a young, raven-haired woman greeted warmly. She rose from her seat and walked over, extending her hand for a handshake. “Dr. Moira Rousseau. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

‘Finally?’

Surely this was the wrong place. This lady barely looked old enough to be out of college, but the framed doctorate and license on the wall said otherwise.

Rather than a cold, clinical atmosphere, James would find the office rather warm and inviting. Pleasantly uncluttered, with decor that was cheery but not overdone. Two plush chairs sat across from Moira’s desk, each with a small end table that had a small bowl of peppermint candies. There was even a water cooler in the corner.

After greetings, Moira motioned to the pair of chairs as she returned to her desk.

“Please, make yourself comfortable. And feel free to help yourself to the water and candy, if you’d like.” 

 

James Wolfe 

He blinked. This wasn't what he expected... 

He looked at her hand, then looked around suspiciously, suspecting a prank, but who in their right minds would prank James Wolfe? Aside from that skeleton who just started work at SHUSH... but he was on a mission today. Still... 

There wasn't an invisible hand-buzzer on her extended palm, was there? 

Also, what was this office? It looked like a daycare. Although the thought made him feel sad. 

"I'll pass," he held up his hand, when offered the candy and water. "Can I have the real Dr. Moira Rousseau now, please? I'd really like to get this over with." 

    • Dr. Moira Rousseau
      Dr. Moira Rousseau

      Whether or not a patient was skeptical of her status as a licensed psychiatrist, they had always at least tried to be respectful. So, although she was very much used to receiving some sort of incredulous response, the rejected handshake had thrown Moira off. And it showed, as she looked almost hurt at the slight before turning towards her desk and inviting him to take a seat.

      That very brief glimpse into the more insecure part of her mind didn't last long, though.  For now, Moira decided to give James the benefit of the doubt, chalking up the discourtesy as not a dislike of her personally, but rather a sign of nervousness, or possible social difficulties.  The latter of which, based on anecdotes from other agents, she strongly suspected he possessed.

      "I understand your disbelief, Agent Wolfe," Moira replied, retrieving her SHUSH ID from her desk drawer and handing it over for the wolf to inspect. "But I assure you, I am Dr. Rousseau.  And I will be the one administering your annual evaluation."

      She was relatively new to this position, having only been officially practicing at SHUSH for a few months. As such, she had yet to encounter any particularly difficult clients, and was still rather young and naive compared to more seasoned doctors. This meant that James' brand of difficulty could very well prove to be one she was ill-prepared for.

      But, then again, James appeared to be equally unprepared for the sort of "torture" this particular doctor was capable of dishing out. That is, if he regarded unwavering kindness and saint-like patience as a form of torture.

      • James Wolfe
        James Wolfe

        James eyed the ID, half hoping it was fake. There was paperwork for that, wasn't there? It could delay the psychiatrist meeting, possibly cancel it! 

        Yes, that was a little too much to hope for. 

        "How old are you? Why are you even here?" he demanded, frowning at her intently. "You don't look old enough for this job yet." 

        Then he scowled and rolled his eyes. "Frankly, there shouldn't be jobs like these. We did fine in England without them." 

        • Dr. Moira Rousseau
          Dr. Moira Rousseau

          Moira frowned slightly at the wolf’s continued rudeness.  It appeared she had been too hopeful in thinking that he might be a bit more respectful to any doctor who could put his career in jeopardy simply by declaring him mentally unfit.  It was fortunate for James that this particular doctor was far too kind and honest a person to resort to a spiteful act like that.

          And it was fortunate for Moira that, having been made aware of James’s unreasonable nature through accounts by other agents, her misplaced optimism had not precluded her from being prepared in the event she was mistaken.  She’d noted that her friendliness had little effect on him, so it was time for a more impersonal approach.  

          “With all due respect, agent, my age is none of your concern.  The only thing you need worry about about are my qualifications.  Fortunately, I’ve taken the liberty of making those qualifications readily available for you to peruse at your leisure.”

          Pulling out three overly stuffed file folders from one of her desk drawers, Moira walked back over to James and handed him the first folder.  

          “Background checks.  Education records, certificates and degrees.  Letters of recommendation.  References.  Board certification.  Proof of membership from five internationally recognised associations for mental health professionals.  Comprehensive analysis of all SHUSH training.  Results of my own mental heath evaluations.”

          Because even the evaluating psychiatrist wasn’t immune to SHUSH’s mental health policy.

          She then stacked the other two folders on top of the first.

          “And, in these, you will find detailed reports from the specialised study program that I was enrolled in as a child — a program I continued through adulthood, until earning two doctorates in psychology and psychiatry.  This includes an overview of every single course taken in eighteen years of study in the field, grades and performance reviews, and instructors’ notes.  The third folder contains detailed reports summarising all research, forensic and clinical work that I conducted while interning under the tutelage of Dr. Ludwig Von Drake.”

          The smile on the psychiatrist’s face was by no means smug, but it was noticeably more distantly polite than the genuinely warm smile she had originally greeted him with earlier.

          “Of course, all of that documentation will take quite some time to go through, and we only have one hour to complete your evaluation,” the young woman said coolly as she returned to her desk and sat down.  “So, while I do understand your concern over my qualifications, right now we should be working together to assess your qualifications as a SHUSH agent, from a mental health standpoint.  Because the longer you delay this evaluation, the more likely people will start to think you have something to hide.”

          And, given the weight of those folders now in James’s arms, it was clear that she certainly wasn’t hiding anything.

          Moira raised a brow, looking at him pointedly.  “Unless, of course, you do have something to hide...?”

          • James Wolfe
            James Wolfe

            James stayed silent, for once stunned by a fellow agent as she piled up folders upon folders in his arms, listing off all the paperwork and certificates they contained. 

            That was... a lot of dedication. The wolf agent suddenly felt a grudging respect for her. She knew hard work, and put her mind and heart into it. Even if he still did not like what she was about to do to him... 

            "Let's just get this over with," he rolled his eyes and put down the folders. "But I'll have you know, I've been tortured by the Russian mob, Japanese spies and even the likes of FOWL, so whatever mental torment you wish to inflict on me, it's already been done." 

            That was... that was what the annual mental evaluation in SHUSH was for, wasn't it? To make sure its agents were all still mentally strong enough to shield themselves from manipulation and coercion. 

            • Dr. Moira Rousseau
              Dr. Moira Rousseau

              Did... did he just compare her... to FOWL??

              Moira didn’t know whether to feel sympathetic, offended, hurt or amused that this agent had just ranked her on the same level of a nefarious criminal organisation, and clearly believed she was going to torture him somehow.

              Then again, he may not be wrong... though, perhaps not in the way he was expecting.  She suspected that talking about his mental health and her concerns regarding his difficulties in getting along with other agents likely would be some sort of torture for him.

              “I’ll keep that in mind,” Moira said, once again motioning him to sit as she leaned forward on her desk.  “But first, I’d like to ask you something.  From what I gather, you’re a very dedicated agent who has firm ideas on what being a SHUSH agent should entail.”

              Well, that’s one way to put it.

              “What do you feel distinguishes a bad agent from a good agent?  Or even a good agent from a great one?”

              People usually freely talk — and often ramble on — about things that they’re passionate about; she was guilty of this herself.  So, by opening their conversation with a neutral question regarding something he felt very strongly about, she hoped to be able to get a better glimpse into his way of thinking.

              • James Wolfe
                James Wolfe

                James did not sit. If she was going to play mind games with him, he preferred to stay where he was, stiff and upright like a soldier on duty, to show he was not to be knocked down that easily. 

                The question confused him, but he answered after a short pause. 

                "A bad agent is reckless and wild, who ignores orders and acts on impulse. Those things, while admirable in heroes, are not encouraged in agents of SHUSH," he said in a monotonous tone. "A good agent has the ability to follow orders well and complete missions by the book without incidence. A great agent..." he hesitated for a moment. "...is one who has their heart in the right place. They do not always follow orders, and take risks to make sure no one is left behind." 

                He started to curse himself inwardly. That seemed like a bad choice of words. He fell silent again, but from his body language, it was as if he was daring Moira to ask him another question. 

                • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                  Dr. Moira Rousseau

                  Moira did not press James to sit.  If he felt more comfortable standing, well, then he was more than welcome to do so.

                  It was clear from the psychiatrist’s mildly surprised expression that his reply wasn’t what she’d expected.  Perhaps because that statement conflicted with other agents’ anecdotes of his behavior towards agents that, by his own criteria, he should consider to be ‘great.’

                  “That’s interesting... it’s my understanding that there are a few agents that you’ve had a hard time getting along with.  And I can think of at least two such agents that, I feel, fall into your classification of what it takes to be ‘great’ agents.”

                  Moira leaned forward a little, eyeing James intently and paying careful attention to the wolf’s body language just as much as his spoken response.

                  “Agent Wolfe... whenever one of these ‘great’ agents disobeys your orders, what is your response?”

                  She wasn’t being the least bit judgmental, she merely wanted to test his honesty, and understand his reasoning a little more in order to make the evaluation that was to follow a little easier.  For them both.

                  • James Wolfe
                    James Wolfe

                    James scowled quietly at her next question. 

                    "They will receive whatever appropriate punishment I give them after the mission," he said. "Because, great or no, this is not how SHUSH operates, and they need to know that."

                    While that was true, James was carefully withholding the fact that he would see to it they were rewarded, and even promoted as well. All without directly involving himself. He would die before letting anyone know, least of all a psychiatrist, that he did care for his agents, and even had a hand in getting Hudson transferred here where he'd be able to perform at his best without the UK branch's stiff-collared rules. He was Agent Jerkface, destroyer of all things fun, and he intended to be known that way for as long as he lived. 

                    • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                      Dr. Moira Rousseau

                      Moira regarded him silently for a moment before smiling warmly again.  ”Thank you for your honest responses, Agent Wolfe.”

                      Including the non-verbal ones you didn’t intend to give.

                      ”I believe we can continue on to the evaluation,” she said, pulling out a few stapled papers from a desk drawer and handing them to James, along with a pen.  On those pages, he would find various questions... most of which were asking him to use a scale from 1-5 to determine how much he agreed with the statement presented. A few, however, required written responses.

                      “Just a small questionnaire to start.  We’ll go more in-depth regarding some of your answers afterward.”

                      Her smile widened just slightly, in what appeared to be mild amusement.

                      ”Of course, it might be difficult to write while standing.”  She again indicated the plush chairs behind him, each of which conveniently had a lap desk stored underneath.

                      ”But if you insist, I could send someone to fetch a clipboard.  It might just prolong your suffering, though.” Her smile was still warm, but her eyes held a note of mischief.  “There’s been a surprising shortage of clipboards, so it may take some time to track one down.  But that would give us more time to talk...”

                      Oh, she knew full well how he would feel about that.  She was aware of what he thought of her, and how badly he wanted to get this over with.  But she had made getting him to sit in that chair a sort of personal goal of hers for this session and, whatever it took, she was determined to win that battle of wills.  Moira may have always been a pushover out of the office... but, when in her element, she was a force to be reckoned with.  And if she could just get that one small victory, she knew there was a glimmer of hope in cracking that wall he’d built up.  Or, at least, figuring out why he’d built it in the first place.

                      • James Wolfe
                        James Wolfe

                        James stared at the questionnaire and looked annoyed. 

                        "Is that all you needed? I can very well do them at my desk." 

                        He scowled slightly as he realised that she may actually be mocking him. Of all the nerve! 

                        Very well. He would amuse her and play along until he grew tired of this game. 

                        Of course, he had to... sit down first. 

                        Treating the brown plush seat as if it was a bed of nails, he sat down and as gingerly drew out the lap desk. Then he started to fill up everything, keeping his complete focus on the paper like it was finals week.  

                        • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                          Dr. Moira Rousseau

                          Ah-ha!  He sat!  Hooray for small victories!

                          Despite her inner satisfaction, Moira kept her smile professionally pleasant as James filled out the forms.  She might have countered that it would be impossible for them to discuss the answers afterward had he taken them to his office to be filled out, but she had a feeling that was probably exactly what he’d been hoping for.

                          She kept silent, jotting down a few quick notes from her observations thus far on a notepad as he continued filling out the questionnaire.  She did not like to tage notes while actually interacting with her patients, as she felt the distraction of writing might cause her to miss something important.  Particularly visual cues.

                          Once done, she patiently waited for James to finish, continuing to watch for body language cues such as tail or ear movement that might indicate his current emotional state.

                          • James Wolfe
                            James Wolfe

                            James kept his body language fairly neutral, but it was probably evident that he was unhappy. What were these questions?? Why did they keep asking silly things, like if he ever had a troubled childhood or if he felt like he was underappreciated? Of course, his answers were a solid no. He was circling the best answers that painted him a clean bill of mental health, and he refused to show anything else. When he finished the questionnaire, he slid it back to her and stood again. 

                            "If that is all, I shall be taking my leave..."

                            He wishes.