Less than a week until the trip to get the new car! YAY! We'll have the next Across the Universe to you before we leave, but the next Sessions will be delayed by a week as we can't get the laptop for this trip. Enjoy, all!
Jason had always been the more reticent of the twins, and Elliot knew years ago that the boy proved the old saying ‘still waters run deep.’ He was always the thinker of the pair, the one who might stare out a window for an hour daydreaming while his sister ran amok in the house. Not that Jason didn’t get up to trouble too, and when he did, his mischief tended to be better orchestrated and less impulsive than Kala’s. All four parents knew that if something got knocked over, spilled, or broken, the blame likely lay with Kala, but if the hidden stash of cookies in the cabinet well out of the twins’ reach was mysteriously emptied, they should look to Jason.
In therapy, he was the more difficult patient to work with. Even when Kala chose not to talk about something, her silences and misdirections would often point the way toward what she was hiding. Jason tended to simply and stubbornly shut down. Unlike his sister, he was capable of spending an entire session staring at the ceiling and not uttering a word.
That quality of Jason’s, something absolute and unshakable, made him a challenge. It had taken Elliot months to feel as though he’d gained the boy’s trust, and over the years he’d continued to learn just how little he’d understood in the beginning. On the surface Jason was just a good kid, a bit of a dreamer. The next thing Elliot had discovered was how fiercely protective the boy was of his family. Not just his twin, either – Jason had a lot of rage toward Lex Luthor for having threatened Lois. He was not the first six-year-old boy to tell Elliot that he was going to grow up big and strong so he could beat up anyone who dared threaten his mommy. He was, however, the first to send a chill down Elliot’s spine with the perfect seriousness and determination behind the words. Remembering it now and looking at the broad-shouldered youth, Elliot found himself very glad that he was on Lois’ good side these days.
Overall Jason was best defined by his steadiness. Elliot could lead him off of a topic that interested him, but the boy would always swing back to it. Likewise, if he decided to pursue a goal, he would achieve it no matter how long it took. And happily for the family, while his emotional equilibrium could be upset, Jason tended to come back to stability on his own with time.
When he arrived for their session, Elliot noted that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. A casual observer would never guess that this boy – no, young man, there was not much of the boy left in him – had been through hell mere weeks ago. Elliot led him through all the usual preliminary questions about his state of mind, and got all the usual answers. No nightmares, no anxiety, no depression.
“And how is your sister?” Elliot asked. The best gauge of Jason’s real mindset was his response to questions about other people. He defined himself by his connections to his family, and in fact relied upon those connections and obligations to anchor him in times of stress. The more anxious he felt, the more he grounded himself by looking after other people.
“She wants everyone to think she’s fine,” Jason sighed. “She’s not though. She still has nightmares. She’s still a lot quieter than she used to be, but if she notices you noticing she reverts back to pre-kidnapping Kala, loud and kinda obnoxious.”
“Everyone has their own coping mechanisms,” Elliot told him. “Kala is stronger than even she knows, and though she’s been through a lot, I’m confident she’ll come out of it all right in the end. After all, she has you.”
Jason’s mouth quirked up, not quite a smile. “Yeah. You know, I think we’re finally doing what everyone always said we would: growing apart. She’s still my sister, of course, she’ll always be my twin, but… I’m going to Gotham next summer. For an R&D internship. Without her. And I don’t like that, but I won’t be throwing a temper tantrum about it. I mean, we do kinda have to go our separate ways a little.”
“You will always be close,” Elliot said carefully. This was the part of the twins’ growing up that he had always known would be the most delicate. Circumstances had created an unusually strong bond between them, even for twins, but for the mental health of both children they needed to develop independence from each other.
He had always counseled Lois to let them do that in their own time rather than trying to force it, and since her instincts echoed his advice, she’d gone along with it. If anyone had tried to push them apart, Kala would have had hysterics, and Jason would have become even more fiercely protective of her, thereby achieving the opposite of the desired result. Elliot remembered hearing about Kala’s mute tears and Jason’s savage anger at his parents when he first learned Lois and Richard were breaking up. The twins had thought that might mean separation for them too, and they simply would not allow it. Their conviction – especially Jason’s – had been strong enough to cow two grown men, neither of whom particularly feared Lois.
“It is important for you and Kala to be apart at times,” Elliot told Jason. “Contrary to popular belief, you twins are two individuals, not two halves of a single entity, and you’re right that you will go your separate ways. But I believe that the bond between you and Kala will never be broken.”
Some of the tension in Jason’s shoulders relaxed at those words, and Elliot went on. “That said, it is good that you have some time to yourself. I think you’ll find that being apart, being able to move around without worrying about stepping on each other’s toes, will only bring you and Kala closer. Besides, you’re both dating, and that takes up a certain amount of your time, doesn’t it?”
“I’m seeing Elise again, and Kala won’t let me forget that she was her friend first,” Jason said grumpily, rolling his eyes in familiar exasperation. “As for Kala, she’s officially unofficially seeing Nick. The college guy. I don’t like him, Sebast doesn’t like him, Dad doesn’t like him, and I think Lana would love to strangle him. But Mom says if we don’t let them hang out they’ll go all Romeo and Juliet on us and it’ll drag on forever. At least this way they’re supervised and maybe they’ll get bored of each other.” He had crossed his arms, and his expression spoke of deepest loathing.
“Your mother is a very wise woman,” Elliot told him. “And your sister is no fool, either. Do you truly believe that this Nick will take advantage of Kala?” For the moment he ignored everything he knew about Nick from his sessions with Kala, focusing on how Jason perceived the older boy.
Jason scowled even more ferociously. “I think there’s only one reason for a college guy to try dating a high school girl. I’m not blind – she’s my sister, but I know why every guy we know wants to date her. At least most of the ones our age don’t set their sights too high. Nick … Nick only wants one thing. And he’s not going to get it.”
Interesting, that he acknowledged his sister’s attractiveness. What Jason probably wasn’t aware of was the fact that Kala not only looked older than she was, but also carried herself more like a college girl than a high school student. That, of course, came from growing up in her mother’s shadow, striving to be a miniature Lois – or to be better than Lois at her own game. As a result, most of Kala’s mannerisms were modeled on adults, and she had enough natural grace to carry it off instead of looking like a silly kid pretending to be grown.
“Your theory relies on three people behaving like fools,” Elliot pointed out. “First, your mother would have to be wrong in her assumption that allowing Kala and Nick to see each other might cause familiarity to dull the attraction between them, while forcing them apart would lend the lure of the forbidden to their romance.”
“Okay, so Mom’s probably right about that,” Jason said, predictably coming to his mother’s defense.
“Second, you assume that your sister is foolish enough not to suspect Nick’s motives, and to allow herself to be manipulated. We both know Kala isn’t as worldly-wise as she pretends to be, but I understand she’s had a bit of a scare in that direction already. Do you really think she would let herself be taken advantage of?”
Jason was as protective of his sister as he was of his mother, and he would have to stop and think before saying Kala was blind enough to be tricked. “The thing is, Kala thinks she’s too smart to be taken in, and that’s what gets her in trouble. But probably she’s going to be more careful this time. Who’s the third person?”
Elliot grins. “Nick himself. Do you really think he’s stupid enough to provoke you, your father, your mother, your stepparents, and Sebast?”
Jason finally laughed. “Yeah, you’re right. He’d have to be a complete moron to mess up when all of us are just waiting to eat him alive. Thanks, Dr. Marrin.”
“You’re welcome, Jason,” Elliot said. “Speaking of dating, how are things with Elise?”
The enormous smile on the young man’s face was all the answer he really needed. “She’s, well, she’s the best. I’m trying to be cool and everything, because I don’t want to scare her off like last time, but Dr. Marrin, I know what I want. I’m gonna marry Elise someday. I know it. She’s everything I want. But I’m trying to be just, you know, normal about it. And I’ve never been very good at being normal.”
“Is that so?” Elliot said. Jason seemed like a fairly normal young man to him, but then very few teenagers managed to escape feeling like they were completely abnormal and irredeemably strange.
“I’m not like other guys,” Jason explained. “I mean, I’m not an idiot. No normal sixteen-year-old boy wants to get married in high school. I know that’s bizarre. But I don’t want to deal with all the stupid dating idiocy everyone else is doing. I mean, seriously? Going out, hooking up, breaking up, seeing someone new every month, it’s just so … lame. All everyone ever does is worry about what’s right in front of them or what other people are thinking. They never really think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives or who they want to spend that time with. They just want to look cool.” Jason took a moment to look embarrassed, sighed, and leaned back in the chair a little. “But it’s not really like I can mocked them much. I thought I looked really cool when I was seeing Giselle, and look how that turned out. I take back the ‘I’m not an idiot’.”
He was still upset at himself for not seeing through the spy’s deception. Elliot had been working with him on that, and took the opportunity to reinforce that. “You were intended to look good with her. Giselle was an experienced con artist. Her entire lifestyle depending on becoming whoever her target needed her to be. You couldn’t have known her intentions, Jason.”
“I should’ve,” Jason muttered, then shook himself. “Anyway. I wish there was something I could’ve done to make it all turn out right.” The guilt was clear as day on his face when he next spoke. “It’s just.. Giselle didn’t have to die. It wasn’t my fault, I know that, so you don’t have to tell me. I just…” He sighed and shrugged. “I want to make the world a better place. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”
“Even if doing so puts you in danger?” Elliot asked. Every time he’d approached this topic, Jason shied off it. Elliot knew the boy had taken some serious risks; Lois was still upset over it, and Kala was still furious.
“I wasn’t really in danger,” Jason insisted. “Giselle never would have shot me.”
Elliot wasn’t as certain of that, but it wasn’t his point. “I was under the impression that Giselle wasn’t the only threat you faced.”
Jason hesitated, looking away from Elliot, but then he gave in. “Well, yeah, okay. The stuff that went down in Nevada… I don’t want to talk about it. Yeah, I could’ve gotten hurt really bad, but I was mostly smart, and when I was dumb I was also lucky. So it turned out okay in the end.”
And no matter how delicately Elliot phrased his further questions, that was all he could get Jason to say on that topic. It seemed Jason had inherited his mother’s propensity for keeping secrets.