Percival sat down at his desk. He sat down Pearls, the artificial intelligence inside his tablet, by his side, close to his computer. Percival made some annotations on a patient or two. It was his job to be on top of which patient had paid for their session, which one needed a receipt, which one needed to confirm their next session, and so on.
“Beep, new notification!” Pearls warned, in their triple voice.
“Oh, thank you, Pearls,” Percival said, finishing to shoot a message before looking at Pearls. “What is the notification, dears?”
“A message from They!” Pearls announced. “Do you wish for me to read the message?”
“Yes, please.” He looked around to be sure he was still alone in the waiting room.
“I need to talk to you before my next patient. End of message.” Pearls said, a small pause before continuing. “Do you wish for me to repeat the message?”
“No, thank you, darlings,” Percival said with a smile, standing up. “You’re still connected to the door system, right, Pearls?”
“Yes, Percy!” they responded promptly.
“If the next patient comes by, let him in the waiting room and let him know I will come back shortly,” Percival said, walking to They’s patient room. “Thank you, dearestests!”
“You’re welcome, Percy!” they cheered back.
They’s door was wide open, welcoming. Percival entered, without knocking, as it was usual for them. Well, when there was no patient in the room, that is. He closed the door behind him.
“Oh, Percy, thank you for coming,” They was quick to say, closing his notebook, where they previously were writing. “Please, sit down.”
“What is the tea, They?” Percival smiled, as he sat down.
“I would like to sponsor you in our local university, to be a licensed therapist,” They said plainly, looking attentively at Percival.
“What…? Me? Why?” Percy shuffled in his seat, uncomfortable, not daring to hope for much. They said many things, but didn’t mean many of them as well.
“You want to be a therapist, don’t you?” They answered, picking up a coffee mug from their coffee table. The mug read ‘
“Well, yes, I do…” Percival gulped. “But I have no money for that. You know I don’t.”
“Indeed, but I do have the money for it.” Them sipped their coffee, wincing a bit following that. “It’s too hot and too bitter.”
“Do-do you want me to get you some sugar?” Percy decided to ask, anything to get out of the conversation.
“Do not.” They sighed. “You would be a great therapist, you do know that.”
“I’m not so sure…” Percy allowed his shoulders to drop. “I want to help people, I sure do, but what if I don’t have the same gift you do? What if I’m just…” he let his voice drop.
“A monster? Like your former caretaker said you were?” They gave a soft smile. “You are not, I would know it. He was just a bad person who could not keep his evilness to himself. You are a good whiffling, you are dear and sweet, you are competent, and you want to help people. You have a golden heart. You can’t be a monster.”
“I-I…” Percival took a deep breath, his eyes glistening with tears wanting to fall. “You just feel pity for me, you want me to feel better.”
“I feel compassion, I feel empathy, but not pity, no.” They rested their mug on the coffee table. “You know you are allowed to cry, right?”
“I know, but it just makes me feel weak…” He sighed. “What if I accept your offer and end up being a shitty therapist? Then what?”
“I don’t believe it will happen, but if it were to happen, it would be fine. My offer has no strings attached, if you want you can finish university and never practice, you still would own me nothing.” They reached for Percy’s hand. “I will not make you accept my offer, but it will be open for as long as it takes you to accept it. You’re empathetic, you care about others, and want to help people. You’re also smart, studious and love to learn. I couldn’t ask more from a therapist.”
“Ok,” Percy managed, taking a deep breath again.
“Ok what?” They asked, squeezing Percival’s paw.
“I accept your offer, and I hope I don’t disappoint you.” He allowed some tears to fall from his eyes, running freely down his cheeks.
“As long as you are happy, I will never be disappointed.” They decided, kneeling by Percy’s side. “May I hug you.”
“Yes,” He muttered, welcoming They’s hug.
Both of them stayed in the hug for a bit longer, savoring the closeness. They wasn’t very much into displaying affection, making the moment a little more special to Percival, who looked up to the therapist very much.
“Thank you,” Percy managed, letting go of the hug.
“Of course.” Them smiled fondly, standing up. “I will start the process for the university to allow you in. You had good grades on your first entrance exams, even with such a bad caretaker, I’m sure you will get in without a hitch. This time no one will stop you from studying.”
“Thank you.” Percival whipped his face. “Anything else? I’m sure your next patient must have already arrived.”
“This is all, yes. Tell Vincenzo to come in when you leave.” They sat down again, picking up their notes and pen.
Percy nodded, and left the room, leaving the door open. He walked back to his usual place, smiling at Vincenzo.
“Vince? They is ready for you,” he said.
“Oh, thank you, Percy.” Vincenzo started walking to the therapy room, stopping close to Percival. “Are you…uh, alright?”
“Very much so, don’t worry.” Percival smiled widely. “Don’t let They waiting.”
“Yeah, sure…” Vince nodded, going to Them’s office.
“Any messages, Pearls?” Percy asked, sitting down in the receptionist desk. His usual desk, but not for long.
“No new messages, Percy!” The pearls cheered. “Have you cried?”
“A bit, but don’t worry!” Percival smiled, whispering. “I’m going to become a therapist.”
“Weeee!” Pearls cheered again, dancing on the screen of Percy’s tablet.
“Now, now, we need to send some messages, alright?” The pearls nodded, as Percival turned on the computer again.
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