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Scene Title Progress
Synopsis Finch tries a new thing, and struggles a little with the concept. Dr. Everleigh Madison patiently guides her toward understanding, and learning is achieved. Of sorts. It's a start.
Date December 3, 2019

Dr. Everleigh Madison’s office is made to be cozy. Everything about it screams “not clinical” and instead gives off a warm vibe. The color palette seems to also follow the warm scheme, the walls a nice shade of golden yellow, with soft pastel blue overstuffed couches and a bean bag in the corner. There’s a small desk in the corner that serves as reception and a bookshelf with plenty of well-worn books in case of the need to wait, which usually doesn’t happen. A stack of clipboards each with a small questionnaire attached sit near the reception desk. The reception desk has a sign that simply reads, “Please fill out a questionnaire and come inside!”.

The questionnaire is filled with the usual medical information, followed by two less usual questions. The first is “What are you afraid of, internally?” and the other, “What brings you joy? (Real or imagined)”. There is only enough room on the sheet to answer each question with one line.

A door off to the side of the reception desk leads inside her private office, where Dr. Madison has tried her best to keep things a delicate balance of cozy but not overwhelming. It’s small, just enough to feel intimate but big enough not to feel cramped. There are several different kinds of seats spread throughout the room: a couch sits in front of a coffee table, flanked by an armchair with a high back, a pair of beanbags are tucked into a corner, and several floor cushions are littered around the room. Another armchair sits tucked under a window where the sun hits and warms the cushions. Her desk isn’t overly large and looks more like an antique one might pick up at a rummage sale, a slightly scuffed classic style open-top desk. The chair behind it matches, though it’s been converted into a rolling chair.

Seated in said rolling chair is Dr. Madison, dressed in a turquoise pencil skirt, a light blue ruffled blouse, and dark blue sensible looking flats. She seems to be waiting, though at the same time getting a mountain of neatly stacked paperwork done.

There is a visitor, today. Finch slips into the reception area quietly, with a bright red backpack she lets hang from a shoulder as she peers around at what can be founds inside. Just when she's about to take off her bright yellow puffer jacket, she notices the questionnaire and elects, instead, to get right to work. Humming a tune of her own making all the while.

Not two minutes later, she knocks on the door to the private office, and pops her head around the corner, holding a clipboard tightly in both hands. "I'm a little early! Is that okay? I called earlier - Finch? Um, Eloise? Wow." This last comment, presumably, is about the room she's suddenly looking into. If she could have literal stars showing in her eyes, she might.

“You’re right on time,” Everleigh states, decidedly putting down her pen on the desk. “Please come in and have a seat… wherever you’d like.” She gestures with one hand to the array of locations in the room. “Whatever makes you the most comfortable.” She rises from her seat, moving to go intercept Finch as she enters the room.

“Let me just see your questionnaire… and how is it you’d prefer to be addressed? You can call me Dr. Madison or, if you’re more comfortable with it, Everleigh. There’s also tea, if that’s your thing. I find it’s nice because holding a hot mug is oddly soothing.”

Finch swings herself around the doorway and into the room as soon as she's gotten the go-ahead, and the questionnaire is relinquished without pause. The medical details are filled out to the best of her abilities, if a bit sparse, and the two questions are answered quite simply:

'A lack of choices', and 'things being right' are apparently the things that concern this particular potential new client.

"Um! Wow, I love - I love everything here." She spins around for a moment, after her hands are free, just taking in the view of the seats and colours and then turns back around and rattles off, "I like Everleigh! It's a really pretty name. Um. Do we shake hands?" She beams, ready to act (or not act) on either answer. "'Finch' is fine, actually. And tea sounds really nice!"

Everleigh takes the questionnaire, skimming most of the other details but settling on the two specific ones. She nods at the paper as if agreeing or acknowledging understanding of the words on it, then the questionnaire is abandoned on the desk. She turns back to face Finch with another warm smile, offering her hand forward.

“Well, Finch, that’s up to you. Do we shake hands?”

The hand stays where it is, an offering to her, while her other hand gestures towards an electric tea kettle on a sideboard with a smattering of unmatching cups and mugs. While none of them are ‘World’s Number One Dad’, they simply seem to be a collection of drinking vessels of odd textures and shapes. Most are brightly colored. Each of them is just a little bit odd.

“I’m afraid I only have a couple of flavors of tea bags. I’m trying to find a good supplier to get me some real tea to steep instead of just having… this. A proper tea pot would be nice too.” She laughs a touch. “Forgive my meager tea offerings.”

Finch thinks that yes, we absolutely do. She takes the offered hand and shakes it, making up for lack of practice with a surplus of enthusiasm.

Once that's been done, she turns her attention to the drink spoken of. The laugh brightens her own smile, and she ambles over with the strap of her backpack slipping over her shoulder and onto the nook of her arm. "Tea's all tea to me! Though- maybe I've just never had good tea? Ooh!" Her train of thought is interrupted as she leans sideways and spots a particularly clunky mug, polka dotted and hers. At least for right now.

She turns, mug already in her hands, to look back at Everleigh. "Oh! I was going to say thank you. For letting me come over to ask questions. And I guess maybe to answer them?" She seems unsure, but delighted nonetheless.

After a vigorous shake, when her hand is returned Everleigh moves to pull out a small box stuffed with individual tea bags. It, too, looks like it’s a collection of odd ones as none seem to be the same brand or the same type. It’s as if someone took the last tea bag out of a handful of boxes and just stuck them together in one. “I still think there’s some vanilla chai in there if that’s your… well, cup of tea so to speak.” She laughs at her own joke.

Leaving Finch to make her own beverage, she moves to her desk for a moment to grab a hardcover black notebook and an expensive looking pen before she sinks down on the couch, leaving the myriad of other chair options open for sampling. “You don’t have to thank me, but it’s appreciated. I should thank you as well… I’m always proud when someone new walks through that door. It means I have the opportunity to help someone and that, quite simply, is my life’s work. So thank you for that.”

Though her face lights up at the reply, Finch is quiet for a little bit while she sorts out the tea situation, humming occasional nothings the whole time.

When she returns to the collection of seats and chooses one, she gently lays her backpack down and then sets her mug of something (she didn't really check, but the bag looked pretty!) down on the floor, and then WHOOF, falls back into one of the beanbags, arms out at her sides. Her smile dissipates for a moment, before coming back double strength when her eyes find Everleigh again. "It's like if a chair was also a hug." Hushed with amazement: "I love it."

There’s an odd smile that crosses Everleigh’s face at seeing the delight on Finch’s face at the mere experience of being cradled by a beanbag chair. She makes sure there’s an appropriate amount of time for her to process the chair hug before she offers a new smile, this one more gentle than the last.

“Being comfortable is important for this sort of thing, I find. It means there’s less to distract you, less to keep your mind from discovering the answers you seek,” Dr. Madison says, leaning forward just a touch. “So let’s see what kind of answers you are looking for. Is there anywhere you’d like to start? Something you’ve been thinking about or are worried about? If nothing comes to mind, I can just ask you some questions to start us off.”

"There was the thing at the end of the questionnaire?" Finch offers, still laying back in the beanbag chair before her arms come back in and her hands slide back into her lap, hoisting herself up a little. "But honestly, I'm sort of just… here to do a new thing? You mentioned you like helping people, and that's great!" The compliment leaves her with a certain air of admiration, eyebrows up.

"But," she pauses, head lolling to the side, then adds with no less energy, "I'm not really sure… I need help? Maybe I do, maybe it'll be like - when you have a bunch of new foods just to try 'em and it turns out you're allergic to one of 'em and then your throat swells up and - oh! My tea!"

She leans to the side and picks up up, holding it in both hands. Awww yiss.

The thing at the end of the questionnaire. “Ah, yes,” Everleigh says. “I thought that might be a good spot to start. But you said you aren’t sure if this is something you need. Don’t think of it as an allergy test as much as… a feast. You eat the food in front of you because you know it and it’s good and you understand what flavors blend with what, but over at the end of the table is something different. Something foreign. You aren’t sure what it tastes like. So you try it.”

She pauses before continuing. “You find that you like it, but more than that you discover that there are flavors you didn’t think about, and ones you didn’t know you’d like, flavors you can now pair with ones you’re used to in order to create something *new*. It’s a bit like that.”

Everleigh chuckles lightly. “Therapy is what you make of it. Sure, people come to therapy when they’ve got problems, but it’s not just that… it’s someone to help you figure out things about yourself you never noticed, someone to guide your way of thinking in a way that helps you become a better you.”

Suddenly, Finch is quiet. She's still got the same expression on her face, even if Everleigh can probably tell the smile leaves her eyes somewhat.

"… Okay." The word leaves her with certainty, but a little quieter, from over the hot tea. "Okay, yeah. That sounds… fun? It sounds fun!" Her grip around the tea tightens, and she pushes her shoulders down, beaming. "Let's learn some things."

Everleigh is quick to notice the change. She leans forward, just slightly, the smile never fading. “Not always going to be easy, Finch. Sometimes there might be times when things aren’t fun. But I promise you, hand over heart, that regardless of that it will always be worth it.” She does just that, putting one of her hands over her heart for full emphasis.

“You learn a lot from the hard things.”

"I know that," Finch replies with an added weight of importance to her voice, "and I know that I might look, like, a little…" She wiggles forward in the beanbag, shoulder first, to blow on her tea as she ponders her choice of words. When she finds them and smiles up at Everleigh again, the warmth is back in her eyes just as before. Pridefully, she says, "I might act a little naive? But I don't think I am."

Suddenly, she meets Everleigh's eyes a little more intensely, and asks hopefully, "Wait, is this therapy? Did we start already?"

“Oh, I believe you. I often find that those that look naive have the sharpest minds,” Everleigh explains, then chuckles just slightly at the last set of questions. “Therapy is talk. It’s thought. You and I have a conversation about something and in it I ask you questions and to think about things and you think about them and answer.”

She pauses. “Let me give you an example. Say I ask you what your favorite ice cream was. You answer right away with vanilla. So I ask you why you picked vanilla. You tell me it’s because the couple of other flavors you’ve tried have been too strong and while vanilla is good you’d like something better. Now we’ve determined that vanilla isn’t your favorite, you’re just safe with vanilla as a choice because you’re afraid to try new things.”

Everleigh makes a face after a moment. “Not the greatest explanation, but it gives you an idea. We talk about something and it helps us discover things about you that maybe help you along in the future. See how that works?”

"I do!" Finch nods with enough energy to nearly spill some of her tea, and eagerly folds her legs underneath her. "Okay, so. What do we talk about? I've got my cone ready to go!"

Said as though if they were at an actual ice cream place, she'd be gearing up to point at absolutely every flavour in the shop. Vanilla included. But instead, she's here, and sips her tea oh so (im)patiently.

“Well, we’ll start with the question you mentioned on the form. It might not be an easy question, but I’m sure it will help me figure out how best to help you,” Everleigh leans forward as if somehow trying to reach forward to soften the blow of the difficult question. “What is something you regret but still have the chance to make right?”

She offers a kind smile. “Don’t rush your answer. I know you mentioned talking about this one but… regrets are hard. They reflect conflict and often pain, sometimes a lot of guilt. So take your time, sip your tea, and when you’re ready just start talking.”

Continuing to hold the cup near her face with one hand, Finch reaches another one down to absentmindedly push at the denim seam running over the side of her knee.

She does as she's told, letting both the conversation and herself breathe as she sits, sips her tea once more, and then thinks as she watches the liquid swirl.

"I've lived a really easy life." Finch says downward, finally, cheerful but a little slower. "And I mean, really easy. Up until I came to New York three months ago, I had every day planned out in advance, every step that I took was…" She bites her lip. "Everything was just how I wanted it. But maybe not how I… needed it?" She looks up again, at Everleigh, unsure.

"I thought they knew better, at home. My friends, father Rivera, my parents, and they didn't. I think. So I guess I regret… trusting people." Her smile thinning now, her brows slant upward. "But that's not a thing I wanna fix. Even when you don't have all the information, you know? You can't have, like, all of it. There's always more, and there's always people who know better or try to do their best but they don't know all the things either and so you just gotta sorta trust yourself more than anyone else and think that if things are wrong, you'll know."

Her ramble at an end, she bunches herself up a little, and laughs quietly, inner conflict still on her face. "So maybe I just… regret regretting that."

“They say that a person is the sum of their experiences. The good and the bad both shape who you are, who you become. It’s alright to regret things that happened in the past, but it’s good to have the awareness to know that you don’t have to fix things. They’ve done what they’ve done to shape who you are, and it’s okay that it’s how things are,” Everleigh tries to explain, her attention solely on Finch’s reactions, observing body language.

“What you said is very true. Trusting yourself and understanding when something’s wrong is probably one of the most key factors in having a healthy sense of self. It’s just important to remember that in order to trust yourself… you have to have all the information, or as much of it as you can get.”

Everleigh pauses for a moment to gather her thoughts. “Say you never experienced fire before in your life, and you see a flame. It’s beautiful and bright and you love what it looks like. But nothing in your experience tells you that it’ll burn you. When you know what fire is, though, if you see it you can trust yourself to know that there’s something wrong. You can trust yourself only as much as the experiences you’ve had. That’s why it’s important to learn from the things you experience and feel so you have a better understanding of how to trust yourself and what might be wrong for you.”

Finch holds still now, except for the gradual lowering of both her shoulders and the tea. As if every part of her becomes, momentarily, that much heavier.

Her eyes stay locked on Everleigh's, her chest rising and falling in a long sigh. There's a nod, eventually, but one that's slow enough to suggest that while she's taking all of the words into consideration, this fire is one that she might still watch from afar for a little bit.

Then, she smiles. Tea now resting on a knee, she cocks her head to the side and says, brightly, "Everleigh."

Her voice is steady. "What's the worst thing you've ever done?"
“I will answer you, this once, but you have to know that this isn’t about me. I’m here to help you talk through and work through your issues,” Everleigh explains. “But I feel as if this might help you, so I’ll offer it this time. I suppose the worst thing I’ve ever done is…”

She pauses for a long moment, thinking. “I think the worst thing I’ve ever done was to turn someone away who could have used my help. I did it because I didn’t believe in myself, in what I could do, that I could help even a little and it was a mistake. I’m not sure what happened to them, but I don’t believe it was good. I don’t like feeling as if I’ve let someone down.”

She tilts her head to the side. “So my question is… why ask me?”

Finch sits up a little, overjoyed, seemingly without regret for having asked the question.

The actual answer takes some of the shine off of her, and with a diminishing smile she gives another nod - this time resolutely, grateful not only for her efforts having paid off but also for having been awarded with sincerity.

"… Perspective," Finch answers, after a second or two of thought, and with quiet celebration dancing through her voice she says, "because if I'm gonna talk to you, I wanna know who I'm y'know, talking to. Thank you."

Now, more time for tea sipping. It's even cooled down a little so she can gulp a mouthful down at once! Score.

Everleigh tilts her head. “Well, that’s not usually how it works in therapy. There’s a level of space between the patient and the doctor so that feelings don’t get confusing. You may not want to tell me things because you don’t think I’d understand or you don’t want to hurt my feelings, those kinds of things prevent you from being honest to yourself and discussing issues you might need to work through.”

There’s a pause, however, and she continues. “Perspective, though, is an important thing. We all need a benchmark to help us determine where we want to be in regards to others. If me sharing a little about myself is helpful to you, then I will. You have to promise, though, to not let it cloud your judgment. If I feel like it’s becoming a problem, I’ll let you know, but as much as I enjoy new friends, I think I can help you more as a doctor right now. So we’ll tread lightly.”

"That sounds good," Finch answers happily, enjoying whatever flavour of tea she's chosen. "And I promise. It's just weird, right? This?" Probably a rhetorical question. "At least to me. But a lot of things are. Big streets are! And people in the news every day with-" she stops herself, using her free hand to mimic some sort of outward force while making a quiet bWwhfffHHOH noise, "- and packaged foods - and BIG BUSSES."

She settles back down, beaming despite her list of weird things. "But think I like it. This. And I'm gonna try and do it the rightest."

“Well, therapy is a foreign concept to a lot of people. They often don’t think they need it, that only people with problems go to therapy. Really, it’s something for everyone, something everyone should at least consider doing,” Everleigh starts to continue and then she stops, listening to the way Finch talks and what she says.

“I know I don’t ask a lot of background related questions, just a few medical ones and the list of questions to get you thinking… so tell me, where exactly did you grow up? It sounds like there are quite a few things other than therapy that are a bit foreign to you.”

Finch is in the middle of upending her mug when the urge to answer hits her with a muffled, 'MH!'

The empty mug gets set down on the floor, and she reaches sideways to drag her backpack closer, zipping it open to thrust a hand inside. "California! Lived there all my life. You know, like - until recently. I guess I live here now, even though there's still home." This isn't a thing she sounds like she regrets. If anything she seems to fondly revel in it.

She pulls a sketchbook out from her bag - a mess of bent and curled pages only just held together by the row of metal rings that links them together - and offers it out to Everleigh after flipping over to an irrefutably bad ink stained rendition of what looks like a one story building surrounded by what are probably tall plants. There's a creature near the bottom of it. With incredibly creative generosity it might look like a pig. Or a cow? Very big cat? Two chickens next to each other?

For once, Finch says nothing, expectantly and proudly staring at Everleigh. Because doesn't this just speak for itself? Thousand words and all that!

“I see,” Everleigh says as she observes Finch and the sketchbook, leaning forward. The sketchbook gets a long look, probably because she’s trying to figure out everything on the page. She leans back again, blinking a bit at the woman. She looks briefly… perplexed. For at least a moment or two.

“I can imagine that this is certainly a confusing and very different place for you then, Finch. A lot to take in. How has that been? Has it been hard for you to adjust?” She asks the questions but there’s a lot more questioning going on in her eyes.

Zipping her backpack all the way open, Finch takes a moment to reorganise whatever's in there, pushing what looks like a neatly folded pair of jeans and a shirt aside to keep them aligned now that the sketchbook is out. "So hard! I live at the Spring Creek Settler's Park, still? Though I think maybe soon I'll have enough money to rent somewhere, if I don't make it through the lottery system. A friend offered me his place, but. Pride."

She waves her hand again, this time in a dismissive wave. Shoo, pride. "And I'm kinda fine where I am? There's been a lotta problems for me to help fix, and a lot of people who have it worse, so I like jumping in and doing things. Besides, it's… simple at the camp. Sorta like home." One hand still in her backpack, she looks up to Everleigh with a slanted brow look that carries a small measure of dismay. "… Except with less respect for not taking other people's things."

Oof. Everleigh winces at the mention of respect for belongings, giving her a nod of understanding. “Yes, I can certainly say that most people in the Safe Zone have a degree of selfishness. And there are certainly a few who would jump at the chance to take something if they didn’t think they’d get caught for it. It’s dangerous out there. Maybe in different ways than you’re used to.”

“Helping, fixing, that sounds like a good route for you to take. It’s good to keep busy, but remember to keep time for yourself as well. Sometimes overworking yourself just means you’re hiding from things you don’t want to feel.”

Though some of the concern is still on her face, when Finch sinks back into the beanbag and pattapattapats the fabric that comes bulging outward at her sides with both hands, her smile returns in full force.

"Like what?" There is no challenging quality to her voice, only curiosity. "I think I'm feeling all the feelings pretty good."

“Sometimes there are feelings we don’t realize we feel until we’ve stopped for a moment and let ourselves think. Say something bad happens that you don’t want to think about. You keep yourself busy and distracted and might be fine during that time, but the second you stop you remember that bad thing and you’re right back where you started,” Everleigh says. “Sometimes it’s good to stop and re-evaluate where you are and if there are things you’re running from. Feelings like loneliness or fear, even anger and rage.”

There’s a smile from the doctor. “I’m not saying that’s the case here, I’m just saying it’s a healthy thing to stop and think about things for a while.”

"You're right!" Finch's patting stops, and she stares up at the ceiling, letting her head fall back a little. "I'm not sure what to do, though. I keep trying things but - oh! I went to the beach a few months ago to go take a nice walk but there were these people, they wanted me to go see if there was any plastic around, or cans, because they were cleaning but they were also tired? And -" She stops, her head coming back up to shoot Everleigh a look of wide-eyed shock.

"… Wait. Do I have a problem with saying no? I think I might have a problem with saying no! Problem identified!" She bounces forward again, throwing both of her arms up and kicking her legs out, accidentally kicking her sketchbook and bag aside.

Progress. “You’ve learned a little bit about yourself just by stopping to listen. That’s the sort of thing I’m hoping to help you with. You’ve already started down a good road with that. When someone asks something of you, check your feelings. Is that something you really want? If it’s not, practice saying no,” Everleigh suggests.

“I think you’re definitely off to a good start.”

"No I'm not!" Finch shouts like she's shouting the polar opposite of what her words mean, smiling wide and overjoyed, shoving herself up and out of the beanbag seat and standing with her head held high and hands planted on her hips.


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