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Himura Yuko was what you’d call a ‘problem student’. Her problematic behavior included - to name a few examples - getting barely high enough grades to not fail her class, picking up fights both in and out of school grounds, disrespecting adults or any form of authority that wasn’t her own mother, and defacing her textbooks by drawing… explicit content on them.
Being called into the headmaster’s office was nothing new to her, but being specifically called into a teacher’s office was highly unusual, since most of Yuko’s teachers considered her a ‘lost cause’. Somehow she must have pissed off the only teacher she actually didn’t hate, mainly because they weren’t a stuck-up, youth-hating imperialist. In other words, she had been called into the office of the only (to her knowledge) foreign teacher in the school - Lise Hamelin.
Rocking her usual punkish makeup, dyed hair, multitude of piercings and fingerless gloves worn over her regular, albeit slightly untidy, sailor fuku school uniform, Yuko knocked on the door once, before stepping inside without necessarily waiting for an answer. “Hey, Sensei. What’s up?” She said as casually as she could. She had learned that the best way to disarm adults in positions of power was to show no fear.
Probably the worst part of being a teacher was knowing that for only a short time, you were a central part in hundreds of young lives. Every year, you had to say goodbye to the graduates, and say hello to the freshmen. It was the goodbye part that hurt Lise the most. Every June for the past eight years, she would say farewell to her senior classes, knowing that would be the end of their professional relationships.
She had her favourites of course, as well as those she did not favour. It was not her first year that had been her hardest, but her fourth. Students she had been with through all four years of senior high. Saying farewell to that class was tough. There were students in that one that had tried their best and shone through, and there were those that had fallen through the cracks. She had cried a lot in the days afterward, mulling over both her moments of pride and her regrets. Pride in hearing the freshman girl that couldn't speak a word in English four years ago, hearing her deliver a perfect English speech as her final presentation... regrets in not paying attention to the troubled boy who tried hard at first, but gave up, and the last thing he told her was the English slur "Fuck you." as he left her class for good.
Lise was determined to use the experience to strengthen herself as a teacher though. It had been difficult while she was still teaching English, but, in the last couple of years, she found that changing to Geography made it somewhat easier to start afresh. She was fluent in Japanese enough to competently teach the subject, and when she did so, she was determined to give every Geography student a chance - to lift them from the cracks they had fallen through.
Her success rate in this field was... mixed. Of course, there were those she couldn't help. While sad, Lise had at least given them a chance. But there were those that responded well too. And those successes were encouraging to her.
There was also the fact that now Lise was involved in the world of digimon, well, she was now aware of those challenges in particular. In fact, several of her students were in fact digimon disguised as humans. She tried not to favour them, but, there was always an uplifting feeling in knowing that there were alien species in her class that seemed genuinely interested in what she had to teach them about the human world.
But this afternoon, she would make her attempt to reach out to one of her students she knew was struggling. Yuko Himura was quite the delinquent. However, Lise had always done her best to never provoke her. Lise was the type that treated all her students with respect, and only issued punishments if they were actively hurting another in front of her. She also did her best to try and give her a chance to participate in class. However, looking over Yuko's grades, she knew her efforts so far were failing. And hearing stories from other teachers, well, she supposed today was her chance to make a good impression. So she had asked Yuko to see her in her office after school.
Lise was very glad when she showed up. She stood up and smiled as she walked in, not minding her fearless demeanor. "Ah, Himora-san. Welcome." Lise replied. "Please close the door and take a seat." she indicated the chair on the other side of her desk.
"Well, I suppose it's very British of me to ask, but would you like a cup of tea?" she asked, gently. "Black or Green is fine."
Okay, so the teacher wasn’t glaring at her like she was worse than trash. That was a genuinely good sign. “Green will do. Thanks.” The young delinquent curtly replied, closing the door behind her. Despite being born and raised in Japan, Yuko ironically wasn’t a big fan of tea. She never understood tea ceremonies, and tea that wasn’t artificially made in a factory just tasted gross to her. Therefore, green was the safer pick for a neophyte like her.
Embarrassingly, as she made her way to the chair, a critical malfunction in her bag caused all of its contents to spill out. It looked like keeping the cut-off strap in place with a safety pin hadn’t been the most foolproof solution… Among the pile of textbooks with crude drawings on them was an object that looked quite out-of-place; A purple and red device that looked like a mix between a digital watch, a pocket computer and a card scanner.
“Shit!” The colorful-haired teenager cursed under her breath, hastily picking up the strange device and putting it back in her bag along with the rest of her stuff. She then quickly sat down, hugging her bag in front of her. “So… What did you wanna see me for?” She asked the British instructor.
Lise gave a nod in acknowledgement as Yuko replied. "Alright, Green it is." she said, then rang a small bell on her desk as Yuko closed the door. A few moments later, a side door opened, leading to a side-room, which was currently occupied by an earnest-looking young man, who seemed like he was fresh from college, or even still studying, dressed in a white coat, with green eyes and orange hair.
This was Akio, Lise's class assistant. She had introduced him to the class at the start of the year, claiming that he was a trainee teacher that would be assisting everyone with their work if she was unavailable. So far in the year, he had mostly kept his distance from the class, but had assisted those that needed help when asked and Lise wasn't available. Thus far he had come across as something of a bumbling dork, but he tried his best at the end of the day.
Then, as Yuko made to sit down, her bag seemed to rupture. She swore as it happened, but, a device fell out that drew both Lise and Akio's attention. Moreso than the lewd drawings. As Yuko collected her items, Lise and Akio exchanged meaningful looks, as though they may have understood something. But first, there was the stage of manners.
"Akio, could you please get some green tea for Himora-san and myself?" she asked. Akio nodded and left for the staff kitchen. Lise turned back to Yuko. She took her time in replying, trying to get the words out right. How should she approach this? Should she be delicate and light? Or get straight to the point? Well... so far in her dealings with Yuko, she seemed to be a straightforward kind of girl, so, perhaps this would be the right way to handle this?
"Himora-san..." Lise began. "The crux of the matter is... if you aim to pass Geography this year, we're going to have to work out a few things significantly for that to happen. Now, you're not in trouble or anything, I'm not giving you detentions or anything like that, but, I feel like I need to address some problems that you might have been having with my class. By all means, you're free to leave here today at any time, but... I feel like it would be constructive for both of us to have a discussion about this, perhaps?"
After she had said this, Akio returned to the room, with a tray carrying a teapot and two cups. He poured them both cups of tea. Lise thanked him and took a sip as she awaited Yuko's reply.
Yuko watched impassively as Lise’s class assistant, Akio-san, went off to get both of them some tea. She didn’t think much of the guy. He was just another good-looking foreigner whose hair color qualified as ‘exotic’ in Japan due to being a color other than dark brown.
The Geography teacher was apparently worried that Yuko might not be able to pass her course. Now, there were several reasons behind the young hooligan’s ever decreasing test scores, ranging from deep-seated emotional trauma and psychological issues, to dealing daily with potentially life-threatening situations in a parallel dimension.
None of those were things she presently wished to discuss with a person she barely knew, so it was time to deploy her favorite defense mechanism - making up excuses!
“Well, you know… I mean, who even needs Geography, right?” The Himura girl replied, sipping her green tea with a shaky hand. “Do I really need to know what’s the capital of Kerala? How will that help me in my adult life?” She added, pulling her smartphone out and typing on it with one hand. “It’s… Thiruvananthapuram. Really? How am I supposed to remember that? There are hard to pronounce names and then there’s being plain sadistic!”
Lise listened patiently as Yuko replied. Her answer was filled with defiance, asking what use it was to her in the real world if she knew what the capital city of an Indian state was. Lise took a little while to come up with a constructive answer to this. She took a sip of tea first, appreciating how much it cleared the complicated feelings of her mind.
"Himora-san..." she began, but her background as someone raised in England had to burst forth with the question. "I know this is improper of me, but could I please address you as Yuko?" she asked. "I know I'm meant to adhere to the exigencies of Japanese social culture while I'm here, but, I feel I really need to speak to you from the heart here, and my heart speaks English."
Either way, she would continue patiently.
"It's not only Geography in which you're falling behind." Lise said. "Your other subjects... I realize, regrettably, that a lot of your other teachers are content to simply wash their hands of you, but, I'm afraid I won't give up on you so easily."
Lise paused for a moment, taking another sip of green tea, then leaned forward with curiosity.
"Yuko, what is your reaction if I were to say the word... "digimon" to you?" she asked, quietly.
“I dunno about that, Sensei. Calling me Yuko feels a bit too personal, and we’re really not that close.” The delinquent girl replied with a faint blush on her cheeks. The nuances of Japanese culture and etiquette were often lost on foreigners, but simply adding a -san at the end of someone’s name really went a long way.
Still, it was hard to get mad at the English teacher when she was being so… nice! Simply being around her made Yuko feel warm and fuzzy inside, though that might have just been the lovely tea that she was having. It was as if Lise was the blonde, blue-eyed, genetically perfect older sister she never had.
The mention of Digimon caused the teenager Tamer to nearly choke on her green tea. “Where the hell did you hear that word?!” She brazenly exclaimed while coughing. Realizing that she had just swore in front of her teacher, she quickly fixed her posture. “I mean… What’s Digimon? Is it that ancient video game from the 90’s where you caught wild monsters and stuffed them inside gashapon capsules?” She asked, feigning ignorance.
Lise realized from Yuko's response that she had made a mistake. Ah, how easy it was to forget. In her upbringing in England and Germany, a teacher calling their student by their first name often relaxed them. But in Japan, it was a different matter.
"Yes, of course, my apologies, Himura-san." Lise said, bowing her head slightly. "All I can say in my defense, is the habits of my upbringing elsewhere are difficult to overcome. I will continue to name you Himura-san in that case."
Well then, back to the drawing board, she would have to stick to her learned habits of working within Japan.
Predictably though, Yuko had quite the reaction when Lise mentioned the word "digimon". Lise patiently waited for her to regain her composure. Of course she could have called her out right away by pointing out that she had a digivice in her bag, but, she felt like doing that would scare her from the room. And Lise felt that would be the wrong way to approach this conversation.
So instead, when Yuko tried to evade the question, Lise retained her patient smile. "No, I believe that is Pokémon what you're referring to." she answered. "Digimon meanwhile, short for "Digital Monsters". I've been hearing quite a lot about them lately. Rumours abound of them showing up in various places within Tokyo. I may have even had an encounter with them myself, Himura-san."
It was a gamble to be sure, but, Lise was sure that this would be the most reliable way for Yuko to lower her guard. She reached into her jacket pocket, and pulled out a goldenrod colored digivice, which was a similar model to the one Yuko was hiding in her bag. Lise held it up with a gentle expression on her face.
"I noticed you have something like this on your possession. So, Himura-san, I will simply say that I'm open and willing to understand if your problems with keeping up with class are related to this... "digimon" matter." she said.
“Right, Pokémon!” Yuko clicked her fingers. The visage of a certain yellow, red-cheeked rat was on front display in nearly every game store in Shibuya’s entertainment district, yet she had always struggled to remember the name. “I’m not that big on video games anyway, unless they involve gore and violence.” The girl added.
That aside, the fact that this teacher had heard ‘rumors’ about Digimon was very concerning. However, there was a very simple explanation for that, and it all became clear the moment she revealed a Digivice of her own. “You’re a Tamer too?!” The pierce-faced teenager gasped. “Wow… My Geography teacher is a Tamer. That’s kinda cool!” She smiled widely, seemingly more invested in this subject than the previous talk about her grades.
“I wouldn’t say my troubles in school are related to this… Well, I did almost die one or two times, and death definitely would have affected my ability to attend classes, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, what’s your partner like?” The young delinquent eagerly asked, her mind racing with all sorts of possibilities.
Post by Lise Hamelin on Sept 12, 2020 12:38:54 GMT
Lise chose not to comment about Yuko's preference for gore and violence for now. Mostly because it wouldn't be constructive to the conversation, and partly because it actually wasn't her business anyway.
When Lise showed her digivice however, she was somewhat relieved of Yuko's reply. "Indeed I am, Himura-san. Although I believe a more accurate and polite term for it is "chosen", so I've been told. From what I gather, some entity of which we know little has selected us mere mortals to be the second part of a companionship with fascinating beings."
Yuko's casual talk about her troubles however made Lise pay close attention. She suppressed the urge to interrupt right away though and waited until she had stopped speaking, in which she dismissed near-death experiences and wanted to know who Lise's partner was.
Lise took a sip of tea to regain her composure and retorted politely. "I'm afraid I don't buy that, Himura-san. I have heard enough stories from other Chosen such as yourself as to exactly how dangerous and consuming life in the digital world can be. In fact it troubles me to hear that someone your age has suffered near-death experiences. Have you... at the very least sought professional help into dealing with them?"
After she had said it, Lise had realized it would be something of a stupid question to ask. What therapist in Tokyo would be tolerant of hearing tales of their client going to another world and nearly dying? "...and by seeking help, I mean... perhaps in Terminus?" she added, hoping that would be more helpful to the conversation. For now, she would keep the subject of her own partner for later in the meeting.
The term ‘Chosen’ was casually thrown around in relation to Tamers, which was one the girl had heard before. “Yeah, I know of that one. I dunno how much of it is the work of some godlike entity - of which I’m told their world has several - but another term I’ve heard is ‘Digidestined’. Not sure how to feel about that one… Do we really need to add ‘Digi-’ in front of everything?”
What was next? A Digi-rap? No… That would just be silly.
Lise Hamelin seemed to ignore the question about her partner for the time being. She was actually more concerned about Yuko’s physical and emotional well-being, even suggesting that she sought counseling. “Sheesh… I thought you were a cool adult, but now you sound like my Mom.” The pierce-faced teenager clicked her tongue. She left her finished cup of tea on the teacher’s desk, crossing her arms in front of her chest afterwards. “What good are therapists anyway? They just sit on a chair for one hour straight and let you do all the talking, then charge you outrageous amounts of money. Does Terminus have them? I dunno. I never bothered to check.”
Lise chuckled at the notion of putting "digi-" as a prefix for things. "I don't think we need to go that far." she answered.
The teacher then noted how Yuko seemed to raise her defenses after she asked if she needed any help in dealing with her experiences in the digital world. Lise then realized her mistake, of course Yuko would react like this. Her only option to keep this amicable was to back off.
"Yes, of course, I apologize, I shouldn't have inquired into something so personal, Himura-san." she said, giving a curt bow in her chair.
However, from what Yuko said next, Lise caught onto something that might salvage the situation. "Well, now that you ask, I believe that there are such services within Terminus City. I've heard that there are some entrepreneurial digimon that wish to help people such as yourself, and also that they operate on a pro bono basis... ah, that's Latin for "For the public good". If you're interested, I could look out for one of them and tell them that you might be interested in a meeting?"
For now, Lise would await the answer, hoping she had made up for her digging too far earlier.
Damn right you shouldn’t have inquired into something so personal… is what Yuko would have liked to say, but the woman’s politeness and overall likable character made it increasingly difficult - if not outright impossible - to be mean to her. “It’s okay…” The rebellious teenager sheepishly replied instead, sinking further into her seat.
Still, the thought of a Digimon therapist was mildly intriguing, if only due to how visually humorous it would be to disclose one’s existential woes to a talking dog or a dinosaur. “Pro bono… Does that mean they’ll do it for free?” The teenage Tamer placed a finger on her chin, contemplating for a few seconds. “Alright, I guess we could give it a shot.” She decided.
That aside, the fact that Lise could apparently get a hold of them herself, made Yuko curious. “So, are you a regular in Terminus or something? How do you balance Digimon with adulting? I mean, your job probably consumes most of your time and… I assume you have a fiance or boyfriend, right? How do you manage to squeeze everything into your schedule?” The girl curiously asked.
Post by Lise Hamelin on Sept 20, 2020 13:47:33 GMT
Glad to have that flare-up ironed out, Lise would take care to not be so intrusive for the time being. Of course, earlier in the conversation she was seeking out her boundaries, but for now, it seemed she had found them, and she wasn't keen to test them now that they had gone so far in their conversation as fellow Chosen.
Lise was delighted that Yuko seemed open to meeting a digimon in Terminus City to talk about her problems for free. "Very well. I'll ask my contacts if they'll be able to make a time for you, Himura-san." she said.
Yuko then asked how Lise balanced her life as a teacher and a chosen. It was a very personal question to ask, given she followed up with inquiries about fiances or boyfriends, but, Lise was prepared to skip the umbrage and get to the point.
"Well, the time difference does help for one thing." she answered. "I only need to expend three and a half hours of my usual routine to spend a full day in the digital world, and that difference is all I need to go there and learn my place as a Chosen."
She continued to look at Yuko with a calm demeanor, looking as though she could accept any further questions of the sort that had been asked so far.
“Right, the time difference. That would help a great deal, I guess.” The teenage Tamer nodded. Doing the math in her head, Lise’s estimation of three and a half hours definitely checked out. She might have been doing poorly at school as of late, but she could still handle basic math. She was a lot smarter than other teachers gave her credit for.
Ms. Hamelin seemed to realize that, since she was treating Yuko almost like an equal, instead of talking down to her like every other adult did. This made her feel more comfortable around this person, and it showed in her relaxed body language. “Thanks, by the way. I really appreciate your concern…”
Still, the punkish young adult had more questions she wanted to ask her fellow Digimon Tamer. “So, when did you become a Chosen? And how? I’ve met other Tamers and even Spirit Users before, but never one as old as you… N-not that you’re old or anything! In fact, you look pretty young for someone your age! Not that there’s anything wrong with your age…” Yuko’s attempt to correct herself somehow made things worse, as she began sweating slightly.