“…but what is free will?” your psychology teacher asks that afternoon, addressing most of a bored sixth form class, a small number of students (yourself included) listening intently. Usually people were more interested in her impassioned tangents on the nature of humanity and thought, but with Golden Week starting tomorrow, only the most eager of Yi Seul-ki’s students were paying much attention…
and able to ignore the impending large-scale assignment she’d inevitably saddle them with.
But you were definitely one of the eager ones! And as the only class you could be considered anything but middling at, you weren’t going to ignore your favorite class, let alone your favorite teacher!
“Science, of course, teaches us that the universe began in a single moment of time that created all matter and energy. Human beings are the result of billions of years of physics and chemistry coming together to create ‘life’.” Ms. Yi draws some explanatory diagrams on the smartboard, and you scribble down notes idly in your book. “But, if everything was decided in that single moment, then surely all our actions are themselves deterministic, yes? Simply more physics and chemistry?”
…to be honest, you think you could listen to Ms. Yi go on about anything and listen happily, with a dreamy, far-off look in your eyes at thinking of your teacher-crush.
Ms. Yi – that is, Yi Seul-ki – is famous here at the Verwest Adventist Academy, for a wide variety of reasons. (And not ‘two’, as some guys like to say…) While there are certainly some exceptions, most students think she’s by far the best teacher here, known for her impassioned lectures. You’ve learned more in this one class than you have in the rest of your time here put together, which is pretty impressive! Not just about psychology, either; she goes off on tangents a lot, but they’re always informative and easy to listen to.
Admittedly, that’s something everyone knows. But, you yourself have…other reasons, reasons keeping you captivated even when most students are zoning out, waiting for their vacations, such that even Ms. Yi is something they want to move past so they can slack off for Golden Week.
nonexistent God in Heaven, she’s so hot.
You don’t count her as a proper crush – because she’s a teacher and you’re a student, obviously. (And not like Calvina, where she’s only a few years older and it’s more of a senpai-kohai thing.) Even if you sometimes think of it, you’d never pursue it, and she’d never pursue you. But this is one of the privileges of youth, so your mother tells you! To be able to admire her like this, and be inspired…
Her hair is loose and cropped, some of it held back in a ponytail, silky black that is highlit in violet…she has so-called ‘mysterious’ blue eyes, and is constantly keeping people guessing about her past. It’s easy to watch her lips, her words, that lipstick…her fashion sense is simple, but effective; today she’s wearing gold earrings, a couple of bangles, a simple white blouse and skirt and tights…
(Maybe it’s a bit much sometimes, but, really. You can’t help it. Curse you and your desire for girls!)
Really, she does like to keep people guessing in general. About her past, about her home life, about her curiously close relationship with her so-called ‘partner in crime’ Ms. Seong. But you do know one thing for sure…
Her fingernails are always the same. Short, cropped, black.
Those are lesbian fingernails.
Maybe that’s why you’re still a bit of a hormonal teenager about her. She’s not simply an attractive straight woman, she’s a lesbian – and, honestly, one you admire and want to someday become!
(…after saving the world, you mean.)
(…wait, no, your powers could, maybe – no, bad thoughts, bad thoughts!)
“Cibele!” you suddenly hear, thankfully broken out of bad-thought mode before it goes too far. You think she was saying something about…what, the soul? Human consciousness? Someone in the room was refuting Ms. Yi, that’s for sure; you’d know that look anywhere. “Explain to us the Islamic view on free will.”
(…ugh, she’s so hot when she orders people around. She’s even got an old-style pointer and everything. It’s easy to imagine her as a supervillain, really, especially with her curves – or maybe, some kind of evil magician, who would bewitch you the heroine and –)
(chocolate fudge, bad thoughts again!)
You try and collect yourself, thinking over the question. “Uh…I mean, it’s a pretty complicated subject I don’t know a huge amount about, but, uh…” Aw, heck, you weren’t expecting this! And that’s such a complicated question, oversimplifying the entire cultural heritage of your ancestors! Right, whatever. “One of the six articles of faith is belief in God’s predestination of all things, but what that means varies a lot…” No, people are staring, it’s embarrassing! Much as you like Ms. Yi, you wish she wouldn’t ask questions like this. “If I asked my family, they’d say humans do have free will, but because God exists outside of time, God knows what’ll happen because time has no meaning to him. I think that’s kinda splitting hairs, but…”
Right, about that. Where does your mental time travel come in? You’re not especially religious – thanks in part to Ms. Yi, in fact – but you’re not ready to say you’re just operating on chemicals or anything. Especially not now. If a power like that exists, to read people’s minds and influence their hearts, does something like God exist? Maybe not like in the Qu’ran or the Bible, but something like a ‘god’, or maybe even a ‘goddess’…
Eh, questions for later. Not what she’s asking, right?
“It’s way more complicated than that, though, you know?” you continue. “People have been asking this question for 1500 years or so. I think it’s kinda silly; you can’t both have and not have free will, in my opinion?” It’s not something you can ‘sum up’ so easily, honestly. Trying to oversimplify a religion like that…
Even so, Ms. Yi seems happy with your answer. “Thank you, Cibele.”
Oh, she praised you! Your whole body lights up with the sensation of making your favorite teacher happy~
(If only she’d pat your head, then it’d be perfect…)
“My point is, a belief in human consciousness, in soul, does not preclude the belief that humans are in some way not in control of themselves. Even before modern science, long before the Reiwa era, predestination has been a part of thought for…” Ms. Yi’s eyes flit toward the clock. “Oh, dear! I’m afraid we’re almost out of time, so before you go it’s best I give you your class work for Golden Week.” A groan can be heard from one of the corners, as usual for her vacation assignments. “Yes, yes. I know you all plan to slack off, but believe me, I’ll know if you do…in this case, we’re going to split the class into groups of two.”
People start eyeing one another, but…just like always, Ms. Yi quickly shuts them down.
“Assigned by me,” she says, and people start to mutter to themselves under their breath. Well, that’s just what she does. Ms. Yi despises cliques and bullying, so she forces this kind of thing to help foster mutual understanding…well, that’s the theory, at least. You’re not sure it’s ever worked out that way in practice. And as she begins counting off pairs, you can already sense the animosity and contempt among those who have been paired – no need for mind reading. It’s usually easier when you don’t have to force meeting outside of school, but maybe that’s why she does it during breaks in the first place: to force people to meet outside sixth form.
(Then again…you’ve seen couples form from these pairings. Maybe it’ll be a good thing?)
“And finally…” Ms. Yi holds her pointer in both hands, and then props it toward you. “Cibele and Stella.”
…yep. Exactly what you expected from Stella Maris.
You turn back toward her, the blonde looking furious at the thought of spending more time with you than necessary. As always, you can’t help but feel a little sad – isn’t it a lot of energy, to dislike you this much?
But, then again. This is an opportunity, you know? Maybe Ms. Yi is looking out for you. You’ll get the chance to learn what Stella is really like…you’re sure someone who is so mean to you has to have a reason, right? Maybe you’ll finally figure out why?
The atmosphere between the two is tense, blue eyes meeting gold, a familiar staredown of sorts – Stella, though she likes Psychology class even more than you do, is also one of the people who challenges Ms. Yi the most. (Which is part of what you like about her, honestly; you learn more that way when Ms. Yi is pushed to explain her positions further.)
“I’m sure you’ll have no problem with this. Right, Stella?” says Ms. Yi, her gaze smoldering through her glasses.
Well…even if she does have a problem, it’s not as bad anymore. Because even if Stella doesn’t give it away herself…
You now have the means to find out why, right? Even if…even if you think it’s a violation of privacy, it might be worth it in this case, with someone who lashes out at you (and perhaps others) without giving her reasons why. Maybe, if you can use these powers to help others, rather than selfishly exploit them, you won’t have to feel guilty about what you could do, if ever you allowed yourself.
“The assignment is a mock exploration of therapeutic techniques. Use whatever method you think is best. You’ll each try one session with the other based on that technique, and record your results. Bonus points for video footage, of course! Not to worry, I just want to bridge the gap toward clinical practice, for those of you who are looking to that as a career path.” Ms. Yi’s gaze lands on Stella once more, as she hold pointer in both hands, bending it ever so slightly…and ugh, she has that sexy smile that just makes you melt. It’s a wonder you can pay attention in this class! “That will be all for today. I’ll be here after class if you need me. Dismissed!”
(Fudge, she’s hot. It might not be bad, if you let her order you around, maybe as she made you bend over and – agh, no, bad thoughts. Bad thoughts!)
The bell rings, right on cue (Ms. Yi’s timing is impeccable); you check your phone, and Ms. Yi’s already had the complete description of the assignment sent to your email. Honestly, it seems like it might be really easy homework, if not for who you’re assigned to…
“We have to work together, Cibele, but I don’t have to like it.”
…why is it always like this, when it’s you?
You know Stella Maris isn’t a bad person. Not really. What she does with you might qualify as ‘bullying’, but compared to what Korri has had to face (and still faces), it’s really not that troublesome. You just –
you like her, and you wonder what it is you did to get her to hate you so much.
“Well, for what it’s worth, I like you, Stella,” you say, forcing a smile. “Besides, I might be able to help you with your grades!”
Stella sighs, and rolls her eyes. “Typical. Not even thinking of yourself, huh? You’re so…you know what your problem is, Cibele? You’re too nice.”
“I don’t think there’s such a thing,” you say. “At least, not toward someone you like!”
…and you really do.
Stella Maris is beautiful, no doubt about that. As a local, a noble, her ancestors come from the myriad migrants and cultures that have made these islands home before the existence of Southern Sun. Her blonde hair is carefully coiffed in ringlets (how does she manage to do that every day?) She always wears some kind of long-sleeved dress with frills (doesn’t she get hot?), and you’re certain she’s got a corset under it; her fair skin is free of blemish and always has a healthy glow (how does she avoid getting a tan?) she’s got a passion for dressmaking and fashion in general, so you’re sure she’s made them all herself. Bows in her hair, well-manicured nails (how does she not have it get in the way when – ohhhhhh, several are trimmed down, huh), and just this absolute radiance that follows her around…
all this not to reduce her amazing and wonderful passion to physical matters, of course, but: in your humble opinion, the prettiest part of her is her golden eyes.
(Fudge, you want golden eyes.)
“Whatever.” Stella sighs, waving it all off as she sorts out her bag. “Before anything else, we’re not doing this at my place, you hear? Your place, if it can be helped. I don’t want you knowing where I live.”
“And you already know where I live, right.” It’s within walking distance of the school, if only just. But it’s all…
You sigh, feeling the sharp, faintly hostile shape of Stella’s presence. You’re almost worried it’ll prick you when you ‘touch’ it with your own, but instead…
Fucking Ms. Yi. Thinks she can order us around. No respect, and now I’m saddled with…
M-maybe not…maybe even this is too much of a breach of privacy, even with someone you have feelings for.
“Whatever. You have my mobile. We’ll talk about this later – but you’d better come through. Sabotage this assignment for me, and you’ll be in for a world of pain.”
You frown a little, as Stella gives you a ‘slit-throat’ motion, other classmates giving you a sympathetic look while your crush walks off. It really is childish, but –
maybe that’s what gives you hope.
You didn’t feel anything positive from her emotions toward you, just with your Thought Skimmer. But maybe, if you looked deeper, you’d find something positive? Is it possible, that she hates what she really loves? It’d be ridiculous to hope something like ‘tsundere’ exists in the real world, but –
you still wonder, if you could at least be friends, with a person you admire so much.
Future-past-you has told you, that your telepathy can be used to make yourself the perfect partner for someone else. That by knowing a person that intimately, you can become exactly the sort of person they would fall in love with.
But wouldn’t that be based on a lie?
…well, there’s always one person you can trust with questions like this. And as you look over at Ms. Yi, she looks up from her desk and smiles at you, which just makes your heart beat that little bit faster.
(Sometimes, you think, if she told you to jump, you’d reach the ceiling before you even thought to ask ‘how high’.)
Slowly tentatively, you walk up to your teacher’s desk, for whatever reason much more nervous than usual. Maybe it’s that your new power would make it so easy to violate the sacrosanct boundary between ‘student’ and ‘teacher’; you know that people in positions like these, like the nurse at the hospital, hold private thoughts that shouldn’t be seen by those they have power over.
But despite your hesitation, you end up in front of Ms. Yi’s desk, heart aflutter as you try and figure out her intentions. “Cibele. I’m glad to see you so soon after your accident. I know a few students who could learn from you, you know.”
“Ehe.” You rub the back of your head, trying not to blush too much at the praise. “I couldn’t miss my favorite class, is all, Ms. Yi.”
“Right before Golden Week, even. It’s commendable, regardless of your intentions.” Ms. Yi’s hands pick up her collapsed pointer, gently playing with it as you talk with almost metronome-like timing. “You have questions for me?”
“Mhm! You’ve probably guessed the first one already, though.” Sometimes you think Ms. Yi can read your mind. “Why Stella? You know she doesn’t like me much. Aren’t you worried about it?” And, of course, it makes it much harder to ignore future-past-you, to boot…not that you can tell Ms. Yi that.
“Oh, that?” Ms. Yi gives you a sneaky little smile. “Are you disappointed, Cibele?”
“W-well, no, not really.” Ah, hot fudge sundaes, you’re not sure how to handle this! “I guess it’s more like, you aren’t worried about it?”
“Of course not.” Your teacher shakes her head, and your gaze is drawn back into those ‘mysterious’ blue eyes behind her glasses. (Fudge, she’s just so gosh-darned pretty…) “Stella is…hmn. The way I’d put it is, she wears her feelings on her sleeve, for better or for worse. You’re aware she wants to pursue a career as a therapist, yes?”
“It’d be hard not to be.” Stella makes it quite clear in her questions in class – that might be part of what frustrates her with her low marks here. “But, I guess if you put it like that…she might be working with patients she doesn’t personally like, and she needs to learn to put that aside?”
“Exactly! This is why you’re such a good student, Cibele.” Ms. Yi’s smile, aah…!
You utterly beam at the praise, blushing more than a little, once more wishing for a pat on the head! It’s weird, no one but Ms. Yi gives you that kind of feeling; even with Calvina, you’re more interested in standing by her side than putting your head in her lap.
“I guess, if it’s like that, I could do my best. I’m not sure what it is we could do together, though.” It’s a bit of an odd assignment, really; you expect most of the class will have trouble with it. “What kind of therapy should I do with Stella?”
At least, this might count as ‘grinding’, right? Psychology is one of your skill trees. Besides, it’s not like Ms. Yi is going to suggest hypnotherapy or anything, right?
“Well, you see, Cibele…just for you, I’m going to give you a little secret.” Ms. Yi leans in close, as if sharing with you some grand secret, and your heart pounds, almost imagining a kiss could happen, if ever that boundary between ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ could be crossed. “You see, Stella has a very specific kind of therapy in mind. How much do you know about hypnosis?”
chocolate fudge over a strawberry parfait, why
Okay don’t panic. Ms. Yi has talked about hypnosis before, a little! (And you’ve paid close attention to those parts of her lectures, of course.) Just because it might be what Stella wants to practice, doesn’t mean you have to buy that ability…and hypnosis can’t really make someone do something they don’t want to do, so you really shouldn’t worry about it, right? Instant Hypnotherapist shouldn’t cause problems, and you didn’t even buy it anyway!
(…you pointedly try to forget about the higher parts of your skill trees, that give you ample opportunity to abuse any power you might have over another.)
“Uh, ehe. Only what you told me, really,” you mutter, the nervousness not needing to be faked. “You’re really sure she’d go for it, though?”
“I expect her to, at least. Stella’s a straightforward person, much like you. Even if it’s someone she dislikes, she’ll realize the necessity in improving her marks in this class. And besides, I do think that with only some self-study, you might do better than you’d think.”
“Uh, right.” Yeah. ‘Self-study’. Sure. Not some kind of supernatural power or anything, right? “Are you sure?”
“You always have insightful things to say about such conversations, Cibele! Hypnosis, conditioning, influence…”
“I-I mean, I don’t really, er.” This is totally weird! Does Ms. Yi know something about yourself you don’t? Is she, and by extension future-past-you, right about this? “I just don’t know!”
“There should be some books on the topic on the extended reading list, so don’t worry too much. You’ll be a natural, I’m sure.” Aah, Ms. Yi almost gives an evil smile when she says that, and it’s weirdly hot.
“I guess I can check those books out, at least, but I’m really kind of nervous about it.”
“About what? Having Stella at your mercy?”
D-did she just say what you think –
“Just kidding.” And as if she’d never said it, she goes back to being friendly. “If you do have such an interest, mind you, there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe it’d even help you and Stella come closer together, no?”
“I-if you say so, but I’m not really interested in that way, I don’t think.” You try to deny it, even as your heart pounds. You’re sure Ms. Yi is being innocent here, just trying to be supportive of her faithful student no matter what she wants to do or how she feels about things, but with future-past-you muddling your head up, you really don’t know what to think anymore.
“I have faith that the two of you will come closer together, no matter what happens. And if you still need help with things, do email me – ah, but keep in mind Golden Week is a vacation for me, too.”
Ms. Yi’s just…aah. She’s just too perfect, really. Maybe…
maybe a little peek into her brain won’t hurt?
Where Stella’s presence was sharp, Ms. Yi’s is so smooth. It almost feels like touching a girl’s skin – or at least what you imagine that to be like, as your own mind brushes against hers, showing you her thoughts.
I’m sure Cibele will break through Stella’s shell, you hear from her in your mind, as the distinct sensation of her finding you cute makes you blush even harder. I would expect no less of my most brilliant student.
Her thoughts feel organized in a way Stella’s didn’t, and it half-feels like she’s responding to you – though, that would be ridiculous. Is she thinking of you and Stella, together? Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to think of turning hatred to love so quickly?
her faith in you does make you that slightest bit more confident, and you bow to your teacher in respect.
“T-thank you, Ms. Yi!” you say, hoping she hasn’t noticed she’s got you all worked up. “I’ll do my best!”
“I know you will, Cibele.” Her smile is wide, and even a bit sexy, as your gaze meets hers again. “Just keep in mind – should any hypnosis happen that is more…recreational in nature, please understand that it doesn’t count for the assignment.”
…oh fudge. She’s serious.
And knowing just how serious she is makes you blush, stammer, and run off, only taking the briefest of moments to look upon her smiling face and feel her approving thoughts before rushing away as fast as possible, as if you could outrun your gay thoughts.
Strawberry parfaits, how can Yi Seul-ki say that stuff with a straight face?
???: Absolute Educator
???: Star of the Sea