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The Gang Gets Therapy

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Ghost Therapy was first coined on a depressing Thursday, in the kitchen, whilst everything went to shit.

 

The ghosts had been arguing a lot, lately. More than usual, and that was truly saying something, because Film Night and the whole The Notebook Or Star Wars debate plus subsequent fight breaking out happened weekly . No, this was every day , and Alison was quite possibly going mad.

 

She slumped over the kitchen table, tepid mug of chamomile in hand (because it was the only thing they had left, and because Alison would rather have stupid overly sweet tea than none at all). Upstairs were the wails of the undead, the snide tone of Julian, and the high pitched shriek that could only come from Thomas being offended, the desperate attempt at order from Pat, and then The Captain’s more direct one, and the jovial defense from Kitty, and Fanny’s clipped rebuttal, and Robin’s holler, and Mary’s nervy muttering (she ignored the fact she could pinpoint exactly what they sounded like through walls). Nobody was in the kitchen at present, which was fortunate, because Alison was going to genuinely strangle any undead individual back to life if they bothered her during her Alison Alloted Tea Time (AATT for short).

 

Mike sat down next to her.

“They’re being annoying, aren’t they?” He said, evenly with a little bit of sympathy.

“Yes.” She groaned, from her place in the table. 

 

“Do you think you could- Nevermind.”

She lifted her head up, staring at him. “No, what is it?”

“This is just Sat In On One Psychology Lecture Mike talking, don’t mind me.”

“Honestly, any suggestion is welcome at the moment, considering I might bang my head through the newly fixed floorboards if they don’t stop fucking about.”

Mike looked a bit taken aback, and frowned. “Right. No, sorry, it was just… do you think therapy might help?”

“Ghost- Ghost therapy?”

“Might help ease a bit of the tension.” He said, raising his eyebrows and taking a sip from his You’re My Favourite Knobhead mug. She got him it for Christmas two years ago, along with a DVD for one of those schlocky action films he’s obsessed with. It was funny to think of, life before the ghosts. It felt like almost a different one entirely.

 

“Huh.” Alison stared into her chamomile, and thought.

 

---

“Ghost therapy?” The Captain echoed incredulously. He was frowning, because he usually was. 

 

“Ghost therapy.” Alison said, definitively, whipping out her notebook and an old pen she’d found rattling in Heather Button’s drawers. A dead person held this pen. It felt appropriate.

 

“Right.” Pat said, voice carefully neutral. “Now, I don’t mean to doubt you, Alison, but- well, I don’t think we need therapy, do we? That’s a bit drastic.”

Alison stared directly at him and pointed to the corner, in which Thomas and Julian were charging at each other like bulls with bad cases of toxic masculinity. Alison snapped at the two, and they retreated, muttering darkly to themselves.

 

Kitty clapped her hands together. “I think it’s a splendid idea!”

Simultaneously, Fanny frowned deeply. “I think this is a terrible idea.”

“Let’s begin.” Alison clicked her pen. 

 

---

 

Alison had split it so they each took therapy alone, and had told them that if she caught them snooping in on others’ sessions they’d be banned from Film Night for two weeks, which was a grave punishment in each ghost’s humble opinion. Good. Calling back to the web page she had skimmed in preparation, privacy was key. Patient doctor confidentiality, baby. 

 

Sitting in front of her was Fanny, with her arms crossed.


“Hi.” Alison said, practicing both her Customer Service Voice and Customer Service Smile.

“I think this is all pointless and idiotic.” Fanny said, sniffing, and staring pointedly out of the window.

 

Alison wrote it down. The notebook she had was patterned with dogs riding skateboards. She carefully hid it from Fanny’s view. She had been a little sensitive about dogs after the whole situation she liked to call Dante’s Inferno. “Why do you think that?”

“Well, in my day, you didn’t ‘talk out your problems’. You just dealt with them. You kept them locked in your heart and let them fester. It’s the healthy and natural way.”

“Okay. But don’t you think that’ll just exacerbate the issue?” Alison asked, in a neutral voice, to not betray the way her mind immediately jumped to saying Absolutely Not, Your Opinions Are Terrible. One day she’ll get to say it. One day. 

 

“Not if you don’t think about it.” Fanny murmured, her posture similar to that of a teenager with bad bangs.

Alison wrote that down. “Yes, but- Okay, I’ll rephrase the question. Isn’t it better to solve something than just let it annoy you forever?”

Fanny looked ready to rebuke, and then paused, eyebrow furrowing, as she reconsidered. She opened her mouth, and closed it. Then her mouth became a thin line.

 

Alison waited for her to say something. She didn’t. 

 

“O-kay, I’ll give you an example. Kitty is very open about her emotions, wouldn’t you say?”

Fanny nodded hesitantly.

 

“And, when Kitty cries, people are quite quick to comfort her, too. So her problem gets solved a lot quicker. So what I’m saying is it’s a bit easier to ask for help then just not deal with it at all.”

Alison had her pen poised on the paper, waiting for Fanny’s reaction. Damn , she was great at this therapy thing! She deserved a damn medal!

 

“Why does everything have to be easy? ” Fanny blurted out in response.

 

Alison was about to answer, but Fanny kept talking, voice going a mile a minute. The repression lock was wide fucking open, apparently.

“Why can’t everyone just be sad! Why does it have to be sunshine and smiles and Hello Lady Button! and canoes all the time! Why can’t- why can’t we just be miserable in peace! Why does she- why do you consider yourself the exception to every rule I’ve had to deal with for- for years!”

Alison widened her eyes. Fanny looked out of breath, sighing a little bit. She was looking down at her feet.

 

“In all my years, I’ve had to be exactly how everyone wanted me, and I’ve succeeded. And it’s not fair at all that you all get to galavant about with your tattoos and your pink bows and your imaginary statue friends and your handsome husbands. Not fair at all.” Her voice was quiet, and reproachful, and a little bit sad, which was… unexpected.


Okay, maybe she didn’t deserve a damn medal. 

 

Fanny swiftly got up, smoothing down her dress. “Thank you, Alison. This has been a huge and unenjoyable waste of my time.” She then left the room.

 

“Does that mean it’s my turn?” Thomas said, a minute after, poking his head in the doorway.

 

---

 

“So. Thomas.” Alison started, hands on her notebook. She was feeling a little knocked back, after the whole Fanny debacle, but she was determined to see this through till the bitter end, and hopefully manage to restore the balance that had been so thoroughly knocked out of whack. The bitter, emotionally healthy end.

 

“Yes, queen?” Thomas said, completely unironically.

 

Thomas was on a weird feminist kick, recently, ever since he had watched Legally Blonde and sympathised with Elle Woods to a surprising extent. He had since watched every movie in the Netflix category Girl Power, had slipped encouraging girlboss slogans into his everyday vernacular, and was currently working his way through every iteration of The Stepford Wives. Frankly, it was very on brand. Also deeply hilarious.

 

“Therapy.” Alison was finding it a lot harder to get him to open up than Fanny, which was incredibly weird, considering Fanny was the emotional equivalent of a cartoon fridge with padlocks and chains tied around it. Thomas, however, was the most emotional person she’d ever met. He cried at movies that weren’t even meant to be sad, lamented his late, sorrowful life at least every hour, and got genuinely emotionally distressed when his favourites in reality TV got voted out. Everything was Bambi for him. All the time. 

 

“Yes.” Thomas said, nodding awkwardly.

“Tell me about, uh, your feelings.” Fuck! She had been thrown for a loop with the whole Fanny thing! God, when was Customer Service Alison when she needed her!

 

“Well, as you know, I feel many things.” Thomas started, gesturing to himself. “So many things. It’s hard to keep track. I’m sent on a constant feeling rollercoaster, except you never reach the end. Just, feelings, feelings, feelings. All the livelong day. A concerning amount, really.”

Alison hummed, nodding sagely. She noted that down. “So, what are those feelings?”

Thomas faltered. “Um. Right. Yeah. Boy, those feelings! Oh the things I feel. Which I am about to tell you. Right now.”

She waited.

Thomas scratched the back of his neck, a little nervously. “You know, it’s actually- there’s just such a high quantity of them, it’s really quite hard to pinpoint.”

“Oh.”


The clock ticked in the distance.

“It’s not like I don’t know what I feel.” Thomas amended hastily. “Obviously. It’s just- This is all under secrecy, yes? You must have taken an oath of some sort?”

“I’m not a real therapist.” She said, squinting. “What, did you think I was?”

“Not at all, no, of course not. Though I would wholeheartedly support you if you were. As Dimple T states, ‘get it girl’.” 

 

She wrote that down. “Okay, what were you saying earlier?”

 

“It’s all a bit confusing, is all.” Thomas sighed, not even in the Lovelorn Poet kind of way, but in the What Can You Do. “Everyone thinks I’m supposed to be- well, romantic, and have these deep and emotional connections, and I don’t . I want to live up to that, and I keep trying to, and it never works out. And I only really became a poet because my family was old money, and that was the only course of action, you know?”

Before Alison can comment on that deeply surprising piece of emotional honesty, she got caught on something. “You had a family?

Thomas tilted his head. “Yes. I was quite literally killed by a member of my family. Oh, damn, that would be a much better thing to talk about!”

Alison ran a hand through her hair. “Sorry, yeah. It’s just a bit hard to think of you without the ghosts.”

 

“I have been with them for nearly two hundred years.” Thomas joked, with a slight edge to it.

 

Thorne, it is my turn! ” The Captain’s voice blustered from outside the door.

---


“I’m surprised you’re eager to do this, Captain.” Alison said, clicking her pen. This was going to be a doozy. A doozy for emotional healthiness, not a doozy for her insatiable need for secrets. She needed to clarify that.

 

“I’ve thought it over, and I think it’s a fantastic idea.” He almost sounded pleased. “All of them are deeply disturbed. I’m excited to work with you on this.”


“I think you’ve got the wrong ide-”

“For example, Thorne over there. Imagine me flipping open a binder full of the information I’ve mentally indexed about my cohorts, just now. He clearly romanticizes the idea of being in love. Can we talk about that? Dear lord, I’ve been dying to talk about that with someone.”

“Okay. This is- this is kind of unexpected, if I’m honest. No, the point of therapy is to talk about yourself.”

The Captain stiffened. “There’s nothing to talk about.”

There was a moment of silence. Alison tapped her pen against her notebook and exhaled. “Any childhood trauma?” She offered.

 

“It was one hundred years ago, Alison, I think I’ll be alright.”

“Sometimes that stuff pops up again, though. You keep telling yourself you’re twenty five now, you’ll be fine. And then it’s like you’re twenty six now and so on and so on until eventually you’re thirty, and you’re in a house full of ghosts, and you’re still thinking about it!”

“You’re only thirty? ” The Captain said, horrified.


“Only?”

“To answer your question, no. I do not have any childhood trauma.”

“Any adult trauma?” She said, and he stilled.

 

“Okay. Touche.”

“Aha! Got ya there!”

“You did get me there, yes.” He conceded, with a little bit of finality. There was another pause. Alison was beginning to find herself more and more acquainted with pauses, today.


Everything was going entirely wrong, and she was only three people in. The Captain was staring at her, not even at the window , and so far she’d opened the Pandora’s Box that was Fanny’s emotional repression and completely ignored Thomas’ attempt at being honest with himself for once via her confusion that he had a family. Dear Christ, everybody has a family. She should have prepared herself more. 

 

“Are you quite alright, Alison?” 

 

She was a little taken aback. The only time she had seen The Captain discuss feelings was when he watched the ending to No Country For Old Men and he said it was bittersweet. That’s it. He was a closed book. 


“Yeah.” She said, hesitantly. “I’m… well, it’s just a bit hard, isn’t it? All of it. I’ve sort of made a mess of things. I don’t think I’m cut out for this.”

“Considering your total lack of experience and expertise in this, probably.” The Captain responded, before clearing his throat. “Sorry. Not helping.”

“It’s just… I want to help you guys. You’re part of the family, you know? But it’s hard, because you’re all very confusing.” It wasn’t the weirdest thing that had happened in her life, opening up to an undead world war two army Captain with repression issues about how she was struggling with helping their dysfunctional found family with their respective trauma, but it was up there. Along with the time she swore she saw Ross from Friends stare directly at her, but then again she was running on three cans of redbull, so who can be sure. 

 

“We certainly are a bizarre lot, I’ll give you that. Just last week I saw Mary punch Robin so hard that he went through the actual wall, and then they didn’t speak of it again. They didn’t speak of it again, Alison! It was just random! And terrifying!”

“Sorry, by the way. This was supposed to be your therapy session.”

He smiled, which was strange to see on his face when he wasn’t smug or conniving or trying to trick her into putting Saving Private Ryan in the Film Night ballot. “Alison, I think you know me enough by now that what you’re proposing wouldn’t really work for me, anyway.” 

 

She frowned, because one of the clear points of the webpage was that Therapy Works For Everyone! but ultimately said nothing.

 

And he left.


“He finished?” Robin said, sticking his head directly through the wall.

 

She sighed, and gave him a close-lipped smile. “Yep. Come in.”