Ask An Ambiguous Question


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Scene Title Ask An Ambiguous Question
Synopsis Get an ambiguous answer. Something that Gillian learns when she stops in to buy books and get a tarot reading.
Date August 3, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

Nestled in the heart of the main street marketplace, the Ichihara Bookstore is an old and crooked structure pressed between two newer high-rise tenement buildings. The old glass windows and creaking wooden door on the shop's front give it a rustic and old-world feel. Catering to both antique books and newer prints, the narrow aisles and tall shelves are packed full of literature. A single shelf for periodicals lies near the front counter, while signage both out front by the register and in the back of the store indicates that tarot card reading is done on-site at request for ten dollars per reading.

Behind the old and weathered wooden counter that contains the register and a small stack of reserved books, a narrow wooden staircase leads upwards to a black wooden door with peeling paint, revealing red paint in narrow strips beneath, a rope crossing in front of that door hangs with a small sign that reads, "Private".

While not designed for vehicle transportation, the occassional car could still be spotted on Roosevelt Island. One such car, coasts slowly down Main Street, while the driver peers out the window at various signs until spotting the bookstore she'd been told about. Lacking a perfect memory, Gillian might have second guessed the directions, if it hadn't become pretty clear from the boarded up shops on the street that this likely would be the only bookstore on the whole island.

The car is a 91 Dodge Spirit, with a white paint job that's mostly been chipped and worn away with age. To call it a clunker would be an understatement. It even lets out a puff of black exhaust when she gets it pulled over and parked just outside the store.

Parking on the side of the street might be questionable, but considering she'd only seen one other car since she crossed the bridge from Queens onto the island… she's not seeing it as being an issue. Doesn't stop her from grabbing her things and locking the door. Hardly worth stealing, but some people will take anything at all. Dressed in dark colors (black and purple), boots with a slight heel, and dark make up, she walks up to the door without hesitation and steps inside.

Books. How she has missed you.

The last time she got to be around this many books, it'd been in the Central Library, which— well, best not to think too much about things that happened in there. Hopefully the same will not occur. What are the chances? Without asking for help, she immediately starts to skim for the children's section, or the closest thing to it.

Normally when a store is open, when the electricity is running and lights are on, when the open sign is turned facing the street and the doors are unlocked management and staff should be awake. Not, apparently, an hour after noon in the middle of a hot, sunny Monday in downtown Roosevelt Island; not when it's Hokuto Ichihara.

As implausibly as she can be, the dark-haired woman is laying across the front counter near the door on her back with a copy of Wired magazine laid open and across her face, one arm dangling limp off of the edge of the counterspace and the other folded across her midsection like a corpse. She doesn't so much as move where she lays, no response to the chime of the door opening or the creek of the wooden floorboards.

Basking in the hot sun that spreads across the counter through the picture windows, she's like one enormous and lazy housecat.

There's a sleeping woman on the counter. That gives a new definition to the words 'Lazy Monday Afternoon'. It doesn't affect her too terribly much to start, because she has to actually browse the bookshelves for a while before she needs to worry about the woman waking up so she can purchase it, so Gillian doesn't try to make a lot of noise to wake her— not to start off. She's far more interested in the books. Many she's read, many she hasn't, many she's heard of—

It doesn't take long before she's pulled a few books off the shelves and into her hands, a glance through the window to make sure her car isn't running off (or that no one's running off with her car) and she remembers— oh yeah, she came for children's books, not for herself.

A few books for older people can't hurt anything, though.

Books for younger people, classics mostly, are stacked on top, until she has a small pile already. With those in hand, she moves up toward the counter. No where to lay the first stack of books down up there. Not with cat-lady sprawled out. Bending down in front of the counter, she puts the stack on the floor, before reaching out to touch her arm. "Shit woman, you have a customer."

Luckily thanks to Helena's suspicion of the woman being Evolved, she keeps her ability knotted up. Who knows what rude awakening there would be otherwise?

"I'm awake." Comes the muffled response from beneath the magazine. It's a lie, of course. When Hokuto peels the magazine off of her face, one of the glossy pages sticks to a spot of drool on the side of her face, so very classy of her. Dark brows lower and then raise as she shifts chocolate brown eyes over to Gillian, an awkward and goofy smile spread across her lips. "I… was… reading by osmosis?" Both brows go up at the feint, her smile turning more into a grimace as she swings bare legs around the opposite side of the counter, black denim shorts scuffing on the old wood before she slides down and straightens the white vest she's wearing.

In her haste, her legs kick a folded plastic sign off towards Gillian's side, one that says something about tarot card readings in the glimpse of it she gets before it clatters to the floor."S— Sorry about that," Hokuto's palms smooth down the buttoned front as she turns around, only one brow raised now. Her grimace becomes somewhat Cheshire, rising up on her toes as she peers over the counter, trying to spot where the sign fell. "Could… you grab that for me?" One finger points vaguely at it's presumed position.

"I used to do that a lot when I worked in the library on slow days," Gillian admits with a partial smile that causes dimples to appear, even as she bends down to fetch the sign that fell. It landed about where she's pointing, but not entirely. A hand flips it over to look at the writing and she frowns a moment. Helena'd mentioned the tarot readings… She has to wonder what Helena found out in her reading… It's not like they're on good enough terms for her to actually ask.

Putting the sign on top of her stack of books, she picks that up too. "I'm going to be buying all of these, probably a few more, too. I have a group of people who are desperately in need of some reading materials." If she can do little else for the Lighthouse kids, she can make sure they know how to read.

"Wouldn't happen to have a box I could put these and whatever else I find in? Would make getting them to and from the car easier."

There's a slow, humming sigh that escapes from Hokuto at the mention of the box, eyes shifting the the side as she leans over to peer out one of the bay windows at the car, then look back at the stack. "I've… got some out back," her eyes narrow dubiously at the sentiment, "I can go… wrangle some of them up, I guess." It sounds as though it's a precarious situation, though the specifics on why are elusive. "Once you're done picking out everything, that way I know how many I should get."

One arm crosser her waist, the other rests a thoughtful hand on her chin as a finger taps against her lips. "You used to work at the Brooklyn Public Library, didn't you?" Dark eyes narrow, one brow raised in question as she leans forward across the counter to inspect Gillian like she was a painting in a museum.
ORDER: It is now your pose.
Oh hell. Of all the—

There's a startled look on her face, a step back, before Gillian nods slowly, trying to recover from the surprise so she can put the stack of books down on the counter. "I used to, yeah. Left last year. Did you used to go there? I guess the branch on the island never did reopen after the Bomb?" A lot of branches didn't. Books were secondary to a lot of concerns. The words seem rather… like she's trying to avoid the topic.

The knot also fluctuates a bit. Not completely unraveling, but starting to become difficult to maintain. Being recognized is one of the things she'd managed to avoid so far… but not the case today. "I'll go see what else I can find," she says, hoping to avoid more of a confrontation by slipping back to the shelves and picking through books. Children's, young adults…

An impish smile crosses Hokutos' face as she rests her forearms down on the counterspace and folds her hands, beginning to paw through Gillian's current book selection absent-mindedly, "I never forget a Librarian's face, and I think I saw you there a few times. I donate books there, since the New York public Library branch here closed after…" she just shakes her head and doesn't use that word.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?" She slides a paperback out of the stack, "I didn't even know we had this." Her dark brows furrow, flipping it over as one hand idly tugs at one of her lips with a black painted nail. "Must be one of Darien's picks, he'll read anything…" Dark eyes drift back up to where Gillian wandered off to the shelves.

"You might be in for a glut of children's books. I had a young woman come in here just yesterday, works for a, ah…" her lips purse to one side in the silence, "a charity." A carefully chosen response, that. "She bought up a lot of what I had, and had me place a special order that's coming in next week."

"A better memory than me, then," Gillian admits quietly, leaving out the 'especially now' that she wants to toss on. The journal she's been keeping gets a new entry every night and occassionally a couple times during the day, to keep her memories as fresh as possible. It makes her wonder why she'd never kept one, until the possibility of losing memories if she lost Cat's gift became a fear. Then it became more about holding onto what she knew every day like she used to. And even then details will obviously get lost in the fog. It helps, though.

"That one's for me," she adds on, grinning a bit. The goth-like make up is less now than it'd been in the Library, but she's still recognizable, with some differences, small and large.

"It's all right if you don't have many children's books." A charity— kind of like what she's doing, surely no one she knows, right? "A lot of the people I'm shopping for are pre-teens or teenagers, so… I refuse to buy Twilight for them, but there's a couple young adult books I'll take off the shelves." And those are what gets stacked. When she comes back, there's another stack. "How many tarot readings do you do, normally?"

There's a quirk of Hokuto's brow only at the last question, focus finally drawn away from the other books. "Well, typically people are ready to leap out of their chair and run for the door after one these days," a crooked smile crosses her lips as she slinks away from the counter and pads barefoot across the floor towards the shelves. "Were you wanting more than one in a sitting? I'm not entirely sure I follow."

Winding her way between the shelves, Hokuto's eyes flit from book to book, snatching up one softcover, and then another as she meanders her way towards Gillian. One book is offered out in each hand; The Secret of Nimh and Redwall. Both her dark brows rise up as a smile spreads across her lips.

"I meant in like a week— you often get people wanting them?" Gillian asks, taking the books. From the look on her face, she rather liked these! They're added to the top of the stack, as she moves back to the shelves, picking along the titles. Ones she knows. One she doesn't is picked off the shelves, opened to the first few pages, and then put back where she found it. "Shit, do people really run for the door after you do them?"

For a moment she's picturing Helena running for the door, with cards laid out on a counter. No, it doesn't quite fit well. It is kind of a funny image, though, and makes her smile as she pulls down a copy of Watership Down. The older kids will appreciate it.

"Or do they just not tend to come back for a second one?"

"So far I haven't had any return customers," Hokuto notes with one finger tapping on her chin, "but that doesn't stop me from getting the occasional requests. My mother's deck is fairly old, and like she always used to tell me — it has it's ways." There's a charmed smile at that when she takes a few steps around Gillian, wandering past the former librarian and towards the back of the store. "Are you interested in one yourself? I did one just a couple of days ago, but I was just thinking about setting some cards out."

Bending over by the small table at the stuffy, humid back of the store, Hokuto collects a box of cards up into her hand and then makes her way back to Gillian. "If you do, however, we're not doing it in here. It's too cramped, too stuffy and too warm; I'd likely fall asleep."

There's a thoughtful pause at the bookshelves, before Gillian snags a couple more and then walks over and drops the third stack down. "These should be enough for now," she says, while it's only a shelf or two worth of books, it's definitely a good amount for a single trip. Luckily she'd gotten some donations of cash, to pay for the lot. She'll likely have enough left over for trips to other bookstores in the city too. But this one…

"I was thinking of getting one, yes," she explains in quiet tones, voice raspy, as if not sure if she should. "I'm not entirely sure what for, though, I have a— a lot going on right now." Her life has been made up of big events and little events—

"Where would you like to, then? I wouldn't get much of my money's worth if you fall asleep on me."

"With all the books you're buying let's call it on the house," Hokuto notes with a tip of her head, walking towards the front door, pushing it open and tucking a wooden wedge beneath it to keep it open. "I was thinking just outside, there's no breeze today and it's just too stuffy in here." Wrinkling her nose, Colette walks over to one of the shelves up against the wall, reaching behind it to produce a black and white parisol, slinging that over her shoulder as she heads out the front door, bare feet toeing across hot concrete.

She doesn't really give any say in the matter as she moves across the sidewalk, laying down the box of cars by a plastic lawn chair, then unfolds the parisol and tucks the haft of it down into what should hold a flag by the store's front door. Now, shading her pale skin from the sun, she settles down on the reclining lawn chair ans opens the top of the box, waving one hand for Gillian to join her out front.

Leaving the books on the counter to be paid for later— Gillian can't help but comment as she steps outside into the less stuffy air, "How do you know I won't jump into my car and drive off afterwards? If most of your customers run out the door, I'm already out."

It's a quiet joke, one without the true level of humor. The smile is there, but it doesn't touch her eyes, just makes dimples visible on her cheeks. A hand reaches up to run through her hair, showing some signs of scars… And what looks like a yin-yang tattoo on her wrist. Just like she has some scars on her face and forehead, she also has a scar through her wrist, marring the tattoo. If any of the others were visible, they'd be worse… she's dressed a little much for the weather.

But not wearing a coat, at least.

"I'm not too worried," Hokuto notes with a crooked smile, "maybe i can see the future, hmm? Wouldn't that be spooky?" With the top of the card box open, Hokuto slides the deck out entirely, laying the box down against her thigh as she starts to shuffle through the card, one brow raised as she continues something of a teasing conversation. "If you wanted to run with the books, you wouldn't have woken me up either…"

As she starts shuffling the card, Gillian notices something immediately about the deck. On the back of the cards, at the center of the blue-white pattern is a familiar symbol, one she's seen doubled as the Pinehearst logo, and also on the hilt of the Takezo-Kensei sword, among other places. "So, I usually don't ask, but you're a perplexing one… What sort've question do you want this reading to address, if your life is a bit jumbled, it might help to narrow down the focus."

In some ways, Gillian's heard way too much about her 'futures' that it's not entirely what she's wanting out of this. Destinations are easy to know about. Gillian moves to get comfortable, nodding at the words about how she could've ran off with the books if she really wanted to, and then saying, "You should probably get a fan or something for the shop. Having books in muggy weather isn't good for them." There's a reason libraries go bad if they lose climate control. That's why most the books she looked at in the Central Library had been… damaged in some ways. Water, bomb, age, temperature… all kinds of damage. Books are fragile things.

The symbol of the cards is noted, but she says nothing about it even as she watches them. Similar to Pinehearst, similar to some things she spotted in passing…

What sort of question does she want to ask. "I don't really want to know what my future is, exactly," she explains, thinking about her thoughts from before. "I've kind of got some experience in that— there's a guy in the city who can project the future at you, you might have heard of him in the papers? He works at a church." There's a lot more, but that's the easiest one she can think of. The one that requires the least explaination. The one that's publicly known. "But what I saw— " And heard. "…Of my future it— it didn't really give me any idea of how to get there? Or how to avoid getting there— or how to stop it, or… It'd probably be easy if I just wanted to know if I should give up on a guy or nor…" Which guy should she give up on, though?

"Does this make any sense?"

Sidestepping the issue of the climate control for the books, Hokuto's eyes halfway lid as a fond smile creeps up on her lips. "I don't often read the paper, save for articles that…" she hesitates, just for a moment, "that a good friend of mine brings me. He's a writer, for— " her lips purse slightly, "one… of the papers? I— forget which." Grimacing a bit lazily, Hokuto slouches back against the lawnchair and tilts her head to the side in further consideration of Gillian's question, crossing her legs at the ankles.

"Hmm… relationship troubles," both her brows go up at that, "you're not the only woman with them lately, if the cards are saying anything in particular." Hokuto rolls them around in one hand, then ovvers the stack out towards Gillian. "Cut these any way you like, and then hand them back."

A very good friend whose newspaper she doesn't even know? Gillian doesn't comment further on this, cause she's thinking about how to best phrase herself. "I think everyone has relationship troubles." Though she hopes most people don't have the same kinds she does. How many people fall for men who have tried to kill them? Or in the case of one of them actually gotten her killed. In a way.

The cards are taken, cut, shifted around, arranged, and then handed back out to her.

"I don't know if I want to exclusively focus on that, but— I guess a lot of my problems are still pointed in that direction." The guy she lost, the guy she's chasing after despite him trying to run away. And almost everything she's been involved in, almost everything she's done… had been because of one of them. At least until the thing that brought her to buy books in the first place. But family, in a way, is another kind of relationship all together.

Leaning out of her chair, Hokuto begins to slap the cards down one by one on the concrete sidewalk, each flip of card-stock sounding loud against the ground. One by one, seven cards are laid out in the shape of an 'H', all the while Hokuto's expression remains placid and thoughtful, lips pursing to one side as she exhales a slow sigh and looks up to Gillian. "This is a relationship spread, I think it's most suitable for your question. It should help you determine how you feel about the person you care about, and how he feels about you too…" Already, Gillian can see the error in her ambiguity, in that Hokuto is only referring to a singular person.

"The first card to read in this arrangement, is this one." She taps her finger down on the top-left card, "It represents how you see yourself. I think, overall, that's one of the most important parts of a relationship — knowing who you are, and what makes you tick. If you don't understand yourself, you can't rightly understand anyone else."

Smirking, Hokuto flips the card over, revealing the depiction on the other side of a crowned man seated in a chair, holding a gnarled wooden staff with leaves growing off of it. Her lips purse, thoughtfully, before she explains, "This is the King of Wands. Curious, to see it here." She nods her head to emphasize the point, then moves her hand away from the card.

"This card represents and electric personality, someone energetic and vivacious, someone who can motivate people. This card represents that you're someone with leadership qualities, someone who has a magnetic personality who can attract people to them, even if you may not be aware of it yourself. People easily gravitate around you, and listen to you, provided you're willing to speak up. That makes it easy for you to attract suitors, provided you're willing to make the leap."

How she feels about him, how he feels about her. There's a twitch of her lips for a moment, moving from a smile to a frown, as if Gillian's worried she should be more clear on the situation. What if she doesn't know which one it's talking about? Both of them are outside of her reach right now. How she feels about each should be different enough to tell, unless the cards have decided to smoosh them together into one person.

Energetic, vivacious, motivating.

In many ways a leader is not something she would claim herself to be, ever. Mostly because she never wants to be one, but there were times when she saw things going on, that she spoke her mind. Sometimes changes were made and things happened, sometimes… The whole thing also reminds her of her ability. Motivation, energy. For others. Leaning forward, her eyes narrow a bit as she examines the card, the man with the staff, and looks back up. "Making the leap is the difficult part. That and timing…" Like in those side scroller games. Leap at the wrong time, and down the hole goes Mario.

"That is always the hard part," Hokuto notes with a weak smile, "making that first step." As she looks down to the cards, her hand moves to the second one. "This card represents how you see the man in your life, what you idealize him as. Not quite how you feel about him, but what your surface perceptions are. The easy feelings." When she flips the card over, it's another enthroned figure. This time it's a woman seated in a wrought iron chair surrounded by roses, a gold crown upon her head and a gold disc in her hands that is engraved with a penticle. "Huh," her nose wrinkles slightly.

"The Queen of Penticles." Her dark eyes lift to Gillian, looking for something for a moment, "in this position, it represents feelings of someone warm, comforting and steadfast, someone reliable who is a source of strength for you. Someone who is warm, but not everyone can see that warmth. You see it in him, and it's that capacity for paternal instinct that draws you to him."

The easy feelings. And this is where ambiguity starts to truly bite her in the side. Gillian bites down on her lower lip. The feeling is so broad that it could apply to either of the men in her life… Both of them, even. It's a crisis. One's presence may have been more comforting than the other at different times, but both had something that… For a time she's looking rather perplexed down at the female figure representing a man (or men?) in her life.

When her eyes shift up, there's a problem with the reading, but she doesn't insult it, or speak poorly of it, instead saying, "That would be about the easiest explanation of how I felt… how I feel. At least— like you said— the easy part. I'm guessing the hard part's next?"

A nod is all Hokuto gives in response as she moves her hand to the card. Then, in explanation, her eyes rift back up to Gillian. "This card represents your feelings for him," always the hard part, "and they may not be feelings you even realize you have, or ones you want to admit you do." Turning over the card, it's the first inverted one of the reading. There is a gold sarcophagus at the top of the card, a sword laid across it, and inverted swords along the wall with their tips pointed up at it. She can almost read the title on the card, upside down as it is.

"The Four of Swords. Not… the most positive card," Hokuto's head inclines as her teeth toy with her lower lip. "It… shows that you're out of sorts. You have a lot of internal problems, and you for the most part abandoned a struggle instead of trying to make it work. You gave up on him, and in turn you turned what could have been a temporary retreat into a more permanent loss… This is a card that shows you have a lot of soul searching to do before you're ready for him."

Internal problems, abandoned struggles, retreat turning into loss. Gillian closes her eyes for a moment, lowering her head a bit and touching her forehead with her fingertips. Hiding behind her hands in a way, there's a lot of slow breaths as she takes that in. The hard part. Her feelings. Soul searching isn't something she's particularly good at, with all the things she'd been through the last few months, it's difficult to think how she could put herself through more.

There's a tremor in her voice when she speaks, hands lowering away from her face. "Okay, what next?" Not a happy reading. Not an easy one. But she's not storming off, either. It's darkened her mood, but she's going to keep facing it.

Which one is the cards talking about? Did she abandon a struggle with both of them? One more obvious than the other… Maybe it's about that one.

A bittersweet smile on Hokuto's face shows her obvious empathy towards the struggle Gillian is undergoing. With a mild look of uncertainty, she points to the next card. "Next is what stands between the two of you, the obstacle you both must face together." It only get harder from here, as Hokuto flips over the card and reveals the image of yet another throned figure, this one carrying a sword in one hand and a pair of scales in the other, unfortunately it is reversed,

Grimacing slightly, Hokuto closes her eyes and lays her hand atop the card. "Are you certain you want to go through with this whole reading? I— this isn't going to be an easy one, and sometimes it's easier not knowing."

"Considering what I've been through the last few months, this might be easier than you think," Gillian says softly, even as she looks down at the reversed card. Should she even tell the poor woman that she's torn between two men instead of one? It sounds like it's a situation she needs to step away from, just like she's suggesting so early in the reading. Perhaps she should back off. "I have to do soul searching," she says rather hoarsely, even laughing a but. "This is as good a way as any. Fuck, it at least gets me thinking."

Perhaps thinking too much than she should. There's been no exchange of names, little explanation of what she thinks of things so far. But that would require explaining why the reading confuses her so much.

Is it telling her the one she should be thinking about, or the one she can't help but think about? Or the one she wants to be thinking about?

Nodding slowly, her eyes half-lidded, Hokuto moves her hand away from the card. "Justice, inverted, is the conflict that divides you and yours. This card, especially here, represents that there is a lack of balance and harmony between the two of you, a dissonance that continually drives you both apart. It shows that unjust decisions are made, against the favor of both of you, and perhaps coming from simply bad decisions you both made. Whatever the source, you're killing each other, metaphorically, by being so hostile and standoffish with one another, when neither of you really deserves it."

After she's done explaining Hokuto watches Gillian, carefully, wanting to see exactly how she's reacted to the truth of the cards, because often times it hits far too close to home.

Metaphorically killing each other actually makes her laugh, though Gillian sees no humor in the situation. Maybe it's more literal than the woman reading the cards knows. "Guess I'm in the most dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships ever." It would be funny, if it didn't hurt so much. And if she didn't still constantly have to ask herself, each time a card is down, which one it's referring to. One much closer than the other.

"Maybe I should've been more clear about the situation I'm in— but keep going." Not going to get anywhere by turning back. Even if turning back would be easy.

Hokuto's expression quickly becomes one of rolling eyes and raised brows as a grimace creeps up on her face. "Ask an ambiguous question get an ambiguous answer." One finger wags in the air before coming down to tap on the back of the next card. "This will, probably, only cloud the waters even more then…" She traces one black fingernail over the card's back as her eyes lift from it to Gillian. "This card shows how he sees you, what his perceptions of you are." Her thumbnail slides under the card, turning it over, "and…"

It's inverted.

The card depicts a woman in a garish robe standing in a garden with a small red bird perched on one hand, behind her several gold discs are marked with pentacles. "The Nine of Pentacles." Her brows tense as she denotes the card. "He sees you as someone who lacks discipline, lacks willpower, someone who allows themselves to be pushed around and feigns real strength. He sees you as someone with a lack of discipline, someone who does not have motivation, or drive. A follower."

Ouch. Cloudy waters and distant fogs and Gillian raises her hands up near her face again, this time covering her mouth as she breaths audibly through her nose. The question of who doesn't seem as strong now, one image becoming clearer in her head, mostly due to the last encounter. Though how is she supposed to know how the other feels about her.

"Okay. You warned it would just get harder…" She sees herself as completely opposite of how 'he' sees her. This is a conflict all on it's own. "It's almost over at least."

"Sort've," Hokuto says quietly as she moves her hand to the next card. "This one represents how he feels about you. It's different from how he perceives you, but instead shows his baseline emotions, what his heart is saying, rather than his head." Biting down on her lower lip, Hokuto's finger slides under the card and hesitates before turning it over. Her eyes lift up to Gillian, watching her carefully, uncertainty is something she seems to have in spades.

After a moment of hesitance, she flips the card over, and when it lands the uncertainty was well warranted. Perhaps it looks worse than it is. But seeing that mounted figure in black armor carrying black and white flag, skeletal face peering out thorugh his iron helm, a pale white horse that he is perched upon, and the script below it reading Death makes it no easier.

"This— this isn't as bad as it seems," Hokuto immediately blurts out, raising one hand in the air. "This— this isn't good but…" she swallows nervously, exhaling a tense sigh before continuing. "Death, here, represents that you represent a violent change to him. While it is freedom from the shackles of his past — either past relationships or past troubles — it also means that he feels you're a risk. You are an absolute change to his status-quo, and it's something to be feared, to be carefully considered. To him, you're dangerous because you're different."

Death does look like a terrible card, especially when meant to express feelings, but the explaination is sound. Gillian nods slowly, accepting it more easily than she did the perception card. It's not nice, it's not beautiful and it's not something normal… But it is what she wanted to be, to both of them. Change. Freedom. Most people wouldn't be relieved to hear the explaination of death, but much like perception versus reality, it is a relief. "That's actually the easiest card since the first two, after you explain it…"

Doesn't make it good. "I wanted to change them. Him especially, but both of them, really." The problem with her ambiguity is now shining through more easily. "That's why I should have been more clear… Fuck. What kind of person falls in love with two guys and can barely even figure out which one these cards are representing?" In some ways they're similar, in some ways they're complete opposites.

"Shit, it could still be about both of them."

"Them," Hokuto notes with both brows high, "well, that… certainly makes this more amusing." Only one card is left, ultimately, a single card that lays unturned at the center of the two parallel lines of read cards. "Ask a vague question," she reiterates with a crooked smile, reaching down for the last card to turn over. "This one is the end of our journey here…" Her head tilts to the side, "this is the ultimate challenge of the relationship, the one constant thing that will always need to be overcome."

When she turns it over, it's not what Hokuto is expecting at all. There is a waifish figure with a stick and bag over one shoulder and a care-free smile, a small white tog tagging along at his heels as he walks towards a cliff without a worry in the world. It's, "The Fool?"

Hokuto breathes out those words in a puzzled exhalation. Taking a moment to collect her thoughts, dark eyes lift up to Gillian again. "Huh," she murmurs with a bob of her head in understanding. "This card, the Fool, represents the relationship will constantly be challenged by his impulsiveness. He has a strong will to just uproot himself and run in a random direction, heedless of the damage or harm it may cause. It will always be, and currently is, a problem in your relationship. If you want to pursue things with him," she notes with a cautious nod, "you need to be aware that he won't ever change these ways, not without trying to change the Leopard's spots."

Amusing for one person, maybe!

Though from the way Gillian's trying to smile, it might be an ironic kind of amusing for her, too, even if she happens to have tears in her eyes. "So I'm in love with two men… one of both of whom see me as completely opposite of how I see myself. I view them as a protector, and caring figure… But I'm so fucked up inside, I'm probably losing both of them cause I'm not ready for one of them… or either of them…" The sum up version, it's… almost funny. "And he— one of them— both of them— feels like I am a change, to the point they're threatened by it— and the big end all is they'll probably never actually fucking change, always be running off to… do something?"

There's that laughter again, though without amusement, and with tears. She rubs her hand over her eyes, though, smearing the light make up a bit. "Parts of this fit one more than the other, parts of it fit both… But all of it fits. I know it's just… symbolic and though provoking, and I'm sure that I'd find something of the situation in so many cards, but this— shit."

Moving to straighten, she rubs her hands over her face. "In some ways I just have even more questions. But maybe that's the point."

It's a sympathetic, bittersweet smile Hokuto offers Gillian, roudning up the cards one by one into her hands before adding them back to the deck. "The cards are there to make you ask questions, of yourself and others, that you wouldn't normally do." Her brows rise slowly, head tilting to the side as she quietly considers the situation. A smile offered comes with a downcast of her eyes, before they're focused back up on Gillian. "It's not ever easy, to confront something you think is true. But… the cards are just the cards. I'm not special, not with these anyway," her fingers tap on the cards quietly, "they're just a means to an end."

Sitting up in her seat, leaning forward to gently rest a hand on Gillian's shoulder, Hokuto manages something more of an earnest smile. "The cards are the way to the answer, not the answer itself. They're one end of the journey, and it takes your two feet to get to the other end."

"It's what I wanted— help on how to get there more than where I'm going," Gillian says quietly, cause the destination has been seen, more times than she can count. Most of the flashes of a future she got when she touched Joseph's hand aren't even recalled anymore, but she's seen the end. Possible she's seen every end that could ever be for her. And she's heard of other futures in more detail, seen them recreated as phantoms in a dream, to be drawn on a sketchbook from memory.

"The end's the easy part," she finally says, not sure how it sounds to admit that, but somehow meaning it. "I think I owe you money for a box full of books." There's another pause. "Since I didn't introduce myself first… my name's Gillian." No last name. In some ways she's hardly sure which one to give. Her first name may not even be her own, but it's her own in many ways.

Hokuto's expression is a wry one, and there's a pat to her shoulder from Hokuto as the dark-haired woman sits back and offers something of a weary smile. "Hokuto Ichihara," her head dips down into a nod, dark eyes wandering the cards in her hand. When she looks back up to Gillian, there's just a touch of amusement in her eyes.

"At least the reading's free."

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