Cardinal's Razor


cardinal_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Cardinal's Razor
Synopsis Richard Cardinal comes to see the dreamwalker that saved Liz, and finds out something about his balancing act…
Date September 21, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

The sun's gone down, though not long ago, delving beneath the skyline of the city though a hint of its light still blends with the evening skies. It's that in-between time when parts of the city drift into slumber and others, never dreamt of by the daywalkers, awaken. And the door of the Ichihara Bookstore swings open against the hand of Richard Cardinal.

The shades perched upon his visage hide his gaze despite the hour, his head turning a bit to look over the various signs of the store with a thoughtful expression. One hand lifts, scratching at the curve of his cheek before he meanders fully inside, delving into the aisles in search of something. A book, or a person, who can say?

Or maybe a box of cat litter.

Well, it's likely Richard wasn't looking for a plastic bin full of tiny granules of odor absorbing sand and little brown offerings, but that's what's awaiting him directly inside the door. Standing on the opposite side of the litter box from cardinal, a woman who's age is indiscernable from youthful looking skin and attire stands with arms folded across her chest, dark hair framing her face in inky sheets, and brown eyes staring down reproachfully at the litterbox.

Brows furrowed, as if upset at the little poops, Hokuto Ichihara wrinkles her nose and looks upt o Cardinal as if he had been the one responsible for the tiny turns left in the litterbox. One dark eye narrows, and a black brow kicks up. She steps around the litterbox, still without so much as a greeting before waving in a circle around where the not-quite-sandbox is resting. "Just step around it," she notes absently, a smile creeping up on her lips, "Gabriel is being fussy about where he poops again."

He must have the wrong door.

It really must be the wrong door. Cardinal's foot is lifted up before he even really notices the young woman and the litter bin, the sole of his boot hovering in the air above those little poops before he pulls it back to stand even there in the doorway. The man's brow furrows in bemused lines as he considers the woman, and then the litterbox, and then back again before he brings a hand up to scrub against the nape of his neck in a habitually self-conscious gesture.

"Gabriel, huh?" Ah, in a different context, how hilarious that phrase. "Well, I suppose it's better than not being fussy about where he cops a squat. Safer, cleaner, more predictable at least." Okay, maybe his brain took that correlation a little far.

"This is, ah— " A lean back, as if he could glance out the window and see its face, "— the Ichihara Bookstore, right?"

"Oh!" As if Cardinal reminded Hokuto of where she is, her expression turns a bit embarrased. "Yes, yes it is and— I forgot to turn the sign around again to say we're closed didn't I?" And yet random strangers walking in unannounced didn't seem to ruffle her feathers at all. Somewhat sleepily, Hokuto smiles softly and sidles away from the litterbox, black flats scuffing on the floor, contrasting sharply against the eggshell white fabric of her sundress.

"You're Richard," she notes with a familiar smile, looking over her shoulder before boosting herself up onto the front counter, crossing one pale leg over the other and folding her hands in her lap. "It's nice to meet you face to face," she adds thoughtfully, one dark brow still raised with an almost childlike inquisitive expression. "I hope you didn't mind my uninvited, ah— vacation that I gave you. The other me isn't very polite."

"That you did," Richard admits wryly, his hand dropping back down to his side after a brief slide down the edge of his jacket, smoothing it out to better hide the underarm holster there. He doesn't want to seem threatening, after all, that's hardly why he's here. The litter box is over-stepped neatly, and he's just about to ask her something when she opens her own mouth and answers the question he never got a chance to ask.

So his teeth click together, and then he grins, his head shaking ever so slightly, "Other you? And, nah, it's all right. A bit disorienting, at first, admittedly… mm. So you're Abigail's friend."

Dark brows furrow together and Hokuto watches Cardinal carefully, a smile spreading across her lips as she swings her feet slightly. "Did she say that?" Completely dodging th question she had left herself open to prior, "That— " her smile grows a bit more, "that I'm her friend?" There's something unusually innocent about the question, and about the way the woman carries herself, while not all of it seems entirely genuine, she's the first person in a long while that's been introduced to Cardinal that didn't set off the psycho killer alarms. Leaning to one side, Hokuto eventually just sprawls out line a lazy feline across the counter, laying on her side as she watches Cardinal with smirking amusement.

But the two aren't alone, and that much is evident by the pair of yellow eyes watching from the top of a distant bookshelf. A chalk white cat is perched up there, chin on its paws, tail swishing back and forth mischeviously, with two thick black marks above each yellow eye, almost like — no, that's not possible.

The subject of multiplicity is left alone, despite that momentary opening. Given that he lives in the room next-door to Niki and all those gathered in her head, he's not exactly one unfamiliar with such things, and the less said about them the better. A hint of a grin tugs up at one corner of Cardinal's lips at the innocent question, his head shaking ever so slightly as he admits, "Something like that, as I recall. Abigail makes friends easily, though, I mean, hell, she even considers me one, so I can't account for tastes. I…" A moment's hesitance, before he tips his chin up to her, "I just wanted to thank you. For helping Liz, for— whatever it's worth. She seems to be sleeping a little better lately, at least."

Hokuto's somewhat Cheshire smile evens out as she watches Cardinal and hears the thanks. She thinks nothing of the comment about making friends easily, though it seems to keep her warm inside from the light of her expression. "Elisabeth needed help, she— she needed to feel better about herself, and to feel safe. I was in her shoes once, that sort've dark place…" her brows furrow together, "we all deal with our pain differently. It's sort've my job to help take everyone's away."

Then, realizing how presumptuous that sounds Hokuto amends, "…as much as any one person can, at least."

"Some of us need our pain," Richard replies without thinking, an instinctive reaction to the idea of it being taken away. He catches himself after a moment, then lifts one shoulder in a shrug before turning a more rueful expression her way, "…though not all, I suppose." A chuckle next weaves through his voice, shoulder resting to the shelves before the aisle closest to the counter, both arms folding themselves across his chest, "And don't worry about sounding like you've got an ego there, babe. I've known way bigger megalomaniacs than you, I promise."

"Good to know I'm still a megalomaniac, though." Rolling onto her back with that comment, Hokuto stares up at the ceiling, then over to finally meet the eyes on the top of the bookshelf. "Gabriel," she spits out, swinging her legs around and slapping her feet to the hardwood floor. Without any segue, she hustles over to the shelf, hooking a nearby stool with one foot to drag with a scuffing noise across the floor. A step, a hop, and grasping hands reach up and pull the somewhat overweight white cat down from where he's perched, yellow eyes wide and tail swish-flicking.

"I wondered where you ran off to," her nose wrinkles, then presses down between the cat's ears before she looks over to Cardinal over the top of the cat's head. "You know, you're one of the few people I have a vested interest in the well-being of, that has broken my tradition." Her head inclines, if that somehow has exceptional meaning.

"Go play," Hokuto whispers to her cat, setting him down on all fours before the chubby feline scuttles away with a tick-click of nails on the floor. Her dark eyes alight to Cardinal, smile spread acros her lips. "Reading, then dreams. I think you're getting it backwards."

"You're in good company," Cardinal quips, a hand lifting from his bicep to scratch against the underside of his chin, short and chipped nails rasping against the stubble there, "I've been accused of it myself a few times, lately. Maybe it's catching."

The retrieval of the feline is observed with unhiiden amusement, the switch in conversational tracks bringing one brow up and over the edge of his shades, visible where his eyes aren't. "You've a vested interest in my well-being? Do tell…"

"In so much as you're very, very important to Elisabeth!" Hokuto notes cheerfully, as if that somehow makes it easier to swallow. "I don't know you too well myself, but Elisabeth is a sweetheart, and— " wrinkling her nose, she pads across the floor and over to Cardinal, that Cheshire smile back and voice lowered to conspiratorial tones. "You know how teenage girls, in highschool, tend to write the name of someone they like on their textbook covers and draw hearts around it?" One dark brow kicks up, and the rhetoric has little pause after it. "Imagine that, but inside of her head."

"You're her curly-cue name with hearts around it." The smile becomes a bit more teasing, and Hokuto clasps her hands behind her back, wheeling away on scuffing footsteps and playfully awkward motions, as if she were pretending she were a ragdoll. "So, your well being goes with Elisabeth's."

As a dweller in the nocturnal hours, Richard Cardinal's skin is rather fair of hue… which means that the flush that stains them in the wake of her words is all too easily discernible. In order to salvage something left of his manly pride, however, he just exhales a rough snort of breath and notes, "Well, then we're both probably screwed, in that case. Neither of us live lives that we're likely to have any sort of well-being better than 'hanging on' for any length of time, and usually worse'n that…"

He brings one hand up, rubbing against the side of his face and beneath the shades which dance up on his fingers like a puppet show as he does so, "Anyway, she managed jus' fine before she met me, and I'm sure she'll manage when I'm gone." The hand drops, and he shifts his weight away from the shelves, turning oakley-hidden eyes back to her, "So what was this tradition you were talking about, anyway?" Subject change!

A sidelong stare of chocolate colored eyes cosnider Cardinal in smiling silence, the kind that gives no conversational ground and serves as a firmly planted I claim this land in the name of victory marker. Both her brows raise, and she doesn't quite give a verbal answer, but rather points to a slightly faded plastic sign folded on the counter by the door, which reads:

Tarot Card Readings


"I waive the fee," she notes with notable aplomb, "for special customers." There's something of a sashay in her steps, partly because she has a furry white cat attempting to coil around her ankles and he nearly tripped her up, but the feigned sashay makes it look less like a stumble and something more dignified.

Of course, Cardinal can't concede victory quite so easily as that, especially to some petite little asian woman that's sashaying about. Even if it's accidental sashaying! So he's rather shameless in taking a moment to check her out from head to toe and back again, lips twitching up at one corner before he turns his attention to the sigh. Twice blink eyes behind his shades.

"Tarot?" He sounds vaguely bemused, "Really?"

"Really." Hokuto notes with a smirk over her shoulder, already halfway down an aisle leading towards a small table set into a windowed nook. "For my follow-up act I make my lovely assistant disappear," she adds with an even more teasing tone of voice, her hands folding behind her back as she wanders through the stacks of old, musty books and newer issues on her way to the table.

"Did you want one, or were you going to just stare crookedly at me?" She seems to enjoy the verbal game, turning sideways to more clearly look towards Cardinal's figure.

Once it becomes clear that she's actually leading him along somewhere, Cardinal turns slightly on the heel of his boot and heads to stroll along down the aisle in her wake, his head shaking just a bit. "You know, catch me a year ago and I would've laughed in your face— oldest con in the world— but these days?"

A smirk twists upon his lips, "What the hell. I've seen shit that Hollywood wouldn't believe, I'll put down a ten spot on it. Don't suppose you've a 'mysterious gypsy' outfit to go with it? Some diaphanous veils or something, maybe a crystal ball…"

Snorting out a goofy laugh, Hokuto covers her mouth with one hand and looks around with a brow raised and a shake of her head. "It is a con," she explains rather straightforwardly, "they're just cards. The con comes in someone trying to sell the idea that they actually show the future. They don't, I don't have that kind of ability. My mentor does," she admits with an incline of her head, "but that's a different story. No— the cards," she pulls out an old wooden chair, coming to sit down at the small, round table in the nook, "they help give perspective. Maybe make you think about something you hadn't considered, or re-evaluate something in a new light."

A cardboard case is slid away from an antique tea set, the top flipped open and a tall stack of long cards slid out. "The con is trying to make anyone think otherwise, and leading them on to an outcome that the cards don't say." One eye squints slightly, motioning for Cardinal to take the seat across from her.

"I have a lot of quirky outfits," Hokuto finally adds with a teasing smile, "wait till it's Halloween."

"Christ, I haven't dressed up for Halloween since I was… hell, a long time," admits Cardinal in good humour as he hooks a foot into the leg of the chair, drawing it out and dropping himself down into it, a lean forward resting both arms atop one another. As the cards are drawn out, he admits, "I know enough people who can see the future. I've been making something of a collection of prophecies, and I'm just about ready to agree they're more trouble than they're fuckin' worth."

"Seeing the future's generally a bad idea…" Hokuto thoughtfully begins cutting and shuffling the deck slowly. "Her words," she clarifies, "not mine. I don't know what it's like so— I'd be silly to say otherwise." Small hands turn the cards around eftly, flexing and shuffling them more in the way someone would a deck of playing cards. "As for Halloween… would there be harm in it this year?"

At the rhetoric, she lays the deck down on the table, and slides them across to Cardinal. "Last year, Daniel Linderman held a costume gala at his offices, it was fantastic," and the suggestion of her nodded head and smile indicates she may have been there. "He nows how to throw a fancy party," she adds, motioning to the deck, "oh and cut that however you'd like and slide it back to me."

"You know Daniel?" Surprise, there, that turns into something more wry as Cardinal reaches over to lay his hand upon the deck; cutting it near the top, sliding cards together once more before sliding them over to her with the deft hand of one used to playing poker, "I shouldn't be surprise, I suppose. He's a bit of a greasy prick, but I've done work for him now'n again. Maybe he'll throw another party this year, if he survives until the autumn…"

Some of Hokuto's amusement drains with the choise of wording, and her eyes divert to the cards and back up to Cardinal again. "He's always treated me well, in our brief encounters. He's— more a friend of a friend— we've only ever talked in brief clips in social settings. I don't get ut much and not as much as I used to, I've— sort've become the hermit these last few years."

Looking down at the stack of cards, Hokuto's hand hovers over the deck before halting, a thoughtful look of consideration dawning over her. "Do… you have something in particular, a specific question you want to address? I've been trying to ask that more, as of late, people lead complicated lives, and narrowing things down a touch is always more helpful."

The moment's loss of amusement and awkward scattering of pauses is noticed, and as if to belie any sort of poor attitude there comes a shake of Cardinal's head. "Don't mind me, I'm just a bit of a cynic when it comes to people… and he got my hackles up not too long ago. Polite, I'll give you, at least."

At the question, and the cards, he lets his hidden gaze linger on them for a moment before allowing more quietly, more thoughtfully, "I'm following… something of a path laid down by another man. I'm really not sure if it's the right thing to do, though."

"So…" Hokuto's eyes lid partially, head canting to the side as she rests her chin on one hand. "You want to know the evens and the odds? Whether or not following in someone's footsteps is what will get you where you need to go, or if it will even get you anywhere?" There's a nod of understanding, and ultimately one that leads to a very familiar arrangement of cards these days. One card directly in front of Cardinal, four more laid out in columns, two by two.

"A two-paths spread," she waves one hand at the arrangement, "the card closest to you is the root of what you're dealing with, an underlying issue with following in these footsteps. the next cards up on the fork," she points with index and middle finger to the two cards closer to her, "they're influencing forces pulling you in opposite directions towards different ends." Then finally she points in the same manner to the cards closest to her, "and these are two possible futures."

Possible futures, Cardinal knows plenty about that.

"Pretty much," admits Cardinal, bringing a hand up to pull his shades off at last; clicking their arms closed, he sets them off to one edge of the table, hazel eyes just lightly edged with red from strain watching as the cards are laid down, listening to the explaination.

"More than that," he murmurs, but it's mostly to himself. Oh, he does indeed know plenty about that.

Tapping on finger on her chin, Hokuto looks over to Cardinal, down to his sunglasses, then over to the card closest to him. One hand moves out, overturning the card that she explained signifies how all of this begins, or the underlying issue at hand. That card as it turns over, depicts a regal pharoah-like figure perched on a wheeled throne, pulled by black and white sphynxes. Hokuto's brows rise as she reads the title on the bottom of the card; "The Chariot."

Her dark eyes assess the card, then lift up to Cardinal. "This… is an auspicious beginning. The Chariot — here — represents that the work you do is remarkably significant and important. What you're endeavoring towards, the footprints you're following in, are indicative of victory through raw force." Her head tilts to the side subtly, "Victory against anything, even something as ambiguous as predestination. You're attempting change through bold action. Change through force." Her eyes wander to the other unrevealed cards.

"You're seeking a semblance of peace established through vigilance and have found yourself in a difficult situation that you're attempting to keep reined in by balancing opposing forces against each other. You're playing everyone against the middle…"

The card's revealed, its representation and meaning explained… and Cardinal says nothing, though he does glance up to her, brows tic'ing upwards slightly as if suspicious at just how accurate that was. After all, she knows him through his dreams. Who knows what she might have found there, or in Elisabeth's?

The silence is reminiscent of Deckard in an awkward way, and Hokut's teeth track over her lower lip. "This… " a moment's hesitation, "card here is a driving force pushing you towards the first possible outcome, one that is either the outcome of you continuing to follow in these footsteps, or breaking away. Unfortunately the card's don't say which."

The card is overturned, revealing the depiction of a robed woman seated on a throne with her head bowed, a golden orb in her lap with a five pointed star cradled like a child. Hokuto's voice echoes the title at the bottom, "The Queen of Pentacles." Her eyes drift up to Cardinal for only a moment, then down to the card again. "You've being pulled towards one outcome by a strong, affectionate woman. Warm, generous and loving, someone who is steadfast, practical and can bring out your better qualities. She is maturity, sensibility, but also freedom and passion…" Even Hokuto is looking at these cards a bit cross-eyed with how they've played out.

"She's… the one leading you to this card," it's tapped by a dark nail, "the outcome of following her guidance."

A quiet chuckle stirs upon Cardinal's lips at that revelation, slanting an almost-amused look up from the cards to the dreamweaver, brows lifting expressively, "Well, I can probably guess who that is… you too, probably. I guess I shouldn't make any assumptions, though."

Grimacing awkwardly, Hokuto scratches at the side of her head and tucks a lock of dark hair behind one small ear. "I— I'm a bit surprised things seem so straightforward, usually it's not quite this— blunt." Furrowing her brows, she moves her hand over the card at the end of the first path, "this is what will come about if you stay with her and follow her advice," and the tone of her voice is entirely cheerful until she turns the card over.

It's just a flash, a wreath, a naked figure, and the card is slapped back down. Hokuto covers it with one hand, brows tenses and nostrils flaring. "I— I'm sorry," she swallows and closes her eyes, pulling the card away to hide it in her lap. "I don'tt hink this— was entirely a good idea. I— I think we should stop."

Okay, now, that seizes the shadowmorph's attention rather completely, the sudden slap of the card back down to the table bringing his head up, brow furrowed and back straightening— the legs of the chair he's seated in scooting inward slightly with the shift of motion. "What?" Bemusement, "You said it yourself, it's just a… con. A perspective. It's not like it's magic, babe… what's wrong?"

"Misconceptions," Hokuto brings out in a sputter, shaking her head, "I— people can sometimes let bad readings influence them too much, nag at the back of their mind, or— " her eyes close, brows furrow and head shakes from side to side again. "I— I should've known not to do this so soon after what I read to someone else it— I don't— " her fingers fold carefully around that card. "I don't want to taint your view of things, to— to poison your happiness with doubt."

"Happiness?" A hint of bitterness to the laugh there, Cardinal's fingers raking back through his hair as he leans back, "I know what my fate'll be, Hokuto. It'll be neither pretty nor glorious. It's not me that I'm worried about, it's everyone else." His hand flicks dismissively as it falls, "A few cards aren't going to poison everything. I have a gallery of apocalypses back at home; files of prophecies of doom. Instructions left by a dead man who thought he could mold the future. I don't think some tarot is going to hurt any."

A shake of his head, then, and he shifts as if to rise, "Though if you'd rather not, they're just cards, after all."

"No one knows," it's stated like a defiant child who just found out Santa Claus isn't real. "no one knows the whole length and width, and you don't know your future for certain than these cards do." There's a tension at her jawline, stubbornness or pride or perhaps both, as she slaps down a card on the table. It's not as ominous in appearance as hokuto made it out to be, but it is the end of one particular path. It's a somewhat androgynous figure, surrounded by a wreath and wrapped in red cloth, the Roman Numeral XXI is at one end, and and the other, "The World, inverted."

Hokuto takes a swallow, averts her eyes and exhales a sigh. "Following… the woman leads you do an ignoble end. A literal world in flames, happiness traded for ultimate failure of what it is you're hoping to accomplish. It could be something as small as abandoning your work, or something as large as a catastrophe that costs lives. By— " her brows furrow together, "by being with her, "and she can't look Cardinal in the eyes either, "you're risking everything."

Suddenly, that reticience makes sense. Cardinal sinks himself back down into the chair once again, lips pursing in a slight frown at the card revealed— and at the words that the fortune-teller speaks. "They're only cards," he points out, in quiet reminder, "And no future's written in stone."

"No… nothing's written in stone," Hokuto says quietly, staring down at those cards, her dark eyes wavering back and forth over them. Only two left to turn over, and her stomach's already in knots. When she looks back up to Cardinal, the hesitation there is palpable in the subtle shake of one hand, but eventually it's her fingers that move down to touch the card below the top right. "This… this card is the influence of the second possible outcome, the card that shows what will lead you towards the alternative end." Swallowing dryly, she manages a feinted smile, turning the card over to reveal the image of three people in robes, each one holding aloft a golden cup.

Somehow, this image softens Hokuto's expression just a touch. "The Three of Cups," she says quietly, hesitantly, as if trying to discern why this particular card showed here. Her eyes uplift to Cardinal, then back down again. "The card means abundance, in its simplest definition. A time of happiness and reflection spent in the company of friends and loved ones. Something… like old friends and new friends meeting for the first time, or after a long time apart." Biting down on her lower lip she adds, "It also can suggest that you bring together a diverse community of people towards a common goal."

When she finally makes eye-contact with Cardinal again, Hokuto seems more relaxed. "Connecting this with your beginning card of the Chariot, it implies that these people are likely brought together because of the important work you're doing. Colleagues and friends, allies…"

"I've changed my future once," Cardinal observes quietly, although he may be talking mostly to himself, gaze trailing over the back of the cards that remain, "I can change it again if need be. As many times as I have to…" A hand slides down to his thigh, fingers drumming loosely there against the fabric before she leans forward, and reaches for the next card.

Then, he leans forward to see it, hazel eyes falling to the artwork and then lifting to her visage, both brows lifting a touch. "That sounds right," he admits, "Although it's rather like cat-herding, sometimes…"

"I know a little something about that," Hokuto notes lightly, turning her focus side-long to the chalk white cat pawing around at Cardinal's feet. Guilty yellow eyes look up, dark spots above them furrowing like big bushy brows. She can't help but smile just a little bit, despite herself. Looking back to Cardinal, Hokuto lays her hand over the last card. "This is the second most likely outcome of your work, and your work in a way that gathers these people together." Hesitation is less than before, but only in the time it takes for her to overturn the card and immediately regret it.

The card depicts a man in a red cloak and white robe, holding aloft a candle that is burning at both ends. On the table in front of him, a variety of implements are laid out; a golden chalce, a sword, a wooden staff and a golden coin with a five-pointed star etched on it. But it's all hard to make out, because the card is upside down. The name, difficult to read inverted, Hokuto mouths with a hushed breath; "The Magician."

The immediate implications of the card aren't clear, but from her inability to seeminfly lie or guard her feelings at all, it's not sunshine and puppies. Swallowing again, Hokuto looks up to those dark sunglasses Cardinal wears, then immediately down to the card. "This— this is a warning." Stated with all of the certainty of someone who's seen this before. "The Magician, when… when inverted, means lies. It shows the use of knowledge and skill for selfish gain or destructive purposes. It is the absolute abuse of power…" Reaching up to thread a lock of ink-black hair behind one ear, Hokuto's dark eyes stay fixed on Cardinal.

"This… this path," she motions from Chariot to Magician, "this path means that you have a great work to accomplish, and that you will gather people to your side in order to meet that goal, but in the end, temptation will drive you— or all of you— to corruption by the power the sum of your parts represents."

Where's he heard this story before?

This side of the reading appears to be going a bit better, so Cardinal relaxes somewhat; how bad can it be, after all? Not that he believes in the Tarot, of course, oh no. They're just cards. The next is turned over, then, seen inverted before the disciple of Edward Ray brings his gaze upwards to the young woman's face to hear her speak, his expression unreadable for a few moments. He looks back down to the card, reaching out to flip it lightly into his hand and bring it up to consider the reversed imagery.

Then a laughquiet, bitterand he tosses it back to the table, leaning back until the chair he's in leans upon two legs. "The end of the world or turning into as much of a monster as those who came before me, is that it…? Not much of a choice there, beautiful."

The smile Hokuto offers in response is visibly awkward, and she recoils slowly to slouch back against her creaking chair. "Sometimes… that's the way things happen." Again, sounding like she speaks from experience. "You either live your life to your own beat, and forsake the problems of the world around you, or you fight long enough and hard enough to become just as bad as the things you were fighting." The smile fades, "It's like that old quote about staring into voids and being stared back at…"

Folding her hands, Hokuto closes her eyes and breathes in a slow, calming breath. "I think this reading is more of a personal warning to you. One about temperance," the dark-haired woman's brows crease together, "that you need to find balance in what you're doing." She motions to The World, "Stray too far to one side, and you lose sight of your goal." He hand motions towards the inverted Magician, "lean too far to the other, and you're consumed by it."

Brows creased, the concern on her face is evident. "But I think the important question is," somehow, that smile returns just a little, "was it worth ten dollars?"

"I'll just have to learn to dance on a razor's blade, then…" That bitter curve of a smile fades after a moment, and Cardinal shakes his head, hazel eyes strained by the light closed as he lets the meaning of the reading— both named and spoken by her, and his own surmising— sink in and process for a bit. Those eyes open at her last words, and he flashes her a grin, "Shameless, aren't you?"

The chair rocks forward, legs clacking solidly to the floor of the shop, "I'd say it was worth dinner, too, but you've been in Liz's head so you'd probably say no. Ten dollars, I can do."

Teeth toy with Hokuto's lower lip as she shifts to the side, giving Cardinal an uncertain look. "I've been inside of your head too," she adds somewhat slyly, "but…" the rest of her sentance doesn't come, just her hands folding in front of the cards, then coming apart to sweep them together and form them into a stack. Scratching at the side of her nose afterwards, she finally decides how to phrase the end of her sentence. "I'm too complicated. Shameless only when I'm asleep."

That comes with a grimace, dark brows lifting up as she holds out her hand towards Cardinal, palm flat and up. "If you ever want another one, don't hesitate to come back. Sometimes things change, sometimes you need other insight. Sometimes, it just doesn't hurt to talk…"

A wallet's produced from somewhere inside Cardinal's jacket, thumb skimming through the billfold to open it wider before he plucks a twenty from its depths and lays it across her palm before his own drops there atop it, fingers curling to her hand in a brief but warm clasp.

"Just might do that," he admits, drawing his hand back and reaching to lift his shades, sliding them upon his face once more before quirking a smile, "Sometimes it doesn't, no. Which counts for you, too, miss 'I'm too complicated'."

"Trust me," Hokuto notes with a crooked smile, only to find it turning a bit puzzled as she looks down to the twenty, then back up to Cardinal with an unspoken question in her eyes, "I'm— " it distracts her enough to give her pause, "not all that interesting, just complicated. I'm like math." She adds that last bit with a goofy grin. Folding the twenty into her palm, there's a look of some certainty that replaces the questioning as she tucks it into a pocket on the front of her vest.

After a moment of hesitation, Hokuto slides up from her chair and comes to stand, one hand resting on her hip, the other touching fingertips to the table's old and worn surface. "Next time you see Elisabeth," there's a gentle smile offered at the Detective's name, "tell her she should come by sometime. I think she might enjoy getting a reading…"

"The last man I knew that liked math was possibly one of the most important people the world's ever known, whether it ever knows it or not…" Cardinal rolls himself up to his feet, his lips curving in a smile with a hint more strength than before— and more certainty to the eyes behind the shades. He's always liked a challenge. "I'll tell her. And, for the record, you're a math-loving bookseller that does tarot readings, dream-walks, and has a great pair of legs, with a cat named Gabriel. I'd say that makes you interesting in anyone's book, babe."

Finally he makes her turn red; Mission accomplished.

Flustered and laughing away the one compliment that could've turned her that way, Hokuto covers her mouth with one hand and turns her head away, dark hair serving as a curtain to hide her awkward expression. Turning her laughter into a few awkward noises that are the beginnings of a sentence, she finally manages to stammer out, "I— shouldn't be surprised— ah— by all of that." Dark brows crease together, "Somehow it's worse in person."

Grinning when she finally looks back, Hokuto nods her head to the front door. "I— am going to spend my fifteen minutes of hot water in the shower before I go to sleep," at nine o'clock in the evening, like an old woman apparently, "and you didn't pay me nearly enough to get to stick around." Her brows rise, face still red as she manages that taunt.

"And no, you don't have enough in your wallet."

A hint of triumph to the smile on Cardinal's face. It's the little victories, sometimes.

At the briefly stammered statement, he can't help but laugh, "You shouldn't? Now I've got to wonder which dreams you've been eavesdropping on…" A wink, and he steps back from the table, turning to head fully back to the main room en route to the door, "…enjoy your shower, dream-walker. I'll see you around, I'm sure, and I'll send Liz over to talk to you too. Maybe it'd help."

Rubbing one hand on the side of her face, Hokuto watches Cardinal retreat, trying in some vain way to make the glow of her cheeks stop, brows furrowed and nose wrinkled in protest of his little victory. But when she turns to look down at the cards again, piled up neatly as they are now, her brows furrow together and she can't help but think back to the way both paths of the reading end. She stares, longingly, at the backs of the cards, then up towards Cardinal's retreating form one last time.

Her hand moves down to the deck, fingers sliding back a card from the top of the deck she hadn't drawn. It's drawn up to be inspected, and a smile crosses her lips briefly. "Fitting…" she whispers to the books, laying the card down on the table before she walks away.

The Wheel of Fortune

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License