Cowardice Or Valor


abby_icon.gif deckard3_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Cowardice or Valor
Synopsis Which do you think Flint Deckard will ultimately choose?
Date September 7, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

"She had something, that you could have used, I think. And me. Only she gave it to someone else" Abigail's explaining in hushed voice as she and Deckard and are getting out of a rented car. Can't quite drive a fully grown man on a scooter and a fully grown woman through Manhattan and onto Roosevelt Island. Besides, she'd been getting ready for class. It'd been easy enough to drop by wherever Flint had instructed her to pick him up and head out. That way they would be back to wherever by curfew time as well.

"I'm trying to get this book, so I can copy it, but so far I haven't heard from them" There's a wrinkle of the blonde's nose as she glances up towards the building they had come for. "Ichihara. Her name is Hokuto. She's the one with the" There's a gesture with Abigail's forefinger to her head to indicate the dreaming. "She was gonna help Liz with her nightmares, Lord I hope she did" But that is neither here, nor there as the womans hand comes down on the door and opens it for flint to go on through in the dark of the monday evening.

"Miss Ichihara?"

Deckard is quiet at Abby's side. He's quiet the way people are when they don't want to be somewhere but have stout reason not to complain or make a fuss, either. Like there might be someone's feelings at stake, here. Or somebody's sex life. …Like his own.

He's also tall, gaunt, and wearing an ash grey suit over a white shirt and dark alligator hide boots, long face drawing itself all the longer and more closed at the first glimpse he catches of Ichihara's interior. Everything is old. The shelves are tall, the aisles are narrow, and there are things that look like antiques everywhere — he should have known from the exterior that there would be antiques.

But he isn't actively complaining, and stands obediently enough at Abby's shoulder for all that he is doing a pretty good impression of an underfed neanderthal with a buzzcut and a couple've weeks of accumulated stubblegrowth to offset the bristle of his head with the low slung bristle of his jaw.

Well after closing time, it's no surprise that Hokuto has forgotten to lock the door to the shop or do anything remotely resembling closing up at all. The sign is still brightly proclaiming the business as open even if it's well past eight at night. Lounging across the counter space near the door, Hokuto looks much the part of a lazy cat, lounging in the glow of electricity that finally flows across the island. The warm glow of the light fixtures in the ceiling casts soft shadows over the books, one of which is resting on her chest, open to the middle and paged through even after the entrance.

"One second…" she distractedly replies, book obscuring view of her face from where she lays, save for the spill of black hair over the counter's front. Just a moment later, a bookmark is tucked between the pages and the thick hardcover book without any English text on the front is slapped closed. For first impressions, this is slightly better than her being asleep, but still professes the quirky nature of the bookseller.

Swinging her legs around and over the countertop, Hokuto sets bare feet down on the floor as she hops down; dark slacks and a white vest shedding no color to her monochromatic attire. With that book tucked under one arm, she offers dark eyes up to Deckard with a crooked smile. "Flint," she says cheerfully, leaning to the side to lay the book out where she was just sprawled, then sidle up to the far taller man with a hand offered out. "It's nice to finally meet you, Abby's told me— well, enough."

"I haven't told her that much" Abigail looks up over her shoulder at Deckard, quick to defend herself lest Flint get the wrong idea. The idea that she runs around and talks about him all the time. She doesn't. Not much. "Flint, this is Hokuto, she's the onieromancer? Onieromancer. She's the one who's done the thing, with that dream. I promised her i'd bring you by, and so that you could see if she's been poking in and doing whatever it is that you've been .. talking about with your dreams"

Her hands slide into her back pockets and she settles her gaze back on Hokuto. "How's Liz? Did you get with her?"

Just short of a balk in his automatic awayward lean from the offered hand and closer to Abby, Deckard looks — uneasy. Second thoughts sketch out clear into eyes too blue for the shadows cast by looming shelves and carve into fuzzy lines around the narrow set of his jaw. With his head all scrubby and his face hollow, he looks for all the world like an overlarge stray dog that doesn't have enough experience with people to know what to do with them.

He doesn't seem terribly convinced about the whole not talking about him thing either, but rather than rend or snap, after a sufficiently socially awkward delay, he reaches to grasp Hokuto's hand in his own. It's rough but warm. The staining lead's left yellow across the pads doesn't transfer, either. He doesn't introduce himself.

"I made a house call," Hokuto demures away from the conversation about what she's heard about Flint even as her eyes meet his during the handshake. They lid halfway as a Cheshire smile creeping across her lips, hand slipping away from Deckard's as she turns towards Abby. "She's doing alright now, but there's only so much I can do for her. It's— like someone with internal bleeding. I can offer them opiates for the pain, but ultimately their fate lies in the hands of a doctor. In your friend's case, that doctor is a phychiatrist. I've eased her discomfort the best that I can, but— " dark brows furrow slightly, and Hokuto brings a hand up to the side of her head. "I wasn't entirely prepared for just how much trauma she'd been in…"

Padding past the blonde, Hokuto pauses and looks over her shoulder towards the window, then back up to Deckard, then over to Abby. "So, did you tell him why I wanted you to bring him here, or is he going to be ambushed by this?" One dark brow lifts up, and Hokuto's eyes sweep from the tiny blonde over to Deckard, a lopsided smile replacing that more impish one that was there a moment ago.
"I told you she'd gone through worse than me" Doesn't make Abigail feel any the less guilty for what Hokuto might have gone through to help Elisabeth. "I wasn't expecting miracles and you were just one of a handful who can help he……ohh uhhmm that…" Abby looks over to Flint yet again.

It's that totally guilty look, like what she told him was the reason really was a reason, but not the only one that she had brought him to the place for. "No, no it's pretty much ambush I think. I think he'll be like me… with regards to them but I owe you and it makes you happy. It's not Joseph's gift for showing the Lords plans but, it's something" please don't kill me. Please don't kill me. please don't never do that thing again with me for bringing you here……

That she's so casually drifted so that she's between flint and the door, well….

There is way too much smiling going on in here. Deckard counteracts it as best he can by frowning so hard his lower jaw might slough right out of joint if he's not careful, brow hooded with all the makings of anvil cloud displeasure thundered clear through to the chill blue of his eyes. And still he doesn't complain. He's not even entirely comfortable with glowering directly at either of them while they move from discussion of Elisabeth to the Real Reason Why He's Here. Instead, he reaches absently to poke at a leather binding on the nearest shelf that looks to be particularly old, brittle, and valuable to people who like things that are old and brittle.

"Tarot," Hokuto emphasizes towards Deckard, something like a verbal softball pitch. "Abigail came in here the day we met, and got herself a reading. Ever since I found out about you," she inclines her head towards Abby as if there was some grand conspiracy, "I'd wanted to have you come in and get a reading. It's nothing terribly important, but I think given how close the two of you are, it might help give the reading I gave to her some contrast by seeing what yours looks like. You two are— " her smile turns to something softer, "you're pretty tightly intertwined as it is."

Turning her shoulder to Deckard's direction, Hokuto slides into a different aisle between shelves, "The table I normall do readings at is kind of cramped space for the three of us," she notes in a louder voice as distance is put between herself and her guests. By the time she's reached the back of the store, her projected voice isn't too difficult to hear, given the cosy size of the building's front room. "I was thinking we might go out back." Gone for only a moment, she starts walking back with a slim cardboard case held in one hand, eyes alight towards Abby once she emerges from the mouth of the aisle. "It's just a little back lot between the buildings, but I've got some patio furniture out there…"

There's a bit of a choking sound from the southern woman in reference to her own reading. The one that had been negative card after negative card, including one hanging man. "Just cards flint." She gives him a bit of a nudge with her shoulder against his arm. "I promise we can do whatever you want, after it. She just.. she asked real nicely and…" and what else. "Can't hurt. Better than sitting around and watching a movie…"

No amount of nudging or gentle encouragement is going to make Deckard enthusiastic about this. Only one brow lifts out of its furrowed set at Hokuto's mention of tarot, lean face shadowed such that only Abigail is privy to his skepticism at close quarters. It's polite, in a way — that he's trying not to broadcast his distaste. Polite for him, even if he does stay stonily silent and refuses to let any softness or sunlight chisel through the hatchet-hewn angles that comprise his hollow-eyed skull.

"You're not getting tied up in this, are you?" muttered and muffled down quietly enough that it (hopefully) won't be overheard, he scuffs his bristled chin down enough to give Abby an impatient look sideways on his laggard way to bumping off in the direction of her nudge. For the lot between buildings, with the patio furniture and the shrunken heads.

"I'm a baptist. They're cards flint. If I believe what those cards said, I would have locked myself in my room and not come out" Abigail murmurs back. "9 swords, hanging man, the pale rider. Every single bad card, it was out with my reading. She just.. she likes doing them Flint, that and… she.. had a journal, that journal. It belonged to the guy who had what I had, what you have. Francois Allegre's. Maybe.. maybe she knows where we can find others, if there are others. So humor her?"

One crooked brow is offered back at Deckard as Hokuto inclines her head and watches the murmured display of undercut words being tossed back and forth between Deckard and Abby. Managing something of an awkward smile, she claps the boxed deck into one hand and walks towards the counter, slouching back against it with a suspicious look offered to the two. "If you aren't comfortabel with getting a reading, I'm not going to force you. These…" Hokuto wrinkles her nose, looking down to the deck, "the cards aren't fortune telling tools, really. They're psychological aids, you see in them what you want to, and take away from a reading what means the most."

Her eyes wander the store, to the leatherbound spine Deckard had been fingering moments ago, to Abby, and then down to the floor. "There's better ways to tell the future, but this— the cards?" She smiles faintly, "They're meant to help sort out what's up here," she taps the corner of the boxed deck to her temple, "with what's in here," and then down to her chest. "But— I can't force you to entertain the idea…"

Abby's tale of Doom Cards read out to her by this chick is on the verge of earning Hokuto the kind of Look that conflagrates small children and sublimates kittens, but before Deckard can quite get there, Francois' name enters the equation and he doubletakes instead. The kind of doubletake where he tries to abort midway through, but the motion's already in progress and he's looking blankly at Abigail by the time it strikes him he shouldn't have looked at all.

Go figure that the best way for him to shake it off is with a heel face turn for Hokuto and her deck, leaving Abby behind to fathom the bafflement in his eyes alone. And hopefully not hard enough to draw any conclusions from it. "Sure." Sure. Supportive, earnest eye contact is attempted in a glance, but even with cold cynicism dull in his eyes, there's a hint of something sheepishly apologetic in a twinge at the corner of his mouth that he can't help.

She's like this little dog that's had it's owner say somthing to it, and just not comprehend with the confused and puzzled look that is taking its place on her face. What on earth was that look for. Abby's head is cocked an angle and she watches Deckard about face and head towards the back with furrowed blonde eyebrows. A glance to the asian woman in case she might have a clue and she's trotting along behind flint like exactly what Claude once called her. Puppy on a leash.

"Don't get too excited on account of me, "Hokuto notes with a chirping quality to her voice, leaning off of the counter and beginning to walk between the aisles. "Come on, we can get out back this way…" Deciding the remain barefoot, the dark-haired proprieter of the store starts wandering between the shelves, hesitating for a moment before snatching a book off of one of the shelves, tucking it under her arm and continuing in stride without a halt in her fluid stride.

Walking all the way to the back of the store, Hokuto passes by a small table tucked away in a nook with two chairs, suitable for an intimate reading for two, but not quite spacious enough for three people. From here she turns a corner, walking into a back stock room that is kept in disorderly disarray. Stacks of old books come up to waist height, piled up on the floor in no clear organization. Cardboard boxes filled with others litter the walkway, and shelves full of newspaper stacks from back issues climb towards the tiled drop ceiling. The little space afforded to the storage room eventually gives way to a tiny door that opens out to aa vacant lot behind the building.

Under the yellowed glow of the back light, the paved lot is secluded from the rest of Roosevelt Island by buildings cornering it on four sides. Only a narrow alleyway between two red brick buildings directly across from the bookstore's back entrance gives it an outlet, and fire escapes bolted to all of the walls here aren't just an industrial addition to the old, plain brick buildings; creeping ivy has overgrown the entire back lot.

Growing up between spaces in the pavement and crawling between the brickwork, the ivy has wound its way around the fire escapes, up the walls and around the windows. Amidst this odd contrast of urban and verdant setting, the black iron garden furniture seems to blend in well. The chairs are made of the same wrought iron, four circling the table where an old oil lamp rests along with a box of matches and glass cylinders containing pillar candles that are arranged around the table. "It's… not windy,b ut it'll probably get chilly tonight. I'll try not to keep you both for too long."

The book, the one she lifted off the shelves, is laid down on the metal table; The Art of Romantic Languages: French. Her eyes uplift to Deckard, then Abby, and she starts going about clearing the lamp off the table and sets her pack of cards down, chair pulled out with a scuttle of the metal legs on the pavement beneath.

It's pretty clear in Deckard's posture that he's about as excited about this as a shaved cat covered in scotch tape, but he spares the remark the vaguest of acknowledging upturns all the same. Then she's moving and so is he, some two or three paces back, long strides measured to keep pace while granting him just a few spare seconds to scan over her accumulation of old texts and ancient newspapers. Curiosity finally sinks in against his will, buffering out the hard edges clamped in around his jaw when he casts a furtive glance over his shoulder at a particularly interesting stack only to catch Abby bringing up the rear in his periphery.

He straightens out again in time to hit cool air and yellow light, clear eyes washed the same sallow gold when he rounds his cautious way towards the wrought iron table — never in quite the hurry he was back when he could see everything at once. Ivy and high walls are taken in as if unexpected, which they are, with a sideways glance scraped after Abby's reaction in time with him dragging a chair out for her without a first thought to lead to a second, and then himself.

His sink into the seat across from Hokuto is slow. His frown upon reading the cover of the proferred book is also slow. Slow and tired and surly and avoidant all in the same jut-jawed go.

It's cozy and on some level, it's very… Hokuto. What little of the woman that Abigail knows. So when flint takes a chair out for her, then for himself, the blonde sits down it in with ankles crossed and her hands in her lap. For as long as it takes to see the book. Then she's picking that up. French. He touched a french book. Strange, odd, weird and all other words that one could think about flash through her mind and she opens it, fingering the pages while shaking her head.

Reclining back against the metal back of her chair, Hokuto's dark eyes survey Flint with an equal measure of uncertainty that he regards the setting with. Reaching out to the box on the table, Hokuto opens the fold of the top and slides out the cards into her palm, and dips dark eyes down to the book on the tabletop, then back up to Abby. "Take that," she instructs with a faint smile, "consider it a gift for the book I should have given to you. When you find it, you might need to reference the translation dictionary in there if no one who speaks French is around. Most of the journal, well, it's written in French."

Shuffling the long cards between parchment pale fingers, Hokuto furrows her brows and regards them with concern before offering them out on the table, the stack pushed towards Deckard slowly. "Cut and shuffle the deck, however feels natural to you, and then give them back."

Deckard's hands are dexterous by necessity. He plays with and has played with knives, explosives, reloaded casings, live organs and various other things it's generally important not to damage or drop. The cut is quick, one half thumbed clear and turned around under the bottom. The shuffle isn't much more drawn out than that — a few slack dices of cards split over cards between his hands and the deck is dropped back down between them with less care than it probably warrants.

His right hand goes up to scrub wearily up over the side of his face when he settles back into the wrought iron stiff of his chair. The left drags back into his lap like an anchor too light to find purchase on the table, and he's back to frowning off to the side after ivy's wind rather than pay Abby's study of the book any heed.
"Oh. Ohh it's in french?" Great. Well, that book, maybe an honest to god french to english dictionary.. maybe Teo knows french? Amato? maybe Amato knows french. Or there was one of the teachers at Columbia. Someone there surely knows french. Her eyes dip to watch Flint cuts the cards with an expertise that she'll never have and that she actually envy's for the party trick that it can be.

Watching the way Deckard cuts the deck carefully, Hokuto hesitates for a moment before reaching out to take the deck of cards and slide it to the side of the table where no one is sitting. "Given how Abby's reading went, the layout I'm going to do for you should— somehow — compliment hers I hope. It's called the two paths spread." One by one, Hokuto begins laying down an arrangement of five cards; one closest to Deckard, and then two columns of two reaching out towards Hokuto.

"This spread is designed for someone who's at an impasse in their lives, or proactively for preparation when they arrive at an important juncture or decision. It's meant to show two possible outcomes, and help give perspective on them. They may be looking at you right now, or— it could be something you have to deal with in the future."

"Most people who do this reading start with the outcome and work backwards towards the source; I find that largely unsatisfying and a little strange. So, the first card I pull in this layout is the one closest to you." A black painted fingernail touches down on the back of the card, on that half-helix symbol worked in to the center of the pattern. "This card shows you where the decision lies, what sets off the possibility for these two outcomes, the motivating factor, as it were."

When she slides a nail under the card and flips it over, the picture on the card's illumination is of eight gnarled wooden staves falling at a diagonal angle through the air with distant lands visible in the background. A Roman numeral VIII is printed at the top of the card. "The Eight of Wands," Hokuto explains, tapping the picture once. "This card, here, shows that you'll be forced to make a split second decision about something you're not usually involved in, given the context of the card it is likely travel over a long distance, possibly to places you've never been before. How you go about handling this decision, affects your path to the two most likely outcomes."

Surely someone knows French.

A sigh sinks out've the flat of Deckard's chest despite himself, slatted ribs caged wide around the sentiment. It culminates in a deeper slouch into the metal chair, hard edges biting into spine and scapulae without incurring so much as a twitch. The hand he's still scrubbing vaguely over his short-shorn buzz lifts in permissive allowance for whatever Hokuto feels like she needs to do with arrangement and. Order. And whatever. However this works.

He tries not to make too much of a face at the idea of anyone making a decision based off bone throwing or blood letting or — tarot cards.

Meanwhile: The Eight of Wands. Flint listens, squints an eye. Looks at Abby. Scratches his neck. Looks at — a fire escape.
One hand comes to rest - book in her lap to disguise it - on Flint's knee and squeezes it gently. "Your's are already far better than mine so far, right outta the gate. Want me to get you something to drink?" It's offered to both people, more of an opportunity sort of to either leave them alone or give flint the chance to flee, flee via that fire escape that he's eyeing.

There's a faint smile offered to Abby, and Hokuto's eyes drift from her as she distractedly murmurs, "I'm fine, but— thank you." The focus is entirely on the reading, curiosity raised by the sheer contrast that is arising from Abby's. Watching the impassive expression on Flint, Hokuto moves her hand to the next card, above and left of the beginning of the two paths. "This card shows you the decision that is crucial in making the first outcome of these two possibilities become a reality."

Flipping the card over, it is perhaps coincidentially an image of a man standing in a ferry with a tall staff, plying it thorugh waters with two huddled figures hunched in the front of the boat. Six swords stand in the boat's bow, driven into the wood. Hokuto's reactiono n seeing it is one of curiosity, as if the context of the reading has piqued her own interests.

"This… is the six of swords," as the Roman Numeral VI at the top indicates. "Here, as a point of decision, it represents the choice to back out of a bad situation. You find yourself trapped by something that seems like it has nothing but bad outcomes, and you turn and run to try and forge a new path somewhere else." Her dark brows crease together, furrowed in contemplation. "The ah, this card. It's something that shows you taking a path towards personal interest at the sake of whatever it was you had chosen to do before hand. It most certainly— like the last card— means travel. So, taking all of the symbolism together, it might indicate running away from one problem to face another, less difficult one, burning bridges as you go."

Caught off guard by the squeeze at his knee, Deckard drops his hand down to a rest at the grey grizzled into patches on either side of his chin and looks distractedly over her way. Like he thinks he might have missed something and he's not sure what the grabby is about but doesn't mind where this might be headed anyway and might like to subscribe to her newsletter.

Doesn't last long as he might like, though. He hesitates, then shakes his head at the offer of a drink, cold eyes cast down beneath knit brows to take in the image of the ferry and the man on it. For the briefest of instants, he looks like he might be intrigued. Then Hokuto goes into the explanation of what it means and he starts to look uncomfortable instead. Not because it doesn't sound like him, but because it does, and there's Abby sitting right there getting an earful of his tarot-predicted cowardice.

Tension winds back into his jaw, muscle hatched and knotted too thin there and over the pitted sink of his clavicles when he edges to sit up half an inch straighter. He even rankles his nose a little, which makes pretending that he's not paying attention at all difficult.

Her hand isn't moving since it seems that neither wants something to drink. Just southern belle, sitting beside the friend with benefits as he's told that he's gonna turn and run.

Forget that this is a reading supposedly having something to do with the two of them and thier quote, unquote relationship. Abigail's already making her bed in the doghouse.

Grimacing faintly as she looks from Deckard to Abby, Hokuto brings her hand to the card above the one she just revealed. "This, ah— this card represents the outcome of the decision. If you follow-through with the path offered to you by the six of swords, the outcome will likely be represented by what's here." Her thumbnail slides under the cardstuck and turns it over.

The illumination revealed is one of serenity in the depiction. The Roman Numeral XXI rests above the icon of a naked woman wrapped in a banner of red cloth, around her a wreath of green and white clouds. Proclaimed at the bottom, is the name of this major Arcana; "The World," Hokuto states with a fond smile. "It's a good card to get, and despite that it seems the decision to reach here is one frought with difficult decisions, the ultimate outcome seems pleasant. The card, here, shows that it's the end of a long and tiring journey that you struggled down. It's all sorts of positive things; achievements, reward, well-earned recognition. It's what most people strive for in life. It's everything you've ever hoped for…"

But then her hand moves down to the card below it again, "you just have to turn your back on someone or something to attain it."

"Well, as long as everything pans out in the end." Snark snark snark. Deckard's back to scrubbing at his face again, hoping against hope that he can somehow rough reactionary unease out've it where his self-control is falling short. Hokuto's fond smile doesn't help — exasperation lines in between his brows. Shame, even, that there's inevitably something in him already trying to calculate his odds.

"Hey," says Flint after a terse pause, "Abigail." His punctuation is nearly as tightly wound as the tension in the knee she has a hold on, effectively desecrating whatever effort he might've been making towards nonchalance. "On second thought, if you're offering anyway…" he trails off and his brows cant up, awkward in forced hope.

"Uh, sure" Crap. Crap and hell in a really big handbasket. Abigail's hand lets go, the book on the art of the french language held with both hands now as opposed to just one. Her thumb slides back and forth a handful of times across the cover before nevously the blonde stands up. "I'll, go see, if there's anything to drink, inside. Just inside" She doesn't like the tone and likely, she's about to flee into the depths of the bookstore and just cry. She's screwed up, screwed something up. She shouldn't have brought him here. "I'll be back" Maybe soon. Likely not. She'll be found later sitting at the front and watching out the window, making sure no one tries to break in and steal aged creaky books.

"A— Abby I— " Hokuto's eyes go a bit wide when the blonde gets up, looking to Deckard uncertainly, brows furrowed before watching Abby turn and quickly make an exit into the bookstore. Her forehead creases with lines of worry, teeth tug at her lower lip as dark eyes settle on Deckard. There's a moment where she wants to ask is she okay but the voice in the back of her mind tells her that she'll find out anyway, later tonight. Instead, that concern is smiles away, far more politely than should be offered before her eyes avert from Deckard's blue down to the cards.

"This…" her own voice sounds too loud in her head after that awkward silence. "This card is— it's the force that will determine the second path available to you." Her eyes wander distractedly to the door Abby went in through, then down to the table and the cards again. "It's, ah— it's the determining factor that— like the previous— will make this path a reality."

When the card is overturned, there is a lone figure displayed on it. Three gnarled staves are arranged all around him, one he is using to support himself like a cane. At the top of the card, the Roman numeral III is clearly shown. "This is the three of wands, it— it's a strongly voiced card. It has a very clear meaning, and…" her eyes wander from the card to Deckard, "it shows strength of conviction. It means virtue, simply. It can also be interpreted as aspects like strength of character."

Managing a distracted smile, she examines the card again. "Here, the card shows that your choice would be to begin something like— an enduring partnership, either professional or personal— based on absolute trust. The card shows you'll have the opportunity to maintain your own personal honor in a time of desperate struggle, and rise to a leadership position because of it."

There's a distance about Flint once he's watched Abigail go, like he knows he's done a Bad Thing and is going to have to deal with it later. For the first time since he's been sitting out here, he actually has something else pressing to be uneasy about and the distraction about him is drearily genuine. Worry finds its way easily into familiar paths in the lines around his mouth and eyes only to stiffen out into gruff annoyance when he feels it in his own drawn face.

Two options, here. He can turn it inward, or he can push it on Hokuto. When she finally speaks up again, the latter option is registered with a steely glance, hawkish in its raking measure across the table for her and her cards.

Whatever decision he makes in the end, there's still no snapping or snarling when she moves on to the next set of symbols and does her thing. He sits there in his half slouch and fumbles blandly with a button on his cuff, listening enough to half-smile to himself at talk of personal honor and…leadership positions. "Do you really care? Is any of this for real or was this…just a ploy to get us in here somehow?" It's an honest question. He's looking right at her when he asks it, direct as the sallow light playing sterile off his long face. "«…Because I really get the sense that you might be fucking with me.»"

For a moment Hokuto doesn't have a reaction, just a blank stare aimed at Deckard, then an awkward stiffening of her back and shoulders, brows furrowed and lips parted slightly. Her eyes grow wide, then narrow as a sour cast comes to her features. Looking towards the door Abby left thorugh, then back to Flint, the dark-haired woman makes an unbecoming sound in the back of her throat. "I'm sorry," she says quietly, moving her hand over the cards and beginning to pick up the ones already having been turned over, "it was a mistake asking you to come here."

When her head titls down, a sheet of dark hair slides out from behind her ear, hiding the side of her face as dark eyes wander from side to side, cards being picked up off of the table. "If you didn't want to come here, you didn't have to. I— " her brows tense, eyes lifting up to Deckard, "I have no reason to lure you in here and— and I don't speak French."

Distrust is a more accurate description than suspicion for the angle of Deckard's face while he watches Hokuto, chill eyes clear and flawless as unflawed ice in lighting that blacks out the brown in his hair and glances a sickly shade of tarnished silver across grey and white. But he can't see her pulse, and he can't see if her lungs catch in her chest or if the muscles running lateral with her spine stiffen and bunch in on themselves. He's left with her face and the wander of her eyes while she lifts cards all the way until she's stopped by a comfortable grasp of his over hers, impeding her efforts without real force. His grip is warm and lax — more cause for pause than active restraint.

"There's something wrong with me," is an awkward way to start. Especially with his hand where it is, but he's quick enough to change tracks once he's had a few seconds to reconsider himself. "I came because she wanted me to. I dunno why it's important to her, but she reads into it." His eyes flicker down to the cards only long enough to mark which ones are left, then it's back to Hokuto's face — his own too mild to read easily. "Whatever you say now, whatever you told her before. She can hide behind her cross, but she respects you, she's curious, and disparaging as what you've said so far is, none of it's beyond belief." Voice low and quiet enough that only the off word here and there drifts rough to the rear door, he eases back shoulders and hand enough to flip the next card over on his own. Expectant. "Neither do I."

The urge to step forward with the three mugs of hot tea in hand is halted - takes a lot to do it - when she can catch the snippets from flint from her auditory vantage point at the back exit. She'd locked the doors, poured water, wiped her eyes and headed back. The way he's sitting, when his hand comes down on Hokuto's and the Asian woman's words. Hides behind her cross. She hadn't expected this, she thought…

Who knows what Abby thought, half the time the young woman doesn't even know what she herself even thinks. But she doesn't move forward, just stays rooted firmly where she is, tucked almost out of sight and listening. Thou shalt not eavesdrop.

Tense and wide-eyed during Deckard's explanation, and as still as a spooked animal, Hokuto only eases in the slightest when his hand moves over to the last card to be turned, the final card that explains where the path Flint's virtue could take him on would lead him. It's a simple picture, harkens to him memories of kids playing. The card's illumination depicts a group of five young people standing around, each of them holding a long staff up, each at different angles.

On seeing the card, Hokuto's brows furrow, eyes considering the card and the Roman numeral V that looks more like an A from Deckard's perspective of it, since it is quite pointedly inverted. "The…" her dark eyes lift up to Flint's blue ones, then uncertainly back down to the card. "The five of staves, reversed." She doesn't sound happy about the context, looking up to Flint, over to the door, and back again to the card.

"The end of the second path is — quite literally — strife." Fantastic. "The.." she looks to the crooked card below it, one almost swept off of the table. "The mean's interpretation is something like— following a path of virtue and self betterment, leads towards a distasteful ending. If you choose to take up the responsibility of leadership…" her teeth press down on her lower lip, eyes anxiously settled on Deckard. "Pointless struggles motivated by the vain pursuit of recognition, financial reward, or base desires. It— it means the people you lead will fall into disunity, chaos, and petty quarreling— specifically at a time of crisis."

There's nothing in Hokuto that shows she enjoys giving this bad of news, this negative of a path. "You will bring out the worst in people." Swallowing tensely, her eyes wander back to the cards. "It— it's a fairly clear-cut reading, but not what I expected." While the cards aren't all on the table still, she remembers the layout, and recalls the details. "It starts with you preparing for a journey, one that is dangerous and ultimately forces you to make a choice: to turn your back on everyone who looks to you for leadership, or take the burden of their responsibility. If you turn and run, you alienate everyone that you leave behind, but find personal happiness. If— if you stay and lead, you eventually lead them down a path of disintegration…"

"Why unexpected?" There's bitterness in the self-depricating humor that knits at Deckard's brow and squints at his eyes once he's had a chance to turn all this over like a big lead-filled pancake. "'Sounds just like me." What, with all the screwing up and resigned isolation and cowardice filling in the vacuum where leadership skills might normally go.

He's quiet again, stripped back down to hollow jaw and eyes that are still just a little too rapt on Hokuto's face when he sinks deeper into his chair. It's an uncomfortable while before he looks away to the door Abby vanished into, the rise and fall of his chest metered slow in the dragging span from one fractured sliver of conversation to the next. "I'm sorry I got angry."

There's a rapid shake of Hokuto's head from side to side, "It— it's alright." Her tone of voice clearly indicates it's not, but she seems to be like Abby in that regard in swallowing her own distaste and pride at the most obvious times. "It wasn't a good reading, I'm— Abigail should have backhanded me for the one I gave her, but I'm happy she restrained herself." There's tenson at the corners of Hokuto's eyes, creases that make her actual age more appearant rather than the youthfulness she seems to so often show.

"You've every right to be angry, I— I shouldn't have asked Abby to have you come here if you didn't feel up to it." Closing her eyes and shaking her head slightly, Hokuto rises up from her seat, arms folded across her chest and head down, teeth dragging at her lower lip. "She told me that you have the ability that she once did— that it belonged to a man named Francois, the same man I had a journal of. I— I thought there might have been a reason, that— that everything was happening because it was supposed to." Hokuto's dark brows furrow further, a resentful look in her eyes comes when she looks back up to Deckard, but the resentment is not for him— it's for her. "I should've known better."

Bullshit acceptance of apology is digested with tired acceptance in a tip of his brows for the fact that he probably doesn't qualify for sincerity in this context. He's tired all over, exaustion worn down through the core of him and bled black through his bones and all he's been doing is sitting. Sitting and listening and being a dick for no reason other than the one where he didn't want to come in the first place.

Reassurance is waved off half-heartedly — pretending warranting only a vague gesture that she shouldn't bother while he watches a moth buffer itself brainless off the dull globe of nearest yellow light. He's heard it out've Abby often enough to recognize the pattern. And the tone.

"I don't think Francois knew what he was doing either."

"He knew enough to pass it off when something was wrong" Comes from the door, fingers wound through the handles of the mugs in one hand, a container of sugar and a spoon in the other. "One could question that he passed it on to a five year old instead of her parents" In the shadows of the doorway, Abigail's making her presence known finally, if it wasn't guessed at before. "Maybe he did know. Thats why I want to ask Eileen and Gabriel for a copy of the journal. I want to know more about what I lost, what you've gained. Maybe he'll have insight on how to give it back. he gave it voluntarily, surely you can give it voluntarily back to me, what was taken"

A brief startle jostles through Hokutoat Abby's sudden appearance thorugh the door, her eyes sweeping over to the blonde, then down to her feet as she sweeps up the cards on the table into a stack, and piles them together before adding them back to the deck. "I'm… still not sure how what you say happened, happened, or— or how an ability can be willingly passed from one person to another. It… it doesn't make sense." Squinting slightly, Hokuto keeps staring down at her feet, bare toes squirming against the pavement before dark eyes finally alight back to Abby.

"You don't have to worry about payment for this reading, I— wanted to do it myself anyway. The ah— " she nods her head towards Abby, "keep the French book until you're done with it. But— if Flint speaks French I doubt there's much need for it. Though— just return it whenever you're sure you won't need it again. I— I'm not really running short on stock of linguistics books."

Abby's reappearance is greeted with silence that borders on sullen. It's a theme that carries uncomfortably over through the entire course of their exchange on the subject of Francois and the ability and Eileen and Gabriel. …And the journal. He's also fallen back into not looking at either of them, collar and lapels tugged into lazy order once he's pushed himself to his feet and glanced over his shoulder after the alleyway as if he'd rather not even walk back through the shop again. "I don't speak French."

"I'll bring it back. Soon as I can get a hold of the other and get someone to translate it" Abby will take Flints word that he can't speak french because she's never really heard him speak anything other than english and drunkenese. Or the word 'okay'. The mugs are set down carefully beside the book, followed by the sugar with barely a sound to leave evidence that she put them down. "we should go. Flint probably has things to do and I need to get back to the bar before curfew and I start my class tomorrow so.." The book is taken carefully with one hand and her hand thrust out towards Hokuto with the other. "Thank you, for your time. For staying late. I really appreciate it"

Hokuto's eyes wander to the three mugs, each one steaming in a slightly different way under the yellow light in the back lot. Frowning, Hokuto nods her head and looks up to Deckard, brows furrowed. Something goes unsaid, and from the look in her eyes something best left unsaid. She nods, distractedly, reaching down to pick up the teacup in one hand, fingers cradled around the mouth of the glass. The steam moistens the palm of her hand, heat warms it, but it doesn't go further than that; her expression remains unfortunately cold.

"I'll be here," she says quietly, looking up to Abby, but not over to Deckard. "I don't rightly have anywhere else to be."

Deckard stands by in glowery silence and lets Abby do the shaking and thanking, about as graceful and grateful as a mutt that's been dragged in for a vet checkup and thermometer raping against its will and would just as soon be on the way out. At least he hasn't taken too big of a poop on the floor.

"You're always welcome at my bar" Abigail points out, however fruitless it may be. "God bless Hokuto. Thank you. Really" The cross bearing blonde turns away then, a guilty look to Deckard and a gesture to the alleyway exit. She can read him, somewhat and can see that he doesn't want to go through the store.

If Hokuto thought that this was uncomfortable,s he wasn't going to have to sit in the car and drive home with Flint beside her in his current state.

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