Cryptic Answers


lydia_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title Cryptic Answers
Synopsis Perry seeks answers and Lydia obliges, but it's far from directt.
Date September 25, 2010

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".

The coolness of fall has begun to breathe a slight nip in the air into New York evenings, this one bearing a particular chill with every gust of wind. The sun continues to sink in the sky, offering a colourful spectrum of light across Roosevelt Island.

Ichihara Bookstore is closed; the sign is turned, indicating as much, yet the lights within the store remain on and the door remains unbolted, technically open for anyone to walk in, even if the sign and store hours indicate otherwise.

Gabriel — of the cat variety — lounges in one of the few sun patches remaining in the store; he'd been chasing the sun all afternoon, longing to nap within it. His malcontent, remains, even with the ideal of the sunbeam, thriving in a slight twitch in his tail and the hissing he emits from passers-by. He's less than pleased with Lydia's lemon-water solution used to discipline him, even more so today as the discipline has been wholly ineffective, only making him angry.

The painted lady perches on a stool behind the counter, sipping from a large china teacup — presumably filled by a teapot also resting upon the counter. Curiously, a second cup and stool have been strategically placed opposite her. Her red halter and white skirt are somewhat light for the encroaching fall weather, but she hasn't yielded to the demands of the cold, allowing nothing more than her long straight sandy-coloured tresses to cover her shoulders and bare back.

There is some residual, deep grained hesitance that Perry feels about entering an establishment that is confirmably closed. Whatever else he may be, whatever else he may have done, there is a deep commitment to order that Perry has made. Stepping over such bounds, the bounds of private property, the bounds that dictate the means of production, its ebbs and flows, openings and closing ups… it takes a certain effort.

But he knows he's supposed to be here. Or, at least, that he has been asked. So he delays only briefly before pressing hand to handle, and pushing into the book store.

He's dressed like he's going to a job interview, in a button up shirt of white and dark slacks. He even has a tie on, dark red, and his brown belt matches the leather of his shoes. There is something a little off about his style, his thick rimmed glasses topping off the impression that this is not someone who has much of a sense of style. Lanky, slightly hunched, he advances into the lit interior of Ichihara with careful steps. Lydia sees him a moment before he sees her, and he actually starts a little, doing the briefest of double takes after his brown eyes cut across her. He pauses in place, like someone caught.

"L- uh… Lydia?" is the name he offers, like a secret password, to the woman behind the counter.

His entrance brings her to her feet although she makes no effort to step from behind the counter lest she scare him away. While he wouldn't have been able to pick her from a crowd, she recognizes him. There's an tight curl of lips, warm yet gentle in the smile they find when she finally chooses to walk around the counter. "I'm Lydia," the tone is rich, warm, and smooth without interruption or great inflections in her speech. The smile brightens while her head tilts towards the counter, silently ushering him inside. "Welcome, Pericles Jones." The richness in her voice and warmth in her countenance remain.

A single hand extends towards him, a gesture of good will, and an exploration for a touch-activated empath seeking initial surface impressions. Should he take the hand, it'll be squeezed by hers rather than shook, but then that's her modus operandi.

There's a softness in her eyes as she looks at him, the notion of growing the family (especially in times like these) too important to give into distrust.

Alienation is the modern condition, and Perry is not so impressionable as to take Lydia's warmth at face value. He, perhaps, ought to. But there is as much suspicion as their is expectation to be felt as Perry, after hesitating for just a moment, reaches out to take her hand. He was going to shake it, too, and the squeeze bewilders him, dark eyes blinking behind glasses that his free hand moves up to adjust, a pointless action, product of nervousness alone.

"Um… yes. Yes! A pleasure, uh, a pleasure to meet you," is his reply, marked by fits and starts that more or less exactly match the pattern of his anxiety, something one needn't have special gifts in order to pick up on. Lydia just gets a behind the scenes view instead of merely a front row seat. His hand retreats, escaping the contact and fleeing into his pocket, where it remains, recovering its composure.

"I'm… well, I'm here about what Samuel talked to me… about," Perry begins, the repetition in his words coming out all the more awkward for his recognizing its awkwardness, "about that man. Deckard."

"About Deckard," she hmmms quietly with the repetition before shifting back towards her perch behind the counter, each step weighty and purposeful in her movement. Lydia smoothes her skirt before sitting on her stool and sips at her tea before glancing at the seat across from her, meaning that he sit down.

She shoots him another warm smile and a tilt of her head. "Please. Sit," her hand is raised as she motions to the stool across the counter. "Tea?" her own teacup is lowered as her hand grasps the pot.

"Did you have a specific question, Pericles? Or…" she shakes her head slightly. "Don't tell me." She lowers the teapot to the counter before pulling a deck of cards from beside the register. "Have you ever had a Tarot reading?"

Perry approaches his appointed place with only slight delay. Reaching for one's destiny is, after all, the duty of one who wishes to really Be, instead of merely existing. And he's taken to understand there are forces at work here. Still, he can't help but feel a little off kilter. Of course she was ready for him but… tea?

He takes his seat and touches his fingertips to the rum of his cup, glancing down into the pale curve of its emptiness before looking back up at Lydia. He nods. "Yes," he says, then, "tea, I mean. Cards? No. No, I haven't." There is an impulse, uncouth and purposeless, to add that he hasn't because he doesn't hold with irrationalities. But that would not only be rude, it would be stupid. He doesn't even know what this woman can do. And he knows that she can do something.

Her slender fingers grasp the teapot again and she pours hot tea into his cup. Lydia's smile remains as her gaze focuses on what she's doing. The teapot is replaced on the counter and Lydia unfolds the deck of cards from her favourite shawl (which is regarded as something near-sacred). Her lips tighten into a small smile as she shuffles the cards, "Tarot gives wisdom for the present. It's about understanding yourself in the now and how one should proceed to reach where they want to be in the future."

There's a small pause as her dark eyes seek his. "I realize… not everyone puts weight in such things, but my readings tend to be… particularly accurate." She passes the deck over to Perry, "Please cut the deck and think about the question you have."

That slight pause, the words 'particularly accurate'. Perry imagines he knows the significance in them. In his reasoning, influenced by numerous operations performed with fellow Evolved in which each ability is taken into consideration as a resource, the unity of time travel and enhanced divination seems, in retrospect, obvious. A precog, or postcog, or some mix of the two - that's his guess. Not spoken out loud, simply assumed. However inaccurate, it does lend him confidence in the process.

He reaches out, holds his hand above the deck. It hovers, as he checks and rechecks his question, performing a quick dialectic in his head. And then he cuts the cards. His question, carefully phrased, is held in his mind.

The cards are taken again and laid face-down (showing the broken helix printed on the back of the deck) in the basic five card layout Lydia relies on so often — forming a kind of cross shape along the counter. "The first card, the present card, tells us the general theme of this reading." Her lips press together involuntarily as she turns it over with her red fingernails carefully. The Hierophant. Her lips quirk into an odd smile. "You're looking to identify with someone; seeking a commitment to a cause or perhaps a team. You seek loyalty and falling into a kind of order with others. And perhaps this isn't a conscious desire, but it's certainly there." Her eyes flit up to meet his, quietly waiting for some outward reaction.

Perry seems to be intently examining the card Lydia has just turned over. The small, black eyes of the red-robed Hierophant, a custos sanctorum with hand upraised and scepter leaning in the crook of his arm, seem to look at anything but Perry, frustratingly gazing into a space the young man cannot catch a glimpse of.

Lydia's words take a moment to sink in, making him more conscious of the fact that she is the one to tell him its significance, not the card. That the magic, so to speak, insofar as he believes it is real, must reside in her. The cards are just a prop, a crutch, a talisman at best. The power is wholly Lydia's.

He barely reacts at all. Simply nods. "I'm trying to lead an ethical life. That means loyalty, means a cause. Means others, of like capacity. Fellow birds of prey," only when he says this does he catch himself for sounding weird/crazy, "um… so to speak. Sorry. Just from something I read sometimes."

"It's imperative to have others of like capacity to find life fulfilling or to find some semblance of fulfillment," Lydia agrees. If she finds him crazy, then it's nearly impossible to tell. In fact, her features remain entirely neutral, perhaps even peaceful as she returns to the reading, her gaze turning downwards.

The second card is then regarded. "This card represents your past influences." Her lips press together as her fingers edge it. Seven of Cups. Her dark eyes flit back to look at him, "You covered your tracks and almost had an aloofness about you — remaining as more of a lone wolf and perhaps holding people at arms length in an odd kind of distrust. But as you said birds or prey need to stay together."

"I'm not a people person," Perry says, a little too suddenly to not come off as just slightly defensive. "And, while I try and always be respectful - to respect… custom… I…" he stops, looking slightly flustered, glancing off to one side, fiddling with his glasses, again, pointlessly, "everyone getting along isn't what's important. Forging a common cause… that's meaningful. Loyalty to a universal leading to loyalty to each other. Not loyalty itself as a universal."

"You've struggled to find that niche, that common cause and people that care about it as much as you do," Lydia observes quietly as her dark eyes gaze unyielding at him. Her head tilts slightly, leaving her chin slightly askew — slanted to her frame. Her fingers linger on the card before advancing further, turning the next. Justice. "This is the future card. You've always been a responsible person, but finally you're preparing for true justice, a kind of cause and effect of your actions. You've weighed the issue and found means to complete the task at hand."

The next card is then turned over, Judgement. "This is the reason for the question you asked the cards. You're looking for your call and your true vocation and for a sense of inner conviction. In that you're seeking absolution and an unburdening for whatever is to come and whatever has happened in the past."

Perry's gaze back at the cards is suspicious. They had caused him embarrassment, and while he has no interest in casting dark glances at Lydia, the person who he should deem as responsible since the cards are not agents (this he is sure of), he can safely displace his resentment on the mute card stock and the images upon them. As Justice, ever blind, emerges, it feels like an apology from the cards, and one Perry is feeling generous enough to accept. The tension in his fades, his look softening back into neutrality. He takes his tea in hand, sips.

"No," he interjects, though this time without the same suddenness of reflex, "not absolution. I want to do nothing that I cannot fully accept as an authentic act. I don't want to be… unburdened. I want it to matter. I want it to serve a purpose. I want his life, in my taking it, to be of value. To Be, at all."

Wait. What? Killing people? Is that how the past is being changed? Lydia freezes momentarily, but her expression remains neutral thanks to her experience at keeping it that way, sometimes hiding behind lies is a survival skill. There's a slight narrowing of her eyes as she nods; it's a haphazard nod, a silent agreement with Perry's words. Her eyebrows quirk slightly and she forces a tight smile, "Of course you do. There's no point in completing something with no cause." Maybe this man was a murderer? Someone who would oppress the family later? Who is she to question? But still…

The smile tightens further, curling upwards as her fingers linger on the last card, "This is the potential in the situation should everything turn out well. Four of Pentacles. "Order. Control." Her dark eyes flit up to meet his. "There's certainly much to be gained from your question." The question she didn't know, but then her ability did its magic, seeking out the answer quite literally in the cards.

The nature of Perry's compunctions, the kind of person he might be, is difficult to discern from external cues. There is nothing about him to suggest ruthlessness or brutality. Nervousness. And youth. And uncertainty. No hollowness. But warmth doesn't exactly radiate from him either.

"Could the cards," he inquires, tone quite polite, "be more specific on whose order, and whose control?" The devil is, as always, in the details. And still in the deck.

"Change of some kind," it's a vague descriptor but Lydia can't really be much more specific. "I suspect yours, but the cards don't extend that way. Generally a reading stays personal. I feel like your life is going to be more ordered if things turn out the way they should. And not in a negative way as some might read. With the future card and the potential card taken together, it seems likely that order will happen in the best way possible as both Justice and order will be met."

Convinced that this is the end of the reading, Lydia slides the cards together into the deck again.

"All right," Perry says, giving a single nod of assent, seeming to think of the reading as over as well. What he has heard seems to have steadied him. He has ceased sipping from his teacup, hands leaving the porcelain entirely, coming to rest on the table in front of him. "Was that my only question? As you can imagine, there is a lot more I'd like to know about though I don't know that…" he gestures at the cards, not finding a word to use that might not be read as dismissive, "this means of knowledge gathering may not be specific enough for. Whens and wheres and hows. And, to some extent, whats. I can't imagine that shifting the course of history is minor work, however small the correction of course."

"You're welcome to more questions," Lydia replies smoothly with a slight tilt of her head. "Come again. I'm more than willing to indulge you. The cards are the medium, I'm just a vessel. And it's my pleasure to share what I can of my gift." And there certainly are other ways to get more specific answers, but that involves wielding ink and watching for pictures, the specialty of a mutual acquaintance. "Shifting the course of history involves small nudgings large in their effects. Consult with Samuel. He's particularly good at eliciting specific answers."

Perry's lips purse for a moment, hands slipping back to the teacup. Whatever she has said, it has unsettled him. Not the latter part, not the part about Samuel. This gets a small nod if no response. He's looking down into his tea again, the slight motions of his fingers stirring the surface of the water.

"I… uh… I won't keep you. But I will be back. There is something I… rather badly need to know," Perry says, frowning into his tea, "personal. But relevant." He starts to get up, "Thank you. I am… well… it's an honor to see you use your gift. And to benefit from it. I hope, maybe, somehow I will be able to repay that honor."

Perry is issued one last smile, certainly softer than before — the words of thanks aren't lost on Lydia. "Of course. Come again, and ask what you need. It's a pleasure and an honour to help any way that I can." And to Lydia, there's more involved, that's what a person does for family; offer whatever gift they can. "Take care of yourself," she instructs quietly before tacking on, "And I look forward to our next meeting."

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