Cups And Consequences


elisabeth_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Cups and Consequences
Synopsis A tarot reading… and insight.
Date Oct 10, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

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

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

It's been … something of a rough couple of weeks. Regaining her partner and others, realizing who Phoenix was holding, dealing with her boogeyman face to face… having additional nightmares now with a face attached. The collapse of the Municipal Building and the attendant flashbacks to 9/11. Elisabeth's sleep has been uneasy at best and downright nonexistant after the night of the shooting. Or at least… she's getting enough not to be hallucinating, but not enough to actually look rested. Still, she has a job and obligations to meet. One of those is to come see the woman who has given her at least some measure of peace. Elisabeth knocks on the store's door, wary to find the thing open. "Hokuto," she calls as she steps in, her hand warily resting on the butt of her pistol just in case something's gone wrong. "Hokuto, are you in here?"

Perhaps disconcerting is the way the shop's door just creaks open after the knock, the way the empty front of the store seems to indicate a lack of presence of the owner. Cardboard boxes stacked with a surplus of old and new booxs are piled up near the entrance, another laid on the counter. There, where Hokuto would normally be basking in the sun, a slightly overweight, short-haired white housecat lounges lazily in that warm afternoon light, two dark spots above his closed eyes looking like big bushy eyebrows.

The store is quiet, though, and the tall bookshelves packed with the distinctive scent of old paper tell no secrets that their pages do not otherwise. It's only after a moment that a distant click, a clunk, and a shrill whistle is heard from the back of the shop — the sound of a teapot heated up. "Just a moment!" Comes the sing-song tone of voice from the back, a familiar chirping tone that belongs to the quirky bookseller.

There is a sense of relief to hear that cheery tone, Elisabeth's wariness easing to a more usual type of caution. She closes the door tightly so the cat cannot escape, and she calls through the store without raising her voice an iota, "It's Elisabeth Harrison. Take your time." Her ability lets the words merely carry and Liz takes the time to look at the books on the nearest shelf while she waits.

If there's one thing Hokuto Ichihara is guilty of, it's taking her time. Turtles are known to be less ponderous on a lazy afternoon than her, but the wait between Elisabeth's words and the eventual emergence of the dark-haired fortune-teller isn't a particularly long one. As she saunters out from between two bookshelves, her hands are laden with a pair of small, white-ceramic teacups, both steaming. "I took the initiative to pour you a cup as well rather than ask," she notes with brows raised and a chipper smile.

"It's so good to see you around here, Elisabeth. After everything that's happened here in the last few days, I was worried my visitors would just drop off." The cat begins to lift its head up off of the counter, languidly watching Hokuto with half-lidded eyes and a flicking tail. "It's good to know the inverse is actually true, though— one of my workers hasn't come back since the damage was done ot the Suresh center. I guess he's volunteering there to help with the repairs…" One cup of ginseng tea is offers out wordlessly, only a smile accompanying it. "What brings you by?"

As she turns to face the woman, Elisabeth's smile is sincere if weary. "Thank you. Tea is most welcome," she admits as she moves forward to meet Hokuto halfway and take the cup. "I … should have come in person, to say thank you, long before now. What you did… helps. Some, at least. I appreciate it." She grimaces at the mention of the Suresh Center, though, something dark crossing her face before being quickly hidden. She confesses quietly, "Richard sent me. He said you wanted to see me."

"Oh, yes. The love-bird," Hokuto's tone of voice is remarkably teasing, Cheshire smile hidden behind her teacup as she warms chilly hands arond the small white glass. "I thought it might do you some good, to do some less metaphysical soul-searching. I know most people don't entirely believe in the tarot, and to be honest I'm not a believer either, but I realize their benefit as a psychological aid for…" she lingers on the proper word, considering it carefully as her eyes alight to the ceiling, "clearing the clutter." Which is something this shop could use. Whoever's currently not coming in, was obviously the person who was the organized one.

"Come on, my cards are out back. We can enjoy the fall air and I can give you a reading that— " she cracks a less genuine smile, "— well hopefully it'll be a bit less ominous than Richard's, yeah?"

There's a tilt of her head, and Elisabeth listens carefully as she sips the tea, neither comfirming nor rising to the 'lovebird' bait. What she does latch onto as she follows the smaller woman is the last. "You read tarot cards for Richard? And they were bad?" She frowns visibly. He didn't tell her that… and she's not sure how to take it, either. She doesn't really believe in tarot cards, but then again…. freakin' people seeing the FUTURE is more rational? Really? As she steps out onto the back porch with Hokuto, Elisabeth asks warily, "Why would you want to read cards for me?"

With her back turning to Elisabeth as she moves between bookshelves, Hokuto hides her grimace from view. "Oh ah— well— the reading wasn't entirely bad. It just— " she ducks her head down and pauses in mid-stride, turning to regard Liz over her shoulder, "it could have been better?" Dark brows lift in a plaintive expression, grimace-come-smile widening some.

But as she turns back around and starts to make her way for the rear of the store, the topic shifts gears. "I wanted to do a reading for you, as a means of helping you sort things out in your head. I'm sure you have a lot on your mind, and while the cards are just cards, they can often help you sort things you've internalized. Maybe make you think of something you normally wouldn't have. It's— kind of like a deductive exercise."

Elisabeth pushes her lower lip out in a thoughtful moue of 'eh, okay' and then grins. "What the hell?" she asks mildly. "The worst they can tell me is that I'm screwed eighteen ways from Sunday and I'm gonna die tomorrow," she comments wryly, unknowingly echoing perhaps someone else's sentiments on the matter as well. "And hey if it all comes up sunshine and roses, it'll give me something to be grateful for, yeah?" She seems amenable to the idea.

Leading Elisabeth out thorugh the crowded back storage room of the bookstore, the boxes and shelves full of older and more damaged books are staggering. There are so much volume of books not for sale that are just kept here, old stacks of newspapers dating back to the sixties, it's like a packrat's museum. Opening a steel door on the back of the shop, Hokuto leads the way out into a secluded lot behind not only her store, but other businesses adjacent. The lot's only outlet is a narrow alley just wide enough for a single vehicle, and the crawling ivy growing up the brick walls and iron fire escapes and ladders makes the place seem like something out of a story book.

Iron garden furniture rests near the bookstore's back door beneath a fire escape, where a deck of cards lays in its box, along with a single empty teacup and black iron chairs with wrought floral designs in the ironwork.

"I'm surprised you have time off…" Hokuto admits on her way over to the table, pulling out one of the chairs by the back, legs scraping on the asphalt under foot. "There's… ther'es a lot of terrible things happening these last few days, and I imagine it's hard enough without all of that tragedy for an officer— " she cuts herself off and grimaces, "sorry, Detective."

There's a grimace in return. "I don't have much time," Elisabeth admits quietly. "We're supposed to work twelve or sixteen on, eight to twelve off to get some sleep…. the realities of having people trapped, though, mean that eight hours is a luxury. I caught… about four hours sleep and I was on my way back. Sort of felt…. " Compelled. She shrugs a little. "I don't know. Maybe I was just trying to avoid going back." She moves to sit in one of the chairs, the smile lighting her features. "Thanks to you, I at least get sleep when I close my eyes. It's more than most of my comrades, I think." The sanctuary has proven useful to keep at bay many bad things, not just her torture…. but the killing of the man known as Doug and now the horror of digging people out of a collapsed building too.

There's a disquieted look on Hokuto's face as she slowly nods her head, settled down on the chair as she reaches for that deck of cards, just rolling the box around in her hands as she stares at the empty teacup. "I've been having troubling sleeping, actually…" the dark circled under her eyes, more evident in the natural light out here, are proof of that. "Whenever there's tragedy like this… the— people's dreams are more disturbed. It's like…" biting down on her lower lip, Hokuto looks up towards Elisabeth with a weak smile.

"You ever walk into a room where people just had an argument, and you can feel the tension in the air? I guess it's kind of like that… and if my mind wanders when I sleep, I see, you know… everything people are afraid of." As she slides the cards out of the box, her next words couldn't be any truer. "There's a lot to be afraid of these days."

"I'm sorry," Elisabeth says quietly to the information that Hokuto is having trouble sleeping. Uncertain how the woman's power works exactly, she says quietly, "If the help you offered me is contributing to that… please, feel free to withdraw it. I don't want to be the cause of nightmares for you, Hokuto." She is sincerely worried that this woman has somehow taken on Elisabeth's burdens somehow, and she doesn't like the thought. "I'm sorry it's so stressful." It's .. perhaps a little lame, but it's all she can say.

"Oh no— no, no it's nothing quite like that." QUick to dismiss that notion, Hokuto waves one hand in the air and ducks her head down, brows furrowed together and eyes averted to her lap. "It's just— When I sleep, my mind just drifts on its own. I don't have dreams of my own anymore, I haven't since I was probably twelve." A quiet smile is afforded to Liz, "Instead, I just dream what other people are dreaming. Sometimes here, sometimes as far away as another country. The further away, the less sleep I get because I'm spreading myself so thin…" The slow shuffle of the cards comes at a pace indicating Hokuto would rather keep the conversation going as long as she can, as if she needs the company.

"When things are like they are now, people get afraid. I have to feel what tey're fearing and… I guess it's like going to sleep in a crowded room. Lots of different people having their own conversations, it's hard to really rest. So I've taken to sleeping during the day, when theres less people in the city who're asleep. That and… I've been having some other trouble for a couple of days now."

Ah! Now that analogy Elisabeth seems to understand quite well. She tilts her head to the 'other trouble,' though, and asks quietly, "Anything I can help with?" She sips from her tea, watching the other woman thoughtfully.

"Just the conversation, really… Outside of that probably not." The cards are shuffled just a few slides more, and then laid out on the table, Hokuto's hand still resting atop the stack. "A girl came to visit me a few days ago, she has this… ability, it lets her— I think— amplify or distort abilities of others. She either intentionally or accidentially used it on me, and I was able to see dreams when I was awake. It was strange, like… taking off a blindfold and seeing the world in all its ugly colors for the first time." The deck is pushed towards Liz without instruction.

"I saw something, when Gillian did that." A slip of the name, "another dreak walker, like myself. But there was something… it was not good. It was like, he was feeding off of all of the fear, and sadness, and horror that everyone was experiencing, exacerbating the problem, stirring up their minds. I have not been able to see him since, and I have worry that he's still out there."

Dark brows crease together, and Hokuto nods to Liz. "Take the cards, shuffle them however feels natural to you. When you're done, hand them back to me."

A frown pulls Elisabeth's brows down. "I know Gillian." Liz killed a version of her accidently when she amplified the sound powers. "I don't like the thought of what you saw, though." She purses her lips and has to wonder…. there've been rumblings about The 36 and an Evo for months… is it even possible…? She shoves that thought away, and leans forward to cut the deck into three stacks, reforming them into one with a quick movement and handing them back to Hokuto. There is a kind of apprehension in her blue eyes right now.

"Have you done this before?" Hokuto asks quietly, bringing the deck back, "get a reading, I mean." Laying the deck down on the table top, her dark eyes slip up and down the detective as her expression becomes a touch less serious than earlier. "Oh and— I've been trying to get people to pose questions about what they might hope to learn with the reading. I used to do blind ones, but more often than not they were a little too… ambiguous." Abby's reading in particular, was something of a nightmare overall.

"No, actually… never really had the desire." Elisabeth hesitates and then asks, "Do I need to tell you the question?" She hasn't had much time to consider one. "And should it be like… a yes or no thing, or….?"

"It'd help if you do, or you can keep it to yourself. Depending on what you ask, I'll choose a different spread for the cards so that the answer you get is a bit more condusive to the question. But, if you'd rather keep it to yourself and see where the cards might lay, I can do something a bit more general and you can see if this is all a trick or not." Dark brows come up and Hokuto flashes a lopsided smile.

"Though, if you do get your cards read by someone else, they might not read them quite like I do. I've heard I read some cards a little differently, but I only know how my mother taught me, so— it's sort've like having a unique style to any artform, I guess." A coy smile comes with that sentiment, and Hokuto's head quirks to the side, waiting for Elisabeth's verdict.

There's a long pause as Elisabeth says quietly, "The questions I have are all pretty vague anyway." Her lips press together, her expression apprehensive. "My world's something of a minefield right now. And I had… the chance to take action against the man who was… my tormenter. I couldn't take it. I guess I wonder if I'm going to be a liability to this work that needs doing… and whether I have to give up everything to help it come out right in the end."

There's a nod of understanding as Hokuto tips her head down into a nod, "Justice is always a difficult thing to be meted out by your own hand," she says as if reciting it from a book, "but I think I understand the jist of what you want to know enough. Considering the personal and emotional nature of the question, contrasting with the practical need of her work life, Hokuto begins laying out a five-card spread on the table.

"What this spread here is for, is determining your motivations and reasonings behind— pretty much everything you're doing right now. I'm… not really saying the cards know, but by looking at what comes up, you might see signs of things you may have overlooked otherwise." A faint smile creeps across Hokuto's lips as she lays one card down at the center of the table, then another above it, but off center, then one below it, also off center but to a different side. "This should help you sort out your head, and see if what you've been through really is going to cause trouble, and maybe how to correct it." Two more cards, to the right and left of the center, these as well laid askew.

"The first card's your motivating force at the moment. It represents your current drive, inspiration… whether it's a person or otherwise." White painted nails slide under the card and turn it over, revealing the image of a young man in foppish clothing holding up a chalice in one hand, ocean waves and beach sand are behind him. Printed at the bottom of the card is Page of Cups.

"Well, I think I know what this represents." Hokuto notes with a cheerful tone of voice, dark brows rising and teeth toying at her lower lip. "The page of cups, here at the center of all of your work, represents an exciting new relationship. Typically, and I'm pretty sure in this case, it represents a romantic relationship with someone that inspires and invigorates you, makes you feel younger than you have felt before. The card shows a gentle, romantic soul and that you're trying to reflect on your own feelings of love and spirituality as of late." With a crooked smile, Hokuto adds, "it… also at times can mean there's a baby on the way."

There's a snort of laughter as Hokuto tells her there's a relationship at the center of her issues. "I'd say that's accurate enough," she comments mildly, her lips twisting in a rueful expression. Although the last bit of information makes her blanch. Good Lord. "What?" Erk!

Grimacing and letting out a little awkward laughter, Hokuto ducks her head and quickly reaches for the card above the one she just read. "M— Moving on," her fingertips tap down on the uppermost card as her teeth play with her lower lip and eyes stay averted from Liz's. Sometimes, not knowing is better, and in the case of a potential spawn of Cardinal that may be best. "Ah— this— ah, card," she clears her throat, "…is your subconscious. It's what your mind is making you do, without you really being entirely aware of it. Or, perhaps you are aware but you've been in denial about it because it makes your life easier. Either way, it's an important facet of what you're doing now, and what might continue to go on in your life in the future."

Turning over the card, Hokuto hesitates anxiously when she sees the particular major arcana that appears. It is a wizened old man with a long beard, holding up a lantern in one hand with brow furrowed. But this particular card, number nine in the arcana, is inverted. "The… ah, the Hermit, inverted." In a way, this makes too much sense. "You're hiding yourself away from people based on fear, you're letting it rule and ruin your life all in one swift motion." Biting down gently on her lower lip, Hokuto shifts her weight in the chair. "You're locked up in this self-imposed isolation from friends and loved ones, you're listening to the wrong advice and ignoring the good. You're not being true to yourself, and that's hurting you more than anything else right now."

There's a very long silence. Elisabeth looks…. stunned is a good word. Puzzled. Almost … afraid. "Not sure I know what true to myself looks like anymore," Elisabeth admits. But she nods toward the rest of the spread, a silent indicator to go ahead.

Swallowing awkwardly, Hokuto offers a hesitant smile. "Sometimes I ask myself that same question." There's a wry cast to the expression when she looks up to meet Liz's stare. "If I figure out a good answer, I'll be sure to let you know." Quirking her head to the side after eyeing the Hermit one last time, Hokuto shakes her head and presses her fingers down on the next card with a double tap. "This card represents your emotional state. Different from your imaginative process and what your subconscious is telling you." Her eyes lid halfway, regarding the back of the card through her lashes. "This card represents what you're feeling, possibly also what you're feeling and refuse to acknowledge, about the subject of the first card." She motions to the page of cups, then reaches down to flip over the new card.

The image on the card is inverted, just like the Hermit, depicting a man in a long cape holding a tall walking staff, with another planted in the ground behind him. In his hand, he holes a globe. "The two of wands, it's… a particularly evocative card, especially when inverted." Hokuto's brows furrow together in a moment of tension as she considers the card, then looks up to Liz.

"This card shows that you're losing your willpower, you're letting yourself slide on things you normally would be adamant about. Issues of morality or— even just preference are failing, and you're not speaking your mind as much. Where you used to say I don't want to now you're more a sure whatever kind of person." There's an awkward smile at that, nervous in content. "You've been caught off guard, due to your inability to come to grips with the impact of past decisions you've made…" Swallowing noisily, Hokuto adds, "Your leadership skills are suffering because of that. You've had a loss of interest, clarity, and faith, and it's ruining your ability to be a leader when it's needed most."

A faint smile crosses her lips, and Elisabeth says neutrally, "I see." Whether she'll argue with herself over that or not remains to be seen. But she seems to be taking it calmly enough.

The next card her hand moves to is the leftmost, and as her fingers double-tap the back of the card, Hokuto offers a mild smile. "This card represents the opposite of the last, it shows your clear thoughts and actions. It's where your head wants to go, despite where your heart may be telling it to. It's a scientific look at what order your life is trying to arrange itself in."

Turning over the card, this one too is quite visibly inverted. The picture is an interesting one; a robed figure seated in a chair with a gold disc under each foot, pentacles inscribed on each disc, matching one held in his lap, and one upon his crown. "The Four of Pentacles, inverted." Her head dips into a nod, looking a little surprised to see that there.

"You're looking to use your power freely, the one thing you can truly call your own, and use it for your own enjoyment and the betterment of others, to make a difference." There's a happy smile, fleeting though, at that notion. "You're coming to grips with it's development, and your line of work is actively helping it come to fruition and become more profound. It's in your ability that you're finding your identity, something that clearly marks you as you." Considering the card, Hokuto adds a hesitant addendum. "At times, this card can also mean that you're trying to take a step back from larger affairs, let people make their own mistakes instead of holding their hand all the time."

A lot of thoughts pass through Elisabeth's head with that information. Considering the past week, it's ridiculously accurate as well, but then again…. tarot cards can be read a vaguely as necessary to fit any situation. And Hokuto knows more about Elisabeth than most. Still… it's enlightening. And in some ways reassuring. Pursing her lips thoughtfully, she merely says, "All right." And she leaves it at that.

"Lastly," Hokuto notes as she rests her fingers down on the right most card, "is the manifestation." Dark brows go up, and Hokuto's head quirks to the side. "Mind, body, subconsciousness, heart… all of these things influence the biggest and most prominent issue, how you use all of these influences. This card represents what you're doing to yourself and others, how you're projecting your happiness and sadness, and how you're letting it shape your life."

There's a nod of affirmation given to Liz, as Hokuto overturns the card and reveals yet another inverted card, though this one comes with far less positive connotations. It is the image of a classical knight on a white horse, sword raised to the chair in a charge. The upside-down text reads The Knight of Swords, and it's merely by seeing this that Hokuto's expression falters, and her smile fades.

Breathing out a sigh, she nods her head a few times, mostly to herself. "The Knight of Swords is a very specific card. It at its simplest represents a merciless and skillful warrior, someone who is unaffected by emotion or conscience. A nihilistic individual, a person that throws themselves at danger because they are not happy with themselves. You're becoming so consumed by your trauma, that you're building up that potential to become a violent and vindictive person, and you're struggling with day to day urges that you didn't have recently. You're bordering on becoming exactly the person that wronged you." And that last sentence right there, is clearly tailored to Elisabeth.

"You need to take a step back, think, and put your life back in order." Hokuto's dark eyes stay locked with Liz's, her teeth tugging gently down on her lower lip with a pensive silence. "Otherwise," she taps the card and looks down at it, "you're going to scare everyone that matters away from you."

She can't even speak aloud the lie that springs to her lips. Elisabeth wants to deny that — she wants to point to the actions that she's taken: not shooting Doug in cold blood, trying to keep the situation with Danko in the hands of the police instead of herself. And those are the right things to do, in her own mind, … but not because they're the right thing to do. Instead it's more because she's fighting the urge to handle it herself, and those actions are her way of trying to stop that from happening. "Funny," she says quietly, almost sadly, to Hokuto. "I was just mentioning to a certain little bird that … we needed to be very careful what choices we make soon, else we become the very monsters we're fighting. I didn't realize that I was the one sending us on that path." If you believe the cards, anyway.

Leaning back into her chair, Hokuto offers a mild smile and looks down at the whole of the cards again. "I… I can't say it was a clean reading, given how much I know about you, but the cards fell where they did, no matter what I might read into them, there's definitely a pattern that seems to relate to your life, and you know that my ability isn't sleight of hand." A crooked smile crosses her lips as she folds her arms across her chest, looking up as the last threads of light have faded from the evening sky, casting the back lot into the amber glow of the back light above the doorway they came out here from.

"What do you think?" She asks anxiously, "of all of that, I mean. Your reaction's been somewhat guarded so— I'm worried I might have crossed a line somewhere?"

Guarded. That's a good word for the way she's feeling about now. Elisabeth toys with the teacup and says quietly, "If I didn't want to know the answers your deck might give me, I guess I shouldn't have sat down." She smiles faintly. "I did say the worst that could happen was they'd tell me I'm screwed, right? Which I suppose they sort of did. But I guess I knew most of it already." There's a heavy sigh and her head falls back so she can look up at what few stars might be coming out in the light pollution above. "Can't say as I much like the perspective," she admits.

"So change it." Hokuto notes with a tilt of her head and a faint smile, reaching out to turn the hermit right-side up again. "Don't hide yourself away out of fear, make it a learning experience. Dig yourself in and figure out what's wrong with your life, and how to fix it." It's as simple as that, in her eyes, "you've only got so many years of your life to look forward to, Liz. You can't spend the best years of it living in fear or wondering when it's all going to end. What happens, happens, and the sooner you realize that and start meeting life head on instead of trying to sneak around behind it…" her smile grows a little, "I think the happier you'll wind up."

There's a soft laugh at that. "Little bit easier said than done," Elisabeth admits mildly, her tone far more casual than the emotions it hides. "The thing that's wrong with my life is that I was tortured and then killed by racist fucks…. and while I keep thinking to myself that I shouldn't be afraid of them anymore — after all, what the hell more can they do to me that I haven't already endured and somehow by the grace of God survived? — the truth of the matter is that it takes an act of unimaginable will just to get out of the bed every day and do the job, to not … lock the door and never come out again." She pauses and says quietly, "I didn't kill him. The opportunity was there… and I couldn't do it. In self defense or defense of others, sure. But not like that. Not while he was tied up and mostly helpless. And it was the right thing." She shoves a hand through her hair, and then moves to stand up, leaving the teacup on the table. "Thank you for the insight, though. I do appreciate that."

Breathing out a slow breath, Hokuto nods her head and looks up to Liz quietly. "Death is represented by change in the tarot for a reason, Elisabeth. Either proper change, or stagnation brought about by confrontation. You're inverting the death card right now, you're letting yourself just langour in this unfortunate headspace… Most people, when they die?" One dark brow rises slowly, "That's it. Depending on what you believe… at least. That's it here." She clarifies.

"You've been given a whole second life, a whole new start." Dark eyes show a hint of jealousy there, in that, but it's hidden quickly behind the veil of a smile. "What you do with that second lease on life is entirely up to you, but if you waste it?" Teeth press lightly on her lower lip and she shakes her head. "Think about what the people who can't come back would say."

"I'm letting myself…." Elisabeth bites off whatever she was going to say with visible effort. And with tangible effect, if you know what you're feeling. Few people even realize that the inaudible thrum of bass happens — it's less a sound than a compression of air. Gentle enough to do things like create waveforms in beach sand sometimes or ruffle stacks of paper a bit and not much more. White-hot rage sears her nerves, and Elisabeth forces herself to breathe through it — if only because if she looses her anger at Hokuto, the other woman might not come out of it all right. Bank it. Dampen it. Smother it. Again. "A whole new start seems like a wonderful thing, doesn't it?" she offers tightly. Too bad the cost is so very very high. She very very carefully sets the teacup down on the table, not allowing anything of her emotions to slip through. And she says quietly, "Thank you, Hokuto. For your help… and for your time and reading tonight. When things settle, I hope I'll run into you again soon." And then she moves toward the door, seeking escape as quickly as she can find it.

"Liz…" Hokuto's brows furrow, and she starts to get up from her seat, but it's an abortive motion. The sight of Harrison rushing towards the back door and through the storage room causes the fortune teller to slouch back down in her seat and rest her head in one hand. Fingers rub at her forehead, and Hokuto exhales a tired sigh as she stares down at the cards. "A whole new start…" she mumbles to herself, "sure does sound nice."

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