Dream Scar


delia2_icon.gif s_hokuto_icon.gif ryans2_icon.gif

Scene Title Dream Scar
Synopsis Delia finds herself in her father's dreams and meets a woman thought dead. She also learns one her father's deeply kept secrets.
Date August 13, 2010

The Ryans' House

«…and today on Today, we have with us Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee who has officially joined the running for the Presidential election in 2008.»

From the sofa, the sounds of the television is soft, as is the sound of rain outside in the lightly clouded skies. Light spills in thorugh large bay windows into the white-painted living room that Delia Ryans knows as her home. Blurry vision focuses slowly as tired eyes open, squared on not the television, but the panoramic view of the New York City skyline beyond the rain spotted glass.

«But first let's go over to Ann Curry with world headlines, Anne?»

Red hair bound back in a messy bun behind the young girl's head keeps hair out of her face. From where she lays on the sofa, the clock above the television clearly shows just after seven in the morning, the sky hasn't yet fully lit up from morning sunlight, and with the cloud cover as oppressive as it is, likely won't.

«Thanks Matt. It has been a tragic day for the American soldiers positioned overseas in Afghanistan by what is being called the deadliest attack by militants on the army since it began operations against pro-Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters close to the Afghan border.»

The dark silhouette in front of the tall and wide windows that show the skyline is familiar to Delia. Silhouette by the gray skies and the distant view of Manhattan, her father's broad-shouldered frame isn't hard to recognize. Staring out over the city ahead of him though, Ryans is the first to realize that something in the world he's watching isn't right. The Devil, as they say, is in the details when it comes to manipulating someone's memories or perceptions. Stray too far away from the percepted normal and the illusion begins to crumble. That Midtown Manhattan is not a smoking crater, means that something has strayed.

«It happened in the town of Dargai in North West Frontier Province, not far from where the army said it killed some 80 militants last week.»

In that moment of confusion, watching the city beyond, Benjamin Ryans is aware of many things wrong with his abrupt perception of reality. A lacking perception of how he got here in his home, standing in front of this window and looking out over the city. The news on the television that he can hear, too, is out of synch with what he knows as the current date, not the time he is being shown.

«The BBC's M Ilyas Khan says Wednesday's attack could undermine recent agreements between the military and pro-Taleban militants in other border areas.»

Delia can only see a ghostly image of her father's reflection in the glass, not quite enough to realize that he looks puzzled, and her perceptions of the skyline beyond haven't yet made the connection of Midtown still being there. To her, it's just an ordinarily lazy morning at the Ryans household and she chose to sleep on the couch the mornign prior.

That the date on the television says November 8, 2006 is something she'll have to notice all on her own.

The artist painting this picture isn't going to give that away to her for free.

Delia stares at the television, not exactly enraptured with the news broadcast as one might hope. She's idly watching it between filing her nails, the name of the candidate elicits a smirk as she mouths the name 'Huckabee' and then she turns to her father and gives him an easy going grin. "Hey dad, wouldn't be hilarious if his running mate was named Tom? Then their bumper stickers would be Tom and Huck."

The thought amuses her much more than it should. Slowly, her head tilts to the side and she looks at the clock and the date on the television. "Oh crap! I'm going to be late for school!" Leaping off the couch, she races to the bannister on the stairs and then pauses for a moment, "Hey Dad, can you tell mom that I need those jea— "

It's like deja vu all over again. A puzzled expression forms on her face and she eyes her father for a long while before taking a breath. "Dad… aren't you supposed to be in Seattle or something?" There's something really not right here. She just can't put her finger on it.

"I'm… suppose to be, yes." Benjamin Ryans murmurs softly, he turns his head her way, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye. Finally, he turns around to look at the girl at the stairs. Wearing something he normally wore when home. An old worn gray sweat shirt, a pair of equally worn jeans and tennis shoes. He looks confused, brows furrowed with it. "I was… readying a prisoner for transport back to base."

He doesn't show it, but the old man doesn't like where he is. His head turns to face the window again and the scene of Midtown, he knows it's not real, but a part of him can't help but think, Mary is down there. His hand lifts to press to the window briefly, pain twisting at his chest. "This… this is where you were when it happened." Hand slides off the window, leaving a light smear of finger prints behind.

Turning back towards the young girl, Ryans sighs softly. "This is your nightmare, kiddo." Blue eyes lift to look around the room they stand in. This isn't his first Rodeo after all.

The realization hits a little too slowly for Delia, still fully immersed in the dream. "Prisoner, dad did you stay up late watching movies again?" The girl believes that her father's obsession with ancient war movies and others of that same ilk borders on the unhealthy. At least according to her tastes, war movies are great, as long as they're in real color and not technicolor. "Unless the paper company is taking their bad accounts to jail, heh heh."

Prisoner. Jail. Base. Nightmare. Delia's lips part a little and her face goes ashen, "Mom…" She's still not sure how it's happening but she grabs her coat and races toward the front door, throwing it open to reveal that skyline. "I gotta save Mom, I can stop it!"

Before Delia can get one foot out the door, Ryans steel grip snares an arm. "No!" It pains him to say that single word. His other arm coming around her waist to pull her back from the door. "It isn't real. It won't change anything, Lia." A foot moves to kick the door shut again. Dreams and nightmares can be nasty things, if not handled carefully.

"When you wake up, she'll still be gone." Ryans voice is hold a hint of emotion, it's not easy for him at all. "I know you want to go. I do too, but it won't go well." A part of him is railing against this decision, he wants to race out that door and find her. Die with her as he wished he could have for a long time after it happened.

"You should listen to him," echoes through the living room, a lilting voice with husky qualities that purrs from wall to wall. "Partly." Delia herself finds the voice unfamiliar, but to Benjamin Ryans, it is like being haunted by a ghost from his past. The source of the voice is only made obvious when the sound of bare feet scuff across the hardwood floor from the kitchen. Standing in the white arch doorway between the foyer of the house and the kitchen is a woman Ryans knows well; Well enough to know that she's dead.

Hokuto Ichihara is anachronistic in appearance in this dreamspace, wrapped in the ink black cloth of a traditional Japanese kimono bound across the waist by a snow white sash printed with the pattern of bare branches stretching like veins across one side of the white cloth. Her arms are folded inside of the voluminous sleeves, upon which white cherry blossoms are sewn in black cloth.

"You could save her," Hokuto implies with a quirk of black painted lips up into a rueful smile, "but when you woke up, it wouldn't matter." Behind a few errant locks of jet black hair, Hokuto's yellow-gold eyes square on Benjamin and his daughter, followed by a slow incline of her head.

"It's good to see you both again," Hokuto offers in a hushed tone of voice, and it's only on that notion of again that Delia recognizes her from family parties, the daughter of one of her father's work partners, Akado Ichihara. This is his little girl, all grown up.

Blinking rapidly, Delia tries to fish through every reason why she would be the recipient of this particular nightmare. Looking up at her father, she furrows her eyebrows a little then the looks back to the kimono wearing woman. "Hello," her voice sounds thick, like something is stuck inside of her. Clearing her throat, her blue eyes sweep over the lavish garment before resting on Hokuto's face.

There's about a million questions that Delia wants to ask, unfortunately none of them are forming properly. The only thing that comes out is a small croak of, "Why?" As far as Delia knew, she hadn't really done anything to this woman personally.

"Hokuto?" The name slips past Ryans' lips before he can stop from stating the obvious, releasing his daughter so he can turn and look at the dead woman. He watched her grow up, like most of the Company's children. He can't help but reach out and try to touch finger tips to the dead woman's cheek.

"Are you doing this? Or is this her?" There is some dread as he asks that question, cause deep down Ryans know the answer to that question. It's Delia. "Can't be you. Your… dead? I — Corbin said you had died… saw you die." He hated having to watch him tear himself up about it, too.

"I am," dead, Hokuto implies as she answers Ryans question, "but I'm here too. Knowing what you know about me, is it really that unusual to imagine, that even after death, there can be something? I dream, still, and so does she… from what I can tell. I found you," Hokuto addresses Delia directly, "because you're like I was. Young, afraid, powerful. I made mistakes in my youth, because of what I could do… and I'm here to explain that I'm not going to let the same thing happen to you. I won't let you become me." Or, in less kind terms, a monster.

"As for why this, why here? Ask the dreamer." Hokuto flatly states in a hushed tone of voice, threading pale fingers through her hair. When disturbed, her dark locks flow as though she were underwater, not standing in the room in plain view, "rather than the dream. This is your father's consciousness we're in." Those gold eyes track to Benjamin after that fact, one inky brow raised. "This is your subconscious and your guilt, all I did was…" there's a motion of one hand to Delia, "open a door for her."

When golden eyes track from Benjamin to Delia, there's a soft and worried tone to her expression. "I've felt you since before I died," Hokuto explains in a quiet tone of voice, "your wandering mind, so eager to explore the boundaries between minds. We aren't that much dissimilar," could be taken many ways, "but I'd like to offer you a chance to be different from me, make better choices."

A glare is pointed up at Benjamin when he makes his inquiry and Delia's lips press together in a thin, angry line. She shifts away from him, storming to the bannister to rest her hand on it. The familiar feel of the wood, the smell of the house, it's all too vivid to be just a dream. Behind the anger, its base, is the fear something Ryans might be able to recognize if he were paying attention.

When Hokuto gives her answer, telling them where they are, the redhead shifts her attention from him to her. "No, no, I'm not a freak. Don't you dare lump me in with the people that killed my M— " The hitch in her voice captures that last word, rendering it unusable. Her eyes narrow even more to glare between the two of them. "How do you know? How you know it's not him? If this is his head, why can't he be pulling me in?"

"Even with all my years of experience, somethings still seem rather… unreal." Benjamin says softly, brows tilting up as he studies the woman. When his blue eyes meet her yellow, her words strike a painful blow. She can see it in his eyes, the clench of his jaw, before he turns away from them both and moves back to the window and it's view.

While Hokuto addresses his daughter, Ryans lets his gaze fall on Midtown. Hands moves to rest on wall on each side of the window.

His guilt.

He knows there are truth in those words, he should have been home when it happened. Should have been one of the agents on the case, but he had been asked to go to Seattle. A heavy sigh escapes his nose, head dips forward to hang. So many should haves.

"So she is a dreamer." He and Huruma had come to the same conclusion. Hands curl in to fists against the wall. This fact complicated so much in his life right now. "Delia…" He turns his head, before the rest of his body follows. "Stop it!" The words hard and sharp with disapproval. "Not all of them are like him. Just like with people there are the good and the bad.

"Besides…" Ryans adds softly, turning his attention back to the skyline. "I tested negative." Having recently registered like he's suppose too.

Golden eyes are halfway close behind dark lashes, and Hokuto takes one softly scuffed step backwards from the warring family members. There's a pinch of her brows together, and when she regards Delia again it is thorugh the ragged fringe of her lashes, those golden irises the only color she carries in otherwise monochromatic fashion.

When Hokuto steps out of both Benjamin and Delia's periphery, the younger of the two hears a creak of footsteps at the top of the stairs, and there she stands in warding fashion, staring down from the top of a staircase that seems too many steps high, too narrow at the top and too surreal in architecture to be their home.

For the moment, Hokuto doesn't interrupt the father and daughter. She's brought them together, brought about this conflict, and while she has no intention of disrupting it once it's begun she also seems to have no intention of abandoning the fire she's ignited.

With a soft whump on the carpet, Delia falls to a seated position on the second to last stair on the steps. Her hands come up to hold her head above her knees as she takes a few ragged breaths. She hadn't registered like she was supposed to. The evidence of her greatest bout of denial is still stuffed into the drug store bag at the bottom of her closet. She's not one to face the truth easily, not this time.

"No, this isn't happening…" she mutters to herself, her hands pulling at her hair, then lightly slapping her face. When that doesn't work, she pinches herself to find that she's not waking up. The anger turns to despair in the blink of an eye and a pleading look is cast up at Ryans. "Daddy, make it stop. I don't want to do this anymore… It's going to wreck my life."

Turning her head, the same expression is given up to the dead woman at the top of the stairs. She takes a deep breath and holds it for longer than normal, uncertain of exactly what to do with it, with that woman. "How do I make it stop? How do I become normal again?" That begs the question if she was ever 'normal' to begin with.

Eyes close against his daughters words, how does he deal with this? He'd seen how they others did and it ended with children like Elle. "I think… if I had not worked for who I did." His words rumble softly, as he moves away from the window. "I would have probably seen things like you did."

He glances at the woman at the top of the stairs, before he grips the banister and moves to sit on the stair with his youngest daughter. "I hunted the worse of the evolved. Killers." His head turns a little to look at Hokuto again out of the corner of his eye, before turning them to his red headed girl.

"But my partners.. most of them were good people and everyone of them were special in someway." Leaning forward, he rests his elbows on his knees, hands lacing together. "My best friend — one of my partners and the one I was partnered with for sometime before he retired — was special." Ryans lets out another softer sigh. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. You or your sister wouldn't be here, if it wasn't for him." A smile pulls at the corner of his mouth. "He was a good man."

"I wanted to be a doctor…" Delia laments, her voice bordering on a simpering whine. "Who's going to want me to treat them now? They'll make me register and they'll put me in a cell to do a whole bunch of tests to make sure I'm not going to blow up… I'll fail… Then I'll be locked up… I'll only get to see you and Lu on Sundays for three hours… Then you'll stop visiting…" While not completely accurate, the picture in her own mind about her new fate isn't pretty.

Her shoulders slump even more as she breathes out all the last of her air. For a minute, maybe more, Delia remains silently staring at her socked feet. They were her favorite ones, the olive green ones with the little monkeys all over them. Wiggling her big toes, the little monkeys move, which brings a small semblance of a smile to her face. At least if she's going to be a freak, she'll be a freak with monkey socks.

"Lia… honey. It's won't be as bad as you think." Unless the Institute decides to steal her from him to make a point. Something he won't allow if he can help it. "You won't blow up. Your a dreamwalker, now… it can still be dangerous, but you won't blow up, so you won't be locked up."

He studies daughter with a soft smile on his lips, something only his family ever really gets to see. "Besides… you'll only become something bad, if you allow it. Being evolved doesn't stop you from your goals in life, not really. I know some people in the medical profession. One was even a doctor. You remember on the news? The healing doctor?"

Ryans turns a little to look at the woman at the top of the stairs, "And your not alone, trying to understand your ability on your own." He points out when he lets his gaze drift to his daughter again.

"Not every bomb explodes," comes from the top of the stairs, but soon the voice is closer, abruptly so, when Hokuto steps through the doorway from the kitchen and into Delia's field of view, "not every doctor works in a hospital," and with one raise of her brows she adds, "not every special person is on a list."

Unfolding her arms from inside of her sleeves, Hokuto is holding something in one hand, a small piece of white paper. As she crosses the foyer, passing Ryans with one pale hand briefly touching his shoulder, she comes up to Delia and crouches down on the stairs in front of her, putting herself on just a slightly lower level than the young woman, and about on an equal level with…

"Monkey socks," Hokuto affirms, gold eyes glancing down to the socks before looking up to Delia. "You aren't a bomb, you're a brush and a canvas, you're the paint and the ink and the paper and the world is your inspiration. Art can evoke emotions, and so can what you do. You can be a healer," Hokuto explains as she holds out the blank, rectangular piece of paper.

"The mind is equally a place in need of healing as the body," the dreamwalker explains, looking down to the offered card, then back up to Delia, "provided that the healer's mind is clear itself."

Delia's toes wiggle again, making the monkeys waver about like they're preforming a little dance. To her linear mind, Hokuto's words don't exactly make perfect sense, like a fortune cookie. Oddly appropriate considering the continent the woman is from. Slowly, she takes the offered card and glances at the front and then the back. She flips it around a few times, just to make sure she's not missing anything before quirking one eyebrow upward at the Asian woman. "Thanks? …I mean thanks," she stammers as she looks down at the card again.

She fixates on it for a little while, somewhat expecting something to happen. For the second time in Ben's guilty mind, Delia is disappointed. She gives a quick accusitory glance to her father, they are in his mind, after all. "If everyone has to register, how do I not get on a list?" The question is asked of both of them, evident by the shifting of her eyes from one face to the other. She pauses on Ryans' and grimaces a little, "I don't want everyone at work to know that I'm… " a freak.

The touch on his shoulder, Ryans doesn't say anything, moving away from the two woman so they can talk. Hands slip into the pockets of his jeans and his eyes fall on the scenery beyond the window, but he does listen. His head nods slowly as he listens to what Hokuto says.

"Think of what you can do?" His back stays to them, even as he talks, his whole form relaxed and thoughtful. "You spoke to a man who was in a coma. Think of the applications." He is if anything a practical man.

He goes silent again, lips pressed tightly together. How can he help her? How can he keep her safe from what is coming down the road?

"Not sure what to do."

The man that always has the answers, has none at the moment. His whole life has pretty much centered on policing the evolved, maintaining registrations. When had he fallen off the track?

Turning back to look over the house, brows furrow. "This isn't my guilt." He finally says softly, it's hard for him to admit, turning to the woman slowly. "I do feel guilty I wasn't here that day…" His words trail off softly, before he says. "But the guilt doesn't lie here." There is a saddness… a sorrow to the older man.

"It was the morning I left for Seattle… you were in school."

"Your father knows the answer to how to not be Registered," Hokuto opines where she crouches in front of Delia, one thin, black brow raised up in the air. "But he'll tell you when you need to know," Hokuto adds in a whisper, fading away fron in front of Delia like the literal Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland, becoming little more than gold eyes and a bright smile hovering disembodied in the air before fading away all together.

For the moment, it seems, Hokuto is letting the Ryans' resolve their issues.

A violent shudder courses the length of Delia's spine as Hokuto finally disappears by way of Wondermethod. Holding tightly to the blank card with one hand, she shakes out the last of the heebie jeebies. The whole place has a very eerie feel to it. Whoever wove it (Hokuto, Benjamin, or Delia) managed to get almost every detail exactly right.

The young woman directs a confused expression to her father. Her furrowed eyebrows, which have been rather angry as of late, only tighten as he speaks. "What did you do, Dad?" There's a certain defensive tone in her voice, she misses her mother too much to let a statement like that off the hook. "What did you do to Mom?"

There is a visible grimace from Ryans as his daughter's wording. It hurts, but he feels he deserves it. “It was only a few days before Midtown. I had to go to Seattle to hunt down a killer.” Ryans voice settles into an even tone, soothing and calm. It's the first time Delia's really seen pain in her father's eyes. “I'm not proud of this moment…”

He fades from view, his voice trailing off, as the house seems to change the light brightening as the sun move in the sky, traveling backwards. When it stops, an older looking Benjamin comes down the stairs. Dressed in a tan suit with a dark red shirt, his father's fedora perched on his head. His image passes through the two woman on the stairs, it's only a ghost of the past. A shade of past events.


The man in question is in the act of putting his bag by the door, he pauses in the action to look toward the dining room. Delia knows that gentle voice all to well, it's a warning to prepare herself before her mother steps into view. Her hair use to be the same fiery red as her daughters, but in her forties that red has dulled, shot through with gray. The small woman is dressed in jeans and a dark gray sweater, her hair already done up and make-up perfect.

The bag is set down, before Ryans straightens again, brows furrow as he sees something in her expression that concerns him. He starts to open his mouth to say something, but Mary cuts him off.

“Don't go on this trip. Not again.” Mary looks like a woman on the edge of breaking down. She's always held her feeling in check when it comes to his job, but not this time. “Your – your always gone, Ben. Always and I… I can't do this anymore.”

Ryans is confused and it shows, when it comes to his wife and family, he didn't hide from them then. “Mary.” His rumbling voice calm, her steps towards his wife and rests his hands on her shoulders, fingers gripping gently. “You know I have to go, I'm one of their top sales men. This is an important deal, could mean big things for the company.” He gives her a small smile. “Not to mention, this job, gets the bills paid… It pays for those damn Jeans Lia wants. Paid for that Hawaiian cruise last year.”

As he speaks, Mary's eyes glitter with tears, “Don't go.” She repeats softly, her expression pleading as she looks up at her tall husband. Her fingers curl around the lapel of his suit jacket, holding on to him as if she's try to keep him there. “Stay here. Please, Benjamin.” The pleading tones don't even steer the man from his course. He was a much harder man then, his passion for the job hardening him from her pleas.

He didn't really understand what he had. He had to find out the hard way.

The old man's jaw clenches in his irritation. Why now? Why is she being this way? “I'm not arguing this now. I have to go.” The words are sharper then Ryans intended, and Mary winces as if hurt by them. “It's important that I close this deal.” He has never been the type to raise his voice, it's always had a quality to it that never really needed it. “I will not argue this with you.” It's not the first time they argued. Never in front of the girls… it had been a rule. It had always been little things, nothing big, but it was the first time they argued about his job.

He had to go. “We'll talk about this…”

“I- I won't be here when you get back.” The words fall from Mary's lips in rush, as she jerks herself out of his grip, putting distance between them. Her words have the desired effect, Benjamin Ryans is shocked. He stares at her as if she just grew another head. His wife turns her back on him, so he can't see the tears, or that look of anguish at what she's saying. Her arms wrap around her waist, shoulders hunching, her gentle voice strained with emotions, “I won't do this anymore. You were gone for over two months last time. For – For all I know you are seeing someone else.”

The accusation tears at him, his hands dropping to hang at his side. He looks… completely dumbfounded. Those months, he had been badly injured, he had been laid up and recovering from a near death. He can't tell her that, he can only try to assure her. “There is no one else in my life, Mary.” Brows furrow, fists clenched, Ryans takes a step towards her. “Never has. There has only ever been you.” He reaching a hand out, intending to turn her to look at him.

“How can I believe that?!” Mary snaps at him, tears gathering in her eyes and sliding down her cheeks when she turns on him. Her eyes are filled with accusations and pain… so much pain that's she hid from him for sometime. “Your barely ever around, anymore. They send you out more and more. You work late… y-y-you leave for months at a time.” Her hands gesture at the stairs, her movements jerky with her anger. “You've missed so much of your girl's lives. How can I ever be certain?” Fist clench tight and her eyes meet his, letting him see that anger, as she shouts. “I want my husband back.”

His head shakes slowly, brows tilted up , a man backed up into a corner. Ryans doesn't know what to say, but one thing still stands. He has to go.“You know how important…”

“Quit.” Mary's fiery temper flares at those words. Her chin tilts up in defiance, as she slaps him with her words. “If you love me…Quit!” She turns to the phone on a small table, she snatches it up and holds it out to him, “Right now. Make the call, tell Bob your done.” It's an unreasonable request, one brought on by desperation.

He stares at her for a long time, his expression seems to ask her 'How can you do this to me?' His brain is trying to make sense of it all. How had he missed all the signs. Eyes fall to the phone in her hands, there is a brief moment of pain, before his face smooths into something unreadable. He says softly,“I can't.”

He turns then. It's hard to do, but too many people could die if he doesn't go. So many already had. In Ryans' mind he had to go. He had to find this man and stop him, before more died.

Behind him, he can hear her make a strangled noise as she realizes he is going to leave still. It forces her to more desperate measures. “Ben…” Mary manages to choke out his name, taking a few steps towards him, a pleading hand raised. She wants him to turn around… wants him to come back. “Ben, Please don't do this. Don't walk out that door.” His hand touches the door knob and her hand clenches into a fist, the anger returning as she snaps out, “You do… you do and you better not come back!”

Walking out is exactly what he does.

Delia doesn't get much time before Mary fades away, face buried in her hands, shoulders shaking with her sobs. By time Delia got home that day, it would be like nothing had happened, only a hint of sadness would still show in her eyes.

“I told myself I would tell her everything when I got back.” The softly spoke words come from the top of the stairs this time, where they will see the younger Ryans sitting, head bowed in his shame. His elbows rest on this knees, hands folded together again. “The reason why I couldn't stay. Why I had to go… and all the lives I possibly saved. Who… I really was.”

His head lifts now, eyes actually shiny with tears, though none glide down his cheek. “I was confident she'd understand.” A hand lifts to brush a thumb across one eye, brushing away the tears. “So I picked my job over her and I left.” Brows lift a little, his hands spread a little, in a helpless gesture.

“The last time I saw your mother, she was going to leave me and I still walked.“

There is so much pain for Benjamin as he admits that. “She and you girls were my world. The one thing that helped me keep my humanity, kept the job from completely consuming my soul.” The hands slowly lace together again. “I pride myself in being an observant man, but I still never saw the signs of what my constant absence did.“ He looks between both Delia and Hokuto, before his gaze drops again.

“That… that is my guilt."

Blinking rapidly, Delia tries to stop the tears from welling in her eyes when she sees the pain in her mother was put through such a short time before her death. As she watches her parents from the bottom of the stairs, little rivulets streak down her cheeks. When her father passes through her on his way to the door, she lowers her eyes to the carpet.

"She didn't say anything," Delia's hoarse whisper fills the void of silence. "We had take out that night, she didn't tell me why… We never had takeout on a weekday. She said she wanted to do something special." Her lips turn downward in sadness and she doesn't say anything else for a while.

Ryans doesn't move from where he is, nor does he look at his youngest. There is too much pain there from seeing his wife again. "I had no idea til that moment." He says softly, it still hurts to think about. "But…" He trails off and sighs before continuing. "I don't think I could do things differently." It's hard to admit, but it's the truth. "The man I was after slaughtered a whole restaurant… women, child… everyone."

Fingers rub at Ryans' forehead slowly, eyes closing as he looks almost worn out and tired. "Your mother was a tough woman and managed to fool us all."

Still looking at the carpet, Delia is quiet until her father makes his last statement. When the last syllable reaches her ears, she whirls around to face him. The tears of sadness have turned to anger, something she spent so long blaming herself for, she wheels it around and throws it all on him. "My mother isn't tough, she's dead. I thought it was all my fault! Because I wanted a pair of jeans!! It wasn't! It was yours!!"

The venom in the words spit at him, for something he's spent years lamenting over. "Why was it easy to quit after she died? Because we needed you? SHE needed you!!" Her angry ragged breaths, as the oxygen heaves in and out of her, interject her questions and accusations.

"I don't expect you to understand, Delia." Ryans says calmly, something his daughter probably find infuriating. "Had I been there… chances are her and I would both be dead." Eyes lift to catch her own gaze with his. "Had I known what would happen… well… I would have warned her, but then still went to do my job.

"As for why is was easier… it wasn't." He continues to hold her gaze, sitting statuelike at the top of those stairs. "I couldn't do my job and keep you girls. I would have never forgiven myself for losing you both, not to mention your mother would have been upset if you both went into foster care." His face is unreadable as he adds, "Not to mention my job is dangerous, I put my life on the line all the time. Once your mom was gone, I couldn't risk that either."

"Don't fault him too hard," is a whisper over Delia's shoulder, hushed and breathy, though it's from the opposite side of her periphery that she finds Hokuto Ichihara once more at her side, this time standing just a few paces beside her, but scuffing footfalls take her in front of the girl. "Do not judge, or lay burden of guilt… not until you've had a chance to clear your head and…"

Hokuto looks up to Ryans, golden eys halfway lidded by dark lashes, "walk in his shoes." Turning to the side, Hokuto offers a view of her profile to Delia, then motions down to the young redhead's hand where that white piece of cardstock is crinkled between her fingers. Without even looking at it, Delia can feel the texture of raised writing on the surface now.

"Opportunity," Hokuto admits in a hushed tone of voice, "to mend wounds of heart and mind," those golden eyes shift from Delia to Ryans, one brow raised, "will not be quick." Then, stepping away from Delia and between she and Ryans, Hokuto gestures back towards the redhead. "Consider the card. Not as truthful as others, but equally a map."

A quick glare to Ryans is enough of an indication that, for Delia, this isn't over. Perhaps a small consolation to the man is that it's his youngest and not the oldest that he's shared the story with. A flash of searing rage rather a slow simmering anger that might burn for years.

Dropping her eyes from her father's, the redhead looks down at the card even going as far as to run her finger across the lettering, just to make sure it's real. She flips the card over in her hand, two or three times as she memorizes everything on it. Not once does she read what it says aloud. When she's finished, she tucks it in to the back pocket of her jeans and lifts her head to find Hokuto.

There is no attempt by Ryans to even try and see what is on the card. The old man only sits there silently watching what goes on. When Hokuto look his way, there is no hesitation to meet the woman's gaze. There is a small nod of approval. "Thank you for assisting her, Hokuto, and it is good to see you are still with us. Even if in dreams."

"Always," Hokuto notes with one brow raised slowly, but then adds a strangely sybillic comment afterward. "What makes you think I am helping either of you?" It's playfully stated, perhaps meant as thought provoking. But when that comment is made, there's an abrupt startle that has Delia shooting up in her bed, sweat rolling down her forehead and clinging to her night clothes. The environment has changed entirely, and the dim light of pre-dawn sneaking in through her bedroom windows paints walls shades of soft blue and deep black.

Her father isn't here, neither is the dreamer who brought them together. There's just the dark and quiet of a familiar place and the feverish pace of her own breathing. On her fingers, Delia can still feel the texture of that card, just as it was when she was asleep, though it's no longer there. Some scraps of the dream feel like they fade now that she's awake, but there is one part of it that remains firm in her mind.

Ichihara Bookstore

300 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York, New York.

Coupon Redeemable For One Free Tarot Reading

Open 10am - 5pm, Tuesday - Friday

Some cards tell the future, other cards tell the past.

That one tells the way to go.

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