From The Inside


corbin_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title From The Inside
Synopsis The living and the dead talk in sleep.
Date July 15, 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".

It's seven thirty, the sun is setting, and Corbin Ayers hasn't eaten dinner yet.

Why he's sitting out from of Ichihara Books in his car is anyone's guess, he's not even sure himself why he's here. The store hardly looks to have changed, even with the storm that came over the winter. It's hard to recall the last time he was even here, let alone the last time he'd thought about coming back. The sign on the door is still flipped around to closed, but at least the police crime scene tape has been removed from the entrance.

Up and down both sides of the street, there's only a handful of cars. The pavement's fresh now, that's new. It's hard to imagine Roosevelt Island looking better these days, but no matter how hard Corbin might want time to stop it keeps on progressing ahead, searching for that eventual future that never quite comes.

Glancing back down to the clock on his dashboard, Corbin watches as the minute clicks over to thirty-one, and when he looks back up to that store front that once held so much happiness for him, someone's turned the sign around to say OPEN.

From the inside.

Happiness, marred by a sorrow he's still not gotten over. It comes to him at the simpliest times— but most often when he's in the archives. And with Corbin's new off the books assignment, he's spent even more time there than he normally does… Grabbing his case off of the passanger seat, he unlocks the door and steps out into the warmth of a summer evening, a vast difference from the extended winter that had creeped over the city when this building gained a negative memory.

Keys jingle as he searches for the right one, not the one around his neck under his shirt, but another, the one for the most recent lock he put on the door, after it got broken more than once.

It turns and clicks, and he opens the door to look inside. Hokuto had so many friends, so many people who could sneak in and come and go…

But she also had enemies…

The keys are put away as he pats around for his weapon, which—

He left in the car. At least he has a case.

"There you are," and were Corbin Ayers ten years older, he'd have suffered a heart attack and died on the spot.

Sitting on the counter by the front door, bare feet swinging back and forth, Hokuto Ichihara has dark brows lifted and her head craned to the side where she lounges back beside the register, shoulders curled up and lips twisted into a smirk. "I've been waiting for you so long I sort've fell asleep," her dark eyes roll toward the ceiling, "and may have forgotten to turn the sign around all day."

Hopping off of the counter, Hokuto lands with both feet down on the floor ina thump, the loose breeze fabric of her canady yellow sundress swishing around her knees. "I was thinking of ordering some takeout, maybe renting a movie and we could go watch it at your apartment, since I can't find a place that rents VHS tapes anymore," and her nose wrinkles at Corbin for that.

Brown eyes wide, Hokuto offers an open-mouthed smile as she leans on one foot towards Corbin. "Wha'sa matter? Cat got your tongue?"

There's a soft thud as the bag drops to the floor, landing on it's side and into the bookstore. It's not a heart attack, but it's close enough, as he stares at the yellow sundress and the woman wearing it as if—

She's not supposed to be there.

"I must have fallen asleep…" he says softly, scratching at his hair as he turns to look back out toward the road, and then nudges his bag further in so he can close the door with a ding-ding of the bell. The bookstore had been packed up, to avoid looting, but it— it's like he remembered it.

But if he fell asleep…

He looks back at her, and the first thing he sees is the last time he really saw her. In a vision of the future. At his own grave.

"We could always buy a VHS. They'd probably be really cheap now." If this is a dream, he's not sure he wants to wake up.

"You did," Hokuto explains softly, her dark brows lifted up and teeth toying with her lower lip, "but it's fine enough for now, though you'll probably have a stiff neck when you wake up. I just— " Hokuto's nose wrinkles as she takes a step on her toes towards Corbin, hands folding behind her back and lips creeping up into a nervous smile. "I'm awake finally…" has so many more meanings than the surface implies.

"I missed you… and…" when Hokuto's brown eyes wander down to the floor, her hands unfold from behind herself, swing around to her front and clasp together as she looks back up to Corbin. "I've missed you." The earnest look in her eyes is so very real, the sound of her feet sweeping across the wooden floor, the smell of the books and the old paper.

"But I'm awake now… all done resting," one of Hokuto's hands lifts up towards Corbin, finger spread in offering, "I thought… you might like to know."

"I missed you, too," Corbin says, tone soft and quiet as he steps forward to close some of the distance between him and the woman who died in his arms. "There's so much I've wanted to ask you, tell you— every time I see a newspaper story that I want to cut out… I slept here for a while, until it got too cold." Upstairs, in what used to be her old bed. And then he just didn't end up coming back. Part of him wishes he had, but…

"I've been seeing you every so often, in the corner of my eyes, but it's not the same as talking to you…" A hand reaches up to touch the offered one, spreading fingers so that his can slide between her own, and close down around her palm. "Not the same as being able to touch you."

He could touch her in the vision… "What do you mean by awake?"

"Awake," Hokuto reiterates with a cheekily duh tone of voice, as if the bittersweet sentiments of the dream were so blatantly obvious come on Corbin. "You were seeing me… sleepwalking, I guess? It's hard to explain, but… when I was younger," she begins, lifting a hand up to brush her fingertips over Corbin's stubbled jaw, as if to say see? very real, "I remember… it was either Angela or Charles, I can't remember which… said that the human mind is just a collection of electrical impulses, the world's most advanced computer."

Hokuto's fingertips leave Corbin's cheek, her lips creeping up into that coy smile she always wore in his presence. "I don't really know what happened, but I've been with you… ever since that night," and when she says that, Corbin can see snow falling behind Hokuto, through the doorway into the back stockroom, just like on that night.

"But…" she steps between Corbin and the view of the door, "you saved me." Lifting her hand to touch two fingertips to the center of Corbin's chest she whispers, "here," and then raises the fingers to touch at Corbin's forehead, "and here. Saved me, like a memory or a photograph or… a dream. I reached out to you, and you let me in… and I've been, resting? Getting my strength back?"

She smiles again, this time more teasingly, "or I've just been lazy, there's so much empty space up here," as she flicks two fingers against Corbin's forehead, "I could really stretch out."

To call the exhale a laugh would be an exagerration. It's almost a sigh, almost a gasp— but it has some humor to it that he can't fight against. "I'll have you know my mind is full of quite a few things," Corbin says, reaching up to catch the other hand that's flicking at his forehead. "I never did understand all of your ability— Mrs. Petrelli would probably be able to explain it to me better, but…"

Suddenly his hands shift and he leans into her, pulling her up against him so he can press his face into her hair, his nose against her scalp. The snow beyond he doesn't want to see— He just wants to see her. And try to smell something other than the blood of that night.

"You protected me. When we were facing your… your father. I heard you."

"That sounds familiar," is evasive to the point, "sounds like something I'd do, always the one watching out for you…" Leaning her head forward, there's a smile, one small hand lifting up to rest at the side of Corbin's chest as her brows crease together and head shakes slowly. "You're a sloppy book-keeper too, I reorganized all those files you know…" Shaking her head slowly, Hokuto lifts a hand to brush her palm over Corbin's jaw, then leans back as her expression softens from its teasing ways and turns more bittersweet.

"She's pretty," isn't exactly what Corbin expected her to say, "and she's sweet… but I'm not so sure you can keep up with her," comes with a pat on Corbin's cheek before Hokuto's hand falls away and her brows lift up to her hairline. "If I asked you to do a favor for me, would you?" Like she has to ask.

Anything he might have said about his bookkeeping is lost with a simple pat on the cheek. Corbin looks past her, toward the open door and the snow fall beyond it, where he held her in his arms, much more tightly than he is now, trying to keep as much of the blood inside her as possible.

"I know I can't keep up with her…" he says, not arguing the point. He'd need to have access to a fighter jet to keep up with her, he's sure, and he's not really been one for flying. "But she slows down some for me." It's been enough so far, but that doesn't mean it always will be.

"I'll do what you ask— but I have a favor too," he hesitates, eyes looking at the snowfall again, before shifting down to her. "I want to know what you were trying to say that night."

Demurely smiling, Hokuto shadows her eyes with heavily lidded lashes as she turns around, hands folding behind her back again as she begins to make sauntering passage through the shelves and towards the back of the store. "You should sell the store," is something she would've killed him for even considering in the past, "to someone you know, someone you trust, and someone who can get it running again. I know… there's a lot going on right now, and I don't understand it all, but this place…" Hokuto reaches out and gently touches the wood of one of the shelves, then turns to look back to Corbin. "This place is my home, and I… can't take care of it myself, and I can't ask you to either, it wouldn't be safe for you to." Whatever she means by that.

"Find someone you trust, someone outside of the Company, and sell them the store." But then Hokuto is left with having to answer that question, something that makes her look away from Corbin, makes her brows crease and eyes fall shut in slow motion.

"It doesn't matter anymore," is her trying to protect him, and as her eyes open and she settles yellow eyes on Corbin there's a playful, feline quality to her words. "You could say it to Daphne though, those words…" Those unimportant words.

"You're in my head and we still can't say it to each other," Corbin says quietly, before he rubs a warm hand over his face and begins to step back away from her, to put some distance between them. Always excuses, but… it wouldn't matter anymore if she did finish what she had been saying. Except that it might matter a little to him. Just to know. To have it on record. "I think I know what it was, anyway." That will have to do.

"I see if I can find someone to sell the store too, but I don't know a lot of people I trust." Though there are a few… a select few. And he knows the first person on the list already.

Cause that person worked there before.

Always the instigator, when Corbin takes a step back Hokuto takes a step forward, just enough to maintain the equilibrium of their positioning. It's dark behind her now, through that door; no more snow. "You and your records," she teasingly notes, "and not a single compliment about how you think I look wearing color." There's a feigned scoff, a roll of Hokuto's eyes that are a shade too dark to match the sundress, "I got this just for you, y'know?" It's entirely faceitious of her to say, of course, all circumstances considered.

"I haven't… figured out what all this means for me yet, what I can do, or…" her chocolate brown eyes narrow thoughtfully, drift away to focus on the windows. "You've been taking care of Gabriel," then snap back to Corbin, "right?" Both of her brows lift, with with an impish smile she adds, "he can come with the store," a hand raises into the air, "Caveat Emptor! Comes with surly feline!"

"You look good no matter what you wear," Corbin says, truthful in that fashion, but a little abashed. No he hadn't said anything about it, but he didn't think he had to. After all it's a dream, and she's inside his head. So of course she's wearing it for him. No one else around to see it. "I kinda wish you were around to yell at me for turning my wardrobe monochrome and brown…" Cause if anyone would give him a hard time, he thinks it would be her.

"And Gabriel and I have just started getting along, but I think he misses this place. My apartment isn't the same. Some lucky new owner…" He's exagerrating. But if occassionally growling and attacking pant legs is getting along, then that's where they are.

"And when you figure out how this works, let me know."

"You'll be the second to know," Hokuto admits as she takes a few steps towards Corbin, backing him up against a door he was certain wasn't behind him a moment ago, "I don't have much of anywhere else to go at the moment… not that I really could think of anywhere else I'd rather be than right here." Furrowing her brows, Hokuto looks down to the tiny space of floor between the two and then back up again. "You're not losing your mind…" she admits, "though, I guess every crazy person tells themself that once or twice." The latter comment might be funny had Hokuto not looked so unearthly serious about it. Perhaps notions of sanity are best left joked about in less directly affected company.

"You did the right thing," Hokuto says quietly, lifting a hand up to his cheek again, "and I'm not going to explain what I mean either, because everything you're agonizing over… don't." An arm lifts up, snaking around Corbin's neck as she leans her head against his chest, eyes shut and one hand settled on his shoulder.

"You should probably wake up now," is more suggestive than an order, that would be a much different story. Though even as Hokuto says that, she lifts her chin up and hides her face beside Corbin's head to whisper "For the record, I…"

"Ayers." A folder is slapped down on the desk Corbin's head has been settled down on, arms folded like a lumpy flesh and bone pillow. Standing there, looming as much as a man of his height can, Martin Crowley stares with an expectant look down at the agent. "I thought I told you to go over the file on Darryl Lincoln that we got from the NYPD?" There's a wave of one of Martin's hands to the folder, eyes darting down to it, then back up to the agent.

"You can nap when you're off duty."

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