Have To


corbin_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Have To
Synopsis Ex-partners meet up for the first time in a long while. Corbin comes baring a news article and tries to invite Hokuto to get out more often. No tarot readings for him, though!
Date July 3, 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".

Twenty four out of the last thirty days.

That is the total of days of rainfall in new York City as of late. It's no surprise, given that ratio, that today is a gray, cloudy and dismal one. The sun has been swallowed behind a curtain of charcoal and slate, and in the abandoned streets of Roosevelt Island, sinkholes and puddles go hand in hand, where pavement splits and weeds grow up between them. So far away from the noise and chaos of Manhattan, and yet also so close, Roosevelt Island feels like a world unto its own, with only a handful of poor, disperate souls remaining in it.

This setting is one familiar to Corbin Ayers, a tiny island with a population now of only 700. One of which, tucked away in a small bookstore wedged between two highrise tenement buildings, just happens to be the only reason he ever comes out here. On a friday afternoon, Ichihara Books is closed for business, but that doesn't much change the way it looks on the outside.

Keeping the front doors open to let in the cool breeze of the rain, the old and run down storefront has that weathered, antique look to it. Candles burn instead of lamps thorugh the front windows, and it's obvious that the electricity is out to the entire island on the way in. It wasn't last time he visited, but those times of coming here are so few and far between lately.

Carrying an umbrella has become far more common these days. Black and wide, it stays over the top of his head as he approaches the building on foot. In a dryer summer, he might have ridden a bike instead, but riding a bike in the rain would ruin his clothes, even if a jacket and jeans are all that makes up his attire. A laptop case that acts as a briefcase as well, hangs at his side before he steps backwards into the door and lowers his umbrella still outside. A few quick shakes and he closes it, bringing it inside loose and still dripping with moisture.

"Getting sick of all this rain," he intones loud enough to be heard over the drip drop of rain in this quiet little world within a world. "It's going to ruin the possibility of a firework show tomorrow night," he adds on, with a laugh as he steps further in, looking for the person he hopes to be there.

And there she is, sprawled out in one of the bay windows facing the street like a tired housecat. Lazily draped over a series of pillows stacked atop bamboo mats, Hokuto Ichihara languidly slumbers with her front door open and a book propper open over her face, not quite the perfect disguise of awakedness, especially considering the book is muffling quiet snoring sounds coming from her.

This isn't entirely unusual though, despite her control over the ability Cobrin has come to know, she always did seem surprisingly narcoleptic, much like a cat, able and willing to sleep anywhere and everywhere.

"You can not be asleep with the door wide open," Corbin actually brings his wet hand up to his forehead, smacking himself lightly. Curly hair sways before he reaches down to rub the scruff at his chin and shake his head a few times. Narcoleptic episodes aside, falling asleep anywhere would not necessarily be the best thing for a woman like her to be doing. "Damn lucky you live on one of the deadest places in thirty miles," he says, glancing back at the wide open door.

How does this place stay in buisness?

Dripping moisture into the store, he walks over to the window and raises his voice even more, "Hokie, time to wake up." It wouldn't be the first time he's woke her up from a nap— but it's the first time in a while. From the way he's smiling, he seems to find the situation rather nostalgic.

A confused snort jostles Hokuto awake, sitting up enough for the book to flop off of her face and on to her lap, bouncing off of a worn pair of black jeans before landing face up on the floor. Eyes wide in confusion and half-waking stupid, Hokuto stares up blankly at the man across from her with a rather dumbfounded expression. Large, expressive eyes blink slowly, followed by an exasperated huff of confusion, "C— Corbin!"

Bounding up onto bare feet, Hokuto lunges forward, leaning over the front counter as she throws her arms around his neck in a poorly thought out hug, followed by an awkward choking sound as she slouches back away from him and rubs one hand at her stomach over the matte black cottonof her t-shirt where the corner of the counter was biting into her. "Nnh," one eye closes and her tongue sticks out, nose wrinkling for a moment before her facial expressions balance out again, and Hokuto is padding over the wood floor around the counter.

"What are you— I was so worried about you!" One hand balls up into a fist, ineffectually slapping him in the shoulder as her cheeks puff out slightly, followed by a slowly strained sigh. "The Primatech building, I mean— " one hand waves flippantly towards the door, "what happened? Is— is everyone okay?"

That did look like the world's most awkward hug. Corbin doesn't step back, though, cause that would have only made the situation worse. A hand reaches up, not to return it, but to reach towards her shoulder as she slouches away— until he gets slammed with a fist and cheeks puffed up at him. That's when he steps back, the hand going to his own shoulder instead. It's a fake rub, really— she'd not hurt him, but the image is funny in his head, so he does it anyway.

"I'm fine, I wasn't even in the building that day. Was covering a story." The simple answer to everyone would be no. Of course not everyone was okay, but that's not a very chipper thing to bring up if it's avoidable.

"I would've stopped by earlier, but I had a lot of things to cover in the last week or so." Spin stories, real stories. "Think the New York Times would've put something on their site if I did just vanish— Though you probably don't have anything resembling internet in this dinky place, do you?" He looks around.

"I don't even have electricity right now," Hokuto notes with a threading of pale fingers through hair that looks like it could use a fresh shower. "Or… running water, or heat." She doesn't sound to imposed by the last one, what with leaving the doors to the bookstore wide open on a chilly, rainy day. "Things have been alright, though… except for a certain someone being too busy to come by." Her lips quirk up into a mischevious smile as she turns around, boosting herself up onto the countertop of the front desk, one leg crossing over the other.

She doesn't pursue the topic of Primatech any more. Corbin is fine, at least that's what matters most. Other people, though, have admittedly been hard to find as of late. "So…" she holds out one hand expectantly, "what've you got for me?" That smile turns more Cheshire, as it is often in Corbin's presence, and Hokuto's fingers flex and curl open and closed repetedly in a very clear gimme gesture.

"You know, if we ever find someone that can teleport whole buildings, I'm setting you up. There's plenty of acres of empty land in the city," Corbin says, shaking his head at the sight of the store, the knowledge that she's been living in such a state for— a lot longer than she might need. Quiet may be one of the only advantages.

It's a good thing she dropped it, though. Lying to her would be difficult enough for him, if she asked direct questions. Dodging is easier.

A hand unzips a large outer pocket on the laptop case and he pulls out a newspaper clipping. "It's not rabbits living in herds on campus or anything, but out here in the middle of nowhere it's likely you didn't even hear about it."

A big headline reads: Statue of Liberty Reopens.

The story is simple, a telling of how it'd been closed, twice. Reopened once, closed again, finally reopened once more.

Taking the small article in both hands as if it were somehow too big for her, Hokuto lets out a contended sound and lays back along the counter bfore abruptly bouncing back up into a seated position. "Oh! The bunnies one was particularly adoreable," she notes with that mischevious smile spread across her lips before laying back down against the counter again, her back arching and one hand moving to pull a paperweight out from the middle of her spine before unceremoniously dropping it to the floor with a heavy thunk.

Tilting her head to the side, Hokuto huffs out a breath and blows a lock of dark hair from her face as she reads the article, smiling contentedly all the while. "We should go," her dark brows rise, head turning to look over at Corbin where she lounges, flicking the article once with a finger, "to the Statue of Liberty! I've lived in New York all my life and I've never been out there. They're not making you work the Fourth, are they?"

The way she accepts the articles never ceases to make him smile, a smile that touches his blue eyes in a way that makes it genuine. The smile borders on a laugh as she has to fish paperweights off of her back, and Corbin waits for it all to sink in. And then she says they should go. "What?" he says with surprise, blinking a little. "What do you mean you've never been to the Statue of Liberty? You never even had a school trip to it or anything? I though every school did that." Every school meaning every private school, most likely, but surely there's some that didn't. People often get self-centered in their own life and think everyone must have grown up the same.

"Well hell, yeah, we should definitely go. I actually am working on the Fourth, but I'm supposed to write an article about the opening and interview people who had the fortune of going along— they selected the first batch by lottery— I could sneak you along." From the way he suddenly looks upwards, he's thinking of how he'll manage it… but then nods. "Yeah, I could do that. You shouldn't go your whole life living in New York without once going to Liberty Island. It's like not going to the Castle in Central Park." Pause. "You have been to the Castle in Central Park, right?"

Pursing her lips and freezing in mid sentence, Hokuto's dark eyes shift over to Corbin, nose wrinkling once before she adds, "Is… no an acceptable answer?" Her smile returns, broad and enlivened as always before her legs swing over the counter and she's back in a seated position, carefully laying the article down on the counter top before setting a book on top of it. "I like sneaking, though! I never got to really do anything spy-like when I had a spy job." Her nose wrinkles slightly again, followed by a sudden intake of breath and then a loud sneeze. She sniffles, immediately after, rubbing her nose on the back of her hand with a grimace.

"S— Sorry about that." Color comes to Hokuto's cheeks, and she glances out the door to the rainy street. "Do… you think it's going to rain," her dark eyes flick back to Corbin, "all through to tomorrow? I don't really have much television out here, and I haven't picked up today's paper yet." Because that usually always means going out into Queens, since the tiny local paper on Roosevelt Island stopped running in 2006.

Oh, well, sneezing might well change things. That broad smile fades into something more concerned. When she'd had a spy job, it had been his job to do most of the spy-like stuff. As her partner, she'd worked by getting intel in probably the most covert possible way— by looking into people's dreams. Corbin Ayers had a more hand's on version of the same thing.

"I think it's supposed to clear up for a little while, but the rain's likely going to come back, we have a rainy summer this year." And that's probably not what she wanted to hear, even if they ARE calling for just partly cloudy tomorrow.

"I think you should stay inside. It'll be open for a whole year, and I'll get you tickets to go when you're not sneezing and when it isn't threatening to rain half the day— and this way you won't have to stand around while I interview people." Probably better anyway.

"Have you thought of— getting a place to live in Queens? You probably don't need have the store open the whole day, and… You were leaving the door wide open. No wonder you're getting the sniffles."

Wrinkling her nose with the threatened onset of another sneeze, Hokuto seems to thankfully avoid it. There's a huff of breath and a releived look on her face, followed by a slow shake of her head. "We've had this discussion before," her tone becomes a little more flat, "I'm not leaving the shop." Despite her stubbornness, though, Hokuto's dark eyes do betray something of a surprise that she's trying to keep, if only for a few more moments so she can seem defiant and strong.

"I… did hire help, though." This may as well have been Hokuto announcing the sky is now mauve. She's always worked alone here, just like her mother did. To think she'd bother to hire someone to help, it's out of the ordinary. "His name's Darien, he's a real bookworm." Hokuto head cants to the side, one pale hand threading a lock of dark hair behind her ear, "Good guy, reads… a bit too much, but really— he's sweet." Even if she's trying to make Corbin jealous, it really isn't working, it would take more than someone sweet to make her think anything of romance. It's as if she's immune to the idea.

"We cut back hours too, it's only open Monday through Thursday now. Had to cut Sunday out entirely… I just— it's hard to afford to keep this place open, you know?" There's a bit of a frown, and Hokuto's eyes flit back towards the door, a few steps taken towards Corbin. "I should get out more… some," her brows furrow together, "at all."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Person who can teleport a building is my only chance— maybe I can get someone to attach balloons to it." Like the Pixar movie. Corbin doubts she's seen it, though. Another thing that might need to be added to the list of things he needs to make sure she does. "Are you lying to me about the help or did you actually find someone else willing to work this place?" There's some doubt in his voice, but no real jealousy. Sure, she's sometimes cute and his type, but when they were partners it'd been inappropriate, and she lives somewhere he barely ever sees her.

"I'd be surprised if you get more than eight people in here a day," he admits honestly, before he reaches over and tusses her dark hair with his hand.

"Listen, I try to come by more often, when you're not working, and I'll drag you out of this place. Statue of Liberty, Castle, the works. You gotta stop sticking to one place all the time." More often might mean he'll have a hard time finding a good news story to cut out, but— it shouldn't hurt. "Can't live your whole life in one place and dreams. You should get out more."

There's a faint smile that creeps up on Hokuto's lips, head tilting to the side as she looks Corbin over. "Six people yesterday, but— one of them was looking for the bagel place that's still open down the street." Lips pursing into a pouting frown, Hokuto's dark eyes scan the used books on one of the tables, then look back up to Corbin, her brows creased together. "Do… do you think I'm wasting my time?"

She never usually gets this serious sounding.

"I— mean, running the shop." Looking away, Hokuto considers something, then flicks her dark stare back up at Corbin. "And no I'm not lying about the help!" She exclaims with a crooked smile, "he's a sort've bookish guy, but he's got a good heart. Most of the time he just wants his paycheck in books, so…" one shoulder rolls into a half-hearted shrug.

"I— I mean it though. Do you think I'm making a mistake? Doing this?" A few barefoot steps are taken closer to Corbin, as Hokuto wraps her arms around herself, shoulders rolling forward.

Six is impressive, actually, considering the store and the few amount of people who live in the area— and how hard it is to get to the Island. Not the easiest thing in the world, but… Corbin frowns as well at her question, serious, but not pouty. It takes him a moment before he can answer it. She's hugging herself as he steps forward, putting both hands on her shoulders. "No. I miss you, I haven't been able to keep a partner for longer than two months since you left— but that doesn't mean I don't understand why. Did you know that I occassionally go to plays just cause my sister used to want to be in them? I don't really like plays, but…" It's one of the things he could do to remember her.

So in a way, he understands. "I just think you should get out more, and I wish you lived in a place with power, heat, air conditioning— anything. You're obviously catching a cold, and you probably won't go to a doctor until you're falling over— and then it might be too late. I could probably talk to some of the guys down in supply and get you a generator at least." Or buy one, he makes enough money he could probably afford one as a late birthday present.

Dark eyes stare up at Corbin for a time wordlessly, then finally Hokuto rises up onto her toes, lightly brushing her palm against the agent's cheek, "You're too sweet, you know that?" Landing back down on her heels, a smile creeps up on her lips. "A generator would be nice, this is the second time in as many months that I've lost power." There's a wrinkle of her nose, eyes flicking back over to Corbin for a moment, heer arms crossing over her chest once more.

"Um…" Teeth pressing down into her lower lip, Hokuto seems thoughtful for a time, glancing out at the rainy street and then back to Corbin. "Could— you maybe stay for a little while? We— I could make you tea," somehow, "and— I promise not to put those cards anywhere near you." Because, after the last reading she gave him, she swore off readings for him. Simply too embarassing is the thing.

"Sweet isn't something most guys want to hear," Corbin specifies, but he doesn't really mind it. The beard's one of the only things that makes him look close to his age, and he smiles readily at the compliment. At the mention of her cards, he laughs, recalling that one reading and more importantly her reaction to it, "You never know, this reading might turn out different. It was funny watching you do it." Funny cause she couldn't seem to speak through part of it, turned all red and giggled— the giggling was cute.

"But I can stay for a while. Not looking forward to going back out into the rain— it might calm down before I have to leave." Or so he's hoping.

"Before you have to," she adds, nodding her head quietly. "I've met some interesting people the last few days, really… unique people, I haven't quite felt like I have in years." Hokuto pauses, standing barefoot between the two bookshelves at the center aisle of the store, turning on her heels before remembering something, rushing over to the front counter to pull up that scrip of paper that contains the news article. She smiles, softly, and backpedals towards the stairs behind the counter.

"I— I have to go put this with the others," Hokuto's smile turns less mischevious and more genuine. "I'll— be right back. Then," her head inclines some, "then we can talk. And you can stay," she hesitates, one foot on the stairs, one foot on the floor.

"Until you have to go." Which, from the way Hokuto talks, had best not be for a long, long time.

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