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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Ingenue
Synopsis A stranger sang a theme / from someone else's dream / the leaves begin to fall / and no one spoke at all / and I can't seem to recall / when you came along, / Ingenue
Date February 7, 2010


Swinging her legs around the edge of the old worn counter, a dark-haired woman in white offers a guarded smile out through the front windows of a crowded storefront. Dark eyes settle on the springtime blossom of tiny leaves on the trees, contentedly watching passing traffic with feline quality. The sound of soft footsteps behind her causes the woman to turn, one hand at the back of her neck rubbing gently, before her stare settles down on a young girl behind the counter.

"Hokuto," the dark-haired woman chides, turning to swing her legs around to the other side of the counter so that she may face her daughter, "Where have you been hiding?" There's an amused tone on the older woman's lips as her bare feet touch down on the hardwood floor and she folds into a crouch, sweeping the giggling ten year old girl up into her arms.

Spinning the child around before plopping her down on the counter, Hokuto's mother brings a thumb up and wipes a smudge of crumbs from the corner of her daughter's mouth. "You are like little stray cat wandering off when least expected." Her dark eyes flick down, examining the girl's jeans with scuffs of dirt on the knees. "At least just grass stains and no skinned knees," she admits with a gentle tone of voice, leaning in and pressing a kiss to her forehead.

Hokuto, in the meanwhile, is focused on stealing the printed box of cards from where they rest by the register. She flips the top open, pawing through the glossy cards, smiling contentedly and silently as she withdraws a single card from within, turning it around to reveal the picture of a hunchbacked old man in a robe holding a lantern. "What's this one mean, mumma?" She holds the card up between two fingers, smiling brightly.

With a click of her tongue and a pinch of two fingers, Hokuto's mother snatches the card and turns it right-side up and holds it back out to Hokuto. "This is the Hermit," she explains with a patient tone, pointing out the title at the bottom of the card. "It means…" her eyes wander up to the ceiling, searching for a simple answer, "hiding somewhere, so you can think about something." One dark brow arches, and Hokuto's mother watches her daughter's face scrunch up in confusion.

"Why'd you hide if you haf'ta figure somethin' out?" The little girl queries, looking at the card and then her mother again. Her answer is a laugh, the slow shake of her mother's head, and a hand ruffling shoulder-length dark hair. The card is tucked back away in the box, lid folded shut, and a warm smile is given to her daughter.

"One day, Hokuto, you'll be old enough to understand."

One day

You'll be old enough

To understand

What it means

To hide

From everyone

Like a coward

Swinging her legs around the edge of the fire-blackened counter, a dark-haired woman in black offers a tired sigh out through the shattered front windows of a demolished storefront. Dark eyes settle on the burning wreckage of a few cars toppled sideways ont he cracked streets, watching the ash fall like snowflakes from the sky. The sound of soft footsteps behind her causes the woman to turn, one hand at the back of her neck rubbing gently, before her stare settles down on a mirror image of herself behind the counter.

The doppleganger wears a sleek black kimono of ephemeral, smoky-substance with a thick white sash at her waist. Black muslin in a tattered strip binds her eyes shut, and threads of inky black hair flow as if trapped underwater. When the specter of Hokuto Ichihara walks, her wooden sandalled feet clunk and scuff on the broken floorboards. "It's not going to be much longer before we have to confront him…" the blindfolded Hokuto states to her more normal looking counterpart.

Nodding her head in response, Hokuto furrows her brows and closes her eyes, averting them from her Persona's presence. "I— I know." Her voice is tiny, mousy in quality, ashamed. "I just— I don't… I'm scared." The assertation of fear elicits a scornful look from her Persona, dark brows furrowing behind the black blindfold.

"What would father think of you, hiding here, wallowing in your pity?" There's a wave of one pale hand from Hokuto's Persona, voice sharp and clipped as she sternly admonishes her creator. "What would father say about you hiding behind me, hiding yourself from everyone? You can't just stay in here and expect me to do everything for you." Hokuto's true self slouches forward, pale hands folding together in her lap as she stares down at the burned floor underfoot.

Silence hangs on the pair, as a few cinders fall through the blown open ceiling of the bookstore, landing on charred volumes of National Geographic littered with shattered glass. "You have to be ready, because eventually they will come here, and they will need your help. I can only do so much, I can only help as much as you let me, but I can't work miracles." Hokuto silently nods her head, absent-mindedly, at the words of her Persona.

Frustration crosses the typically stoic Persona's countenance, and she tilts her head to the side, considering Hokuto behind the veil of her blindfold. "How easily you forget what isolation did to our family…" the Persona grouses, looking towards the shattered glass of the window on the floor, seeing movement in a reflection, a hand coming close to pick up one shard.

How easily you forget

what isolation did to our family

how it drove mother and father apart

and made us miss our last moments with her

before she passed away.

"How did this happen?" Turning a large shard of glass over in his palm, a dark-haired Japanese man in a crisp black suit looks up with a mixture of accusation and confusion in his eyes. Reflected in the glass, Akado Ichihara only notices too late how sharp his eyes look and his much the creases in his forehead remind him of his own father. Swallowing down his venom, his dark eyes settle on the teenage girl standing in front of him with some scrutiny.

Hokuto Ichihara doesn't make eye contact with her father, only stares down at her bare feet as pale feet scuff and cover each other in awkward stance. She swallows, noisily, and when those large, dark eyes meet her father's, her lower lip gives a subtle tremble. Akado Ichihara's greatest weakness has always been his intensity; that sharpness of personality that cuts others like a knife. His wife had always said he was all sharp, steel edges hiding a mercurial core; She has such a way with words.

"I'm sorry," he reflexively states as he is often compelled to do when making eye contact with his little girl, for so many reasons. "Your mother— " Akado furrows his brows, "Li, said you broke the window." Over Akado's shoulder, one of the two plate glass windows of the Ichihara Bookstore is little more than a ragged fringe of shattered plate glass. Scattered all around the smooth wooden floor are slivers of it, and out on the street a dark-haired woman with a broom is silently watching Akado discipline their daughter — or attempt to at least.

"I didn't do it." Hokuto states flatly, her eyes focused down at her feet, teeth worrying about her lower lip, "The bad man made me do it…" The comment brings a look from Akado, fury tempered by a father's uncertainty. In his line of work, bad men who make people do things are not the thing of superstition or myth— they are real world monsters.

Settling down the piece of glass, Akado reaches out for his daughter, resting a hand on her shoulder with a gentle squeeze. "Who made you break the window?" Scrutinizing the teenage girl, watching her carefully as a trained Company agent would, Akado still has a seed of doubt planted in his head about her intentions and truth-telling. Hokuto's answer is just a silent shake of her head, lips downturning at the corners into a frown.

"The bad man. He sees me when I sleep… he— " Hokuto's dark eyes venture to the broken window, then her mother's worried expression out on the street where she sweeps up the glass, then back to her father, "he…" her eyes wander to the side, "he made me do it in my sleep." Akado's dark eyes narrow, and a sigh exhales out through his nose as eyes fall shut. Hokuto knows that sound, knows that look and she protests immediately before he can voice his displeasure. "I'm not lying!" Which is perhaps something a guilty liar would say, "I'm not lying!"

Akado frowns, moving his hand away from Hokuto's shoulder. "Go put on shoes," he forcibly states when his eyes open and lock on Hokuto's, "and go outside and help your mother clean up this mess." Lower lip trembling, Hokuto swallows tightly and takes one halting step back and away from her father. Her eyes tear up, face begins to turn red, and her brows lower.

"You never believe me!" She shouts at the top of her lungs before sharply turning around and running between the tall bookshelves, bare feet thumping soundly on the hardwood floor as she weaves behind another bookcase and out of sight. Akado's eyes fall shut, his head dips down, and he breathes out a heavy sigh through his nose, staring at his reflection in the broken glass on the floor.

You never believe me

When I lie to you

Because I'm afraid

Of how you'll react

If I told you the truth

That I did it

Because I was mad at you

For being so distant.

Looking away from the shard of broken glass, Hokuto's attention turns back up to her Persona, attentive and more interested now than she was a few moments ago. "I'll… be ready." There's not enough confidence in Hokuto's voice to communicate sincerity to it, and her Persona closes her eyes behind the blindfold, breathing out a sigh through her nose, and lays a hand down on her creator's shoulder tightly.

"Be ready." Hokuto's Persona implores with a firmed grip of her fingers, "Mother wouldn't want this…" The blindfolded woman states, motioning around to the burned out shell of the bookstore, to the obliterated husks of still-burning office buildings belching choking black smoke up into a burning sky, to the rusted iron skyscraper silhouetted in the distance, blasting a plume of flame from the roof hundreds of stories above the ruins.

Hokuto's more meek self nods her head and looks up to hr Persona, eyes wide. "I'm scared…" she offers in a hushed breath, to which the Persona simply nods her head in silent understanding, reaching up to cup her palm against Hokuto's cheek gently; She understand, she knows.

She's scared too.

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