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Scene Title Inverted
Synopsis Another tarot reading for Gillian has a less confused question, but a more confusing answer. And there's a headache for Hokuto at the end.
Date October 5, 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 a cloudy day. It often is as fall begins to set in. Then again, cloudy seems to be the common theme of New York City, even without the beginning of fall. The overhanging clouds above Roosevelt Island are thick, with a faint threat of rain. It's cool, with the wind adding to that, compensating for the humidity. The island may be small and relatively light in habitation, but cars do drive down mainstreet still. One car is a rusted out white Dodge, that sputters a bit, and coughs, and pulls up to the side of the street to park.

The engine shuts down and a dark haired woman steps out of the driver's seat, dropping the keys into her pocket as she leans in to pull out a carrier bag, big enough for a laptop, but carrying notebooks more than anything else. Once the bag strap rests on her shoulder across her chest and under her arm, Gillian checks her hair in the side mirror. The ponytail keeps it out of her face, but a few locks have fallen out, tickling at her neck. There's a new highlight streak of lighter brown, bronzed and almost gold on one side. She tucks the stray strands behind her ear, before locking the car door and leaving it on the side of the street.

The bookstore is familiar, even if the only time she stepped up to the door was when she got a reading just outside, as well as a box full of books for the kids at the Lighthouse. The other times she visited the bookstore, she never got out of her car.

Stepping through the threshold of the store, a hard soled shoe taps heavily against the floor, accenting her arrival as well as any bell or buzzer would have. "I really wish your island was easier to get to," she says outloud, as she pushes hair out of her face again. As if the whole island belonged to the woman who owns the bookstore.

Unfortunately, Gillian is just talking to herself — or rather the overweight white cat lounging on the counter by the door. His head tilts up, one green-gold eye opening as his tail flicks up and down against the countertop, followed by a snorted noise before his head plops back down with little ceremony. Unsorted boxes of books litter the floor by the door, many of them looking like donations ready to be shipped off to the Brooklyn Public Library, though some seem to be new arrivals that just haven't been added to the shelves yet. In fact, everything looks messier in here.

But it's oddly silent too. No sign of Hokuto at all, just the rumbling purr of that white cat and the distant noise of traffic crossing overhead on the Queensboro bridge. The door was open, but then again — with Hokuto — that could mean anything.

"I guess I am talking to a cat," Gillian says after she realizes that the only thing looking at her when she crosses the threshold is… cat. "It's okay. I talk to Chandra all the time," she says after a moment, letting the bag settle on her shoulder as she crosses closer to the counter, so she can begin petting the fat critter. Looks well-fed, but definitely wasn't here the last time. "I used to think the library needed a cat— you probably keep mice from chewing up the books on the bottom shelf, don't you? Then again you could be the fucking lazy type that would rather sit here flicking your tail."

Her voice is raspy, but kept at a conversational tone, even if her conversation happens to be with… a cat. She might be used to talking to Chandra when she's lonely, which is often these days.

"So where's your owner, anyway? Or is her power to turn into a cat?" It's almost said as a joke, even if she follows up with, "Even that wouldn't surprise me anymore."

"No, though I do turn into a fish when presented with the ocean…" Comes the sly retort from— the cat.

It takes several good, long moments for Gillian to realize the woman's voice coming from the purring and lazily staring feline isn't actually coming from that direction, but rather a willowy woman who rises up from behidn the counter with dust on her dark tanktop and hair a little toussled. "I ah— sorry about that. I must have dozed off…" on the floor. Rubbing at the side of her face where it's reddened and resembling the imprint of the hardwood floor, Hokuto seems to be exhausted. Dark circles are just beginning to show around her eyes, and her smile has just a tiny bit less sparkle to it today.

"Good to see that Gabriel was keeping you company though, Gillian." Gabriel. All it takes is one look to the black marks above his eyes for that to become strikingly ridiculous. "I ah— did you order something while Tzigane was running the front?" Her head quirks to the side as she comes to walk around the counter, arms stretching up over her head as a squeaked yawn escapes out in the process.

"I wouldn't have been surprised if you were a cat. I think you were asleep the other time I walked in here," Gillian says honestly, keeping her fingers digging into fat cat neck, even as she's told the cat's name. One long glance focuses on those black marks and she hesitates a moment. There's so many coincidences that are not coincidences that she can't help but stare at the cat a little longer. Finally her hand pulls away, looking back up at the tosselled woman.

"No, I— I haven't been here for a while, but hey, you actually remember me," she actually sounds a bit surprised by that, considering it's been a while since her visit. Feels like even longer, with the last few weeks being… a hammer to her head.

"But I did want to stop by for— You said people don't usually come back for a second reading, but since mine was a little— well, my question was pretty shitty, so that was the fault."

"This week has sort've been a change up on those traditions of my clients not being repeat ones. I've had more second visits this week than I'm used to." Waggling her brows, Hokuto works her way around the front of the counter, folding her arms across her chest as she stares dwn at Gabriel with a pensive stare. The two actually seem to stare each other down for a moment, eventually ending in Hokuto shaking her head and looking away, back over to Gillian.

"So, you wanted a second reading?" Her bare shoulders rise and fall in a subtle shrug as her brows kick up, "If you insist." The expression she wears, while not quite her usual Cheshire smile seems still somewhat impish. Walking past Gillian, one of her hands moves up to thread thorugh her hair, striding between the disorganized book cases. "Follow me…"

"This place could use a little more organization, you know," Gillian says as she pulls away from the counter to follow, eyes sliding over the piles of books. While she's seen worse places, it still makes the inner librarian a little… twitchy. "I'm surprised Gabriel isn't cleaning it up. The last Gabriel I lived with was a complete neat freak, even if he'd never admit it. If there was one of those… you know water rings? on a table, he'd do the unsubtle 'lay-down-coaster' thing and just look…"

It's almost as if she's rambling, or reminicing, but… she shakes her head again. "But yeah, I'd like a second reading. I took your last one and did a lot of reflection and… self-discovering. And this time I'm not going to be asking about two guys either…"

There's a pause, as if she's tempted to ask about a guy, or those guys anyway… but she grits her teeth. "Got other things to worry about. How clear should I be with my question this time, anyway? Will uh— explaining things help or do I just have to actually know what I want to know?"

"I used to have two staff memers, but Darien's volunteering full-time at the Suresh Center now since the riots, he hasn't had the time to help out. Tzigane's a sweet girl, but she's… not a librarian. I'm mostly keeping her here to keep an eye out on her so she doesn't get into too much trouble." By the time she's made her way past the stacks of tall bookshelves, Hokuto's come to the small table set into the nook in the back, that familiar box of cards laying out on the table by an empty — but used — pair of teacups. She sighs, rubbing at her forehead tiredly, "It doesn't help that I've been getting terrible sleep lately too."

Shaking her head, HOkuto pulls out her chair and comes to settle down on the seat, pushing the two teacups aside as she reaches for the cards. "As for, ah… your question?" Dark eyes alight to Gillian, motioning with a nod of her head towards the chair opposiute of her, "the clearer the question the clearer the answer. It's that simple."

"Conisdering recent events, I'm not surprised at the lack of sleep," Gillian says, quietly moving to take the other seat as she lets her carrier bag drop down beside the chair. There's a glance back at the counter, "Sorry for waking you up." It's not as genuine as it could be, considering her business had been opened and costumers have a right to walk in. A hand dips down into her carrier bag to fiddle around again, until she pulls out the ten dollars she didn't have to pay last time— course last time she bought a box of books for the Cat Shelf at the Lighthouse…

"Okay— my question… I want to know what I should do in the next month. If I should do what a video told me I should do, or if I should do something else entirely…" That's not completely clear… "I found out that… I'm not supposed to live to see November."

It's quiet, her eyes stay down on the teacups instead of the cards for a moment. "It's a guy that supposedly sees the future and all that, sees what's going to happen before it happens, predicts things. And I know he's been right before, so the chances he's right are…" There's a small tremor in her voice, but she takes in a breath, "Fuck, I'm not even completely sure if I believe him, cause he was a manipulative little shit… But hell, I've skirted death so many times I wouldn't be surprised…"

When she looks back she seems determined, "Thing is he wants me to do something while I still can, that's supposed to help people. But I've never really been great at doing what people tell me to do."

BLowing out a sigh, Hokuto offers an awkward laugh towards Gillian and raises her brows. "You people," she says in a hushed voice, "ask the most odd questions lately. I think I can work with it though, it's simple enough…" Though the sound of sarcasm in her voice comes with a raise of her brows, head shaking slowly as she moves her hands out to take the box of cards, slide them out and begin shuffling them slowly. "You know… and please, if I'm intruding just say so…" Hokuto's voice drops down to a quieter tone again, "you seem like you're under a lot of stress, Gillian. Are… you sure you really need the cards' advice, or a person's?

Regardless, she jkeeps shuffling, eventually laying the deck down on the table and sliding them towards Gillian slowly. "Cut and shuffle, you know the routine." There's a gentle nod towards the deck, her hand moving to fold with the other on the table. But the look in Hokuto's eyes, it's questionning — expectant — to that earlier query.

"I did go to some people first… I haven't told many people about it, though. The one person I had to tell, he… was pretty upset," Gillian rasps quietly as her hands find the cards, beginning to cut and shuffle as she lets the ten go down on the table. "It's not the kind of thing anyone really wants to fucking hear, you know? And when they start getting upset and shit it makes it harder on me. Cards are impersonal and you barely know me, and with the cards it's more… me." Even if she doesn't sound sure as much as she just is determined.

Cut, shuffle, she moves the cards around. It's not skilled like a dealer would be able to do, but they don't fly all over the room either.

"I guess I don't want anyone close to me knowing about this. The ones I'd want to tell aren't even…" She trails off, then pushes the cards back together and sets them down. "I'm not going to make my decision just on what the cards say, though, so you don't have to worry about that."

"Well, that's a relief at least." There's a hesitant smile offered by Hokuto at that, and she takes the deck back and begins to lay out five cards. The first one winds up being the center, with one card radiating out in four cardinal directions, like a compass rose. "Some people, they get these readings, and they latch on to them like they're mandates or written in stone. I— " she exhales an exasperated sigh, setting down the deck, "sometimes it makes me regret doing this, but… I read these cards because of my mother, because it's what she did here, and it's my personal way of honoring my family."

Folding her hands on her lap, Hokuto doesn't move to turn over any cards, not yet. Her eyes, they wander to the empty teacups, one hers, one an unspoken guest's. "You're sure you want this reading, given… everything?" Her eyes settle on Gillian again, quiet and thoughtful, something's weighing on her mind.

"I can understand that," Gillian says quietly, glancing down at the cards laid out on the table, unrevealed. It's definitely a different kind of reading from the last time, but the last time hadn't been a mandate either, so much as… a guide. "I never knew my parents," she adds on, voice still rather soft, if raspy. "Not really. They died when I was really young, and I was adopted— I didn't even know I was adopted until a few months ago. Part of my… finding out who I was… I went to someone who knew my parents when they were still alive. I wanted to know who they were, you know? Wanted to know… things about myself."

When she glances back up, she gives a hint of a smile, "I found out my dad played chess, and my mom used to… read me story books about faeries. And months before I knew that… I had a dream about chess, that made me want to learn. I bought a book, a chess set, started playing in the park. And a not long after the chess dream, I had another dream where I turned into a faerie. Kinda like a Tinkerbell. I know it's silly but… It let me know that even if I didn't know them maybe some… tiny piece of each of them stuck with me…"

There's a slow breath, before she nods, "I want the reading."

"Dreams," Hokuto notes with a slow nod of her head, "are very important. You should always pay attention to what they tell you. Like the cards, dreams play with our subconscious mind, they help us understand and determine things our waking mind can't quite puzzle out. Sometimes you get a jumpstart on a puzzle or a problem, or sometimes you're posed with a question you didn't even know you wanted to ask."

And with that, she points towards the middle card. "This card here, is what you're assuming about the situation. This shows a lot of what you think might be going on in the next month, and in yourself in that time." Turning the card over, Hokuto reveals the image of a man brandishing a staff like a weapon, standing on a cliff, with other staves pointing up towards him, as if he is fending off an army himself. "The seven of wands, a card that represents valor." Her eyes drift from the card to Gillian, searching for a reaction. "This card shows that you're standing strong for your beliefs in the face of adversity." Her head tilts to the side subtly, "Though you're burdened by a fear of failure that you'll eventually overcome by the will to succeed at what you're going to do. You have great obstacles set out before you, and you're going to meet them with heroism and determination." A smile comes across her lips, "You have an inner strength that you're going to find at a very critical moment."

"I learned that recently," Gillian admits, though she can't explain how she'd been using other people's abilities during those dreams, and somehow finding out about her parents gave her a glimmer of a thought that those abilities weren't just someone else's ability… They'd been her's. Even if they're not any longer, they had been for a time. There's some perspectives that are difficult to explain, especially considering all that would need to preface the explaination.

The first card gets revealed, and at first she's not sure what it means, eyebrows lower, but raise when the explaination is given. The further she goes, the more a smile begins to tug on the corners of her mouth, making dimples appear. "Already a better read than last time. Course the whole assuming thing, that might not always be what's really going on. Kinda like the last read, but— yeah, that's definitely how I've been trying to go into this…" Even if in some ways she's still in the doubting section.

The positive reaction is reflected on Hokuto's tired face in a warm smile, and her hand moves to the right-most card in the compass rose. "This is what you're not really dealing with. Your… underlying emotional state, it's something you're either not really aware of, or trying your best not to be aware of."

Turning the card over, Gillian knows what the gray tower struck by lightning means, and the two people falling to their doom from it. "The ah… the Tower?" Her dark eyes come up towards Gillian in an uncertain furrow of scrutiny. "You're avoiding something rather pressing. A broken relationship… coming tragedy… something along those lines." Her eyes narrow slightly, "You need to confront it in the coming month, otherwise— things will continue to deteriorate."

"I may not know the Wand cards, but I get what that one means," Gillian says softly, looking down at the Tower as the smile changes faintly toward a frown. It really just tightens up. Something she's avoiding. A broken relationship. Tragedy. "There's a lot of things I'm trying to avoid. I mean I— shit," she starts to sit back a bit, glancing away from the cards and the woman that's reading them, to the fat cat of all things.

"The reason I came in here before could be one of those things, I kinda… messed things up so much that… I haven't talked to one of them in a while, and the other's one's so messed up right now that…" She trails off.

"It could also be other things, cause I know there's a lot of stuff I've been avoiding— could even be my whole… not fucking telling anyone thing for all I know." There's so many things that it could be… but there's no way to know for sure. "So some of those things, the things I want to maybe… not go crashing down completely, I'll need to face… Sounds reasonable."

"It sounds like to me," Hokuto opines with a nod of her head, "that you need to start being honest with yourself and other people, and less non-confrontational. Hiding from a problem," says the Hermit, "never solves anything." Moving her hand to the top-most card, Hokuto considers it silently. Her brows crease together, fingertips brushing over the card's backs before looking up to Gillian again.

"This card represents the future. It shows what you're going to do— or what you should do. It also explains how you feel about what comes in the near future, in that month you asked about." The card is turned over, and the subject upon it rides a pale horse. Death is an auspicious card to get, especially in Gillian's condition. Looking at it, Hokuto says nothing, save for breathing in deeply and exhaling a soft sigh.

"Change." It's the first, flat explanation the fortune-teller offers. "You're going to experience drastic change in the coming month, freedom from shackles of the past, a new beginning for you." A smile comes, hesitantly, "It's a traumatic change, a painful one, but one you will walk out of for the better."

"Or maybe I just confront the wrong things," Gillian says quietly, thinking back on the last conversation she had with a tall man with bold eyebrows that shares a name with that white fat cat. There'd been a confrontation, it'd just not been about the right things, and the confrontations that mattered happened months too late.

The last reading had Death too, but Death right on the heels of Tower, and with all that explaination…

"I wasn't planning to just lay over and give up… I've already been changing a lot the last year. Change is… scary. Mostly cause I'm not sure what things will be like when it's all done. I kinda wish I could just skip to the last chapter or something."

Considering the location, a book reference seems fitting. Hands go up to touch her face, rubbing at her eyes for a second as if to check for moisture. There is none, but she moves her hands to brush stray hair away. "But walking out for the better means I walk out."

All Hokuto can do is offer a supportive smile to Gillian at that sentiment, her smile not quite as bright as it was before as her eyes move down to the array of cards. Her hand moves out, laying two fingers on the back of the left-most card, considering it thoughtfully as she explains its significence. "This card, shows how others are perceiving you on your current path. It is what they think when they look at you and consider the actions you have done so far. Evaluating what others see in you may help you determine a course for the future based on their outsiders' opinion."

Overturning the card, Hokuto reveals the inverted image of a figure in a long, layered robe with a songbird restin gon the back of their hand. Nine orbs, each marked with a single star are stacked behind the figure in a verdant setting. "The Nine of Pentacles, inverted." Hokuto's brows furrow together, though she doesn't seem surprised at the content of the card, more so in its placement. Her smile isn't getting any better. "People see you as someone defined by your trouble with relationships. You haven't come into your own, as a person, in their eyes. You're seen as a woman who has trouble with men in her life, and their actions have reflected on you so strongly others have a hard time seeing past it." Dark brows crease together, "Others also see you as someone who has let themselves go. Not physically, but emotionally, allowing past defeats to wear on yourself too heavily. And lastly — and perhaps most severely — someone sees you as unappreciative of the secrifices they made to get you where you are now."

Tilting her head to the side, Hokuto makes a soft sound in the back of her throat and moves her hand away from the card. "People can be cruel," she says in a quiet voice, "often times without realizing it."

"Almost wish we could've skipped that part," Gillian says quietly, looking down at the card that's told her something she already suspected of the people she knows. It's not flattering in the least, and it's even insulting. But there's understanding in her expression, even if it's one that comes with being displeased with having understood.

"Course a year ago I would have told you I didn't give a shit what other people thought. They're mostly assholes and they hadn't done much to prove otherwise." Have things changed so much in a year? Perhaps, but there have been extremes in both sides. "I can't really change their opinions in one month." And she's trying to do this to find out if one month is all she got. "I guess I — can just try to prove them wrong, if that's what they think."

"Sometimes letting everything roll off of you is a good idea," Hokuto begins to say, her expression still thoughtful, "but if you do it too much, you might not notice that sometimes outsiders have valid opinions. Often times we dismiss a stranger's opinion because we're closer to the subject matter at hand, but more often than not it is easier to assess a situation on the outside looking in." Smiling faintly at the comment, Hokuto moves her hand to the next and last card.

"This is related to what we're discussing, actually." Her dark brows crease together, chocolate colored eyes moving from the card back up to Gillian. "This card represents what you're hiding from yourself, what you fail to recognize about what is going on in your life. In recognizing what it means, you may have a better handle on where to take yourself." Her fingers tug at the corner of the card, flipping it over to reveal another inverted image. This time it depicts a white-clothed figure in a blindfold bearing two swords crossed over his chest, seated in a chair. There is ocean waters and islands behind him.

"This, is the Two of Swords, a card representing peace. But, it is inverted." Wetting her lips, Hokuto's hand glides away from the card and folds in her lap, eyes uplifting to Gillian. "You're refusing to act on something because you're scared. You're deceiving yourself, in order ot justify something you may believe normally is wrong. But you've managed to convince yourself otherwise of that fact. You're cutting off your emotions, instead of letting them temper your logic."

"I— I'm not entirely sure what that means," Gillian says quietly, leaning forward to look at the Sword card, inverted. There are a couple things that it could mean, but— "If it's something I'm failing to recognize it's probably not easy to figure out. But it has to do with what we're talking about, my question?" She says, frowning again. There's a lot about her question that scares her. There's that confusion, and it's not really going away as she looks at the card longer. As if it will open a mouth and explain the whole thing to her.

It won't.

"So it's basically saying that… I need to let what I feel about something influence my actions, and I shouldn't let myself explain it away so… that my feelings don't matter?"

Bobbing her head into a nod, Hokuto offers up a quiet snort of a laugh. "It's a complicated card, especially in your place and given your reading's question." Breathing out a sigh, there's a shake of Hokuto's head to accompany the sound, her hands folding in her lap as shoulders rise and fall in a helpless shrug. "It's hard to say exactly what the cards could mean there, in a way that's the hardest part of these readings, you're the one most likely to discern the most close interpretation for your own life."

The sudden sensation of something moving around Gillian's feet is abrupt, as is the deep-throated purring of the overweight white cat — Gabriel — coiled around her ankles, tail raised and brushing across her calves. A crooked smile comes from Hokuto, and she begins to laugh, covering her mouth with one hand as she does. "He likes you," she notes without a hint of irony, though there's so much deserved.

"I probably smell like Chandra," Gillian comments softly, shifting so she can reach down and pick up the fat white cat and rest him on her lap as long as he'll allow. In a way she almost wants to hug him, cause she could use the hug right now, and she gets the irony of the situation, even if the woman who named the cat doesn't quite.

"That's my cat. I got him almost a year ago, with— with Gabriel." There's that hesitation in her voice, her hands touching the white fur, pushing back ears, stritching at his neck. "Talking about it probably will just help that one… Pentacles card seem more true, but this cat kinda looks like him." Same name. There's those stupid eyebrow-like things. If Gabriel were a cat, this is one of the cats he might be. "I think he'd be better as a black cat, but then you couldn't see the eyebrows."

There's a sigh. "I guess you got your ten bucks and… It may not have been 'go do this' but… I wasn't expecting it to be. Thanks."

There's an earnest smile on Hokuto's face, head tilting downward into a nod, but stays that way, eyes focused on her lap. "I hate him…" The words come with quiet, earnest delivery, but also without any qualifier of who she's talking about. The smile on Hokuto's lips fade, and she looks down to the cat under the table, "I hate Gabriel with all my heart, and I always told myself that if I ever met him, I wouldn't stop until he had stopped breathing with my hands around his throat." Neck tensing, dark eyes lift up to Gillian from the cat, and Hokuto's expression is a stoic one.

"But I know I shouldn't… that it's better if I let the hate go." She looks down then, pointedly, to the cat. "So I got him, and called him Gabriel. Because who doesnt love a fat kitty and— maybe if I could learn to not hate the cat that shares his name, I— " she shakes her head, realizing how all this sounds, "it's stupid."

"Things would have been a lot easier if I hated him before," Gillian says softly, leaning her forehead down against the cat to cuddle her face against his fur. It doesn't last too long, but the fur was soft, and lowering her head down let her hide the sudden moisture in her eyes. Does she hate him now? No. But it's not something she's rationalized away, or she doesn't think so. The cat is given somemore space, as she lifts her head, a hand moving away to rub at her eyes.

"I still have a lot to figure out in the next month."

When the hand pulls away, she stops to look at it, then… unravels the knot in the back of her head. She's not sure the power has anywhere to go, or what it will do when it spills out, but she wants to check and make sure it's still there— it's one of the many things she's needs to know before she makes her decision.

For all the way Hokuto was quietly smiling while Gillian spoke, sharing in their conversation and their troubles, it's the unraveling of Gillian's ability that takes Hokuto aback. She reacts, visibly, as if struck in the head with a brick, one hand coming up to the side of her head and her eyes wrenching shut. "Wh— " she slides out of her chair, a second hand joining the side of her head as she drops to her knees, a whine of pain slipping from her in a shudder.

"S— sto— " Hokuto can't quite croak out the words, but her body is reacting to the amplification, her limps are trembling, curling up into the fetal position with her forehead touching the floor, "I— I can't— they won't— " her words come out between short, whimpering breaths, "stop, please stop."

For a split second there's a glow around her hand and in her eyes, but it could be much worse. The hand could be touching the poor woman. Instead it's the cat that also falls to the floor as Gillian suddenly stands up, backing away as she fumbles to put the knot in her head back together. The dim light fades out from her eyes and hand. "Fuck. I didn't— mean to— I'm sorry." Some people react very badly, others seem to see everything wonderfully. This would be one of the wrong reactions. One of the ones that makes her quietly hate the ability that changed her life.

In more ways that one.

Only once she's sure the knot is fully tied does she move back closer, to try and offer support. "Sorry. I didn't know it would hurt you. I didn't— sorry," she shakes her head, still apologizing for the ability. She didn't used to apologize this much. How things have changed.

Breathing in deeply, Hokuto lets out a shuddering breath, fingers wound into her hair. Despite Gillian having ended her amplification of whatever ability it is Hokuto has, the dark-haired woman stays kneeling on the floor, clutching her head with sharp breaths drawn in. Shakily, she seems in a panic to get up off the floor, one hand fumbling around to reach for the table for support. In doing so, she disturbs the stack of cards, sending one fluttering end over end off of the table and face-down onto the floor.

Wrenching herself up to a standing position, wide and tear-filled eyes look around the bookstore, and a sharp ragged noise of confusion comes next. Covering her mouth with one hand, Hokuto struggles to keep herself standing, only until those glassy, dark eyes settle on Gillian. She doesn't quite have words to express what's happening behind her eyes, but at least it seems the worst of it is over for now.

The fact that it keeps affecting her makes Gillian hesitate to reach out and touch her, looking bothered for a very different reason than pain. Sometimes she really dislikes this ability, and what it can do to people. Sometimes it's helpful, but most of the time… she leans down and picks up her bag that she carried in and pulls it up to her shoulder. She straightens and steps back a step, as far as she can with all the things on the floor. "I'm sorry, I really am."

More apologies, but she follows up with a quick, "It won't happen again." With that assurance said, she starts to turn around and move through the bookstore towards the door, stepping over and dodging the out of place things. It shouldn't have happened at all. But it was one of many things she needed to know…

Sucking in uneven breaths, Hokuto looks up towards where Gillian's retreating form and reaches out a shaky hand. Her voice is nothing but a hoarse whimper, too quiet for Gillian to hear by the time she makes it to the door. The hand moves to cover Hokuto's face, shoulders trembling as she slouches down into the chair, eyes partially covered and downcast, which is when she sees the card laying face down on the floor between her feet.

Still shaking from whatever it is she experienced, Hokuto's hand moves to cover her mouth, then slowly begins to move to reach down and pick up the card. Swallowing tensely, she turns the card around, eyes narrowing as she focuses on the depiction of a robed man holding up a lantern in the dark. The card reads The Hermit, but it's difficult to make out those words, since the card is upside down.

"Who are you?" She whispers to the air, breath shaky.

Nothing whispers back.

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