Kindness Of Strangers


delia_icon.gif gillian4_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif

Scene Title Kindness of Strangers
Synopsis Gillian goes out to repay a favor, a tattoo for her eerily clean slate, and get a fortune told. Lydia and Delia make sure she leaves with much more than she walked in with.
Date August 24, 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".

Customer have been coming and going all day, not that Delia's noticed much. She's too engrossed in her chosen novel and too close to the end to stop. The customer that do stop by asking for things get a grunt and an absent form of help in the form of the redhead doing what she can while her nose is still in the book.

She's three pages from the end, three pages until she finds out if Velvet and Rodrigo live happily ever after in the pirate ship of love when she turns the page and…


It's been ripped out.

"You've got to be kidding me!" The young woman roars, scaring the sleeping cat on her lap out of one of its nine lives. It claws at her legs, trying to scramble away as she howls in pain and grips her thighs. "GABRIEL!!" she yells after it, grabbing the broom and running out from behind the counter. But the cat is gone, nowhere to be found.

All good Gabriels know when to run away. And when to come back and have your brains for breakfast. Don't hesitate to believe he's not plotting it.

Just as the red haired store clerk bursts out from behind the counter to chase after said cat, the door opens with a ding of another customer. The customer's hair is red as well, though Gillian's couldn't have come from nature, but from a bottle, even a well handled bottle. The darker eyebrows and skintone make it unlikely that it's real, and it's too bright and fiery. "I hope you don't beat your prospective customers with brooms," she mentions in a raspy voice, spotting the broom in hand, with some measure of threat to it.

A glance is cast around, noting differences from the time she'd visited, so long ago. Some things seem different, other things the same, but the red head is certainly unfamiliar.

The shouting causes stirring from upstairs. With a loud creak, Lydia meanders down the narrow wooden staircase, her eyebrows knit together with concern that lets up some as the redhead comes into view. It appears everything that occurred is nothing more than mischief. Never a dull moment at Ichihara Bookstore.

Delia is given a lopsided smirk before the fortune teller takes a slow breath, calming her nerves, even as her gaze turns to the customer. The smirk fades into all seriousness as she directs Delia, "You should… drink some tea." The tension in her body relaxes as she steps behind the counter, but it takes a few more moments before she greets Gillian, "Welcome." Following another pause, she issues Gillian a tight-lipped smile, "Can we help you?"

The broom handle slowly slides down in Delia's hand and she gives the new customer a weak smile and an even weaker laugh. "…Eh.. heh.. heh… heh." It drops almost immediately and an expression of extreme guilt finds itself pasted on her face which is almost as red as the customer's hair.

"Tea… right. On my way," and she trundles to the other end of the store to let Lydia help the woman. The broom? It's carefully laid against the wall near the kettle and teacups, leaning against the small table that holds all the tea stuff. "By the way Lydia, we need a new copy of Fire and Ice, the one we have has the end missing. We can't sell that… unless people don't care how it ends." A thought that just makes Delia perplexed, how could someone not want to find out what happens to Velvet and Rodrigo?

"Pages missing from the ending of a book is a crime against humanity," Gillian says in agreement, having read many a book in her day, and knowing she would ping it across the room if she made it to the end and the pages were missing— of course sometimes she skips to the end, to at least get a peek. It's unlikely she'd make it all the way to the missing pages before realizing they were missing.

"Uh— hi, I— " There's a hesitant pause, and there's something decidedly paranoid about her way of looking around. Like she expects someone to jump out of the walls and grab her. And no, she's not afraid of the cat.

"I'm looking for a classical art book, if you got one. And one with like— biblical paintings I guess. It's kind of a present, really. A thank you to someone."

A bemused smile spreads across the proprietor's face. "Well if I happen across a copy of Fire and Ice, I'll be sure to save it for you. Or the store." The odd look is noted as Lydia rests her palms on the wooden counter, her lips pressing together as if trying to remember where to go. "I think…" she begins declaratively as she starts to pad away from the counter only to stop. "Actually. I'll have Delia help you find that," even with her random tea run, "she's been itching to help customers all day." There's an irony in the words although it's not quite detectable in the tone.

"Hey! I heard that!" Delia protests loudly as she stalks back carrying the cup of tea. She lays it on the counter and lifts her chin in a haughty manner, folding her arms across her chest. "I'll have you know that I was doing some very important quality assurance, and Fire and Ice didn't pass inspection." Leaning toward Gillian, she mutters as a side, "Really, I am good at finding books and I think I know exactly the one. Wait here!"

She's off like a shot, into that far corner that she escaped to the other day. In the religion and occult section, the redhead pulls a heavy tomb off the shelf and blows the dust off of it. It's a good thing the customer isn't here to see that. To make sure it's really clean, Delia uses the arm of her hoodie to wipe the entire cover off.

"It's best if it's like— Christian or Catholic. The guy is practically a Priest," Gillian says, unaware that the young girl fetching a book actually had a confession session with said 'almost Priest' not too long ago. Dust on books shouldn't bother her much, and it doesn't, as she looks toward the direction the girl disappeared, before looking back over at Lydia.

"You do readings and stuff or is that someone else that works here?" she asks, gesturing at the sign for Tarot reading, trying to avoid looking like she's been here before. But the familiarity gives her away. She tries to be secretive, but the woman who owns the store isn't the one to try to be secretive around.

"You were meant to hear it," she returns to Delia simply, but the words are delivered with an almost-warm smile; she is, in no way, upset by her employee's work ethic, not after all of the time spent shelving and organizing books. Her fingers drum quietly on the counter.

Lydia's eyes narrow slightly at Gillian's mannerisms; not quite sure what to make of them she opts to focus on the question. Her smile tightening further she nods, "I do readings. Palmistry. Tarot." Her eyes flit to the sign and then back to Gillian. "All have merits. Would you like a reading?" There's a silent pause before she asks, "Or. Are you just trying to get a reading," implicitly of a different sort, "on me?"

Before returning to the counter, Delia leafs through the book, flipping the pages to make sure none of the sections in the antiquated text are missing. Quality assuance, after all, is a good part of every business. This goes on for a few minutes before the young woman steps out from behind the shelves and back into view.

"It's not exactly an art book, it's a real bible." She starts out. The volume is thick and heavy, a good foot by three quarters in size and nearly six inches thick. The weight is demonstrated by the sound it makes as it hits the counter with a loud thump that sends Gabriel scurrying from his hiding place and up the stairs. "But the pictures inside of it are the prettiest I've ever seen. Plus, it's an antique, printed in the forties."

An antique. Gillian can't help but wince a little at those words, even as she's still trying to suss up what Lydia's talking about. "I was hoping to get an inexpensive art book, a reading, and maybe a tattoo while I'm out, but I don't know if I can afford all three of them if the art book isn't inexpensive…" And antique, in her mind, usually means expensive.

There's a pause before she reaches into her small purse, a shoulder bag that looks like something out of a Indiana Jones movie, except black, and checks to see how much she has in cash. Cause credit isn't an option… not anymore.

"Sorry if I seem weird, I haven't actually been out in a while, and— last time I was here there was this Japanese woman who did the readings. She gave me a couple." And she bought a lot of books, too. Her eyes follow the scurrying cat. That's one thing that hasn't changed.

It's a book the painted lady hadn't seen in this collection, but it is a beautiful book. She hmms quietly, "Perhaps… Delia can find a few other options?" Her lips press together. "We have a number of potential options, I think. Far more art books than the one." Her red fingernails click against the surface of the counter.

Gillian's presumed insecurity causes Lydia's features to soften. Her eyes glimmer with with that same softness. "Well, we can accommodate all three. The book. The reading. The tattoo. That's what we do." Features soften further as she glances towards the staircase where Gabriel has retreated. The mention of Hokuto earns a humbler smile and a vague nod of Lydia's head, "I came into this place only a few weeks ago. And yes, I do the readings. And the tattoos." Her lips press together before she asks, "Would you rather have a palm reading or Tarot?"

"Don't worry, ma'am, it's not that much." Delia says reassuringly, with a very large smile on her face. "The old owner had it priced as a complete steal. Besides, it's not a first edition or first printing, there's no writing in it so it wouldn't go up in value for having someone's family tree in it. Trust me, if you're looking for inexpensive, this book is cheaper than the art books that we've got on the shelf. Those ones can still be used by college students, so they're higher in price."

The young redhead may be talking her boss out of a bigger profit, but in her blue eyes, a sale is a sale and money in the register is better than a dusty book on the shelf. Also, she's been shelving and organizing enough books to spot which ones were prices higher than others, this one is still relatively low. She turns to her boss with a wide smile and claps her hands free from any remaining dust. "Bonus! You can get all three of those right here! But I'll go look for some art books that are cheaper… back in a flash!" And the redhead (real one) disappears into a different set of shelves to begin the hunt.

"I've never had a palm reading here, so one of those would be cool," Gillian says, moving closer as she follows the real redhead with just her eyes before she disappears into the aisles. An eager store clerk certainly seems— eager. "She's more eager than I was when I used to work at a library. I used to sit around and read or draw and then just point people around, and they'd have to find it themselves," she sets her hand on the bible and opens it up, turning a few pages. She's almost tempted to give it to two people, but she doesn't mention that.

"If it's not expensive I may buy it and an art book as well," she says, before she looks down at her hand, as if checking to make sure it's not dirty. There's still nail polish, and signs of the manacure on her fingernails, which hides the damage she'd done to herself in captivity, but there's minor scarring on her left palm and wrist that she can't quite hide, from where she cut herself, and then attempted to slit her wrist.

"I'll do a palm reading first, then you can tattoo me— depending on how much all that is. I got about a ninety dollars."

The palm is taken gently in both of Lydia's hands — one under while other is used to study the lines, tracing them carefully while the gypsy woman pays particular attention the shape, length, and arc of each. There's no judgment in the blonde's scrutiny, it's merely tapping into her ability, particularly as her eyes close, focusing her attention, and pressing herself further. Gently her eyes flutter open behind the fan of eyelashes. Goosebumps form along her arms like the temperature in the room dropped several degrees.

Her fingers trace over the first line. "This is your heart line. The shape — how it's straight and parallel to your head line — tells me that you have a relatively good handle on your emotions in general." Her lips purse slightly before she adds, "You have a break in this line…" there's a distinct pause before she asks, "Have you gone through a recent emotional trauma?"

Still mired in the shelves of books, Delia is searching for some that are less expensive or around the same price as the bible. She's got a tall stack beside her that's she's putting more books into than the pile on her other side. While Lydia and Gillian talk and palm read, she's reshelving the books in the tall stack, they're the ones designated too expensive for the poor lady at the counter.

The curly redhead peeks around the corner to spy on them for a second before darting back around. She looks down at one of the books in the stack and pulls out whatever cash she has in her pocket. Counting it, she peeks around the corner just one more time before picking the best one out of the stack and shelving all the rest.

The knot of energy is firmly in place at first contact, but rather than watching her palm, Gillian keeps her eyes on the woman for a moment. The knot begins to loosen, out of surprise at the reading, and also the desire to just— stop holding it in. She held it in for most of the two months, as much as she could. Stubbornly. She holds it in all the time, as often as she can…

Because she hates her ability. She hates it more and more every day, and the trauma she's mentioning, that's one of the many reasons why.

"Yeah, I've had a couple recent traumas, actually— they're all long stories that would seem unrealistic, though." Even in this day and age, she's sure they wouldn't be believed. "But— I think you're probably the first person ever to say I have a good handle on my emotions. I mean, I agree— but I don't think a lot of people see me that way."

Contemplatively, the painted lady watches her customer in silence, still holding that hand in her own. Her lips press together as she listens, concern etching her expression as her eyebrows knit together. Although she doesn't say it, there's a gleam of sadness in the proprietor's eyes. "Most stories that matter seem unrealistic, impossible, or ridiculous," Lydia replies quietly as her finger grazes the second line on Gillian's palm. "And the more ludicrous the story, the more influential it is to the core."

That concern perpetuates as Lydia hmmms quietly. "Have you spoken to anyone about it? Traumas have a way of eating one's insides and transforming worldviews." A vague glance is given to the window before her attention is returned to Gillian, "Giving into the fear is like letting them win." It's a cryptic statement. "Releasing it is the essence of freedom."

"This second line is your head line — it shows the way you think and how your thoughts govern you." Her pointer finger follows the shape and slope of the line. "You have a broken head line. This means you have inconsistency in thought. Perhaps you change your mind a lot? Or you actually have competing thoughts about the same subject."

"This one? Oh… It's a great book! It's got all the pages and everything!" Delia's voice can be heard from the shelves talking to another customer in the store. Whoever it is steps around to a different part of the store with Delia on his tail as she talks about all the different sections they have unusual books in. She's carrying one book in her arms, the one she considers the best one.

But the best one, is such a subjective term. While the book isn't fine art in the classical sense, the paintings displayed in its pages are unique and carry a haunting beauty of rugged landscape, still life, and character portrait. It's quite clean, so crisp looking that one could swear it's brand new. Either that or it hasn't been opened by anyone other than the redhead holding it right now.

As Lydia tells the her customer all about the lines in her palm, her employee sneaks behind to the cash register and starts ringing up a sale, taking some money out of her pocket and bagging the book she's carrying up. It's laid to the side with the bible before she scoots back into the depths of the shop to chatter with the customer about her favorite romance novels.

"Yeah, unfortunately that's me," Gillian says with a sheepish sound to her voice. It's not really something she's embarassed about, but her inconsistant thoughts about things that are in her life cause more than a little bit of trouble for her. Like men. Glancing away for a second, she watches Delia ring something up, eyebrows raising, but she doesn't get much of a chance to focus on it, cause— she's walking away to serve another customer.

"You guys get a lot more business then they did when I was here before," she says with a quiet surprised voice. "Must be better at advertising— or maybe people realized they need books in case we get plunged into unknown winter again." Which— she helped end. With the power that she hates.

They'd have found a way to end it without her, she's sure. She's only useful when people need her…

"And I've talked to a few people about it, that's actually why I came for a book. To thank

A knowing smile is shot towards Delia as the redhead disappears to serve another customer. "Don't be fooled, we still don't get that much business, hence the reason I let Delia read most of today. It was a quiet day; everyone just chose to come at the same time." Her smile softens as her own trust grows. Her weight shifts from one foot to the other, adjusting position and causing her skirt to swish lightly.

"I'm glad you spoke to someone; it's better than the alternative — the release is important," she soothes as her pointer finger follows that third line, "This one is your life line. It has several breaks which tell me you've had — or will have some very sudden dramatic changes in your lifestyle. Maybe a move or a transformation of yourself." And her finger gently slides to that last line, "This one — it's your fate line and it tells me how much of your life is affected by forces outside your control. It's very deep telling me you're strongly controlled by fate, but it starts at your thumb and crosses your life line, indicating you're supported by people… so even if external forces determine your assumed destiny, you have people there for you — like this person you spoke to. I believe you have a small community or… a figurative if you will, behind you every step of the way."

Affected by forces ourside your control.

You have people there for you…

Something about that causes a spike of sudden emotion, showing that, while Gillian was doing good keeping herself under control emotionally, it's rather effectively been shattered by something that she said. A small community there for her? Perhaps. But not the ones she wants to be there for her. Not the ones who matter the most.

"People stop supporting me once they're done with me. They walk away, they push me away, they…"

That knot in the back of her head unravels, pulled apart by the sudden emotional surge, and that energy spreads out. It's like a nuclear bomb with a broken casing surrounding the core, spilling radiation out into the room. Only this radiation is power— pure, sheer power. The lonelyness that she feels at the words that she has people hits Lydia like a truck, a sudden empathic bond opens up fierce and strong, like a raging fire of emotion, as tears streak down her cheeks.

Where there was an odd guardedness before, it's virtually melted from Lydia's entire exterior. The distance she places between her and everyone else disappears, including the physical distance. Her own emotions are pulled by Gillian's, yielding watery eyes that glisten with the tears, one of which manages to roll down her cheek while the rest are fought furiously. Her chin quivers as she grasps the other woman's hand, even as she walks around the counter. Her arms wrap around Gillian, warm and secure, an unusual move as the tall gypsy sucks in a deep breath.

"You are not alone. I promise you. Even if you feel alone, you are NOT alone." She sniffles as the emotions continue to wear heavily on her, the feelings weighing heavily against her as she tightens her arms around the other woman.

A few more stray tears roll down her cheeks, her own emotions rising to the surface with the release — emotions that she fiercely fights on a daily basis.

"Sorry," Gillian apologizes, both for the emotional outburst, but also something else. The knot loosening in the back of her head. There's no way to know what it did, but she knows the energy had somewhere to go, until she leans into the hug and closes her eyes for a long moment. It seems longer than it is, as the emotions settle, and the knot pulls back into place, allowing for more emotional distance for Lydia.

The palms that were being read rub against her face, to try and scrub away the tears. She was able to keep from crying around some of the people she knows, but— not in the middle of a bookstore. "Sorry," she adds again, now that the knot is firmly back in place. "I know I'm not alone, I do, but I just— why can't certain people stay? Even the guy I'm buying a thank you present for— I've only met him like six times. In the last two years. And you— I just met you. But the people I want to…" The people she wants to talk to, the people she wants to hold her…

"Sorry. Can you— still continue?" she asks, looking at her now damp hands.

The hug lingers a moment longer even as the distance returns and then Lydia's hands fall to her sides as she takes a step back. Her own fingers are used to mop up stray tears as she sniffs, "Never apologize for who you are. Not to anyone. Not for… any of it. You are a sweet, kind, gentle person. And yes, you have your faults, but don't let yourself own that rejection you feel. That's their problem, not yours. You have people." Her eyebrows punctuate these words as they rise towards her hairline. "Even if people are inconsistent in your life, it doesn't devalue what they are to you."

She reaches for one of Gillian's moistened palms as she takes another deep breath, but her gaze remains fixed on the other woman's eyes. "Fair weather friends are a dime a dozen. Finding people who accept you for who you are, faults and all — " something indiscernible flickers across Lydia's eyes " — those are the ones to cling to."

That said, her gaze returns to that palm for the last bit of the reading. She sniffs again before running a finger over the palm, "Your hand is long, oval-shaped with long flexible fingers telling me that you're perceptive, emotional, and perhaps a little inhibited. But I believe that goes with your introversion. You like to follow your intuition and tend to follow your actions quietly."

"It'd be nice if people would stop telling me what's wrong with me," Gillian says with a laugh, one of those sad ones, that shows her throat is tight from the crying. At least the knot stays in place, this time, and the tears don't quite fall. They hang out on her eyelashes, until she blinks. "I know I'm not perfect, but I never disliked myself until people kept telling me what was wrong with me." What she was doing wrong, what she did wrong.

It's odd, finding a sudden dislike for yourself, that you'd never had before. The ability isn't her. So she can hate that without hating herself. But—

"That's what I've wanted— someone to love me for who I am, faults and all." And she doesn't think it will ever happen in this world. Maybe in another. Maybe in one she helped destroy. But not this one…

"So there anything there about— you know— men?" It's one of the many things young women probably ask about. Men.

"There's nothing wrong with you," Lydia states matter-of-factly. "Nothing more than any of us. Nothing more than me or Delia or anyone who's ever walked through that door. We all have faults. You're not a sociopath, you're not without empathy, frankly, you're a good woman. So don't believe those lies; you deserve better than that." The tone is reassuring, confident, even. Some things she doesn't doubt; this would be one of them.

Again, something crosses Lydia's eyes, a sad reminiscence of a life lost, but she presses it aside as she raises a hand to her chest and shifts her weight to reappear behind the counter, that distance renewed. When she manages to speak, her voice cracks, "If you find it, cling to it everyday. Fight for it. And live without regret within it." Her cheeks flush a pale crimson before she presses her lips together again.

Her eyes rise to find Gillian's. "It's not that simple. Reading a palm tells me about you rather than them. You want to find that someone and have struggle resolved. You fall in love easily and struggle when it fails." Reflectively, her gaze remains heavy on the other woman. There's a pause before she states, "Love yourself. The rest will fall into place."

Like a science fiction satellite dish, Delia's ears are attuned to the words love and men. She's young, after all. The other customer that she's helping, is blabbering on and on about some sort of insect book that he's looking for, the redhead isn't interested in insects when there's romance to be eavesdropping about.

Slowly, her head leans in the direction of the front of the store. It doesn't go unnoticed by the man talking to her and he quiets a little and listens a little too. Soon, the pair of them have slipped a few of the books off the shelves and are peering between the spaces at the two women.

"She's just like Carmen from Two Hearts Afire, swear to god." Delia whispers to the man, her hushed voice may or may not be heard from the front.

"I never read that one, you got it in stock?" He responds, just as quietly.

"Yeah, sssshhh though, I want to hear this."

"I fall in love easily, but always with the wrong guys," Gillian says with a smile, that's a little sad, and unaware that she's being easedropped on. The hand that isn't being read wipes at her eyes, to get rid of those tears before they form again. "But that's what one of them liked to say— that I couldn't find love until I loved myself." And maybe he was right— but she had loved herself once, until she couldn't understand why no one could love her and keep loving her. Vicious cycle, that.

"I don't know how good I am, honestly. I want to be good, but it seems like no matter what I do, it's never enough— and the guy… the one I thought could be it— he told he this bullshit story about how we needed to not be with anyone for a while, and then a few weeks later he was sleeping with someone else. Then he keeps… showing up." Saving her, helping her… "And then it feels like he just showed up to walk away from me again."

Her life would be a sad, sad romance story.

"You don't need that drama," Lydia replies honestly releasing Gillian's hand gently and lowering her own to her sides. "And take your time." Her cheeks flush again, "Real love comes out of friendship — at least in my experience. It comes slowly, mixed with loyalty, contained with compassion, and smattered with trust." Her cheeks flush brighter, but only for an instant before she presses it back, "If you find that, don't let it go. Passion and lust are easy to come by and just as easy to lose, but true love is difficult to find." And equally hard to get over once really lost.

"Intention is half the battle. You are good. Believe it. Declare it over yourself. Do it everyday. And somewhere, somehow, everything else will follow." Her smile is gentle as it edges back over her lips.

"Oh my god, she's so tragic," Delia's quiet whisper drifts to the stranger next to her who simply nods as he watches just as intently as she does. "Seriously, I just want to run up and give her a huge hug."

"They were hugging a minute ago," a third male voice from Delia's other side joins in, causing the redhead to jump. "It was pretty hot." He earns a loud smack on the arm of his leather jacket and all three heads disappear from view from the front of the store.

"Dude, you're such a pig!" Delia scolds, still whispering and unable to contain the blush on her face. He also earns a deep scowl before Delia's head peeps up from behind the shelves again to watch.

"It's funny— the one I took time to fall in love with, was the one who I was talking about. I'd known him for a while before… It doesn't matter, though," Gillian says with a shake of her head, knowing that she'd hated him first, then grew to pity him, then thought of him as a friend first, trusted him, felt loyal to him. And then she loved him. But he never loved her back, or so he said, to push her away. And when he couldn't do that, he'd leave himself.

"I guess that's all my palm says," she asks, looking down at her hands, and then pausing at the sight of the left one, putting it down quickly enough. No need to keep looking at that. The reading has a listed price, and she pulls out the money and hands it over. No free coupon for her! "How much are the tattoos?" A glance at the clock tells her how much time she has. She may not look it, but she's had enough tattoos to know how long they take. And how long she has to curfew.

The money is deposited into the register before Lydia glances at the clock and then back to Gillian. "Well it really depends on what you want and how long it takes. Base price is $50, from there it goes up depending on how complicated it is." Her fingers lace together before she rests her hands on the counter.

"What did you have in mind? If I can do it quickly, I can do it for $50… I work pretty fast…" a flicker of a smile pulls at her lips.

When they stop talking about love and men, Delia and the first customer quickly lose interest and reshelve all the books that they'd taken down to watch. The other man? He's still staring in hopes to catch one more hug.

"So you were wanting a copy of Two Hearts Afire?" The young redhead is speaking in a normal voice to him as they exit that set of shelves and flit to the romance section, Delia's specialty.

The man is quite redfaced at the thought of the two women overhearing that he might have an interest in a harlequin type novel and simply grunts his reply. His eyes dart toward Gillian momentarily, taking a quick look up and down before he disppears from view behind the employee.

For a moment, Gillian's smile isn't sad, and instead almost mischevious. Yes, she did overhear that. "Oh, well— I think it's pretty simple, I brought the design with me." Reaching back into her bag, she pulls out a small notebook, where she's sketched something. A small tribal design with a yin/yang symnol on it. Simple swirls, and nothing too overly complicated. And she even holds out her right arm and points where she wants it with her thumb and fore-finger. About three inches long.

"Between here and here, with the yin-yang here," she explains, wanting the yin/yang symbol closer to her palm, and the tribal design to twist toward the inside of her elbow.

"Just black, no colors on this one, but if I can get enough money I may come back for another one later. I— used to have a lot of tattoos, but… how I lost them is a long and complicated story." That she doesn't want to say too loud where guys who read romance novels can overhear!

Lydia looks at the pattern carefully, her smile warming even more, especially as she overhears the book request, although she says nothing about it, instead tracing the pattern with her finger. "This shouldn't take long at all," she states with a warming smile before motioning for Gillian to follow her to the very small back room. Assuming she gets enough clients she'll move it upstairs, but for now that's what she has.

As per requirement, the place is sterile, complete with a lounging chair for the client and a rolling stool for the artist. She tugs on a pair of gloves before sterilizing the arm and prepping the needle with ink.

As the two women pass by Delia and her customer, Gillian is graced with a most pitiable look by both Delia and the customer. "So… tragic…" the clerk breathes as soon as they're out of sight. Then she looks over at the man at her side. "Hey! You know, you look exactly like the kind of man who knows how to show a lady a good time."

As Delia smiles at him the redfaced man stammers and quickly shakes his head in response, though his eyes do travel toward the curtained area where the two women vanished. He slouches, trying to go unnoticed by the other man across the aisle who is chortling like a hyena. He glares and curls his lips downward in hopes of driving off the over-eager employee. She's not so easily dissuaded.

"Fine fine… maybe not show her a good time, but you can definitely make her happy. Come with me." She leads him back to the aisle with the art books and picks out a few more of her favorites and piles them into his hands. "Buy these for her, if you don't want me to, I won't even tell her that they're from you! It'll be like sending her a drink at a bar… except better." And a little more expensive.

Stepping after, Gillian glances at the book in a bag next to the bible, and hopes she'll have enough money when it's through to buy the Bible. But she still has to wonder what the deal is with it, but she follows over to the back room instead, exposing her right arm to be cleaned and then inked. She's been inked enough, and been forced to feel pain enough, that it almost seems too familiar to be unpleasant. But now that they're further away from the potential easedroppers, she lowers her voice to a whisper and begins to talk.

It's like most women talk to their hair dressers, only she'll talk to her tattoo artist more.

"It's actually a combination of two tattoos I used to have. One that I got the day I met… both the guys I fell for. And one I'd gotten years before it. The tribal design is similar to the first one, the yin/yang I'd gotten the day I met them." Which was strange, since they were very yin/yang-like. "I lost them during the winter— I got hurt, badly. And someone showed up to heal me. It was like they left me a clean slate afterwards. But the longer I didn't have any, the less I felt like me."

Steady hands trace the tattoo onto her skin before even attempting the needle. With a deep breath, Lydia poises her needle to trace the outline with that black ink as per Gillian's request. "It really cool," she states with a small smile. "And unique, which I can appreciate." Her eyebrow arches at the notion of not feeling herself, but the tattoo artist nods, "I can understand that. If I woke up without my tattoos," she raises the needle to glance at one of the faces imprinted on her arm, "I wouldn't feel like me. I've had them for so long…"

She smiles faintly before bringing the needle back to the other woman's skin, running it along the skin. She hmmms quietly before suggest, "Well… I'm still learning and could use someone to… experiment on." Her smile grows, even as she continues with her work, "Next one will be on me."

"Hey, free tattoos, I'll never say no to that," Gillian says with a grin, those dimples reappearing as she handles the pain that comes with the tattoo quite well. Better than most people might. She feels it, but it doesn't bother her very much. It's just pain— pain that lets her know she's getting something that's worth it.

"I usually get tattoos based on certain things in my life. This one is kind of— I guess it's a reminder of what they were to me, and what they still are. But at the same time it's not even near the same place, so it kinda shows that I'm not in the same place with them anymore. And I may never be again."

Because you can't go back— can you?

"Your tattoos are really nice, though. Whoever did them was really good," she adds, nodding toward said tattoos.

"He was very talented," Lydia agrees with a small smile, although her head remains down, working on her art, painting it in as per her trade. Finally the outline is finished, causing her to look up from the arm to her client to stretch her neck before leaning forward again, needle at the ready.

"I think it's important that a tattoo be significant. Something important. Or to commemorate something." She begins to colour in the outline as per the design, carefully staying within the line she'd created. "My first was after a personal transformation. I was… fifteen?" her nose wrinkles as she can't quite remember, it's been so long. "Maybe fourteen." She bites her bottom lip as she finishes colouring in the tattoo. "And… there… we go…" backing up, she admires her handiwork before bandaging it up as per her usual procedure.

"My first one was when I was around that age too," Gillian says with a grin, looking down toward a place that no longer has a tattoo. "It was a tiger, from the Chinese Zodiac. Cause that's what I am. A tiger." And that's what she still is, honestly— "This looks great, thanks," she says, noticing the familiar red around the black lines. She knows it'll fade eventually, but for now, it stands out.

"Oh, um— my name's…" There's a hesitation, as if she's tempted to give a false one, even if she wasn't asked. "It's Gillian. But don't— mention me if anyone asks around." So much for using a new name and keeping a new identity. Gillian Childs may need to be dead in the eyes of the world, but…

A name is part of who she is, and it's unfortunately hard to let go of. Even if it wasn't her birth name.

"And I definitely will come back for another, as soon as I figure out what the other is." As she stands she fetches out the fifty, in smaller bills than that, and hands it over. "Let's see if I have enough for that Bible, now," she says, moving toward the counter.

When Gillian and Lydia exit the curtained area, the store is void of customers and Delia is sitting beside the register reading. The book in her hand, The Heart Yearns, is a ratty copy, the cover depicting a young woman with brilliant red hair being held by a man with short dark hair. Beside her is a stack of books that have been bagged.

When they approach, the natural redhead glances up with a smile. "Oh hey! Get your tat?" Her smile is a little too wide, her eyes a little too sparkly, probably with mischief. But she doesn't wait for Gillian's answer before pushing the stack of sacked books toward the middle of the counter. "There you go! You might want to pick through them when you get home, but my favorite one is the Group of Seven. For Canadians, they're really good…. Not that Canadians can't be good artists but… well they're not French. Some of them… I guess." Her eyes shift side to side and she purses her lips into a tight knot as she considers. "Yeah, some of them aren't French."

Shuold Lydia go to the cash register, she might find an extre couple hundred in the till.

"Gillian," Lydia repeats with a hint of a smile. "I'm Lydia." And she is. Like Gillian, the blonde couldn't part with her name either, not her first name, anyways. She glances vaguely at the stack of books before opening the register to ring up the sum of the purchase. With an arched brow she glances at the rather sparkly Delia and then back towards Gillian. Twice she repeats this pattern, the body language telling and her own intuition working its magic. Fortunately she clues in quickly.

Her lips curl into a suspicious smile before she shakes her head, "It seems your purchase is paid for… I believe all of these are yours." She pushes the books towards Gillian before sideglancing her employee again, altogether unsure how the tricksy redhead pulled it off.

French-Canadians. It's not just the surprising generiousity that gets to her, but what the woman picked out. Gillian can't help but touch the books. "I can't…" It seems for a moment she's going to say she can't accept them, that they're too expensive to be given as a gift to her, even if she intended to buy one as a gift. "Thank you," is what she finally says instead, looking toward Delia, then over to Lydia. After all that happened to her, the gesture is felt strongly. Especially from relative strangers.

"Thank you," she adds, again, looking toward the bible, which was included. Then she reaches back into her purse and pulls out a few dollar bills. "Most fortune tellers deserve a tip, and I think you do— and you too," she adds to Delia. It's just a few dollars, but it makes her feel like she paid for the books a little. "Would it be okay if you held on to some of them for me? I— don't think I can carry all of them home by myself today, but— it'll bring me back in a few days. And I might have money to buy more then too."

And guy can come back and stalk her if he wants, too.

As she says that, she reaches for the heavy Bible, and two of the art books for carrying away, including Group of Seven. Sometimes she wishes she had super strength.

The weight of the collection is something that Delia didn't really consider when she was conning the two men into buying books for the stranger. She shoots a quick look over to Lydia before opening her mouth again. "I uhm… I work as a courier too… for Alley Cat. If you want, I can take them to work with me tomorrow and I can drop them off somewhere while I'm making a delivery?" This way, the woman wouldn't have to be bothered with worrying about carrying the books home on her next visit.

She raises her eyebrows toward Lydia, "Uhh… That'd be alright, right? I mean… They're paid for." Taking a quick breath in, she widens her eyes and clears her throat nervously. "Only if you want to, I mean, I completely understand if you don't. But I'm bonded, so it's not like you can't trust me."

"Of course. There's no need to take them all now, and Delia is completely trustworthy," Lydia states as she accepts the little bit of cash which she'll slip to her employee later. One good turn deserves another. She glances at Delia again, "I think you're trustworthy. You don't need to be bonded to prove that to me." Her eyes sweep over to Delia before she hmmms, "You work everywhere, don't you?" her lips twitch upwards as she closes the register.

"Come back regardless," she offers to Gillian. "Perhaps not as soon as if the books weren't being delivered, but… the free tattoo is still on the table."

The downside about that offer— her current residence is top secret. Gillian hesitates for a time, as if doubting this bond that's been mentioned, before she reaches for the notepad she drew the tattoo on, finds a pencil, and writes out an address, and a name. "This is a good friend of mine in the city. I'll give her a call and let her know someone will be dropping off a couple books for me." The name is Peyton Whitney, and the address is a very nice condo.

Sorry, Peyton, but you're going to be her reference. Though— "It's funny you work for Alley Cat— I know some people who worked there a few years ago." And she knows the owner— and she picked the location of their new office, in the firestation.

Maybe the girl knows more. It wouldn't surprise her—

There's little coincidence in this world, sometimes.

"Thank you, and I will come back. As soon as I have something to record on my skin." Cause that's what tattoos are. A record.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License