Kindred Spirit


gillian4_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif

Scene Title Kindred Spirit
Synopsis With her decision made, Gillian meets with the Painted Lady, to prepare for her trip into the past.
Date October 2, 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".

Short on one staff (who is on the run), and with the disappearance of yet another, Ichihara Bookstore has several boxes of books in need of shelving, a task that's fallen to the proprietress. Unfortunately, Gabriel has made this process far from easy; he lays across one of the boxes in a patch of sunlight, bathing in it, and allowing it bring him some contentment.

Lydia clucks her tongue coaxingly. "C'mon Gabriel~" she sings as she claps her hands in quick succession to get his attention. "There's tuna on the counter~ Come and get it~" Again she claps.

The cat is, however, an unmovable force, and Lydia has been at this for several minutes already; unfortunately, her patience is perhaps too strong, and unyielding in this regard. She bends down towards the white cat and tries again, "Don't you want the yummy, yummy tuna~" Of course, since she has been at this for awhile, the entire store has begun to smell like tuna, oh happy days!

With a heavy sigh, she straightens, stretches her back, and smoothes her hair, only to frown at the creases in her periwinkle dress. With a tut, she disapproves of her own appearance, and rolls her eyes, giving Gabriel one last piece of advice, "Go. Catch mice." All she receives is a loud meow in return.

As if to help air out the tuna, the door to the store opens with a dingding of the bell at the top. It isn't one of the wayward employees, however, but a potential customer. Gillian's unnaturally red hair make her easily recognizable, even after the brief moment that they'd seen each other at the Coney Island Carnival. Not to mention the tattoo on her wrist that's visible as she pushes her hair back and looks toward the periwinkle dressed woman.

"Smells like tuna in here," she comments outloud, with a small hint of a laugh in her voice, before she moves inside further, looking around at the shelves once, but knowing that is not why she's here. As much as she loves books—

It's not books that brought her here this time.

The anxiety wafts off her like a fresh pine scent, but at the same time there's something hopeful about it.

The sound of the bell redirects Lydia's attention from Gabriel to her customer, and Gillian is shot a serene, albeit somewhat weary — thanks to her disagreement with Gabriel —smile. "Welcome back," she states quietly, her words rich, warm, and thick. She shuffles towards the counter with a sigh, Gabriel clearly disinterested in the stinky fish she'd opened some time ago. Defeatedly, she disappears with the can into the back for a moment before reemerging, the can of stinky fish given to the kittens; they're off their mother's milk and will be heading home any time now.

After returning, her hair is carefully tucked behind her ears as she shuffles down the aisles towards Gillian, "Is there something I can help you with? I know I'm not as adept as Delia at finding books, but I do know most of what we have thanks to Kaylee's filing system." Which is on the computer but also printed in binders for her.

"Not here for books today, though I may ask you to do a reading and give me a tattoo," Gillian says, moving further into the bookstore and briefly moving over to assault the cat with a palm against the top of his eyebrow-marked head. The name and the eyebrows remind her so much of the past, which is what brought her here, anyway…

"Am I the only customer?" she asks really quick, before she looks around the bookshelves to make sure that she doesn't see anyone else, hears no other footsteps. Some things she's too cautious to say outloud. "I'm here because— I was told to go here and see the 'Painted Lady' when I made up my mind— to tell her— to tell you— that I'm looking for Samuel."

There's a quirk of Lydia's eyebrow at the question, followed by a fleeting sigh, "Things have been far quieter since Roosevelt Island became so…" there's a long pause she searches for a neutral word, "… secure." Her smile turns tight; her feelings on the matter up to anyone's guess. She presses her lips together for a moment before leaning on one of the shelves while her eyes narrow through her thick dark lashes.

Her weight shifts from one foot to the other, a silent exchange of thoughts displayed only in the subtlety of her body language. Her red painted fingernails click against the surface of the bookshelf while her lips purse together slightly. Finally the question is formulated, "Why are you looking for Samuel?" There's another odd pause, "Looking for the present in the past?"

"Yeah— secure's a word for it," Gillian says quietly, highly grateful for her Registered Evolved card that has a name other than her own on it. Else she's not sure she could have made it out to the island, unless she learned how to swim, or row a boat. "Yeah— I'm looking for… that," she says, not repeating the words as she walks back over, letting the shoulder bag drop from her shoulder and land on the floor.

"He approached me after the carnival at Coney Island, and made me an offer that… it took a few days, but I'm going to take him up on it. I think I'd decided before he left, but— now I know for sure. That I want to take a chance at the offer." No matter the consequences.

"Do you think that a… reading would help guide me in what I'll need to do?"

There's an indiscernible quirk of Lydia's eyebrow as her cheeks redden slightly, "What was his offer?" but she doesn't wait for an answer before turning on her heel back to the counter. She's not disinterested in the answer, but since Perry's revelation, she's been increasingly ambivalent about her arrangement with Samuel. "The cards can be… very telling." Both of her eyebrows raise.

She steps around the counter and draws the deck of cards from beside the register, carefully unfolding them from their fabric covering. Her fingers rap against the counter as she watches Gillian like she wants to say something, but no words come out. Instead, after another hesitant pause, she shuffles the deck before passing it over to Gillian, "Cut the deck."

A few steps bring her to the counter, where Gillian takes the deck and begins to cut it, placing three small stacks on the top of the counter, and then putting them back into place with one of those stacks on the top. "He offered me an entirely new life," she says softly, as if there were a lump in her throat. From the emotions bubbling up, it feels like this offer had been everything she wanted. "The chance to fix something that should have never happened…"

There's a pause, before she glances away from the cards. "And a chance to meet my parents— my real ones. And maybe… be able to keep them. They died when I was young, and I— never really remembered them. I didn't even know I was adopted until a year ago. What I know of my life keeps being rewritten, and I guess this time I want to be the one doing the rewrite."

There's a pause, before she asks, "Does your ability help this? This reading that you're doing?"

There's a shift of Lydia's eyes. While she may be registered, owning up to her ability still isn't something she's accustomed to outside her family. Despite herself, she nods. "Yes. My ability finds people's desires, fears, hopes, and failures. The cards reflect your inner-self thanks to it; hence my readings are particularly reliable. I read you, not the future, or the cards." Her lips twitch as she lays the cards in a five card spread, faced-down.

The first card is turned over. THE MOON. "This first card, the present card, provides the theme for the reading. The moon reflects feelings of bewilderment, like you're losing direction and purpose, feeling disoriented, becoming confused, perhaps…"

"This may be a bit disorienting at first," Gillian says quietly, placing her hands down on the table and doing something that she may not be able to do again— at least if this works. Part of her hopes it does work. That knot in the back of her head is a constant reminder of all the pain and hardship she's caused because of her ability, all the people that have been hurt— and all the pain that she's been through.

The thread starts small at first, and then as she keeps looking, her eyes begin to shine, with a violet light behind the darkness, making the white's glow and the irises shimmer, and the pupil's dialate into small pips.

If it's her that she's reading, what the fortune teller can see is that the cards couldn't be more right. Confused and bewildered, seeking direction, but at the same time… This very thing that she's doing is what she wants to change about herself the most— this ability that she has, and everything that has happened to her because of it. But at the same time, she has no idea who she'd be without it. What she would be to anyone…

And sure enough it is disorienting. Lydia shivers under the new flood of emotions. Where the card had only reflected general emotions, Lydia can feel a flood of bewilderment, physically feeling it where the cards had just reflected it. Goosebumps form along Lydia's arms as she gasps for air, only to release the breath as soothingly as she can.

Her fingers tremble as she reaches for the next card. "This," she declares, "represents the past," turning it over the card reads SEVEN OF CUPS. "The past is about options; being given alternatives and picking and choosing."

With another gasp of breath and yet another shiver, she reaches for the third card, the future card, "As it stands, the future holds…" Her nose wrinkles as she turns over FIVE OF CUPS, "…loss. Bereavement… even regret. That's your fear, isn't it? Not confusion, but a complete sense of bereft…"

Loss and bereavement. Never things someone wants to have in their future, especially considering how much one has already been through. Captivity, heart ache, pain… "I don't think anyone wants to go feel that way— no one wants to be abandoned or lose the things that they hold dear," Gillian says quietly, still looking at the other woman, still glowing faintly. Rather than taper off, the flood continues to grow slowly in the background, like a faucet being opened more and more, until the sink fills up with clear water.

Clear would be how easy they are to feel, her entire being becoming an open book, plain as day, but at the same time her emotions are foggy and confused.

"I'm not sure what I'm most afraid of losing, though," she admits that part of her confusion. "I feel like I've lost so much already, that I don't know what more I'd be willing to lose." Except this ability, perhaps.

Lydia sniffs loudly, trying to retain these emotions that aren't hers. Where normally, she's all stoicism, Gillian's feelings have a very different effect, letting the emotions overflow in a quiver of her lips and a trembles of her skin. Not only does Lydia feel Gillian's emotions, but thanks to the augmentation, the intensity increases considerably. With another quick inhalation of breath, her voice loses its generally even cadence, "I… You're afraid of losing what little you have left." Her voice cracks around the words, it's a fear Lydia knows well, a fear all her own.

Her fingers edge the fourth card. "This is the reason for the past, the indeterminate cause for your questions now." SIX OF SWORDS. "Sadness. You're very sad… and while that might seem like a given, that's why you're so torn. You're afraid of losing more because you couldn't bear to be sadder than you are now."

Lydia's eyebrows knit together as her shoulders and neck tighten. Forcing herself again she turns over the last card. "This is the possibility in the situation…" THE WORLD. "Integration. Accomplishment… achieving your heart's true desire…" The painted lady's lips press together again, "You're very torn. You know that right now you don't have what you want and are at a point where you can't envision losing much more than you already have…"

"My heart's true desire," Gillian repeats the words quietly, before she closes those glowing eyes and begins to wrap up the flow of energy in the small throbbing knot that she's grown so used to. How would it feel to never have that again? It will at least make her emotions dull, in comparison to the flood the poor woman had been subjected to.

"That's my ability— that's why ever since people started finding out what I could do, I— people keep wanting to use me for it. Test the limits of it, and see how it affects them." The negative times have been negative, the positives…

Well she's not sure they outweight what the ability has caused. "I do think that this gives me the best chance of finding what I want— or at least… it's the best chance I've had in a long time." And she has Samuel to thank for that.

"Thank you— sorry for that, too," she adds, as she bends down to reach into her purse, for the cash to pay for the reading.

"No payment today," Lydia states as she gets a handle back on her own feelings, pressing back all of her emotions to where they belong. Her voice finds its smooth richness again, "Keep your money. This was a favour for Samuel as much as you." She swallows hard as she collects the cards, her eyebrows twitching with careful consideration as she does so.

Finally, making up her mind about something, she reaches forward to squeeze Gillian's hand, not to understand Gillian's emotions, but to impart the weight of the situation. Seeking eye contact, she virtually whispers, "If you do this, do it for you. And watch out for yourself in the past. Don't do anything you wouldn't do in the present." What she means by that is wholly unclear.

"I think this is one of the few things I've done mostly for myself in a long time," Gillian says quietly, with a hint of a smile before she holds the cash out anyway. "Since you won't let me pay for the reading, I insist on paying for the tattoo I want to take with me into the past. If possible I'd like to get a butterfly tattoo, something simple and tribal-like, on my ankle."

A butterfly tattoo. She understands the possibilities of going back in time and trying to stomp on her own present and past and future. And even if she fails, at least this way she'll have a reminder of what she tried.

A butterfly. Exactly Lydia's concern with all of this, that someone in the past may step on the wrong butterfly.

"Well let's see what we can do," Lydia moves slowly towards the back. Space reclaimed for her inks and parts of her craft — and kept as clinically clean as possible. The room is the same as before, complete with a gurney type bed. She motions for Gillian to hop on it before she's sketching a pattern with freehand. Once she's done, she lifts it up for the redhead to examine, "Verdict? Do you like it? Since it's tribal… black and white, I assume?"

She's already tugging on her blue disposable gloves before Gillian can answer. "Do you know what Samuel wants you to do?" the tone is casual enough.

Hopping onto the chair, Gillian pulls the cuff of her pants up enough to expose her ankle all the way up to the calf, and even slips part of her shoe off. Not enough to remove it completely, but enough to give plenty of manuevering room. "That's perfect," she says with a nod, smiling at it a bit. Black is simple, and the colors wouldn't need to be touched up later.

"My ability— I wasn't born with it," she says quietly, looking down at the woman's gloves, to watch her work. "It was given to me through a needle, an injection. An experiment that my real parents had participated in, and an experiment that, when they decided to stop it, killed them. They were murdered, to cover up what they'd been doing— creating children with abilities."

The truth of her past, as she'd learned it over a year ago.

"If I can get them out of that project, if I can keep them from injecting me— my whole life would be different. I wouldn't even be Gillian Childs anymore. My real name was Stephanie… Stephanie Winters."

"I suppose that would make life very different," Lydia replies quietly as she prepares the ink. No murder this time, so her conscience eases some with a faint smile. "I know this is old hat for you, but my own — " professionalism? empathy? sensitivity? " — obliges I say it." And then with a broadened smile she adds, "This is going to sting a little." In fact, at the news Gillian is not being sent back as some kind of murderer, she eases substantially.

The first lines of the tattoo are created as Lydia quickly works to work the ink on the canvas. "Stephanie is a beautiful name," she comments idly. "I've always liked it. That and Amanda." She lifts the needle to peer up at Gillian momentarily only to shake her head andd busy herself again with her work.

Despite the old hat, Gillian winces a bit, but avoids showing anything other than that. The knot is something she can focus on, as it's always there, always throbbing. Especially around someone with an equally always on ability. "I never would have thought of myself as a Stephanie, actually. It— was a pretty popular name in the schools I went to growing up," she says with a laugh, as if the popularity never appealed to her before.

"But I guess Gillian had the downside of having people call me Jill half the time, too. So any name has negatives and positives, I guess." Gillian versus Stephanie. Which one fit her better? She had the option to change her name after the trip to Argentina, but she didn't take it. She'd been Gillian Childs for as long as she could remember… But maybe she wasn't meant to be.

"Why Amanda?"

"Well Lydia was never common in school," when she went to school. That was a long time ago. Middle school. She sniffs, a quiet avoidance of the memory clung so tight to her. "Gillian is also beautiful; I just always wanted something normal. I think I'm drawn to those names. Something between common and uncommon. Usual enough that a person feels… " she doesn't finish her thought, instead presumably getting lost somewhere in her work as needle is pressed to skin again.

When she lifts the needle she addresses the question, "Fragments of a past never fully realized. Some things we carry with us even when we leave them far behind." Her cheeks flush slightly, a slight hint of pink. "And even if I could, I wouldn't want them to change, no matter what my real desires may be, others desires are often far more… important." Lydia has made her mistakes, but for Amanda, she's convinced this is the best scenario for her daughter.

"Unique," Gillian says with a soft sound to her voice. Everyone is unique, but names are one thing people label a person as first in their mind. Though it's likely she recognizes there's a story behind those vague words, she just watches for a time. Despite spilling so many of her own secrets, she doesn't really expect any in return at the moment. Especially when…

She's aiming to rewrite her past, so if it works, wouldn't what she just told the woman change anyway?

"So Lydia is your real name? I figured it must have been some kind of… stage name. Especially after I saw you at that carnival at Coney Island. You know. Lydia the Tattooed Lady… Queen of the Tattoo… on her back is the Battle of Waterloo."

"It is. My real name. My last name isn't," Lydia's eyebrows knit together again. "And that's exactly it, something unique without being labeled… exotic." Although, in a way, the exotic suits the painted lady, although whether that came before or after her time at the carnival is anybody's guess.

Her eyes narrow slightly at Gillian, knowing so much openly about another person has its effect. And, if Gillian is successful, doesn't that mean this conversation will never happen. Or, Gillian won't remember it? When she lifts the needle, she tilts her head at the redhead to open her mouth again, only to close it a moment later. Slowly she takes a deep breath, refocusing on her work.

"I've been the painted lady for so long, I can scarcely remember myself before it. Begs the question as to which is the illusion: Lydia Taylor or the painted lady."

"Maybe both, maybe neither," Gillian says as she avoids anymore grimacing at the needle pressing ink into her skin to leave a permenant mark. Or as permenant as it can get, at least. "Lydia's nice, though, it really is." For a long moment, all she does is watch the woman work, before she asks in a quiet and strained voice (perhaps from the pain), "Is Samuel giving a lot of people this opportunity? To go back and change the past in various ways?"

For her, it's an opportunity, a chance to change her life and change everything that she's ever known. Maybe for the better— a gamble, but many opportunities are.

"I'm used to people using me for things, painting it in pretty colors for my own good, but— he didn't ask anything else of me. Other than rewriting my own past." And everything that her past had touched as well.

Lydia hmmms quietly as she continues her work, switching needles to colour in the lines she's created. "Samuel is rewriting our history. In theory it's simple." The notion of being used, only earns Gillian a quirk of an eyebrow, finding something of a kindred spirit in the painted lady.

"He wants to fix our family." The answers are almost rehearsed, not quite convinced, and not quite believed. "He and I… we go back a long ways. To a time when I was running from my past." Through all of these words, she doesn't look up once. "His brother was like a father to me when my own rejected what I'd become. For years I'd been my daddy's littler girl and then in a heartbeat, one decision changed it all… but it's a decision I wouldn't take back, even if I could." Now the needle is placed down as she seeks out Gillian's gaze, "When everything changed, when the world became a prison for people like us, we lost our family."

"And I lost mine before I was five," Gillian says quietly, thinking on what little she knew of her parents, of her life before Icarus. Of her life that she doesn't remember. Of her twin brother, of her mother, of her father… Of every little thing in her life that got taken away from her, without any decision or choice on her part. Until now.

"I don't know how changing my past will help your family, but I guess it might, in some way." A ripple to spread out through the ages, perhaps… "But that's not why I'm doing it— like you said I'm doing it for me. For my past, for myself— If nothing else, by this time tomorrow, I'll meet my parents."

"I just provide answers as best I can. And as long as… as long as not too much changes in my life before I found my family, then I have little to worry about." Gillian is issued a tight-lipped smile as Lydia finishes the remainder of the tattoo. "My hope is that we can find some happy medium where DHS doesn't kill… didn't kill… doesn't kill any of them." She frowns slightly.

"It's exciting to meet your parents." There's a small pause before Lydia is rolling the gloves off her hands. "Do you think… do you think if they had a way to meet you, you'd want them to find you after so long?"

With a twitch of her toes, Gillian tests the movement of her ankle, before she turns to let the pant leg fall down. She'll likely wish she'd worn capris, and she may wear them for the next few days. But the pain will be a reminder of what she's going back to do, and what it could mean. "Getting rid of my ability will only really mess with the last two years, I think. I don't see any reason it would have much of an effect for anyone else until then."

So that should keep within the bounds of this woman's desires, she hopes?

"I'd want them to find me, yeah— as soon as I heard about them, I tried to find out anything I could. In the end, I was only able to find out a few things— my mom looked like me. Or I look like her, I guess. I saw a picture not too long ago, and she did. My dad played chess. I started to learn a little cause I wanted to— I don't know. Have a piece of him with me. But if they had a way to meet up with me— I would want them to. Just like I hope they'd want me to find them."

Lydia's cheeks turn a pale pink hue. The situation is different, she didn't die, she left Amanda with her sister, but just the same, the words bear some weight. Finally, swallowing, she asks, "What if… what if your mother had you too young and left you with people she knew would do a better job?" There's a tightness to her smile. "Amanda. Amanda is my daughter. I was nearly fifteen when I left her with my sister and run away to the carnival." She hasn't seen her since.

With a tighter although more serene smile she shrugs, "Things in life that happened and need to remain." She shuffles out of the back room and finds her place behind the counter. "I hope you find what you're looking for in the past, and hope even more… that it does great things for you in the present, Gillian.'

Being orphaned is a kind of abandonment. If her parents hadn't been involved in what they were involved in, they wouldn't have been killed, but it's definitely a different kind of abandonment. Very different. Gillian looks at the older woman, as she picks up her things. "If you have the chance to see your daughter, you should take it. Even if she rejects you, or fights against you, even if she yells at you for leaving her… She's your daughter."

So young to have children. But…

As she pulls her purse out, she pulls something out and holds it out to her. "This is the time and place I want Samuel to meet me, to take me back. Thank you." She adds, before she begins to make her way toward the door, looking at the eyebrow-marked cat as she does.

"And you should try to see your daughter if you get the chance."

With that, she leaves. To get ready for her chance at meeting her long lost family.

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