Of A Friend And Flowers


corbin_icon.gif darien_icon.gif

Scene Title Of A Friend and Flowers
Synopsis In an attempt to catch Hokuto, Corbin meets Darien instead, which in turn means he gets to meet one of his bosses oldest friends. A book is sold.
Date July 9, 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".

Another afternoon, just a few short days after the incident at the Brooklyn Public Library, finds Darien behind the counter at the Ichihara Bookstore: cleaning off the counter, sorting new arrivals, and placing restocks on a cart to be taken further into the store. That plan, today as any day, broke down somewhere around two p.m. as one book or another caught his eye. Between greeting customers entering the shop, Darien's attention has been caught up by one of the newer arrivals: Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government.

A pile of books rests on the counter in neat rows, having gotten as far as sorting by subject today. A few newspapers flutter in the breeze whenever the door opens, that and the sound of a few tiny bells tied to the door all that catches Darien's attention when a customer arrives.

The creaking door emits a soft sound to mark the arrival of another customer. A customer that wears a suit, albet a rather unfashionable one. Pale blue that could pass for gray from a distance and a too wide light blue tie with lines traced through it. A briefcase-like bag hangs over his shoulder next to him, likely a laptop case that seconds as other things as well. Wavy hair, blue eyes, a short cropped beard covering a cleft chin… Corbin Ayers may have visited a few times in the past, but never when anyone else sat behind the counter.

There's a surprised blink at the lack of a asian woman. A glance tossed around for a moment, as if she could be hiding behind one of the bookcases, until he focuses back at the man that is present. "You must be Darien."

"That's me," Darien nods as he slips a well-worn bookmark, polished wood and green ribbon, into his book before setting it aside. He pauses a moment, appraising Corbin quickly and noting his glance. "I take it you're not here to do some shopping?" his words more a question than a statement.

"Was hoping to catch Hokuto, but I certainly won't complain if she's using this chance to get out and do something," Corbin says, stepping deeper inside instead of turning back around. The close to the counter bookshelves get a casual look over before he adds on, "She mentioned hiring help. Known her since before she took this place over and I'm glad she did." A hand reaches out to pick off a book, a science fiction novel of some kind, but he doesn't look at it long before pushing it back and looking at him. "She said you were there for the library incident. That you're the one who helped difuse it. Good job."

"Thanks," Darien says, clearing his throat and nodding, clearly uncomfortable with the praise. "I'm just glad no one- no one /else/- was hurt. Hokuto gave me hell for it, but I couldn't just…"

"She's taken some time off," he says, changing the subject poorly, though now looking at Corbin in a new light. He can't recall meeting anyone that had known Hokuto before she opened the bookstore - hadn't considered that such a time might have existed. "She actually asked me about taking a week off before the incident, now that she has me to watch the shop for her. After that, well, I told her I wouldn't complain if she wanted to take more time than that."

"I'm glad someone was there with her," is all that Corbin says on the topic that got flipped away from. "She mentioned you're quite a bookworm— I've never really been much of that, not in the traditional sense. I read all day at my job too, it isn't what I want to do when I go home." There's a mild shake of his head, a friendly smile that almost seems like he's constantly on the verge of laughing, even when the topic they'd moved away from isn't at all funny. "News said it was a Crisis Councilor had a hand in it. That what you do when you're not working here?"

"That and read a bit more," Darien chuckles, motioning to the book he set aside. "I started volunteering at Saint John's after the Bomb - wasn't much local call for website design, of course. When the Center opened its doors, they were understaffed, places like there always are. I started helping out, and eventually found I was there every morning like clockwork. Feels good to be doing something to help other people, you know?" he says with half-shrug.

"I've helped with a few stories about crisis centers, especially since the Bomb," Corbin says with a nod, still smiling faintly and sounding rather upbeat despite the topic. There's something in his eyes giving away a serious feeling about it. Eyes shift and fall onto the signs near the register. "I'm guessing you don't do the tarot readings, even if you're helping out at the store? Hokie won't read mine. Tried once and couldn't stop laughing. Can't help but wonder if she saw something humiliating like my ex-wife deciding to sue me for something stupid."

"No, that's entirely her field," Darien says with a laugh at Corbin's idea, making a mental note likely to soon be forgotten to cover the sign later. "I've read a few books on the subject, but I probably wouldn't be any better at it than you would. Now, if you're looking for a good book to read, or where to find a rare first-edition of The Descent of Man, I'd be a bit more useful."

"Well, I know I said I don't really read books in my spare time, but…" Corbin glances towards the roped off part of the building, the stairs leading up to the private loft that the woman they both know uses. It's almost as if he expects that she's going to come walking down any minute. "But there's one thing. Got any books on flowers? I told her they're planning to reopen the flower district sometime soon, cause the guy next to me had to work up a story on it… Figure if I read a book I won't feel dumb when the place opens and she lets me drag her over there."

"That, I can help you with," Darien slides off his stool and squeezes past the handcart, vanishing into the narrow shelves for a minute. When he returns, a broad, black-covered book is in hand, setting it on the counter before Corbin and spinning it so he can read the cover. "One Hundred Flowers, complete with full-sized illustrations, descriptions, notes for cultivation, and an overview of the major flower groups. Nice, light reading with enough detail that you won't feel like you've forgotten everything a few weeks later."

"You are good," Corbin says, looking over the cover and then reaching into his pocket to pull out his wallet. "Didn't even take too long to find it— there's thousands of books and you knew just where to go…" There's a thoughtful pause for a moment, as if he thought of something he doesn't quite like. It settles the humor in his smile. The smile which comes back quickly enough. "I'll take it." His wallet makes noises, a chain attaching it to his belt, and another chain attaching his keys to it. One key stands out, a glossy paint job on the handle, black with white stars and a partial moon.

"I've been working my way through the shelves in the off-hours," Darien waves to the rest of the store, currently bereft of customers, "So I have a pretty good idea of what we have in stock, even without booting the computer up to search." He pauses, regarding Corbin's keyring. "That's an interesting key; can't say I've seen one painted like that before. Hobby of yours?"

"Painted keys aren't that uncommon if you go to the right stores— I picked it out so I could tell the difference between that one and the others easier," Corbin explains, as he pulls out the right amount of cash, or the close, enough to pay for it, but not so much he'll need a lot of cash in change. "I'm glad she hired someone who knows how to use the computer— God sometimes I think this island is stuck in the stone age." In some ways it might as well be… it'd been called Welfare Island for years for a reason… "You can tell her I stopped by, but keep what I bought between us."

"My lips are sealed," Darien says with a grin as he makes change, then bags the book and hands it to Corbin. "If you need any other book, you know where to find us."

The change is tucked away in his wallet, then that's dropped into a pocket, while the book itself is put into the laptop case that hangs over his shoulder. "Oh— my name's Corbin." He suddenly realizes that he never gave his name to the man— he'd not needed to get one. "Take care of her— she has a nasty habit of falling asleep anywhere, even with the door wide open. She's kind of like a cat that way." The words are said with a teasing smile, before he turns and leaves the store.

"Corbin…" Darien mutters as he regards the man past the closing door, then nods to himself as he jostles the old cash register to make sure it's going to stay closed, turning back to his book until the next customer comes in.

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