Pale Rider


abby_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Pale Rider
Synopsis Abigail on a long ride stops in at a bookstore to get a gift for her mother, but thanks to Hokuto, comes out with much more than she bargained for. Hokuto as does well.
Date January 28, 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".

Two weeks of almost straight rain has turned the streets of New York City into slick black lines that intersect between dull gray monuments to the city that once was. Drizzling rain falling from heavy and low clouds keep the sky nearly the same concrete color as the skyscrapers and highrise buildings that bristle up from the urban landscape.

Tucked away like some secret treasure between the island of Manhattan and the borough of Queens, Roosevelt Island is a narrow strip of land that — like much of New York City — has seen better days. Even in its height, though, the small and isolated neighborhood rarely saw vehicle traffic. That truth is even more prevalent now, that the roads have fellen into disepair, with cracks in the pavement and weeds growing up between the splits in the dark tar.

Cars, however, have nothing on something as trusty as a scooter. The tires splash through puddles, weave around between potholes and fissues in the street as it winds down Main Street, the central road that runs north and south through Roosevelt Island like an artety.

Years ago, this bustling marketplace was full of shops and businesses that lined both sides of the street. Now, Abigail Beauchamp rides her scooter out of the falling rain on the sidewalk that runs paralell to rows of boarded-up storefronts in what used to be a busy shopping center.

The scooter's engine purrs loudly, echoing off of the concrete walls as she passes by closed boutique after closed boutique. Some twelve thousand people used to live here, and now only just over seven hundred remain. It just so happens, on the north end of Main Street, is one of those remaining people.

The Ichihara Bookstore looks as old as it is from the outside. A wooden building crammed between two brick tenements, its plate-glass windows displaying both new and used books, with blackboard marquee signs out front detailing new releases and sales. Candle light of all things flickers on the inside, shedding a warm golden light out through the glass, and the old and worn wooden door is left open to the rainy streets. There used to be so much here to see.

Cars have nothing on a scooter that has had 'elvis' modifications done to it. It looks old but the innards is from a more modern Vespa. She's left after church, changing into jeans and sweater, a vibrant yellow rain jacket and drove. Just drove. It'd been a while since she'd done that. She could have rented a car, loaded a shotgun and headed out to the mountains. But she hasn't gotten a permit for her shotgun, and her hunting license had lapsed. So driving it was. It was the candle that caught her attention. Candles in bookstores are odd combination and tend to pique ones curiosity. It piqued hers.

So she pulled over, going through the quick process of securing the bike to a light pole, using her body to shelter Lazarus's seat so she could pull out her bag from the shallow depths of it's hidey hole and make for the open door of the book store. Momma has a birthday coming up. Maybe she'd find something for her in here. Or maybe.. maybe she could loose herself in the smell of new and aged paper, leather bindings, book glue and the inevitable dust that always collects in places like this.

Through the door the honey blonde steps, popping off the helmet and laying it in a safe place at the front. The yellow rain slicker soon follows so that she's not shedding any rain upon the wares within. That'd just be rude and Abigail tends to shy away from being rude.

The hard wood floor creaks underfoot on the inside, and the scent of sandalwood incense seems strangely prevalent in the air as Abby makes her way inside, mixing with that fresh rain and old paper. The store looks and feels old, from the scuffed and unfinished floor with the mocha-cream colored walls hanging with old black and with photographs of New York City as it was generations ago, set between tightly packed bookshelves and tables stacked with new releases and used books.

Notably, there's no electric lights on. All of the sconces and ceiling lights are darkened, leaving pillar candles tucked into frosted glass cylinders around the shop to serve as lighting. Right by the entrance, motion is the first thing to really draw Abby's attention away from the setting.

Black and white, stark contrasts, it's all Hokuto Ichihara looks like out of Abby's first periphery, and perhaps in that first impression there is a higher meaning.

Long, dark hair and tired looking dark eyes lifting up from an open book. The woman behind the register, seated on a high stool, straightens her posture and lifts her chin from her palm, dark brows rising as a hopeful smile crosses her face. "Welcome to Ichihara Books," she states with a notably chipper tone of voice, "I— apologize for the lights. The power's been out for a few days, so we're making due as best as we can." We being a bit hard to ascertain, as it's readily obvious she's the only person here.

"Is…" Hokuto's eyes drift from Abby to around the store, and she leans back on the stool, hands planting on the counter in front of her, "there something I might be able to help you find?" Her eyes dart out the large window nearby to the scooter, a smile creeping up on her lips as she looks back.

"Storm hitting that bad here? Don't worry. Little candle light never hurt anyone, Not like we weren't using it before we had electricity" There, wet stuff, save for the knees down of her jeans are wet and there's not anything she can really do about that. "I was driving around, I saw the lights I thought to stop in. It's lovely here" It really is. The type of place she would expect back home and not in new york or it's surrounding area's. "I need to get a gift for my momma. She's an old fashioned woman. likes to cook, garden, that sort of thing. You have anything special in here?" She drops her bag down the rest of her stuff so she can walk further in, look around a bit closer.

Wandering eyes drift around Abby's features, quizzically, as if wondering if the southern belle in the forgotten corners of New York is as unusual as the bookstore itself. "Not so much the weather," Hokuto notes about the electricity, "as it is the grid here. It was damaged, a couple of years ago…" There's no elaboration on how, but to most New Yorkers the answer is an obvious one, and much of a sore spot to talk about in name. "It'll be properly working one day, no doubt. The candles, though, they're charming!"

Sliding off of her stool, Hokuto moves out from behind the counter, black dress slacks and a white vest over a black blouse fills in the details of light and dark Abby had only peripherally seen before. "Gardening… cooking…" her eyes lid halfway, wandering past the new releases into the middle aisle. "I might have a few things, actually. She sounds like my mother," hard soled shoes click-clack on the floor as Hokuto meanders through the shelves, in and out of candle light. "old fashioned."

Pausing in mid-stride, the dark-haired woman looks back at Abby, one brow arched. "What year was she born in?" It's an unusual question, but the mirthful quirk of Hokuto's lips seems to indicate something going on behind the outward meaning of the words, as if it were relevent to what she's looking for.

"Do children ever know the year that their parents are born?" She knows the answer though. "Nineteen Sixty Six. She's indeed old fashioned. I take after her. Makes her own pickles even. Can't countenance buying what you can make yourself and wasting the coin. What does the year she was born have to do with it though?" Her thumbs sink into the corners of her jean pockets and follows in further.

"How long has this place been open? Obviously since before the loss of power. I guess this means that it's cash only" The corner of her mouth turns up.

One dark brow arches high as Abby gives the answer. Sixty-six? Her lips part, tongue wetting them as a crooked smile comes over her lips. "She's exactly ten years my senior, then." Her dark eyes linger on Abby just a few moments longer before she turns around again, walking between the aisles with one hand brushing fingertips along the books tucked in the shelves, absent-mindedly.

"When a person is born is an important part of who they are, it's… like knowing a part of a design. I probably don't know your mother, but I know what you've said about her, and I know when she was born. This," she turns, looking at a book on the shelf, tugging it out by the corner, then pushes it back with two fingers, "helps me make a more personal selection. It's like… Astrology?" Her eyes focus back on Abby, looking for understanding in the simple term, "Numerology, partly."

With a bit of a dismissive smile, she turns her focus back to some of the old and weathered spines pressed together on the shelf. "My mother opened this store in 1963, it was a shoe store before that— if I remember her story correctly. When she passed away," her eyes close partway, regarding the books through a cage of dark lashes, "I decided to quit my job and take over for her."

"Really? Just what i've told you and the year that she was born, will help you?" Will wonders or strange things never cease to amaze the former healer. "I'm Abigail, by the way. I'm sorry for your loss. It's not hard to loose someone" along the books she treads. "I'm sure she appreciates and loves that you took it over. More people should do that, honor their folks that way. Not many people do that anymore. Something that's passed through generations is.. something to be cherished"

Abigail pauses at one old spine, peering at the title in the light before she carries on, sneakers scuffing against the floor, a deep inhale. "What do you think, that my Momma would like, that you have within the walls of this store"

There's a smile at Abagail's words, honest, if not somewhat bittersweet. "It… It was, but— that's— " her eyes fall shut, head shaking from side to side subtly. "Thank you, though, for the kind words… I— it's unusually kind of you." Pausing there, especially after the question of what Abigail would want, Hokuto's brows furrow slightly, a thoughtful look crossing her face.

"I've got something here, it's…" A few quick steps takes Hokuto all the way to the end of the center aisle, where a nook in the back of the store contains a small, round table with an antique tea set and a pair of old, weathered chairs. Flanking either side of it, a pair of narrow and tall bookshelves contain considerably older books that the main shelves. Hokuto moves one of her feet out of sight, then hooks the toe of her shoe around a stool, dragging it over with a scrape of wood on wood before climbing up to pull something off of a high shelf. It's a thick and faded old hardcover book with yellowed pages. She offers a hesitant smile, then waves Abby over, laying the book down face up on the small table in the nook.

"This is a copy of a book called 'Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook'," she opens the cover to the title page, the distinctive scent of old paper filling the air. "It was originally printed in 1943 by a woman who ran a boarding house in Savannah, Georgia." The title page is flipped past, leading to the index. "There's… three hundred some odd recipes in here, all southern meals." One pale finger motions over the page, detailing everything from several different biscuit recipes to 'proper pork ribs'. Hokuto's dark eyes dart over to Abby, brows rising slowly in anxious expectance.

"Not unusually. It's usually. A terminal case of kindness is what I have some say. Very terminal. But I think it's a good terminal and if I'm gonna be terminal I'd rather be terminally kind, wouldn't you?" It's a resigned notion she has. That she's the last kind person in this big city. The sunny temperament to go with the hair. Around the shelf and to the table she scoots, unhooking her thumbs so she can sink down into the chair and look over the proposed purchase.

She doesn't look at Hokuto to give the sought for approval. Nope. Her attention is reserved for the piece of paper craft in front of her. "This particular copy is from then or a later print run?" Thin pale fingers seek out to touch the book and flip to the index page, scan down the words that list the various divisions of the book. Carefully she seeks out the dessert section, flipping through the pages and looking at the offerings that Mr. Wilkes offered up to her boarders and house guests. There it is. Abigail bites down on her lower lip, the corners of her mouth turning up and visible to Hokuto.

"It's…" Considering Abby for a moment, Hokuto's eyes fall shut as a smile spreads itself over her lips, "unusual to find someone with such a good heart, here in the city." Her eyes open, one brow higher than the other, "A pleasant surprise, more than anything. The city could use a little more kindness… everyone here could."

Though, to answer the more pressing question, and seem like her mind is less prone to wander, Hokuto does finally explain what Abby asked of the book. "It's a second printing done in 1955." Hokuto explains, glancing over to Abby as she pages through the book, "It— has some unique measurements in it. Early 20th century cookbooks used things like bushel and peck as common measures, so your mother might need to look up conversions for them. But in terms of something…" she waves one hand absently in the air, "with texture and heart, I think that seems fitting." There's a hesitant smile offered, "It's… not very expensive. Second printing, a cookbook, not paritcularly famous. I think," she motions to a paper tag tucked in the back of the book, numbers scrawled on the top, "yeah. my mother had it marked for twenty-five dollars, so— that seems fair enough. I'd… have to ask for cash, though." Her dark brows crease together, "The register isn't, well, you know. But I do have change, if needed."

As Abby is paging through the book, something else on the table catches her eye. A small, cardboard box laying near the tea set, one marked with old calligraphed lettering on the front denoting it as a container of tarot cards. Not far from that, a folded paper sign seems to indicate that the shopkeeper herself does readings during business hours. Of course, there's no price listed.

"The world as a whole can use a bit more kindness. I hope then that you're one as well" The book is closed gently, one firm nod given towards it as if cementing in her mind that indeed, this was the present for her mother. The Beauchamp matriarch would be one who would appreciate the meaning of this particular gift and cherish it. Many more days of getting flour on the pages was in this books future.

"I have cash. I hate cards. ATMs are to be tolerated and cash won't demagnetize on you, or be declined, and you can't spend more cash that you actually have in your wallet. Don't worry. I understand completely. You don't need to apologize"

The tome in hand, she seems about tot urn when the tarot cards are seen. "Read cards in your spare time?" Idle curiosity, polite conversation, delaying the inevitable return to the rainy out of doors and her yellow slicker of water resistance.

There's a pleased smile that creeps up on Hokuto's lips; half proud, half surprised. "I try to be," and it's the most honest answer she can give. Though at the mention of the cards, Hokuto's dark eyes flit down to them, then back up to Abby with something more Cheshire in her smile, more mischievous and entertained. "Oh, I do. My mother, she taught me a lot of things my father would've felt was frivolous. But, ever since she passed away I've been trying to see her side fo things, trying to… to make up for time lost that I never got a chance to when she was still alive."

Looking to the book, then back to the card, Hokuto asks, "Is there something in your life…" she trails off, thoughtful for a moment, eyes halfway lidding, "something you're looking for an answer to?" Those dark eyes travel back from the cards and up to Abby, one black brow raised in question.

"We're always looking for answers Miss" Miss, not Ma'am. Ma'am can be insulting. Blue eyes flicker from Hokuto to the cards, her thumb shifting back and forth across the spine of the cookbook as she holds it close. "Seems each time you find the answer to one question, another three pop in it's wake doesn't it? That's what it seems like to me." But she'll give in, give in to the want and desire to linger here, and to give the other woman perhaps a little bit a boost to her ego, and maybe that tiny thread of connection to her mother that she reasons why she does this. "How much?"

"You're already buying a book, and…" Hokuto manages a crooked smile, reaching for the tea kettle, "I could use the company, truth be told. I don't see many people out here anymore. It's quiet— like the countryside in the city— but sometimes it's just lonely." She turns, motioning for Abby to take a chair, "have a seat. I'll throw this on the stove in the back— do you have a preference?" She hefts the kettle up as if in clarification with one hand, black brow raised as she backpedals a few steps, head tilted to one side.

"No, no preference, surprise me. At least it'll be a good surprise, whatever you brew" And she does take the seat, cookbook set out of the way, her back easing against the back of the chair and letting her eyes wander over titles that are within reach. "I'm sorry, I don't think I ever caught your name" She drawls it out a bit more than she normally does, habit when she relaxes. One could sometimes discern her mood just by how deep the drawl gets.

The box of cards themselves are touched, fingers skimming over the textured surface. "I think it's the location, the lack of electricity. Rains not helping either. The mood of the city too what with Staten Island. But so long as you can keep paying the rent, I'm sure if you hang in there, there might be light around the corner. The city has to at some point, either go sideways, or start heading up"

Halfway into a doorway just out of sight, Hokuto makes a soft yelp and leans out at an angle from the doorway, a broad and embarrassed smile on her face. "Hokuto!" She exclaims with an unusually cheerful tone of voice, "Hokuto Ichihara!" There's a crease of her brows, as if silently chastising herself for not thinking of introductions when Abby introduced herself. She quickly ducks back in to the kitchen, gone for just long enough for a sloshing sound to be heard, and a couple of frustrated sounds before she comes back out.

"Sorry about that, I had to light the pilot with a match," her brows rise, lips quirked into a smirk, "I'm not good with fire, a bit skittish." Her eyes wander to the table, one hand pulling back the untaken chair to side sideways in it, one leg crossing over the other. "Used the last of the bottled water too…" her smile turns into a grimace, "looks like I'll be heading into Queens after all today."

Picking up the box of old cards, Hokuto slides them out and into her hand. The vellum sheets look worn on the edges, decidedly aged and creased in places. She lays them face down on the table, and slides them over to Abby. "Shuffle those… however much you want." When she pulls her hand away, Abby's eyes immediately gravitate to the pattern on the back of the cards. It looks like a deck of playing cards, with floral patterns and geometric designs, but at the center is a distinctive mark, a curved line with off-shot branches. She's seen it before, on a necklace worn by a man known only as the Haitian.

She'll shuffle them, after she's done picking them up and splaying them out, studying the center and the mark. Not only just like the Haitian's necklace, but also on Jessica's back when the more physical of the alters is out. The secret to telling them apart. Her thumb traces over it then looks up to Hokuto. "Sorry. shuffle. Right" It's familiar and it's plainly stated on her face.

The symbol is soon a blur, Abigail mixing them up as she'd seen her mother do so many times playing whist, and teaching her to do. Eventually though, she's finished, and assembles them into one neat little stack and puts them back down on the table. She resists the temptation to ask why a symbol she's come to associate with the company is on a deck of freaking tarot cards.

Hokuto's dark eyes follow the motion of the shuffling, watching with her chin resting on her palm, fingers tapping at her lower lip with marked interest in the choices made with such a simple decision. Once the cards are pushed back, Hokuto reaches out to move them to the side in the stack they were in. "From what you said earlier, about there always being another question after you find the answer?" Her eyes flit back to Abby's, "I'm going to use something called the twisting path spread. It's… meant to show the courses life can take, sort've like a river with different paths and branches. It's… meant to give you a little bit of insight into your life, and help you make choices."

Just as she begins taking the cards from the top, laying the first one face down, she asks, "have you ever done this before? Gotten a reading from the cards?" The cards, five in total, are laid out in a staggered pattern, two close to Abby, two just a bit further away, the rows off-set from each other. Lastly, a card is placed on the end, and it looks something like a serpentine river when it's done.

"No, never have had a reading. My momma's likely purse her lips and disapprove, but.." But what can it hurt? She already is friends with her pastor and he's a pre-cog. "But I can use all the insight I can get and i've a great many choices before me. Clarity helps and I'm not about to go back to my pastor so soon after getting a vision from him." SO hands in her lap, Abigail leans forward. Though occasionally her eyes flicker to the rest of the deck and that twisting symbol.

When Abby mentions getting a vision from her pastor, Hokuto's eyes jerk up from the cards, one hand hesitantly hovering over it as she looks for some sign of jest or half-truth. Her brows furrow together, and that moment's pause fades back into action as she lets it go unsaid, some things she's best left not knowing.

"This… ah, first card," she motions to the card on the lower left from Abby's perspective. "This is the beginning of your journey. This is the first situation — the beginning — that set a chain of events in motion." The card is flipped over, revealing a black and white depiction of a hand extending from a cloud clutching a sword. The sword runs thorugh the hoop of a crown wreathed in laurels. But— it's upside down to her. "This is the Ace of Swords," her brows furrow slightly, "inverted. That— " there's just a hair's breath of hesitance, "changes the card's meaning. Here, it signifies defeat, a loss suffered… something that happened that may have had, or will make you put aside your good reasoning and common sense. It suggests that it relates to a great power, one potentially being abused or misused," her head tilts to the side, "and it implies that that all puts you in danger."

Yup. That's something. Abigail looks over at Hokuto. "Not a telepath are you?" Her shoulders droop a little none the less. she scrapes her teeth across her lower lips, upper lip coming to cover both and she sucks on it. Breath inhaled through her nose, then exhaled. "That was a joke. But.. please. Carry on"

Dark eyes spring wide, and then Hokuto's face turns a bit red as she laughs, sahaking her head. One hand moves to tuck a lock of dark hair behind one ear, "No, no… I'm— " she hesitates before answering, "it certainly doesn't work like that." It would've been wrong to outright lie to her, she seems like such a sweet girl. "The cards do have a way of knowing what needs to be shared though…"

Hokuto reaches for the card on the far left. "This card represents a false path. Someone or something that is going to try and lead you astray, a situation or a person that serves as a misdirection from what is your ultimate destination. It's— not always bad to follow distractions, especially depending on what the journey's end can be."

Flipping the card over, Hokuto's brows immediately crease into a look of confusion, or perhaps surprise. There, on the card, is a woman in a white robe with her hands folded in her lap and a crown bearing a crescent moon on her head, seated on a throne between a black pillar and a white pillar. "This… is the High Priestess," and this one is upside down as well.

"It— in this position, it represents that someone is going to try and deceive you — spiritually. Your own insecurity, or perhaps conceit will allow someone to distract your heart from the faith it has, and try to guide you astray, taking advantage of your confusion and a crisis of faith you may be having…"

That card, that tale, situation that comes with it, no, that doesn't make sense and the puzzlement that flows over the young woman's face is also evident. "I don't so rightly think I like that card." Abigail shifts in her seat, not so much leaning forward anymore. This is more disconcerting that Joseph's visions. That at least, she can see for herself, but this, this is someone else relaying through cards.

"The um, yes it is somewhat grim." Hokuto looks away for a moment, hearing the whistling of the kettle behind her. "Ah, well, a moment to think on that then." She slides up off of her chair and seems to be using this opportunity to clear her own head of what she's read into the cards so far. Disappearing into the back room for only a moment, Hokuto returns when the whistling of the kettle comes to an end, carrying out the steaming black kettle in one hand. Carefully, she maneuvers it down onto an earthenware plate on one side of the table, then lays out a ceramic cup from the set in front of Abby, and one in front of herself.

She smiles, mildly, opening up a tin near the cups, fingering through the teabags before she pulls two of the same kind with dark blue labels out. One dropped in Abby's cup, one dropped in hers, followed by a steaming trail of hot water and the fragrant aroma of Earl Gray rising up from within.

"If you take sugar or milk," she motions to a very small metal decanter and a glass bowl, then settles back down into her seat, warming her hands on the cup as she stares down at the next card. "Given the way this has gone, I— I know some people have gotten upset by what they've seen in the cards before. Are you sure you want to see the rest of them? It's— I don't ask it often, but…"

"Nothing. Simple, plain. I like my tea that way, thank you" Earl Grey, one of the two kinds in her own cupboards. The offer though, given up by hokuto is taken, mulled about in her mind and then firmly rejected in the span of time that it takes for her to bob the tea bag up and down gently in it's bath.

"Miss Ichiara" slightly mangled thanks to her accent. "If I turned away at every single little thing that I didn't like to hear, I would have long since returned to Lousiana and never looked back. Or i'd have spent a great deal of time with my fingers in my ears and singing la la la la la" She offers up a smile for the other woman. "So far, the cards have been uncannily… accurate"

Silently nodding, Hokuto closes her eyes and opens them, focused down into the steaming surface of her teacup. When she looks back up, it's with a different look in her eyes, respect. Respect for the, even seemingly insignificant, strength that Abby has presented in the face of disturbing revelations.

Reaching out, she presses a finger to the middle card. "This is the second event, the middle of your journey, and the next defining point in it." Black painted nails scrape beneath the card and flip it over, revealing the image of a man in a white robe laying face down on the ground, with nine swords driven into his back, and one driven into the back of his head, dark liquid pooling beneath him. This card, unlike the others, is right-side up.

Hokuto immediately exhales a sigh, blowing an errant lock of dark hair from her face as an apologetic expression dawns on her. "I— I'm… sorry. I ah," she taps the card with one nail, "this… is the Ten of Swords. It represents ruin — absolute ruin." She seems to hesitate in her explanation, but after a moment gathers up the resolve to continue.

"This card signifies that you are going to experience a crushing defeat, one brought about by the swift application of overwhelming force, a defeat that there is nothing you can do to prevent, save for to prepare for… for the defeat to come. It is going to be something that shakes you, cracks the foundations of your beliefs and… and it's going to be very difficult." Neck muscles tensing, Hokuto swallows dryly, "I'm… I've never quite seen a reading like this, not— not in a very long time."

"I must be special"

It's not spoken dryly, but there's a certain amount of resignation. If what the cards are reading are true, then… Then the last few months will likely seem like a walk through the park compared to what this woman is predicting.

"I lost my gift. Healing. Think that's what that card means? Or do you think that was the first card?"

Gift. That word brings Hokuto's eyes up in a sharp turn, lips pursed together, staring with a scrutinizing look towards Abby. For a moment, she's silent, but then just shakes her head, accepting the openness and honesty for what it is, for what Abby is. "No it— the first card, perhaps. It's… this hasn't happened yet. It's— " stopping in mid sentence, Hokuto reaches down and wraps both of her hands around her teacup, taking a moment to think.

"I… know this isn't really my place to ask, but," the cup is lifted up in a faint increment from the table, "how did you lose your ability?" Because that doesn't happen to people, not in Hokuto's experience. After the question is asked, she raises the teacup up to her lips, having it the same way Abby does — plain.

"From another's gift. There's so many different kinds you know, out there. As there are flavors and variations of tea… of the way the cards you're laying out tell a path. He took it" Hurts to hear it still from her own lips. Still she lets her own cup steep, she likes it really strong. "I'm not getting it back. What once I had has now found a new home, in someone else and one hopes that the divinity that comes with it, will seep into him and touch him in some fashion. And I am… bereft of it and never to have it again. Left with the process of trying to un-register and helping the other learn to wield it, manage it" She looks up from the tea bag to the other woman.

It's a fascinating, and at the same time troubling story. The worry painted across Hokuto's face is easily seen, she's not a very guarded person when it comes to how she expresses her feelings. "I— I'm very sorry…" her eyes divert down to the cards, teeth pressing into her lower lip as her brows crease together, the wheels in her mind spinning with the implications of what has happened, and what could have done that.

"You're… you're very strong," she looks up from the teacup, "for enduring something like that, and being able to persevere. That's a very, very remarkable strength." Brows creasing together, Hokuto lays her hand down on the next card, the second to last card as she looks up at Abby, waiting for a sign to stop. When none comes, she flips the card over, revealing a difficult to ascertain image, since it — like nearly all of the others — is inverted.

With a tilt of her head, Abby sees that it is a pair of men out front of a cathedral, each one standing in front of an arch. Above the arch, three circles link together, each one marked with a pentacle. "This…" Hokuto doesn't seem to be as worried about this card, not like the others. "This is the Three of Pentacles, and… it's obviously inverted." It's an odd coincidence to have that many inverted cards.

"This is your second false path, the second distraction from your ultimate and fulfilling goal. It represents that you will be delayed in your goals by yourself. You or someone close to you will draw your attention away by failing to use their abilities to their fullest potential, and you will be forced to choose to hold their hand and take a step away from your own journey — one you might not ever find the path for again — or to let them struggle on their own, and learn of themselves."

"Well, that is not so depressing a card in this path" Abigail manages a soft smile, brushing off the sorry's. Always with the sorry's. "My momma didn't raise a fainter. That is a surety. Whatever happens to me, there's the knowledge that, there's people out there who are enduring far worse. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and friends who will help me if it becomes bad enough. Or I can always just go home yes? The good lord knows, you can always go home. So lets keep turning those cards and see what lays in this river for me hmm?" Trying to ease the the other woman. "I'll still buy the book regardless"

Worried looks turn to a smile at Abigail's words, eliciting a more firm nod from Hokuto. "Only the one left," she notes, motioning to the sole card remaining as she takes a sip of her tea. "This, here, represents your final destination. This is the ultimate end of this particular journey, and the outcome that awaits you…" She reaches down and slides her nails beneath the cardstock, looking up with an arched brow to Abby, and then as she flips the card over, that smile fades entirely. There's a passage, one Abby knows well, that comes to mind upon seeing the card:

Revelations 6:8 — And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death.

There, even if it is inverted like all but one card, is the pale rider. A skeletal figure in black mounted atop a pale white horse with coal black eyes. In his hands he holds aloft a scythe, prepared to reap from the broken and ruined stone beneath him, with people kneeling and doubling over all around him.

Hokuto says nothing, settling her teacup down. Her neck muscles tighten, and the way she lays her hand over the card indicates she wants to end the reading right here. But to have come this far, and to stop now seems juvenile. Hesitant, she speaks in a quiet, disturbed voice. "This— is Death, inverted. Here at— at the end of your journey, it represents your true destination. The— the card normally represents change and transformation, but inverted like this means… stagnation." Her dark eyes lift up from the card to Abby.

"This card, placed in this manner, means that your ultimate end may well be death, a slow and wasting death, or— or perhaps a figurative one, a death of your ideals and hope. But the key to it, is— it is in understanding that it comes because you fail to let go of the past, that you are resistant to change because of," her lips press together tightly for a moment, "because of fear."

Why can't they be like Joseph visions? Really. I mean, come on. Why can't it just be women offering apples, but instead it's..


"Ever stared death in the face?"She looks from Hokuto to the card and then back again.

Hokuto doesn't answer, not verbally, but the look of confusion and surprise on her face comes quick as she slides the cards on the table together, laying them on top of one another and then adds them back to the stack, which is hastily put back into the box. "I'm— I'm very sorry about that, it— " swallowing tightly, she shakes her head, closing her eyes, "these are supposed to be fun, I've… never quite gotten a reading like that for someone before." Her hands move, shakily, away from the cards, "They're usually not that grim."

Looking up to Abby, Hokuto seems shaken by the experience, perhaps more in that something so terrible could be waiting for someone so strong and so kind. All of the worst things in the world, happening to people that do not deserve them.

"But this time it was" Abby reaches out, closing her hands over the Asian woman's. "I did. looked him in his face. He wasn't handsome. If I can stand there, and look him in the face and live, then surely, I can survive what the cards show yes?" She doesn't have her ability to channel and warm the woman's hands but they are warm none the less, no matter how queasy her stomach is right now. "Just remind me not to come visit your bookstore on that day huh?"

For all that it's tarot cards and not religious in nature, she's learned through more than a few people, that you have to place some faith in things. Some trust. "What's this mean?" She gestures to the rest of the cards and the symbol in the center. Distract the woman. "I've seen this before"

Curling her fingers around Abigail's hands and giving them a squeeze, Hokuto looks down at the table, eyes half-lidded. She remains quiet for a few moments, only finally realizing a question was asked of her a few moments too slow to be natural. Looking up with a languid expression, Hokuto glances at the card box, and then back up to Abby. "I… don't know. They were my mother's cards." Her brows furrow together, a faint smile crossing her lips as she looks back to the younger woman. "Sometimes, thankfully, symbols don't have meanings."

"I've seen it. On a necklace and then someone I know has it for a tattoo" She gives Hokuto's hand a squeeze. Physical contact was something she was doing better at these days. She did so much of it before, through the ability, and without it.. without it she was realizing how much she actually did touch people. "It'll be okay. Like Job. Bad stuff happens. It's how you carry yourself, and carry on that you need to worry about" Her thumb shifts across the other woman's palm. "Can't be worse than I've endured and the good lord won't take me sooner than he intends to"

At the mention of the necklace, Hokuto stiffens just a little, one dark brow rising in unspoken question. She blinks, and then swallows anxiously, relaxing against the strangely comforting strength that Abby seems to exude despite the rather dire reading. There's a wan smile that crosses the older woman's pale lips, head nodding once again, this time with more enthusiasm.

"I wish," Hokuto begins to say, then hesitates and changes her wording, "I hope I find half the strength you have, should I ever need it." Her smile grows, just a touch, and she looks down to the joined hands, and then the steaming teacups. "I'm glad you came here, Abigail," dark eyes lift up from the twisting tendrils of steam, "I think… I think my life's better for having met someone like you, someone with faith."

"Just a bright ray of sunshine I am!" She smiles warmly still before taking her hand back to slip around her own cup. "You'll have it, everyone has it. The strength. Just a matter of finding it in yourself. Where have you seen the necklace?" She caught the reaction, this close to the other woman.

It's hard not to laugh, happily, at some of the things Abby says, and the reaction from Hokuto is just that. Her hands gently move away across the table once Abby lets them go, folding in her lap, until — that is — Abby asks that question. There's a price to pay for being expressive, for being a bad liar and wearing your heart on your sleeve at times. "I ah," teeth press against her lower lip, and Hokuto rises up from her seat, smoothing out the front of her slacks.

"I'm not sure, it was a long time ago," she notes with a dismissive wave of one hand. Her focus shifts to the front of the store, to the distant rumble of thunder pealing across the city, and then back to Abby. "You know, the storm might be getting worse soon… You should probably get on your way, especially if you're taking that scooter." There's a hesitant smile, and Hokuto reaches down for the cookbook, running her fingers over the cover, before nudging it towards Abby.

"Don't worry about the price," she says in a quiet tone of voice, "I think you've given me more than what money can buy." Hokuto's smile grows some, and she folds her arms with a shift of her weight to one foot. "You should get going, I wouldn't want you to get caught in that," her head nods out to the rain, "when it gets worse."

Ahh, classic move. Deflect. Abby's done that before. Many times. She'll let it go. "Nope, I'll pay. Gonna need very dime if you ever have to pay an electricity bill" The book is taken up and she starts to head up to the front so that she can fetch her wallet. The woman's met the Haitian before. "Rain, is rain. I'm not made of sugar, but yeah, I guess" Kneeling down, the wallet is fished from the depths of the messenger bag and a twenty and a five plucked from it's depths and over the counter that was the front desk. "Thank you for finding a gift for my Momma, I really do appreciate it"

Following Abby to the front of the store, Hokuto keeps her arms folded, head tilted to the side and brows furrowed, watching the young woman with a remarkable curiosity. As the money is laid down on the countertop, Hokuto closes her eyes and nods her head slowly, as another distant rumble of thunder rolls across the city. She doesn't fight the payment, but she can't help but smile.

"Thank you, for showing me there's people out there like yourself." Her eyes close slightly, "Even if there's only one person like you, the world's a much better place for it." Hokuto's arms unfold, lips crooked into a half smile. "Now get yourself home, you've…" She hesitates to say it, but in the end, it's so true.

"You've got a long road ahead of you."

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep" The book is slid safely into her bag, flap closed. The now dry slicker slid on and closed, the helmet soon following but the visor up. "There's more out there. Just a matter of finding us. Like a candle" A gesture to the window and the wax there. "Just have to look for the candles in the dark is all. God bless Hokuto. I'll say a prayer for you. Try not to run into too many imposing dark men who don't seem to smile" with that, the visor is flipped down and out into the rain and to Lazarus Abigail heads.

It leaves Hokuto standing in the open doorway of the bookstore, half illuminated by the diffuse, gray light from the heavy clouds overhead. She leans one shoulder against the door, a hand coming up to make a subtle wave at Abigail's back, then tuck a lock of ink-black hair behind one ear as dark eyes look up to the clouds, and lightning flashing in them.

She breathes out the last line of the poem Abby quoted on her departure, since the final line is repeated when read in its entirety. Because, in a way, it has a meaning for both of them.

"…And miles to go before I sleep."

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