Something Good


corbin_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Something Good
Synopsis After the attack at the Brooklyn Public Library, Hokuto could use just that.
Date July 6, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore, Private Loft

This tiny and cramped apartment looks to double as a storage space for the bookstore's older and more worn texts. Immediately upon entering the narrow loft, the entire left wall is filled with a seemingly disorganized mess of paperback and hardcover titles. This shelf ends at a far wall, where a small mattress and box spring are pushed up and covered with linens. Clippings from newspapers, old photographs and old flyers from the bookstore are pinned up to a cork-board above the bed, while a small, low shelf between the bed and the wall is likewise packed with books.

Opposite from the wall of shelves, a small writing desk is cluttered with loose papers, stacks of books and old magazines. A narrow wooden ladder leaned up against the wall, accessing a skylight that leads out onto the roof. On the wall next to the skylight, an astrological star chart has been pinned up.

"I'll be there as soon as I can."

Unfortunately that'd been a hours ago. Not just getting to Roosevelt Island being the issue this time, but also getting out of work. One of the few days a week Corbin Ayers works in the main office, and it had to be the day when a Library got held up by a anti-Evolved organization. Again. The New York Times wanted the exculsive, they wanted him to type up stories for it, and even if using the fact he knows a witness personally could have gotten him out faster, that would mean he'd have to turn in an interview—

Not an option. Not from how she'd sounded on the phone. Slipping one of the girls down in the mailroom a twenty to call his cellphone, he faked an emergency… And he used the one excuse he doesn't like using.

'It's my ex-wife.'

People actually think that he'd leave if his ex-wife called from the hospital or something? It would seem so, it got him out of the office, allowed him to pass of the 'Updated every 30 minute!' online story to someone else, and catch a cab, then hop over to the tiny island— at least it's not raining at the moment. Cause he left so fast he forgot the umbrella.

Quick steps, a run really, bring him to the main street market place, the Bookstore standing between the tenements. Monday. From what he knows of the store, it shouldn't be open, so he tries to open the door— Closed and locked. There's relief. But he doesn't reach to knock, he searches his pocket and pulls out a small keychain. It isn't difficult to find the right one. The key has been colored black on the top with little white stars and a moon. Unlocking, open, relocking. The sunlight still comes in the windows to light the room, but he knows where she'd be anyway. Past the ripe with the sign reading "Private", he moves up the narrow staircase, giving a slight rap with his knuckles as he does, as warning. The feet are enough of one, really… "Hokuto? Sorry it took so long, the newspaper went crazy over the reports."

Her response isn't really all that quick, a stammering shake of one hand and a half-strangled sound choked back from emotion. Curled up on that all-too-tiny bed crammed on the far end of the closet-sized loft, Hokuto is like a small black and white ball. Dark jeans cover legs pulled up to her chest, a white men's dress shirt wrinkled and creased, a few dried droplets of blood spattered on her right shoulder. Black hair hangs down over her face, arms wrapped around her legs. When she looks up to wave Corbin over, it's obvious she's been crying.

"It's— it's alright." She has to swallow during her words, trying to choke down some of the violent reaction she's had to what she saw. "Darien— Darien was here, he— he just left to head down to the church. I— was he still out front?" She hasn't been this shaken up since she resigned from the Company, since her mother passed away. It's one of the many reasons she got the Primatech equivalent of a mailroom job — she doesn't handle death well.

Hesitating at the top of the stairs, Corbin doesn't take a step closer until she finishes speaking, the swallowing catching him. Glancing back to the stairs he just left, he shakes his head, "Didn't seem like it. The door was locked." Whoever she hired locks doors at least. Good kid. "Might've been a block or two away, I wasn't really paying attention." There'd been an end point and he had been paying attention to that. Good thing there aren't a lot of cars on the island… he just wasn't in the mindframe to pay that close of attention.

Moving toward the bed, he moves closer to the black and white ball that would be his former partner, reaching over to touch her hair and push it a bit out of her face. Those are signs of tears…

And then he sees the blood splatter.

"Are you okay?" They'd surely have checked everyone out before they left the library, but logic doesn't always follow. "Damn it— All those years teamed up and the closest we ever has to trouble was when mice got into the archives…" Not to say he hasn't seen more than that sense, with other partners who don't work in archives… "You remember that? You wanted to use live traps and everything." There's an attempt at a smile on his face, though his eyes remain serious.

Something halfway between a snort and a laugh erupts from Hokuto, followed by a slow rubbing of the heel of her palm across one eye. "Yeah— yeah I— " she smiles, eyes closed and head shaking."Bob caught one in his office, kept it like— this little gold paperweight." There's an awkward curl of her lips into a smile, a sniffle, and she tries to tuck some of her hair behind one ear, looking through the bangs on her other side towards Corbin.

"I'm— " She's not sure enough to be certain, just enough to hesitate in delivery and change her mind halfway through, "I'll be alright." Eventually. "I— it was— I don't know what would've happened if Darien wasn't there." Swallowing awkwardly, Hokuto looks away from Corbin, down to her feet, down to the blankets beneath them. Her toes curl down into the fabric, feet drawing back to hug legs tighter to her chest. "God, I— can't believe— I was so scared. I'm— " she hates it, she hates her reaction, hates herself just a little. "I shouldn't be like this."

A brief laugh and a short lived smile— that's not quite enough to make it go away, but he returns it, holds onto his longer. Someone needs to smile for her right now. "Listen, Hokuto," Corbin says softly, her full first name, rather than a shortened version. It indicates he's even more serious than normal— more like how he'd been when she broke down and started to quit.

"Fear is a natural response— there's a reason the newspaper uses the terms 'fear tactics' and 'terrorism'…" As he speaks, he turns away from her, not to walk away, but to settle his weight on the small bed next to her. A hand reaches over to rest on her shoulder, "You didn't have to deal with a lot of these things— neither did I really." Being an under cover reporter had some benifits in that he'd not need to carry a firearm around all the time, even if he'd been expected to know how to use one in case they needed him to. It didn't happen often. His position might have been more valuable than some…

"Darien was there," from the sound of things he might well wish he'd been there instead, but— "Guess I'll have to thank your bookworm for that, cause…" There's a trail off, eyes narrowing, voice hesitating, then he puts his arm on her other shoulder and pulls her closer. "You're not going anywhere. You still need to go to the Statue of Liberty and a bunch of other places."

Sniffling again, Hokuto bobs her head into a silent nod, leaning her head over against Corbin, eyes still shut. "Did we make a difference?" It's a quiet, almost childish question. "Did— did anything that I accomplished in ten years with the Company matter? I— nothing's— everything's just gotten worse." Her face turns, nose pressing into Corbin's shoulder, head turning down to press her brow against his sleeve. "I— I feel so helpless. I just— I couldn't do anything. I— it was like— " she just shuts up, cutting off her words with a strangled noise of frustration.

Loss, death, helplessness; it's something everyone in this city has had to deal with. "I'm sorry, I'm acting like I'm ten." Slowly, Hokuto starts to lift her head up, eyes still partway closed, glassy looking from still unshed tears. "I should… I should act my age." Which, ultimately, is something she's never been fond of doing.

Louded questions, those. In certain sittings they'd likely not be safe. "This kind of situation would make anyone feel helpless," Corbin admits, keeping his arm around her shoulder as he looks across the room, studying the walls for the moment, the walls and everything in them. Some days, though he won't admit it, it's hard to find a positive story to bring. None of the questions can easily be answered. For each person they protect and save, another seems to go the opposite way.

"I'd rather you just be you— The you that I know." The one that doesn't much act her age. "People who act our age tend to be boring. Don't think I'd bother going to a tiny nearly deserted island to see anyone boring."

When answering isn't easy, there's ways to get around it. "This is the first time you've seen anything like that." Death, murder. All why she stood by helpless. There's a tense pause for a moment, though she won't see the tension, with eyes partway closed. "Ever think of doing a reading for yourself? One of those one-card things? You do them for others— not for me, but there any reason you couldn't do one for yourself?"

"No." It's as emphatic of a response as Hokuto can give, keeping her face buried against Corbin's shoulder. "N— no I," softer, now, "It's better not knowing, not seeing things. I did one once, and— " shaking her head slowly, "it's a good thing to suggest, though, it— thoughtful." Hesitantly, one arm creeps around Corbin's waist, just so that she has something tangible, something physical to hold onto that isn't a book. "I— sent Darien out to get— to get some water, some… some things from Queens so we'd have something." Swallowing tightly, Hokuto turns her head towards Corbin, lightly pressing her nose against his sleeve again.

"I'm sorry for calling you like this, for— being like this." Giving a small shake of her head, the dark-haired woman hides her eyes against his arm again, fingers winding in the fabric of his shirt. "I— just want something positive to happen. Something good in all of this— this— " she can't find the right words.

Is that why she wouldn't read his? Corbin almost asks, from the way his mouth opens, he might have been about to toss questions out, but her touch stops him, the way she rubs her eyes against his sleeve. Luckily he'd not dressed expensively, regular button up, the tie he work to the office removed, the jacket left behind at his cubicle. He'd not stopped to go his apartment, but there's always places to stash things. He'll need to go back to the office for his laptop, even.

The hand not around her shifts up, touching her hair, her fingers wind in his shirt, but his touch her hair gently. "I— I didn't have time to cut anything out of the newspaper," he admits quietly. It'd be the first time he'd visited since she retired that he'd not had something. He knew he should have carried a spare in his wallet. "But I heard they want to reopen a Flower District in Manhattan. I think in the Village, a block of flower sellers." The one before had been damaged extensively, way too close to the blast zone.

It's not on paper, but a tiny piece of news… Eyes stay on her for a moment, even as she hides her eyes in his shirt. "But you didn't mean the clippings, did you?" From his voice, he must be grinning. And indeed, if she looks up, he kind of is.

"It's nice, though…" Hokuto finally says after a moment of silence, looking up like a somewhat dejected kitten from her expression, but it softens some. Resting her chin on Corbin's shoulder, she stares up at him through the heavy, dark line of her lowered lashes, regarding her ex-partner with some curiosity. "I've never gotten flowers before," it's spoken as a hushed afterthought, "ever. I never really thought about it until now," dark eyes wander over towards books packed tightly in a shelf across from her, "I've never…" her brows crease as her words cut off.

"If they re-open it," her chin lightly presses into Corbin's shoulder as she tilts her head to the side, looking up at him with a slightly askance angle, "will you take me? To see the flowers?" Ever so faintly, a smile curls across Hokuto's lips; bittersweet, all things considered. "I'd let you." She'd let him.

Never gotten flowers. Never visited Liberty Island. Never gone to the castle in Central Park. There's little things Corbin's finding out that she's never done. Their personal lives had been too personal when they'd been partners, rarely talked about except in passing, and after her retirement… "When people retire, they're supposed to go out and see things. You're doing it wrong." It's a tease, but there's a serious tone to his voice.

The proximity, with her head on his shoulder, makes his face rather close when he looks back down at her, still smiling. The askance angle might help, but she can feel his breath— he smells like lemonade, of all things.

"And you'll let me? Like you could stop me from picking you up and carrying you there if I wanted." The hand tightens around her side, pulling her in a little closer— and causing his scratchy beard to land against her nose as he kisses her on the forehead. Some of her hair too. He doesn't pull back too much as he tacks on, "I've never been given flowers either." But he's given plenty in his day…

There's really nothing she can say to that, to any of that. Not now, and not here in any case. Instead, she hides the flushing of her cheeks by resting her head down more fimly against Corbin's shoulders, eyes falling shut as she turns her face just enough to brush a kiss against his shoulder, a chaste show of affection so in line with her outward demeanor.

As if she electrocuted Corbin, or perhaps like the onset of a stroke, flickering lights change the shadows of the room. An unshadowed and yellowed lightbulb hanging from the ceiling sparks and sputters, then begins to cast a warm light around the loft as the sound of the furnace in the basement kicks on with a low, heavy rumble. Blinking repeatedly, Hokuto perks up from where she sits, turning to look up at the lightbulb, then over to Corbin, a lopsided smile on her face.

"Something… good," she says in a quiet voice, but doesn't really direct the words to any one specific happening. Perhaps all of them, perhaps one, she's not saying, and neither is her smile.

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