Something New


alia_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Something New
Synopsis Alia makes good on an offer and comes to pay it forward.
Date July 29, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

A long time ago, a band called the 'Lovin' Spoonful' did a song called 'Summer in the City.' On a blistering hot day like today, it's lyrics of sweat and grit have never felt more realized.

Despite sitting with water on both sides and in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge, Roosevelt Island is one of the hottest places in New York City on its primary thoroughfare, Main Street. This north-south road cuts down the middle of the island, packed on both sides by high rise concrete buildings that hold the heat in and mirrored glass windows that reflect the sun back at the street with scalding effect.

Seated outside of the Ichihara Bookstore on this humid and smoldering hot day, the store's proprietor, Hokuto Ichihara rests on an old and worn-out plastic lawn chair in the shade of a black and white parisol set where an American flag should be propped up on the storefront. Legs folded at her ankles and a large hardcover book spread out across her lap, the bookstore owner makes working a retail job seem like a day at a particularly dry and concrete-laden beach.

All around her, the street ripples and wavers with heat haze, and the cracked pavement seems to almost sizzle in the burning bright noon-day sun. Despite seeming so urban, this stretch of Roosevelt Island is remarkably quiet in its uninhabited remoteness, the roar of traffic crossing the Queensboro to the south is the only background noise to be had, save for the clink of an ice cube as it settles down inside of a perspiring glass of tea resting in the arm of the plastic lawn furniture decorating the sidewalk.

The peaceful sound of nothingness is once again interrupted by the telltale 'clack-clack' of skate wheels bouncing over the cracks in the concrete. Soon, through the heat haze, a young woman wearing sunglasses, a red-and-white baseball with the words 'Fatal Fury' on it where most would have a team logo, and a set of shorts, carrying a backpack on her back, can be seen riding her skateboard, expertly dodging the worst of the potholes.

Alia, it seems, finally had made it back to the island, a smile on her face as she skids to a stop right in front of the bookstore, blinking a moment at odd scene, though she grins and nods her greeting to Hokuto.

Looking up through overly large black sunglasses, Hokuto offers a cheerful if not somewhat goofy smile, folding her book closed with a slap of paper on paper. "Well," she inclines her head, sending a carefully tucked lock of black hair spilling from behind one ear, "my computer technician returns!" Sitting up from her lounging position in the chair, Hokuto swings her legs over one side, bare feet touching down half in the shade, half on the warm concrete. "You're awfully brave being out in this heat," says the one lounging around outside in the sweltering humidity.

Leaning forward to grab that sweating glass of tea, Hokuto swirls it around, clinking the ice cubes together, fingers pawing at a paper umbrella tucked on the edge of the glass. "What brings you out to this tiny island on a nasty day like today?" Her nose wrinkles at the latter part of her question, her smirking expression soon hdden behind the tall glass of tea as she quietly drinks from it, one dark brow raised in query.

Alia simply grinning, Alia pulls a water bottle from the side of her pack, sipping at it some before awnsering. "Got what you needed." She finally replies. Not one for many words, she picks up her skateboard and pats her bag. "Plenty of sun for it too."

Looking a bit puzzled by the comment, Hokuto rolls one shoulder and pushes herself up to her feet, "It's a computer you have in that bag, not a potted plant, right?" Dark eyes shift to the backpack as she steps out from beneath the parisol, quickly moving from one set of shade to another as she slips into the doorway of the shop. "It's a little stuffy in here right now, the power went out because of the strain on the grid, likely from everyone running air conditioners…" A sigh is huffed out, arms folded across her chest as Hokuto looks back over her shoulder to Alia.

"But, by all means, come on in…" Carefully walking barefoot over the old hardwood floor, Hokuto sets her glass down on the front counter on her way in, fanning at herself with one hand as she tugs at one black strap of her tanktop before pausing in mid stride, reaching out for a copy of the New York Times sitting in a rack, rollngit up, and begins fanning herself far more effectively with that.

Alia grins as she follows her way inside, leaving the skateboard by the front door, then she sets down her bag and pulls out a small set of screwdrivers, what looks like a large sheet made of black shiny stuff with some barely-visible circuitry in it with a wire coming from it to a small battery, then form the battery, there's a power inverter, and a small black box. She puts the sheet down near a window so it's right in the sunlight. She then digs out another small gadget, hooking it to the small black box. Next follows a small flat-screen monitor from her bag that also plugs into the small gadget… finally a small gadget hooks into the first small gadget, which lets her hook the old computer's keyboard and mouse to this little black box. While all this might look funny… it's the next part that takes time. She starts taking apart the old computer.

One dark brow keeps rising while the opposite drops low, giving Hokuto's puzzled expression an almost comical bend to it. Fanning herself with the newspaper, she takes a few meandering steps closer to the work Alia is doing, watching carefully but not quite understanding what the tangle of wires, boxes and parts all means. Though when her eyes divert to that black square set in one of the windows, it all starts to dawn on her.

"Solar?" It's a question, but stated more with a Eureka quality to it. The dark-haired woman shifts her weight to one foot, ceasing in the fanning as a wry smile creeps up on her lips. "I hadn't even really considered…" her words trail off as she flippantly tosses a lock of dark hair over one shoulder and leans down in, arms folding across her chest as she inspects what Alia's doing to the ancient computer's dusty case. From the looks of it, the poor thing has never been cleaned.

Alia nods at the question as she coughs, blowing some of the dust out of her way. She quickly extracts the hard drive from the ancient machine, which she puts inside ANOTHER box from her backpack, that she plugs into the power inverter… then plugs another cord to the little gizmo hooked up to the box. Two button presses later, and a tinny little 'tada' of Windows XP starting up can be heard. The monitor, apparently, is running without being plugged into anything BUT the box. The sound of the hard-drive in the enclosure whirring to life can be heard. Alia hits some buttons, digging about, then tapping a few other things, then she grins. There's a link on the desktop now that just says "Catalogue" under it.


A huff, a blink, and a purse of her lips comes as Hokuto looks down into the open case, then up to the screen. "That's— it?" The emphasis there is more of amazement than lack of impression, and she leans in a bit closer, eyeing the screen and reaching out to brush one hand across the LCD surface as if to make sure it's really there and working. "I— haven't got a clue how excited Darien is going to be now that we can access the catalogue more than once a month!"

Excitedly clasping her hands together, Hokuto shifts her weight to move to the side, leaning on the counter before stretching across it, grasping for a small leather folio with the tips of her fingers in some exaggerated motion, rather than just walking around the counter for it. She drags the folio back, then pinches it between two fingers before slinking back up into a standing position.

"This is fantastic, absolutely fantastic!" An ear-to-ear grin spread across her lips as she flips the tiny leather checkbook open, one dark brow raised again in query. "How much do I owe you for everything? I— You have no idea how much of a convenience this is, just having the system able to be accessed, let alone…" she waves one hand towards the technical wizardry of getting the PC up and running, "all of that."

Alia ponders the question a few moments. She considers, then asks simply "Much business?" The implication is that she's asking about lately as she taps her finger on the edge of the keyboard. She knows on a full charge the battery will last a good eight hours… and the full setup uses less power then solar panel gets in full sunlight so she has a little time to figure things out.

There's a squint that come sfrom Hokuto at that question, one brow raised and the other dipped down again, "Not… so much in recent months. Business was slow before everyone moved away, I have some regular customers that come in and keep the shop open, we're… managing." There's a tug of teeth to the woman's lower lip as she tenatively folds the checkbook closed, watching Alia with an askance stare. "Exactly how much does this setup cost? I… I'm not struggling to keep aloft, but, I'm not sure if…" an awkward grimace spread across Hokuto as she looks down at the computer, then over to Alia again.

"How many zeroes does it have in it?"

Alia shrugs. "Two" She answers the question rather directly as she looks about, then ponders asking one of the more awkward questions she could, if she could find words for it. She tugs at her star-shaped pendant a little, nervously. "Though, wasn't really being used."

There's a slow sigh of relief as Hokuto's thumb flips the checkbook back open. "I think I can handle that many zeroes," she says with a small sigh of relief, "it's not a worry, anything higher than that would've proably raised my eyebrows a bit too high." Smirking softly, Hokuto moves around the counter and comes to sit on the stool behind it, in line with the open windows to try and get some semblance of a breeze.

There's a crooked smile Hokuto offers, pausing as she looks up from the checkbook, "Speaking of things that hardly see any use, is that old deck treating you well?" There's an impish quality to the question, as if she's suggesting it might misbehave.

Alia frowns a little at the mentioning of the deck. "The Fools stumble. The Hanged Man Reversed on the Wheel of Fortune." She sighs and has trouble putting what impressions that gave. She sighs then asks "Got any Crowley's work in?" She skips subjects quickly. "Three-oh-oh." She smiles a little.

She can tell the price is undercut, something that low for something that complex looking seems too good to be true, but as she fill out the fields on the check, there's a smile on her lips. "That's an auspicious collection of faces," she notes with a tilt of her head regarding the reading, "I hope it wasn't a particularly sensitive question being asked to get them to appear." Signing her name, Hokuto lays down her pen and carefully tears out the check, sliding it across the counter with two fingers.

"And… Alistair Crowley? No, no I don't think so. We used to have a copy of the Goaetia here, but I think we turned it in to the library." Teeth pressing into her lower lip, Hokuto shifts her focus over to the computer, as of considering checking the backlog, but the books of the store are like the back of her hand; parchment white and familiar.

"If there's a specific book you want, I can have Darien fill out an order for it. We do special orders more so than bulk anyway." Her eyes drift down to the check, then up to Alia again. "I do appreciate this… considerably."

Alia pauses, then nods at the answer. She sighs, and quotes her question rather directly. "City's Fate in the Moon to come."

Dark brows crease together, and Hokuto looks over to the window, then back up to Alia anxiously, "I was hoping perhaps you were asking about the weather." There's a grimace, one that seems just a touch too knowing as she rakes her fingers through her hair, exhaling a slow sigh before considering something, bringing dark eyes back to Alia's.

"Do you have time to… maybe show me how all this works?" There's a motion of one hand towards the solar receptor and the wires, "I'll reiterate it to Darien later, he'll make heads or tails of it."

Alia smiles, as she points to the power buttons. "Those turn it on." She moves the mouse a bit. "Click twice, opens the program you used to run." She moves the mouse to the start menu, moves up to the shutdown command. "This turns it off." She grins. "Should run for… five… six hours with no sun."

Laughing to herself with a crooked smile, Hokuto leans forward and rests her chin on the back of her hands. "I didn't mean the PC," she notes with a wrinkle of her nose, "I worked as an archivist for a paper company for several years, I'm computer literate, I just…" she eyes the hardware sticking to her window, "the solar system was more what I was concerned with." She grins, happily, "But I appreciate you thinking I was a bit more naive than my years, it makes me feel young!"

Then, sitting up from the stool, Hokuto comes to stand again and folds her arms. "Second question, far more pressing as I doubt the ice in the cooler will last much longer…" Her smile grows to become something crooked and Cheshire.

"Do you take rum in your iced tea?"

Alia chuckles. "Without" She sighs in relief. She's not up to trying to explain how solar power works. She just knows it does.

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