Something Old


alia_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title Something Old
Synopsis A young woman with few words, and an older woman with too many words meet somewhere in the middle.
Date July 14, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

Electricity. It's a wonderful convenience, when it's available. For the first full week in months, electricity courses through Roosevelt Island, that little forgotten land wedged between the island of Manhattan and the borough of Queens. By late afternoon, when the sun has been shadowed by the dark silhouettes of Manhattan's jagged and broken skyline, Roosevelt Island's Main Street lays in the shadow of the Queensboro bridge, making an effective night come here far sooner than anywhere else in New York City.

For a Tuesday afternoon, the once bustling Main Street is a desolate strip of abandoned concrete, rife with cracks and grass that grow up between the fissures. One business, out of dozens that operated on this end of the street still remains open. Hanging above its open door, an anachronistic oil lantern burns with quiet light, matching the warm yellow shades shed from the lights on inside.

Street lights just begin to flicker on outside, where a dark-haired woman sweeps off the front steps of the Ichihara Bookstore. Much like Roosevelt Island, the bookstore is wedged between two larger edifices — a pair of far taller residential buildings loom far beyond the shingled roof of the tiny, two floor bookstore. But, much like Roosevelt Island, the bookstore seems to be a bastion of quiet, in an otherwise noisy and busy world.

Roosevelt Island, the little island. A place Alia knew well, though few knew why. Getting there wasn't easy anymore, yet, occasionally, one felt a need to go back to old stomping grounds, and find oneself once more. It was just such a night, and thus, the sound of skateboard wheels hissing and bouncing over cracks in pavement can be heard as a black haired young woman approaches the lamp-light, and perhaps, a place near her own history.

Scooting back with a crooked smile on her face, Hokuto Ichihara casts an askance look towards the girl on the skateboard, one of those small, bemused looking expressions. One brow rises as she looks the woman up and down, then gently leans the broom back against the picture window on the left side of the storefront. "Awful rough streets for that, isn't it?" One eye squints shut as she tilts her head to the side, a hand quickly sweeping up to brush a misplaced lock of dark hair behind one ear. "Don't think I've seen you around here before," she turns, glancing back into the shop before folding her arms and shifting her weight to one foot, "kind've nice, actually, to see new faces around here again…"

Alia picks up her skateboard as she looks at the shopkeeper, then the shop. "been a long time." She says simply, without really introducing herself. And, indeed, for Alia, it had been a long time since she'd last been on the island. She grins a bit. "been through rougher."

There's a furrowing of Hokuto's brows as she watches the younger woman's posture, then takes a few meandering steps up the stoop beneat the lantern. "I think we've all been through rougher, really… but we're all still here," she notes with a small smile. "I think that's the part we all get to take home, you know?" Her dark eyes upturn to the lantern, then fall back down to Alia as one brow rises slowly.

"You… said it's been a long time?" Her head gives a small tilt to the opposite direction it was in, very catlike, "have you shopped here before? Or…" Letting her words trail off as an invitation to explain, Hokuto eventually settles her weight against the wall near the front door, arms still folded.

Alia shrugs a bit as she approaches. "Long time… since I was on Roosevelt." There is obvious effort going into the words. into making them make sense.

"Ah, well…" Hokuto's eyes wander the tops of the buildings across the street, where they seem to be almost burning from the orange-yellow glow of fading sunlight that skims across the rooftops from the distant western horizon, gleaming in some tall windows. "So many people moved out after the bomb, but… I just couldn't leave this place behind, you know?" There's a quirk of one brow, and Hokuto manages a hesitant smile to the stranger.

"My name's Hokuto, by the way," she offers out a hand, leaning off of the wall. "This is my mother's bookstore, I've… been running it for a few years now. Did you live out here on Roosevelt?"

Alia smiles a bit. "Queensboro" she says simply. "Before… well" She sighs, and shakes the offered hand. "Alia." She grins as she stuffs the skateboard in under her backpack, then straightens out her hair and her star-pendant as she thinks. "Quiet… no buzz. Peaceful."

There's something of a scrutinizing look that Hokuto gives, right up until Queensboro is mentioned. "The… school?" Her brows rise slowly, "Oh— Oh I guess that— " makes sense? That'd be rude to say, but she almost does. "I ah," turning away with a crooked smile, Hokuto looks back into the shop through the open front door. "It is peaceful out here, if you don't mind the blackouts. It's only gotten worse since Consolidated Edison was destroyed in that explosion a few months ago… most of the grid out here," she waves towards the street, "used electricity from that, so now we're straining the Manhattan grid, and…" there's a sigh, long and tired. "At least we have lights this week."

Alia nods a bit as she doesn't try to explain what she means. She sighs however, looking about. "… Sad place. Used to be…. livelier?" Alia struggles with the words. The way it is said about the lights makes Alia nod a little in understanding. "No electricity." Suddenly the lack of that background buzz is made obvious. Lack of working electronics. "Bookstore?" She finally asks, curiously.

In the way someone might consider a curious keepsake perched high on a shelf, Hokuto scrutinizes Alia. There's a decidedly intrigued look on her face, but one that passes as her dark eyes roll up to the sign above the door, then back down to Alia as her head sweeps into a slow nod. "It used to be so much livelier here, yes… it's almost like this place has moved on, and I forgot to move on with it. But in a way, I like being out here, playing the hermit." Walking towards the door, Hokuto begins heading inside, "we've been closed for a few hours now, but…" she laughs, shaking her head, "I tend to not pay attention to the sign. Come on in, take a look around…"

Alia wanders in behind Hokuto, the movements graceful, conservative. She looks about the shelves carefully as she steps in, raising an eyebrow at the obvious age of a few of the books.

Walking past the old counter, Hokuto picks up a book that was laying haphazardly on the edge. "It's not much to look at, but Darien and I cram as much as we can into the shelves here." She tucks it under one arm and turns around, head canting to one side again. "It's not much, really, but we try to keep things up to date as best as we can. The used section is, admittedly, better stocked than the new ones. We don't have many shipments come in, since business has been…" her nose wrinkles slightly, "slow?" There's that awkward smile again. "But, I mean— if you want to order something, I could help?"

Circling behind the counter, Hokuto lays the book down on one of the stairs behind the counter, then circles back to lean on it towards Alia. "How long has it been?" One brow rises slowly again in question, "Since… you were out here at the school? I know that's only through high school and… well, maybe you're a bit younger than you look?"

Alia says, "…graduated 2007. Last class." She sighs looking at the books, then the signs. She pauses, and tilts her head. "Tarot." There's a familiarity with the word, a sense of at least something she recongizes other than the books.

There's a subtle narrowing of Hokuto's eyes as she considers something, then nods again at the latter mention of the sign. Reaching out to pick it up off of the counter, Hokuto rolls it around in her hands. "Been a lot of people asking about this lately, asking for readings," her dark eyes flick up to Alia, a smile curled across her lips. "What they've shown, I guess… it's been different than usual." For a moment, Hokuto looks like she's sitting on part of the conversation, mulling over with a distant look in her eyes a potential avenue of discussion. Finally, and perhaps with a touch of regret, she looks up from the sign and asks, "did you want one too?"

Alia tilts her head, then sighs. "Don't want to be… burdensome." She finally manages. The girl is having more trouble with words, them coming slower, as time goes on. It's obvious that this frustrates her almost as much if not more than it frustrates others. She didn't miss, however, the narrowing of eyes. "Been a while since… since I had… a deck."

Immediately, Hokuto looks flustered and raises both of her hands, grimacing a little. "No, no that's— it's alright, I just— the cards've been really accurate lately. Like— hitting the mark and, I just get nervous? I gave this one, poor girl a really… it was a rough reading. She, ah…" huffing out a sigh, Hokuto waves one hand dismissively as she straightens up, setting down the sign she'd been gesticulating with. "It's no trouble, at all."

Though, considering what Alia said last, there's an arch of one brow again. "You know them yourself? I mean— how to handle them? I've actually got a few spare decks, ah…" she glances over to the shelves, one finger tapping on her chin, "somewhere around here. I think I might have them in the stock room. I can give you a discount on them!" She grimaces, "Since, well, they haven't sold since the store was opened."

Alia blinks. "… old decks?" She asks. This is actually catching her interest as much as the books did. And old books would make anyone who works at a library twitch a little. This little shop is a veritable gold mine to her eyes and ears the longer she's here. She looks plainly interested in seeing what is being talked about. "… read… for self. can't get… the meaning to others."

Wrinkling her nose again, Hokuto nods her head and smiles somewhat bittersweetly. "It started as self-readings for me as well, once my mother taught me how to interpret the cards." Already beginning to meander down the center aisle of the shelves, Hokuto makes a subtle gesture for Alia to follow while she talks. "My father thought it was a total waste of time, of course. He was all business, and that had no part in my education… but mother eventually made him see reason — or lack thereof." The latter part of her sentence is delivered with an impish smile over her shoulder. "The decks aren't that old, it's a pair of Rider-Waite decks from, probably '73, when the store was opened. I found them in an old supply box in the basement. One of them got water damaged, so I never put it out for sale. The other one is just a little musty."

Alia is suitably impressed as she follows along, looking at the books and other odds and ends in the shelves.

Passing by a round table with a tea-set on top of it, Hokuto makes her way over to a doorway at the back of the shop, partly closed, with tall shelves and books in boxes, some in plastic wrappers. "Lemme see…" wandering in, she flicks on the lights and fumbles around a few drawers of a filing cabinet, humming to herself as she does, until finally noticing one of the boxes tucked away on a back shelf. "Here we go! Oh— it's— mmnh," the frustrated sound comes with a few more shuffling noises, and then Hokuto returning from the storage room with a box of tarot cards held up in one hand.

The box is unremarkable, a faded Rider-Waite card box depicting the back patterning of the cards on the front, and a listing of all of the major arcana on the back. The card-stock box is a little tattered, and the bottom corner is stained brown from water. "Thsi is the water-damaged deck. I…" For a moment, Hokuto trails off and just goes silent, staring at them, before finally just holding them out to Alia. "Here." There's something determined behind the gesture, "don't worry about it. They're old and not in good condition. Think of it as a homecoming gift."

Alia gently takes the box, and opens it with the care only one practiced at working with things that have seen better days could possibly do. She eyes up the contents with great care, trying to determine just how badly damaged the box of cards really is.

Mostly discoloration and a little warping, the latter of which nothing a brick or a few heavy books and a week of pressing can't fix. "They've been in the box for a while, might do some good to air them out, so they get rid of the musty smell of the basement." She looks at the cards with something of a bittersweet expression, the way someone who is giving away a box of kittens looks when they've grown too attached to them. "They've been taking up space out back for a while, but it'll be nice for them to have a home. You seem, you know, like you could really enjoy them."

Alia smiles a bit, and reaches into her pocket, pulling out a wallet… from within she pulls out a business card, which she hands to Hokuto. It simply says "Alia Chavez, Brooklyn Public Library, Computer Tech." it's likely one she made herself. "I will." She promises as she carefully spreads the cards to see how warped they are and finds that being kept in a box likely kept them from getting too bent out of shape.

Seeing that name, even this many weeks after the fact, Hokuto tenses up when she looks at the card. Her jaw sets, brows lower and she nods once, sharply, to the card when she takes it. "I— I go there a lot," not recently, of course. "We— Darien and I make monthly book donations there, it— ah— " she swallows, awkwardly, folding the card against her palm. "Computer Technician…" her dark eyes flick over to the counter, then back again, "do— you um," she struggles with the idea, "do like— do you make them?" She moves her hands in a box-like shape, because obviously that helps explain things.

Alia blinks. "could. would need parts." She says simply. It's an odd question. Why would someone be asking about making a computer she's not sure on. She's actually built a few from scrapped out computers at the library. Thus why some are slower than crazy, but manage to run when they really shouldn't on their budget.

"Oh well— of course I mean I don't expect you to just create the parts out of thin air!" An awkward laugh comes from Hokuto afterward as she bites down on her lower lip and glances to one side, "the thing is, we have a catalog computer here at the store and— it's old." Her dark eyes sweep back, "I could really use something a little newer, and— I don't really know a whole lot about computers at all, really. Darien's been pushing me to update our system so it doesn't take so long to do searches. It— we've had the same computer here since 93 or 94."

"I… if it's not too much to consider, I'd be willing to pay you for the time and work, obviously. I just," her nose wrinkles again, "don't really know about looking for them, and I heard some people order the parts and make things custom. So— it seemed like," she waggles the card between two fingers, "am I blabbering too much?" A grimace spreads nearly from ear to ear.

Alia blinks. "May I see?" She asks… it's mostly an idea she suddenly has as she is curious to what this beast of a machine likely is running… it wouldn't do to get incompatible software.

Laughing to herself at the thought of Darien's stern expression about the computer, Hokuto sidles past Alia and moves back down the narrow aisles, leading her towards the front counter. There, tucked away behind the counterspace the computer has been disconnected and turned off. Lifting up the case, yellowed with age from exposure to the sun from the windows and choked with dust, Hokuto swats a few dust-bunnies off of the top, then glances down at the old hulk of a CRT monitor.

"This, uh," she waves her hand at it, "is it. My mother bought it for the store back when she was running it, I think… at Circuit City or something?" One hand waves distractedly in the air. Alia can already tell, even with it all unplugged and powered down, it's an old Acer desktop, and if it's as old as Hokuto says, it's probably running a processor somewhere in the mid fifties of megahertz and using Windows 3.1. It's a miracle it still runs.

Alia smiles and pats the computer a moment, lovingly. She ponders, then smiles. "Think I have… have…" She looks for the right words for a few moments. "Just the thing. Not here though."

"Oh? I mean, that would be fantastic!" Settling down in the bay window near to the counter, Hokuto crosses one leg over the other, folding her hands in her lap, fingers still turning that business card over and over. "I've always been meaning to get a new one, but— well— I don't know enough to pick one out that isn't overkill." She huffs out a breath, blowing an errant lock of dark hair from her face,

"Darien'll be happy, and— " a thought crosses her mind, focus flicked back up to Alia, "You know, if you do maintenance too, I might have you come by from time to time and fix it after— uh— I invariably break it."

Scrunching up her brows and exhaling a heavy sign, Hokuto rubs two fingers at her temple as she tries to decipher exactly what it is Alia just said. There's a moment of thoughtful consideration as she daws her lower lip between her teeth and seems to get an idea, but the rise of her brow comes with nothing but silence.

"Well," Hokuto sees that look in Alia's eyes, the same one Darien gets when she talks about making book orders, "I think I'll be pleasantly surprised." Then, after considering for a moment, she rubs two fingers at the side of her head and grimaces, "or pleasantly terrified."

Alia smiles as she nods. "Surprised," she promises.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License