The Fool's Journey


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Scene Title The Fool's Journey
Synopsis The Fool's Journey is a metaphor for the journey through life. Each major arcana of the Tarot stands for a stage on that journey - an experience that a person must incorporate to realize his wholeness. Helena has reached the Hermit.
Date July 4, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore

Partly cloudy; hey, it could be worse.

Twenty-four near consecutive days of rain, finally letting up for a partly clouds day for the 4th of July. Here on Roosevelt Island, all the sunshine in the world can do little to hide the fact that people here have moved on. Wedged between the ruined skyline of Manhattan and the industrial nightmare of Long Island City in Queens, this narrow strip of land beneath the Queensboro Bridge is the closest thing to a ghost town anywhere in new York City.

Main Street, the central artery that runs north to south through the island, was once bustling with shops and businesses. Now, most of them are boarded over and closed up. Even some of the apartment buildings have shuttered windows and foreclosure signs situated out front, most of them covered with spray paint.

Snug between two of these highrise apartment buildings, Ichihara Books is one of the few open businesses left on Roosevelt Island. It's exterior is antique in design, an old, primarily wood building with a gabled roof still slicked with a sheen of rain from the night before. Puddles in the cracked street outside sprout with weeds that grow up from the fissures of the pavement. Yet, somehow, this tiny bookstore manages to remain open despite all of this.

Out front of the store, a dark-haired woman dressed solely in black and white sweeps water off of the sidewalk out front of the store with a brook, sloshing it out onto the street and to cluttered gutters. Overhead, a vintage oil lamp hangs from a rod iron post at the shop's front door. All cut glass and brass with a removable hurricane top. The base is patterned like a pineapple almost, though no sharp edges and has a scrollwork handle that allows you to carry it around. Round as a small goldfish bowl, it tapers at the neck to hold the wick and wick holder, which can be seen going down into the insides, curling around and ready to be used. The hurricane glass that composes the top and sits within the brass fittings of the neck is etched with vines and leaves. Something that overall seems to fit in with it's intended resting place. The bookstore.

Pausing in her sweeping, Hokuto leans the broom up against the open front doors, wiping at her forehead with the back of her hand, letting pale hands pull her hair back behind her head, knotting the dark tresses into a hasty and messy ponytail before turning to look down the street.

She shouldn't be here.

There's too much to do. They're going to attack Arthur any day now, and it's just the fact that the devil's in the details. Helena's loathe to simply throw themselves into harm's way and hope for the best - every time they do that, it increases the chance that their luck will run out. But in some ways, she couldn't help herself, last night she attempted to get away from everything, and the interruption made things a little less like what Helena needed them to be. She just wants to pretend, even if just for a few hours, that she's a perfectly normal girl, even if she's one who has to wear a hat and glasses.

Still, she can't help but think Roosevelt Island may not be a bad place to set up a safe house. Or about the destruction of the Lighthouse, and the rumors swirling around about it. About the idea that Peter doesn't remember her. About the dangerous idea and irony that both Adam Monroe and the Vangard may be getting the old gang back together, even if it's to benevolent purpose.

No one knows Helena here, and she's content to wander the shops, looking at things she won't buy, at apartments she'll never live in. So she can pretend. So she can wander.

So she can be lost.

It's a crooked, dark brow that regards Helena on her way past the old shops, a break from sweeping and an unfamiliar face, even if the impassive entrance into the bookstore isn't even afforded so much as a nod. Hokuto, at least, is used to the quiet distance people seem to have put themselves at these days, the unwanted human contact that so many people in the city try to avoid. Snatching the boom in one hand, she watches the young woman step through the open door into the bookstore, and soon follows suit, broom clutched to her chest as she walks in.

"Don't mind the dark," it's something of an auspicious first thing to say, "The power's supposed to be out until the end of the week." Leaning the broom against the front counter, Hokuto does her best to seem welcoming, polite, happy. So many pople think someone at a job is there only to collect a paycheck. It's nothing like that for her, not anymore, at least.

"I haven't seen you around before," she's looking down at the counter now, circling behind it with a scuff of old black and white converse. For a woman in her thirties, she certainly doesn't dress the part, "do you live in the area?" Dark yes lift up from a collection of money left right out in the open on the counter, folded into one hand and then tucked away in a lunchbox.

Helena turns, looking over her shoulder at Hokuto - her hair fanning out to fall along it as she does. "I don't mind." she offers with a smile that might be brighter, lighter, and more easy if she weren't at least passing concerned with being identified. But in the dark, her sunglasses are a detriment, and so she takes them off. "I've lived in some rough places and made do with the bare essentials. It's something a lot of people have gotten used to, I think." She avoids the question of whether she lives on the island, and instead steps close to one of the bookshelves.

The bittersweet smile returned at Helena's words is almost too honest, and as she comes out from behind the front counter again, Hokuto boosts herself up to sit atop it, one leg crossing over the other. "I don't get many people out here," she notes with a lopsided smile, "especially when we're closed," only now does Helena see the reverse side of that sign inside of the window, and on the door propped open. Strange, in a way, our door is open, but sorry we're closed. One pale hand waves dismissively in the sign's direction, "Don't worry about it… I'm starting to think even I don't pay attention to that thing anymore."

Resting her palms flat behind her on the counter, she lounges back, eyes lidding partway to regard Helena through the dark cage of her lashes. "Is there anything in particular you're looking for?" One dark brow rises slowly in line with the question, "I know the shelves aren't as organizes as they could be."

"No, I…sort of just wandered in here." Helena admits, offering immediately, "If you're trying to close up, I could get out of your way?" She can't help but add, "My mom would have loved this place, though. She was kind of umm…" she was going to say a hippy and belatedly realized she might offend Hokuto. So she just adds, "I was letting myself get lost."

"Never opened today to close up," Hokuto admits with a smirk, swinging her legs slightly where she sits, heels thumping against the front of the counter. "Sometimes getting lost is a pretty good idea, I lose myself all the time," her dark eyes wander around the shop, to candles that need to be changed out, to book that need to be put back in place, "sometimes too often."

Casting a side-long glance back at Helena, Hokuto lets one dark brow rise slowly. "How lost were you planning on getting?" It's a bit of a loaded question, enough that Hokuto slides down off of the counter, black denim scraping over old wood before her sneakers tap down on the hardwood floor.

And what a question it is. "Lost enough that I'd figure out the right direction to go in?" Helena can't help but suggest. "The signs are hard to read, and I'm a little too old to be wearing a red hood." Because there just can't be enough fairy tale girl element to Helena. "But I suppose I really can't afford to spend too much time being lost. There are obligations." Helena suppresses her sigh, feeling like it will make her seem spoiled.

"I dunno' about that," Hokuto notes absently, folding her arms across her chest for a moment, weight shifting to one foot more than the other as she eyes Helena. "I think you'd look fine in red." An impish smile quirks up the corners of Hokuto's lips as she turns around, shaking her head and reaching out across the counter to grab one of the folded plastic signs, turning around to hold it in both hands just below chin level. Her head cants to the side, one brow kicked up in a silent question. The sign, cream colored text on dark brown background, clearly reads: Tarot Card Readings. Ten Dollars.

When Hokuto's smile turns something more Cheshire, that brow stays raised, now looking more playful than questioning, as if she half knows the answer already.

Helena looks sidelong - is Hokuto hitting on her? But then her gaze goes to the sign, and she's unable to help herself, she grins, for a moment looking young and merry and willing to indulge in the idea of what the cards might have to tell her. "Okay," she says, her grin adventurous as she digs into her pocket and produces a wallet, from which she plucks a ten dollar bill and holds it out for Hokuto, "Okay."

"Wait till after," Hokuto says with a wrinkle of her nose, "because… well, hopefully this goes better than the last few I've done lately have." Waving one hand dismissively, she lays the sign back down on the counter, and then slides past Helena into the narrow middle aisle, walking with hands folded behind her back as she makes her way towards a round wooden table tucked away in a nook between two towering old book-cases stacked with hardcover encyclopedic volumes.

"I usually would offer tea, but I ran out yesterday," she motions to one of the old, weathered wooden chairs on the opposite side of the table, "I haven't made the walk out into Queens to hit the store yet, so I'm afraid conversation will have to suffice." Her chair is pulled out, and as she sits, one hand snatches a box from by an antique tea set, shaking out a large stack of tarot cards with ornately printed script art on the back.

"Oh, that's encouraging." Helena says faintly as she moves to take a seat at the table. "Conversation is fine. I'm not much of a tea drinker, more of a coffee girl. Not that I expect you to pull out the bean machine or anything!" Helena notes quickly.

"If you happen to have a four kilowatt generator in your pocket, then I could make you coffee." Hokuto cracks a smile, cutting the deck of cards in half and giving it just that meager shuffle before sliding the deck across the table to Helena. "They're old cards, so they should shuffle easy. If one of the dog-eared corners sticks, don't mind it too much, they're… well used." When her hand moves away from the desk, Helena's eyes immediately gravitate to part of the negative space of the design on the back of the cards, the symbol.

"They were my mothers, pretty much like everything else around here," Hokuto's chair creaks as she leans back into it, "I've done more reading than usual this past week, some of them have been a bit unsettling, but they've been mostly nail on the head. So— I can't say there'll be anything more in the cards that what you bring to them. Shuffle them however you'd like."

Helena starts to put her hands on them when she notices the symbol. She lets out a soft breath, and there's the tiniest shake of her head, before she puts her hands on them and shuffles - first side over side, then running the edges with her thumbs and pushing them together. She gently taps the cards on their side to get them to settle evenly, and places them between herself and Hokuto. "I don't really have anything of my mom's." Helena admits. The funny thing is, she could probably go back to Sleepy Hollow, to her old house, and maybe find something of Evelyn's…but the thought never occurred to her until now.

"I'm… lucky to have all this," Hokuto notes quietly, sliding the stack of cards back across the table to herself. "After the bomb, there were so many fires here, and really no way for the fire department to get out here with everything that was going on. It was a miracle that the buildings around here spared the shop, I— I really don't know what I would've done if a lost it. It's all I really have left of her."

Furrowing her brows, she considers the cards for a moment, going over the word lost in her head a few times. "This…" she begins laying out one card on Helena's right, and then four others in steps ascending from below the level of the first card, "is a fourfold vision arrangement. It's helpful when you're trying to get perspective on a single event or person that is significant to you. Whatever you had on your mind, more prevalently?" Dark eyes flick up to Helena as the final and fifth card is laid out slightly higher than the others, "That's what this will be about."

Pointing to the first card, out of synch with the ascending slope, Hokuto explains its significance. "This card is whatever everything else relates to, it's your problem, your question, it might even be your reason for being. That's… for you to know," and she slides white-painted nails under the card, flipping it over to reveal the an inverted card depicting a blonde haired figure in a white robe with a halo and angel wings, pouring water from one cup into another. Her brow raises, only slightly.

"This is Temperence, inverted. It's… pretty simple in meaning, but whatever you've been focusing on mostly? It showing that you're losing your temper, your self control. Whatever's at the heart of your… need to get lost?" Her eyes drift up from the card to Helena, "the cards are saying it's pushing you past the edge."

Past the edge. Yeah, that would be about right. Helena doesn't want to say too much, but the way she just sort of furtively blinks down at the card in surprise probably tells Hokuto all she needs to know. "Do the cards give you ideas on how to fix things, too?"

"I can pull a one card solution at the end, that might help give you a resolution. This spread just helps define the problem." She's watching Helena's reactions, carefully, right now it seems just like everything is going at least alright, though the telling look does at least show that things are right on the head. Pointing to the next card, Hokuto taps her fingernail on its back. "This card is your physical vision, the problem at its most bare and base relevence to you." Flipping it over, it is unsurprisingly a depiction of a naked man and woman reaching their hands out for one another, with an angelic figure floating on a cloud behind them, rays of sunlight framing the image. "Lovers."

Dark eyes flick up to Helena, then back down to the card, "This represents a caring, trusting relationship. Beauty, inner harmony, the things that you want out of life. It shows that whatever decision you make, will require you to have control over your emotions, not to the other way around."

Now this happens rarely, not that Hokuto would know it, but if anyone Helena knew was here, they'd probably laugh. She blushes. Not because of the nudity on the card, but just…it's obvious that it has an effect on her. She nods a little bit, sucking on her bottom lip, her brow furrowed and her mind whirling. This is a little scary and a little crazy and a little cool.

So much better than her other readings. Hokuto just manages an honest, if not somewhat crooked smile, and moves to the next card in precession to the left. "This is your mental vision of the problem, a look at everything from a very humanized perspective." When she flips the card over, it shows a strange scene of a golden sarcophagus lid depicting a man laying with hands folded over his chest. Three swords hang on the wall behind the sarcophagus, and one is engraved on the golden side.

"The Four of Swords," she notes with a peculiar raise of one brow, "I think that's exactly where you are right this moment, actually. This card represents your need to take a step back and recollect yourself. It's… sort've a temporary retreat from stress to reaffirm convictions, reorganize your thoughts, and put together a new plan." Her eyes drift from Helena to the card, "It shows that you need to take a step back, and re-evaluate everything."

Helena nods her head. "I tried a little last night." she admits. "Things kind of caught up with me anyway. So now, I'm here. I'm trying to figure out a way to pit it all together." All of what? She doesn't say, but she stares at the cards, now.

Nodding her head, Hokuto seems to understand the need to withdraw for a while. Anyone brave enough might actually call her on it, on never having come out from withdrawing. "This here, is the emotional aspect of the situation. It's the part that has you the most hot-tempered, it's what is causing you to lose your cool." Watching for signs of recognition, Hokuto flips the card over to reveal the image of a white-hearded man seated in a throne holding a scepter.

It's hard for Helena not to already begin drawing parallels to "The Emperor," Hokuto states coolly, "Authority, power," her brows crease together, glancing back at the other cards before focusing on the Emperor again. "This is very obviously a patriarch, the male head of a family, someone who is domineering and attempting toh old sway of your emotions. From this perspective, it's clear that someone's father is at the heart of all this," she motions to the other cards, "he's the one who's driving you the most, spurring you on, getting under your skin."

To think, with all of this, Hokuto isn't even precognitive.

Helena's expression grows tight, and those emotions that she needed to control so badly, for a moment they look like they're going to spill all over the place. But she breathes, lets it settle, and finally lets herself speak. "Yes." she says. "My problem is, I don't know what to do about him." she points at the card. "He keeps getting bigger and bigger. Like a titan. And there's so much coming at me from all sides and so fast and there's just not enough time that it's like having so much that the only thing you can do is stop." A pause, and she offers furtively, "Does that make sense?"

"It… it does," Hokuto says with a bit of uncertainty, eyeing the figure on the card before looking back up to Helena. "Sometimes you have to evaluate a problem, look at it objectively, and ask 'can I do anything?'" Her lips press together in a faint frown, "Sometimes there's problems too big for anyone to handle." Swallowing awkwardly, Hokuto brings her hand down to the last card laid out. "This, here, is a combination of perspectives. It's an unseen aspect of your situation, something you might've overlooked, or not considered…"

Flipping the card over, it — like the first card — is inverted. The card depicts a man in a long robe with one hand raised in the air, holding a candle burning at both ends. On the table in front of him, a cup, a golden disc marked with a pentacle, a wooden staff and a sword are laid out. Above his head, hovers an infinity symbol.

"The Magician, inverted…" Hokuto's dark eyes upturn to Helena. "It's trickery, right at the core. What you're overlooking is some sort of deception, either a trick being played on you, or one that you could pull off that would resolve the problem. It also represents the use of knowledge or skill for selfish gains. Someone close to you," her brows furrow, "someone in your house," she eyes the card again, "is deceiving you with their intentions, and it is compounding the problem."

Helena's expression turns to one of mute dismay - it's a warning and something she's overlooked, and she hasn't the first idea as to how to go about routing whoever it is out. Unless, as Hokuto says, it's more an element of trickery she's not considering. She tries to keep a lid on her frustration. "I - " she starts, and then just can't.

"Here, let's…" Her nose wrinkles slightly, "sometimes that spread can be a bit confusing. It tells you everything that's wrong and doesn't really give you any solutions." Reaching down to the deck, she slides her nails under the next card. "This card will serve as an answer, a direction on where to go next, the path you should… maybe take, or at least an idea of where the path even is." When the card is laid out, it is not quite what Hokuto expected to see.

There on the black card, is a naked figure perched on a black pillar, bat-like wings outspread behind his back, one hand raised as if in salute, his lower hair hairy and goat-like. Chained to the pillar at his feet, a naked man and woman stand in bondage, in the same position as on the Lovers card.

"The, ah," her brow twitches, "your solution appears to be the Devil." Looking up, anxiously, to Helena, Hokuto isn't quite sure what to make of it. "This— this can mean compromise of your morals, finding an answer in either a person or group you would never turn to for help. It— the whole situation you're dealing with," she motions to the other cards, "can be solved by either a figurative or literal evil, but that there will be a cost for going to them. It means you must compromise yourself, in order to succeed, and turn to something or someone you… do not want to."

Adam. The Vanguard. Helena stares at the card and sinks back in her chair, her mouth dropping open in shock. "Huh." she says, and then admits in a simple, one-word answer, "Yes."

Teeth pull at Hokuto's lower lip, drawing pale flesh a bone white for a moment as she watches Helena's expression, brows creasing together uncertainly. "I, ah… take it that, clicks with you?" One black brow rises slowly, and Hokuto folds her hands on the table. Given that Helena at least seems more relieved than horrified, it's still better than what happened to Abigail. "I ah— I hope this worked out alright, for you. It— sometimes these cards, they have a mind of their own."

"It seems an odd card to be relieved at, I guess?" Helena offers with a sheepish smile. "But yeah, it clicks with me, with a certainty that I actually understand, and that's why I'm reacting this way. I've been longing for something solid." There's a pause, and she admits thoughtfully, "I think that may be what's at the heart of everything for me. I long for something solid. Everything - everyone - I have? Seems so ephemeral."

"I hear you," Hokuto notes with a touch of whimsy, one by one laying the cards on top of one another before setting them down in the stack again, and returning those cards to the box. "Sometimes it feels like I'm standing still, and life is just blurring past. Sometimes you reach out, grab for something, and it's just smoke in your fingers, you know?" Folding the box closed, Hokuto lays it down on the table and reclines in her chair, folding her hands on her stomach.

"So," her eyes drift from the box to Helena, "was… that worth ten dollars?"

"It's just a deck of cards," notes Helena, not even realizing she's quoting Alice, "And yet, I can tell you that I'll be walking away feeling more certain about things than when I walked into your shop." Helena at ease is something more radiant than the girl who walked in, more certain, strong. It shows.

"Fool's journey isn't ever an easy one," Hokuto notes with a wave of one hand, lips crooked into a smile. "I'm glad I could've been of help, though, it's hard when people walk out of here more confused than they were when they came in. It— happens though. But I'll admit, I've done more readings in the last week than I have in months. I guess… it's just that time, right?"

"Fool's journey?" Helena asks curiously. She's never read her Campbell and doesn't know Tarot symbolism. Oddly, she's not offended even if she doesn't understand what that means, she doesn't think Hokuto's calling her a fool. "I guess it's one of those things that happens when it's important?"

"It's, a tarot thing. Sort've… putting a story to the symbolism of the card, the journey of card zero, the fool, on a path of enlightenment and understanding." Her brows raise as she looks at Helena curiously, "That's pretty much the spirit of it. Things will happen, and what matters is how you handle them, not so much the anticipation. I… think I have a book on that whole subject, actually," she glances back at an unorganized stack of books, "…oooor Darien forgot to put it back when he was on shift." One black brow twitches slightly, and Hokuto turns her focus back to Helena, grimacing. "What's important, is that in the end, it all makes sense."

Helena digs back into her pocket to pull out the tenspot, laying it on the table in front of her. "It makes sense." she says. She rises, and then sucking on her lower lip for a moment, she holds out her hand. Maybe Hokuto never goes on the internet, reads the news, or watches tv. "I'm Helena." she offers.

"Nice to meet you, Helena!" Blithe cheer and obliviousness, she never was much for physical espionage in her tenure with the Company. Reaching out, Hokuto takes Helena's hand and stands, "Hokuto— uh, Ichihara." She nods in the direction of the sign that hangs above the door. "Don't… hesitate to stop on by again, or anything, now that you've found your way. You never know, maybe something else will come up in time, and you'll need to have something else answered?"

Cracking another Cheshire smile, Hokuto lets go of Helena's hand and leaves the ten dollar bill laying on the table haphazardly. "Good luck,' she notes with mild curiosity, on— the whole journey, and all that."

"Nice to meet you, Helena!" Blithe cheer and obliviousness, she never was much for physical espionage in her tenure with the Company. Reaching out, Hokuto takes Helena's hand and stands, "Hokuto— uh, Ichihara." She nods in the direction of the sign that hangs above the door. "Don't… hesitate to stop on by again, or anything, now that you've found your way. You never know, maybe something else will come up in time, and you'll need to have something else answered?"

Cracking another Cheshire smile, Hokuto lets go of Helena's hand and leaves the ten dollar bill laying on the table haphazardly. "Good luck,' she notes with mild curiosity, on— the whole journey, and all that."

Helena turns, but pauses a moment, looking over her shoulder without really watching where she's going, a foot poised to take a step. All she'd need is a dog at her feet and a satchel on a stick balanced on her shoulder. "Thank you, Hokuto. I hope I'll see you again." And with that, Helena's out the door.

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