The Philosophy Of Hope


cat_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif

Scene Title The Philosophy of Hope
Synopsis Cat and Lydia meet and talk philosophy and release
Date September 10, 2010

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".

Ichihara Bookstore is empty, in the way of customers, anyways. That is not to say that it's quiet. Even without patrons, the antics of the cats is enough to make things at least a little noisy. Gabriel meows loudly atop his favourite shelf as Huruma-cat perches on the old wooden counter, meowing from her own corner. It's become a daily taunt between the two, dulled by the presence of the spray bottle full of lemon juice and water, their arch nemesis as per Brennan's suggestion.

The cold war turns hot all-too-quickly. All it takes is a false move by one of the kittens — the orange calico, Lydia's favourite. The little prance towards Gabriel is innocent enough, but the white cat will have none of it. He hisses loudly causing Huruma to leap from her perch towards the shelf in question and to summon her kitten away. Although, she'd rather fight in this war on her own. But the battle isn't meant to be. Within seconds a third factor enters: a heavy spray of the lemon water. "Bad Gabriel. Bad Huruma," the reprimand is neutral, not really telling enough for a cat, but the water does its work.

Lydia turns back towards the counter, orange kitten in tow. Her white dress has speckles of orange cat hair — a small irritation to her, and a side effect of having so many pets, albeit temporarily. Once at the counter, the tape dispenser is retrieved. Utilizing a single piece of scotch tape, she busies herself by pressing it against those little residual hairs, fighting against the static cling of her dress.

The person coming through Ichihara's doorway just in time to witness this exchange issues a brief chuckle as the proprietress busies herself with removing shed hair. "Interesting names for cats," she opines as a follow-on. Gabriel is known to her, Huruma not so much, in these iterations.

The 1.73 meter tall brunette who spoke moves further into the store, approaching the counter, with a flyer for the bookstore in one hand. She's casually clad, shorts and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt over athletic shoes, with hair tied into a ponytail.

The voice cuts into the blonde's thoughts and, evident grooming. Involuntarily, her cheeks flush a pale pink and the tape is rolled into a small ball before being disposed in a waste basket under the counter. She hadn't exactly heard when Cat came in, but considering the name comment, Lydia needs to pay better attention to the door.

With some effort, she manages a flicker of a smile — tight from its inception. "I can't take credit for either name," her voice is smooth, rich, even with her evident surprise at having a patron. And then, as a kind of afterthought she adds, "Welcome. Is there something I can help you with?"

"Hokuto named one of them," Cat states with a nod, "but the other one is newer. As are the kittens." She continues approaching the counter. "Came here once while she ran the place with a friend, she read cards too." The flyer she carries is placed on the surface between her and Lydia, not spoken of yet. There's something reserved about her, display of stoicism and poker face which she customarily shows, but perhaps a contrast in her eyes hinting at having seen and done extraordinary things and baggage acquired from them.

"An employee named the other; she has a way with them. Huruma was one of our alley cats and the kittens are hers," while brief, Lydia deems her own explanation adequate. "Yes, I know — of Hokuto's skills." A glance is given to the flyer on the counter, but not before glancing at the signed baseball card she'd left there earlier that morning. With no one else in the store, she's wilfully left it on the counter to maintain some closeness to the player, Augusto Hernandez, a man she will only ever think of as Edgar Smythe. A brief glance is given to the flyer before dark eyes flit towards Cat again as a single red polished finger edges the paper, "What is this?"

"Oh, that," Cat replies offhand when the flyer is mentioned, "came to me a few days ago with my lunch. I had a courier from Alley Cat in Chelsea deliver it, she tucked the flyer into the bottom of the bag." While speaking, her eyes settle on the baseball card and the man pictured there. In that moment she seems a bit distant, distracted.

Her mind flashes back to that day in April 2008 when Moab was assaulted, faces from the prison yard being called up. One of them matches the image of Augusto Hernandez. What isn't clear is whether or not he played baseball before or after prison.

"A courier," the blonde repeats. There's no inflection in her tone, leaving her voice wholly neutral at the statement. Lydia's eyes flit downward again as she reads through it. Free readings. Her lips edge into a smile. While she didn't mandate the flyers and really wasn't vying for increased traffic, there's an odd sweetness about Delia's actions. "The courier was a redhead?" Her lips press together into a thin line as she drums her fingers on the counter, "Did it spark your curiosity? Or did you, like many, want to know who assumed the store?" Her head tilts thoughtfully.

"Yes," Cat confirms, Lydia's voice drawing her mind away from that day at Moab and the electromagnetic behemoth she was fighting. "Red hair, a few inches taller than you and I. So I decided to visit the store." Naturally, no mention of having seen Senor Hernandez at a desert prison she helped assault and blow up is made, no further attention paid to the card.

"Told her I recognized the place, she said a woman named Lydia owns it now."

Lydia drums her fingers on the counter, a quiet beat to her words, even in their smoothness, "Lovely girl, but she should've checked before making flyers." Of course with an empty store, the proprietress can hardly comment on whether or not such advertising is needed. "And I'm Lydia. This is now… my store." There's something unsettling about owning this space, even now.

Delia's secret, probably former, boss nods once. "I'm not sure Reynold Helms knew she was doing that, delivering them to their customers, but it is a nice touch. If you wanted, you could probably call Alley Cat and make an arrangement for a decent price. But, anyway, congratulations on becoming a businesswoman with your own establishment. I'm Cat."

"I didn't know she was doing it so it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case," Lydia states honestly before reaching over to the orange calico (which is now positioned on the counter) to scritch behind its ear. "I don't know whether advertising is the best idea. Although… " she hmmms quietly. "Perhaps I should contact them and discuss it." With a slight nod of her head, she extends a hand to Cat, "Nice to meet you."

Her own right hand comes out and engages with Lydia's, shaking once and releasing. It's a grip stronger than one might expect from a woman, but not crushing. Skin is well cared for; soft, smooth and warm with no indication of having had to work hard in her life except for the calluses near her fingertips. Evidence of skill with and time spent playing a stringed instrument?

"It's likewise a pleasure, Lydia." In response to Lydia's thought to contact the courier service and discuss it, Cat provides the phone number for Reynold Nelms.

The touch does its magic, giving Lydia access to the other woman's emotions — always touch-activated. It's only the surface though, the immediate feelings and desires lying on top of the woman's consciousness. The callouses are noted, drawing a small smile, "Do you play guitar?" The number is slid off the counter and pocketed in Lydia's dress, following which she pockets that baseball card with another tight smile. "Well, since you're here, is there something I can help you find?"

Such a loaded question. Is there something Lydia can help Cat find?

The touch is revelatory, this woman is of a curious nature and isn't one to easily let her feelings be seen. There is intrigue derived from several angles. Lydia taking over a store once run by a woman who drove many to suicide through inability to control her dreamwalking power. Delia being allegedly sent here by that same deceased person. Kaylee working here as well. The presence of a baseball card featuring a man she helped free from Mutant Gitmo. A cat called Huruma, too.

None of this is expressed, though. Cat's well skilled at displaying that poker face, presenting the neutral facade which includes the subtlety with which she broached the subject of advertising through Alley Cat, not letting on she owns that courier service.

One other thing is easily detected; when asked if she plays guitar there's a swift and strong emotional response, that to simply make music is a thing which brings her peace and comfort, sweeps all else away, a passion for it. It mixes with a sense of being burdened and grieving, a sense of duty and failure which causes her to set that desire aside.

"I play," she answers quietly, "I'm a rocker chick at heart."

The revelations of the touch are hardly displayed on the empath's features, punctuated by nothing more than a single raise of her eyebrow. Her lips press together contemplatively, giving heavy consideration before attempting to speak. "Passion is everything in life. Finding your passion — " she begins only to be interrupted by the chime of the bell, and random opening of the door. Curiously, she glances towards it, but there's nothing to be seen.

Quickly enough, Lydia finishes her though, especially as no one is actually here to interrupt, " — it's everything in life. If you're a rocker chick at heart, that's who you are, even if you stopped playing, that wouldn't change. Who we are is simply that. Who we are."

And what does that make Lydia?

Not a business owner. Or an employer.

"We all need outlets. Some provide more release than others." It's a simple enough statement left to hang in the air.

There's a brief glance to the door when it chimes, then brown eyes resetttle on the proprietess. With the hand falling back to her side, contact needed to take such readings broken, Cat speaks with quietened voice. "True enough," she allows. Expounding on desires for justice and restoration, the weight of things known and secrets kept, is eschewed. "You give the impression of being a philosopher as well as bookstore owner, Lydia."

There's a small shake of her head at the comment while the painted lady's gaze remains focused on Cat. "I'm more gypsy than philosopher," Lydia admits openly. "Someone dear to me taught me to introspect and the mysteries of life…" there's yet another moment of distraction as her gaze flits to the window again. Her eyes narrow to bring the outside into focus, furrowing her eyebrows and tightening her jaw. She could've sworn she saw something, but now, there's nothing there. Gaping a moment she regains her thought, "… the mysteries are what we make them to be. We can overanalyze our lives or live in what we have… or regret what we've done…" the last is said as an afterthought, more telling than the rest.

The woman is studied for some moments in silence, Cat's mind adding Romany to a list of languages she might choose to teach herself someday. That silence remains unbroken as she surveys the books marked as reserved behind the counter, until she opts to inquire about them. "These are special orders for your customers yet to be claimed, or a private collection of favorites?"

Lips twitch into an almost relaxed smile. "Private collection. Most the choices of the last owner; a few of my own. Some of them for people I know more than myself… or they remind me of lives passed. Others are just older. Beautiful." She shrugs. "There's something wonderful about an old book; imagining who else touched it and left their own mark on it. Who read it and was influenced by it. How it shaped who they were…" She shrugs again. "I have a lot of quiet time to think," palms open to the empty store. "Maybe too much time."

"Memories on paper," Cat muses, "perfectly preserved in the print and the binding, perhaps even in the scent of them." Her face permits something of a wistful expression to form as Lydia speaks of time on her hands, the spoken response matches that.

"Staying busy brings a peace in itself, the forming of new memories and avoidance of dwelling on those existing prior."

She turns away then, moving to the shelves on her side of the counter and exploring at a calm pace.

"Maybe that's all we can hope for: Temporary release from them," for the first time her voice edges on depression, a deep-set sadness generally cast aside for everyone's benefit. Lydia places her palms flat on the counter as Cat steps away. She reaches into her pocket and returns the baseball card to the counter before gently closing her eyes and sucking in a smooth calming breath.

Moisture forms along her eyes, but only momentarily before she blinks it back from whence it came. She opens a single drawer in the counter, and slides the card into it, making the choice not to physically carry it around anymore, even if it's here.

Some time is spent among the shelves, Cat on occasion perhaps vanishing from easy view in moving around corners and between aisles, before she approaches the counter with three selections and intent to buy them. Sufficient cash is held in hand also, payment ready to pass over.

The money is taken and deposited into the register. Lydia presses her smile forward, tight and polite when Cat comes to the counter. "I hope you're happy with your purchases. And I hope you come back again. We're always getting new things." Her eyes widen slightly as she shakes her head at herself and retrieves the binder Kaylee made for her to track inventory, "I almost forgot." She finds the authors and scratches them out of the white binder. "Anyways. I hope you come back, Cat."

"I'm certain I will," Cat offers as the books are collected in hand again, "the place is unforgettable." So is every other place, barring the presence of a negator, but Lydia isn't told that. The woman turns away and makes for the door with her purchases, it chimes with the opening and again on being closed. She can be seen making her way down the street outside, having left the proprietess in the company of cats named for a serial killer and a cannibal from Africa.

And without a clue of where she's seen Lydia before, having not been shown the woman's back.

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