Two Kings


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Scene Title Two Kings
Synopsis On a mission from Jensen Raith to identify a tarot card, Magnes Varlane comes to the Ichihara Bookstore and finds more than an identity.
Date September 8, 2009

Roosevelt Island, Ichihara Bookstore

September means Autumn, and Autumn means a change from the blistering summer weather. It's been a hot summer in New York, but now fall seems to be even more hastily approaching than normal. The chill in the air coming off of the water surrounding Roosevelt Island is stronger than usual today, and the faintest bit of color seems to be departing the leaves on the trees across the city, a sure sign of fall's impending approach.

Tucked away on the tiny central artery of Main Street on Roosevelt Island, the Ichihara Bookstore is one of the few businesses on the tiny island that remained open through the aftermath of the bomb. Now that the Suresh Center has opened, however, there's an influx of people returning to the island as revitalization comes juxtaposed to the decay of fall. Repair crews work on patching fissures in the pavement, store owners pull off boarding on their windows, and everything seems to be in a state of renewal, despite it being the approach of a season antithesis to that ideal.

Outside of the Ichihara Bookstore, two blocks from the roadwork, a willowy woman dressed in a breezy white sundress spritzes the old square-pane bay windows on the front of the shop with a bottle of windex, standing on a stepladder to reach the higher panes, she quietly cleans the grime of a forgotten city off of the glass, ink black hair caught in the wind and a content smile on her face. It may be the season of decline, but for Roosevelt Island, there's life in that decay.

He's been all over the city looking for a tarot place that at least seems remotely credible, but so far, no real luck. He's not in his skates today, instead simply choosing his black sneakers, comfortably fitting blue jeans, and a dark blue faded t-shirt with a Superman symbol on it, and a denim vest with a Superman symbol on the back, very 90s Superboy, with a twist. He finds himself walking by the book store, eyeing the woman who vaguely reminds him of Xiulan and her own shop. He doesn't see too many young pretty Chinese shop owners.

He's holding The World card in his hand, upside down, suggesting that he may have been staring at it for a while, but what he asks has nothing to do with Tarot, "Hey, ma'am, do you sell comics?"

Pausing in the middle of one swipe over a pane of glass, Hokuto's head quirks to the side as she turns around, looking down at the young man standing on the sidewalk. "Comics?" There's an impish smile that crosses her lips, a few sandaled footsteps taking her down the stepladder to the concrete below. "You know, I haven't had anyone ask me about comic books in— " she wrinkles her nose, "since my mother ran this place." Her dark eyes wander up and down Magnes again, down to the card in his hand with one quirked brow, then up to the young man again.

Somehow, there's scrutiny in her expression, one arm coming to wrap around her waist, the other bracing against it as she rests her fingers in rythmic tapping on her jaw. "I used to have some, but I gave them away to the local hospitals when I took over the store— to the children could have them to take their minds off of— well, you understand." Thin fingers rake up through dark hair, eyes drifting back down to the card in hand. "Why're you carrying that around?"

"I've been trying to find someone who can tell me what this means, upside down." Magnes holds up the card for her, upside down, The World card. "I've been all over the city today, trying to find someone who could tell me, but I can't really find any tarot places that look… uh… authentic, I guess."

Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Hokuto gives Magnes a scrutinizing look before turning around and leaning over, resting the windex bottle and her washcloth down on the stepladder before straightening up again. "You didn't try the, uh, internet?" One dark brow rises slowly, and Hokuto shifts her weight to one foot, holding out her hand and curling her fingers back, making a gimme gesture towards the card. "I may not be a roadside palm reader type, but I do tarot readings here, usually for people who come in and are shopping about for books. But— if you want to know, I can give you my interpretation of it."

And therein lies the rub on Raith's request.

"I was told specifically to go to a tarot reader, so that's what I'm doing. And uh…" Magnes, knowing very little about tarot as he hands the upside down card to her, asks, "Your interpretation?"

Taking the card in hand, Hokuto turns it around, looks at the back, and then narrows her eyes at the picture on it again, lips pursed as if she was expecting to find something on the card. "Tarot are all about interpretation, each card has a basic underlying meaning, but that can vary from person to person. Inversions of cards are even trickier, as they're often up to the perceptions of the person interpreting what the card is itself." Dark eyes lift from the World towards Magnes, and Hokuto exhales a soft sigh on meeting his eyes.

"Look at the picture," she turns the card out around the Magnes, showing him the depiction of a naked figure that is indeterminate in gender, it may be female, it may be male. Portions of the figure are wrapped in red cloth, and it is surrounded by a wreath of green with four different heads at each corner; a human or head, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. "The World," Hokuto notes with a tilt of her head, "represents an ending to a cycle of life, a pause in life before the next big cycle beginning. The figure," she taps a finger on the person at the center of the card, "is at once male and female, above and below, suspended between the heavens and the earth. Completeness."

Arching one brow, she turns the card upside down. "In Tarot readings, inversions of cards turn the meanings literally upside down. Where the World means that everything is right, everything is whole and complete and perfect— seeing it inverted— " she furrows her brows, "it means everything is wrong. The world is falling apart, everything is broken, and nothing is going to come together the way it should…"

"So…" Magnes listens intently, trying to figure out just what he should make of that, staring at the card. "What does it mean? I uh, I mean, how could that card represent a group of people?" he asks this as if it were purely hypothetical, but one simply knows, in this city, situations are rarely hypothetical.

There's a pointed stare given to Magnes, eyes narrowed. "I can't rightly answer that question for you, not with any certainty. How they interpret the card in relation to themselves, and how I interpret the card are two wholly different things." Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, she offers the tarot card back to Magnes with her brows creased. "If they specified inverted, maybe it means they're all about bringing chaos and destruction to the world— maybe they're trying to prevent it. Or, maybe, they want you to come up with your own interpretation based on the card, and see how clever you are."

One dark brow arches, and Hokuto offers Magnes a slightly Cheshire smile, as if she knows more than she's letting on. "One card can't really tell you much about a specific situation," she notes quietly, "but… should you ever want something a little more concrete? My services in readings are cheap."

"Well, uh…" Magnes' cheeks flush a bit, his awkwardness rearing its ugly head after a good at least two week record of suppressing it. "I guess it couldn't hurt. You remind me of a girl I used to like." he bashfully admits, sliding the card into his vest, then starts heading into the store. "So uh, how much?"

Tilting her head to the side, there's a crooked smile from Hokuto as she echoes the word, "Girl?" Her lips creep up into a smile and head shakes, "I'll take that as a compliment, seeing as I've got to have at least ten years on you." Smirking playfully, the dark-haired bookseller just leaves the window washing supplies on the stepladder and starts making her way to the storefront, pausing at the front door before turning around and eyeing Magnes.

"Ten dollars," she offers off-handedly, "but given how things have gone with them lately, I'll— you don't have to pay until we're done. If you don't like it, she shakes her head slightly, "you don't have to pay."

"I'll pay, I like to think I'm a kind've chivalrous guy. And you don't look that old." Magnes reaches into his pocket, pulling a ten from his wallet to offer her. "So, how's it work? I'm guessing it doesn't work like it does on TV…"

Waiting until Magnes has got up to the door, Hokuto snatches the ten-note from his fingers with a quick flick of her hand and quirks her lips into a smile, folding it in half and then in half again before tucking it down the squared front of her sundress. She waggles her brows up and down, and turns on one heel, stepping thorugh the open front door and right out of her sandals the moment she's inside without so much as breaking her stride. "Nothing works like it does on television," she says with a whimsical tone of voice, turning around halfway in to the dusty old bookstore, hands coming to rest on her hips before one hand is offered out towards Magnes.

"Hokuto Ichihara," she says with a fond smile, "and I've been told I don't quite look my age before. I used to hate it when I was younger— always wanted to be mature looking— " her nose wrinkles, "now? I'm glad I can still pass for being in my twenties."

Magnes takes her hand, smiling brightly, unable to really stop smiling. "Magnes J. Varlane. Occasional Pizza Maker and Delivery Boy, full time newbie NYPD officer and world saver. Boyfriend of the best girl ever and… this introduction is getting long." He gently breaks the handshake, curiously looking around the bookstore. "And you're right, nothing works like it does on TV. Flying isn't just wobbling a few feet off the ground until you get the hang of it, I'll punch anyone who says otherwise."

"You fly?" The question comes with a quirked smile as Hokuto slips into an aisle between two tall rows of old wood bookshelves, "I've heard all about the NYPD hiring more Evolved officers, but straight out of police academy— you must have had some good recommendations. You're awfully young to be an officer," she adds, stopping at the end of the aisle, turning back around to regard Magnes with a sidelong look. "Do you like working for the NYPD?"

The way it's phrased though, the question almost seems like some sort've cunning verbal trap. Hokuto takes a few steps to the side, revealing a nook beyond the aisle where a small, circular table with a weathered wooden top rests with a pair of chairs flanking it and an antique tea set situated on one side. She bends forward, and motions towards the table with a teasing smile.

Magnes is touching things as they walk down aisles, curious about old books, possibly expecting to find some ancient wizard book or something. "I, uh, w-well, I mean. I want the experience, I think the experience of being in the NYPD will help me with my goals in life. I'm kind of hazy on how I actually got into the NYPD or who referred me, but I'm sure they were nice people." And to answer her last question, he doesn't actually step out of the aisle, she instead finds him floating upside down, entering her view from his floating position. "Yes, I can fly, it took me two months to work out the mechanics."

"Hazy," Hokuto notes with a quirk of one brow as she watches him float upside down through the aisle. "Well, with all the blood rushign to your head," she notes with a crooked smile, "we can't rule out possible brain damage I guess." There's something still teasing and remarkably juvinile about her comment as she folds herself down into one of the creaking wooden seats next to the table. Her hands move out, picking up the cardboard pack that holds the cards from the tea serving tray. "Come over here and sit down, and be mindful of when you straighten out that you don't kick anything over?"

Pulling out the top of the pack, Hokuto slides the cards out and starts shuffling them in one hand before the cardboard box is pushed aside, and the shuffling moves to both hands. Something stands out to Magnes' attention on the cards, a symbol worked into the pattern on the back of the deck, the same half-helix symbol that features so prominently in Isaac Mendez' 9th Wonders comic books.

"Whoa!" Magnes is surprised when he carefully takes his seat across from her, his gravity reverting to normal. "Your cards, I mean, can I ask you a few questions?" A rule from the book of Elisabeth: Don't give information when it isn't needed, but keep your eyes and ears open! "Where'd you get those cards, how long ago was it when your mother owned the shop, and can you remember what kind of comics you had?" Sure, he could be straightforward and simply make the connection for her, but Elisabeth's rules, and all…

There's an abrupt jerk of Hokuto's head up at the exclamation, but her eyes stay settled on Magnes with knowing uncertainty. "I… I've had the cards for a long time, they belonged to my mother, and…" she looks down to the cards, expression softening. "My mother opened the shop in the sixties, and… she ran it until she died a few years ago." From soft to sad, Hokuto's expression changes gradually as she stares down at the cards in her hands.

"We— " the latter question rouses her from the malaise. "We had old comics, stuff that my mother picked up when she ran the place. They were all in stories, stuff from the sixties and seventies. I don't… really know much about comics, I just donated them to the hospitals, I really had no intention of selling them here."

"That's… so strange." But the symbol has to mean something, why would Mendez randomly have the symbol on his books, then they just suddenly appear on tarot cards? Magnes stares at her, clearly in deep thought, as if there were a mystery to be solved here. This woman is about to read his future, or at least that's how he assumes tarot cards work, and Mendez could predict the future. "Um, you don't have to answer if you don't want to, but are you Evolved?"

"I am," Hokuto notes obscurely, breathing in a deep breath as she starts to shuffle the cards around again, then upturns those dark eyes to Magnes, watching him wordlessly for a moment before laying the deck down on the table, and sliding it across towards him. "Cut the deck, however feels natural for you, and however long you want to, then slide it back over to me."

There's no indication of what she does, only that she is, and perhaps in that Cheshire smile she's offering to Magnes, it's all a part of some word game. Can he find out? She plans on making it a hunt.

"Next question," Magnes asks as he cuts the deck in four parts, then puts them together quite randomly, straightening the deck before leaving it there, all with one hand. "Do you predict the future? And, more specifically, do you predict the future through painting? Or, well, do you know anyone who did?" He really means her mother, but he's being sensitive on that topic.

"Thomas Brill, Isaac Mendez…" Hokuto's voice takes on a different tone, eyes partly lidded as she reaches out and draws the deck back across the table. "Both fantastic with their ability," her head tilts to the side, "both dead." There's a tensing of her brows, and Hokuto's dark eyes lift up towards Magnes again, her thumb of one hand toying with the corner of the top card on the deck.

"Normally, I do a blind reading. Which is to say, I just start laying out the cards based on how I feel about a person." But there's something in Hokuto's expression that seems to indicate she intends to do otherwise. "I want you to propose a question— something meaningful, something relevent— to the cards." Her eyes downturn to the deck, "and we'll see what comes up."

Then, finally, in answer to his question Hokuto looks up with a crooked smile. "I don't tell the future, and neither do Tarot cards."

"I've never heard of Thomas Brill… and you know about Mendez? Have you… actually seen one of his comics?" Becuase Magnes is definitely curious if she's noticed the mysterious symbol, trying to think up a meaningful question. "Do I need to urgently worry about defending us from China and whatever the end result of their Evolved draft is, or should I focus my attention on our more immediate problems?"

"That's two questions." Hokuto notes with a tilt of her head, "or implies a choice. Though, there is a spread for that. I guess…" Her lips quirk up into a smile, "I can work with that." SLowly, Hokuto takes the top five cards outof the deck, laying one directly in front of Magnes. Her eyes follow the cards are two columns of two cards each are laid out acros the table, stretching from Magnes towards Hokuto.

"I'm not much of a comics reader, but I saw several of Isaac's paintings myself. Daniel Linderman has a private collection of many of them," she offers that bit of information with a rise of her dark brows. "Thomas Brill wasn't as exceptional of an artist, but he had a special gift none the less. His paintings were rather highly sought after recently. I heard one sold at auction for a considerable price."

With all five cards laid out, Hokuto slides the rest of the deck aside, and levels her dark eyes on Magnes. "Why're you so concerned about something like that?"

"Sorry." Magnes apologizes, for the two questions. There's brief embarassment with an aversion of his eyes, but he focuses right back on the cards. "What's the relevance of the symbol on the back of your cards?" he outright asks, pointing to the specific symbol without actually touching the cards. "And I'm concerned because not many others seem to be. Someone has to worry about it."

"The symbol?" Hokuto's eyes divert to the back of the card, one brow raised, then they settle up on Magnes again. "It's just a little squiggly line. Sometimes a symbol is just a symbol." Leaning back into her chair, she leaves the cards out as they're arranged — face down — and folds her arms across her chest, not quite continuing with the reading yet. "I didn't mean what you asked the cards, I meant— why are yu so interested in precognitive paintings?"

Furrowing her brows, Hokuto considers Magnes a bit more carefully, her head canting to the side as her eyes wander him, that mirthful smile becoming something more neutral, a pursing of lips in thought.

"The symbol on the back of your cards, I've seen it before, on Mendez's comics." Magnes reaches into his vest, unzipping a pocket to pull out his iPhone and click around a bit. He's browsing, for a picture of a random comic… none with his girlfriend on the cover, he'd love for all of those to be burned. Ah, a picture of issue 14. He turns the iPhone around, zooming the picture in on the symbol right above the issue number. "Look familiar? That should answer why I was asking, I thought you were connected somehow."

Letting her head tilt to the side as she eyes the cover of the comic book with one brow still raised, Hokuto seems less than convinced. "I've seen that in a lot of places," she admits with a pursing of her lips. "Someone's necklace, a law firm in town, I think there's a company in New Jersey that uses it as its logo too…" Moving her hand out to the first card, the one closest to Magnes, Hokuto quirks her lips into a playful smile.

"Do you want to talk about the ambiguous symbols on the backs of the cards," she traces one finger around the back of the card, a white painted nail scraping over the surface, "or the ambiguous symbols on the other side of the cards?"

"That's… not normal." Magnes says with a hint of uneasiness, but doesn't push the subject, instead simply nods. "Yeah, sorry, let's do this, I'll worry about the weird symbol on my own time." he agrees, smiling.

There's a brief look that crosses Hokuto's face, as if she quietly makes a tally in the back of her mind over some small conversational victory. "This first card here, is the root of two paths. It's the card that represents the beginning of the decision you will make about the question that you posed." Her dark eyes move down to the card, "Typically it's what will actually make you motivated to pursue the question. Since it's a choice of… focusing on the country of China's political problems, or staying at home, it's meaning may not be entirely clear to you. But— " there's a nod of her head, "what matters most is what meaning you find in the card itself."

Turning it over, the first card to appear to Magnes depicts the image of a robed figure seated on a throne of white marble, holding a sword in hand with a golden crown on his head. At the bottom of the card, there is a script that reads; The King of Swords. Nodding her head in consideration, Hokuto leans back in her chair with a smirk. "The King of Swords, here, is a pretty adventurous beginning to this decision. It indicates to me that no matter the choice you make, they're both going to lead youd own different dangerous, and ultimately satisfying paths."

Considering the card for a moment, she makes a soft sound in the back of her throat and nods her head. "The card represents an old and wise leader, someone who has a wealth of knowledge and understanding, directness and clarity of thought. He is a general who inspires nothing like love or friendship, but absolute loyalty and trust. This figure the card is speaking about, it might be what sets you off on all this."

"I… think I understand…" Magnes says as if her reading already makes perfect sense to him, already leaning in. He didn't expect it to actually be meaningful, but now he's clearly hooked. "What next?" he asks with wide-eyed eagarness.

It's a relief, in a way, that Hokuto seems to not be making Magnes run out of his chair and for the door with this reading. After last night, she could use something positive to come from the cards. "Next is the first possible path yu could take." Her hand moves to the card to the top-right of the central card, tapping her index finger on it. "This card represents the influence or choice that makes the first possible outcome a reality."

Turning the card over, Hokuto immediately draws a wince as the figure depicted on the card is a black-armored man riding a white horse, his skeletal face showing thorugh the open visor of the helmet; a black standard with a white flower on it held aloft. The bottom of the card rather clearly reads, Death.

"This— " She was just starting ot feel upbeat about the reading too. "This isn't always a bad card, Magnes." Her nose wrinkles slightly. "Television and films make the death card out to be something more dramatic than it really is, and— most people have something of a knee-jerk reaction to it. Death— more often than not— means change more so than true death."

Breathing in a deep breath and exhaling it heavily, Hokuto takes a moment to consider the influence. "Given that a strong leader is guiding you to either choice, Death here very clearly means a change from the life you live now. It means in order to make whatever this is come true," she motions to the unturned card above death, "you have to give up the life you've known for something different, try to change, adapt, make something different of your life…"

Magnes does have a bit of a kneejerk reaction, he's known quite a few people that've died this year, but when she starts to explain, he visibly relaxes and pays closer attention. "I guess I have been trying to hold on to the whole pizza shop thing, even though I have all this money I've been barely spending from who knows where. I've been feeling like I'm on the edge of something big, like I'm standing on the diving board but I haven't quite jumped in…" He finally shuts up, that stuff can be sorted out whenever, he's getting more curious. "What's next?"

"Next is where this change gets you," Hokuto notes with a tip of her head, eyes uplifting to Magnes only in question when she reconsiders something he said. But the scrutiny in her dark eyes lingers for only a moment as her head downturns, and the card closest to her in the right column is flipped over. "This is your destination, if you follow the change that the Death card represents." And that outcome takes the form of an inverted card; another mounted figure, this one in silver armor on a black horse, a gold sphere held in his hand with a single five-pointed star set at the center. The bottom of the card is harder to read since it's upside down, but Hokuto easily explains it as the "Knight of Pentacles…"

Tapping the card once, her eyes rift up to Magnes. "It's… not a positive ending." Her lips downturn to a frown, "The Knight of Pentacles on its own, typically means something like failure due to unwillingness to change. But, when combined with the Death card below, and taken as a sort of… narrative…" Hokuto's nose wrinkles, "it implies that you fail to ultimately change, and that in turn spells disaster for you. You try, but try as you might you can't change who you are, and your failure to mature, change and adapt is costly. Potentially in lives lost, or a great disaster at hand, for which you could potentially be responsible for."

"These cards have nothing to do with your ability?" Magnes asks, mostly because of the sheer relevance of everything. That last reading, well, it definitely hits close to home. "I try really hard, so hard to be mature, to be someone different, who can help people. Everyone warns that I have to change, I have to be more careful, I have to think harder about my choices or I'll get people, or myself, killed. And now the cards are saying it…"

He looks up from the cards, giving her a dead serious look of determination. "No matter what these cards say, I am going to change, I'm going to improve myself, I won't let my friends die, not anymore of them…"

"The cards are just cards." Hokuto notes with a lazy stare to the inverted Knight of Pentacles. "They might help jostle you to action, but what you see in them, what you read into them is what you bring to the table. They're not used to see the future, but help prompt you on paths of thought you might not consider." There's a furrow of Hokuto's brows, lips creeping up into a thoughtful smile. "Let's see what the other path has to say…"

Her hand moves to the card below the top left. "This is the motivating force or decision you make that could make the second path come true." Her fingers turn the card over, and Hokuto's expression rather immediately shifts as the picture is revealed. Curiosity replaces concern, as this card shows a different figure on a throne. Seated on a gold throne with a wooden staff in hand, the title at the bottom of the card reads: The King of Wands.

"This is unexpected, a reading with two kings." Her head tilts to the side, "What this implies, especially given the choices in the previous branches, is that this represents a different authority figure and leader who approaches you after the figure the King of Swords represents. He's a different kind of leader; charismatic, and honest." Her dark eyes lift up to Magnes, "He leads by example, and is unafraid to invest authority in others. He's someone who won't ask you to change, but rather sees value in you as you are, and it's thorugh him that the second path can become reality."

"Wait a minute, I think I got the first one mixed up, this fits the first person I was thinking of even better, so then, who's the King of Swords…" Helena, Cat? Couldn't be them, because to be quite honest, since the day he met Peter, Magnes hasn't really been considering joining Phoenix. So, other than Raith, who is clearly the King of Wands, who does he know that could be the other authority figure, the King of Swords… "Maybe the next card will answer my questions."

There's a furrowing of Hokuto's brows, head tilted to the side, and her dark eyes sweep over to the last unturned card. "This is the alternate path, and based on your question it means either the results of you worrying about the threat China's evolved army could represent, or worrying about problems at home." Her fingers turns the card over, and it's a worrisome image that is displayed on the other side. Hokuto's brows furrow, her teeth press down into her lower lip, and eyes drift askance.

The picture on the card is of a person dressed in red, bound in many white cloths holding them in place, with a blindfold on. eight swords are driven into the ground around them, bristling up like gravestone markers. Hokuto's eyes narrow slightly, focus back up on Magnes. "For… for following the charismatic leader towards this outcome, you find the Eight of Swords awaiting you. This card, very simply put, represents interference. It shows osmething monumental blocking your path. But specifically, the card implies that it is a past mistake you made that finally comes back to strike you when you're not expecting it."

Pursing her lips, Hokuto huffs out a short sigh. "It shows that while you could have had success with this new leader, the irresponsible mistakes of your youth or your past have made success impossible, and you find yourself unable to progress forward because these failures are holding you back, binding you in place," she taps her finger on the card, "much like the unfortunate person there."

"I'm guessing you weren't watching the news when I got into a fight and the Shibuya Crosswalk ended up destroyed. I probably made a lot of other mistakes since then, but I can't remember a whole lot…" Magnes mentions his memory again, always talking as if he has some mysteriously missing time, but never elaborating. "This is getting kind of scary, because I could be wrong about which person I choose to follow, even though I can still only think of one person…"

"I— " Hokuto furrows her brows, "I don't watch much— any television. It's— I prefer to read the newspaper. But— Tokyo, really?" Staring uncertainly towards Magnes, Hokuto's eyes narrow and her lips purse together, teeth eventually pressing down on the lower lip as she breathes in a deep breath and exhales another sigh.

"The cards, sometimes there's a sort've uncanny predictive quality to them, but— I assure you there's no special abilities at work here, just probability and interpretation. Maybe— maybe one of your decisions is wrong. But to be honest, both of the outcomes were negative. But look at what you saw; an obvious need to grow, adapt and mature, and to carefully consider who you choose to ally yourself with, and be mindful of your past mistakes."

There's a hesitant smile Hokuto offers, it doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Put it into perspective and… do your best to change things for the better."

"Miss Ichihara," Which Magnes manages to not butcher due to an abundance of anime watching, smiling again. "I don't think it was a bad reading, I mean, the outcomes were negative, but hey, I was saying I wouldn't live until the end of the year. I guess every day I spend with my girlfriend, I grow a little more optimistic. This reading made me think about things I've been trying hard to convince myself weren't problems anymore, but now I think I'm really gonna address them, maybe resolve my issues from the past, ally myself with people, but don't dedicate myself to them until I'm sure I believe what they believe. Think first, and above all else, consider how what I do will affect those around me…"

He takes a breath, closing his eyes as if he just had a good therapy session with Bella. She'll certainly love to hear about this. "Can I come back here some time?"

There's relief in Hokuto's face, a softness that tempers the uncertainty that's been building up ever since last night with Deckard's reading. Managing a hesitant smile, she nods her head, and doesn't quite notice when it's a far more beaming expression than before. "My door's usually always open— even when it's not really store hours." Hokuto cracks a smile, dipping her head down into a nod. "You can come back whenever you like, and— if there's something you'd like me to put on order for you— a book or— or whatever you might be interested in, just let me know."

Her eyes divert down to the cards for a moment, then back up to Magnes. "Thank you for…" her eyes lazily lid halfway, dark eyes still scanning the cards, "for making me not doubt myself so much, and doubt what I do for people."

"Doomsday, the character, not the event, was a lesson in humility to Superman and everyone around him. An impossible task, he brutally beat nearly every DC hero who came after him. When Superman came into the picture, everyone expected an instant solution to the problem, but instead, they beat eachother to death. Someone beat Superman to the point that they both just died. Of course they both came back later, but that particular story, and the relevance to my readings, well… everyone thinks it's impossible to kill Superman, but impossible doesn't really exist. Inevitably Doomsday was sent to the end of time, the one place he couldn't hurt anyone." Magnes tells the story, much like her readings, expecting her to take what she wants from it.

"Or, a Marvel example. Galactus was nearly impossible to kill, he was so massive and powerful, he didn't actually acknowledge the sentience of the heroes attacking him, he just stood there, and if he actualy noticed you? You were dead. But Reed Richards, the smartest man on Earth, also known as Mister Fantastic, or that guy who stretches in the Fantastic Four. Ahem, anyway, he approached Galactus, Galactus noticed, and he acknowledged Reed. Reed actually talked Galactus out of eating the planet, talked. There is no impossible, it's just a matter of finding the ultimate solution to your problem, no matter how unlikely or impossible it may seem." He moves a hand over, offering it "And you're welcome, never doubt yourself, you're doing something good here." he sincerely assures, adding, "And, thank you."

Lips parted and brows furrowed, there's a look of confusion and not quite comprehension on Hokuto's face. Her eyes narrow subtly, and the whole time Magnes talks all she does is stare at him. Much like with the cards, she doesn't understand the names, the meanings or the meat of the story, but the anecdotal comfort is still there. Furrowing her brows, she closes her eyes and breaks out into a soft laughter, shaking her head as a broad smile crosses her lips.

When those dark eyes open,s he reaches ut across the table and takes Magnes' hand. "I'll admit, I've never quite met someone with your outlook, mister Varlane." The sly smile Hokuto offers Magnes is one of begrudging respect, despite his quirky outward personality. "It means a lot, to… think that the things we do in life matter. So, you've given me something that most people haven't in a while— and that's hope." Reaching into the front of her dress, she takes out that folded ten dollar bill and slides it back acros the table. "The least I can do, is pay you back in like return. Thank you, Magnes."

"I think it's been a revelation for both of us."

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