Likovya had seen the booth by the football field a few times, but most of those she had been a bit too busy to go up to it. Today, though, there weren’t any players out and she didn’t have class for another thirty minutes (at least, she thought she didn’t), so she wandered over and looked at the girl sitting behind it beside a bird and a cat. “Hi.”
"Hello!" The girl said brightly, stowing away a laptop and steepling her fingers. "You're Likovya, yes? I've been waiting for you."
“Have you?” The girl looked a little familiar, but Likovya wasn’t sure how she knew her name. “Why?” People seemed to be waiting for her quite a lot lately, and she wasn’t sure how well she liked it.
"Well," she winked, "if I told you, I'd have to charge you. But I'll tell you for free. I've been waiting for you because I'd like to read your future. Would you like to have your future told? It's only two dollars for a single session!"
“Sure. Why not?” Likovya pulled two dollar bills from her pocket. It would be a good bit of fun if nothing else.
"My name's Alia, by the way," she said absentmindedly, pulling out a deck of cards and spreading them out face-down, gesturing to her cat. "Come on, Cassasdra, do your thing."
The cat eyed Alia grumpily, then trotted forward onto the cards. As soon as the feline's paws were each on a card, Alia shooed the cat away and pulled out the four cards.
"Oh, look, that's a nice spread you have. The Fool, inversed Death, the Magician and the World. You know what this reminds me of? 'All the world's a stage'. I take it you're an actor?"
“Yeah. I’m Cecily in this term’s play.” It wouldn’t have taken a lot to know that. She had been chattering about it since she was cast.
"Wonderful, wonderful. There's a lot of vitality in this set, you know. I think you'll have a great time acting. Inversed Death tells me you got away with something recently?"
“I suppose.” The principal’s office might have been a near miss, given how she tended to rub the wrong way with authority. “I doubt it would have been enough to count as Death, though.” But if he had decided to kick her own, then she would have had to explain to Mr. Weston why she wasn’t going to school anymore and might even have had to stop working in his theatre… “Well, maybe.”
Alia gave her a knowing smile and nodded. "As you say, as you say. It's not part of my business to probe, but word of advice, try to be more subtle when doing viol- I mean, just be a bit more discreet. You have most things in hand, I think."
“People keep telling me that,” Likovya said with a smile. “I’ll be careful.”
"Right. Yes. Uh, let me see, hm, Tarot cards aren't very specific, but Cassandra's being nice and docile, so your future ought to be rather smooth-sailing, at least for a day or two. Got anything you want to ask in particular?"
“Not terribly. Um… oh, my boyfriend’s a poli-sci major. Should I tell him to keep at it or go into theatre with me?” Fitzroy couldn’t seem to decide whether he wanted to be a politician or an actor, but she was determined to play Lady M for him and do everything she could to encourage him.
"Theatre, if you want a spicier relationship. Don't push him too quickly though; you're a forceful person as far as I can tell, and it might be a bit much if you don't take care. No offense, of course."
“I’ll keep that in mind. Is that everything?”
"Yes, more or less. It's been a real pleasure-" She was interrupted as Cassandra leaped off the table to rub against the leg of Calvin, who had just appeared from around the back of the booth, carrying a bag over one shoulder.
“Oh, I am sorry, did I interrupt another one of your little sessions?”
"Hello Calvin!" Alia smiled warmly, then turned back to Likovya. "Well, looks like your immediate future will be a bit calm for a day, then suddenly burst into action. Cat's truth."
“Well, thanks for the advance warning. See you around.”
"Come back soon! I also read palms, faces, tea leaves, crystal balls and I do personal horoscopes on demand. If my predictions pan out, you can recommend me to your fellow actors. I do so love reading actors' futures. Oh, may I have your number, Likovya? Here's mine."
Likovya scribbled her phone number on a piece of paper and passed it across the booth. “I don’t always have my phone, but I’ll try to at least have it on.” As she stepped away, she nodded and smiled at Calvin. “Hi.”
He nodded and grinned back. “And hello to you as well. I suppose that you know my name now, so for the sake of symmetry, what is yours? You look a tad familiar, but I can not quite place it.”
“Likovya,” she said. She likely hadn’t met him; she would remember someone so loquacious. “You probably saw me on stage. I was Mimi in Rent last year.” She still couldn’t believe Wayne had gotten away with having them show that, though it was likely why they had to do Restoration plays this year. “You’ll come to see The Importance of Being Earnest, right? In two weeks, I’m playing Cecily, it’s going to be great.” She had to shamelessly plug it at least once a day, or the other actors might think she wasn’t as excited as she normally was.
“Oh, that would most likely be how I saw you yes, I have seen several plays here, although not all I should say, so I would have seen you there. And I see no reason why I would not be able to see your production, it looks like an interesting play.”
“Glad to hear it.” With a smile and a wave to both, she set off across the field. There might even be a little time to get some work done on her essay before class. As she left, Calvin plopped down into the chair, his bag dropping to lean against the chair.
“So, before we get into pleasure, let me get business out of the way first, alright?” He reached down into his bag, and pulled some pamphlets and sheets of paper. “While I figured that you would have the basics of taking care of Amon and Cassandra down, I just threw in some introductory things just to cover everything, in addition to some more in-depth things, as well as a few recommendations for both books, and the address of a good vet.” He shuffled the papers and pamphlets so that they were relatively neatly stacked, and offered them to Alia. “If you have not done so, I would recommend a vet check just to be on the safe side, as strays can pick up all sorts of issues that are not apparent.”
Alia took the papers, blinking, a little lost. "Uh.. yeah. Sure. I did that early on. Um. That's a lot of material. Uh. Thanks."
He waved his hand a little. “It is fine, I just wanted to make sure there was not anything missing in them. Like I said, if you did not have at least some idea of what you were doing, they would not be in such fine condition.” He gave Cassandra a few rubs on the top of her head.
"I appreciate it. I just wasn't expecting so much. So, you mentioned pleasure after business..?"
“Well, you did say that you wanted to do some sort of fortune-thing with Cassandra, unless I am gravely mistaken in my memory, which I am not for a general rule. And here I am, so why should I not see how this turns out?” He pulled two bills from his pocket, and offered them to her with a smile.
Alia bowed slightly in thanks, but only took one of the bills. "It's a little crass of me to charge you the full cost since you've given me all this. Right, you wanted numbers, yes?" She pulled another set of cards though these were only a set of twenty. "Come on, Cassasdra," she gestured to the cat, who promptly trampled over the cards. "Here, we've got four, four, two and one. Maybe that's a tentative ratio?"
“Perhaps without one of the fours it would be quite an even pattern, but with a second four that is not as much of a thing, at least from a mathematical standpoint.”
"Hey, I skip all my Maths class." Alia said. "But I don't know what those numbers are supposed to mean. I don't exactly have much to go on," she spread her hands deprecatingly. "Any idea?"
“Hey, I was under the impression that you were the one supposed to be doing the interpreting here, not me!” He glared at her in mock annoyance, a look that was ruined by the grin on his face.
"It's not my project!" She pouted. "How's this, what nutrients are you using? Ammonia, nitrogen?"
“Well, I doubt it is pointing in the direction of the project I am working on, as we are using quite a few more elements than four in our fertilizer.” He leaned back, looking at the numbers thoughtfully. “Perhaps this particular set was something of a dud?”
"I don't mind doing another set, if you want." Alia shuffled the deck with the ease of long practice and spread them out again. This time, Cassasdra didn't even need to be prompted. This time, two nines, a six, and a one were revealed. "Any revelations?"
Calvin frowned for a moment, before rearranging the cards to form the number 1996. “Well, that would be my birth year, which at least for me is quite significant.”
"That's not bad, I suppose. Here, another round." This time the numbers were two threes, a one, and a seven. Calvin looked at them, frowning. “Well, I can say that I do recognize a pattern, but I would rather not say what, as they are a rather...sensitive set.”
"Uhm. Alright. Want another set? Or.." Alia wasn't sure how to react to his discomfort.
Calvin flashed her a grin. “Do not worry, it is no reason of yours, it simply coincides with something that I would rather not have be known to be coinciding with it. One last go?”
"Sure! This is strangely fascinating." As the numbers were flipped again, the revealed a one, a two, a three, and a four. "Well." Alia broke out into a laugh, joined by Calvin. "I suppose Cassandra's tired by now and she's making her displeasure known." Alia petted the feline affectionately.
Calvin suddenly leaned to the side, digging through his bag. “Well, in that case…” A moment later he came back up with a few small items in his hand. “I brought some treats for your two friends!” He offered Cassandra some small non-descript treats, while Amon was offered some cherries.
The two creatures nibbled on their respective foods without, obviously, a word of thanks, so Alia said it for them.
"I'm grateful, as I'm sure they are," Alia smiled. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
Calvin rolled his eyes with a grin. “And then read the tea leaves?”
"Hah! No, that's for Thursdays," she snickered. "Here, have a cup," Alia pulled a cup already containing tea leaves and saucer from under the table, filled it with hot water and stirred idly.
“And yet you have that at the ready, although I suppose that I could not fault you for being prepared.” He accepted the cup, blowing on top of it to cool it off. “I am afraid I am a bit blunt, but I do feel like your services and what-not have been worth full price, instead of the smaller one you took. I mean,” he gestured to the cup. “tea, and all.”
"Oh, no," she said pleasantly, "you see, I foresaw that someone I'd like talking to would come today, hence the tea. It's on the house."
Calvin took a sip, eyes grinning over his cup. “Foresaw, hmm? And you did not prepare a cup for yourself as well? It hardly feel correct to be the only one drinking here.”
"If you insist, sir gentleman," Alia pulled out a second cup, already steaming fragrantly.
Calving chuckled. “And you were just going to leave that there to stop being hot? What if I stayed a while and it got cold?”
"I knew a gentlemanly guy like you wouldn't let that happen," she smirked, sipping. "How do you like it? My personal brew."
“I think it is good, although I would preface that statement by saying that pretty much all tea tastes the same to me, so I would not be able to distinguish any subtleties in the flavor that I am told exist.” He took another sip. “I still think it is good, I am simply no tea aficionado.”
"No worries. Just a, um, disclaimer, any dreams you might have tonight are not the result of this tea. Though if you have any fascinating dreams, please, do tell."
Calvin had paused with the teacup halfway to his mouth, and was staring at suspiciously. “Would you mind giving me perhaps a bit of a rundown of what goes into here? Accidentally ingesting possible-drugs were not precisely on my list of things to do today.”
Alia mumbled something incomprehensible, ears flushing red, and began taking the paraphernalia down from the top of the booth. "Uh, well, anyway- get down from there, Mishra-" A bat fell headfirst onto Cassandra, who mewled in protest and lightly held the bat in-between her teeth. "Point is, your health is fine, I drink the stuff every day."
Calvin, on the other hand, had been very distracted by the sudden appearance of the bat, looking at it worriedly. “Please, please tell me you do not have a pet bat?”
"Um... I'm sorry, it's against my morals to lie." Alia averted her eyes abashedly.
He leaned forward with a groan, holding his head in his hands. “First of all,” he started, speaking through his hands. “I do not even know if bats are even legal to keep as pets, and if they are I would guess at quite a bit of paperwork being necessary. Secondly, while I know little about keeping them as pets, I do know that they need to have a large amount of space to fly around in, and judging by the fact that I have only heard of one zoo that has them, though I am sure there are more than I simply have not heard of, they are likely not the easiest pets to take care of.” He sat back up, giving Alia a flat stare. “Cassandra and to a lesser extent Amon are both relatively easy to take care of, but…” he broke off with a sigh. “You get what I am trying to say, yes?”
"Yes..." Alia looked to the sides. "He flies about wherever he wants at night so that's not a problem. And about legality... about that... ah.. whatever gave you the idea that this," she gestured at the booth vaguely, "was legal?"
“Considering that you are doing it on school property, I figured that at the very least you would be facing the school being angry at you, but that is not of particular interest to me. You keeping a pet that it is entirely possible that you do not know how to take care of properly, however, is.” He stood up, staring at the sky for a long moment before looking back at Alia. “You know that I like animals, and I am not going to let someone allow a pet to come to any sort of harm because they just wanted a cool pet, or they found it in the street, and ooo, we do not have to worry about much because it will be easy to take care of, and then they either do not have what it takes, or they simply do not have what it takes to take care of a pet, or they treat it wrongly…” he trailed off, voice dropping back down from the louder tone it had been working it’s way up to.
He took a moment, calming himself down before continuing. “Look, I think you are a nice person. But if a bat is as high-maintenance a pet as I think it might be, I am just not sure if you could do it, no offense meant against you.”
Alia absorbed his tirade silently and stood. "I understand, Calvin, but trust me; Mishra takes care of himself. He's not really my pet, only in that he stays around me. Most of the time he's with me, he's sleeping. Rest of the time, he's out flying and what-not. All I've ever had to do is groom him and clean up his crap; he gets his own food."
Calvin sighed again. “Look, I will see how legal bats are as pets, and try and dig up pertinent information. For all you know, Mishra could have a half-dozen diseases, and that could cause all sorts of complications.” He closed his eyes and took another deep breath, letting it out slowly before opening his eyes again.
“I am sorry for going off on you like that, I am sure you have the best intentions, but I have volunteered at an animal shelter on and off for a few years, and cases where owners try to have quote-exotic-unquote pets that then proceed to be neglected or hurt because their owners have no idea what they are getting into...it is an understandable anger, I think.”
"If it sets your mind a little at ease, Mishra's hung around me for a couple of years. If he's had complications, I would have seen it before. I'll bring him to a vet if you want, though I don't know how I'm going to fake out a license.."
He offered her a smile. “I will see what I can find out about that, and maybe dig up some information on what common issues are. If he has stuck with you this long, he is probably at least somewhat domesticated, so releasing him back into the wild would be a bad idea.”
Standing up, he slung his bag over his shoulder. “Still, I have various things I should probably go do, and this has taken up more of my time than I expected it to do, not that it was an unenjoyable way to spend time.” He offered her a hand. “Friends?”
She took his hand, smiling. "Friends." With a wave, he walked off, headed toward the main school building. Alia exhaled contentedly, and continued packing up the booth. It wouldn't do to be caught by teachers.
>Narra has tiny jerk people in her socks.
>We are affirming our collective jerkhood by committing genocide on them.
>I'm going to read the logs and pray that that sentence makes more sense in context
>No it does not