Characters: Dee, Arnon, Tommy, Barry, Ryo, OCs
Setting: After the manga, with reference to Vol. 6 Act 18.
Summary: Fourth of July 2000, Dee and his three best friends visit a fortune-teller and make a pact.
Word Count: 2175
Content Notes: Mentions death of a minor.
Written For: Challenge 142: Fortune at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
The Fourth of July celebrations were underway throughout the city, with everyone in a festive mood, enjoying the various entertainments on offer. Dee and his three friends made their way through the crowds of people meandering between stalls at a street fair; they only had a few bucks between them and, intent on making their limited funds stretch at far as possible, they were debating which of the attractions would give them the best value for money.
Times like this, Dee mused, being an orphan sucked. There were loads of other kids around, the younger ones with their parents, the teens with their friends. They’d probably all saved their allowances, maybe even been given a bit extra, just so they could have fun today. Unlike Dee and his buddies, they didn’t have to pick and choose; they could do it all.
“Hey, look!” Arnon pointed eagerly towards a tent off to one side. “Why don’t we try that?”
“A fortune teller?” Dee snorted.
“C’mon, Dee, it’s only twenty-five cents a go. Don’t you want to get your palm read, find out what the future has in store?”
“Don’t be a dumbass, Arnon! Fortune-tellers aren’t real, it’s all fake and trickery, they tell you what you wanna hear, how you’re gonna get rich, be successful, meet some amazing chick and have a bunch of kids. None of it’s true, nobody can really see the future.”
Arnon’s shoulders sagged. “I know it’s not real, I just thought it would be a bit of fun. You know, something we could laugh about in a few years. Besides, it’s cheap; we could all have a go for a dollar. It’s the cheapest thing I’ve seen; even the other fortune-tellers are charging fifty cents. One back there even wanted a dollar a go.”
“He’s got a point,” Tommy agreed. “I mean, the games are probably all rigged so even if we pay to play we won’t win anything, the rides are too expensive, and we can nick any food or drink we want, what would it hurt to spend one measly dollar on having a laugh?”
Put that way, Dee couldn’t argue. “Okay, sure, why the hell not? I guess it could be fun. Hey! How about this? What if we keep what we’re told secret, don’t tell each other anything, we write it down instead… Tommy, you got your notebook?”
“Yeah, here.” Tommy pulled the ratty, dog-eared pad from his back pocket. It went everywhere with him because he planned on becoming a writer, or maybe a reporter.
“Give us a page each and we’ll write down our fortunes, seal them in envelopes, not to be opened until… Let’s see,” Dee thought for a minute. “We’re all fifteen now so, how about exactly fifteen years from today, no matter where we’ve ended up, we all meet up, open our envelopes and see whether the gypsy got anything right?”
“Yeah, that would be cool!” Barry grinned. “We can meet right back here, July fourth in twenty fifteen, and compare notes. Deal?”
“Deal!” the friends agreed, bumping fists to seal the promise.
“It was Arnon’s idea,” Tommy added, “so he should go first.”
Dee, keeper of their combined funds, handed everyone a quarter and they made their way over to the tent. Up close it had clearly seen better days; it was patched and faded and not a very popular attraction. In fact the four of them seemed to be the only people interested. A young boy, maybe seven or eight years old, waited to usher customers into the fortune-teller’s presence. He held the tent flap aside to let Arnon enter.
Inside it was dimly lit and smelled a bit musty, but it looked pretty much as Arnon had expected; a round table covered with a cloth, a crystal ball, a deck of tarot cards, and a wizened old woman sitting across the table from an empty chair.
“Be seated,” the woman said in a clear but quiet, oddly accented voice. As he settled into the chair she extended her hand across the table, palm upwards, and he dropped his small coin into it.
“A palm reading, the cards, or the crystal ball?” she asked, watching him with sharp little eyes peering out of her wrinkled face like chocolate chips in a cookie.
Arnon bit his lip; he hadn’t expected to be given a choice. “Um, palm please.”
“Give me your hands then, both of them.”
Quickly he wiped his hands on the legs of his jeans, then rested them, palms upwards, on the table. The old woman’s hands were cool despite the summer heat, and her skin felt thin and papery. She studied his palms carefully, one after the other.
“Soon you will have a very difficult choice to make between two paths. One path will bring you money, but not fortune. You will be expected to do much that you will not enjoy, and your life will be hard and very short. The second path means years of hardship, ultimately leading to success. It is a longer path, and in some ways more difficult, but it brings rewards that are worth more than money. Choose wisely, because the choice will only come once, and after you set foot on your chosen path there will be no going back.”
“Can’t you tell me which path to choose?” Arnon asked.
The fortune-teller smiled sadly. “Only you can choose, child. I can tell you a little of what lies ahead for you, but each of us must decide our own destiny.”
“Okay, thanks.” Arnon headed out into the sunshine; he’d already decided that he’d take the path that led to money. So what if he wouldn’t like the work? No one liked working, his mom sure didn’t, but they really needed money; most months they were barely scraping by with the rent.
“Who goes next?” Dee asked when Arnon emerged.
“How about we do it alphabetically?” Tommy suggested.
“That would mean you’ll be last,” Dee pointed out.
Tommy shrugged. “I don’t mind, it’s not like I’ll be waitin’ all that long.”
“Fine with me then.” Dee shrugged.
“That means I’m next!” Barry grinned, heading towards the tent. “This is gonna be fun!” he added as the boy let him in.
Taking his place at the table, Barry paid the fortune-teller, crossing her palm with silver. He couldn’t keep from laughing at the thought. “So what happens now?”
“Choose what you wish to have read.” She gestured, “Cards, crystal ball, or palm?”
“Crystal ball would be cool!”
“Very well. Place your hands palm down on the table, to either side of the ball.”
Barry did as instructed. “Now what?”
“Now, I will tell you what I see in your future.” The woman cupped the ball between her palms and the clear surface filled with swirling clouds. Despite himself, Barry was impressed. “There is sadness in your near future, the loss of someone close to you.”
Barry nodded. That was a vague enough fortune that it could fit anyone. After all, his grandfather was old and not in good health, he probably didn’t have much time left.
“You have talent, enough for a scholarship, but injury will ensure you never fulfil your dream. Your destiny will take you on a different path. It will be a good life, but… The red car would be a mistake; the blue is a better choice. Remember that.”
As soon as Barry stepped out of the tent he pulled out his sheet of paper and scribbled down everything he’d been told, folding it and sealing it in one of the envelopes Dee had scrounged from a nearby stall. When he looked up, Dee had already gone inside.
Dee slouched into the chair across the table from the old fortune-teller and grinned. “How’s this work?”
“You do not believe, but belief is not required. Cross my palm with silver.” Holding out her hand, she smiled, deepening the wrinkles in her face.
Dee dropped the coin into her open hand and she cocked her head to one side. “What? Do I have something on my face?”
She shook her head. “It must be hard to grow up never knowing your family. I cannot help you with that, the past holds its secrets close, there are things we are meant never to know, but the future… Sometimes it allows glimpses. I think for you I will read the cards. I see things in you that I would clarify.” She offered Dee the cards and he shuffled them, handing them back and watching as the old woman laid them out with practiced ease and one by one, turned them face up.
“So what do they say?”
“Ah, the impatience of youth! That is something you will never completely grow out of.” The words were spoken with a chuckle. “You wish to know what lies ahead, I can tell you this: You believe you have already decided on your path through life, but in the coming year, much of what you think you know will be changed forever. The knowledge will cut deeply, painfully, your heart will be torn more than once, but from it you will find your true vocation. It will not be easy, but you will never regret the choice you make. Give me your left hand.”
Dee frowned, but did as she asked. Old fingers traced the lines on his palm so lightly it tickled and he had to force himself not to pull his hand away. “Your partner will complete your life, not a woman but a man, with eyes as dark as night. Winning him will take time and a great deal of patience, you will be tested to your limits and beyond, but you must not give up. He is worth the effort.”
As his hand was released, Dee rose to his feet. “Um, thanks. I think.”
She inclined her head graciously. “One day, you will understand.”
Hands shoved in pockets and still frowning, Dee sauntered out of the tent and wandered over to a nearby bench. Slumping onto it, he took his sheet of notepaper and wrote quickly, trying to get everything down before he forgot, then sealed the folded paper in his envelope and wrote his name, the place and the date on it, along with the words ‘To be opened July 4th, 2015’. As he tucked the folded envelope in his pocket, Arnon and Barry joined him, flopping down on either side of him.
“Weird, huh?” said Barry.
“Yeah. I figured it would be dumb, but now I’m not so sure.”
“I know what ya mean.” Barry leant his elbow on his knee, resting his chin on the palm of his hand. “There’s somethin’ about that lady makes you wanna believe what she tells ya, even if you don’t understand it.”
“Guess that’s what makes her good at what she does,” Dee said with a grin. “I’m surprised she doesn’t have more customers though.”
“She probably will later, when people want to sit down for a few minutes,” Arnon suggested. “Right now, most people are too busy with other stuff. Wonder how Tommy’s getting on?”
In the fortune-teller’s tent, Tommy sat at the table watching as the old woman read her crystal ball. The smoke effects were seriously cool and he idly wondered how she made it go all swirly inside.
“It is the mists of time, they obscure past and future, only allowing brief glimpses to those with the ability to see.”
That startled Tommy, but he decided he must have said something out loud, or maybe it was the way he was looking at the crystal ball that let her guess what he was thinking.
“The path ahead of you will be filled with excitement and adventure; you will travel to many places, and there will be times when you will fear for your life, but despite great peril you will return home safely, back to where you began. Only then will you follow your dream; not quite in the way you expect, but it will bring you great happiness. When you are lost and in danger, follow the white dog closely, he will lead you to safety.”
“I will.” Tommy didn’t know when he’d started to believe what he was being told, but he did believe. Before even leaving the table, he took out his notepad and wrote everything down, tearing out the page and sealing it in his envelope, just as his friends had already done. He hardly needed to because he was sure he’d never forget. “Thank you.” He smiled across at the old woman as he got up and went to re-join his friends.
She watched him leave with a sad expression on her face. Four friends, but only three futures; the fourth boy, the smallest, would not see the spring and there was nothing she could do to change that. She had warned him as much as she could, tried to give him a choice, but it would change nothing. His future was set.