Common Interest


emily_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Common Interest
Synopsis The mysteries of the ink-doused Wolves of Valhalla copies bring people together once again. One copy left!
Date February 19, 2019

Julie and Emily's Apartment, Elmhurst

Emily adjusts the long sleeves of her sweater while reading what she has typed up so far on her laptop screen. She's leaned back into the comfort of the well-worn couch, her feet kicked onto the coffee table, ankles crossed. The lines are muttered incoherently under her breath while she spot-checks, at least until her arms raise with a groan and her hands drag down her face.

Really, some of the things she had to write for her courses were just tedious.

On the floor, sitting criss-cross with her back against the front of the couch, Squeaks works methodically over some algebra looking problem. Why she has to know it is anyone’s guess, but she does, and so she carefully checks her copywork of the equation and starts manipulating numbers and letters throughout each step. It’s a slow process, broken only when Emily grumbles for probably the second or third time.

“I bet my math is harder than your book report,” the younger girl says. Also probably the second or third time. She has no idea what Em is actually writing, only that numbers and letters are a strange way of doing math.

From the direction of the front of the apartment, there comes a sharp rappity rap on the door, shortly followed by the muted clunking of someone briefly attempting to turn the handle, stopping once there is a realization that it’s locked. Whoever is standing at the doorstep is clearly unaccustomed to subtlety— or has been here enough times in the recent past to forego any pretense of manners. In Geneva's case, both happen to be true. "Hey Em, it's me,” the sound of her voice calls through the door.

There's a short scoff that comes from Emily at Squeaks' comment. "I mean, they both suck in their own special way," she relents with a strained grin, arms falling down by her side with a plop. When the knock comes, she turns her head, the grin tapering down into a vanish when the handle turns on its own. "The hell," she mumbles, feet quickly hitting the ground and the laptop being placed aside. Cords are kicked away as she stands, a thought given to reaching for the baseball bat leaning in the corner by the door. Geneva's voice dashes that aside before she can even head that way.

"Just a sec," she calls, even though she's only steps away. She's not interested in tripping on her bag and the power cable for the laptop. The door is soon unlocked and thrown open, the young Epstein peering around it with a curious, but not unwelcoming expression. "What's up, Gene?"

The rattle at the door of someone trying to open it gets a wary look, and has Squeaks abandoning her books so she can scoot the opposite direction that Emily goes. Hands and knees take her around the far side of the couch before she looks back. She doesn't exactly hide, especially since whoever is on the other side calls for Emily by name, but just to be safe she keeps the couch between herself and the door while it gets unlocked and open.

The girl on the other side is recognized, mostly in the way people seen frequently on the street or at a place are recognized. But the small redhead doesn't actually know who she is, except there's a name to go with the face. She offers a small wave, then scuttles back into her earlier place so she can get all her things back together.

" 'Sup Em," offers Geneva by way of immediate greeting as soon as the door swings open, hands tucked into the pockets of her red peacoat. She is already looking much healthier both physically and emotionally than she had been only a few days ago; much of her haggard look has been lost, replaced by a more usual and confident radiance. "I was hoping to talk to you about that Wolves of Valhalla stuff, actually. Hope I’m not intruding."

Without further ado, and without waiting for further confirmation, she takes advantage of the space in the now-open doorway to let herself right into the apartment’s entryway. The wave from the corner of the room catches her eye, and she offers a tiny, slightly surprised wave back at the other visitor. "Hey, Squeaks, right?" she says as though confirming a guess.

In the middle of closing the door and locking it again, Emily gestures with her free hand between the two. "Gene, Squeaks. Squeaks, Gene." she gets out in the hopes of not being an entirely terrible host. Geneva's sort of already dove right into introductions, after all.

Her look is passive as she turns away from the door. That Wolves of Valhalla stuff sounded like it was code. But it also might refer to the book. Who knew, really.

"Make yourself comfortable. We're just working on …" Emily's attention drifts back to the abandoned laptop with a disgruntled roll of one shoulder. "Boring stuff." is how she chooses to describe it.

“Hi,” is Squeaks’ typical response to greetings, given without looking up from fixing her notebook and somewhere she had a pencil. Only after it’s found is when she does look up at the newcomer. “It’s schoolwork,” she supplies, because that’s really what boring stuff is. She’d rather do her own learning on things she’s interested in. Like the Wolves stuff sounds way more interesting — and it’s something she already knows anyway.

“What stuff,” the youngest teen asks, not bothering to hide her own curiosity. She flicks a look to Emily, then back to Geneva, while getting up so she’s sitting on her knees. “Did you find a book?”

From her spot hovering near the entrance, Geneva inspects Squeaks for a keen moment, partly to get a bead on her appearance but mostly in order to gauge what information she can safely divulge in front of this mostly-unknown youngster. Then shrugging caution to the wind, she unwraps her knitted scarf in an air of apparently spontaneous carelessness. It's probably fine. "I didn't find anything, no," she comments as she steps towards the other end of the room, busily making herself at home on the opposite end of the couch that Emily had been sitting on. "But I overheard some stuff when I was in the hospital. What's this 'ink lady' stuff all about?"

The mention causes Emily to snap her fingers. "Right." she starts in surprise at herself, eyes widening just a moment as she remembers. She points to Squeaks as she comes back over. "Don't let me forget, Hailey had a copy of it and I think there's a piece of her in it." She nods firmly to herself, standing there like she means to let it wait for a minute. Instantly, though, her attention is going for her bedroom door. Like she'd not just said that, she turns back toward Squeaks with a vaguely apologetic expression, brow knit.

"You want to tell her? And I'll be right back?" she asks, even as her feet are already leading her across the apartment.

Scooting up onto the couch, Squeaks looks after Emily while nodding. “Ink-lady is the lady who’s stuck as ink,” she explains. Her head swivels around so she’s looking up at Geneva again. “She was hiding but got scattered in the Wolves books. I have to find her name so she can get back together, which means I have to find the books that have her pieces in them. She said if I find her name, I’ll find her?” She frowns a little bit, wondering if that’s actually what she remembers.

“The ink comes out of the books, and it’s part of her.” The redhead pulls back the sleeve from one arm and holds it out for Geneva to see the marks on it. “Des says this one is lapis. And this one isn’t finished yet.” she taps a finger to each one in turn. “They’re from the ink lady. Sometimes she talks in code too. That’s how I found out, she talked to me in the journal I found.” Following that, she twists around to find her backpack and drag out the journal with its collection of scrambled letters and sometimes numbers.

Folding up her scarf and wedging it behind her, Geneva peels off her mittens as she watches Emily leave for a few seconds, but soon enough her attention is entirely captured by Squeaks’ explanation. "An Evo who can turn into ink?" she murmurs, mind racing to connect the dots between what the younger girl is saying.

"Obviously you'd know better than me, since you've been at this stuff a lot longer, but… are you totally sure putting her back together again is a good idea?" Normally she is far from the cautious sort, but recent events had rather eroded her trust of mysterious entities. She ogles the tattoo that Squeaks shows her with a combination of fascination and wariness, reaching out to cautiously poke her fingertip at one of the marks. “That is primal.”

Emily pauses at the door to her bedroom, looking back at hearing Geneva's question. She can't help but shake her head as she pushes the door in, more amused than anything that they'd had the exact same reaction on being exposed to the mystery. She grabs both her own copy and Hailey's dog-eared one heavily marked with her own notes and translations of the morse lines that had appeared in the margins.

"There was an accident or something," she's explaining as she comes back out into the living room area, setting both copies side by side on the coffee table, easily within reach of all three of them. "She was trying to hide, but then the books were printed. That's the theory, anyway. She's also got a daughter who she's worried about, so…" This much said with a glance back to Geneva, implying it's an explanation for why she switched from a more skeptical stance on fixing the ink woman and adopted a role of active participation.

She folds her arms as she stands back up, hip cocked as she looks over the progress made on the tattoo. "Des?" she asks out loud, her tone odd like she hadn't meant to. Too late, though. "Who's that?"

Not long after the book gets closer, the ink on Squeaks’ arm seems to liquify just a little, going from dry and almost unnoticeable, to wet and slightly cool. It doesn’t move so much as shift, as if a ripple went through it, like a stone being cast into a pond that happens to be made up of silky black brush strokes. And then Geneva sees what the others have seen before. The book is “bleeding”, the black ink that had made up those little dashes and dots slides off the page, forming into a blob of black at the edge, before dropping toward the floor to make an ink blot that splashes like black paint flicked onto a surface. A blot that starts to move toward Squeaks, but stops long enough to form letters and an equal sign at the end.


“If I got scattered like she did, I would want to be put back together,” Squeaks points out. When Emily gets back and adds her part to the explanation, she nods with it. “Also she hasn’t done anything bad. She just went missing because of the accident. I think someone was after her or… something. Berlin?” She looks up at Emily as she says that name. “She said there’s a missing codebreaker, and her daughter is named Kotoe, we tried to talk to her.” But since she hasn’t shared anything about that, there probably wasn’t anything to share.

“Des is my friend,” she goes on. The youngest girl rubs lightly at her arm where it’s all wet feeling without being wet. “She helped me when… when I got stuck on Staten once.”

“See, she’s here too.” She’s not surprised by the ink moving at all, she actually sounds excited. Her eyes go from the ripply ink on her arm to find the drippy leaking parts. And while she’s looking, Squeaks sets the journal on the floor and even opens it up to a blank page. “What kind of code is that,” she wonders out loud, when the ink spots settle into their strangest form yet. “It’s more confusing than math!”

"Yeah, I know. Still, it can't hurt to make sure she doesn't plan on secretly murdering us all or something when she gets out, you know?" There had been extreme unintended consequences the last time Geneva had rushed headlong into rescuing someone she knew nothing about. She still sounds a little taciturn at first, but Emily's addendum about a worried daughter waiting for her mother seems to successfully brush her away her cloak of reticence.

Then there is a movement of something dark and liquid-like at the corner of her sight, and she turns to look— and what she sees makes her gape in shock. She follows the progress of dripping, coalescing ink with her eyes, bending forward so that she can better observe the line of letters that has formed on the floor. "Holy shit. What the hell does that mean?" A sidelong glance is slid towards Squeaks, as if she expects the shorter teen to have the answer right then and there.

"Codebreaker?" Emily echoes back, surprised for only a split second. It just made sense. It wasn't by some magic or something she was talking in code, then — it was just part of who she was already. It was something she'd been wondering about, why all of the different use of codes. When she notices the ink beginning to bleed from Hailey's copy, relief flickers in her expression. This had all been going on for months, and she had worried maybe she wouldn't wake up and reunite this time — that maybe the ink would just stay ink. It's a relief that she's still fighting.

Walking around the table, Emily quickly pulls her laptop closer, waiting for the letters. Her fingers fly as soon as they form, taking note of the code … before frowning at what she's rekeyed. "What…"

"Hey, you sure you can't just tell us this one," she sighs down to the ink, half-looking at it to see if it moves and half-looking at her screen. She knows she can be heard, they've communicated questions back and forth enough to have confirmed that. Emily shakes her head at it regardless, brow knitting sharply. "All right, let's think here…" she pep-talks herself, thinking on what type of code they should be looking up.

"Speaking of Berlin, have you seen her at all since then?" she asks distractedly, eyes and attention more on tackling the mystery of the coded letters.

“I've been working on this for a really long time,” Squeaks explains. There's a touch of distraction in her tone as she studies the new code. It's meant to be assuring to Geneva’s reluctance. “It's been safe so far. No bad things happening, and I pinky sweared with Emily and Lance and Brynn that I would tell if something bad did happen. She just needs help.” And hopefully they're not running out of time.

“Not since we saw the girl at the Yamagato place. But maybe she had Wolfhound stuff.” It's possible. But also she, the smallish redhead herself, missed out on a month of looking.

Grabbing a pencil and her homework, Squeaks roughly copies down the letters and symbols in a messy scribble. That's passed off to Emily, so there's a hard copy at least while internet things happen. She looks up at Geneva, making sure the older teen is still watching, then stretches her fingers out to the ink on the floor. “This is the really for reals primal part.”


The letters and symbol on the floor remain the same, but they shrink as two small marks split off and roll up Squeaks’ offered arm, adding two more strokes to the second character that’s there on her arm. It looks more complete now, maybe even complete. The black, fluid looking ink on her arm seems to lighten as it settles into a dried form, but the ink on the floor remains as it is.


Geneva does indeed seem further reassured by Squeaks' promise that the rest of the Lighthouse gang is there to back them up should anything go wrong. Back during the Sibyl incident, it had only really been Gene and Emily to deal with the potential fallout; extra numbers never hurt when dealing with the unknown. And in turn, she is still transfixed both by the message and by Squeaks' interaction with it, noting in particular the peculiar mixture of symbols among the letters. "Well, what the fuckin' hell. It’s go big or go home, right? I'm hardly an expert at this, but that equal sign makes me think it's some kind of programming code."

Her eyes abruptly flash over towards Emily as the other girl records the coded message onto her laptop. In a heartbeat, the heat manipulator is crouching beside her friend with her hands edging over the keyboard, gently indicating that she be allowed to use it for the next minute or so. "Here, let’s ask Google what’s up," she mutters under her breath; it is clear she has been struck by an idea. Opening a new browser, she highlights what Emily has typed and copies it before searching for a quite simple phrase: 'cipher ending in equal sign'

As the results load, Gene's lips curve into a hint of a grin. She types away for a few moments longer, hitting the enter key audibly at the end— and her triumphant demeanor fades into a more inquisitive-looking expression.

"'There is one left.' What's that mean? That there's only one book left, or?"

At first burrowing her brow at Geneva, Emily relents and lifts her hands to let the other teen drive. The odd look shifts to surprise as she gets an immediate hit. Oh, shit. A grin half-forms as she shakes Gene by her forearm affectionately. "Look at you, way to go."

There's rarely a day Emily's not grateful for her GhostNet subscription, but today she's extra-appreciative.

"One more," she repeats, not without her own share of excitement as she looks to Squeaks and then to the ink that remains. "Only one more book, I think." Emily tips her head toward the younger girl, looking at the new addition to the mark on her arm. "Does it feel any different?" she asks directly. She's always wondered if the ink lady had a parasitic effect on Squeaks' energy, and now there was a lot of her riding around on her forearm.

“One more.” Squeaks echoes the words that both older girls say, sounding both relieved and excited. The hunt is nearly over, which is a good thing because the ink-lady has been stuck for so long. It's also very primal knowing that someone isn't lost forever and should be back together again.

The journal is slid toward the remaining ink, since the code has been figured out. “Still feels the same. The wet part is weird, but that's only when she's moving around.”

Scooting to the side, Squeaks gets down on her belly to watch the ink again. “We've been searching a long time for all the parts. And she's been missing for a long time too.”

The ink on the floor shifts into new letters and numbers, this time without the telltale equals sign, but if Squeaks would know she tends to stick with the same codes during each interaction. And it looks similar.


After a few moments, enough time to type it in, it shifts again.


There’s another pause, longer this time before it slides up and disappears into the journal, forming into letters. In many Japanese characters, as it had once before with Des. It might be a fairytale, again, or something else, but it settles there and dries until the ink looks as if it had never been alive in the first place.

There is evidently no time to sit and celebrate, as before their eyes, blobs of ink are coalescing into new coded messages on the floor. Geneva stares at the spectacle as it occurs, carefully inputting the lines into the same online decoder that she had used for the first message (which is luckily still open). She has to half-get up once or twice from her seat to confirm that she has the correct sequence of characters. It takes a little time and fastidious double-checking, but after a few minutes she is certain she has the translation.

" 'Thank you. One more and I can go home,' " she announces to the room, huffing out a tiny exhalation.

Someday, weird-ass phenomena will stop happening to her. Today is not that day. She squints rather suspiciously again at the trails of ink, unconsciously rubbing at her own forearm at the thought of Squeaks’ accumulating tattoo. "So, where is the last book supposed to be?" she wonders aloud. This may be hard to obtain that without some type of clue, but then again, the other two might know more in this respect than she does.

"Almost there. Man." Emily lets out a slow breath, leaning back into the couch and staring up at the ceiling. Squeaks was right — this had been one hell of an adventure, and it had gone on so long. But soon, real soon if they were lucky, everything would see a happy conclusion.

That was a beautiful thing to work toward. And she hopes to see it happen.

"We don't know. It could be anywhere out there," she admits. "Anyone who bought the new edition from Prufrock's, or got it somewhere else." That thought has her sitting upright, looking toward Squeaks with a furrowed brow. "Lene has a copy of the book." Emily knows, because she was there when Lene acquired it. "You've not checked hers, by any chance, have you?"

“No,” Squeaks answers quietly. Her chin rests on the backs of her hands which are pressed flat to the floor, and her eyes follow the movement of the inky spots back into the journal. Catching up with Lene is always the tricky part, almost as tricky as finding the books with the ink-lady pieces in them. “But I could ask her.”

As the last bits of ink settle onto the pages and wherever else they go, the youngest teen sits up again and pulls the journal into her lap. “I hope she’s okay,” she says, carefully closing the covers, then looking up at Geneva and Emily. “That she won’t be hurt or anything when we finally get all of her together.”

The name 'Lene' rings a bell in Geneva's head, if a fuzzy one. It has been quite a long time since she has heard mention of Gillian's daughter. She does not pursue it though, instead adding on her own suggestion in regards to tracking down the last wayward book, since it seems the other two have the previous angle handled. "I can snoop around Prufrock's later maybe, if you guys think it would help?" she offers, closing the current tab and offering the laptop she had so valiantly commandeered back to its rightful owner, Emily.

When Squeaks looks over at her, Gene meets the gaze of the younger girl straight-on, her own expression becoming firmer in response. She might be a total latecomer to this venture, but she'll be damned but if she didn't help see it through to the end. "If she’s not okay, we'll definitely find a way to fix her up. You guys said she had a daughter waiting for her, after all. And if we can't, we'll find someone who can."

Emily finds herself elbowing Geneva as the laptop is passed back, smiling faintly. "We will." she voices in agreement, looking back to Squeaks to nod firmly. "Inklady has a lot of people cheering for her now. A lot of people willing to help." Youth and proper adult both.

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