Ni Sawa


huruma_icon.gif squeaks3_icon.gif

Scene Title Ni Sawa
Synopsis Huruma visits the Brooklyn Library to make a donation of books, and donates another part to Squeaks' mysterious ink-lady friend.
Date January 2, 2019

Brooklyn Public Library

The foyer of the library has double doors, one set closing behind to keep whipping wind from following patrons inside; still, the cold clings to them when they enter, and lingers there on the front mats. After a few moments to pull in a breath of warm air, Huruma flicks back the hood of her woolen, fur-lined coat and quietly considers the space around her. Not every presence is unfamiliar. One here, one there. Bay Ridge does have people she knows.

She is of enough mind to kick any slush from her boots before drifting into the library proper. Seems she has a plan in mind, and the bag over her shoulder slides into her hands. The first place she heads towards is the public bulletin boards, currently filled with other posters. Huruma seeks out one in particular with a practiced eye; she tugs down the previous Benchmark poster and slots it into the recycling bin. From her bag she unfurls a newer one with updated numbers, times, events, information, the like, and goes about tacking the large poster onto the board.

It's a small favor, she was heading here anyway. The faculty at the Benchmark is just a twee bit too sweet to say no to after being around them for so long.


There's one presence that's familiar for sure, even if it's only just barely recognizable. Aunt Stork had only met Squeaks just the one time, and a long time ago besides. The Brooklyn Library is pretty far from her normal hangouts, but not so far as to seem strange. It's where the grown-up books are, and those have a lot more information and a way bigger selection to choose from. But it's plain that the young teenager is within the library herself.

And actually, she isn't very far from those bulletin boards that Huruma is visiting.

The girl had found herself some good books on genetics a while ago and has since taken up a comfy chair to read. Which is what she's doing when the Wolfhound officer starts swapping out posters. Sitting criss-cross and with a cheek cradled in one hand, her attention is caught by the book in her lap that she doesn't at first notice Huruma at all.

Huruma smoothes over the poster after it goes up, eyes trailing towards some of the others. A babysitter there, a charity event there. Something advertising a place that sounds to Huruma like a nunnery. The 'Mary' part seems to say that much.

Study of the location of it pauses; the more vague familiarity of the people in the library coalesces in her head as a tickle, and but a few moments later she turns her head to find it. Pale eyes glimmer in recognition. She hasn't seen that one in a time. At least… Not as close. With part of her errand over with, Huruma sidles along the wall towards the reading area and Squeaks.

The girl is invested in her material, and Huruma is slinking up at her 4 o'clock. Probably to first take a look at what she has. But, she isn't going to be totally rude- - she sort of announces herself before shocking the pants off of the teen, voice velvet.

"Keeping out of trouble, little love?"

Since this isn't her normal library, and because of that the librarians aren't used to seeing her around, Squeaks first takes the voice as belonging to one of them. “I'm okay,” she answers easily, but she finishes the line she's reading before looking up and over her shoulder. Huruma definitely isn't who she was expecting, and her eyes get a little wide with surprise. But there's also recognition once she sees who's talking.

“I think so,” she answers more honestly. She finds a slip of paper, with what looks like numbers and letters scribbled onto it, and tucks it into her place in the book so she can close it. The young teen looks up again, watching Huruma curiously — way differently from their first time meeting.

Wide eyes get an arch of brow and a soft laugh, Huruma bending some to prop her elbows on the back of the chair beside Squeaks. "Those ones you've taken up with are quite the bunch, thought I'd ask." A tiny wink. "I've heard a story or two about you kids and SESA. Adventurous if I ever heard it."

There is no disapproval for the extracurriculars, and won't be. Huruma has seen worse.

"This is quite some material, hm?" Huruma moves over to poke around in Squeaks' pile of genetics books. She pauses on one and stifles a deep chested laugh before picking it up. "Ah, this is a primer. Good old papa Suresh…" A flash of the cover to the teenager shows 'Activating Evolution'.

“From who,” Squeaks asks, because knowing who’s telling is more important than whatever adventures she’s been having. “What stories are there?” She folds her hands over the cover of her book, head tilted so she can look up at Huruma. The questions get a little sidetracked with the book that’s pulled out of the pile, but she shrugs at it.

“I like to read.” Which is very true. The teenager is known to read just about everything. And her current fascination has been genetics.

Huruma grins coyly at the questioning. "I hear a lot of things from a lot of people. Ah, something about electric rats, last I heard. I know at least the boys were helping out some agents. I've seen you in and out of Raytech now and again… and god knows you'll find trouble there." Her mentions seem innocent enough. For Huruma, anyway. "I've heard some fascinating descriptions on Staten Island, but I suppose those are probably hearsay."

"These aren't light reading, so you must." Huruma's hand opens the cover of the book she's picked up, thumbing through pages. "This one was worlds ahead, you know… but academically… well… " Maybe not accepted as much. "Chandra Suresh was a leader in the study of the Evolved before the world knew there were any. Pity that his son couldn't live up to the legacy." She sucks against the back of her teeth with a 'tch'.

“Yes, there’s rats in the Underneath.” That much Squeaks confirms easily enough. Electric rats, she’s obviously seen them. “We helped the SESA people some times with finding things for their investigations.” She looks at the books in her lap when they’re metioned again, then up at Huruma. “I work at Raytech. So I go there too, but there’s no trouble I’ve found. Just lots of important people in fancy clothes.”

She pauses for a minute and side eyes the books stacked close by. “Chandra’s the name of our cat.”

Good kids doing good things might have made her sick once upon a time, but these ones are different. Huruma watches out of the corner of her eye as Squeaks describes Raytech.

"Yes, a lot of important people in fancy clothes. Sometimes I visit to help test things… I think Richard just enjoys having someone to play with.." The woman grins down to the teen. "I can't say I'm surprised that somehow they share a name, but it is also a word for 'moon'.." Huruma figures that Squeaks will appreciate the trivia. Seems a lot like herself when it comes to that. Curiosity.

Huruma feels it rather than sees it. It feels like that first blink as eyes open, the first breath that someone makes voluntarily after just letting their body do its thing on its own for a time. It’s an awareness, anxiety, a sensation of expectation and even a little excitement. It seems to come from three places at once simultaneously. One is near Squeak’s arm, separate and different from Squeaks. Softer, like a faint whisper compared to a normal voice.

The other two come from places devoid of a person. One in Huruma’s donation pile, the other from Squeaks’ bag. The bag is the loudest of the three emotions.

“I think he likes being asked questions too.” It's her own random bit of trivia. Squeaks shifts a little in her chair so she isn't craning her neck so much to watch Huruma. “I ask him lots of questions about lots of things. Like this one time we talked about strings and how come grown-ups don't always answer questions. What language does Chandra mean moon?”

"Sanskrit." Huruma blinks down into the girl's face as she shifts. "From India." She offers this in case Squeaks doesn't know the word. Whatever she seemed about to add on the topic of Richard stops; the dark woman's head turns at a slow angle over her shoulder, then back to Squeaks.

Her pale eyes focus on the teen's bag, pupils pinning. Moonlike. Silent and creating an uncomfortable stare.

The closest of them is the skinny arm below; without prelude, Huruma reaches out lightning quick to snatch Squeaks by the wrist and tug up her sleeve. It's not rough, just insistent- - where is it coming from? A cat to a mouse.

“Sanskrit,” is Squeaks’ echoed response to the answer. Her head tips a little bit toward a shoulder, wondering about what she knows on that subject. There isn’t much she can remember right away, and it’s all interrupted anyway when Huruma starts looking around then staring.

A learned suspicion starts creeping into the girl’s expression, one learned from a very early age to be cautious around those intense looks. Slowly, one leg stretches toward the floor and the other follows, like she might slide out of the chair and slink away before the anticipated danger comes. Her toes reach and she manages to sink shoulders and head near the actual seat before she’s caught by the wrist.

Involuntarily, Squeaks flinches away from the hand she’s sure is going to follow. She doesn’t yelp her surprise or even make any sound, but she does lean as far away as her stretched out arm will let her.

For as much as Huruma is intent, she is not oblivious; she uncovers the script along the skinny arm, brows knitting- - only to pause and relax her grip hen she lifts her eyes from it to Squeaks' face. She doesn't let go, completely.

"No, no, ni sawa, panya tamu…" Huruma's voice lowers as she does, moving into a crouch. "I am not going to hurt you." While her words are indeed reassuring, and her sound a heavy velvet, her ability reaches out to cradle Squeaks in a comforted blanket. Ni sawa. It's okay.

The sensation of three pieces of one similar thing is a perplexing one, yet she manages to stifle her desire to fling her own pack off or rip Squeaks' open. It would only make it worse, and the flinch- - well, Huruma empathizes.

"What is this?"

Something starts to move around Squeaks’ arms, like a marquee on a building scrolling words, only this one was made of black ink that moved around her wrist in letters that seemed to be random, or perhaps not.

fbl kd tu bpkorm. dcl dh clhxgpd nl. rklkcf ws nw ckeooczwk. urwuclm qklkc clzc.

Squeaks can feel it too. That all too familiar damp sensation moving along, cool, but not actually leaving behind wetness as it went along. The symbols that had been on her arm were alive again and in motion.

And the emotions, the presence that Huruma feels, is coming from those letters.

Maybe it's something in what Huruma says, or maybe it's the way she says it, but something causes Squeaks to stop cringing. And she stops leaning against the hand clamped around her arm, even though she doesn't let it slacken, the woman can feel she's not fighting anymore. She can probably see it also, because blue eyes turn toward her, all set with suspicion. Grown-ups are dangerous when they get their hands on you.

The young teen slaps her free hand down over the marks when they start moving around. “I think it's her name,” she explains. Her fingers curl against the letters that are forming , but it doesn't look like it's meant to cover so much as reaction to the feeling of them moving. “She got scattered. There's probably a Wolves book that's nearby.”

As soon as Huruma asks, her eyes catch it again; they narrow at the scroll of letters, suspicion mirrored at the black script. Her hand eases against Squeaks' arm, fingers more gently grasping as she turns the girl's hand over in hers. A total shift.

Pale eyes only lift when Squeaks clamps a defensive palm over the black banding. Huruma's brow arches at the primary explanation; it's not something she's seen, yet she has seen more mysterious things in her lifetime. Scattered. So that's why there's- -

"Wolves." Not a question. "Wh- - No." It's incredulous. The dark woman lets go of the girl's hand with a short stroke of her thumb, looking first to the pack on the floor and then flipping her own down. The well-read books she unceremoniously dumps out thud into a pile, and she takes a knee. A few go back into the bag before the familiar white cover shows.

Huruma picks it up and wields it with a purpose, flipping pages. Squeaks can see the writing in the margin when Huruma stops at a page. She can feel it, right there in her palm, a stirring, uncoiling little thing; her pupils widen and pin again as she studies it. Why didn't she feel it before?

The black marks settle down, whatever it was they had been scrolling by trying to communicate and return to where Squeaks’ hand landed, back into their normal shape, the one finish Kanji that Des had said meant ‘Lapis’ and the unfinished one below it that’s only a few strokes in. It stays wet under her touch, but and the emotions coming from all three directions have definitely gotten quieter, calmer, almost as if the ink had been worried for her wellbeing. The teens.

The hand on her arm rubs at the inky spots again, and maybe it’s meant to be reassuring as much as it is to stop the wet feeling. “The ink-lady,” Squeaks explains as she watches Huruma dig around and flip through pages. “She can turn into ink, but something happened and she got scattered in those books.” Those books is indicated with a finger motioning toward the one the woman’s got in her hands.

Carefully, like a mouse to a cat, the teen scoots forward to look at the writing in the margin. “She’s trying to find her way back. And I’m helping her. Trying to. I have to find the books to get her pieces together.”

"I feel her in here. And there. And there." Huruma glances from the book to arm and backpack, brow lifting as she looks back at her own scribbles. "This copy had a printing error. I wrote them down, but the last part made no sense… I felt silly for it." Maybe it wasn't so silly. The writing she shows squeaks is uppercase letters drawn from circles around letters. The ink error story makes sense, as those letters are blotchy and bold.


Huruma's fingers trace along the inside of the spine and pages, eyes roving to the marks on the girl's arm again to try and read the kanji. "Tch, I haven't practiced in a long time… 'glass'? 'Jewel'? You'd think I would remember more given Yamagato…" At that she seems to be chiding herself instead. Although, if it's Japanese like it looks…

"…Mn, that isn't one word." It's a whisper. "Can she hear us?" Huruma goes with yes, with that previous reaction. "Who is Kotoe?" She asks directly of Squeaks'…arm friend.

The blotted blotchy letters that look like ink errors darken as they return to their liquid state and pull away from where they had been sitting on the page, small black spots moving together to join more at the center of the book where it is bound before dripping over the edge. It looks somewhat like one might imagine a book would look if it were bleeding. Something that Squeaks at least was used to, by now. It forms into a blot and moves toward Squeaks, a small portion of it breaking off to move toward her hand, while the other part forms into another random string of letters.

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“This part is Lapis,” Squeaks explains. Her eyes flick to the movement of ink spots, and she sinks backward to watch with the same fascination as every time she’s seen it happen. “Kotoe is the name of the ink-lady’s daughter. I met her one time, Berlin found her and we tried to talk but…” She pushes a shoulder up toward an ear. Grouchy uncles aren’t very helpful.

Seeing the ink start to pool close by, the girl reaches for it. Fingers stretch out like she might want to touch a fragile thing, to let a dragonfly land or feel the fluff of a dandelion. “She can understand you, but talking is hard for her. She answers in code.” She tips her head toward the scrambly letters that have formed together. “Like that.”

When the book's ink begins running down the spine, Huruma instinctively goes to catch it- - the library has enough problems without ink on the carpets- - only to watch it slither away like mercury through her fingers. For a moment she is as fascinated as Squeaks probably was, and the girl won't have trouble noticing that. Something in common is an incorrigible curiosity.

"Beckett?" Berlin's name is a mild surprise, but perhaps not entirely strange. Everyone knows someone anymore. Huruma is quiet while the redhead explains, watching the letters move and the other ink roaming to settle on Squeaks' skin. Partly right on the kanji, at least. She was getting there.

"Tch," Huruma's tongue sucks against her teeth in something of disapproval, lips turning in a frown. "Terrible. Torn apart." The ink leaves her book and she sets it aside, the same hand moving to briefly rest on Squeaks' shoulder. "I am sorry for alarming you." The weight of her already heavy voice makes it sound like she means it.

As Squeaks’ hand outstretched, Huruma can feel the change in emotion, relief, happiness, the feeling of someone when they are finally allowed to turn around and head home after a long journey. It feels much like that, just in fragments. It feels strange it coming from many directions. Some of the ink rolls up her fingers, up her arm, to add to the mark on her arm, adding another line to it. Just one.

But it looks a lot more finished, now, Huruma might even recognize it, as the symbol was pretty common, even if two strokes from completion. It might mean a village or town.

Or home.


The rest of the ink lingers on the floor, before sliding toward the journal to join the vast majority of her. As she soaks into those pages, Huruma can feel her emotions fading, as if she were going back to sleep again. Or perhaps hibernation was a better description. It remained, in the softest background buzz, mostly on the character on Squeaks’ arm. As if the majority of what made her aware was kept there, even if most of her mass was elsewhere.

“I wasn’t alarmed.” Squeaks gives Huruma a long side-eyeing as she makes a claim that’s both false and cautious. She puts up a brave front, though, pretending like nothing had happened at all. Her eyes flick back toward the moving ink parts and she reaches into her backpack to take out the journal so the ink has an easier time of getting into it. Once it’s all made its way home, she tucks the journal into her pack again.

“I don’t know, maybe.” It could be another fib, or the teen doesn’t actually remember or know Berlin’s last name. “She’s a Wolfhound. She came to the Doyle library because she had a book with weird printings.”

"Berlin is on my team in Wolfhound." Huruma's reply comes with a note of amusement, keeping it simple for the girl's sake. A smile moves across her lips, silent but knowing. "She is a good one to have your back in a pinch." Wendigo Girl Gang, you know? "And so you know… no need to hide your feelings from me."

Just a note. She moves on as if nothing had happened at all.
Huruma looks after the pack where Squeaks has put the other book away, turning her gaze away when the feed from it wavers. Her finger moves to tap against the newest part on that skinny arm. "It is almost finished, I think…" A nail traces one line down from the top, and a base along the bottom. "'Village', if there are only two to go. Perhaps there will be more."

“Almost finished.” That’s a good thing, and Squeaks sounds both relieved and wondering while she watches Huruma. Her eyes flick between the marks on her arm and the woman’s finger tracing the lines, and the woman herself with some lingering suspicion. “There’s got to be more. She’s free once all her name parts are back together. I’ve been working on it for a really long time, my friends all helped too, a lot even. I think they’re going to be happy once the ink-lady is normal again and not trapped.”

"Free to what end? Does she have a body to go back to?" Or is that too far ahead? "I've known some who can disperse into other matter and come together again, so let us hope she is one of them." Huruma pauses before shoving her stack of now boring books away and standing. She'll leave them at the desk before she goes, anyway. "Richard is one, actually. If she has trouble collecting herself into a form, perhaps he can help. Or will know someone."

Antarctica was weird, alright?

"I think she will be happy too, to say the least." Huruma's eyes rest on Squeaks' face in a quiet study of her features. "I look forward to seeing you succeed." A roundabout way of saying she has faith, but it serves.

“Richard.” It's an echo and a question, mirrored in Squeaks’ expression. She nods slowly, though, like she understands who and what Huruma is talking about. She doesn't really, but she fakes it.

She watches Huruma for a long second or three. Her face is a little scrunched, puzzled and unsure. “Thank you,” she adds after those seconds pass, as she pushes her shoulders up a little bit.

She'll figure it out. She's smart. Huruma's mouth crooks up to one side, lips in a curve. "You're welcome. Both of you." the second is added with a wagging gesture at Squeaks and her arm. Both. "Next time I go buying books at the market I'll be second guessing myself, though…" Her laugh is low in her chest as she turns to go. "Don't let trouble catch you, panya tamu."

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