The B Word


geneva_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title The B-Word
Synopsis Worried about a mutual friend and wanting some answers, Squeaks visits Geneva.
Date February 21, 2019

Park Slope

Hailey and Geneva's home.

Park Slope is about as far from her usual tracks as Squeaks can get, unless it’s going into the ruins or somewhere like that. But this afternoon, with most of her schoolwork done and the rest riding in the backpack that hangs off her shoulders, she’s made the detour to trudge through whatever snow and overgrown tangly overgrown vegetation mess in order to find the house she’s only heard about.

Finding the house is easier than she thought it would be. And the neighborhood isn’t quite the jungle she always imagined. Maybe that’s just because it’s still winter and nothing green is growing just yet. After stomping off the wintery sludge from her boots, the young teen steps up to the door and knocks.

There is a minute or two before anyone answers, and Squeaks hears the barking of a dog echoing from within before a bolt is withdrawn, the heavy front door sliding open a hairline crack to allow Geneva to squint out. Suspiciously. Their remote home does not get many unannounced visitors, and the ones who do show up tend to be bad news more often than not— drunk vagrants and other troublemaking wanderers.

Even through the slim opening, the surprise on the heat manipulator's face is visible upon seeing Squeaks standing there alone, backpack and all. She hauls the door the rest of the way open, squinching her eyes in the sudden wintry sunlight as though she had just woken up from a nap. There is no sound or sight of Hailey— it would appear that for now, Gene has the residence to herself.

"Yo, Squeaks. Is something up?"

Wide eyes first greet Geneva when the door is opened, as if Squeaks hadn’t really expected anyone to be there. Even though the dog barking is almost a giveaway, it also could have been just a dog that got inside somehow. “No,” is her first answer, but her tone makes it sound more like a question. Her head shakes next, just to further affirm that nothing is really up exactly.


“Joe said you got turned into a bird. And Emily said you were in the hospital, and there’s more but she isn’t saying and…” The younger girl huffs a breath, her face puzzled and worried. “But you’re not a bird. And what if Emily’s in trouble?”

The rapid barrage of questions is met by a hard blink. Right behind Geneva, a dog that appears to be a lab-mix pushes itself into the doorframe with tail wagging, still barking curiously at the little stranger on the doorstep. "Alright, Jackson," she wearily says to it while making motions to shoo it back from the entryway, turning her head back to Squeaks as she does so. "…Jesus. Um. You'd better come in, I guess." She leaves the door wide open so that Squeaks can enter, turning back into the brownstone herself without waiting to see if her visitor will follow.

Inside, a collection of cats and dogs of various sizes are curled up beside the lit fireside. Most of them are asleep, though one particularly chubby, cross-eyed cat stares in Squeaks' approximate direction from its perch on the mantle. Opposite is the couch, upon which lays a single pillow, an upended copy of Wolves of Valhalla, and a crumpled blanket: it appears she had just been napping after all.

“…Start from the last thing you said. Did you say that Emily’s in trouble?”

“No,” Squeaks’ answer comes from the doorway, where she’s stopped to stare wonderingly at all of the animals. She knows Hailey can talk to them, and that she often brings visitors by Gillian’s house. But not so many in one place. “She isn’t in trouble,” she goes on, pulling away from the distraction. She steps through the door and nudges it closed to keep the warm in and the cold out.

“But there’s things she isn’t saying and she looked worried.” That sounds more like a question, but the younger teen doesn’t stop for answers. “She wouldn’t say, except that you were in the hospital, and now you’re not. And Joe said you were a bird, but you’re not. She asked about Magnes, and also got curious about the journal I found in the tower because it used to be Eileen’s, but she wouldn’t say what she was looking for.”

With some further prompting from Geneva, the lab goes and seats himself next to the fire alongside the pile of sleeping dogs, though he does not refrain from tilting his head in the direction of the unknown guest. Meanwhile, the girl sweeps the pillow, book, and blanket off to the far side of the couch in one unceremonious motion, giving them both room to sit as she tries to parse out the jumble of everything that Squeaks had just said. "Yeah, I love Em, but she does tend to let on way less than she knows sometimes. I guess I can't blame her for being cautious? Still."

A rather considering look is given to Squeaks for a moment, but then Gene slumps herself down on one end of the now-vacated sofa, arranging a cushion next to herself. "God, the bird thing." As good a place as any to begin, why not. Trying to figure out how on earth to explain this had become too common a thread lately. "I was a bird, but that… I got changed back a while ago. I guess the best way to explain is that I was stuck in the body of a hummingbird, while my real body was just…. empty. Like I was in a coma nobody could wake me up from. That’s the part of me that Em got to the hospital."

“She said you were in a coma in the hospital.” That much Squeaks has said already, and it agrees with Geneva’s confirmation. Her eyes wander, taking in all the animals again. There’s so many of them. “Then she started asking about what happened with Raytech because I had to be gone for a while. I don’t know what the project was about, but we had to stay somewhere else because of the attack I think. And she was looking for Eileen Ruskin and Magnes Varlane. I told her Eileen’s dead, but I found her journal, and I think Magnes helped with the project somehow.” She pauses there, and looks at Geneva again, as if saying it’s the older girl’s turn to explain things.

And even more that Squeaks has not seen. Jim the monkey had been wreaking havoc somewhere upstairs earlier the morning, but mercifully he is nowhere to be found at the moment. A distracted look appears on Geneva’s face at this newest volley of information, and she allows a few seconds to tick by until she has quickly processed some of it. "What did all happen at Raytech?" she wonders aloud. "I heard about Magnes being involved, and there was a rumor that you were, too, but I'm still way light on details. What were you there for?" Not having been human at the relevant time hadn't made things easier.

Also: "You found Eileen's journal? Did it have anything interesting to say in it?" Her turn at revealing her own curiosity. She gestures vaguely at the rest of the room available on the couch. “You don’t have to stay standing, if you don’t want.”

A shrug is what the older girl is given as a response for what happened. Squeaks isn’t sure she could explain even if she tried and was allowed to. “I don’t know. There was fighting, and… a lot happening. I was there because I could help with some things. Things with sound.” She shakes her head, it’s too confusing to even offer any details.

Sidling forward, the younger teen perches herself on the opened end of the couch. “There’s code stuff. I never asked the ink-lady about it because she’s got bigger problems being stuck in all those books. But there’s stuff in it about people. Like something about telling Gillian about Iago, then it’s crossed out and written below is don’t. Also something at the end, from a long time after she died.”

"Things with sound? Is that something to do with your slice ability? Not going to lie, I'm still a little jealous I didn't get the chance to come. Gillian must've gone up the wall when she found out, though." There is the tiniest snort of amusement from Geneva as she re-imagines Richard's reaction.

Interlacing her fingers behind her head, she leans back, allowing her shoulders to sink into the couch cushion behind her. There is a longer moment of hesitation before she asks, a little more cautiously: "How did you know her? Eileen, I mean." Despite her age, Squeaks is clearly someone able to get her fingers into unexpected pies; just how deep does this rabbit hole extend?

“I… I do echolocation? But also… also I can hear the sounds different. No one else could hear it like me.” That much Squeaks is sure of, she remembers no one else having problems like she did. “My mom was so mad too, because Richard didn’t ask her first. And I’m not allowed to help Raytech projects anymore unless they ask her.” She seems a little bummed by that, but shrugs. “I got lots happening. I have to finish school because I have a new intern job with SESA and they’re way busy.”

The younger girl trails off, and turns curious at Geneva’s change in tone. “Just what Lance told me,” she answers after a second or two, “and what I read in the journal. Gillian believed us about Eileen not being the traitor, and we know who was. He’s dead though.” Her shoulders rise and fall with a short shrug. “I never met her before. I still lived with Carolyn and Stefan when the war started and didn’t know anyone until I ran away and the fighting was over. She seems like… like… I don’t know. Smart and brave? I wish I could have met her.”

"Echolocation, huh? Like the shit that bats do? That's pretty primal. Suddenly your nickname makes a lot more sense." Geneva grins cheekily but with genuine empathy at Squeaks' description of being locked out of future Raytech ventures. "I'm sure she'll have to let you back in eventually, that just sounds too damn useful. Or maybe have Richard sneak you out or something. I'm sure they've got the tech for that." Probably a terrible suggestion on multiple levels, but a role model of paragon behavior she is not.

Smart and brave. These two words make Gene appear more thoughtful, the fireglow momentarily casting a flickering light over her expression. "Yeah, I've only met her once. I… don't know what I thought about her, to be completely honest. There were a lot of factors making it weird." She arches a brow over at the younger girl, contemplating what had been said for a second before seeming to make up her mind. "How good are you at keeping secrets?”

“I like going to Raytech and researching things,” Squeaks points out. “If Richard sneaks me out again, I won’t ever never be allowed there again.” At least now she’s kind of allowed, if she has reasons to be there and none of those include helping with projects without permission first.

The question about keeping secrets makes the younger teen’s eyebrows go up. “Really good,” is a serious answer. “I can keep a secret.” She holds up her pinky finger, and offers it to Geneva.

"Mmm. Yeah, okay, good point." This Geneva concedes with a conciliatory headtilt. Raytech's work is no doubt far too interesting to risk total banishment. She had only just begun to scratch the surface herself. Her raised eyebrow does not budge when she sees Squeaks' gesture, but it softens into something more acquiescent in tone, and she extends out her own pinky finger for a very firm and serious pinky-shake.

"Okay, that’s good. Because it's important that you keep this one.”

A beat.

“Eileen's not actually dead." This is said in a judiciously lowered tone of voice, as though someone might be listening in— even though the only beings around to do so are either four-legged, asleep, or both. "She… came in person to the hospital. To turn me back." Her blue eyes shift to the glowing hearth in nearly a squint, recalling the memory.

Pinky swears are the most binding swears and she takes it very seriously, nodding when Geneva hooks fingers with her. She's very solemn while listening to the older girl, and a normal person might be surprised by the information, but Squeaks definitely isn't. Not really. The world has shown to have lots of strange things where dead people aren't actually dead. “For reals,” she asks anyway, because the confirmation matters a little bit in how she processes the information. “Is she in the Safe Zone? How did she make you not a bird? I bet she wants her things back. The ones we found in the tower. Do you think she maybe knows how they got there?”

"For reals, yeah. But honestly, you probably know more about Eileen than I do at this point." There is a strong, off-handed shrug from Geneva, who eases herself back into her original leaning position. "I couldn't tell you exactly how she did it— just that she was able to undo what the other Eileen did. The stress killed the bird I was in," she adds rather thickly, as that particular stray detail returns to her.

"I don't know where she went off to; she didn't say. It sounded like she'd be in some kind of danger if the wrong people found out she was back, though." She directs another meaningful look at Squeaks as she says this, even as it occurs to her that it is odd that she would be so protective of a woman she barely knew— a woman who, in another guise, had been responsible for what had happened to her in the first place.

…But the two were different. She had to keep telling herself so. That's how this 'alternate dimension' shit worked, right?

“Because people think she’s the traitor,” Squeaks fills in, for why Eileen would be in trouble. “I wonder how to find her then.” It’s a puzzling tone, because it’s not like she can just go asking people. Her face scrunches a little bit, and she turns around to look at the animals. They probably have no ideas either, especially not that lab that seems all friendly even if he is big and loud. “Do you think you’ll ever see her again? Is this Emily’s secret too?” It could make sense, especially with how interested their friend was in the journal. “I swear I won’t tell anyone about it. Cross my heart swear it.”

There is a cursory shake of Geneva's head. "Not just them. It sounded like there were others, too." As to who those others might be, she is certain she has no idea. From her position on the couch, Squeaks has a great view of Idiot's rear end wiggling as the Burmese cat clambers his way through the doorway to the kitchen, tail held high. The lab in question, meanwhile, has settled down with his head atop his paws and seems to be content simply to watch the two girls with dark, curious eyes.

"I've no idea if I'll see her again. I remember she did say if either of us were in need of help, to ask a bird to find her and she'd be there. But that sounded more like it was for emergencies, so I dunno. You could ask Emily, too, if you’re really keen on giving her stuff back."

“This isn’t really an emergency.” As far as she knows, no one is actually looking for those things that came out of the tower. Squeaks twists around to look at Geneva again, nose wrinkling. Maybe it’s the all the animals, or maybe it’s just the situation all together. “I could ask Emily. I don’t know if she’s going to tell me though. I think she’s maybe in trouble still, or …not in trouble yet. But I’m worried and maybe she’s mad because I couldn’t tell her about the project and reminded her that I would help if she needs it.” It’s a confusing thing.

With a huff, the younger teen shrugs, her hands upturned in a who knows kind of gesture. “The birds probably wouldn’t help me since it’s a secret.” She’ll have to try talking to Emily first, and figure out her next steps after.

"Yeah, good luck getting Emily to tell you." This is said by Geneva in somewhat dry tones; given her friend's apparent guilt at what what had been done to Gene, it would no doubt be difficult prying potentially compromising information out of her. "She's probably still your best bet, though— she's been in contact with Eileen way more than me. Speaking of projects, though. I've been meaning to ask you about all this Inklady stuff."

She pauses before continuing again, presumably in order to collect her thoughts regarding how to ask. "Is there anything I can do to help out? I've felt so useless since being out for the last month. I need to be doing something. Thinking about raiding Prufrock's, if you think that’s a good idea."

Having been about to stand so she can leave, Squeaks hesitates when Geneva brings up the ink-lady and then settles into her seat again. “Actually, I don’t know.” She speaks slowly, actually taking the time to think instead of just rushing into an answer. “Emily’s been real great with codes and… Lance and Brynn helped early with just thinking about what to ask when we weren’t really all the way sure what was happening.” They were all great at worrying too, but she leaves that bit out.

“Mostly it’s just finding the last piece,” she settles on with a small shrug. “I’ve been to Prufrock’s lots of times since the first but only got the one mark. I don’t think there’s anymore to find there.” Which leaves finding the final piece to chance. “Just …listen for anyone talking about weird printing in their book? That’s… that’s how I found the others. Kind of. And by being there so the ink could come to me.”

Lance and Brynn. One of them might be who Gene might have to pay a visit to next, or at least at some point. Squeaks' information is absorbed with a somewhat distracted air, though she indicates her appreciation by ducking her head in a nod. "That's good to know. I'll keep my ears out, I guess." Her gaze moves over the spot on the other girls' forearm where she knows the ink tattoo has coalesced, and she can't help but have it linger there for a few moments while she thinks. "Do me a favor, let me know if you hear anything new." She may not be able to help as much as last time, but she can certainly try.

And Squeaks seems to be abnormally good at hearing things.

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