2014-03-16 - Derive While You Prove

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Title: Derive While You Prove

Study group, angst, troll rose, gossip, geometry, vector calculus, and Juri Arisugawa.


Mamoru Chiba, Ami Mizuno, Eri Shimanouchi Asagao Uekawa, Juri Arisugawa


Ohtori Academy library!

OOC - IC Date:

Studying-for-finals week!

It's like Mamoru's been living in the library when he hasn't been out running around on the rooftops or in class. He could probably use more sleep, and there are rumors that his laptop there, next to the pile of books, has melted into the surface of the tabletop. They are only rumors.

This evening, he's sitting at a table next to a blue-haired eighth grader in a Juuban uniform; probably looks like good ol' Chiba-senpai's tutoring someone.

"--are you sure, Mizuno-san? I tested the result using the divergence theorem, but I'm not finding a delta function," Mamoru says in mild alarm, looking at Ami and gesturing at his laptop screen, where there's a crapton of vector calculus cluttering it up.

He's leaning his head on one fist, which has his glasses slightly askew, so they fall off when his phone buzzes against the table and he starts.

Glance. Thumb response to text while conversing.

Like a boss.

"Functions weren't this much of an issue last year," he complains.

"They're important, though," Ami says, trying to be encouraging. She scoots a little closer to Mamoru, leaning in toward his screen and starting to try to sort through the vector calculus. There has to be /something/ off here -- but what it is isn't casually obvious to her, which means she has to lean in really close and start sifting through.

"And -- I'm fairly sure..." She takes a breath, fretting for just a moment even as she starts going over everything on the screen with a fine-toothed comb. "Everything /else/ has been working out... hasn't it? Maybe we just have an input error somewhere..." She begins to worry that it's an input error on /her/ part -- something unfamiliar about his keyboard, or something.

After a few seconds, she takes a deep breath... and starts reviewing it a second time.

What do you do when the foundation of your life starts crumbling? Each spidery crack trailing upwards, until you see that the edifice above won't survive if this continues.

It's a great question. One which Eri wished she had the answer to. She'd spent the night with someone who had at least calmed her down, helped her begin to process those emotions. For now, she found the best way was to remove herself from the situation. From the system of beliefs that were just barely holding together. To examine them from the outside in, like some insect in amber. Or a soul gem in her palm. Cradling it, rocking it back and forth, staring at it as if to ask 'Is this my life now?'

That answer was far easier. 'Yes.' If only she knew how much the answer was yes.

People walked around her on campus as she sat on a bench in the garden, talking about how they did on their finals. She seemed disconnected with them. She'd gone through the first day of finals with all of the animation of an automaton.

Which is when a cell phone buzzed angrily in her pocket. She let it for a while, before it finally broke her out of her reverie, as she punched in the access code and stared at the message. For some reason one emotion managed to break through all of that. Irritation. Before.. what had happened, happened, she'd poured through every book on roses she could find on campus to try and locate taxonomy of a single breed of roses. And because she could find nothing, because of the characteristics of the rose he'd given her... she'd come to several conclusion about Mamoru Chiba.

None of these conclusions are very nice. "So thoughtless.." She stated bitterly, as she put the cell phone back up, gripping the fabric of her skirts.

When she showed up later, she waved in a friendly manner even if she held no smile upon her features. "Chiba-senpai. Ami-san. It's good to see you both. Thank you for the invitation." Besides her books, she held a flower pot, wrapped loosely and delicately with opaque green paper to cover all sight of it. A faint floral scent drifted through the air. She set it down beside her casually, like it held no meaning and it was beneath notice compared to studying. Once she was comfortable in her seat she started to arrange her books in front of her. Opening her mathematics notes, she peered over at Ami's notes, then Mamoru's screen. "I'm not sure I'll be able to offer any insight until I look over the problem in depth."

Ami's notes, and Mamoru's screen, which Ami is practically leaning across his lap to see-- until he tilts the screen back a little more and slides it so the keyboard's more easily accessible to her. Because leaning like that can't possibly be comfortable! "It's probably my error," he says, stifling a yawn just thinking about how late he's going to be up tonight; he sounds rueful, but not unhappy. "Here, no, I'll just look at it again later after clearing my head. And maybe some espresso. Let's work on your next problem..."

And then Eri's walking up and waving, and he waves back cheerfully. "Shimanouchi-san. Don't worry about it, I'm declaring a moratorium on the divergence theorem on account of unidentified stupid mistake." He glances at the covered flower pot curiously; he doesn't look at all like he's trolling. "What did you--?" he starts, tilting his head.

Ami glances at Eri, noticing that something seems to be up; she almost opens her mouth as if to comment on it, but decides that that friendly demeanor is enough. Some days, something's up and you just don't want to talk about it, right? And besides -- it would be so rude of her to intrude if Eri's just feeling a little stressed over finals.

Glancing back to Mamoru, Ami nods, saying, "If you're sure..." with a small frown. For her, this is like admitting defeat... but she doesn't have the force of personality to insist, either. She takes a second to breathe, then says, "Actually... I think it might be best to start with Shimanouchi-san's problems, if that's all right? I need a moment to get my notes in order again..."

There's no smile, nor any smugness to her tone, Eri simply states neutrally, "We're here to study for finals, aren't we, Chiba-senpai? If it's a distraction then can place it out of sight until we're finished."

She's apparently placed a moratorium on calling attention to it as well. After all, it wasn't some white elephant standing in the corner was it? It's just a pot of flowers.

Folding her hands over her notes ponderously, she looks up at him, "Anyhow, I'm afraid that I'm not as familiar with calculus as Mizuno-san and yourself, so it's probably fortunate for me that you've placed a moratorium on it." She nods in appreciation to Ami, "Thank you Ami-san."

Instead she turns to problems more along the lines of some relatively difficult geometry problems. Difficult for her at least. She was relatively intelligent but she wasn't a 300 IQ genius, nor had her studying been entirely up to par late due to.. Puella Magi life. Murmuring the problem aloud she taps her pen idly, "I'm not certain how to prove that triangle BDE here is isoceles when ABC is a right-angled triangle here..." She turns it towards them so they could look over the problem.

"Good idea, Mizuno-san," says Mamoru, flipping his laptop closed as Ami straightens up and starts collecting herself. He eyes Eri for a moment, regarding that neutral face. He comes to the conclusion that it can't possibly be something he did, because they'd only met the once, and he sent her on

on a

a snipe hunt.

Oh crap.

Flushing faintly, the upperclassman adjusts his glasses and scoots the book closer to himself and Ami, then points with his eraser. "This one here? The one thing you need to remember about proofs is that everything in a textbook's already been proven. The object's not to be creative, but to be able to discern the patterns used to construct proofs for any given geometric statement-- and that's not going to happen unless you eat, sleep, and breathe geometry. So for the purpose of finals, don't be shy about referencing previously proven statements. Do you need to do these in two-column or paragraph, and does your teacher allow auxiliary lines?"

He's talking awfully fast. And not looking up at Eri at all.

Ami decides to let Mamoru take point on helping Eri -- not because she's unconfident in herself or in her geometry talents, but because Mamoru probably needs the confidence booster. He is, after all, receiving study help from a middle-schooler and having difficulties -- while Ami's a known quantity and no slouch academically, she can certainly imagine a universe in which he finds it a little embarrassing and needs a second to feel like he's smart and awesome.

"Proofs are very difficult -- I have some trouble with them as well," Ami offers, quietly. "Chiba-san is right -- it's as much about learning the patterns as actually constructing the proof..."

Coming back into the library, her stuff abandoned at a table about an hour ago, Asago drifts in looking recharged and refreshed - far better for her coffee break than she was without! She's got a science book in her hand, thumb marking the place, and...

Oh look, a larger study group has formed! ... And Chiba-senpai is there. With more Juuban students!

Drifting close to the group, Asagao kind of looms up behind Mamoru, peering at him somewhat suspiciously. "You seem to be back to yourself, Chiba-senpai," she says with all the friendly concern of a raised eyebrow.

Not only did he send her on the botanical version of a snipe hunt, he did it just before her life started to crumble into so many pieces. Still. What if snipes were real?

Miracles and Magic. They're a thing in this world.

They're just not always pleasant.

Despite Mamoru's rambling she was hanging onto every word. Every word. Even if she was irritated and annoyed with him, there were worse things then having a handsome senpai teaching her. "She allows auxiliary lines, thankfully. Let me refer to my previous notes.. the problem is that line AC right here is supposed to connect the two together..." Rifling through her binder, she looks through a series of similar problems and proofs. "I'm certain you're being modest Ami-san. You're far better at this than I am."

As she rifled through the notes of her binder, the opaque paper shifted in response to the displacement of the air, what lay beneath caught the lighting of the room just right, to give it that faint luminescence, so subtle that one might doubt it even existed. ...and then the paper just dropped back into place.

As Asagao enters, Eri nods to her classmate. They didn't know each other well, as Eri was only familiar with a handful of them, but she at least knew her name. "Hello there Uekawa-san. I didn't know that you were familiar with Chiba-senpai. Please, join us." She says in a friendly manner, even if it was lacking any sort of real cheer. Taking the flower pot off the chair beside her, she puts it beneath her own chair, to offer her a seat.

The saddest piece of it all: the snipe hunt was simply a hook to let him help Eri and Ami study without it looking like he was coming up out of nowhere to help them study because Ami's nice and if she was hanging out with Eri then Eri must be nice and spending time helping nice people is occasionally preferable to being alone or being distant. Oh cruel fate and fateful timing!

Mamoru's eyes track the pot of planted curiosity until it's out of sight, and then he goes back to looking at the problem-- with a wry glance sidelong at Ami's modesty. That wry glance is enough to have his peripheral vision catch that faint luminescence, and so he's not doing match at all when Asagao comes up behind him. He's fixed on staring at the pile of paper.

Which means he's startled again. "A-aah?" he makes a slightly distressed sound, looking up over his shoulder. Oh. Whew. Oh. Wait. "Uekawa-san," he says lamely. "Hello. Sit with us, yes. I have no idea what you're talking about. Have some proofs."

There is the sound of wind in trees -- no, but rustling all the same, motion from many, many students, all turning their heads as one.

Perhaps they are looking at the spotlight that just ignited -- no, but brilliant all the same, an existing sunbeam alighting upon curls of an impossible red-gold, igniting to the blaze of the setting sun.

The approach of Juri Arisugawa, Student Council Treasurer, parts the sea of studying students as though they were the swirling waters and she the best-looking Moses of all time. Her heels click briskly against the polished floor as she crosses the chamber, her stride intent, a determined trajectory. Juri never meanders, at least not outside the abyss of her own mind.

She seems to be on a direct course to the Juuban-invaded study table. Her expression is solemn, even severe; regal eyebrows in a steady line across her brow, stormy-sea eyes icy, unknowable.

As she gets closer, it is apparent that she is carrying an envelope. It looks to be quite heavy and full.

Glancing up toward Asagao as she enters, Ami gives a small, pleasant wave. "Hello -- please, sit down, ah... Uekawa-san, was it?" She smiles, gesturing for her to indeed sit down on the offered seat. It's a very unobtrusive gesture...

... that is almost entirely drowned out when Juri arrives. She snaps up, looking like nothing quite so much as a startled prairie dog as the students part and Juri steps smartly forward. After a second, she remembers to blink.

She doesn't even think to acknowledge Eri's compliment; she's a deer in the headlights, struck dumb by the presence of Ohtori's leading lady.

"Mmm hmmm," is Asagao's reply to Mamoru 'having no idea what she's talking about.' Her eyes narrow even slightly more, and she looks over at Ami - "Do you know a Usagi Tsukino? She goes to your sch--"

Before she can finish her question though, a member of the Student Council appears!

Asagao tends to flee and meld into the scenery during times like this, but gods help her the treasurer is headed *straight for them.* So instead of fleeing, she falls completely silent and takes the offered chair without another word.

This too, shall pass.

It was like watching a unicorn approach. And Eri suddenly found herself trembling. She didn't tend to ever get close to the upper crust of Ohtori's high society.

And Juri's reputation.. she got a teacher fired!

She felt as if her nerves couldn't take another blow at the moment. So instead she demures, keeping her gaze downcast, her tongue catching in her throat, unable to say anything.

And as per habit, Mamoru reflexively covers, determined to tank the aggro for the tableful of scared girls even if it means getting stabbed-- in this case, possibly with politics. He stands politely, though absurdly comparatively tall; it certainly looks like standard respect, since she's headed directly for them. It functions as an invisible spotlight.

"Arisugawa-san," he greets the Student Council Treasurer as she nears them; he looks politely expectant. There's no sense of him waiting to get shot or anything, only the pleasant confidence of a clear conscience.

Juri misses nothing; not the notes, not the presence of Mamoru's laptop, which wouldn't be necessary for geometric proofs, not Mizuno's affiliation nor Uekawa being only a recent arrival. Her gaze settles on each student in turn, and equally in turn, she grants them the barest nod of acknowledgement.

And... names, in her rich, nuanced voice. SHE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE. No one knows if Juri has ever sung outside of Music class, or what she sounded like within it, since it just blended in with the rest. It's easy to imagine her singing opera, though. She's got the range, and the gravitas.

"Chiba-san." Not -senpai, but if it's any consolation she doesn't call Touga that, either, no one has any memoru of Juri having someone she respects enough to call such a thing. She doesn't so much look up at him as through him, as though all of his efforts to shield the girls are laid bare to her, and she is not impressed by his ability to do so.

"Shimanouchi-san." Not -chan; if there's anyone in the world that she's affectionate enough toward to call with that suffix, they have also been lost to time. She doesn't seem to care whether or not Eri meets her eyes.

"Mizuno-san." Yup, she knows the visitor as well, perhaps due to her being a Japanese academic celebrity. Or maybe she just stays up alone in her room at night memorizing the yearbooks from all three sister schools, while nursing a glass of wine and cursing love.

"...Uekawa-san." She turns at last to the person she's actually here to see, and extends the envelope gravely. "This is the disbursement from the Sister Schools Initiative allocated to the Ohtori Crafts Club. As you know, the club will be in charge of decorations for several of the social events in Hokkaido. See to it that it reaches the appropriate hands."

It's like $10,000 in hard cash yen.

She might just DIE, right here and right now. She has been *acknoweledged*, and so she blushes. Quite fiercely! But then... oh no. Oh, Gods no.

Clearing her throat and trying not to choke on nerves and flight instinct, Asagao stands up and immediately bows at the waist, reaching her hands underneath the envelope.

"Yes, Arisugawa-senpai," Asagao gets out, barely managing not to stutter. "Thank you, Arisugawa-senpai. I'll make sure this gets to our club treasurer, Arisugawa-senpai."

The fact that she's known by this woman -- who she is only /very/ dimly aware of, being a Juuban student -- puts Ami even more on edge. Her posture straightens even further, and she stares, transfixed. For a moment, she forgets to even breathe.

It's not until after the money has been handed over that she turns her gaze to Asagao again, taking a deep, steadying breath in, as if remembering that any part of her body functions whatsoever. "Ah... yes -- Usagi-chan and I are friends," she says. The fact that she says Usagi-chan -- considering she's given Eri 'Shimanouchi-san' -- speaks volumes in and of itself. "Why do you ask...?"

At first her face showed that she was locked up, as if they had test patterns or blue screens of death on her eyes as Juri begins to speak. But that changes with a wince as her name is called out, and Eri's internal reaction is, 'How am I not beneath her notice!?'

Then the scarier possibility hits her, that nothing is beneath her notice. But even being within her notice doesn't equate to much. The trembling increases slightly. Even not knowing of Juri's extreme competency in the supernatural world, there were still a great many things that could shake her in her civilian life. It's a delayed reaction, but she feels since she's being acknowledged she at least has to respond. Her tongue does catch, like some sort of awkward mess of peanut butter had just been shoved in her mouth, causing her to stammer a little "A-Arisugawa-senpai."

She wished she could just retreat back to her garden. Where life was simpler. And then she realized that even that haven was something she had already resolved to give up, causing her to fall into another silent fit of depression, mingling with the fear. Fortunately, Juri wasn't here to see her, or at least.. she hoped she wouldn't turn to other business.

Right! That didn't work! But-- Juri's here to specifically scare the crap out of Asagao, so Mamoru just looks faintly amused and a little resigned. When it's clear that that's the conversation going on, absolutely the most polite thing to do is not pay attention, so he takes his seat again and moves it slightly, the better to see Eri's notes again.

And take a better look at Eri, while she's distracted. It's the same kind of brief analytical intensity he was pouring on Ami last time, but this time it's coming up with wildly different results. Then he looks back at the notes and pulls her textbook over, flipping toward the back, where the examples are. Then, finger on the applicable one, he taps her notes with his pencil's eraser. "Here," he says quietly, "these are the ones that deal with that comparison."

Juri gives Asagao a second nod. It causes her curls to flex and retract in the most minute bounce that somehow performs its full motion with literally not a hair out of place.

If she notices Eri's wince, she's kind enough, or indifferent enough, not to acknowledge it, simply including her through metaphysical nod technique in Asagao's.

Her gaze snaps to one side as Ami says 'Usagi-chan', and she gives the blue-haired scholar a second once-over. It can't be more thorough than the first time because she's always thorough, but even so. "Ah, you know Tsukino? Please give her my regards." Wow, a 'please', even, though the words were as coolly delivered as ever.

"Good luck on your final exams, everyone."

Without waiting for a reply, she turns on her heel and stalks out of the library, already off on her next quest.

"I -- I'll be certain to do that!" comes Ami's reply to Juri, with a firm nod. "It was, ah -- very good to see you, Arisugawa-senpai. Meet you." She takes a few more steadying breaths, even though Juri hadn't even been looking at her when she said that. Is this what it's like to be at Ohtori, surrounded by people with such a dizzying presence?

She closes her eyes for a moment, steadying herself with her fingers planted neatly on the table. When she snaps her attention back to reality, she says, "I -- um... where were we? We were on -- proofs?" She lets out a small sigh as her muscles finally, earnestly relax again.

Despite her previous annoyance with Mamoru, she was.. grateful for the distraction. Grateful enough that she felt a twinge of guilt. Not much of one, but it was there...

She looks back at the notes, raising her pencil to slowly begin to write. She had no idea if what she was writing was even coherent. All she knew is that it allowed her an excuse to take her attention off the unicorn. There is a moment where she stops writing when she mentions Usagi's name, but Eri didn't know Usagi other than.. 'that girl that was at Madoka's birthday party who was way too fond of the odango.'

And once Juri was gone, and as Ami speaks up again, she states, "I'm.. sorry, but I should go. I have to finish unpacking." Wait, unpacking for what? Was she moving /in/ somewhere during finals week? That's rather strange.

She starts putting up her things slowly, eventually placing the flower pot on the table and sliding it over to Mamoru, "These are for you by the way, Chiba-senpai." Again, her voice was neutral, despite a small hint of depression in her eyes. She'd won no victory whatsoever. For indeed.. as her life stood now..

It felt like she'd never win any victories, ever again.

She continued putting up her things, saying nothing.

"Proofs," echoes Mamoru after Ami, distractedly; he watches Asagao leave, and then Juri, and is about to offer something encouraging about what Eri's writing when she says she has to go. He shuts his mouth, watching her again, briefly giving Ami an uncertain 'uh, you probably know better how to deal with this problem, too' look.

When Eri puts the plant on the table, Mamo stands up again to slide it the rest of the way, curiosity warring with concern; he unwraps it, blinks, and stares.


too perfect

shimmering almost-iridescence on the petals...

How the hell did Eri do that?

Mamoru's expression of absolute gobsmacked bluescreen shock when he sees the rose is, in itself, a victory for Eri. When he looks up at her, his eyes are wide, his countenance unnerved. "You-- you found somewhere they grow? Where??"

Yes, Ami: it's the same rose that he showed the two of them a picture of, less than a week ago. The impossible rose, the rose from nowhere that glimmers when hit by the light. And it's growing in a flower pot.

And then abruptly, Mamoru's hand's on top of Eri's book, and he's looking at her with all the controlled intensity of (yes this is what it's like at Ohtori most of the time) someone with an exfoliating hurricane of presence. "Never mind that. If you need help with something, call me, because I owe you."

Ami gets to relax. Mamoru's turn to be wound tight.

After a few seconds of staring a little blankly at the petals around the rose, Ami glances to Eri in earnest. Her statements invite hundreds, thousands of questions... and Ami doesn't feel like she's the one who should be asking them. She doesn't think she knows Eri well enough -- it'd be impossibly presumptuous to pry.

So her eyes, then, return to Mamoru, and to the rose. "It's gorgeous... to be honest, I wasn't sure it really existed, even," she says, quietly. "This is really impressive, Shimanouchi-san... it's incredible. Not just that you found it, but that it's so well-cared for..."

She glances back over to Mamoru, noticing how unnerved /he/ is. She offers one final, "Thank you for coming, Shimanouchi-san," as the other girl continues packing up her things.

To be fair. It's not the same Rose. Eri could probably conjure up the same rose briefly but she couldn't make it permanent. No, what she did was grow some existing seeds rapidly. Made some changes as they grew. And did it in a pot for that intimate touch of container gardening. She took some liberties on some details, because there's only so much she could figure out from a picture that up until this point she thought was probably photoshopped by someone who had way too much time on their hands.

But his enthusiasm makes it clear that it wasn't photoshopped.

This gives her pause, she considers the other possibilities, and if she weren't suffering all sorts of mental breakdowns she might have touched upon the possibility that he was searching for magical roses from the start. And there was cognitive dissonance in the question itself. Where they grew? In any garden. Where the ones he sought grew? ...she hadn't the first clue. Instead, she looks up, and states simply, "I grew them." It wasn't a lie. "Any other details about this we'll have to discuss another time." A hand touches down upon her book, her eyes quiver, this isn't how this was supposed to go at all! She just thought he'd be surprised that his little photoshop prank was thwarted. Not.. not like she had just hung.. well not the moon, not that most brilliant of jewels, but maybe one of the stars. "I-It's alright, you don't owe me a t-thing..." She wipes away at her eyes. "And, thank you Ami-san.. it's.. not that i-impressive.."

She works the book out from under Mamoru's hand, putting it up. "I-I should go. I'll see you b-both sometime soon."

The pace at which she retreated wasn't slow enough to maintain some dignity, but fast enough to show.. that really nothing was alright with her at all.

Unlike Juri she had no wine, but she did spend the night cursing love. She ad libbed sobbing into her pillow.