2019-02-08 - TIMELINE 2: This Ordinary Life

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This Ordinary Life

Another day, another Witch, another trip to the mall afterwards. The precious bonds between Puella Magi shine in their ordinary life.


Sayaka Miki, Mami Tomoe, Madoka Kaname, Eri Shimanouchi, Homura Akemi, Kyouko Sakura


Shibuya Shopping Ward

OOC - IC Date:

2/8/2019 - 04-23-14

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Shibuya Shopping Ward +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Any rural ingenue looking to come to the big city and get swept away at       
  first sight would be well-advised to get off at Shibuya Station, where you    
  could fill a high school yearbook with the people teeming over a single       
  crosswalk, and a legion of ten-story department stores offer a choice so      
  broad it resembles existential crisis. Shinjuku might administrate Tokyo,     
  but Shibuya is its style capital. Its densest concentration of boutiques,     
  retailers, and restaurants is bound together by Shibuya Crossing, a bustling  
  pedestrian intersection resembling an even gaudier Times Square.              
  Within walking distance to Harajuku, Shibuya is less whimsical, and far       
  grander. Its most iconic symbol is the Shibuya 109 department store, a        
  cylindrical grey monolith famous even outside of Japan. Each floor of 109     
  has about a dozen shops, and with ten flights of escalator to ascend, it      
  doesn't take a mathematician to realize that even this single store can be a  
  lot to take in. But Shibuya too has its side streets and quirks, and it's     
  not hard to find a chic little cafe to rest in. Those who find themselves     
  energized instead have recourse to the night clubs that trade on Shibuya's    
  stylish reptuation.                                                           
  Shibuya Station has a humbler landmark as well. It was here that the loyal    
  dog Hachiko waited for his owner each day, even after the owner had long      
  since died. A bronze statue of Hachiko waits here still, a reminder that      
  love and loyalty never die.                                                   
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The Birdcage Witch is a pink shadow, vaguely avian, which thunders in a corroded green cage. Lesser birds with eyes like koi fish and beaded necklaces cavort around, swarming beneath the cage sometimes to move it around like tank treads. At other times they leap into the air, only passably capable of flight, to dive-bomb the Puella Magi. Oddly, these familiars only seem to attack when you aren't paying attention to them; otherwise they just nag, tugging at one's legs with little pecks, sometimes snagging a skirt to keep someone from walking away.

It's proven dangerous to be on the ground in this fight, as the Birdcage Witch tends to slam the ground so powerfully as to knock everyone nearby down, or even backwards into an object. The cage itself is difficult to approach or fire into, as it twists and thrashes, tending to break projectiles or dodge musket balls. Witches are never exactly pleased to see you, but they rarely seem this angry.

Sayaka tries to leap through the bars of the cage to have a, well, cage match with the Witch, but the cage twists, smacking her and sending her into the scaley, gleaming mother-of-pearl Labyrinth wall. Coughing, she wipes her mouth and says 'ow' a few times, then tries a different tactic, bounding forward on her musical rings towards the cage door. When it flaps open (as it often does, like an angry yammering mouth), Sayaka leaps through it... and gets caught in it, a loud clang sounding as it snaps shut like a mousetrap on her little body. Sayaka can heal a lot, but there's no way her ribcage survived that sort of--!

But it wasn't her ribcage. Sayaka has her boot planted against the door, her back against the frame, and her leg is struggling to keep it open.

"Hand plea--" Sayaka's struggling groan is cut off as the door cranks harder, trying to close. She drops her sword and grabs onto the frame with both hands, so she can lift her other foot and put it against the door, shoving with both legs to force it open wider.

"Open--for--business!" she sings cheerfully, ramming the door open as far as her legs can reach and holding it there, her bare abdomen quivering with effort.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki transforms into Puella Magi Sayaka!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Back in training, Mami Tomoe discovered: it's not as simple to get the others around high places as she'd imagined might be true. Luckily, though, she and Madoka Kaname have more tricks than that up their sleeves and the difficult Witch before them just means they're going to have to play it carefully. For her part, Mami has been careful, shooting strange birds out of the air as they bother both her and others, staying far out of melee--but right now--

"You got it," Mami answers Sayaka as she asks for a hand, and she looks to Madoka with a fierce nod and a cocky sort of smile. "A bit left to go, right?"

In moments, Mami is in motion, the golden Puella Magi setting aside her rifles to dive past a set of Familiars, to start setting down the starts of ribbons that burst upward in myriad colors to make great gold swaths of fabric, all set up in perfect little lines, all wide enough and waiting for the next step as one-two-three-four and more spring from where her hand taps the 'ground' out here. Maybe they can't assail it directly so easily...

"Madoka-chan! Ready!" Mami calls as from across the way she turns her head back to Madoka, already whirling in place with a rifle to take on Familiars crashing towards her as she stands back up. She gives Madoka a thumbs-up, and a wink, for their fresher members as much as for herself.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Right!" Ah, the boundless confidence of youth.

Then again -- how easily an obstacle is transformed into a chessboard.

"One-two-three, one-two-three!" Madoka calls to the time of a waltz, as her arrows shoot out like so many stars and weave the ribbons into a tight, checkered path. Some squares are gold, and others, those closest to the arrows, are tinged pink.

It provides a more sharable platform than Sayaka's radiant staves.

(Also, it's very pretty.)

"Homura-chan! Ganbatte!!"

After she lands next to Mami, she leans over and cups a hand around her friend's ear so she can whisper into it. "So have you decided next where you want to take her on a date?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The last time the caged witch slammed down, the Puella Magi in green had mistimed her leap, only for the shockwave to lay her sprawling. Groaning as the familiars dive bomb and start to peck, she waves a hand at them defensively. This causes them to fall into a rhythm of annoying rather than becoming a swarm of deadly magpies during Australian swooping season.

Winning back her footing, she snaps down her lash at one that's caught ahold of her skirt and is warping the fabric by sheer determination to keep her attention. Its fish like eyes bulge out of their sockets as the blow glances and it's forced to let go.

Blearily she eyes ahead at the witch whose mouth is currently trying to mash Sayaka into paste, as the girl braces.

There's a strange sort of deja vu right now, to being in the Ohtori Gardens. As if the little bird cage green house had warped into something sinister. Shaking it off with a groan, she dashes forward into a back and forth leaping motion of trying to get closer, having had her efforts deflected by every prior opportunity.

"It's so nice to have someone polite enough to hold the door for us in this day and age." As she seems to offer in complaint, "You'd think we were unwelcome here otherwise."

Though perhaps it's more that she's glad to have someone up front and center when the rest of them prefer to keep their distance.

Seeing the others looking to capitalize upon Sayaka's opening, she decides to take another tack to keep their options open. "You three go on ahead - I'll try to give it something else to think about!"

Rather than trying to attack through the gap Sayaka has created, she leaps up the next time the cage mashes down, running a circuitous route as she sends one lash out not to impact, but to wind around the ever-shifting cage like a lasso that's extending, thorns scraping as they meet metal. The other one she she sends flickering in the opposite direction, winding around the cage down to just above the upper portion of the door.

Holding taut on both lashes, she can't truly hope to crush the cage from the outside in...

...but that was never her intent.

"Thorn-" The girl starts her pronouncement. "-Rosa!"

Despite the attack name, the only thing of roses within it are the thorns. As it seems to invoke something different. A green light extends from her hands as it starts to illuminate each lash. As the light reaches each section the thorns on the lashes they all begin to grow explosively, extending like a hundred thin spears that lance through the bars. For just a moment, transfiguring the witch's cage into something more akin to a wicked iron maiden.

Not all of the thorns will reach it she figures of course. Some are at the wrong angle, and many others are destined to be pruned off the moment they slide through. However even if only one for every dozen prick the pink bird within...

... well perhaps her effort will still be enough to make it sing. More importantly though, it'll make it perhaps a bit harder for the witch to perceive what Mami and Madoka are doing, and try to thwart it.

As Madoka cheers Homura on in, she finds herself smiling besides herself. "Don't even think of blinking right now." She warns the witch, in a way that would seem cruel if it weren't a witch. After all she just tried to jam thorns into its eyes. "Wouldn't want you to miss what happens next."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura's white coat and grey skirt bear scissor-sharp marks of inattention, as tallied by the beaks and claws of beautiful terrible bird-familiars. She's been trying hard like she always does, but the fish-eyed fowl have gotten behind her pretty often. Roman Candles comprised her return volley, and she's scorched more than a few tailfeathers even as she cheered on her friends, ever in awe of how good they are at this. Lots of "Wow"s and round eyes and the occasional worried, "Watch out!"

The latest cage-quake knocked her on her butt; she's become well-acquainted with the ground today, over and over really, but each time she clambers back up, and she's doing it again right now. "Oof... Oh no!"

Sayaka has a way of terrifying Homura with the way she throws herself around in combat, and this is no exception. The meek girl can barely look but forces herself to, and... "Miki-san, you're okay!?" Relief and astonishment all in one, and now they have a chance at an unobstructed shot. Homura has a shieldful of ways to make this shot count, but the forcibly-open cage door is out of reach...

But it's okay, because Mami and Madoka have a plan. Immediately a warmth fills Homura's chest, some admixture of faith and happiness. She can trust in them, and they can trust in her. Madoka calls her name -- gold-and-pink lacework awaits her. "R-right, got it!"

And she runs!

It's an awkward run, with arms flying and glasses bouncing, but every step is safe because Madoka and Mami have her. Partway up the brilliant bridge friendship wove for her Homura puts a hand on her shield and winks out of existence--

--and in the same instant reappears beneath the cage, braids flapping in the air as she falls, and she's emitting a growing, "-eeeeeEEEEEE!!"

  • kah-WHOOM!*

Within those vine-wrapped bars red blooms, flaring bright as the sun for an instant and then burning black. A pipe bomb goes off right in the Birdcage Witch's face (or whatever it has that passes for one, in there), loosing a concussion which engulfs the cage and Eri's lashing thorns...

...and Sayaka. She's not at the center of the explosion, but that doesn't make it better so much as slightly less bad. Oh dear.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka's legs are starting to bend at the knee again, the cage door slowly forcing her down. She was stronger than its torque, but it is tireless, and even a regenerating Puella Magi is not quite that.

"Sank you, Mami-san~" Sayaka sings in reply to the assurance of aid. As of very recently, she gets a little giddy at the slightest interaction with the seniormost Puella Magi, for reasons which were gushingly conveyed to Madoka on the phone after they transpired. Even that distraction causes the door to lurch shut a bit harder, and Sayaka grimaces ruefully, giving the clearly worried Akemi a wink to reassure her. As Eri wraps the cage, Sayaka takes care not to get whipped, but chastens herself for worrying when Eri's aim proves reliable. That girl knows what she's doing.

Tokyo's premiere Puella Magi konbi moves into action, carpeting the area with beautiful ribbons. If it was just those two, Sayaka's confident any witch would go down anyway! Sometimes she feels a little bad for the familiars when the senpai pull off their pink and yellow combos.

Today the tip of the arrow isn't an arrow, though. It's Homura Akemi.

"Woo! Go transfer student!" Sayaka says. It's not intentionally condescending, but it is a bit like praising a child, when she tries to hype up Homura. Sayaka and Eri seemed to take to this much more naturally than the stammering, adorable Homura had. Sayaka loyally holds the door open as Homura reappears. Her eyes widen, though, when she realizes what just happened. "H-hey," she questions, but it's already too late.

The cage briefly, partially implodes, the bars kinking inwards, then erupts in a massive explosion. It's bigger than a pipe bomb ought to be, even, as though the Witch had been flammable. Fragmentation from the bomb itself pelts Sayaka first, puncturing her cape repeatedly, then the erupting boom tosses her like a golf ball, to hit shoulder-first on the ground many meters away and roll, smoking, her white cape and blue hair singed.

The Labyrinth fades quickly, the walls wobbling and dissolving, fisheyed birds mournfully dragged away from the Puella Magi they were interested in into some unknown aether. Back in the park they started in, Sayaka woozily picks herself up off the hill, coughing wretchedly.

"Blech! Hhk! Akemi!" She falls over before she stands up, and chooses to roll onto her back and sit instead. She pinches a lock of her hair when she notices a candle-like bit of flame there. Holes are burnt into her cape.

"That really hurt!" she complains, which ironically shows what a sturdy Puella Magi she is. "Don't you think you should stick to the golf clubs? It's not like we really need your bombs."

She didn't mean it like that. This is just a really strong team! But...

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"You can do it!" Mami chimes in for Homura, along the beautiful path ahead. She is, strictly speaking, both proud of it and happy to see the physical proof of how well she and Madoka work together.

It is pretty, isn't it?

At the whisper Mami quiets to listen gamely, and then brightens. She turns her head just a little bit Madoka's way, murmurs conspiratorially, "I had a few ideas, but I wanted to ask your input first! Taking a turn is a little nervewracking," she admits with a smile and a little giggle before she lifts that first rifle and points it towards an incoming Familiar set on their path.

"Good work!" she calls to Eri next, both for the name and for the quick thinking. Why would she think it strange to be a little harsh on a Witch? It's neessary, after all. Besides, it makes for a good setup; Mami looks to Homura, waiting for the momenht when she'll disappear--

There she is. "Ah--"

Except, Sayaka is still there. "Sayaka-chan!" When Sayaka shows she's not actually too badly injured, Mami is relieved, to be sure--she's been in rather a good mood very recently herself, and that's saying something considering how delighted she tends to be just to be around this group of girls. And yet...

"Hold on," Mami says, walking across the ground of the park towards the hill, briskly and quickly to reach the two girls there. What she was going to say will have to wait. She gives Sayaka a sympathetic--and a bit worried--look. "Sayaka-chan--let me look you over, hm? But let's not rush to say things." Of course Mami will want to check Sayaka over despite the fact that Sayaka's self-healing is more than up to the task.

But first, she lowers her hand to offer it to Homura as help up, with a gentle look. "You did help us quite a bit there. The fight could've dragged out much longer without you--but, maybe in the future, let's work on being more careful with the area of your bombs, hm? It's scary, but being hasty can lead to mistakes. If you can trust yourself, with your power you can take the time you need to make sure that doesn't happen. Right?"

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


"Uehihi--! Sayaka-chan, how bold of you, dating senpai!"

Madoka is in her room, back on the floor, calves on her bed, cell phone to her ear.

"Ah~ I think it's romantic... you two make such a good match!"



"Whaaat?! Of course it's fine for you to date Sayaka-chan, Mami-senpai!"

Madoka is now flopped, belly-down, across Totoro. Her toes chew her blanket. Her hand holds the phone.

"Just... be gentle with her, all right?"

She affects a gruff fatherly voice.

"If you break her heart... I'll kill you."

The effect is ruined by more giggling.


Madoka rushes forward in the aftermath and slings one arm over Homura's shoulders and the other over Sayaka's.

After listening dutifully to senpai's admonition, a tiny smile creeps onto her face.

"It's my fault, Sayaka-chan," she admits, nuzzling her oldest friend and, in so doing, transferring a bit of soot to her own cheek. Madoka doesn't mind. "I'm always talking about how awesome you are as a Puella Magi, the invincible unbeatable Sayaka-chan... it's easy to forget that you can get caught in a bad spot. We shouldn't take you for granted!"

She disentangles herself from both girls in order to produce a ducklings bandaid from her purse (as her ruffles have been replaced with the far less ruffley skirts of an Ohtori middle schooler). "You do have a scratch though... here."

One would expect her to gently pat the bandaid over the offending spot.

Instead she gently pats the bandaid into Mami's hand, bestowing it upon her with a solemn wink.

"Don't you see the scratch, senpai?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The explosion is perhaps even more glorious than Eri expected. After all, she was worried that Homura's first few bombs would be duds given the difficult task of crafting them as a middle schooler. It's not like they had an extracurricular for it! Yet the girl gawks at the bright explosion, "Incredible." Not only does it not disappoint, but it even exceeds expectation, even having to let go of both of her lashes as they're incinerated.

All smiles as the Labyrinth fades, and her henshin switches back to her uniform the girl inhales the fresh air of the park despite it having a light tang of gunpowder and-

"Eh, Sayaka-chan!? What hap- Oh."

Perhaps she thought that Homura Akemi would ferry Sayaka Miki away before it exploded. Obviously that's not the case though.

Caught between wanting to praise Homura and... validating Sayaka's understandable irritation. It's not the easiest to pick a side objectively.

Yet Eri Shimanouchi is not an objective creature. She knows who she sympathizes with right off, and starts to frame her words.

Thankfully Mami steps in first. And Eri decides to follow her and Madoka's compliments on Sayaka's invincibility.

The bandaid feels like just enough escalation for her to slip in her own remarks, "All we need is a little trial and error to figure out what her blast radius is - then there won't be any problem."

Before she puts a finger to her chin, "Oh unless she gets even better at making them."

Perhaps they all suddenly get the mental image of Homura making better and more effective bombs. Sayaka Miki getting caught up in more and more impressive explosions when she thought she was at a safe distance based on her prior ones.

Putting her hands together like she's praying, "Well if that happens we'll reassess."

Before breaking them apart as she waves them almost dismissively, "Anyyyhow! The point is. It was very impressive Homura-chan! I can't believe that wasn't even magic." She tries to emphasize that point a little. Coming up behind her to put a hand on her back, sounding proud. "You've been working so hard, and its really paid off."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura is still really new to fighting. They've practiced this maneuver plenty and executed it a few times in combat, and she spent the whole way up the shining ribbon footpath concentrating on what to do, going over the steps as she does them.

Stop time -- pull out a pipe bomb -- keep running, watch your footing Homura -- find the button on the way -- take aim, visualize the throw -- then THROW and jump clear!

But 'Watch out for Sayaka' was nowhere in her mental steps, and she lost track of the fact that the blue puella was right there -- and between the greying of everything in the time stop and the chaotic tangle of vines and bars, she didn't get a good enough visual reminder to break through her tunnel vision.

She thuds down with a lack of elegance to perfectly contrast with Mami's surfeit, and stays there with a horrified look on her face to see Sayaka come down singed and smoking. "Miki-san, oh no, I... I'm sorry, it was all... chaotic and I totally forgot you were there..." Her stricken look amplifies to hear that about her carefully-made bombs.

"Th-thanks, Tomoe-san..." She takes the offered hand and gets up slowly, head hung low. "Of course, I'll... I'll be more careful. You're right, of course, senpai!" Madoka's arms fall over them both and she starts feeling better -- she's like a pink bridge between them. Homura chances a sidelong look at Sayaka, all guilty-puppy sorry still.

"I'll do lots more practicing," she nods to Eri's suggestion. "It blew up so big this time, I've never seen it like that... but I just need to make more, and practice more. You've all taught me so much... I know I can get it right for you." So earnest, so eager. She'd bow, but there's no way she's ducking away from Madoka's arm and Eri's patting hand.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Miki Matsubara - Stay with Me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-KAY_Glmn4

"I'm okay," Sayaka grumps mildly, but her annoyance is already losing momentum. Mami's authority over the team is unquestionable; if Mami thinks a certain way, Sayaka just assumes that is correct. She locks up like a deer in headlights when Mami mentions checking her over, but thankfully, Madoka arrives as cavalry for both her and the transfer student. Sayaka sighs ruefully; once Madoka's nuzzling her cheek, any prospect of holding this grudge is pretty shot. She only hesitates a second or two, feigning holding out so that Madoka will love on her some more, then breaks into an irrepressible smile and nuzzles back.

"All right, all right. Sorry, Akemi-san. You were pretty cool back there." She offers a fistbump, which will meet right in front of Madoka. When Homura goes for it, though, Sayaka grabs her wrist instead, and pulls her into a triple hug, squeezing the two girls tight for a few seconds.

"This is a pretty good team, huh?" she says, as they disentangle. She prepares to submit to a bandaid from the class nurse, as she has many times before, only to watch, mystified, as Madoka hands it off to Mami instead.

"EHHH?!" she cries, looking to Madoka as if betrayed. She has scratches on her forehead, stomach, forearms...

"Wh-which one?" she demands from Madoka.


Light purple floor tiles, retro neon runner lights on the wall, chromed table edges. The mall food court is largely empty at this time of night, so the Holy Quintet has it mostly to theirselves. Laughter and chattering rise above the soothing backdrop of running water, the nearby coin fountain falling in a slow sheet near knee level. The girls built a nest of snacks and half-finished meals out in the court, but with the first pressing force of hunger addressed, they've started to make expeditions. Right now, Sayaka has put a few coins in the crane machine. She snags Madoka as the shorter girl passes.

"Ne, ne." Sayaka is dressed in a light hooded sweatshirt and a navy cargo jacket, now--just a normal girl like the rest of them, though softball practice had compelled her to change out of her uniform where Madoka had not. "Which one do you think Mami-san would like?" She taps the glass like you shouldn't do at the aquarium, to indicate the multitude of stuffed creatures within.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It is a marvel of composure that sees Mami manage not to collapse into giggling at Madoka's wink there. No, instead she tilts her head and looks at Sayaka appraisingly, as if staring right at such a scratch. "Yes, I do," she remarks solemnly over Sayaka's squeaking retort.

...With Homura feeling better, and Eri bringing up a disturbing mental image indeed, Mami is more than happy to focus on some levity. She will reassure Homura more, naturally. But first...

Mami leaaans close to put that little duck right over Sayaka's nose.


The water's nice. The lights are nice. ...The company is nicer. Mami Tomoe, of course, is dressed immaculately in uniform, amiably finishing her sentence to Homura, "Ah, but this color could be perfect for you!" as she finishes pointing out a display on her way to--who guessed it? A lovely little bake shop that takes up barely a store front, just a counter with lovely desserts behind it. So she suggests to Eri, "Have you tried opera cake before? Maybe i should make us some. --Ah, but it can't hurt to sample a little first, can it...?"

She's definitely coming back with food for the others. Indeed she tuuurns towards where she spotted Madoka and gestures to the case cheerfully before she turns back around. "And let's see... this mousse cake--the pink is just perfect, isn't it?"

...At least it's only slices of each.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.



Madoka grins like the very devil, which is not a typical expression for her -- she might be enjoying her friendshipping a little too much.

"That one, duh," she chortles, pointing out the tiny stuffed knight. Armor with stumpy legs and a sword, it... could be Sayaka. Generously. It's definitely the Sayaka-est. "Ganbatte," she offers by way of goodbye, patting her friend on the shoulder and then continuing on her path.

On her mission.

Her mission... to get Homura the cutest possible barette in the entire mall.

"Ericchi," she wonders, passing by, "Do you think Homura-chan would wear a chara-barrette, or would she be too embarrassed? Should I stick to just... shapes and pretty stones and stuff?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Opera- cake?" Eri repeats, marvelling at the breadth of Mami's baked goods knowledge. "I've never even heard of it..." As she leans over to regard the fancy treat. "...you can really make something like that? ... wow."

The girl pats her hands together as if in thought, "Let's do it. Today is the day to celebrate Homura-chan's contribution to our victory after all." She straightens up, reshouldering her bag. "And besides, I don't need an excuse to figure out if one of your cakes will become my new favorite."

As Mami asks if the pink cake is perfect, the girl leans over, catching a glimpse of Madoka, and smiling. "... you're absolutely right."


As Madoka solicits her help, Eri seems to take the question seriously. There are things she feels Homura Akemi would be insecure about wearing, but it feels like coming from Madoka it would be an exclusion. "Hmm... hmm..."

She thinks about it long and hard, like she's looking at it from multiple angles, before cupping her mouth to whisper, "I think maybe there'd be a few places she'd be nervous about wearing it, but I think... she'd really adore it."

Leaning back, to show off her smile, she decides, "So don't hold back if you find one you think that really suits her."


Now back at the table again, Eri is taking a small bite of the French sponge cake, "Delicious~" She says as she dabs the coffee syrup off her face with a napkin, "I can't wait to try yours."

Yet every so often she finds herself glancing at Homura. Before finally looking down, and tapping out something on her phone surreptitiously beneath the table, she makes eye contact with Homura for a moment, she hits send.

Homura's phone buzzes a moment later. She waits for the other girl to check it, before soliciting the table. "Has anyone seen the restroom around here?" Then slowly, starts to stand up, shouldering her school bag. "Hmm... I'll find it." She starts to slowly walk off.


Not long after. In a secluded corner of a manga store. "You've read that one already too!?"


The two were gone a little long for a bathroom trip, only only just long enough to be slightly suspicious. Returning to her table, she drapes the strap of her bag back over the back of her chair, their bounty secured within. "Now back to that cake..."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> City Girl - Neon Days and Cerulean Nights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H5qZSPtsic

Forgiveness shifts Homura's heart from leaden to feather-light, and how could it stay heavy among friends like these? The corners of her mouth begin wobbling upward when Sayaka Miki says she was cool -- the athletic hero is definitely cool, and as such carries the undeniable power to knight others into the cool kids fold. And a fist bump...!

The smile grows as she goes for it...


...and converts to a little 'o' as she's yanked in for a blue-pink-purple hug! There's no resistance in her, both because she's caught completely by surprise and because she weighs next to nothing, and her braids swing up behind her. She squeezes back, though, flushed with happiness and relief that Sayaka is okay and that she and Sayaka are okay and that everyone is okay. She tucks her head down under both of theirs like a baby chick nestling.

"Yeah," Homura affirms, still smiling out her contentment like a little beam as they separate, and the expression is for all of them. It changes her whole face. Happiness is beautiful on the porcelain girl. "The very best team ever."


"Opera cake?" Homura echoes Eri and peers around Mami, curious what that might be. "I'll eat anything you make, Tomoe-san!" A truth she has demonstrated every time they go over to Mami's place for tea and desserts. Her eyes end up lingering on the mousse cake.

  • bzzzt bzzzt*

That catches Homura's attention, though she'd been missing the significant glances thanks to cake-goggles. "Ehh?" She pulls out her phone in its shiny purple case, hits the button. Looks at Eri. Looks down at her phone. "Oh! Um. Right. The bathroom. Right! It's... ah, I think it was this way..."

Very discreet, Akemi.


"It's... ah, I saw it in an early compilation preview!" She really needs to check the release dates of her favorite issues before chattering about them like they're already out... "But I think you'll like this one, Shimanouchi-san..."

She knows for a fact Eri will like it because it was one of their favorites, last timeline, and she cannot wait to get into it again in this one. Maybe it's a bit less shiny because she knows what's going to happen... but any ground lost to novelty is more than made up by leaning shoulder-to-shoulder in the manga shop together like they're old friends. Homura even kind of feels that way, now.


When they come back the smile has taken up permanent residence on Homura's face, like it belongs there. "I hope we didn't miss the cake... Oh, did Miki-san win her toy yet?" She looks around for Madoka, for the simple reason that she is happy and that makes her want to share that feeling with her.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

This was Sayaka's idea, but still, the idea of getting Mami something that represents herself...

The idea that Mami's favorite stuffed animal now might be Sayaka...

"H-hey!" she protests as Madoka retreats. "Is that your serious answer, or...?" Sayaka sighs, turning back to the machine. She eyes the knight for a few seconds. But you know, boldness has served her well so far. The last time she pushed herself out of her comfort zone, she accidentally ended up dating the prettiest girl in school. Hitting the START button decisively, Sayaka starts manuevering the crane arm.

First the crane arm drops it. Then it can't pick it up at all, twice in a row. The third and fourth times, it almost makes it to the hole, but drops it just before. The fifth time, she can't even get ahold of it.

Sayaka sighs, looking back over at Mami tending to Eri and Homura's dessert palates. This is kind of silly... she could have bought Mami a present at this rate, like Madoka is buying Homura a present.

W-wait a sec. Just how similar are these two situations?!

Sayaka pushes the surprising thought down as Eri and Homura return from the bathroom. She sees Homura looking over to check her progress, and grimaces. Everybody knows what she's up to but Mami, probably...

Yeah, she should just save her money. Sayaka looks over to Mami, to think about what other present she could get. The difficulty is, Mami is really, really attractive. Sayaka blushes madly and swings back around when Mami makes eye contact.

"All right. One more try," she tells the machine. Young hearts are easy prey for evil capitalism.

Sayaka steers the arm, concentrating hard. The arm dips, and grasps the knight by the leg. There seems no way such a tenuous grip will make it all the way, but Sayaka doggedly guides the knight up, up... when the arm has withdrawn fully to the top, she winces at the lurch, expecting the knight to drop. Bizarrely, the knight instead slaps up into the very top of the grasping fingers, as if it somehow 'bounced.' Confused, Sayaka hurriedly guides the arm along, as the pathetically weak fingers begin to lose their grasp. Almost, almost...

When it gets over the hole and drops in, Sayaka whoops. Still feeling strange about her luck, she glances around as if seeking an explanation, her eyes passing briefly over Homura.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura shifts where she stands -- which is half a step to the left of where she had been, but she was behind everyone else so the discrepancy escapes notice -- and hides a screwdriver behind her back.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Well, whatever.

Jogging up to Mami proudly, Sayaka calls her name a few times as she approaches, her hoodie bouncing behind her jacket collar. "Look," she says, happily at first, but the embarrassment catches up to her as she lifts the stuffed knight. "I, ahem, I got it for you, sen..."

Sayaka stops herself, reminds herself with a glance at Mami's eyes. The tall tomboy lifts her wrist to offer the knight a bit more firmly to her glamorous new girlfriend, her chin tilted down to shield her from the eye contact she's maintaining.

"Mami-san," she corrects, trying to play off her blush by clearing her throat gruffly.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami beams again Madoka's way as she turns to the case, and then answers Eri brightly, "That particular style takes a lot of practice--the trick is patience, because you have to work up each layer and place them carefully. It's not an everyday sort of recipe."

She smiles, laughs softly, "Well, so long as I have someone signed up to try it..." She turns to Homura, "Two someones! I know I can count on you, Homura-chan. Though... it's not so bad to sample some myself. One learns this way."

They can both see the way the other is great, right? And Mami is not at all concerned about the need for Eri and Homura to do... something.


Mami's contribution to the Plan: Barette, naturally, is to spend that set of moments pointing out the umbrella she'd noticed--the rainy season is nothing to joke about, after all, and that particular violet--


"You didn't miss it," Mami offers Homura helpfully. "Of course, it'll take me time and home to go make one, but there is a bakery right here..." Mami has a couple of delicate bags of fancy slice boxes. Because of course she does. The bakery is at least rather good.

She has not quite noticed the work of the machine in the meantime--no, not until she is close enough for Sayaka to jog to, and Mami turns as she hears her name. "Hm?" she asks, and her eyes light up as she sees the little knight. "Oh!" Mami answers, delighted, pausing only when Sayaka stops herself, and smiles a little wider when she hears the difference. "She's wonderful, Mami declares immediately, taking her knight and giving her a hug under one arm. Madoka's devilish work is paying off already as Mami beams to the others in turn, showing off her new prize as if--

...Well, as if she knew how hard Sayaka had worked for it, really.

She looks brightly for a certain pink-haired girl too...

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka gives Mami and Sayaka a double thumbs up; one for the gift and one for the receipt.

Then she rummages around in her bag for her own offering. On Mami's advice it is purple, and on Eri's advice it is a chara.

On nobody's advice is it from one of Homura's favorite mangas.


Madoka and Homura's bookbags knock against each other as they're set down under the bridge.


Madoka is doodling at school when she notices Homura surreptitiously looking at something in her desk.


Madoka, alone at home, is back on Totoro (this time they're back to back, in fact), crosslegged and, like many girls her age, nose-deep in a beautiful tale of romance and wonder.

Glancing up at the ceiling, she wonders why Homura seems to feel the need to hide such an extremely normal hobby.


"This is for you," she says to her friend, opening up the little ring-like-box it came in so she can see it properly. "I saw it, and thought of you..."

After all, it's extremely cute.

A faint shadow of uncertainty lingers in Madoka's eyes. "Is it... okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"So it's for special occasions then..."

And the way she says it, makes it really clear that that Eri agrees this might just be one of them.


Seeing Sayaka's pinkened cheeks, and hearing her with her own ears.

Eri Shimanouchi promptly reaches up from the table to place the back of a hand against the side of Sayaka's forehead. Holding it there for a moment.

Then withdrawing it. "She doesn't feel feverish." The girl comments to Homura and Madoka, with a certain amount of wonder of the substitution of -senpai for -san.

However Mami's reaction is more than just positive. With the way she hugs her knight, and the girl looks between them. Puzzled. She's about to ask if she missed something to the others, when she notices Madoka pulling the box out of her bag with her hand.

And Eri aborts from asking that question instantly.

It's a strange sort of situation where she can't read the room for Sayaka and Mami, but can for Madoka and Homura.

Right now though, she has to watch this. To fill the gap though, she checks her phone.

... and maybe, just maybe, keeps that camera app open.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Here's what happened:

Homura saw Sayaka's frustrated gift-for-Mami ambitions and, both enchanted and amazed by the very idea of them dating -- especially after poring over romantic shoujo manga with Eri -- she would not stand for it. Alsooo she still felt kinda bad about that whole friendly fire-bomb incident. Cue a step back to get out of sight and a time stop!

She spent a few timefrozen minutes examining the crane machine from all angles, then dashed off to fetch a stepladder and a screwdriver from the hardware shop a few blocks down. With her black-clad legs kicking over the opened top of the crane game and her top half dunked inside the glass, she managed to get things properly finagled.

That done, she tucked the stepladder away with plans to return it once the night was over. Back in place (or close enough), she put a hand on her shield... And looked at Madoka.

'We aren't supposed to use our magic for ourselves like that... ne?'

But this game is rigged, Homura temporized to herself. The math whiz has always had a special interest in statistics, and crane games are notorious. She's just evening the odds, making it fair when it was never fair to begin with. That's okay, surely. Still...


...back in the cheerful technicolor of the realtime mall she hides that screwdriver when Sayaka looks around, stuffing it up one sleeve of her uniform.

"Nothing bought in a store could ever compare to your baking," Homura tells Mami, sincerity shining in her eyes. "But... there is a bakery right here. And maybe it's nice for you to get to just have a slice...?"

The bestowing of the crane-game knight takes rightful center stage, and Homura takes that moment to slip the screwdriver into her bag. Then she trots back up and takes her place beaming at Mami and Sayaka just like the rest -- and she gets this secretive little thrill from knowing she helped this moment happen. Like she got to be Santa Claus, or something.

Looking around for Madoka, Homura is instead found by her, and purple eyes soften with gladness. When the ring-like-box comes out she looks at it, then at her best friend, then at the box again, and... Homura's cheeks make a bid to match Madoka's hair and overshoot.

The box opens and she gasps and freezes in place -- like Madoka somehow stopped her instead of Homura stopping time.

"It's.. it's...!" No shadows in Homura's eyes: they glow, she glows. The eyes are just a bit extra bright because they're a bit wet, too. She doesn't finish, and the box gets smooshed between them because she's throwing her skinny arms around Madoka and hugging her tightly. A little "eeeee" sound emits from her, right by the other girl's ear.

Maybe she didn't finish what she was saying, but the answer is definitely "Yes."

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

She's hunched at a mochi stand, slight of frame and long of hair. Framed in scarlet, within and without. She's pent up, as is her way, but little of that shows in the moment. To any passerby, she's just a red haired girl with an empty stomach and a full wallet.

She waits. patiently enough. The clerk matches her energy, and then some. An old man with cheerful crinkles at the corners of his eyes...she can't say if he's kind to everybody, or just to her. But he's kind to her, playing up her terse assertions to string together something like a conversation from the slim pickings she's offered. And then...she'd ordered six pieces and he brought her eighteen. Her brow furrows. She's been denied enough asked for favors to be suspicious of a spontaneous boon.

"For your friends," he explains. "A precious thing. Please, don't take them for granted."

Kyouko stares a slight, but doesn't hesitate in pulling the tray towards her. She turns, and sees a cheerful group of five girls. She'd passed them before, that night. Outside the arcade...she'd glimpsed a flash of golden hair before, and the same spun cones caught her gaze before. Her eyes linger upon them, and the girl who wears them, and then she looks back to the plate offered up to her in unexpected charity.

She breathes in, and out, all through her nose and heavily. She'd come wanting, and was not the sort to deny an appetite, let alone to risk waste. But she felt a compulsion and was not one to ignore her instinct.

"They seem good enough" she thinks to herself. "Worthy enough. Good for them. If it's for them then it's for them." She shifts from her stool, climbing to her feet, muttering with an air of slight distraction to the clerk.

"Yes...for friends. I have to step out, can you take it to them yourself? Thanks."

She closes her eyes, and breathes out from her nose, rubbing its bridge between forefinger and thumb. She's already turned and started on her way out the door before she opens up her gaze again. Her attention sidesteps only once before she leaves, flickering over to the five, feeling a pang of something that she sets aside before she can give a name to its shape, and wishing them well before purging them from her attentions entirely.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Idly, Eri Shimanouchi snaps a picture. There's a synthetic whirr as she examines the still frame of Homura hugging Madoka.

Just to the side of it in the background is Mami holding her knight beside Sayaka Miki.

The girl examines it for a moment before deciding...

"Special occasion indeed."

With her other hand she scoops up another bite of the syrupy opera cake.

However, then she catches sight of a fiery mane in the background of the picture, the tiny tasting spoon still in her mouth. Perhaps it's merely an impulse, but she uses two fingers to zoom in. Again. Then further, allowing the digital smart phone to auto-adjust the resolution to focus on an image of her in profile.

She's still staring at this picture with a thoughtful look for a while after, as she takes the spoon out of her mouth. There's nothing suspicious sliding about within her thoughts. She's just... regarding it with a certain unknown emotion.

Maybe it's because she's trying to read the look on her face.

There's nothing suspicious about extra snacks arriving either. Obviously one of them ordered for the rest of them but was too embarrassed to name herself.

In that, she has suspects.