2019-02-20 - TIMELINE 3: On Truancy and Truth

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Title: TIMELINE 3: On Truancy and Truth

In which the Disciplinary Executive pays a housecall.


Kasagami Araki and Homura Akemi


Homura's apartment

OOC - IC Date:

2019-02-20 - 2014-09-12

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

Her building is a relic surrounded by renovations. The narrow flatiron rises pale over dark cobbles, and black iron curlicues adorn the lampposts lining only its side of the street. The clear glass panes enclosing the streetlamp bulbs like a child's hands might fireflies bear scratches which queer the light cast out and down from them.

Newer construction dominates the rest of the block, sleek angles and plate glass windows looming over her address's humbler street-facing two stories. Its height is the only humble thing about its construction, though, for with its age the flatiron building retains an elder gothic elegance. Dark flourishes and classical lines etch its once-white stone facade. Columns and a smooth arch encase the heavy wooden double doors that lead inside, and above them twin ironclad windows bracket a grey-faced clock.

Homura Akemi's name announces her door from others at the very end of a long marble-floored hall on the second floor. The etched kanji are perfect on the metal plate.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It's almost eleven at night, and Kasagami Araki feels like she's in a place out of time. And /especially/ country. Staring up at the overly large apartment at the end of the street with her boot heels grinding into cut stone, she can't help but imagine this is what it might be like to live on the upper end of an old European town.

Kassie doesn't quite parse how this feeling is odd, given she usually lives in the Ohtori dorms ever since coming here. On Southern Cross Island, all the art deco and modern stylings seem to just fit. Here though? It clashes brutally with Japan's ultramodern look and the traditional shrines one can find.

With a big, warm sigh, she pulls her coat a little tighter around her shoulders. No sword with her today, aside from a simple bokken she brought just in case any idiots decided to get ideas in their heads this late at night. She's not bothered with her usual uniform: she'd rather not announce her presence in case the odd Homura Akemi is peeking out her window. Instead it's a pair of dark jeans, a belt, eyepatch and a hoodie festooned with a myriad of pins depicting hawks, crowns, and a bevy of different swords along her cuffs and the right side of her chest.

She'd look like a delinquent if everything weren't so expensive and her hair just so /perfect/. Kasagami has the piercing stare of an intense person, just shy of a ruffian, down wonderfully however.

She stalks through the apartment building after pushing in the front door. When she arrives at the little nameplate showing her quarry, she pauses. A gloved fist proceeds to hammer on the door hard enough to make the wood shake and creak a little.

"Homura Akemi, dearest of all my friends! I hate to call on you so late at night, but I'm sure you wouldn't let me die out here from exposure, right!? We've got a few things to talk about!"

The Disciplinary Executive doesn't use her outside voice. No, it's her auditorium voice. This is clearly right and proper. The bleary cussing on the other end of the hallway and a few dogs barking prove the point.

Kasagami Araki smiles in appreciation and confident smugness that nothing like mere 'time of day' and 'noise complaints' will bar her passage into this elegant Homuhome. A little bit of chaos can be a key to opening many a door.

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

Kasagami's incognito mode, flamboyant as it is, might serve her if there was any chance of Homura Akemi idly peering out of her windows. Tonight those probabilities run repeating decimal zeroes toward nothingness. Delicate work utterly preoccupies the weird girl with the glasses.

Her usual rectangular red frames have the night off. Instead a pair of too-large surgical loupes keeps sliding down her nose. They're sized for the vascular surgeon who's now missing his favorite pair, not a slip of a middle-schooler. Homura borrowed them weeks ago from his coat pocket during a checkup at her old hospital; she /fully/ intends to return them.

You know, after she saves Madoka.

To call Homura engrossed would be an understatement: she's so focused that the sweatdrop tickling the underside of her nose has escaped wiping for long minutes. Concentration is everything right now, and any little error or fumble could spell disaster--


Homura's overdeveloped startle reflex has abated somewhat over the years. Instead of toppling backwards in her chair and incurring fresh bruises, she just jerks and drops her tweezers.


In horrified slow motion she watches the shiny implement fall over her careful twist of wires. If it falls across the wrong pair and its metal completes the circuit -- she grabs for it, juggles deferred fiery death in the air with her grabbing fingers, and in desperation she just BATS the thing away as quick and as hard as she can. The tweezers fly through the open bathroom door and crack the mirror, then tink harmlessly into the sink after inflicting seven years of bad luck.

She just... /takes a minute/ after that to be sure her heart isn't going to explode. Watch for frostbite out in that climate-controlled hallway, Kasagami!

The door finally opens to reveal a thoroughly frazzled Homura Akemi, still in her school uniform, with one braid half undone. She's still wearing those strange glasses with magnification loupes embedded in both sides, and she's squinting at a Kasagami-shaped blur through the (non-prescription) normal lenses. Oh, and she's wearing a pair of latex gloves... Pretty weird, even for Homura. Was she doing surgery or something in there?

"Araki-senpai? What are you doing here?" 'Araki-senpai' has been her go-to ever since the elections, this timeline -- when she doesn't slip up and say 'President-san' instead. "How did you... find my place?"

Homura hesitates, clearly knowing that she's expected to invite Kasagami inside and just as clearly /not/ wanting to do so. Social expectations win out for now, and with anxiety instead of enthusiasm she says, "Please, come in," and steps aside.

Her foyer has clean modern lines hidden beneath a bevy of empty boxes that should have been taken out for recycling already. There's a small neat mat for shoes (and boots) by the entrance. Two exits, one leading to what looks like a kitchen, the other to a bare-walled and spacious living area. More boxes sub in for furniture in there.

"I'm not... I wasn't expecting company, sorry. Um. Can I get you some water?" She glances toward the kitchen: a safer room, a terminus. Plus she might even have a cup or two unpacked...

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Right into the hallway comes a frigid blast of Homura, with her overly large magnification glasses, surgical gloves and a uniform. The frazzled state, if anything, only signals potential victory to one Kasagami Araki. Exactly as she'd half-way planned.

But even as she wields the extrovert's powers of obscene self confidence like a club, she can't help but take in the most unique attire that Homura has on. This, more than the anxiety on Homura, has Kassie's attention.

"I'm not an adorable nerd like you are, Homura-chan, but I actually /can/ search the school's records when I want something." Almost every time she's tried to correct that 'Araki-senpai' business. Except when she's mad or on 'official StuCo business'. Her particular flavor of grin is the 'you messed up' variety. This has not changed since every timeline Homura has known Kasagami. She's easy to read in some ways like that simply for the fact she rarely hides these things.

Kasagami is already marching inside just as Homura says it. Bokken under one armpit, she takes off her boots (she's no savage!) and makes her way in. The bare walls and just general...'just got in' feeling does has Kassie frowning. She doesn't comment, but something about it all definitely bothers the girl.

In other timelines she'd ask. Right now, though, she's mission focused.

"Oh don't worry, I'm not going to take up too much of your time. Homura, you've been skipping the Festival. Now I /know/ you hate athletics...and that's fine, more fool you...but at least make an effort! This is about the pride of Ohtori! Any student that skips the Athletics Festival either needs an excuse, or has to be working on something scholastic." She emphasizes that last word.

Kasagami tries to lean in and poke /right/ at one of those inspection glasses.

"So unless you can tie your little taxidermy hobby to improving your frankly ghastly academics, I want to see you at the long jump tomorrow morning or I'm going to start hounding you every single morning until this thing is done with! And I am very, /very/ persistent when I have the mind to be!"

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

She shuts the door behind Kasagami and her eyes linger on the inward bowing of wood. "My door..." There are more important things than doors. The objection dies on her tongue, abandoned.

There are no signs of any parents, no family pictures on the wall or adult shoes on the foyer mat, no homey touches whatsoever. Homura Akemi lives so very alone. Her address hasn't changed since she transferred into Ohtori, so... these boxes have gone unpacked, these walls unadorned, for over a year now.

"Oh. Right, school records..." Beginning next timeline and extending forevermore, those school records will have the address of one Homura Akemi preemptively scrubbed. Her nerves still jitter thanks to her recent near-obliteration experience, and that grin of Kasagami's doesn't help. Homura feels invaded thanks to this late-night drop-in, and her shoulders hunch.

Any relief when Kasagami says she's not staying long, well, it doesn't last once the reason for the visit comes out. Then a gloved finger occludes a loupe entirely, giving Homura a brief view of the smoothly-cracked details of leather before her left eye's view goes black. "Aahh, hey!" She takes a huddled step back, then goes into a pocket for her usual glasses and makes a quick swap.

"Taxidermy? I'm not- oh. I was, um..." The urge to explain, to have Kasagami understand, is still strong in her. She hasn't learned yet. "I'm sorry, Araki-senpai, but... there's too much happening, and the Sports Festival is..." Agitation begins to show. It wrinkles the soft skin between Homura's eyebrows and squiggles her mouth.

"I can't waste time on something like that. If you need an excuse note, I- I can go get one, probably." From the hated hospital. Any disqualifying infirmity would be a lie, too, but... Homura's priorities have changed. Her determination hones her, too -- she now looks right up into Kasagami's good eye, a challenge from a meek girl who would never have dared once upon a timeline ago.

"But you should just let me slide. Because you know there are more important things happening! I've told you... so many times. Just let me do what I need to do." A direct and somewhat hurt reference to the /stories/ Homura keeps spreading and demanding be believed, about treacherous mascots and deadly puella doom.

She adds a "Please" after because she is still a polite girl, even if she is also now a frantically determined one.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami, of course, keeps right on steamrolling even when all of that irritation surfaces in the poor benighted Homura. The mere /suggestion/ that things be let slide to /her/ has Kassie sloooowly scowling. She is not making her case well to the prideful, if slightly jilted, Disciplinary Executive.

"I seem to recall similar excuses the last school function! Homura-chan, you know, I actually /do/ like you. No matter how much of an absolute headache you've been in my short tenure at Ohtori..." Her turn to be annoyed. All of that aggression is still there, and it's being pressed right down on Homura.

A hand goes from glasses to her own chest. "No. No I am not going to let this just slide. Because Ohtori has standards, and if you want to go to it, then you need to keep up. That /includes/ social gatherings. What's an Athletics Event other than a chance to network and consider your future!?"

A sucked in breath, and she runs a hand through her hair. "And don't think you're the first to try to pay off a Doctor to get a note. I'm not an idiot. Spare us both, okay?" She takes a seat, and finally grey eyes soften in something very much like sympathy.

"You're going, Homura Akemi. End of story. And I'm going to tell you why." She motions to the apartment, barren.

"You have lived here for a year, alone. No family pictures. No...no /nothing/! Could you at least think to put up a few photos of your friends? You have a home, but it's not lived in! Plus, all of this...the things you keep telling everyone. Homura, there's rumors, don't you know that!? That looks bad for you and it looks bad for the school!"

One elbow to her knee, and she frowns. "I don't know what you went through for you to actually believe the things you believe. But they're fantasies. Fairy tales. You're covering up something that hurt you, that's what I think. It took me a long time to admit my parents were dead. Six months after the funeral, that's how long it took to sink in."

A sad little shake of her head. "And living in this empty white box isn't doing anything for your sanity. You need more friends, and you need /help/!"

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYItTxqTc38

When will it stop being disorienting? Kasagami says she likes Homura, and Homura remembers ski slope lessons years ago which left friendly aches in weak limbs; she mentions a short tenure, and it reminds Homura that she's only known this Kasagami a single year, even though Homura has looked up to the sword-loving young woman much longer.

The first shake of Homura's head, then, is just to clear her time-misted head. Being loomed over like that has the slender, shorter girl folding her arms defensively. Both head-shake and arm-folding take on obstinate undertones as the haranguing intensifies, and then...

"My future? MY future?" Either Kasagami said something incredibly offensive or incredibly funny -- Homura's face screws up so much it's impossible to tell. "You don't even believe me, how would you know anything about my..." She swallows, hard, and huffs out the rest of her breath rather than using it on words.

In the spacious white-walled living room, Kasagami's seat consists of an unpacked cardboard box. Homura trails her in and plops down across from her on another box. This is still her senpai -- she still feels an obligate obedience. She still cares.

For most of the rest of this concerned dressing-down she is still, and quiet, and utterly avoidant of eye contact. Homura busies herself pulling white latex off nearly-white fingers instead. But she flinches when Kasagami says something has hurt her, and right now Homura wouldn't hide that even if she could.

She looks up, and her violet eyes are bruises hollowed by desperation. Whatever hurt her lies naked there, uncovered. Her senpai, the fierce and funny duelist who cheerfully crashed through Homura's barriers before... Kasagami thinks she's insane. No one believes her... no one. "I need help," she echoes, sad and frustrated. "Help is all I want. But no one will give it to me. I keep asking and asking, but... you think you know what I need, and you won't listen when I tell you. I'm not covering up anything, I keep /telling/ you and /telling/ you..."

Her voice climbs and then she breaks off and heaves a few agitated breaths. She's on the sadder end of the spectrum when she continues. "Maybe you would have helped me when you were President..."

But Kasagami never won the Presidency in this timeline -- just in Homura's fairy tale delusions. Every time Homura talks about these fantastical other timelines they sound like a girl's hopeful dream, and this is often in direct and cruel comparison to how things actually are right now.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura's face screws up, and then she lashes out in turn! Across box from box Kassie vaguely waves a hand towards the Puella Magi. Her pushing back seems to both egg on the Disciplinary Executive and yet annoy her.

"Finally! A little bit of fire in Homura Akemi! As I said, I don't think what you're saying is the /truth/, but I don't think that you're lying either. What I'm talking about is the path that you are currently walking on, Homura!" She runs a hand through her hair.

Eyes close, and then her good one opens to peer back at the girl.

And then pauses. Kasagami knows when she's hut someone, and Homura's face shows it. She goes quiet for a second, taking in what the Puella offers her. She raises that hand went through her perfect, silky, dark hair and grinds it just a bit against her own temple. She ignores the little red spot it creates, no matter how uncomfortable it gets.

"I'm half blind, not deaf, Homura-chan. You want help, I get that. And I swear on my parents' graves, I want to give it to you. But as a member of the Student Council, and the Disciplinary Executive, I need to be rational. So I must give you the help you need, even if it's not what you ask for."

A sigh.

Then she raises both arms. "If you want me to accept what you've been telling me is true, then give me /evidence/! Telling me the same story, fanciful and horrible, without proof just makes you sound like you're nuts! I love the heart you're putting into all of this. Now give me something I can work with, okay?" Kassie sounds utterly exasperated with Homura's continued stories!

And then she audibly chokes.

The Duelist's face flushes a bit. Teeth grind. And then Kasagami Araki glares at Homura. She steps off from her back heel, and this young woman devours the space between their two boxes in absolutely awful haste.

Her hand then reaches down to swat Homura's shoulder. She's smiling. It's not a good smile.

"You need some fresh air to deflate that fanciful head of yours, Homura! Congratulations, I'll be personally dragging you to the sports festival if you're not there at the crack of dawn my beloved friend!" Her voice growls.

And then she's standing up, just before her boot decides to crash right down onto that white box, shattering it into innumerable pieces.

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

Is it worse to be thought a liar, or to be seen as insane?

Homura's face flushes from her outburst and the inevitable shame that washes in after. If Kasagami doesn't think she's lying but doesn't think she's telling the truth, it really only leaves the latter. She rubs at her hot cheeks with both hands, hating the sting of embarrassed tears in her eyes. They're useless, worse than.

Her voice has that thin wobble of poorly controlled upset. "I've tried to prove it, just..."

She /has/ tried to give proof of her future knowledge, more than once, made predictions of things she's seen happen a certain way in one of the previous timelines. They never pan out right; something's always different. Homura doesn't understand why things keep changing. It might be enough to make her question her own sanity, if it wasn't for Madoka: her pink evening star, the light by which Homura navigates this growing nightmare.

"All I can tell you is the truth. Why can't that be enough?" She's plaintive, and utterly unhelpful.

Homura doesn't get to stew in her upset because she's just inadvertently stirred Kasagami. She doesn't flinch backwards off her box, all credit to the tutelage of a past Mikoto Minagi.

There's no escape from the Sports Festival. And... at least she'll get to see Madoka and the others more, she tells herself. Homura's head droops, so Kasagami gets a view of shining black hair and the dark headband holding it all in place. It's a slump; it's a bow.

"The crack of dawn, Araki-senpai," comes the morose acquiescence. She sounds remarkably like any other student bulled into participation. The box smashes apart beneath the boot Kasagami didn't remove at the door, and the still-packed contents suffer and spill out: carefully packed volumes of shoujo manga, their covers soft and pretty with girls' faces and flowers. They're crumpled, now.. "A-ahhh..."

It's fine, Homura tells herself. She didn't have time to read them anyhow. Stuff like that doesn't matter as much, not anymore. Homura feels this bitter-sharp pang in her chest, like a loss -- not at the manga spilled on the floor, but at her own thoughts. Then she shoves that away, too.

"I'll be there," she says toward the floor.