2019-10-04 - Imperfect Present Tension

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Title: Imperfect Present Tension

Kasagami and Homura strike a scholastic deal.


Kasagami Araki and Homura Akemi


Ohtori Academy Classrooms

OOC - IC Date:

2019-10-04 - 2015-07-04

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura Akemi was absent from school for what amounted to almost a month, starting a few days before a terrible worldending storm (which now exists only in the memories of the mahou) and ending when she stepped back into Ohtori Academy's front office and handed in one of her hospital excuse slips. Twenty-six days exactly, if you're Homura Akemi and were counting them.

It's been a long time since she's had such a long school absence, and certainly rumors abounded as the absence stretched. Was her heart condition acting up again? Was she... ever coming back? Was she /dead/? Kids talk, and the kids at Ohtori don't just talk, they gossip like it's earning them future college credit.

None of the rumors were true, of course, because none of them involved Homura taking a personal sabbatical to recover (...somewhat) and grow confident in her new powers.

She's returned now, though, and has been back for about a week now, and she has ENDLESS stacks of homework and make-up tests to get done. What's worse, for the first time in decades she's never seen this homework before, never taken these tests before. It is all new territory and she hasn't studied for any of it, because it has also been decades since Homura Akemi has studied schoolwork.

She appears as she always did: smooth pale features, big dark eyes, conscious perfect grace, crisp Ohtori uniform. There's no sign of that heart attack a good third of the rumors claimed she'd had. Really, the only visible difference is how she's taken to wearing a red ribbon in her glossy hair instead of a headband.

And right now... right now she's the only one in an empty English class after the last bell, taking yet another make-up test. The teacher left her to it ten minutes ago.

She's been stuck on the same question for the last four of them.

Any students passing by in the hall, if they glance through the open door, can see her bent over a desk with her pencil tip tap-tap-tap-TAP-TAP-TAPPING the same spot on her test paper. It's left a speckle pattern, pointillistic evidence of Homura's frustration with herself. She retains too much discipline to lower her forehead to the desk and allow it to thud right into the test paper, but the desire... it is in her.

Finally, with short quiet expulsion of what just might be a sigh, she skips down to the next question.

And also does not know its answer.

Tap-tap-tap-tAP-TAP-T-- *snap*

A little graphite missile goes flying as the pencil tip finally gives.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Rumors fly fast, particularly to ears receptive to them. And now that she's occupying a true and proper seat as the Student Council Secretary? It behooves Kasagami Araki to keep an ear to the ground just in case any useful bits of gossip pop up. If nothing else, things that can get her vengeance on Saionji or Touga, or a leg up on her competition is of great concern for the Duelist!

Also, let's face it, Kassie is not above devouring a rumor for her own amusement. The greatly-exaggerated tales of one Homura Akemi's passing are fairly fresh in her ears as the StuCo member is walking by the English class that Homura is stuck in. She has a briefcase filled with Important Student Council Documents in one hand, coat and hair fluttering behind her as she winks or grins to students she passes. Even now, her somewhat restored reputation has her /basking/ in the attention. A sidewards glance into the classroom has her catching a certain head of dark hair.

She pauses, does the equivalent of a very fancy u-turn, and leaves a pair of admirers (reformed members of the Kassie Longcoat Club), nearly smashed into each other like some kind of human car wreck.

A shadow falls upon Homura Akemi. Said shadow is grinning in that cheshire way she so prefers when she's enjoying a fight or just deep in some sort of amusement. Her good eye sparkles.

"Ahhhh, long lost damsel of Ohtori, I see the rumors of your demise are very, /very/ overstated! Homura-chan! Where /ever/ have you been!? I was worried you know? As your beloved and dashing Student Council Secretary, I was wondering if I'd have to write a suitable obituary! 'Raven haired mystery dies suddenly due to freak gas explosion'. Or something like that. Or maybe an electrical storm, that sounds a bit more /you/!"

Kasagami is absolutely leaning over trying to eye what Homura is working on.

"...Wait. Homura. Are you...is that a test?" A brow rises. Her grin goes from amused to amused-smug in an instant.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Visions of slipping grades assail Homura. She's not really looking at that question about how to conjugate the English word for 'drive' to future perfect tense any more. Instead she's imagining the fall from grace as her effortless scholastic excellence dulls, and the nights she'll lose to the homework and studying that all the rest of her classmates have to do...

And she's arguing with herself over whether she should even bother now that a certain girl is no longer in her homeroom, or her school, or her worldly plane of existence.

Therefore it is Homura's practiced cool that keeps her from jumping five feet when that Araki-shaped shadow crosses her, rather than any actual awareness of Kasagami's presence. She instead holds very still as Kassie's grin and words fall upon her next, and prolongs that stance for a few seconds -- looking at her test paper instead as the other girl speaks, for long enough that it wordlessly communicates Homura's irritation.

But she does lean back in her chair after that, and looks up at Kasagami with that pale doll face set to an /extremely/ neutral expression. This leaves her make-up test exposed, with its mostly blank answers and its dot-dot-dot-DOT-DOT-DOTTED decorations. Homura's eyes follow Kasagami but she otherwise does not move as the other girl leans in.

"It's as you say. I missed some classes, so I have some tests to make up." The way she says it, it's as nonchalant as a cat walking away from a flubbed landing.

She doesn't respond to the questions about what she was doing in the meantime. Instead she pulls a pencil sharpener out of her school satchel and begins grinding down to a new tip. Shavings flutter to the desk after each twist of the pencil.

"Those obituaries are some creative writing. So you picked up the pen after losing with your sword," she comments after a bit of this, in that quiet cool voice of hers. "Do you find it mightier?"

Maybe if she aggravates Kasagami enough, she can get back to this aggravating test. ...And it must be said that a part of Homura enjoys stinging Kasagami over going back to the test, too.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami's twitch is almost audible. Her entire body feels that rough blow straight to her pride, especially coming from the stoic Homura. Her smugness slips for a moment, though the grin still remains. She clings to it. A show of confidence is good. Appearances are everything at Ohtori.

The wound of her loss, and losses, still feel fresh. It's barely scabbed over, and Homura just ripped it off.

The Duelist skips only one or two beats before she retorts. "I'll have you know, Homura Akemi, that a King relishes in both the sword and the pen! Cutting our opponents is as natural as carving the law into parchment. Maybe you should respect the pen a little more. You must be out of practice with it, after all. That's a lot of empty answers, for a student that's known for her excellence in academia! And on a mere makeup test too!" Digs Kassie, wandering over from behind Homura to reach for a chair. She spins it around on one leg, punts the desk out of the way, and then slams it down a little /too/ hard. When the students peek in?

She glares out the door, face making a 'get out' in no uncertain terms. The door slams closed as the small gaggle of students flees. No doubt the spark of a new rumor in the making!

"So. How are you doing, really? I'd wonder if you were cheating, before, but discipline isn't my wheelhouse anymore. So the only question is, why are you actually having trouble here?" Kasagami might actually be concerned here. It is /strange/, for Homura to not have the answers.

The smugness has dropped. "Come on. We're war sisters. Mavens of the battlefield against any who would threaten our companions! Shepherds! That has to count for something, even to someone as stoic as you! I'll help you out, within the bounds of my station of course. English, right? Father made sure I learned early. I don't mind tutoring you. You have to make Ohtori, and me, proud!" Oh yeah, she's actually trying to be encouraging here. Even if she's still somewhat of a jerk.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura catches the moment her arrow strikes true, fleeting though it is. She's a quick girl.

It affects her more than she'd anticipated. It's not that she never felt guilt for acting the jerk on previous occasions -- indeed the opposite. But before, she'd paired acidic guilt with heady conviction, and before... before, she'd had a very different purpose. Instead of feeling any satisfaction at all, she sees Kasagami's thin grin and just feels more miserable.

And of course, that's when the other girl comments on her grades. The pencil gets ground down another good ten millimeters while Kassie's chair-fetching and glare-shooing. It's sharp the entire time. Homura doesn't notice.

"I wasn't cheating," she replies to the accusation which Kassie floated and then waved off. It's... true-ish. At the least, it is to Homura's eyes arguable that she has put in her time (and then some) on all those tests and all that homework, and earned those grades forevermore.

Kassie exhibits concern, after Homura's jerkery, and even some rough tact in scaring away eavesdroppers. It doesn't in any way lessen Homura's feeling that none of these things are the other girl's business, but she does stop and actually /listen/. It shows in the slowing and stopping of that incessant graphite-grinding.

It's just them in the quiet, closed classroom with Homura's make-up test and Kasagami's concern between them. How /is/ Homura doing, really? Does shedding blood together count for anything to the girl with ice in her veins?

But the truth is, of course, that it /is/ blood in her veins, and that the fearsome Puella Magi is also just a girl. She looks down, and there's this extended moment of still while she takes in her /extremely/ sharp half-of-a-pencil, then withdraws it with all the silent dignity she can muster. Raven strands gleam as Homura flicks fingers through her own hair.

"I was gone a while. I am caught up on the past classwork and homework, of course. That leaves the tests. I haven't had time to study for all of them."

If she did the classwork and homework, then wouldn't that have taught her most of the test material...? Homura keeps going, smooth and steady. She doesn't mention that a certain green-gemmed friend is wholly responsible for this catchup; what she is not too proud to accept from Eri, she is too proud to admit to Kasagami.

That wording needles her, though, the... /charity/ of it all. Doesn't /mind/ tutoring her. Since they're public and all... (Homura's grades upon return have not yet posted, pending tests, so her shame is currently also pending.) "Your math grades could be better. How about we make a trade?"

Homura Akemi is all business, all the time. Or at least she finds it more comfortable to pretend this is the case…

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Uh-huh." Comes Kassie with the tone of someone that does not believe that at all while very obviously faking like she believes it. All while smiling. She might be playing with Homura just a little bit for her own amusement here.

But there's a faustian scholastic deal to be struck, and as they're alone? Well Kassie takes her own war-sisters in-group talk seriously. The group means a lot to the Duelist. Sorry Homura, you don't get to be a loner. In Kasagami's mind, anyway.

Eventually though the Student Council Secretary comes to the belief that she at least believes enough of Homura's tale that she doesn't push back so much on it. Tests, and finding time for them with magical shenanigans, is /tough/. There is more than a little sympathy in the young woman's heart.

"You dare bargain with a /King/ do you!? How brave! Or perhaps foolish!" Talks up Kassie, leaning backwards in her chair at an angle that is most definitely dangerous. A mere gust of wind or errant wandering mascot could tilt her over into becoming humpty dumpty rather than royalty. Her feet are just slightly off the ground.

Oh how she tempts gravitic fate.

"But royalty ever pursues improvement to better themselves and their loyal subjects, therefore you have a deal Homura-chan! Don't worry. I have plenty of books in my dorm. And some snacks, and coffee. We will race the rays of morning sunlight in...steeds of equations and grammar!" Nod nod nod.

"...That one sounded better in my head."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

That sure-I-believe-you smile ruffles no obvious feathers in the raven-haired puella; she's well-practiced at keeping her visible feathers smooth. The thing is, Homura remembers how good a tutor Kasagami can be, even if /this/ Kasagami has never tutored Homura. Once upon a timeline...

And /this/ Homura, the one without glasses and without clockwork shield, needs tutoring badly. Almost as badly as she needs friends... though Homura is not in the business of admitting that to anyone, least of all herself.

"We are all of us fools," she murmurs after Kasagami calls her foolish. Then, at a more conversational volume -- leaving a gulf of decibels between Homura's voice and her senpai's, still -- she says, "And the only subjects here are school ones." Flat tone, flat look.

She does glance down, once, at the precarious tilt that chair's at. There is something of a cat about her in that moment: specifically, a cat considering whether to bat something breakable off a table.

Homura Akemi is a being of ironclad self control.

She does not otherwise move, not a twitch of her foot; her gaze returns to Kasagami after a slow blink.

"Better there than the library. Those are supposed to be quiet, you know." She's still remembering that long-gone history lesson... "It's a deal. I will bring everything I have learned about geometry, physics, trigonometry, equations, and statistics." There's something almost grizzled to how she rattles off aspects of mathematics, like she's an old soldier and they're tours of duty.

"If you produce speeches like that in English, too..." Homura cocks her head and regards the taller girl in her swiftly tilting chair. Then, deadpan: "At least I know I'll have the adjectives and archaic nouns well-studied."