2021-08-04 - The Family Business Is No Dancing Cat, and Other Complex Calculations

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Title: The Family Business Is No Dancing Cat, and Other Complex Calculations

Ye-jin helps Mikoto with her maths homework. Mikoto hears out Ye-jin's hopes and dreams. The lies they tell each other can't quite obscure just how similar they are. An ancient conspiracy, from a certain perspective, is certainly a family business.


Mikoto Minagi, Ye-jin Song


Ohtori Academy - Gardens

OOC - IC Date:

2021-08-04 - 2015-12-11

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's a nice garden, out here in Ohtori -- which could describe any part of Ohtori, disconnected from time and space by the liminal space of the roses which remain in bloom no matter the frost over the island. They climb up the lattices of the gazebo, as the shade of clouds pass the ground. They creep into the shaded alcove, all white carvings coiled around, red as blood.

On the bench is perched a girl who has never much cared for roses, when it comes to bushes to sit under. Too prickly, Mikoto thinks, though she's crashed through a few to retrieve her cat friends. One of them sits next to her on the bench, pawing at the papers on her lap, as Mikoto stares at them with a shuddering intensity.

Much like the black-and-white yearling, Mori, Mikoto does not understand mathematics. But finals are coming up, with a frightening quickness, and Mai isn't the only one having to study furiously all a sudden. She writes a number down on the sheet, only to scrawl it out a moment later.

She rolls a sound from the back of her throat up to her teeth, as she throws her head back in despair. "This was easier when I didn't care about it," Mikoto grumbles, to Mori, as she tilts her pencil towards her.

Mori immediately bites the eraser.

Mikoto makes an affirmative noise, as if she has just said the most sensible thing in the world.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

While there are many who stalk the grounds of Ohtori Academy, traversing its marble halls and well-groomed gardens, there are few who can do so as ferociously as the Student Council's Vice-President. With a heavy coat thrown over her uniform and a pair of clompy boots, Ye-jin Song's arrival is heralded by the stomping of grass as she makes her way through the gardens.

Thankfully, it is not Mikoto Minagi who is the subject of her wrath today. Unfortunately, she is still a bystander. It is not long before, in passing, Ye-jin glances up from the stack of papers in her and turns her gaze upon the dutifully working mathematician and her cat companion.

"Mikoto!" She says, in a tone that indicates the following conversation may go poorly. "What are you doing?"

She asks this both like it isn't obvious and also like it may or may not be a crime, depending on the answer that she's given.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto would rather be a cattematician...

Her ear twitches; she can hear the acrid undertones in Ye-jin's greeting, and there's this little duck of her head, pencil flicking back in towards her. A complex series of calculations goes on in her head, instead, as she tries to figure out whether she's angry at being spoken to like that, or whether she's done something to deserve it. "... Ye-jin!" Mikoto replies, with a lag for all those processes, and her cheerful greeting is built on an uncertain foundation.

Mori isn't quite as mired in Mikoto's brain as she is, and immediately hisses at the rude lady and leaps over Mikoto's lap, bounding off into the rosebushes. Mikoto watches her leave, and wonders what she knows that Mikoto doesn't.

Her gaze comes back to Ye-jin, and she holds up one of the papers, shaking it a little demonstratively. "Today's homework is hard, so I was trying to figure it out." Mikoto applying herself academically is new, of course. It was only from August that she even started coming to class more than once in a blue moon. Now she barely skips class at all!

Except for when she's having a catnap with her friends and sleeps through classes, but this is not about that.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Ye-jin too watches the cat go, her eyes following the animal until it disappears into the rosebushes. She's unsure if this is something she should (or can) be mad about. She decides, eventually, to turn her attention back to Mikoto.

"Homework?" She asks, her tone changing to something a touch more curious. Homework must not have been the answer she expected, despite it being the obvious one. She's not used to Mikoto doing classwork, which is enough to distract her from her rampage. For now.

"What is it?" Ye-jin asks, shaking the papers in her own hand before she takes a few steps over to squint at the markings Mikoto has made on her paper.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

To be fair, Mori doesn't like strangers, period. To be extra fair, Mori catches Ye-jin's number immediately and wants nothing to do with anything she's selling. To be triply fair, can anyone really say they've just been sassed by a cat? Mikoto's cat friends aren't mooncats or staff-guarding cats. They're just normal cats!

(That's what passes for Mikoto's normal friends, apparently. Every cat in Tokyo. No one knows where she obtained this dread cat friendship power. Some girls in Ohtori are only waiting for the day she unleashes her cat army to conquer the world.)

Mikoto, who did NOT have the sense to run off into a thorny rosebush immediately, bobs her head with an affirmative grunt at Ye-jin's question, instead. She's relieved that this was apparently the correct answer, because Ye-jin doesn't seem quite as irate as she was a moment prior. "It's maths," Mikoto explains, holding it up so Ye-jin can examine the horrors of algebra.

... which really shouldn't be tripping Mikoto up, given she's in eleventh grade, but she did skip an AWFUL amount of class before this.

"I don't really get it... but Afro-sensei said if I didn't do it right again, I'd have to stay back after class." Mikoto sounds vaguely baffled by the concept of 'detention,' possibly because whenever someone tried that on her before she just jumped out the window and left. She wrinkles her nose, and explains that, in her fashion: "I don't see why I should, but Kasagami's trying to help me, so if I ignore the teachers she'll be mad at me." Oh, is that how Mikoto has been catching back up to good academic graces? Secretary power?

Or maybe makeup work is just Kasagami's true evil. Either/or.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Well you're not allowed to have pets in the garden." Says Ye-jin, briefly remembering something she can be angry about.

Thankfully it doesn't last very long, and after a moment she's peering at Mikoto's homework. She does look vaguely disappointed when she discovers its math and not English, since this doesn't afford her the chance to immediately show off. Still, the work is simple enough that she can engage in her favorite activity:

"This is wrong." She says, stabbing a finger at Mikoto's work.

"Give me your pencil." Ye-jin's palm extends imperiously, awaiting the gift that she's demanded. She flips some of her papers over in the meantime, finding a blank surface to begin scribbling on once she's given her due.

"It's like this, see?" She pauses before continuing, asking, "When did you start paying attention to schoolwork, anyway?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Mori's not my pet," Mikoto corrects Ye-jin, smiling. "She's my friend! I don't know if she has any forever humans." On account of her technically being a stray cat, Mikoto isn't technically breaking any rules.

She almost certainly picked up 'Forever Humans' from her new club, though. Imagine a vicious creature like Mikoto tending to the gentle beasts of Animal Care Club?

Being fair, Mikoto struggles with English just as much as Maths, but her English homework is safely ensconced in that little pink backpack which shares shoulder real estate with the much longer, more ominous black case propped up over there. She blinks those big, gold eyes as Ye-jin says her numbers are wrong, and doesn't seem to find anything unusual about the way she makes her demands a moment later. Mikoto hands over her pencil without complaint, because Ye-jin is helping her, after all.

(This isn't a new concept to her.)

She leaaans over to inspect the numbers when Ye-jin asks her to see, blink-blink-blink. "Oh," Mikoto says. "I didn't know that worked..." Mikoto hasn't done much mathematics in her life, perhaps.

Before she can ask Ye-jin about her strange number tricks, though, Ye-jin has a question of her own. Mikoto tilts her head, a hand to her chin. "Ummm.... August," she says, once she places the dates. "After everyone --"

Mikoto blinks, as she realises she has almost broken the unspoken rule of not involving normal people, and she looks suitably abashed as her hand lowers down to her chest. "Um, I had some stuff going on, but... then I came back to live with Mai again!" NICE SAVE, MIKOTO. "And after that, I could think more about my future... and what I wanted to do! Mai's working hard to get into university, so I thought I can work hard, too!" Her cheer has returned in full force by the end of her explanation, perhaps entirely on account of Mai featuring in the sentence.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Mmm." Says Ye-jin, a noise that indicates that this answer is sufficient. She continues to scribble out figures, sometimes taking longer than others, but generally getting things right. She points them out as she goes, too focused on the numbers in front of her to maintain her irritation for much longer than a few more minutes.

"And what are you going to do with your future?" She asks, her eyes slanting over toward the HiME across from her.

"Something you need good grades for?" She sounds almost incredulous about it, but there's a thread of genuine curiosity in there too.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Huuuh," Mikoto says, suitably impressed at the way Ye-jin actually makes the numbers go. Perhaps Ye-jin is a mathemagical girl...

(Mikoto is easily impressed by academics, given how little prowess she possesses.)

Mikoto's grins, broadly, when Ye-jin glances over to ask. "I wanna work with cats!" She insists, quite proudly. "I understand how they work better than lots of people... so I can help people get along with them better, too! Then there'll be less strays, and more cats who are happy all the time!" Her logic, in a sense, is unassailable. But Mikoto is so terrible at homework, and so good at...

... well...

Mikoto doesn't think Ye-jin knows about that, so she doesn't have any need to clarify why she doesn't wish to make fighting her life.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"With cats." Ye-jin replies, lips pursing. "How simple." And very Mikoto.

Of course, there's only one future. It's shining and gold, and Ye-jin stares into a nearby hedge as she considers where such a simple, pleasant dream could possibly fit in it. Or how it will have to be extinguished.

"Then you'd better get better at math." She decides, returning from her reverie to address Mikoto again. She ignores those grim thoughts for now, sketching out a few more lines and numbers before letting the other girl take over once again.

"You'll need extra credit, too." The vice-president continues. "So you can help me with my fliers, when you're done." It's unclear how this translates to credit. Maybe there are Ye-jin credits.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Yup!" Mikoto says, cheerfully, as if something being simple is no insult at all.

She notices Ye-jin's silence, tilting her head as she watches her gaze slide off to the hedge. Mikoto makes a thoughtful noise, but doesn't interrupt. Instead, when Ye-jin comes back, Mikoto's face scrunches in a thoughtful frown, before she nods again. "I'll try hard!" She assures her, as she takes back her papers and pencil.

Mikoto considers all those numbers, as Ye-jin goes on. "...?" Mikoto vocalises, perfectly, as Ye-jin describes that as extra credit. It's not like she's unused to the idea, but... "Okay!" Mikoto accepts it, a moment later. Maybe she just doesn't know what she'll learn yet.

Mikoto looks back down to the numbers, and then back up to Ye-jin, again, as if she's going to ask a question about her arthimatic.

"What's Ye-jin wanna do when you grow up?" Mikoto asks, instead.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto's question is something Ye-jin's thought about on several occasions, but it still gives her pause. Her fingers crinkle her stack of papers, thoughtfully flipping through pages while she decides on an answer.

"I..." She begins, hesitating for a second before continuing, "They want me to take over the family business. That's what my parents do, so they expect me to do it too." Papers crinkle as her fingers make themselves busy. "I want to make Grandpa happy. So I have to work hard."

"Maybe," She hedges, "When I'm done with that I'll be a dancer. That's what I'm the best at. Once I get everything done."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The hesitation isn't confusing at first, until Ye-jin explains just what plans are written for her. Mikoto blinks, looking down at her own papers. There's something a little downcast to her, as she says: "Oh..." ... even so, she wants to be a dancer...

Mikoto hums thoughtfully, through her lips, a hand curling at her chest. There's no jewellery there any more.

"... I was like that." Mikoto says, after a quiet moment. "The last thing Grandfather told me... was to find my Lord Brother, so we could..." Her head cants, as Mikoto tries to think of how to put it. "... take our place. We have an old, business..." It's not really a lie, in one sense of the word, but Mikoto still feels a little uncomfortable abstracting so much for Ye-jin's sake. "... so there's lots of pressure to bring it glory."

Mikoto doesn't enjoy indistinct pronouns, but she can't very well tell Ye-jin the glory is for Japan itself. It's not entirely a lie, she tells herself. If she could tell Ye-jin the truth, she would.

Maybe it makes sense Mikoto's family has an old-fashioned business, though, when she calls her older brother by such an old-fashioned word. 'Ani-ue' is archaic and formal and entirely unsuited to her usual simplicity.

"But... I realised I wasn't happy doing that," she goes on, after a moment more. "And if we wanted to succeed, um, our business, we'd have to make lots of people unhappy. Maybe that's just business..." Salarymen always seem terribly cross, to her eyes, so that's not really a lie either, is it? Her brief melancholy is interrupted by a smile, as she looks to Ye-jin. "But, I think I can find a better way! So... maybe Ye-jin's dancing will help, too! What we want matters, Ye-jin!" She sounds so sure about that...

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Ye-jin's attention remains on Mikoto as she explains about her brother, her family, and the expectations placed on her. It does sound similar, in a way. It's not something she knew about Mikoto either, not exactly.

It's something that Ye-jin considers, Mikoto's earnest assertion that what she wants matters. The wine-haired girl is silent for a few long moments, nothing coming save the crinkle of paper as he fingers flex against the stack of documents that she's placed in her lap.

"I want to make Grandpa happy." She repeats. "And if I can do that then everything will be okay. We can all have what we want." There's something about the words that sounds like she's trying to reassure Mikoto. Or maybe just herself.

"It's nice that you're happy, though." The words come almost unbidden, and Ye-jin herself seems vaguely surprised that she's said them. She's quick to correct course.

"But you should get better at Math. And come by my office later so I can give you things to do." She stands after that, putting herself back in order. "I'm going."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's something so achingly familiar to those words, that logic. But Mikoto still remembers Kasagami's reaction to what she thought of those rumours. Is she just hearing those things because Mikoto herself said them so sternly...?

One thing's for sure: Mikoto does not look reassured, concern worrying at the twist of her lip and the way her head ducks a little as she looks to her. She hums through her lips, again, as if she wants to say something and can't quite think of how.

But when that extra little detail slips out, that's what brings the smile back to her, perking up, sunny again. "Yup!" She agrees, happily, and Ye-jin's correction might not be as cutting as it could have been, because Mikoto just looks down at her papers and nods firmly. "Okay! I'll keep trying!"

She'll show up at Ye-jin's office completely unannounced, obviously. The one good thing about negotiating with the Mikoto terrorists may be that Mikoto is astoundingly good at getting flyers into improbable places. Is there anything she doesn't climb?!

(The unscalable wall of their differences, perhaps.)

"See you, Ye-jin!" Mikoto chirps, with that selfsame simplicity, and her legs swing under the bench as she lifts her pencil to attempt those sums a second time.