Shindou and Touya will never change. Even if they're maths professors instead of igo pros.
Shindou ignores it. “Coffeeee - ” He dumps the papers on his desk and takes his drink, clasping it with both hands. “Touya, you’re a saviour.”
He smiles, picking through the mess to the ancient blackboard which dominates half the room. The chalk-dust is almost thick enough to taste and the board is grey beneath Shindou’s illegible scrawl, some of which – Akira tilts his head – is apparently written sideways.
Either that, or Shindou’s run out of letters again.
Akira tries to follow Shindou’s train of thought through his equations, reading hopefully from one line to the next – sometimes, the man’s logic is as chaotic as his subject matter, leaping effortlessly to conclusions and only bothering to fill in the vital proofs after the fact. There are quite a few of their contemporaries, he knows, who are just waiting for the moment Shindou jumps too far and there’s nothing in place to catch him.
Akira’s eyes catch on an identity, and they widen – that fall might not be long coming, if Shindou thinks he can pull this off. “Shindou, you can’t use that!” He turns, gesturing at the section in question.
Shindou looks puzzled. “Why not? Kurata-san published a couple of months back, it’s not like I’m stealing it.”
“It – he didn’t publish, he just passed it round a few conferences for thoughts, and you can’t use it because it’s conjecture!”
“And?” Shindou takes an infuriatingly calm sip of coffee and leans gingerly back against his desk. “Taniyama-Shimura.”
“That – what about it?! This has nothing to do with – and besides, the Taniyama-Shimura theorem was proved - ”
“But,” Shindou interrupts, waving his cup triumphantly, “not until after decades of work rested upon its back! Imagine how far behind we’d be if all those mathematicians had said ‘we can’t use that, it’s a conjecture!’ and given up!”
“That is not an argument! You can’t possibly work off logic like that, Shindou, it makes no sense - you - you’re behaving like a physicist, all wild theorems and no –proof-!” Akira stomps across the room, tumbling paper in his wake, to pluck a pen and a scrap sheet from the desk. “Besides, if you adapt Kuwabara-sensei’s topological mappings for this system,” Akira scribbles, Greek symbols and diagrams falling in neat lines across the page.
“Then I can tie it back in to strange attractors – but, Touya, that can’t be right, I checked for chaos already in that subsection, and - ” Shindou abandons the dregs of his drink to twist around and add his scrawl, grabbing a fresh piece of paper when Akira swats his hand away.
Akira snorts, “Shindou, you can never eliminate chaos that easily. But all right, how about - ”
Four hours later, they are both on the carpet; Akira kneels neatly whilst Shindou is sprawled inelegantly against the desk. The floor is littered with crumpled balls of paper and increasingly improbable shapes – his mother, Akira reflects ruefully, probably never meant her lessons in origami to be used to describe n-dimensional attractors.
“It’s no use,” Shindou says, desolately, batting the latest attempt (it rather resembles a hippopotamus, if one disregards the shape) towards an overflowing bin.
“I have a feeling,” Akira begins, diplomatically, “that we might need to ask Ochi’s help for this.”
Shindou’s head rolls sideways and hits the desk with a thunk. “Do we have to? He’s always so smug about it. ‘Poor little professor, can’t even code his own models!’” Shindou mocks.
Akira chokes down a laugh, “Shindou! He’d never say something like that.”
“No,” he agrees grudgingly, “but I can hear him thinking it.”
“Yes,” Akira’s agreement is dry, “just like I can hear you pouting.”
Shindou’s features straighten hastily and Akira has to laugh at that, hiding behind a hand for fear of retribution. Shindou sighs. “Still don’t see why it has to be Ochi, when Yang Hai - ”
“- is in Korea right now, as well you know.” Ochi might have a bit of an abrasive personality, but Akira has yet to meet an academic without -some- quirks. Shindou’s refusal to get along with the diminutive computing specialist is a constant source of amusement – to the rest of the department – and frustration – to Akira, who has to deal with the inevitable aftermath. Shindou bristles like a cat when enraged. It is, admittedly, fascinating to watch.
Shindou is muttering to himself about the internet and what good is e-mail anyway, to which Akira asks “And if you could code our theory to a sufficient level of accuracy to communicate, why not just write a model yourself?”
“… That’s a point,” Shindou subsides, fingers twitching against his thighs.
“Asking for help won’t kill you, you know. Or your pride,” Akira states, ignoring Shindou’s skeptical look. “After all, you accepted my help.”
“Yeah, but you’re different. You don’t gloat, and I know I can pay you back in kind.” Shindou reaches out and taps a page of duelling formulae, then grins, “And, you bring me coffee!”
“I bring you coffee because if I didn’t, you would forget which year it was and starve to death – and that’s only if you didn’t drown in chalk-dust first.”
“Speaking of starving to death,” Shindou starts, sheepishly, “I think I might have to call this a night.” His stomach appears to be growling its agreement and, when Akira glances at his watch, the time does seem a little later than expected. “I might’ve forgotten lunch, too…”
“Shindou, sometimes I wonder if the stereotypes were developed with precisely you in mind,” Akira says, unfolding stiff muscles and offering out a hand. “Come on, we can get some dinner downstairs, it should still be open.”
“You’re a saviour!” Shindou grins, hoisting himself away from the desk.
And with that, they set off – two absent-minded professors with heads full of formulae, two rivals whose cooperation might turn whole fields of mathematics on their collective heads, but most of all - two best friends.