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Boy meets girl – fanfiction by Refugnic
“God damn, I’m late!” Filip exclaimed as the bell called for the first lesson.
He whizzed over the campus, just barely evading a couple of other students who didn’t seem in quite as much of a hurry as Filip.
Unfortunately, his maneuver had unforeseen consequences, as his left foot stepped on a piece of paper, which was soaked from last night’s rain.
He realized his mistake a split second too late and just when he shifted his weight to the foot to continue his desperate sprint, the paper slipped away with him still on it.
The world around himself slowed down, as gravity took its inevitable course and pulled him towards the ground, face first with its unforgiving force.
It only took split seconds until his descent to the ground was complete, but for him it felt like an eternity, his hands reacting ever so slowly to the impending hurt.
When the world around him sped up again, his face was inches away from the ground, just barely enough so his nose didn’t get dented painfully, his hands stemmed into the ground left and right from his face.
It took him a second or two to realize what had just happened and another for his hasty breath to calm down again.
As the adrenaline slowly subsided, he also began to feel the tiny stones scattered over the asphalt, that had pricked his hands.
The students had long since passed on with laughter and a ‘Boy, did you see that guy?’ when Filip finally tried to push himself up.
His head was still spinning from the sudden shift in posture.
He slowly repositioned himself into a sit, trying to reorganize his thoughts, when another voice suddenly asked, “Hey, are you okay?”
He looked up and stared into a pair of amber-colored eyes, which looked at him full of worry.
Her shoulder-length, hazel colored hair framed her face in the sunlight like a portrait.
She wore a red jacket over a slightly loose blue shirt.
“Hello? Did you bump your head?” she now asked.
Only now Filip realized that he was staring and quickly collected himself.
“Err, yeah…I mean no…I mean…” Filip started speaking, stumbling over his own words.
The young woman giggled and extended her hand to Filip, who thankfully took it and allowed himself to be pulled up.
He rose the rest of the way and said, “Thank you, Miss…”
The young woman pushed a strand of hair from her face, as she rose the rest of the way and replied, “Nina. My name is Nina. And you are?”
“Filip. Math graduate, second year.”
Nina laughed again, laughter as clear as the chiming of the school bell and raised her hand to say, “Alright, Filip, math graduate of the second year, nice to meet you.”
She then turned around and started walking again.
Filip looked after her until she disappeared in the crowd and only broke his search for her hazel colored hair, when the bell chimed again, reminding Filip why he was in such a hurry to begin with.
He looked up to the big school tower housing a large clock in horror, scrambled to collect his fallen books and ran to his lecture hall.
Once he arrived, he carefully and quietly opened the door and tried to sneak inside, while the professor in front held his lecture about an advanced mathematic concept.
When Filip was just about to slip into his seat, the professor suddenly said loudly and without turning around, “Thank you for gracing us with your presence. Since you did not deem it necessary to arrive on time, I assume you already have a firm grasp on the matter at hand.”
He then proceeded to write a formula to the blackboard and called out to Filip, who was still standing in the gangway, “To illustrate this, I’d like you to solve this. Please, come on up.”
Filip sighed, dropped his books on his place, walked up to the blackboard, looked at the formula and began his calculus.
The professor noticed the wounds on his hands and said quietly, “I want to hope these bruises are from your attempt to be on time and not from a scuffle. This course has no room for ruffians.”
Filip ignored him, while the professor continued his lecture.
After he was done, he returned the chalk to the professor, who gave it an approving nod and allowed Filip to return to his place.
The rest of the day passed slowly, with Filip’s thoughts continuously returning to the woman he had met today.
During his lunch break, he sat in the cafeteria, scanning the crowd over his lunch, quietly hoping to catch another glimpse of her.
Only seconds later, he cursed himself for being so silly and tried to focus on his lunch and the open book in front of him.
Just then, a tablet clacked next to him, disturbing his concentration once again.
At first, he didn’t even want to look up, when a familiar voice asked, “How are your hands?”
Startled, Filip looks up and once again straight into those amber-colored eyes, that looked like pools one would drown in if they weren’t careful.
Nina looked at the books in front of him and said after a few seconds, “Phew, that stuff goes so far over my head, you’d need a telescope to see it flying…”
Filip stifled a chuckle and replied, “Yeah, it’s some pretty nasty stuff.”
“What does one need that stuff for anyway? To me it all sounds like one big bunch of ‘Bla’ nobody every can use.”
Filip smiled at Nina and then explained, “Well, this particular problem makes use of complex numbers, which are used to describe two different properties of one component, like for example the voltage and the current of electricity.”
“And…why not just look at them separately…?”
“You know, that’s a really good question because you see…”
Filip continued to talk about math for the entire lunch break, while Nina listened attentively and when the bell signaled the end of the recess time, she waved off and said, “You sure love this kind of stuff, don’t you?”
“I think you have to love this kind of stuff if you’re going to study it…otherwise you’re lost from day one. I have a programmer friend, who keeps saying, that it takes a special kind of person to do programming…that they need to ‘get’ computers and how they work…I guess it’s the same for us, math people.”
“Alright then, Mr. Mathemagician, breaks over and I need to get to my next course…see you again tomorrow?”
It took Filip a moment to process what Nina had just said and he almost doubled over to agree, almost losing his footing again, as he quickly rose to his feet.
He laughed nervously over his own clumsiness and then replied, “Yeah, I’d like that.”
“Good. Here, or should I pick you up on the walkway again?”
“Here sounds good.”
“Alright then, it’s a date!” Nina laughed and disappeared into the crowd.
Filip stared after her, trying to make out her hazel hair among the many heads buzzing around and only after almost the entire hall had cleared out, he realized two things.
One being, that he now had a date with the most beautiful girl he had ever met.
Second being, that he was going to be late to his own next course if he didn’t hurry.
He quickly slammed his half-eaten lunch sandwich back into the aluminum box, sank it into his backpack, grabbed his books and sped up the stairs to the primary hallway, this time reaching the door just before the professor was about to close it.
“A close call, young man,” he remarked, as Filip walked in, panting heavily, a big smile plastered across his face.
The coming days, he met with Nina on an almost daily basis.
One of those days, as he tried in vain to explain a complex problem he was currently trying to solve, Nina eagerly scribbled on her notepad and when recess had ended, she presented him with a stunningly accurate portrait of him.
He took it into both hands, looked it up and down, then back to Nina, who was smiling cheerfully and then once more to the picture.
Finally, he said, “I…don’t think you ever told me what you are studying on the campus. I…I mean, I did pay attention, I know that you like yourself some Earl Grey, that your favorite color is blue, that…”
Nina put on the cutest pouty face, inflating her cheeks like a Jigglypuff and finally said, “No, you did not pay attention, because I did tell you!”
Filip wracked his brain, trying to remember when she might have told him, but came up empty…it just never occurred to him to actually ask and the subject also didn’t come up otherwise.
“C’mon, Mr. Mathemagician. If you just look at the problem, I’m sure you’ll find the answer.”
Filip looked at the sketch Nina had made while he had been talking in monologue, then at Nina again, taking in her perfectly trimmed fingernails, the colorful bracelets around her arm, the perfectly matched color scheme of her favorite outfit and the assortment of colorful pencils in her pencil case.
He cleared his throat and then proclaimed, “Very well then, judging from the evidence presented to me, there can only be one solution to this particular problem. The unknown variable in this context must be ‘art’. You’re a student at the art department of the university, aren’t you?”
Nina rose from her seat gracefully, put her warm hand on Filip’s cheek and gently patted it, “See, Mr. Mathemagician, you can do it if you try.”
She then packed up her stuff and got herself ready to go, reaching out her hand towards Filip, who was still holding the sketch block.
It took Filip a moment to realize what she wanted and he reluctantly returned it.
When she was just about to pack it away, he asked, “Hey, that picture is pretty good. Think I could keep it?”
Nina looked up at Filip with an amused expression on her face and then replied, “What would you need a picture of yourself for? Don’t you have mirrors at your dorm?”
She then put on her bag and disappeared into the crowd again, leaving Filip behind, who was once again at a loss for words.
Only that evening he realized that he had fallen in love with Nina, but had no idea how to handle this situation.
For the first time in his life and at long last, math could not help him solve a problem.
In the coming days, Nina did not come to Filip’s table and he couldn’t help but wonder where she might have gone but decided to give her some space.
He didn’t want to appear like a stalker of some sort after all.
When she didn’t come back after a week, his wondering had turned into worry and after class hours, he headed to the art compound, where he hoped to find her.
He talked to a few of the people but didn’t get any useful answers.
While most people seemed to know Nina one way or another, nobody knew where she actually lived or where she might have gone.
Finally, after seemingly endless searching around, a girl from Nina’s course said, “Ah, you’re that ‘mathemagician’ she kept talking about, aren’t you, pretty boy?”
“…she…was talking about me?”
“Yeah sure, said something like ‘you always looked so lonely, so she’d try to cheer you up’ and that you only ‘look happy, when you’re talking about those numbers of yours’, as if they were magic.”
“C…she just…came to cheer me up, because I looked lonely?” Filip repeated what the girl had just said.
His gut felt like it just contracted to one big knot and Filip felt just about ready to throw up as the blood receded from his face.
“Whoa dude, calm down…I’m just telling you what I heard. No need to get your pants in a twist…but y’know, when you’re so worried about the ‘why’, why don’t you just go and ask her yourself?”
Filip blinked and then said, “Yeah that…that sounds like a good idea. But…I don’t know where to find her. Nobody does.”
“Hey genius, y’know, some smart guy invented these things called ‘telephones’. Have you already tried calling her?”
“…I…I don’t know her number…” Filip replied, his entire body feeling numb.
The girl stared at Filip, then shook her head and walked away.
Filip sighed in frustration and was just about to return home when something on the bulletin board caught his attention.
It was a paper with the likeness of Filip was hanging, only that it consisted of carefully arranged numbers.
Below, in neat handwriting, the sentence, ‘Solve the riddle and earn a prize.’ was written.
Filip blinked a few times and then looked at the numbers, but couldn’t make heads nor tail of them.
He removed the paper from the bulletin board and headed towards the library when he bumped into Fred, who took computer sciences at the university.
“Hey Filip, what’s got you so…whoa, nice ASCII art. Who made that? Is that you?”
“ASCII art…?” Filip asked.
“Yeah, that’s what you call pictures that are made from letters and numbers. They aren’t as common anymore, but some people with too much time to kill still use them as forum signatures and stuff…but nothing this complex. And what’s that about a riddle?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’d like to know too…I thought there was a pattern to those numbers and letters, but if it is one, I’m not familiar with it.”
Fred looked over the code in front of him and then said, “That’s ’cause you’re looking at it like a mathematician. But you’re damn lucky that you’ve bumped into me.”
“Wait…you know what these mean?”
“I think so. Did you notice, that these letters are all upper case and only range up to ‘F’?”
“Does the word ‘hexadecimal’ ring a bell with you? You know? Base 16? Elementary numerology, like the binary, octal and decimal systems?”
“…wait, you mean…those are hexadecimal numbers? But…”
“Hmm…48, 49, 49…those are ASCII numbers. 0, 1, 1…hold on a second and grab a pen.”
Fred pulled a smartphone from his bag and pulled up a chart, reading the ASCII letters to Filip who quickly noted them.
After the entire picture was translated, Filip said, “Well, I’ll be…”
Fred looked over his shoulder and asked, “And…what exactly are you going to be?”
“That’s a Fibonacci sequence. Look? 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8…but wait, that’s not right. There should not be another 0, especially not at this position…and this one’s not right too…”
Fred stretched and then said, “Well, I’ll leave you to it…I’m sure you can figure it out from here…Mr. Mathemagician.”
With that, Fred walked away, while Filip was absorbed by the seemingly incorrect sequence.
He went home and singled out the numbers that were ‘wrong’ in the sequence.
It was another stream of numbers, separated by two dots, one dash and a comma.
He looked at the sequence, wracking his brain to figure out what they might mean.
Finally, as he looked out to the stars twinkling in the sky, he took a deep breath and said to himself, “Alright, Filip…you can do this. You want that girl, so crack the code.”
After a second, he blinked.
What did Fred call him earlier today?
“Oh, that damn bastard!” Filip shouted and grabbed for the telephone.
When Fred finally answered, Filip yelled, “Where is she?! What kind of sick game are you playing?!”
“Dude, calm down…I didn’t kidnap her or anything if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m just her…accomplice. This is her game, not mine…I just helped a little with the encoding, everything else is her.”
“The numbers and symbols! That were hidden in the sequence! What do they mean?!”
“Aww, now, don’t be like that. I already helped you with the picture, where would be the fun if I told you everything?”
“You’re a dead man, Fred! Dead, you hear me?!”
“Yes, me and probably half of the campus hear you, thank you very much. Fine, I’ll give you one final hint…look up. The answer is up there. Good luck, Mr. Mathemagician.”
And with that, Fred hung up.
Filip continues to stare at the phone in his hand but eventually sinks back to his desk.
Eventually, he lets out a long sigh and looks up to the stars again.
“The answer is up there, huh? Up there…what is up there anyway? Lots of stars…a bunch of planes…oh and satellites…wait a second…”
Filip looked at the numbers again.
Two dots and one dash…what if…
Now his mind was racing, he powered on his computer and entered the numbers into a search machine.
Immediately, the search machine output a map service, marking a house in the city, not too far from the university.
Filip wasted no time, printed out the address and a description on how to get there, grabbed his jacket and was out the door before any other tenant could say anything.
He raced through the night and eventually stood before a neat house, his shirt drenched in sweat and his hair spreading into every direction.
He took a deep breath and muttered, “Alright, time to see if I’m right…either I am, or I’m about to make the greatest fool of all times of me…”
Filip walked up to the door and pressed the doorbell.
A few seconds later, a woman of maybe 40 years opened the door and asked, “Yes, what can I do for you?”
“I am sorry, Madam, but…I am looking for Nina.”
“Nina? And…you are?”
“Oh, err…I’m Filip. A friend of hers.”
“Really now…and what makes you think, this ‘Nina’ is here?”
“I…okay, this will sound super stupid, but I found this encoded message in hexadecimal code hidden in a picture, which translated to a faulty Fibonacci sequence and the isolated numbers and characters were GPS coordinates, which lead me to this house.”
Now the face of the elderly woman softened up as she said, “Ah, so you’re Mr. Mathemagician, huh? Nina’s my daughter…but she doesn’t live here anymore. However…”
The woman closed the door in front of Filip’s nose, but came back only half a minute later, reaching him a piece of paper, saying, “Don’t you dare break her heart or I’ll find you and break your neck. Got it?”
Filip gulped and nodded.
After a second, he looked at the piece of paper, which contained two things.
An address, a few streets away and a telephone number.
Filip pulled out his cellphone and dialed the number.
To his greatest relief, Nina answered after a few seconds.
“Nina? Is…is that you? Are…are you okay?”
“…seems like I lost the bet. Your friend Fred said you’d call first, I said you’d appear on my doorstep.”
“Yeah well, I’m afraid Fred is going to have an unfortunate accident in the near future, so don’t worry about paying him out…seriously though, what’s the meaning of all this?”
“What, didn’t you like the little game?”
Filip replied, while starting to walk towards the address, “It…would have been nice if you had given me an advance warning. I mean, what if I didn’t notice that paper on the bulletin board? Or…”
“I was sick the past week, Filip, that’s all. But then Judy told me, that you had come looking for me, so I called Fred to tell you that I’m okay.”
“Why didn’t you just call me yourself?”
“Cause you didn’t give me your mobile number, of course! I don’t even know your surname!”
“…so you called Fred, cause you knew that he knew how to reach me…just one more question…who had the idea with that prank?”
“Yeah, okay, it was his idea. Sorry Filip, but I was sure you could solve it. After all, you’re my mathemagician, am I right?”
Filip leaned against a nearby wall, looking up to the stars and replied, “Yeah…I guess that’s me…”
“So…”, Nina started with a hard to define tone in her voice, “…see you next week at lunch…or would you rather claim your prize tonight at my place?”
All of a sudden, Filip’s throat dried out and he could barely make any sound.
“Oh, not what you’re thinking, Filip! But still, I have a present for you. You should only be a few streets away, so please come and pick it up.”
Filip gulped down his nervousness and replied, “Alright then, see you in a few.”
After a few more minutes, Filip stood in front of the other house.
He was able to see Nina standing behind one of the brightly lit windows from afar and a bright smile appeared on his face again, as his heart leaped from joy.
When he approached the door, Nina already opened and reached a carefully wrapped package to him with a wink.
She then gave him a small peck on the cheek and said, “See you on Monday, alright? And sorry for the trouble, but at least now you know where to find me.”
She gave him another wink and then carefully closed the door.
When Filip got back home, he carefully unwrapped the present he had gotten.
It was an oil painting of Nina herself, together with a note, which read, ‘For the times when we can’t see each other.’
As the tension of the past hours finally fell off him, Filip fell on his bed, looking at the beautiful picture of the beautiful woman, tears of joy welling up in his eyes.
On that very night, he promised himself, that he would marry that girl and never let her go again, even if it meant going through hell itself.