Pairing/Characters: No pairing, exactly; Eiji and Fuji and their study habits.
Eiji and Fuji’s study sessions tended to be different from anything their teachers and classmates would ever imagine. Then again, with the two of them, such difference was entirely necessary.
“What about ‘mandible’?” Fuji traced the English word lightly with a finger, then looked up at Eiji.
“Um.” Eiji stopped to consider, flipping onto his back on the floor so that all four of his limbs stuck comically up into the air. Then he giggled. “A cross between a human and a bull. Man-di-bull!”
“You know, in Greek mythology, there actually was such a thing,” Fuji commented, watching Eiji’s eyes widen with surprise and glee. “The Minotaur. Zeus – the king of the gods – was said to have cursed a particular human’s wife to fall in love with a bull. Isn’t that interesting?”
Eiji nodded vehemently, but stuck out his tongue. “Gross, though,” he said. “Who would want to be in love with a bull?”
“No one, I think that’s the point,” Fuji said with a laugh. “Now, what does mandible really mean?”
“Part of an insect’s mouth,” Eiji said promptly, rolling up onto his knees and then rocking back and forth on them. “The jaw things on both sides.”
They had developed this game quite a while ago. Eiji was very, very intelligent, as was evident from the mere fact that he associated with Fuji so often. But he was easily distracted and easily bored, especially with subjects like English that often required rote memorization of specific words and their meanings. And Fuji, of course, already knew most of the words they needed to learn. So, instead of limiting themselves, they played a game that tested both of their wits and came up with some rather fascinating word associations.
“Mm-hmm,” Fuji affirmed, then added with a smile, “But that was hardly a very scientific answer.”
Eiji laughed merrily. “Satomi-sensei would have a fit!” Their science teacher was very proper and straight-laced. She was also, as Eiji put it, “in love with science language!” She always wanted their definitions to be formal and worded in a way that almost none of her students could understand.
“Conglomeration,” Fuji said, picking another word at random from their list. The English words always flowed smoothly off his tongue in a way they never did for Eiji. Not that Eiji minded, though. He liked playing with the words more than he liked saying them perfectly.
“A bank robbery with Jell-o,” Eiji pronounced triumphantly, stretching like a cat and looking out the window. Then he glanced mischievously at Fuji, who looked mildly surprised.
“With Jell-o?” Fuji asked, looking at the word.
“Yep,” Eiji confirmed. “The ‘con’ part makes it a bank robbery, or maybe cheating at a gambling place – what do they say? Casino? And ‘glom’ sounds like Jell-o. Maybe they threw it at the guards or something, or ate dessert afterwards to celebrate!”
“Oh! All right, I see,” Fuji said, smiling widely. Eiji’s creativity could throw everyone off sometimes, even Fuji. “Yes, that makes sense. I think my sister watched a movie like that once.”
“A robbery with Jell-o?” Eiji asked eagerly. “What was it called?”
“Actually, I think it was more involving a casino, but yes,” Fuji said, remembering what his sister had told him. “An American movie. We should rent it sometime.”
“We should!” said Eiji. “Especially if there’s Jell-o.”
“So, what does conglomeration really mean?” Fuji inquired.
“A whole bunch of different things, put together,” Eiji told him. Then he laughed again, well-pleased with himself. “Like a lot of different flavors of Jell-o! One of my sisters tried that once, and it came out brown! We ate it anyway, and it was pretty good. Weird, though.”
“I’d like to try it sometime,” Fuji said, being perfectly sincere. “I wonder if you could add wasabi flavoring to Jell-o...”
“Yuck!” Eiji said, rolling his eyes. “Why ruin perfectly good dessert, Fu~ji?”
“I think I’d like it better that way,” Fuji said, then, with a straight face, “And possibly with some cayenne pepper and onion, it would be even tastier.”
Eiji pointed a finger at Fuji and then fell over on purpose, landing lightly on his stomach with his hands beneath his chin. “I’m just glad they don’t make wasabi toothpaste!”
“If they ever do, I’ll be sure to share!” Fuji promised, which sent them both into gales of laughter, because Fuji really would do it if he could, and Eiji, toothpaste connoisseur that he was, would try it even though it would send him running for a glass of water. "Now...unconventionality."
"That," Eiji announced, with some authority, "is not on the list! And that can't be a real word!"
"It is a real word," Fuji assured him. "But you're right, it's not on the list. Do you know what it means?"
"Well..." Eiji had to take a minute with this one. "It sounds like us." He grinned at Fuji. "Doesn't it?"
"That's too close to the real meaning to count for the game," Fuji told him teasingly.
“The universe is composed of tiny pieces of matter, on a scale beneath what we can see even with our most powerful electron microscopes. They’re organized to make up something like styrofoam...but much smaller.” Fuji pointed to a comparative drawing in the article. It was some scientific digest or another, something that Fuji inexplicably showed up with every once in a while. “You see? In comparison, we’re actually very large.”
“Smaller than atoms,” Eiji breathed, intrigued, as he peered over Fuji’s shoulder at the picture. “We’re like a whole universe compared to them!” He twirled around, his arms flung out to maintain balance. “I’m a universe!” he announced happily.
“You are,” Fuji agreed, ignoring the stares of a young couple walking by. He was pleased that Eiji had grasped that fact so quickly. He’d tried explaining to Yuuta, which had brought him only blank stares and grumbles. “That’s exactly it. It’s hard for us to work with these particles, because we’re so large.”
“Hum,” Eiji said, tapping his fingers on the back of the park bench. “So what do they do?”
“Oh, they don’t seem to do anything,” Fuji said cheerfully. “They simply are. It’s just the nature of our universe to be made of these particles, just as it’s your nature to be made of cells.”
“But cells do something,” Eiji insisted. “These things have to do something to help the universe, the same way cells help me! Or else they wouldn’t be here.”
“Well, scientists do want to figure out a way to make use of them,” Fuji acknowledged. “Possibly for microscopic computer chips that would have hundreds of times the amount of memory ours have now.”
“They do something else,” Eiji decided. “They can’t just be here for scientists to play with.”
They spent the next hour bantering happily about what the point of those particles could possibly be. Eiji elaborated on his theory that they had to do something or else studying them would be useless, while Fuji persisted in saying that they didn’t, not exactly, they were just building blocks.
It was funny, in a way, that Eiji could stay interested for so long in something. Certainly their classmates would have been surprised. Eiji had a tendency to cause mischief in class, or to fall asleep, or to daydream while looking out the window. He wasn’t an exemplary “good student” by any means.
Fuji had long since figured out the problem. School and Eiji did not mix very well, at least not when they were learning things they’d learned a hundred times before...or, Fuji had observed, when they were learning things that were a logical extension of what they’d already been taught. With those logical extensions, Eiji had already come to his own conclusions and didn’t really need to learn it from a teacher.
But quantum physics, now, that was something new and different that didn’t precisely relate to anything they’d yet been taught. In other words, it was perfect for Eiji. And Eiji, in his surprising wisdom, knew that it was perfect for Fuji, too.
“You might want to promise him a treat afterwards,” Fuji told Oishi with a serious expression. “Ice cream, or cookies, or wasabi...”
“Fuji!” Eiji protested with a twinkle in his eye. “I’m not a pet, nya! You don’t need to explain me! Anyway, Oishi knows. Right, Oishi?” he asked innocently. Then he flipped Fuji a wink.
“Of course,” Oishi assured him, with a slightly bewildered laugh. The exchanges between Fuji and Eiji occurred quick as lighting each time, too fast for most humans to catch on.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Fuji said conversationally. “He’s terribly difficult sometimes.”
“Ha!” Eiji proclaimed. “It’s Fujiko who’s difficult! Sometimes,” he confided to Oishi in a stage whisper, “Fuji gets a craving for something spicy right in the middle of studying! And then we have to go and eat!”
Oishi laughed again, not at all puzzled this time. “I can imagine,” he told Eiji, playing right along. “Fuji, are you making things difficult for Eiji?” he joked, his more humorous side always brought out by association with the two of them.
“Of course,” Fuji admitted readily, his smile nothing but sweet unless one listened to his words. “It’s my job, after all. I’m very good at it, right, Eiji?”
“Yes!” Eiji said, hands on his hips, feigning outrage. “And I order him to go to his room,” he told Oishi. “But we’re already there! So that doesn’t work. Maybe you and me could think up a way to make him behave!”
“Now I’m worried,” Fuji said, laughing warmly.
“And he really did buy me ice cream afterwards!” Eiji informed Fuji, skipping in place because he couldn’t contain his delight. “It was mint chocolate chip! Delicious!” He licked his lips.
“Did you two think of a way to make me behave?” Fuji asked him.
“No!” Eiji shook his head, eyes sparkling. “I don’t think there is a way!”
“Probably not,” Fuji said amiably.
After Eiji talked all about his study session with Oishi, Fuji mused, “I think I should get to know Oishi better, don’t you?”
“You should!” Eiji agreed, then glanced at Fuji suspiciously. “But why?”
“Well, because you understand me and I understand you,” Fuji explained. “And Oishi understands you and you understand him. That means you have an unfair advantage over both of us, you know.”
“I know,” Eiji said, nodding wisely. He couldn’t help giggling a little then, breaking his facade of solemnity. “And I like it that way!”
“Well, I suppose I would too,” said Fuji contemplatively. “But that gives me an even better reason to take that advantage away from you!”
“Fuji, can I study at your house tonight?” Eiji asked. He did a hop-step and then a gyration that would have caused anyone else to fall over.
Fuji glanced over at Eiji, raising an eyebrow. “I thought you would study with Oishi again. You were very enthusiastic earlier, after all. I thought it had worked out well.”
“Oh, it worked out!” Eiji said with a bounce. “It was fun! You should give me treats, too, Fuji,” he said, laughing. “Except that soon I wouldn’t be able to play tennis with all those sweets!”
“So is Oishi busy?” Fuji inquired.
“Nope!” Eiji was surprised that Fuji would even have to ask him. “I like studying with Oishi, Fuji. But studying with Fuji is...” he thought for a moment, tilting his head quizzically like a little bird.
“Yes?” Fuji asked, amused and wanting to hear this.
Eiji grinned and met Fuji’s gaze. “Different,” he finished, and they both laughed.