Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I don't own Kareshi Kanojo No Jijou or any of its superb characters. If I did, I'd be rich and living in the south of France. Or a manga store.
Author's Notes: Set before the 14 Days Arc, just to give you a fair idea. This is for Dora-chan, who kept on encouraging me to write about Arima and Miyazawa. I guess it was because these two hit so close to home that I've put off writing them for the longest time. Hope you like it.
She didn't want to admit it.
She would rather die than admit it.
But Miyazawa Yukino gripped the sides of her desk and faced the truth: There was something about physics that was completely beyond her.
Sure, she ranked second in her class during the last physics exam, next to Souichiro. Her score even said she only got four items wrong. But that was the result of a month of painful preparation, of nights bent over her notes going over the material, of days browsing through the library in search of supplementary textbooks. And that was the most she could come up with?
Yukino focused on the textbook before her and read out loud. "According to Einstein, all motion is relative. No particular object in the universe is distinguished as providing an absolute frame of reference that is at rest with respect to space. Any object provides an equally suitable frame of reference, and the motion of any object can be referred to that frame."
She sighed and locked her hands behind her head. "Now if the exams will just be on concepts and not on problems and equations--"
"Oneechan?" Tsukino popped into the room, interrupting her train of thought. "Arima-niisan is on the phone."
Yukino waved her away. "Tell him I'm studying."
Her younger sister leaned against the door. "He knew you'd say that. He also said you needed a break."
He thought he knew her so well. Well okay, so maybe he did, but Yukino wasn't going to fall into predictability so easily. If this had been any other night -- if she had been studying for any other class -- she would have told him to stuff it and stubbornly refuse to leave her seat. But it was physics, for crying out loud. She would never in a million years choose physics over her boyfriend.
Unless it meant that she'd drop to thirteenth place again.
"I was studying, you know," she said into the receiver.
Souichiro laughed from the other end. "Tell me something I don't know, Miyazawa."
He was just so smug sometimes! "Then you'll remember that I got four mistakes to your perfect score and that if I didn't know better I'd say that you are intentionally doing this because you know that I'm easily better than you in English and chemistry and that if you can continue to call me and sweet-talk me off my studies to keep my physics grade down, you'll probably end up in the number one position at the end of the semester," she ranted.
"Aren't you taking this physics thing a step too far?" he asked instead, purposely ignoring her accusations.
Yukino stared at a dark brown spot on the ceiling corner, making a mental note to tell her father to fix it. As for her and Souichiro, they had vowed that there would be no pretenses between them, and technically, she knew that it was all right to tell him. But a lump had taken up residence in her throat, making the words impossible to say.
Because between them, Souichiro was the strong one. He was the one with all the answers, the one who was so sure and certain about everything. Everything came so naturally to him, as if the universe had conspired to make his life hassle-free. Sure, he had his issues. But he could handle them.
And Yukino was tired of being the more dependent one in their relationship. The last thing he needed was to take care of someone, to look out for a girlfriend who could barely tell the difference between kinetic and potential energy. She didn't want to come running to him for help at the first sign of trouble. She wanted to show him that she could do it by herself.
No, that wasn't quite right.
She wanted to prove to herself that she could do it without Souichiro.
Let him think that this was just her being in her psycho student mode. Better that than truth. "I just thought my grades needed a little lift," she half-lied.
"Tomorrow's make-up day, so I can come over to your house and help you study," Souichiro volunteered. "We can go over the notes and make practice quizzes or something."
He was coming over to help her study. Normally, she would have been overjoyed at the offer. But tomorrow he was going to find out that she was really a dunce when it came to physics. Now she had to spend the entire night studying.
For their study session.
"Hey, Miyazawa." Souichiro nudged Yukino's foot with his pencil.
She bolted into an upright position. "Yes?"
"What's wrong?" he asked. "You have deep bags under your eyes. Didn't you get enough sleep?"
"Of course I got enough sleep, Arima," she bristled. "You don't think I get enough sleep?"
Instead Souichiro grabbed her cheeks and tugged them downwards. "You're cranky when you lack rest."
Yukino smiled wanly and waved her notes in his face. "See, you answered problem five incorrectly. The speed of the mass before it reaches the spring should be 4.5 meters, not 14.5."
"Really?" Souichiro asked, surprised. "Hey, you're right. I can't believe I was so careless."
"Happens to the best of us," she assured him as confidently as she could.
He grinned at her warmly. "Thanks, Miyazawa. Why don't we try working on these essay questions?" He flipped a book open. "Here," he began, "two disks are connected by a stiff spring. Can one press the upper disk down enough so that when it is released it will spring back and raise the lower disk off the table? Can mechanical energy be conserved in such a case?"
She froze. Think, Yukino.
An image of herself in her old red gym suit danced into her mind's eye, complete with two low pigtails and large glasses: We can only assume the conservation of mechanical energy when there are no nonconservative forces or when we neglect the work they do.
And what were nonconservative forces again?
Forces are said to be nonconservative when their ability to do work has not been conserved, as in the case of a particle on which one or more forces act returns to its initial position with either more or less kinetic energy than it had initially, then in a round trip its ability to do work has been changed.
This was what she had been dreading all day. Sure, she could memorize the facts and the figures just fine. And now, thanks to weeks of perpetual study, she could even recite them in her sleep. But she couldn't, for the life of her, get the practical aspect of physics. The question should have been simple. She knew the concepts, didn't she? But why then couldn't her mind think of a coherent answer?
She did the best she could under the circumstances.
"Oh come on, Arima, that question's too easy!" she lied through her teeth. "Why don't we just spend the rest of the day concentrating on memorizing the formulas and calculating the problems on the practice tests?"
Souichiro shrugged good-naturedly. "Okay, whatever you want." Then he threw her an impish grin. "But maybe you'd want to take a break outside, just the two of us? And no physics?"
Her eyes lit up. Anything to get away from the entire pretense! She leapt to her feet and grabbed his arm. "Why don't you go get some chips from the store?"
He pinched her cheek. "Why don't you make us lemonade?" Then he laughed. "While you're at it, why don't you figure out how much kinetic energy it will take?"
Yukino in her brain: Kinetic energy of a body in motion is equal to the work it can do in being brought to rest. It is one-half the product of the mass of a body and the square of its speed.
She snorted. "Don't mess with me, Newton."
She was holed up in the student council room when he found her, bent over the list of student council assignments she had to take care of. It was a bright Friday afternoon, and Yukino was trying hard to delegate the tasks she had to the other class representatives. It was a good chance to keep her mind off her current academic dilemma. But because fate had a cruel sense of humor, exam week was next week, with the dreaded physics scheduled on the first day.
To be honest, she was just about to give up. Yesterday, they answered some problems in class, and she made a big show of answering only the concepts so that she wouldn't be called on to solve the problems on the board. After their review session at her house, Souichiro had thankfully refrained from bringing up physics that she found some room to relax. Now she thought that if she kept herself busy doing something else, she wouldn't feel the pressure too much.
Yukino in her brain made another appearance: Pressure is a scalar quantity. It is defined as the magnitude of the normal force per unit surface area. Pressure is transmitted to solid boundaries or across arbitrary sections of fluid at right angles to these boundaries or sections at every point.
And she'd had just about enough of this Yukino flitting in and out of her thoughts to torture her with more physics facts.
"It's not a matter of life and death, you know."
She didn't need to turn around to know it was Souichiro. "What?"
He bent down so his face was at a level with hers. He was wearing his kendo uniform and a bright smile. "This student council thing. It's not a matter of life and death."
If only he knew, she sighed inwardly. "What are you still doing here?" she asked. "Aren't you supposed to be at practice?"
The other Yukino gloated: Arima's kendo stick lies on a frictionless horizontal table. It has a mass M and is free to move in any way. Another stick, moving with speed v, collides elastically --
"Awww, shut up!" she cried out.
"Are you okay, Miyazawa?" Souichiro asked, concerned. "I didn't say anything."
She gave him a forced smile. "Uh, I was thinking of that new pop song," she lied. "Shut up… when will you learn to shut up…" she sang tonelessly.
Souichiro just shook his head in amusement. "Anyway, I'll be heading off to the gym in a while. Just wanted to see you before the day was over." He handed her a piece of folded paper. "And to give you this."
She took it without a second glance. "Are you interested in being the student representative for the uniform committee? We need two, and Kawasumi from Class D already volunteered to be the other one."
"Sure," Souichiro answered. "Anyway, I had a feeling you'd be busy this weekend, what with the exams and everything, so I just wanted to say good luck."
"Good luck to you, too," she said sincerely. "I'll just get back to this list before I hit the books later."
He jogged away. "Just don't strain yourself."
The Yukino in her mind couldn't resist: Arima started from rest and moved with constant acceleration. At one time he was traveling at 3 ft/sec and --
The real Yukino pounded her head on the table in frustration.
Yukino got home tired but relatively unscathed -- unless you counted the fact that it took all of her willpower to restrain the other Yukino from asking her to calculate problems on motion and acceleration throughout the entire train ride.
She flopped down on her bed and took a short nap. When she awoke an hour later, she wearily dug out her books and prepared to study. But a piece of paper fell out of her bag, and Yukino immediately remembered that it was the one Souichiro had given her.
It was a handwritten reviewer.
There it was -- five pages of facts, formulas, problems, and whatnot -- stapled together and written in Souichiro's neat scrawl. Despite his busy schedule, he had found the time to make her one, without even her asking for him for anything.
Everything she could need, right before her.
Before she realized what she was doing, her fingers were already dialing his number. "Arima?" she said when he answered.
"Is anything wrong?"
Yukino took a deep breath. "I, uh… Actually, uhm, I…"
"Miyazawa? What is it?" There was no disguising the concern in his voice.
She could picture him quite clearly. He would probably be wearing a light blue shirt and his favorite shorts. His hair would be slightly damp from the bath he just took to watch off the scent of kendo practice. He would hold the receiver up to his left ear as he leaned against the wall, just listening to her convert oxygen to carbon dioxide in a pathetic attempt to start a conversation. His forehead would furrow slightly at her hesitancy, as it always did when he was worried about her.
And then everything fell into place.
It didn't matter who was the strong one or how was the weak one. It was just like Einstein said. Everything was relative.
Someday, Souichiro was going to need her help. Maybe he would just show up on her doorstep, wet from an afternoon rain, looking like the lost boy he really was. But right now, she was the one who needed him.
And it was all right.
And for once, the Yukino in her brain remained silent.
"How did you -- How did you find the total energy of the atom in question ten?" She swallowed, and added softly. "I seem to, uh… I uh…" A pause. "I need your help."
If he was surprised, he didn't show it. "I'll be over in a few. Let's study in?"
Yukino smiled to herself. Maybe they would study. Maybe not. After all, it was just physics. "Will do."
More Author's Notes: Written with Katachi No Nai Machi Wo Mezashite (from Comic Party) playing in the background, which I think is a great song for Yukino and Souichiro. It sings about how despite the confusion and doubt in the world, there will always be one special person who will be all that you need.
I realize that it might be a little late for Arima to come over and help Yukino study, but I felt that any later would ruin the story's mood.
And for the record, I HATE physics. Resnick and Halliday's Physics Part I was used for reference for this fic.