The other students all whined and complained. They attempted begging, bribing, even threatening, to get out of it. They claimed to have too much work at home, they claimed they had to watch their siblings all the time over break and so would have no time. Some even claimed it was a waste of time because they knew it all.
It was ironic that the only boy out of the twenty students in Trisha Bradford's fifth grade class who did have too much work to do at home, who did have to watch his sibling all the time, and who actually did know it all, was also the only boy out of the twenty who didn't complain about having homework over vacation.
Seto Yagami placed the packet of work into his book bag and tried to ignore the grating voices of his "peers" as they pleaded for mercy.
Seto knew what the work was for.
If these dullards don't do this work, they'll forget everything they're supposed to be learning, he thought.
They wouldn't do it. They'd do some of it on the bus in two weeks on their way back to school, but Seto figured that the only correct answer any of them would have would be the first fill-in-the-blank: "Name - ."
This was perhaps a cruel thing to think, but Seto didn't care. He was in a particularly bad mood and the clamoring of his classmates wasn't making it any better.
Seto was glad when the bell rang not because he wanted away from his teacher (quite the contrary; he rather liked Miss Bradford), but because he wanted away from them.
He considered walking home instead of taking the bus to stay as far away from them as possible, but he had no time.
He had to get "home" as quickly as he could.
When he got "home," Seto went immediately around the house, through the back door, and into his room. Taking out his packet of exercises, he sat at his desk and immediately set to work. He wanted to get it out of the way so he wouldn't have to think about it later.
He got halfway through it without disturbance.
Then, at two o' clock, as if on cue, he heard his aunt's high pitched squeal: "Get out of my sight, you little brat! You need to learn to respect your elders!"
"He does, you psychopathic, belligerent witch...but since you act like a two-year-old, he doesn't see you as his elder..." Seto muttered.
The door opened, and Seto watched as Mokuba shuffled inside the room, a sullen expression on his face as he stared at the floor.
Seto shifted his weight, and Mokuba glanced up. His gray-violet eyes sparkled.
"Hey, kiddo," Seto said with a smile. "How are you doing?"
"Well, that's good. Aunt Carol got mad again, huh?"
"Yeah," Mokuba affirmed, nodding, "her yewwing 'gain...why her a'ways yewwing, bwudder?"
"I don't know, Mokie."
"Her no' nice...her go 'way."
"You want Aunt Carol to go away?"
"Well, don't tell her that, or she'll yell again. Only say that kind of stuff when you're alone with me, okay, Mokie?"
Mokuba sat down on the floor and started playing with a stuffed animal. Seto smiled again and turned back to his work. The three-year-old boy laughed as he tossed the toy around, making up some sort of superhero story about how it was saving some such person from imminent peril (which involved bathing, the most diabolical of tortures).
Seto only got through half a page before Mokuba grew bored with his toy and asked, "Wha' dat, bwudder?"
"This is my homework, Mokie."
"Homework?" the ever-curious boy repeated. "Bwudder doing homework? Fwum school?"
"That's right. From school."
"I wa' see!"
Mokuba then proceeded to clamber onto his older brother's lap and almost onto the desk in order to see the packet of questions sitting there
Taking hold of the boy and forcing him to sit down so he wouldn't hurt himself, Seto smiled. "Now, now, Mokie. Sit down. See there? That's math."
"Math?" Mokuba repeated, glancing up curiously at the older boy. "Bwudder do math?"
"Yep. Math. Like your numbers. Do you remember your numbers, Mokie?"
"Yeah. I 'member numbers! I good a' numbers!"
Seto set his brother on the floor and looked at him. "Okay...let's see how well you remember, little guy."
He held up one finger. "What's this, Mokuba?"
"One!" Mokuba cried happily, pointing. "One finger!"
"Good job." Seto held up another finger. "What's this?"
"One, tyoo finger!"
"Okay. Good. This?" Another finger.
"One, tyoo, fwee finger!"
Seto smiled as he help up a fourth finger. "How about this?"
"Fow finger! One, tyoo, fwee, fow!"
"That's right. Four. Four fingers. How about this?" Up came a thumb.
Seto smiled, shaking his head. "No, no. Five. This number is five. One, two, three, four, five."
"One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe. Fibe!"
"Very good, Mokie. Five. Now what about this?" He held up the first finger of his other hand. "What's this?"
"Nope. Six, Mokie. This is six, not seven."
"One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe. Syix!"
"There you go. Good job. Now, what's this?" Another finger.
"Yes, Mokie. This is seven. After six is seven."
"Seben...one, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben. Seben!"
"Good. Seven. Next...?"
"No, you just said seven. What's after seven?"
Mokuba thought this over for several moments, then shrugged, looking questioningly at his older brother.
"Eight, Mokie. After seven is eight."
"Eight?" the boy repeated. "A'ter seben...eight? One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben, eight! Wight, bwudder? Da' wight?"
"Yes, Mokie. That's right. Now, just two more. What's this, Mokie?"
"No, no. Two comes after one. What comes after eight?"
Again, Mokuba shrugged. "I no' know, bwudder."
"Nine. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine."
"Yes, Mokie. This is nine."
"One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben, nine!"
Seto chuckled. "No, no. What about eight? Where's eight?"
Mokuba thought deeply on this inquiry for a long moment before pointing to the closet. "Dere! In dere!"
Seto raised an eyebrow. "What? No, it's not. Eight's not in the closet."
"Yeah, is. In cwoset. Wight dere."
"Show me. Where's eight hiding, Mokie?"
Mokuba immediately walked over to the closet and begain clawing through his toys. After about a minute of this, he thrust up a small toy car. "See? See dat?"
He showed the car to his brother, and Seto was shocked to find a small red eight painted on the side.
Looking up at his small, grinning, blissfully happy brother, Seto chuckled. "...Okay. Okay, Mokie. You're right."
"Yes. This is eight. Good job."
"One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben, eight!"
"Very good! Nine. Now...next, after nine, is ten." Seto held up both hands. "Ten."
"Ten!" Mokuba cried gleefully.
"Right. Now...count. One to ten. C'mon, Mokie. Show me."
"One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben, eight, nine, ten!"
"Good job! Very good, Mokie!"
Mokuba giggled. "I do it wight?"
"Yes, Mokie. You did very well." Seto ruffled his brother's hair affectionately. "Very good job, Mokie."
"What the hell're you yellin' about in here, boy!"
Seto looked up at the angry, half-drunk face of his uncle. "I was teaching Mokie how to count."
"Oh, yeah? So the brat can count now, huh?"
Seto bit back an angry retort. "...Yes. He can. To ten."
The big, hulking man glared down at the three-year-old boy. "Yeah...? Show me, Mokuba. Count to ten."
"One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben, eight, nine, ten!"
Genuine surprise registered on the tan, red-splotched face. "...Oh. Well. Damn. Got your own little school here, huh?"
Seto smiled slightly. "Yeah. Sort of."
"Nice...maybe ya oughtta teach yer momma somethin'. I oughtta send 'er in here."
"My mother's dead..." Seto muttered under his breath.
His uncle, who had been about to leave, turned. "What was that, boy?"
"Huh? Oh, I said, 'Go on ahead.' Why?"
"Hmmm...whatever. Hey, now 'at the kid knows his numbers, teach him some damn manners."
"Too weak to do your own work, huh? Too dense?"
"Tough week out at work? You look tense."
"...Oh. Yeah. Always is. Damn Ricky's always makin' me do his work...son of a bitch..."
"You should tell Jack."
"Think he'll get fired?"
"I can hope...anyways, I gotta go pay some bills 'n crap. Keep that brat quiet. Yer mom's sleepin'."
"My guess is she's hung over..."
"What'd you say?"
"Yes, sir. Got it covered."
"Oh...good. Y' oughtta speak up, kid. Too quiet fer yer own good."
Seto closed the door and turned to his young brother with a smirk. "They're adults, and you're smarter than them, Mokie."
"Smarter!" Mokuba cried, a grin still spread on his face. "Smarter, smarter!"
Mokuba sang this word several more times, finding that he liked the sound of it. "One, tyoo, fwee, fow, fibe, syix, seben, eight, nine, ten!"
Seto ruffled the boy's hair again. "Yes, Mokie. Very good."
Mokuba giggled and hugged his brother's waist. "Tank you, bwudder...I wern numbers 'cuz you..."
Seto smiled. "Just a little genius, aren't you?"
"Widdle genius! Me widdle genius!"
Seto hugged the boy close. "I'm proud of you, little guy. You did very well."
"...I love you, Mokie."
"I wuv you, tyoo, bwudder."
This one was inspired by my little brother, who's just getting to learn his numbers. When I heard how he says three, "fwee," I knew I had to use it somehow. So I figured I'd make a sequel of sorts to Headache, and thus this little story came into being. Another of Seto's pleasant memories.