. . . I have no idea where this came from. (Actually, my conversations with my friends during lunch are usually this random. It's kind of sad.)

Happy summer!


The regulars were spending the heat-stricken summer at the beach. It would've been a spectacular idea (and in some ways, it was) except for the fact that their captain seemed extremely engaged in a women's magazine.

Yukimura flipped through the magazine casually. Marui and Niou watched from a few feet away and engaged in a heated, whispered conversation. Akaya tried unsuccessfully to eavesdrop, and was dragged away by Jackal and Niou, the both of whom knew better than to eavesdrop on the resident tricksters' conversation.

"But I wanna know what they're saying," Akaya whined.

"I'm sure it's not that interesting," Jackal lied.

"But they're talking." Akaya folded his arms stubbornly. "And Yukimura-buchou looks so peaceful, reading. I don't want to interrupt him—I don't really mind interrupting Niou-senpai and Marui-senpai, though."

Sanada, meanwhile, seemed to know what Yukimura was up to (having asked him earlier) and read a novel off to the side contently. What a glorious day it was for him! Not having to deal with any cases of randomness was a spectacular thing indeed.

Yanagi, who also knew what Yukimura was doing, took occasional notes and once in a while said something to Sanada, who (and here was the real shocker) smiled at the comments.

And all of this knowingness (of lack thereof) was driving Akaya insane.

x

"What do you think he's doing?" Marui asked quietly. "I don't really get why he'd read a women's magazine. I mean, sure, Sanada might do it or something, but Yukimura? No way."

Niou nodded slowly. "This is a case," he explained, "of HCMBHGN."

Marui frowned. "There are no vowels in that," he complained. "I can't turn it into a cool word." He paused. "Wait, what does that mean?"

"'Holy Crap, My Buchou Has Gone Nuts'," Niou said patiently. He snickered. "This has happened a ton of times before; it's just so commonplace that nobody notices it. HCMFHGN."

"Oh: Holy Crap, My Fukubuchou Has Gone Nuts," Marui realized. "I see, I see. But that's a different type of insanity, I think. Because, you know, there's also HCMKHGN. And that type of insanity is obviously in a completely different class."

"Holy Crap, My Kouhai Has Gone Nuts." Niou nodded wisely. "But that one is a bit of a paradox, because the kouhai, metaphorically speaking, is already—nuts."

"It's not so much insanity as childish naïveté," Marui agreed. "That's like, 'Mommy, the moon ran out of battery power' crazy. HCMBHGN is more of a 'Yukimura-buchou spray painted Hyotei's tennis courts hot pink' crazy."

Niou shook his head. "That can't be classified as HCMBHGN because that's something Yukimura would do anyway," he pointed out. "I think these three forms of insanity can be successfully compared to the rivalry between lions, tigers, and leopards."

" . . . what?"

"You don't see it? Okay, fukubuchou would be the tiger, because tigers are powerful and scary and whatnot. When they lose their sanity, they go quiet for a few minutes and then 'tarundoru' the entire forest."

"Tigers live in forests?" But Marui was starting to catch on. "Right, and the lion would be buchou, because lions are majestic and powerful, and they can bite their opponents' heads off." He snickered. "And the kouhai would be the leopard, because the leopard is the animal everyone forgets about."

"And it's completely viable that a lion might read a fashion magazine."

"Because of course lions just love reading fashion magazines."

"So they can have the best fashion sense in the world."

"And dress up all their lion friends."

"And take over the world."

"By forcing lions into dresses."

"And heels."

"But what if the smaller cats were to rebel? It wouldn't be a very subtle issue; would it just be the lions who are subjected to the dress code?"

"Ah, there lies one of the issues. You have to wonder if the smaller cats want to be a part of the lion society, and be subjected to the same dress code, or if they want to protect the other lions from the dress code, and establish an equally naked society."

"I think they'd like to join in on the dress-fest. I mean, who wouldn't want to be like the lions?"

"But that'd be giving up their honor as individual clans of small cats. Their nation-states would be in complete disarray."

"But what if . . ."

x

Yukimura seemed quite amused. Yanagi was explaining something to Yagyuu and Jackal, both of whom nodded slowly in understanding after a few minutes. Jackal gave a sharp laugh, and Yagyuu smiled in a little.

"But this can't be good for their sanity," Yagyuu said.

"That's a good point," Yanagi agreed. "But one could argue that they weren't sane to begin with."

x

Sanada walked over to Yukimura, who smiled up at him in greeting and patted the patch of sand next to him, gesturing for him to sit down. "This has been a very peaceful day, don't you think?" he asked.

Sanada murmured his agreement, then glanced at Niou and Marui, who were still whispering heatedly. "Niou and Marui seem rather intrigued by your choice of reading," he began.

Yukimura laughed. "Isn't that the point?"

"I thought the point was to find an appropriate birthday present for your little sister."

"That too."

"Right." Sanada seemed dubious, but didn't push the issue. "I think Akaya has taken to eavesdropping on them again. Yagyuu and Jackal are rather distracted, at the moment. I believe Yanagi is explaining the situation to them."

"Oh, Akaya." Yukimura shook his head and smiled a little. "He's such a darling. But I don't think listening in on Niou and Marui will be particularly beneficial for his sanity."

"What could the two of them possibly be talking about that's so interesting, anyway?" Sanada wondered.

x

". . . and that's why the goldfish would have to eat the sharks," Marui argued. "It's purely opinionated, of course, but it'd cause the necessary uproar in the oceanic ecosystem."

"Looking beyond physical incapability," Niou replied, "you have to wonder about the consequences. Reducing the shark population could adversely affect the whale population, which could lead to an influx in the krill population. And too much krill could negatively affect the water, which would cause the leopards to rebel."

"Not if the duck-billed-platypus population opposes it."

"And what would the duck-billed platypus do if the armadillo population opposed them?"

"They'd get out the nuclear weapons."

"Which would lead to a world war."

"Not at first, though. There's a chance that the civil wars have completely wiped them out, and maybe by the time they recuperate, they'd have the patience to find a diplomatic solution."

"But while we're talking about civil rights, what about the plants? Don't they have rights, too?"

"They can't speak for themselves, though."

"Ah, the language barrier. But you have to take into account that the Venus flytrap has the power to fight on the behalf of the plant population."

"Which species are we talking about, though? See, the roses, Venus flytraps, and poison ivies probably wouldn't mind. Maybe even the poppies. But the daisies and chrysanthemums wouldn't have the willpower to fight. I don't think they'd even want to engage in a war."

"Not if you kill off the entirety of the grass population. They'd be pissed."

"But killing the grass population would cause a war in itself."

"The grass are a very peaceful species."

"Yeah, they'd probably be dead at this point, anyway; the tiger would have tarundoru'ed the hell out of them by now."

"You have to keep in mind that the grass would be thoroughly protected by their cousins, though."

"The trees and bushes are a very dangerous opponent."

"Definitely formidable."

"Ah, but not if the alligator population learns to use the chainsaw."

"I think you need thumbs to use a chainsaw."

"A special type of chainsaw."

Niou let it slide. "But if you were to remove all the trees, you have to think would the avian population would do in response."

"The vultures would probably . . ."

x

Jackal dragged a shocked, stiff, confused, and mentally unstable Akaya out of his hiding place, from where he'd been trying to listen in on Niou and Marui's conversation.

And so went another day at the beach.