Author's Note: I hope you all enjoy this chapter as much as I did writing it. Thank you, EclipsiaSoulbird and Rykaine, for being great betas.
Summary: Ren, the intellectual dream-boat extraordinaire challenges Ezra, his worst nightmare, into a series of intellectual face-offs. While Ren attempts to crush Ezra's cheerful perspective on the world, he does something that he never intended to do: fall in love. Male Pairing
Chapter One – "There is nothing more galling to angry people than the coolness of those on whom they wish to vent their spleen." Alexandre Dumas, French writer
They saw me as just another exceptional kid. I went to the university nearby, majoring in math, minoring in philosophy.
Mrs. Cartel said that all great mathematicians were first great philosophers.
Great philosophers my ass. The history books never mentioned Descartes or Kant going to a university to learn their art. Who came up with the ingenious idea of a class where one learned to think, anyway?
I thought every day of my life, and me just in high school. I thought about God and family and home and school and how God must really dislike me if he's the one who suggested me to the counselor. Mrs. Cartel, my counselor, made the suggestion to my parents about sending me ahead to university to study subjects I was good in. Good in, yet had no interest in pursuing after high school.
Of course, my parents were convinced that they knew what was best for me, and listened. I had my own philosophies about that, too, but kept them to myself. Who knew? University might prove to be interesting.
I still attended high school classes. Being around kids my age was necessary for me to develop the appropriate social skills. Supposedly, as a teenager, I had a hunger to interact with other teenagers, no matter how smart I ranked and how inferior they reeked.
Perhaps I was missing this "hungry" chromosome. I had absolutely no desire to interact with anyone.
Except, maybe, Ezra Young?
But that comes later.
I'm sixteen and currently stand at the top of my junior class because I skipped a grade. My parents registered me to Morris High a year early when I was in seventh grade and I was accepted as the only eighth grader in the freshman class. They believed that my previous school did little to satisfy my intellectual needs when I was consistently surpassing the eighth graders there in all subjects. Even at Morris High, my math skills as a freshman matched that of the top senior math students.
At the university, I found myself tutoring four students in basic algebra. I rarely engaged myself in community service and tutoring math was an easy way to get the required sixty hours to graduate from Morris High. Once again, Mrs. Cartel, upon hearing about my disposition, created magic at the university and I ended up here. Since it was a university setting, every hour was equivalent to two hours worth of credit. Today we were in the usual spot at the library.
I had given my students a quiz with the excuse that I wanted to see where they rated in math. Really, I just needed time to do some research for an essay due in American Literature on Monday.
My students worked quietly. If they resented being tutored by a kid at least two years younger than them, they didn't show it.
I was studying a page about some Ray Bradbury guy when a voice startled me.
I jerked my head up in irritation.
Some college kid was standing in front of me. He was very tall and had wild curly dark hair that framed his face. The black tee he wore was ridiculously small with some crude language on it. It rode up slightly to reveal some of his stomach. On top of that, his pants fell past his waist, and I could see his blue boxers.
"Hey, are you the Morris High guy?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, "I'm Ren Akita."
He grinned widely. "Awesome," he said. He swung his backpack from his left shoulder to the floor and sat down in the vacant seat on my right. Then he held out his hand. "I'm Ezra Young."
"Congratulations," I said, ignoring the gesture.
"I'm here for tutoring."
Without lifting my eyes from my book, I retrieved my own copy of the quiz from my binder and slid it across the table to him.
"Start now," I said.
There was an awkward pause long enough for me to notice; I glanced covertly at my new student.
Ezra caught my look. He smiled wryly, asking, "No notes, huh?" I shook my head. "Well can I at least borrow a pencil?"
"What are you doing walking around a university without even a pencil?" I asked incredulously.
Ezra raised his left brow inquiringly. "Please?"
When I didn't answer him, Ezra sighed uncomfortably.
"Okay, I think I've got one in my bag," he said and searched throughout his bag for it. When he did find one, he grinned at me as if to say 'I told you so'.
I was effectively distracted the rest of the hour from Ezra's pencil-tapping, glancing at Young every now and then.
The other students weren't doing any better. The quiz was supposed to be twenty-five minutes. They were taking over thirty minutes longer and my impatience was brimming.
None of them were working as fast as I desired.
And why couldn't this imbecile stop tapping the damn pencil on the table?
The tapping suddenly stopped. Ezra Young put the pencil to his lips, as though in deep thought, and then began scribbling down some numbers.
Peering suspiciously at his paper, I saw he wasn't doing too awful. Still awful, but not that awful.
Fifteen minutes later, he was the first to finish. "Here you are," he said, handing me the quiz and my pencil.
A dark lock of hair fell in his face just then. He ran his hand through it, setting the fallen piece back into place. I didn't realize I was staring until our eyes met, and noticed that he had been watching me watching him.
I quickly turned my attention to correcting his quiz, which I finished only seconds later. According to his work, Ezra had a sufficient understanding in algebra. Instead of being impressed at his work, I was rather irritated at him. Why was Ezra wasting my time if he had the basic algebraic skills mastered?
A while later, I excused everyone when the hour was up. My students left without a backward glance. I was only required to tutor up to two hours a week to obtain the community service credits required to graduate from Morris High.
I lingered, taking my time to gather my things and the quizzes that my students left on the table. There was just something so right about being in a library alone. It was just so peaceful with the scholarly atmosphere, quietness, and solitude...
"My mother once said that all the great philosophers were mathematicians."
Damn that Ezra Young! I spun about to face Ezra.
I was about to demand to know what he was still doing here, but he spoke first. "You take Buechner's class, don't you?"
"Yes," I responded flatly.
"Me, too." He beamed like a child who had just received a cookie. "I've seen you in class before."
I waited for him to explain what he was still doing here, or why this information should matter to me. When he didn't, I snapped, "What are you doing here?"
That damnable grin never wavered. "I want you to teach me all the math you know," Ezra said.
I felt myself smiling sardonically. "That's a lot to take in."
"I'm willing to learn."
I looked Ezra over and shook my head thoughtfully. "I'll think about it."
Then I turned and started for the exit. Ezra kept pace with me. When we were out of the library and making our way across the campus, and he was still walking beside me, I glance at him with raised eyebrows.
As if he had been waiting for me to acknowledge him, he said, "So! Ren, is it true you're actually still in high school?"
"I do not believe we're on a first-name basis, Young," I replied.
"You're a feisty little thing, huh?"
I looked away and walked faster. Ezra was about double my height and had no trouble keeping up. "I think we got off on the wrong foot," he said.
"You don't say..."
"How about I make it up to you?"
I stopped and looked at him, annoyed. He smiled innocently. Why did I get the feeling he was mocking me?
"Guess you're not in the mood to make up right now," Ezra said. "How about our next lesson?" He continued before I could respond, "Great! It's a date. Catch you later, Re—" He stopped himself and then finished, "Akita." Then he saluted and marched off in the opposite direction.
I stood in place and watched him go. He stopped a few times to chat and laugh with other college students. He jumped from one friend to the next with a lively spirit. No one should be so happy, I thought. Nevertheless, I noticed that there was a certain wiggle to how he walked. He practically skipped through the group of students. It was atrocious.
Then it suddenly occurred to me; why was I looking at another boy's ass in the first place?