The second law of thermodynamics states that a closed system will move towards maximum entropy. Ceasar taps his pencil against the table and stares blankly at the empty space on the right side of the equals sign. The answer he’s arrived at doesn’t make any sense. He double-checks his equations.
“The twenty-fourth letter of the alphabet,” Ice says, sliding into the chair opposite. He sets his bag down with a clatter, and the other students in the library turn to glare. “That one’s easy.”
“Oh, you’re funny.” Ceasar fixes a multiplication error and writes 2, -3 on the line beside x.
Ice frowns. “I thought it was pretty clever,” he says, resting his head on the table. He watches Ceasar’s pencil scratching out numbers across the page. “You’re so good at this stuff.”
“Anyone can do these sorts of questions,” Ceasar tells him without missing a beat, “You’re just an idiot.”
“Hey, that hurts.” Ice’s hand creeps across the table. “If it’s that easy you should tutor me.”
“I don’t teach,” Ceasar says, checking his answers in the back of the textbook. He frowns and erases half of them. “You’re a lost cause, anyway. What are you doing?”
Ice is grinning as his fingers stroke across the back of Ceasar’s hand. “Teddy’s taking the kids to see a movie tonight,” he says. “You’ll come over, right?”
Ceasar can feel his heartbeat speed up. “I have homework,” he says, but their fingers are already linked together, and Ice is looking at him with a grin on his face. When two systems are joined, the entropy of the new system is greater than that of the individuals.
* * *
“I wonder why the virus doesn’t act up at times like this?” Ice asks. “You’d think it would.”
“I don’t know,” Ceasar says. He stretches out across the bed and Ice kisses up his chest. “I don’t know, I don’t know.” He doesn’t know what to do with his hands, he clutches at the sheets, draws Ice flush against him, claws at the air.
“You like me, right?” Ice asks, right in the middle, his lips on Ceasar’s ear. “You do, don’t you? Tell me. Tell me.”
Ceasar gasps and twists. Everything in him wants to be everywhere at once. He’s going in all different directions, spreading out to fill all the spaces. When he comes he pulls too hard on Ice’s hair, and lets out a cry that doesn’t mean anything in particular.
* * *
“Hey, don’t get up yet.” Ice pulls Ceasar back into bed. “They’re not gonna be back for awhile still, I told Teddy to take them to a late one.”
“I have homework,” Ceasar says, but he’s already back under the covers, Ice’s arm across his waist. “Hey,” he asks, “does it make you feel weird, too?”
Ceasar pinches Ice’s arm. “This, you idiot.”
“I guess,” Ice says. “I never know what to do or what I’m thinking. I get all tingly and happy and sick when you say you’ll come over.” His hand creeps across the bed. “What about you?”
“The same, I guess.”
“We’re the same, then.” Ice’s fingertips play across the back of Ceasar’s hand “Hey, you like me, right?”
“I don’t know,” Ceasar says, but their fingers are already twined together. Ceasar can feel Ice’s heartbeat speed up to keep time with his own, and suddenly it’s like they only exist where their skin touches, drawn to where they take ragged breaths in sync. Ceasar smiles. The funny thing about the second law of thermodynamics is that it can be broken.