The duo of science and magic are well-known for their incompatible compatibility. By this, I mean that they are tremendously different in every aspect of their lives and personalities. It was hard for them to ever find things that they both liked doing. Uni Cornelius was a lover of carefreeness and nature- he loved to step outside of life’s default boundaries and live it to the fullest. Barry Ill, on the other hand, was quiet and isolative. He was fascinated by nature but couldn’t stand to be within it out of fear of germs. He liked being in control of what he exposed himself and his body to. Uni liked to just do whatever. To summarize the latter, they had trouble deciding on how to spend their time together.

“Hanging out” meant a very different thing to Uni than it did to Barry. To Uni, hanging out was causing trouble: breaking into off-limits properties, being a typical hooligan just for the hell of it. To Barry, hanging out just meant sitting in a room, reading in silence with no work left to do. That was what he found relaxing- lounging around, doing nothing. What Uni found relaxing, was rampaging around like a little goblin. He didn’t like being in one place for too long- his legs often grew restless and eager to move around; on the other end, Barry grew tired easily, and found that he didn’t like walking around very much. All of these things made it difficult for them to find things to do whenever they “hung out” with each other. Uni found Barry’s nerd books to be lame, and Barry found Uni’s shenanigans dangerous and stressful.

Then why did they even bother wanting to “hang out” at all? They had virtually nothing in common, sharing no interests or personality traits. Well, if it wasn’t already a little bit obvious, for some reason they… fancied one another. On both ends it made no sense to them. Uni was the embodiment of absolutely everything that Barry loathed, but yet… whenever he was around he got that feeling, the childlike feeling of butterflies. He wondered if circuits in his brain were malfunctioning and his perceptors of “adoration” and “irritation” were swapping their transmissions. The only reason Barry truly felt irritated by Uni was because of how Uni made him feel. He didn’t like having the tables turned on him like that. To be fair, Uni defied the laws of physics and deflected all logic, so it was no surprise that he’d defy the logic of Barry’s heart.

They were just friends, (if you could even call it a friendship) who didn’t know how to deal with their feelings. How would they spend time together, if it was so hard to find things to do? Barry wondered if they could go to something like a museum- those had interesting and intellectually stimulating things, which would suit Barry, and would require lots of walking and movement, which would suit Uni. However, Uni wasn’t too crazy about the idea because he wasn’t very interested in history. “What’s so interesting about the past, bro? It’s like- not even happening anymore! Why’s it matter?” he would say. Barry didn’t have the patience to try and explain to Uni the importance of recognizing history- mostly because Uni would jump whenever he saw a mirror, not even recognizing his own reflection. “I’m being impersonated bro,” Uni insisted, “Some bro has cloned me. He’s out to steal my swag.”

So museum was out of the question, so he tried to think of similar things that would require walking around. That’s when he got the idea. As they bantered around trying to think of things, Barry prompted something that won the prize: an aquarium! On Spinch, the two-legged civilians were known as anthries. Anything that was non sentient (couldn’t talk and reason) was known as a ferry. Water ferries, like fish, were taken care of in special water reservations meant to emulate the natural ecosystem of the ocean. They were kept in these anthry-made habitats usually to protect endangered species from hunters. The aquariums were usually underground and contained ocean water that was filtered and cleaned. They were very large, with big glass walls to separate them from the guests. Barry was fascinated with water ferries and wanted to observe them. Uni liked the idea because those places were always so big and cool inside.

When they arrived, Barry and Uni’s eyes widened, looking round at the glass portals to the ocean’s depths. “Bro, how many fish do you think are in this place?” Uni asked, boggled at the rows of little aquatic creatures swimming about in the blue waters. Barry shook his head, approaching the glass with his mouth slightly agape.

“Thousands, possibly more. After all, this is less like an aquarium than its like a big nature reserve. It’s all real fauna and such. In fact, this place actually technically is just the ocean, but cleaner since it’s within this barrier. If anything, we’re the ones in a tank right now.”

“You think they’re looking down on us bro, like we’re the inhabitants?” Uni wondered. Barry didn’t like thinking too deep about that. Uni put his hands against the glass and gazed up at passing fish, his eyes following them as they passed. The glass was cold. “Hey bro, put your hands on this, it’s so cool!”

Barry cringed, seeing all the fingerprints across the glass surface. “I think I’ll pass…”

He took out his notebook and started taking notes about the schools they moved in, the patterns of their swimming, the velocity at which they swam. It was just a bunch of scribbles and numbers in Uni’s eyes, even with his glasses on. Barry continued writing as they walked, mumbling to himself about whatever he was writing. He even drew diagrams with drawings of little fish. Uni found that he was focusing less on the fish and more on his friend’s scribbling. Something about it was endearing. It was… cute. Uni blushed and just smiled at him, happy to see Barry doing something he loved. “Hey Mr. Facts, you wanna share what it is you’re oh-so-intently crafting on that notepad of yours?” Barry stopped and looked up, as if he’d forgotten Uni was there. He blushed and looked down at his feet.

“Sorry- I just love studying things a lot! The swimming of fish is fascinating to me! The way they flex their bodies and tail back and forth to propel themselves against the force of water… with all the different currents… It’s so interesting! I love everything about the natural world and the way living things adapt to changes in their environments! And don’t even get me started on how cool evolution is–” Barry rambled on. “Can you believe we were once tiny one-celled organisms deep in the ocean billions of years ago, and now we’re these complex, advanced civilizations? Everything about life and the way it works is incredible and beautiful! And every living being is made of billions and billions of tiny atoms… little building blocks that determine exactly how we look and think and behave…” Barry suddenly paused and looked self conscious about how long he’d been talking. “S-sorry, that stuff probably isn’t interesting… I sort of rambled…”

“No, no,” Uni nodded at him, “I think it’s interesting bro! You make all the nerd stuff sound so exciting with how excited it makes you.” He smiled at Barry. “I like the sound of your voice bro.”

Barry blushed. “R-really? Most people think science stuff is boring…”

“I thought it was too bro, but you make me interested, bro. I don’t know a lot of the words you say, but I want to learn bro!” Uni told him. Barry felt his heart flutter and he stared at his feet, his face feeling very warm. The two of them kept walking through the aquarium, with shadows of fish raining down on them from the tank walls. They were quiet for a while. Eventually Uni started feeling sort of nervous for some reason, so he decided to say something obnoxious to appear less vulnerable. “With how many fish there are, you think they’re fuckin’ in these tanks bro?”

Barry squinted, partially astounded that it had taken him that long to say something of that nature. “…I would… assume so, since they do spend their entire lifespan within the tanks. I don’t know where any new fish would otherwise be coming from.”

“What if the government genetically engineers them and squeezes them out of like, specialized fish-producing machines to influence the economy bro?”

“…I wouldn’t put it past the government to do that, honestly.”

The two of them suddenly stopped. There is a little girl crying beside the tank wall. She looks like she is 7 or 8 years old. No parents seem to be anywhere nearby. Barry and Uni look at each other before approaching the child cautiously. “Hey kid, are you okay?” Barry asked, kneeling beside her. The little girl was a light blue cat wearing a purple t-shirt and a pink tutu. Fresh tears rolled down her very red face, and she shivered and sobbed as she looked up at Barry. “I lost him!” she cried, “He’s gone! He’s gone! I’ll never find him!”

“Who’s gone? What’s your name?” Barry tried consoling her. He struggled being around young children because they were often very messy. It made him anxious to be near them, but right now he was concerned about this child. “Where are your parents?”

“M-my mama is looking for Jerry. She said-to- to stay here- while she looked for someone- to- help,” the little girl stammered.

“Who is Jerry?” Barry asked, eyebrows furrowed.

“M-my goldfish… I brought him with me to the aquarium so he c-could see more fishies like him, b-but when I was walking down here, at the top of the tank, I held him over it so he could look inside but I d-dropped him… I’m scared he’s gonna get eaten o-or lost forever…” She reached in her pocket and held out a picture of her and Jerry she drew. “H-he’s my best friend…” Barry felt his heart ache for this girl and he looked at Uni, who stared with his mouth open, on the verge of tears. This poor little girl…

“Hey, we can help you find Jerry. Is he a regular goldfish?” Uni asked. The girl shook her head, sniffling.

“He’s not regular at all, he’s the best goldfish ever…” she said. “He’s inside a bag like that one,” The girl pointed at another person holding a bag full of water with a fish. Uni scratched his chin in thought. He turned to Barry. “Hey, Mr. Facts, what do you know about goldfish?”

“Uh… well, they don’t have stomachs or eyelids. They can swim up to 0.86 miles per hour. They can see ultraviolet and infrared light-”

Uni pointed to another fish. “What fish is that? How fast is it swimming?”

“Well that one,” Barry pointed at the glass, “Is a tuna fish! Right now, based upon the timing of it’s movements, it looks like it’s swimming approximately 4.66 miles per hour- however, they are capable of speed bursts up to 47 miles per hour when chasing food-” Suddenly Uni grabbed his notebook and flipped through the pages to find a blank one. “-hey! At least ask first!” Barry frowned. Uni started writing something down, eyebrows furrowed as he observed the tuna fish. His pupils darted around at other nearby fish and he started jotting down numbers. Barry watched him write with wide eyes. A stream of light suddenly shone from his horn like a headlamp, and he turned to scan through the tank’s waters. Various fish stopped swimming as if they were startled by his light, and froze in place. The girl rubbed her teary eyes and gazed up with wonder at the beacon of light.

Suddenly Uni grinned and straightened his posture, and his horn glowed with magic. A pink, yellow and blue light travelled through the tank, and onlookers watched with awe. The girl walked up to the tank window as suddenly a little plastic baggy came into view, and inside was a little orange fish. The girl smiled so wide and  pressed her face against the glass. “JERRY!!!” she cheered. Uni used his magic to bring the plastic baggy up to the top of the tank, and had it hover through the air and travel down until it was in the girl’s hands. She hugged the bag close and cried happily. Her mother arrived just then, and she smiled happily as she saw her daughter reunited. The mom hugged and lifted her girl in her arms, as the girl hugged Jerry. People around them clapped and cheered. Barry was stunned. The mother turned and thanked them both dearly before they hurried away, to get Jerry home safe. Barry looked at Uni with his mouth gaping, still processing what all had just happened.

“You were calculating velocity… How did you do that?” Barry breathed. Uni laughed at him a little.

“It’s not very complicated. I took into account the speed of the tuna and compared it to the movement of all other fish in the tank. The goldfish would have been moving around 0.04% the speed of what that tuna was moving, but this doesn’t take into account the weight of the bag the fish was inside- because it sank from the surface it probably was full to the brim with water, with no room for oxygen. Those bags are about-” he made gestures with his hands to show the proportions. “4 by 6 inch capsule shapes, so that’ll make the volume about 569.8³ when rounded-” he stopped and looked up at Barry’s dumbfounded expression. “…what, did you think I couldn’t do math?”

Barry looked at the floor sort of shamefully. “You said you didn’t even know how to read, Uni…” he bellowed, still processing this.

“I can read. My vision’s just bad without my glasses.” He handed back Barry’s notepad. Barry honestly felt kind of embarrassed and assumptive. “Don’t worry, you’re still smarter than me bro, I know nothing about adams and level ution.” At this, Barry just started laughing. He felt warm and fuzzy inside. “I just… wanted to help that girl bro,” Uni said, looking away. “Nobody deserves to lose their best friend, or anyone who means a lot to them bro.” Barry looked up at Uni, then glanced away too.

“Do you have a friend like that?” he asked.

“Do you?” Uni replied.

They had trouble looking at one another. Barry felt very shy. “…you’re a really good person, you know that Uni?” he stammered out instead. “You’re a hero.” For whatever reason Uni just laughed at hearing that.

“A hero to ferry-kind, bro?”

“Something like that, yeah.”

The two of them sat down against the wall of the tank and looked upwards at the fish as they climbed the glass. They were quiet for some time again. Barry just thought about all of his feelings in depth, and Uni did the same. The rows of fish seemed to symbolize their many passing thoughts all at once, because it was not just one thought stream in their minds- it was a connection of rivers all entwined. Streams that occasionally overlapped, for they were thinking the same thing about the other in the same moment. Barry became ridiculously brave suddenly. “H-hey… Um… Uni?”

“Yeah, bro?”

“C-can I do something…kind of weird?”

This question was very open ended. What did weird mean? What was he asking? What did he want to do? All of these questions raced through Uni’s mind as he nervously swallowed and said sure. He didn’t know what to expect at all. There was a feeling in his gut about what it was, but… no… it couldn’t be that! As much as he was so certain about this, so certain that he would bet 1000$ on it- somehow, for once in his life, it was right. Barry stared at Uni nervously and breathed through his mouth, and Uni stared back. “I-if I do this, you have to promise you’ll pretend it didn’t happen…”

Uni felt his body shaking, and he nodded briskly, unable to use words. Barry moved closer to him. And closer. Uni’s heart pounded and he tried to not hyperventilate, and Barry did the same. Suddenly their noses were touching, and they breathed each other’s breath. After what felt like an eternity, Barry closed the space between them- and they both stayed frozen with their mouths pressed together. Barry leaned closer to him and deepened the kiss. It seemed endless; it was moment that they both did not ever want to end.

Eventually it did, as Barry pulled back to breathe. “…” he continued to stare at him. “I… I… I don’t know why I did that…”

“…did what, bro?” Uni breathed back in a small laugh. Barry laughed back.

“Nothing…”