"...Something About Physics"

Milo arched an eyebrow.

"You're a midwife at the birth of a new branch of physics, my man. We both have roles here," he said, cajoling. "We're a team."

"Dammit, Milo," Alphonse muttered. "I thought I knew something about physics. Undergrad, a masters degree, even shook Heisenberg's hand once, for chrissakes. I get the principle of uncertainty, I get quantum theory -- but I'm not sure I get what this plumbing sculpture has to do with any of that. It looks something that a kid tripping on Escher would draw in drafting class to piss off his teacher! Who was this Furlonger guy again?"

Milo's hands danced across the apparatus, testing and tightening connections.

"He was on Fermi's team, right at the very first. He got kicked off the project. Nobody knew why, or if they did, didn't say. I'd never even heard of him until I spotted the folder... remember, I told you all this at Grace's apartment? Then you said it could make us rich and famous, and you'd like that. Right?"

"All I remember about Grace's is all the candles in the bedroom."

"You get stoned too much," Milo grinned.

They started a friendly shoving match.

"Shut up!"

"You shut up!"

Alphonse's grip on Milo's shirt loosened after a second push, and his brow screwed down again. "What's it supposed to do?" I mean, really?

"It's a fus-ion gen-er-a-tor," said Milo, deliberately over-enunciating. "If it works, it will prove quantum theory by introducing an observable, measurable result initiated by a human..."

Alphonse cut him off: "... by a human being simply pressing a button. Right, right, I knew that."

"Yes, you did," Milo returned sarcastically.

Alphonse wasn't convinced that he really knew anything about the device. Milo, often taciturn anyway, had been downright vague, evasive and terse whenever Al tried to put the screws on for more data. Yet, if he had a chance to get rich and/or famous riding Milo's coattails, he was in like Flint.

Whatever Furlonger had been up to, he hadn't been quite smart or lucky enough to pull it off before he got his ass canned. And he had, supposedly, been a brilliant guy. But when Milo had chanced on his folder full of flawed, surreal diagrams in the library stacks, he'd sat with them for a couple of hours, at the table where they should have been cramming for midterm. Then he'd looked up with a slow thousand-yard stare, blinked, and told Alphonse he knew how to make the thing work.

So Alphonse bit back his retort. He wasn't going to screw this partnership up over a little temperamental behaviour. Of all the bright young minds at the U of C, Milo's was one of the more promising. Alphonse was good, but a relative plodder, and knew it. He had also been around long enough to know what real genius looked like, and he wanted to be there when the goose laid the golden egg -- and find a way to take a little credit himself -- if he could. Trouble was, Milo was quick, impatient, and prone to ignore people who couldn't keep up, so Alphonse hadn't felt comfortable asking too many questions. He was hanging on by a skimpy intellectual thread as it was. Probably polyester.