“Dinitrophenol, or DNP, is an uncoupler, which means it interferes with the flow of electrons during electron transfer. Fifty years ago, DNP was given as a drug to help patients lose weight. Question A: Why would taking DNP cause someone to lose weight?” Ludwig glanced up at Alfred after finishing the question.
“Short answer: taking DNP causes a higher rate in metabolism and a higher rate of breakdown of fat and sugar. Long answer: the proton motive force that is formed will not go through the ATPase, but through the DNP channels that are formed in the membrane. This causes the body to produce much less ATP per gram of glucose and tricks your body into breaking down more glucose because it thinks it needs to make more ATP.”
“Correct. Question B: Why would taking DNP be dangerous.” Ludwig and Alfred were sitting on the latter’s bed studying for the AP Biology exam. Well, Alfred was; Ludwig was just making sure he was prepared.
“Uh…I know it has something to do with the body overheating, since it’s an uncoupler.”
“Come on, you knew this last week.” Alfred sighed and leaned back to lie on his bed. Ludwig remained sitting cross-legged next to him with his back against the wall. Ludwig waited a few more moments for the other to answer before reading what was on the page.
“The heat produced by the body when the PMF is released through the uncoupler is simply too much. Many people have reported feeling as though they are on fire from the inside and many people have actually died from the results of too much DNP.” He closed the AP exam book after making a small mark next to the question.
“That’s the fifth one you got wrong today and you have less than two weeks. What’s wrong?” When Alfred didn’t respond he hit him lightly on the stomach with the book. Alfred half-heartedly swung his arm up as if he meant to try to block it but didn’t come close to stopping the hit.
“Sorry, just thinking.”
“That’s what you’re supposed to be doing.” This time it was Ludwig who got hit on the shoulder.
“Don’t be a smartass,” Alfred laughed, moving his arms behind his head before closing his eyes.
“Seriously though….” Ludwig waited for the other to continue. In the meantime, he opened the review book and began to dog-ear the pages that had little marks next to questions and unfolded corners where marks had been erased.
“How did you know you were gay?” Ludwig glanced up from his task to see Alfred looking at him with half-opened eyes.
“Let’s see. Sixth grade I thought, ‘Okay, time to start liking girls’. Seventh grade came around and it switched to, ‘Maybe I’ll start liking girls now’. Eighth grade it was just, ‘Oh God, I’m gay’.” He watched Alfred’s face as he spoke, but the other didn’t give any indication as to why he was asking. Though, he did look slightly disappointed in a way. “Why?”
“Oh, you know. Just thinking.” Ludwig sighed and leaned over Alfred to put the exam book on the floor next to the bed.
“No point in trying to get you to study then.” He sat back up and leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes. Junior year had drained nearly everything from him and they still had nearly two months. He didn’t know how he was going to make it through senior year, much less college. As long as his and Alfred’s plans went well, he felt he could get through it. As long as he got into Harvard and Alfred into MIT, they were golden. They just had to get in first.
“Do you want to kiss?” He nearly missed the question, but when it finally registered in his mind Ludwig’s eyes popped open and he gaped at Alfred who at least looked a little sheepish.
“Well, you see-,“ Oh, there was an explanation, “-I was thinking. How do I know if I like guys or girls or both or neither or what because I have no idea. I think I feel the same way about everyone, but I don’t know yet. So, do you want to kiss to see if I like guys?” Ludwig didn’t know how to reply. His brain spluttered and couldn’t seem to process what Alfred was saying.
“You want to kiss?”
“If you’re okay with it.” Of course he was okay with it. He’d wanted to kiss Alfred since freshman year, maybe a little before, but didn’t want to ruin their friendship. But what if they did kiss and everything fell to shambles. Or worse, what if they kissed and Alfred did like guys but not Ludwig and he had to go through life knowing it was a possibility but also could never happen.
“Okay.” They both seemed surprised when he agreed.
Ludwig sat as still as he could as Alfred propped himself up on one arm and placed a hand on the other’s cheek. Ludwig stopped breathing when Alfred leaned in closer. His breath was warm when he spoke.
“You know, the only person I’ve ever kissed and wasn’t related to was Jackie Clemmings.” Ludwig exhaled slightly before speaking.
“Wasn’t that in second grade?” Alfred grinned.
“I don’t even really remember it. Though, I think it would rank as a ‘Worst Kiss Ever’.” Alfred was leaning in closer and Ludwig felt himself lean in a little as well.
Their foreheads touched.
“She might be a better kisser now.” Ludwig hoped his breath didn’t smell too bad. They had eaten earlier.
“I wouldn’t know.” If Alfred’s breath smelled vaguely of cheese curls that meant his did too.
He didn’t have much time to worry about it because Alfred lightly pressed his mouth to Ludwig’s before pulling back. There weren’t fireworks or sparks or anything they say you’re supposed to see when you kiss your true love. All Ludwig felt was his heart completely stop.
“Well?” Alfred looked contemplative.
“I think we need to do it again. I don’t know yet. Maybe we should put more ‘oomph’ into it.” Ludwig raised an eyebrow at that.
“Yes, oomph. Like, pretend we’re in a rom-com or something and we’re finally realizing our love for each other after years of friendship and dancing around each other.” Ludwig didn’t have to pretend about that.
He felt Alfred shift to put more of his weight of the hand that had moved a little so the fingers could wrap around the back of Ludwig’s neck. Alfred leaned in and this time Ludwig closed his eyes and moved in to meet him, trying to correctly remember how they did it in the movies. He didn’t think they did it correctly when it ended in them banging their teeth together. Both of their heads snapped back and Alfred removed the hand on Ludwig’s face to bring it up of his mouth.
“Okay, too much oomph.” His voice was muffled slightly from his hand. Ludwig nodded in agreement.
“Well,” Alfred removed his hand and smiled, ”third time is the charm, right?” They moved back to their previous positions. Feeling more comfortable Ludwig rested his hand on Alfred’s waist.
They moved slower this time, but not as slow as the first kiss. It was still gentle when they met. Feeling a little bold, Ludwig tried to incorporate some of what he’s seen from movies and television and moved his lips a little. Alfred seemed to like it since the arm holding his weight moved up to move around Ludwig’s neck. Ludwig tried to use his free hand to hold them up, but couldn’t before they both fell sideways onto the bed.
“Sorry,” Alfred mumbled. Ludwig propped himself up and brought a hand up to rest on Alfred’s cheek and leaned forward to go back to kissing him before remembering why they were kissing in the first place. Flushing red, he moved his hand down to Alfred’s shoulder before speaking.
“Do you know yet?”
Alfred shook his head as he spoke, “I think we need to try a couple more times.” Ludwig was confused.
“How many times is ‘a couple more’?” Alfred blushed and averted his eyes.
“Until I get tired of them,” he nearly whispered. Realizing what was going on, Ludwig nodded.
“We better get started then.” Alfred smiled and leaned up to kiss him, but before he could an alarm rung out. Alfred moved to pick up his phone from the nightstand.
“Well, it’s time to start reviewing for your AP Macroeconomics exam.” They shared a look and Ludwig sat up with a sigh.
“Remind me why I’m trying to get into Harvard again?” Alfred stood up to get the book off of his desk.
“C’mon, you’re going to Harvard and I’m going to MIT. That way we’re not competing but we’re still five minutes away.” Alfred sat back down on the bed and opened it to the first dog-eared page.
“It’s either that or U of Penn and Drexel and I don’t think either of us want to go to Drexel.”
“We’re still applying to those places!”
“Just as back up. Now, tell me about the monetarist equation of exchange.” Ludwig let out a puff of air.
“For every five questions you get right I’ll give you a kiss.” Ludwig looked at the shit-eating grin Alfred was wearing.
“MV equals PQ. M is the supply of money, V is the velocity of money or the number of times per year the average dollar is spent on final goods and services, P is the price level or the average price that each unit of physical output is sold at, and Q is the physical volume of goods and services produced. Left side is the total amount spent and the right is the total amount received.” Alfred smiled.
“Good. Just four more to go.”