Ethereum pored over the books spread out on the library table in front of him. He swapped between highlighting, annotating, and taking notes. What he was trying to do was a lot of work, had never been done before, and he couldn't afford to slack on it. So many people—so many metaverse projects— were depending on him.
He had to make the transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake as seamless as possible. Everyone who said that cryptocurrencies and NFTs destroyed the environment, that they weren't sustainable, that it was all a pyramid scheme… he'd show them all.
Well, not about the pyramid scheme part.
But with all the environment stuff he would TOTALLY show them. It had stung when Cardano did it first—he was a total newbie, hadn't spent nearly as long working at this as Ethereum had, wouldn't have gotten anywhere near that level of success if ETH hadn't set the stage—but he was over that now. He was the biggest blockchain in the world, and he intended to stay that way.
Footsteps sounded down the library hall. Hmm? Was someone else coming? This section of the library wasn't used often… maybe Solana? She was always running around. Hm, no, those footsteps were slower, sounded like someone bigger, sounded like…
"Of course you're here," Bitcoin smirked. He sauntered up to the table. Him and his giant, stupid, 6'3" body with huge pec—pecuniary returns. Ethereum always felt so small next to him… His face heated up when Bitcoin leaned over the table. Taking one look at the scattered research materials, Bitcoin scoffed. "You're still trying to switch to proof-of-stake? What a waste of time."
"It's not a waste," Ethereum hissed. "It's the future of the blockchain."
Bitcoin crossed his arms. His big, strong arms… "If it was the future, then Cardano would be number one by now. But that position still belongs to me."
Ethereum shot out of his chair—"Oh, like that means anything!" he shouted, before remembering he was in a library. He shrunk back in on himself. "Y-you were just in the right place at the right time. You got lucky. The rest of us are putting in the work."
"Lucky doesn't get portfolio recommendations from Yale economists," Bitcoin said. That smirk never left his face. Even standing next to him, Ethereum was still so much smaller. He had to stretch his neck to see up past Bitcoin's chest. His… massive chest. Ugh. Ethereum tried not to look at it. Much better to look into his eyes instead. His deep, blue eyes. …Actually, maybe it wasn't any better.
Ethereum shook away those thoughts and tried not to think about their proximity. He couldn't just back down! "And NFTs have been written about in Business Insider, with cryptopunks selling for millions of USDC. We both know that coverage in the mainstream press hardly means anything to cryptocurrencies."
"Coverage means value. From the mainstream press especially." He laughed harshly. "Though I guess you know that, with your constant claim that you're switching to proof-of-stake. Set a new goal, get press, get investment—and you don't actually need to do a single thing. Not a half-bad grift."
Oh, that was just—"It's not a grift!" He wouldn't be insulted like this! "Energy consumption is the number one thing stopping millions of people from using the blockchain, and as the second-biggest blockchain in terms of market capitalization and the biggest blockchain for NFTs it falls on me to set an example, especially because you won't fucking do it! You just keep siphoning energy and computer parts and claiming to be big and important, but you're not! You were just first, and you've been riding that wave ever since. You're"—he jabbed a finger at Bitcoin's chest—"you're no better than a memecoin!"
Finally, the smirk melted off of Bitcoin's face. "A memecoin…?" He clicked his tongue. "That isn't what you really think, is it?" His (large, warm) hand wrapped around the one Ethereum still had at his chest, and slowly pulled it down to the table. "You wouldn't want a memecoin to do this to you." Bitcoin caged him there, Ethereum's knees bending backwards against the table. One of Bitcoin's legs settled between Ethereum's.
Ethereum stuttered out, "W-why…"
"If you're gonna insult me, you gotta deal with the consequences," Bitcoin muttered into Ethereum's ear. He pushed him far enough that Ethereum was forced to sit on the table. The angle had him practically lying down. "I see how you stare at me."
Maybe Ethereum wasn't so subtle when he ogled Bitcoin's chest. He couldn't deny that he was attracted to him. But he still meant everything he'd said—did he really want to go further with someone whose utilization of natural resources he found so irresponsible? Someone who didn't care that computer graphics cards were being crunched through like candy for his sake, whose very existence meant that people would always be wary of other blockchains? "I… I shouldn't…"
"Shouldn't what? Shouldn't let me do this?" Bitcoin leaned into the crook of Ethereum's neck, and—using his free hand to pull his collar down just a tad—sucked.
His hand slapped over his mouth.
"Liked that, huh?" Bitcoin said.
Ethereum couldn't deny it.
But he couldn't let this continue, either, no matter how much the most basal part of him wanted to let Bitcoin have his way. "W-we can't. Not here. I saw—I saw CRO in here earlier, and you know she reports on all the other cryptocurrencies on her app."
Bitcoin huffed. "Don't want to sully your image by associating with me, huh."
"We're competitors," Ethereum tried to argue. "We're rivals—! For both our sakes, we shouldn't—"
"No, no, I get it." Bitcoin pulled away. He stood up and started to turn around. "I'm just a memecoin, after all," he spat as he left.
Ethereum was left alone. He sat up, still leaning on the edge of the table. What had just happened? Bitcoin was just trying to get a rise out of him, wasn't he?
But if that was true, then why had he sounded so hurt when he left…?