Title: Regrets Collect (Like Old Friends)
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Category: Missing scene, drama
Characters: Yukawa Manabu, Utsumi Kaoru
Summary: She starts over. "The germanium -- what does it mean?"
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Notes: I started this at the beginning of the new season, but it sat unfinished until jyorraku asked for something about the tyrannosaurus. Apologies for the angst. Set during "Seijo no Kyusai" with references to "Yosoou" and "Madowasu." Title from Florence + the Machine.
"When you gave me the germanium... " Utsumi trails off, watching Yukawa, who has his nose in a book, as usual. She clears her throat a little when it seems he hasn't heard her, and he answers back with, "Hmm?"
She starts over. "The germanium -- what does it mean?" She holds her breath, because he's not going to get it, and she's going to have to poke and prod because Yukawa doesn't do emotions and --
"I told you," he says, "it was chosen because of your birthday."
"But I don't get it."
He looks up at that, finally, and she meets his gaze with a question in her own. He asks, "What don't you understand?"
She winces internally, looking down. That's what she gets for trying to ask. She fiddles with the edge of her grey t-shirt, the trim of thread sewed in the seam.
"You surprised me, that's all. Most women don't expect a hunk of rock when they're given a jewelry box."
"It's not rock."
"I know!" she snaps. "You don't have to tell me what it is, believe me, I've researched it enough." He stills at that, but he doesn't pick up the thread of argument, even though it's obvious that he was deciding whether or not to do so.
"Gifts are difficult to choose," Yukawa says instead, "especially for someone who is about to leave for an extended period of time." He closes the book with a snap and swivels around on his seat, closing that topic as he gets off the chair. Utsumi leans forward, watching as he bends over, disappearing from view for a few seconds. There's a shuffling sound, and then he turns back, hoisting a box up to the table, all the while not looking at her. Avoidance even while he seems to be taking care that she can still see what he's doing. She leans back, with a small intake of breath. He's peeved; upset about... ah, about her absence. She feels her irritation and confusion dissipate.
He rips the tape from the top of the box, and opens it to start unpacking the contents, which turn out to be an assortment of chemistry beakers, pipettes, and sundry. He sets the fragile items down with care.
Opening and closing her mouth a couple of times, Utsumi has a moment of struggle about how to continue the conversation. It's veered away from what she wanted to discuss. She looks off to the side, her mouth twisting, and the tyrannosaurus placed behind him catches her attention. She can only see the end of its gaping mouth from this angle, but it sparks a thought -- the correct approach coming with her examination of it. "You liked my gifts, didn't you?" she asks.
"Apart from how the first was assembled without my permission, I found them entertaining." He's reached the bottom of the box, and the resulting packaging obscures the contents he's set out. He puts the box on the floor and starts gathering the loose plastic wrappings.
"They were difficult for me to choose, too. I'm glad you're displaying them. I can only see the tyrannosaurus though. Where's the triceratops? You've received it, right?"
"I haven't assembled it yet. It's well-hidden."
"Ah. You're annoyed with Kishitani still."
"I am not annoy -- "
"And with me too, for leaving, even though you thought you'd be fine without me. I have no doubt you are, but you also aren't."
"That's contradictory." He bends down, his hands full of rustling plastic.
"Who are you most annoyed with?" Utsumi asks, taking the opportunity to ask point-blank, while he's distracted; while it's possible he might not hear her.
He does however, and he looks at her, as he straightens back into view. He answers, "She put it together without my permission, Utsumi."
"She could never replace you."
"Except for how I made her do it. If I'd known you wouldn't have gotten along -- "
"You would still have left."
Yukawa sighs, his shoulders dropping. Utsumi's lips part at how weary he looks in that one moment. Without intention, Utsumi reaches out, forgetting that he's kilometers away, that while he's there in front of her, the screen of the computer is between them, smooth under her fingertips, and he can't even see the gesture. The webcam only picks up a small range, and yet too much, it seems. Who knows if she would have noticed without the distance created by the camera. She keeps the question that comes to her unspoken: what's happened to make him look so sad?
When he looks back to her, she's already pulled her hand back and closed her mouth. The view shifts, and shakes, as he picks up his computer and moves it, not bothering to bring the camera up to his face, so she's treated to a view of his torso only. She covers her face with her hand, dismayed, for a second, before seeing if he's done. He sets it down, and she follows the swing of his desk chair, which is all she can see, and his hand, as he turns the chair around to the side. He drops into it, the creak very audible, and presses his knuckles to his mouth, looking away.
There's something wrong, something he's not saying, because he's keeping it to himself -- he's not ready, probably, to say anything, and she's already pried enough, already expended too much energy trying to get to something she's not even sure she wants to explore, and yet.... She takes a breath to mention something, anything, about the atmosphere, but he holds his hand out from his face, fingers unfurling as if to set something free, and he turns to face her.
"The germanium means whatever you want it to mean. Something to remember me by, I suppose."
And the chance is gone. "You suppose? All right."
He looks at his watch and what he says next doesn't need telepathy to be obvious. "It's getting late there, isn't it?"
She swallows, and it goes past something hard in her throat, something that's making other words difficult to say. She says, "You need to be going, right? Have a good day, then."
For a moment there's silence, in which he drops his eyelids down over his eyes, looking off to the side. She thinks about saying, 'I miss you.' She thinks about asking, 'Are you okay?' She thinks and doesn't say.
"Sleep well. Goodbye."
"Until later," she replies, but can only summon a ghost of a smile. She disconnects before he can, but going to the option to logout takes a few more seconds than she wants it to, going past it by accident, and then moving back to it. It's not as though he will attempt to say anything else -- he wouldn't do that.
She shuts the lid of her laptop, and says, "As though I can forget you, Professor."
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