Title: Unfair Advantage
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Category: Humor, romance
Characters: Utsumi Kaoru/Yukawa Manabu, Kishitani Misa, Kuribayashi Hiromi
Summary: Who, when presented with a button, can resist pressing it?
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
Notes: I've been watching too much anime. Concept stolen directly from the OVA for Inu x Boku SS, but adapted to a little more seriousness. This was supposed to be gen, darn it, but it took an unexpected turn at the end. Fill for the 30Kisses prompt of "overflow." For revolutionnaire, just because, and also for reasons that the ending of this should make clear.
Kishitani saunters past Kuribayashi, who ignores her as well as he can, going so far as to place his elbow on the desk and hide his eyes with his hand so he can continue reading. She walks past again, but this time she bends down close to his face, and says, "Do you have a switch, Kuri-chan?"
"For instance, if I pushed you right here between the eyes, would you do anything strange? Bark, maybe?" Her mouth curves, peculiar and cat-like, and she reaches out, her index finger poised right in front of Kuribayashi's face. His eyes cross as he stares at it, and she jabs it at his face, saying, "Ding-dong, anyone home?"
Kuribayshi dodges, eyes wide in reaction to this bizarre turn of events, trying to push her hand out of the way by batting at it. She says, "Stay still!" and then pokes him, right above the bridge of his glasses. Kuribashi exclaims, "Ow! You!" He covers his face and then, like strings have been cut, drops down, head, shoulders and all, on to the desk. He doesn't move when Kishitani pokes again at his head.
She says, "I think I broke it."
Yukawa, across the room, back turned to them and examining the chalkboard, says, "You should take better care with your toys then."
"I'm not a toy," mumbles Kuribayashi.
Kishitani pats his head and says, "Ah, it's alive!"
"I'm not an 'it,' either! Come here, you rotten woman, and let's see if you have any switches that do strange things." He reaches across the desk, arms outstretched like a shambling zombie, but Kishitani dances aside, her smile growing blithe and mischievous. She trails her hand along the table between the desks of Kuribayashi and Yukawa, as she moves around the corner closer to him, and says, "I wonder if Yukawa-sensei has any switches? Ah, never mind, all his buttons are intellectual." She sits down on a stool, and starts to fiddle with the wooden interlocking puzzle someone has left there on the table.
"If it really doesn't matter to you, why are you still smiling?" Kuribayashi asks, suspicion sour in his voice.
"She's smiling because she's trying to bait me," Yukawa states, and strides over behind Kishitani, reaching over her head, and taking the puzzle out of her hands. She looks up at him, pouting, face clouded over with surprised disappointment. Yukawa continues, "Please tell us why you're here."
Kishitani's expression clears and she turns away from him, feigning disinterest. "I'm not alone, you know. Utsumi-san's with me, too."
"Why isn't she actually with you, then?" Kuribayashi demands, standing up. Yukawa tosses him the puzzle, and Kuribayashi catches it with a little fumble. "Did you find a switch on her, too?"
"As though I would dare --"
"What's this about switches?" Utsumi interrupts. She smiles when they all turn to look at her, and waves. She starts down the steps, making sure to keep herself and what she's holding, a folder and her purse, tucked to her side and clear of the equipment, but spares a moment to touch the nose of the triceratops as she passes it, her smile turning fond.
Kuribayashi throws his arms up around his head, still clutching the puzzle, and presses the sides of them into his ears. He whines, "Oh, God in heaven, two of them." He slumps down into the chair, then thumps his head down again, crossing his arms over it. The puzzle drops out of his hand, rolls, and comes to a stop just before going over the edge of the side of the desk.
"Nice to see you too, Kuribayashi-san. Was I sufficiently less like a ghost this time?" Utsumi says, and walks past him, Yukawa, and Kishitani, heading to Yukawa's desk. She pulls a stool close to it from its place on the other side of the table.
Kishitani swoops her arms out, hands turned over, as if in offering, in Utsumi's direction, and then back to herself, and says, "I'm so happy to have you as my senpai."
"Sure, sure," Utsumi answers,"I know how you feel about that. No one's answered my question yet." She places her purse on Yukawa's desk, the folder down over it, adjusts her suit jacket, and raises her eyebrows at Kishitani.
Kishitani says, "Say, senpai, did you know that if you push Kuribayashi-san between his eyes, that he crumples like a marionette? It's like an off switch."
"No, but I envy you for finding one. Apologies, Kuribayashi-san."
A groan arises from Kuribayashi, wraith-like, floats above his head and then vanishes. It's followed by a mumble, in which 'die' is the only discernible word.
Kishitani rests her head on the palm of her hand, and sighs, exaggerated and fond. "Ah, it's no fun when he checks out."
Yukawa says, "One day he's going to bite you." He walks past Kishitani again, heading to his desk, and Kishitani lifts her head, turning to follow his progress. She says, "What?"
Yukawa sits down in his chair. He doesn't answer.
Utsumi flips the loose length of her fastened hair back over her shoulder. "He means, that if you treat a dog poorly, of course you can expect to suffer consequences. Maybe, if I have this right, I should let Kuribayashi-san know your switch. It's only fair, right?"
Kuribayashi raises his head, the look on his face piteously eager.
Kishitani shakes her head, wide-eyed. "I don't have a switch," she protests.
"Liar," Utsumi says. Yukawa leans forward, propping his elbow on the desk and his chin on his thumb.
"How would you know she even has one?" he asks.
"She told me, of course. Not a very good secret-keeper when she's drunk."
Kishitani covers her face when Yukawa's look at her turns piercing. "Something with which I'm familiar," he remarks.
"Senpai," Kishitani moans.
"I'm sorry, Misa-chan," Utsumi says, and smiles.
Kuribayashi says, "But what is it?"
"Fine," Kishitani says, uncovers her face, and slaps her hands down on the table. She tosses her hair over her shoulders, and says, voice loud, "My kneecaps are ticklish! I can't handle it if someone even just touches me there; it makes me jump. Are you happy now?"
Kuribayshi almost falls off the edge of his chair, having scooted to the very edge and leaned forward enough to unbalance it. He catches himself on the edge of the desk. The puzzle there jiggles, but doesn't fall. He huffs. "Well, that doesn't do any good. I'll never touch your kneecaps."
"Very interesting," Yukawa says. "People who say never find events working against them."
"Ah!" Utsumi says. "Fate, huh? Well, if you're going to be using absolutes like never, it really does tempt it, doesn't it?"
Yukawa shakes his head, but the corners of his eyes crinkle.
Kishitani gapes at them, blinking. Kuribayashi curls his lip and sits back, again. He says, "Fine, so I'm the dog, and everyone's kicking me right now."
"But what about me?" Kishitani says. "I'm not exactly getting off easily, either. And before anyone asks, I don't know any of Utsumi-san's buttons."
Kuribayashi crosses his arms. "Nobody asked you," he says, voice sulky.
"Yukawa-sensei knows," Utsumi volunteers, and her eyes shoot to the side, peering at him.
"Of course he does," Kishitani says, "he's known you for a long time. This is making me sa-- bored; can we get back to business now?"
"Certainly," Utsumi says. She reaches for the folder and puts it on Yukawa's desk. She pushes it toward him. "This will take some explaining, but just take a look at these for a minute."
She stands up, rolls her shoulders back, and goes around the desk to Yukawa's side. He opens the folder, and she leans down, pointing at the contents. "See this."
"Now here." She moves the picture aside, and points again, and Yukawa sets both pictures side by side. Utsumi reaches up to her neck, pulls on the fastener of her hair, and slides it off, all smooth graceful motion, freeing her hair so that falls over her shoulder at the same time as she leans down close to Yukawa's side, a hand on the back of his chair. The sweep of her hair covers both the pictures and Yukawa's hand.
From Kishitani and Kuribayashi's perspective, this action hides both Utsumi and Yukawa's faces, but the sudden stillness of them both makes the atmosphere something almost palpable. There's no movement from Kuribayashi or Kishitani either, but for the initial drop of their open mouths.
Yukawa's strained voice shatters the silence. "Kaoru?"
"I know, not in front of the children, right?" answers Utsumi, her voice low and apologetic. "I couldn't resist."
Yukawa's hand twitches. Though slight, the motion is visible in the brief flutter of strands of Utsumi's hair.
Kishitani closes her mouth so abruptly her teeth click together. She pushes herself away from the table, and says, "Business can wait. I'll just be going now."
"Yes, m-me too," stutters Kuribayashi, and rushes after Kishitani. In his haste, he topples the puzzle with a wild swing of his hand. It breaks as it hits the floor, scattering pieces, and Kuribayashi panics, his arms describing an arc like a tethered ball, as he looks first to see if there's any reaction from Yukawa and Utsumi -- there isn't -- and then back to Kishitani, who looks just as panicked as he. Not knowing what else to do, Kuribayashi drops to his knees to try to pick up the pieces.
"Oh my God, you stupid man, leave it alone!" Kishitani rushes down the steps, hauls him up by the scruff of his neck, and pushes him out of the lab. She mutters, as she shoves him along, "I sincerely regret starting this."
"You regret starting this?" Kuribayashi repeats, but Kishitani's answer is lost because she slams the door on their way out.
An errant beep from something is the only thing that breaks the silence. Yukawa turns his hand over, fingers tangling into the coolness of Utsumi's hair.
"Sorry to push your buttons, Yukawa. Will you forgive me?" Utsumi's eyes shine as bright as her pleased smile.
"You're not sorry in the slightest." He pulls on her hair, just a gentle tug, toward himself. Utsumi moves closer, making a sound at the back of her throat, more reverberance and breath, than an outright hum. "What shall I do with you?" Yukawa whispers.
"I deserve whatever you can think of, don't I?"
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