Title: a secret told
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: none
Category: romance
Characters: Utsumi Kaoru/Yukawa Manabu
Summary: Missing scene for episode ten. In which coffee is had, and actions speak louder than words. 1145 words.
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
Notes: Sometimes when going back to watch for research purposes, one starts wondering about details. Specifically, Utsumi's conspicuously missing purse. I wish I could have that answered, but one works with what one is given. Thanks to Lyl for looking this story over and saving me from potential embarrassment.

Yukawa really doesn't know how to comfort her, even though it's still a kind of comfort. His hands on her person are awkward, and she's placed him in a position that, socially speaking, is something he's probably never had to deal with before. For all her earlier words, she's still depending on him, more than she'd ever admit. Utsumi's not going to say that, even so. There's no sense in making an already delicate situation even more fraught, so she takes a deep breath and steps out of this most unusual embrace, wiping at the tears that remain on her cheeks, already more dry than wet, self-consciousness keeping her from looking at his face.

She says, "I'll take that coffee now, if you don't mind." She closes her hands into fists at her side, trying to still the fine tremor she's developed. Adrenaline is fizzling away, leaving behind the tremor and a crawling sensation on her skin.

He moves past her to the little range. She's almost pulled into his wake, leaning into it, like she's standing at the edge of a cliff. There's a snick and pop as he lights the burner and she winces, rubbing at her temples and closing her eyes. She adds, "Do you have some ibuprofen?"

"Headache?" She opens one eye to look at him, sidelong, fingers still at her temples. She sees that he's turned around to look at her, but she closes her eye again, the pounding in her head seeming less when she does.

"Yes. For the last hour."

She hears a cabinet door open, and some rummaging around, objects clinking into each other, and peeks again to see him crouched in front of the cabinets below the range. She takes a step toward the chair at the table, her body betraying her by lurching to one side, and corrects, reaching the chair, and sitting down with a sigh. She puts her head down on the table. "Ah," she says, "that's better." The cool surface is a relief. As the range heats up, the smell of the gas and the hot metal reach her, and she holds her breath, until she's sure she won't react by feeling sick.

She opens her eyes to a slit, when she hears something make contact on the surface next to her head. "Here," he says, and releases the fingertip grasp he has on the bottle.

"Thanks," she says and reaches for it, sitting up. He turns back to the range. She opens the bottle and shakes out two pills into her hand, and snaps the lid back in place with a slow and considerate click. She puts it down, and looks up, to see him walking past the table, over to the other side, and pulling the other chair there back around to where she is.

She says, "You probably never want to have me come back with a case, ever, do you?"

The hiss of steam escaping from the coffeepot spout interrupts before he can answer. She tucks her hair back behind her ears, with the hand holding the pills tight around them, as he pours instant coffee into the enameled mugs he set out earlier and stirs each with one spoon. She swallows. Her mouth is dry. She looks up for a second as he sets her mug in front of her.

"Thank you."

He nods and sits down next to her. She puts the pills in her mouth, and swallows them down with a sip of coffee, taking another large swallow as soon as they're down. There's no sugar, and it's a little watery. She makes a face, then says, "It always smells better than it tastes, no offense. At least it's caffeine."

"About coming back..." he says.

She looks up from the black pool of liquid in her cup, and, even though it's not her intention, she presses her mouth thin, and looks down again, squeezing her fingers tight around the curve of the metal. "Yes?" she asks, voice faltering just a little.

"Say what you will about the events of this night, they were interesting."

She looks up again. Her grip loosens around the cup. She sighs. "There you go again, finding amusement where there shouldn't be any."

She takes another sip. He mirrors the action.

She says, "If you would prefer, I don't have to bother you again."

"You shouldn't worry about it."

He takes another sip, while she just looks at him. There's nothing in his expression but his perpetual calm, and after a long moment she ceases trying to find more.

"I'll take you at your word, then," she says.

She raises her cup, almost in salute, and swallows the rest of the coffee down without stopping. It's even more bitter at the bottom, gritty with undissolved crystals. She sets the mug down with a grimace, swallowing again to get rid of the taste.

"So...I'll be leaving now. Thank you for the coffee." She stands, and he stands with her.

He follows her to the door. He steps past her and opens it for her before she can. She hesitates a step past the door, and turns to him, placing a hand on the post of the door. She says, "Good night."

"Good night." As response, she attempts a smile, but it feels half-formed and unsure.

He says, "I am..." and pauses. She lets go of the side of the door and rubs at her eyes with her forefinger and thumb, but it doesn't get rid of the dry, gummy feeling.

"I am very glad you're okay."

"I'm tired," she answers, and it's the truth, finally, coffee or no coffee.

"Of course," he says. She takes a deep breath, and tries that smile again, and this time it's less like a shade of one.

"Later, then," she says, and turns to go.

He says, "Utsumi," and taps her on the shoulder. She turns her head, and then freezes as he bends down to kiss her. It lands on a corner of her lips. She doesn't even have time to close her eyes fully before he's lifted his head, and she's left with a ghost of the pressure on her mouth, even more surprising than the kiss itself.

She lets out a breath, eyes wide and blinking, and she can feel her mouth wavering open and closed, with no words behind the intention of speaking. "Take care," he says, and gives a gentle push at her shoulder, enough to get her over the threshold, and then she's looking at the closed door to the lab. She lifts her hand, touching her fingertips to her lips.

She stands there for a long moment, then turns, makes her way down the semi-darkness of the hall. Outside, the air is still and cold. She closes her eyes, breathes it in, and smiles. Her headache is gone.


A kiss, when all is said, what is it?
An oath sworn nearer by; a promise made
With greater certainty; a vow which seeks
To make itself more binding; a rosy dot
Placed on the 'i' in loving; 'tis a secret
Told to the mouth instead of to the ear...

-- Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac<

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