I did it! I finished this before 2013! I don't know how many times I rewrote and reworked parts of this chapter, especially the final scene. I apologize for taking, what, two months to finish this. It was really hard, I won't lie, and as usual, there are some parts in the chapter that I don't love. It's also quite a bit longer than the previous chapters, I think. I hope this is an ending that lives up to your expectations (which, I hope, aren't huge).
And here we go!
Two months later
Kusanagi spotted Yukawa in the gymnasium right away. His lean form in the badminton court was so familiar to Kusanagi, even far past their university days. A natural athlete, Yukawa had a fluid grace whenever he was playing any kind of sport. Kusanagi was honestly surprised at how quickly he was moving – he was still in good form, considering… well, everything. Kusanagi did notice that Yukawa was playing left-handed, but even that seemed to be giving his opponent trouble. The boy opposite of Yukawa was obviously an unseasoned player, judging by his haphazard footwork and weak swings –
Yukawa smashed the shuttlecock. The kid didn't stand a chance. It seemed as though that had been the match point. Yukawa turned around and saw Kusanagi; he shook hands with his opponent and came towards his friend, twirling his racket in his fingers. Kusanagi couldn't help but look immediately to Yukawa's right arm. It was laced with less muscle than it had been previously, probably due to its disuse. Kusanagi wondered if Yukawa was supposed to be playing badminton again already, but figured his friend was a responsible adult and knew what he was doing…
"… are you supposed to be playing already?" Kusanagi asked anyway.
Yukawa frowned, his brow furrowing. The old cut on his face caught Kusanagi's eye. It seemed to stand out even more when he did that... Although it had faded over the past few months, it was still clearly visible - a dark, raised line that was probably destined to attract lots of stares for the rest of his life. "I thought it would be fine if I didn't use my bad arm," he replied, reaching for a towel that was draped over the net and wiping his face with it. "Besides, I need the exercise. Just sitting around won't help me heal any faster."
"You thought it would be okay." Kusanagi raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you're not overexerting yourself? I'd really hate to have to ship you off to the hospital again, you know."
"Of course I'm not sure – my field is physics, not medicine," said Yukawa irritably, and took a deep drink from his water bottle, "but I'm willing to take the risk instead of sitting around all day. So have you just come here to nag?"
Kusanagi smirked. "Yeah, pretty much."
"I recall you complaining about not having any spare time last time we talked over the phone."
Kusanagi ignored this. "You've gotten good playing left-handed. You must've been practicing."
Yukawa just shrugged. "I had no choice." Kusanagi saw him glance down at his right arm and flex it, slowly. Kusanagi swallowed; the movement still seemed strained, unnatural. Yukawa raised his eyebrow. "I get that you're busy, then. At the police station."
"Yeah, Central Investigations has far more cases coming in than a regional station like Kaizuka. They're mostly small-scale though, like petty thievery or stalkers."
"Mhm." Yukawa made an absent-minded noise, and while rubbing his hair with the towel, he flicked up stray shuttlecocks with the racket and directed them into a basket nearby, one after the other. He didn't miss a single one. "Sooner or later another big one's going to turn up and I'll have to expect a call from you, I'm sure."
"Probably," Kusanagi said. "So is your research and teaching going all right?"
"Could be better. I'm still waiting for some inspired minds to set foot in my lecture halls and to get concrete results to prove a hypothesis of mine." He looked over at Kusanagi, meeting his eyes for the first time, and asked, "How's she doing?"
Kusanagi held the gaze. "Good. I've been keeping her busy," he answered quietly.
Yukawa nodded, satisfied. He averted his eyes for a moment, then said, "Do you have something else to tell me?"
"What? Oh – er – not really. I just wanted to say hello."
"I see." Yukawa raised his eyebrow, staring fixedly at Kusanagi now.
The detective squirmed a little and said at last, "I… I thought you might want to know…" He took a deep breath. "Sugiyama's been sentenced."
Yukawa didn't say anything right away but Kusanagi could see the shadow come over his face immediately. "And?"
"He's on death row." His heart felt heavy when he said that. Kusanagi wasn't sure whether anyone should ever deserve to die – even if a man had so profoundly hurt his friends and countless others. "Since he'd pleaded guilty, the process didn't take very long… The son of a bitch had a lot of convictions under his belt, more than we could have ever uncovered if he hadn't confessed to us. There was his assault and torture of you, several counts of murder, at least half a dozen kidnappings prior to Kaoru's, not to mention his abuse and killings of animals." He shuddered involuntarily. "He's still not showing any remorse. That combined with his multitude of crimes was enough for a death sentence…"
Yukawa turned around and bent down to pick up his gear. He spoke without turning back to Kusanagi, "I can't believe you told me this in a badminton court."
"Yeah, well, it's not like your lab would have been any more appropriate." Kusanagi couldn't think of anything else to say.
The physicist shook his head. Kusanagi looked at him uneasily; Yukawa slung his racket case over his shoulder and began to walk in the direction of the gym exit so Kusanagi followed. He went down the hall and came to a stop in front of the change room. He turned to Kusanagi and asked, "In a situation like this, should I be feeling happy?"
Kusanagi swallowed. "No, I think no one should feel anything even resembling happiness upon hearing that a fellow human being is going to be executed."
"You've always been so idealistic," Yukawa drank from his bottle again. "I thought that Sugiyama being gone for good would relieve me – us – of a burden, but it's not that way at all." His voice was low.
Kusanagi put a hand on his shoulder. "Yukawa, try not to think about it too much. What's done is done. There's nothing we can do any more, okay?"
Yukawa just nodded. "Thanks for letting me know."
"Yeah, I'll see you later." A deep sigh left Kusanagi as he watched his friend disappear into the changeroom.
Utsumi, gasping, bolted upright in her bed. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she took a quick glance around, telling herself that she'd only been dreaming. Not that this was the first time. Far from it. The nightmares had started soon after her first encounter with Sugiyama, and although they were much less frequent now, when one struck it always left her shaking.
Kusanagi had urged her to see a counselor. He knew that she was constantly plagued by guilt - it came back to her every time she saw the scar on Yukawa's face. She had no desire to do such a thing, but she did in the end. It had been a while since her last visit. Yukawa, of course, couldn't be convinced to do the same - he even seemed uncomfortable with the notion of a physiotherapist, whom he definitely needed to help his abused body recover its strength.
The clock read five-thirty in the morning. Sighing, Utsumi kicked back her covers and went to the living room; there would be no use in trying to catch more sleep, anyway. Sitting on the couch, she found herself staring into space for several minutes. She wondered what Yukawa was up to these days. She hadn't gotten the chance to contact him for a while; it had been nearly a month now that she thought about it, but her last check-in with him had only been a simple phone call. Both of them had been quite busy, Yukawa especially, since he'd missed over a month of school while he was hospitalized. Utsumi remembered him grumbling about the board of professors the last time they talked. Utsumi herself worked on a string of new cases after Sugiyama's arrest. She had the sneaking suspicion that Kusanagi must have had an influence on her workload. He probably sent more cases to Kaizuka from his spot in the central investigations division. Not that she minded, since it served as a welcome distraction and helped her drive her darker thoughts further back into the recesses of her mind.
Utsumi made herself a cup of tea, and brought it back to the couch. Her hand brushed against some paper that was sitting on the coffee table. She realized that it was a newspaper and wondered why she'd left it there. Frowning, she unfolded it to check its date, and remembered why she hadn't thrown it away. It was from the day after Yukawa had visited Sugiyama. On the front page was a surprisingly intimidating photo of the physicist that a particularly skilled – or tenacious – photographer must have taken. His still-battered face gave him a fearsome impression and it didn't help that his eyes were stone-cold, looking towards the camera in obvious disgust. Utsumi and Kusanagi too were in the frame of the shot; she was honestly surprised at the hostility of her own expression.
Yukawa was exceedingly unhappy that his face had been shown to the world, unsurprisingly. He hadn't told her anything specific but she knew that he must have had at least one run-in with the press. The Sugiyama case was the biggest headline in this half of the year and he was directly in the spotlight of it. Utsumi had no idea how he had avoided giving at least one television interview, but she assumed he had his ways. Most of the greyer areas of the case were speculated on by reporters; it wasn't as if Yukawa was going to spill anything about what he had experienced at the hands of Sugiyama Kotarou to the general public. He hadn't even told Kusanagi some of the details…
Utsumi was thankful that she hadn't been linked to the events, at least not yet. While Yukawa was already somewhat known in the media for his detective work, Utsumi was still an insignificant rookie cop – who would guess that she was Yukawa's closest tie to the police force? She wasn't particularly fond of attention either and the thought of living with the press on her tail filled her with horror.
Absently, she checked her agenda book, which also happened to be on the table. She realized that she had no plans or to-dos today. It only took her a moment's pondering for her to decide what she wanted to do with her spare time.
Yukawa exhaled deeply and lay back on his pillows, wincing as his shoulder gave another familiar twinge. Lying down seemed to aggravate it (as the doctor had said it would) but it wasn't as if he could sleep sitting up every night. He'd lost far too many hours of sleep because of the accursed wound, but by now he was used to it. When he failed to find a comfortable position to stay in, Yukawa sat up and glanced over at the clock on his bedside stand, which read 3 a.m.
To his right was a bookshelf where the teddy bear Utsumi had given him sat, on top of a thousand-page book on nuclear physics, a particular favourite of his. Looking at the stuffed animal comforted him, although he couldn't say why. He'd learned that there were some things in the world that were better left unquestioned.
He found himself seeing Utsumi's face in his mind's eye as he looked at the bear. He again remembered the last words Sugiyama Kotarou had left him with, asking if Utsumi was a target of his… 'love'.
The only thing Yukawa had confirmed about being in love was that it made people act stupidly… he recalled his admittedly irrational – no, downright foolish – actions on the night he confronted Sugiyama for the final time. Could it possibly be…? The notion of being in love frightened him. It was such an alien concept…
He liked Utsumi, of course. He liked her as a confidant and friend.
He liked Utsumi because she treated him like he was any other human being. Not elevating him to some higher status like some fellow scientists did, not looking at him like some exotic creature like police who knew of him, not mocking him like a large portion of society did. Utsumi Kaoru saw him as a stubborn, boorish and often annoying science otaku, but someone who was equal to her, with his own strengths, weaknesses and failings. Before he'd met her, Yukawa hadn't realized how much he had been craving that sort of 'normal' attention. No one had dared accuse him of being a nerd to his face before; no one had ever commented on how nasty his coffee was or how disarrayed his desk was. Strangely enough, Yukawa had found it almost pleasing.
She provided companionship that someone like Kusanagi or Kuribayashi couldn't rival. She provided him with something that he needed.
His thoughts shifted to Sugiyama, the man who had made him first realize that his feelings towards Utsumi were potentially out of the ordinary. Yukawa still couldn't quite grasp the fact that the criminal was to be executed. There was a grim satisfaction in him but also an unpleasant numbness. He'd wanted him to die, hadn't he? He'd wanted to strangle the man with his bare hands, to squeeze the life out of him in the most painful manner possible. Yet knowing that the man was either to be hung or in death row for the rest of his life brought Yukawa no relief. On the contrary, it left a bitter taste in his mouth.
He couldn't fully say why. There didn't seem to be anything other than scientific theorems and phenomena that he could explain with ease any more.
It was a cold December morning with overcast skies. Yukawa was standing by the open lab window, sipping at his regular dosage of caffeine and letting the cold breeze tousle his hair. It was a rare, peaceful moment and he intended to enjoy every second of it.
It was partly due to the fact that the press had finally stopped harassing him. They were more persistent than he would have ever imagined, and it didn't help that he was occasionally recognized by complete strangers as "the victim of the death row psychopath". His face had been plastered on several newspapers, after all. The noticeable scar did nothing to help, to the point that Yukawa almost considered concealing it with makeup. In the end he'd decided that it would be too much of a hassle to go through every morning.
And after all, it wasn't as if hiding his now most distinguishing feature would stop the reporters from trying to disrupt his lectures or barge into his lab seminars. Nothing frustrated him more than having his work interrupted. Yukawa had made sure that campus security was always on hand to force trespassers out until the media finally lost interest in the case.
Even with those stumbling blocks, Yukawa's life back at Teito had resumed a steady if rather hectic rhythm and he was content with it. Today his calendar was looking emptier than usual. It was by pure coincidence, then, that Utsumi happened to call him and ask if she could visit. He replied that it would be fine and worked on a thesis he was looking to submit to a well-known journal as he waited for her.
She came several minutes early. "Sensei! It's me!"
He acknowledged her with a nod and went to make coffee for both of them. "How have you been?"
"Busy, but good. You?"
"Same with me."
Yukawa brought two mugs to the lab bench, the black one and the brown. As he tried to hand Utsumi the brown one, his arm suddenly gave a tremor, seemingly protesting against the movement. Some coffee sloshed over the edge of the mug, dripping onto the table. He set down the mugs and apologized, turning to reach for the paper towels.
"Does it still hurt?" Utsumi asked quietly. Yukawa opened his mouth to tell her not to worry, but instead, closed it again and nodded. He didn't want to lie. She deserved his absolute trust, in the wake of the Sugiyama case. Besides, she already knew that he'd been diagnosed with brachial neuritis, and virtually everything else there was to know about his current medical condition. She'd hung around the hospital far too much.
"It does that sometimes," Yukawa said, rubbing the aching spot.
"Have you been going to therapy properly, Sensei?"
Under Utsumi's authoritative gaze, Yukawa admitted, "I forgot a few appointments here and there."
She sighed. "I figured."
"If you figured, you didn't need to ask." Yukawa feigned annoyance.
"I can't ever win an argument with you, can I?"
"I wouldn't count on it."
Utsumi rolled her eyes but a smile escaped, all the same. "In all seriousness, you should really go to those, Sensei, no matter how much you dislike it. What if it never heals properly? It's been two months already, hasn't it?"
Yukawa, unfazed, continued to keep his eyes on his coffee as he stirred it. "It'll take a while, with or without physio. I'm not young any more, and even a young person wouldn't be able to recover quickly from a traumatic injury like that. Besides, the symptoms of brachial neuritis commonly persist for months." He didn't surgarcoat anything, and the worry was plain in her face. He added, "However, if you insist, I'll book an appointment for next week."
"Good. I'm glad I managed to talk some sense into you." Utsumi nodded in approval. The pair drank their coffee in silence for the next few minutes. Utsumi surprised herself at how used to the stuff she'd become - she was finding it almost tolerable. Another sign that she spent far too much time with this science nerd... "Do you have any plans for the weekend?" She asked idly.
"As a matter of fact, yes." Yukawa said. "I've finally managed to book lodgings at Karuizawa – "
Utsumi's mouth fell open. "The ski resort? You're going to go skiing?"
"Snowboarding, actually," he said nonchalantly.
"Are you serious? With your condition – "
"Look – you, Kusanagi, my doctor and the physiotherapist have been keeping me confined in my lab and lecture halls for the past three months, and I think it's been long enough. I'm not going to heal any faster at this rate. Sitting here and letting my body deteriorate is hardly helping, so I'd like a breath of fresh air."
"I understand how you feel, but does it really need to be mountain air?" Utsumi said, exasperated. "Don't you think it's a bit risky to be snowboarding? And since when did you know how? You look more like a skier to me."
"I'm not an aggressive boarder at all, and I'm not planning to go on any of the advanced runs anyway. I took lessons in my freshman and sophomore years, and I go to resorts from time to time. And on what basis do you assume that I only ski?" Yukawa shook his head. "That said, my skiing is stronger but using poles with this arm won't be easy…" He sounded so wistful that Utsumi was almost moved. Before she could try to argue, he said, "But never mind that. Utsumi-kun - I've been thinking about this for a long time. In the end, I decided that it would only be right for me to tell you..."
"Tell me what?" Utsumi noticed the shift in tone in his voice right away, and completely forgot about his seemingly rather perilous weekend plans.
Yukawa looked determined. "Everything that happened."
"You mean… Sugiyama?"
Utsumi swallowed. She honestly hadn't expected this day to come, but here she was, sitting in front of him, and she could see the emotions plainly crossing his face. It was a mixture of nervousness, hesitation with a touch of embarrassment.
Taking a deep breath, Yukawa told her everything. He began with what exactly had happened in her apartment, then recounted his conversation with Sugiyama in its entirety. She didn't interrupt him once. When he finished, she sat for a moment, absorbing what he'd just told her, and the significance of the fact that he had. She felt cold inside, despite the coffee she'd just drank.
"Utsumi." Yukawa said firmly. "I'm fine now. I was just telling you this because... because you have the right to know. You were in there with me when it all happened."
She knew he wasn't lying. He had come to terms with everything, accepted everything… almost. Yukawa was still horribly confused as to what emotions were aroused in him when he thought of Sugiyama, but he convinced himself that he could live with that.
"It's over." After a moment, his eyes flickered up, and he stood suddenly. "I'm going for a walk. Care to join me?"
With that, after going towards the stand and taking his coat from it, he briskly headed for the door. Utsumi finally noticed that Kuribayashi had entered the lab with his arms full of equipment. She followed Yukawa out, acknowledging the bemused lab assistant with a quick nod, and feeling slightly sorry for him at the same time.
Yukawa's so-called walk only lasted a few minutes, thankfully for Utsumi who was having difficulty keeping up with his long strides, more so than usual. He stopped abruptly at a bench overlooking a pond and sat. Without waiting for an invitation, Utsumi took the spot next to him.
"I feel as though the entire world's changed since the summer, somehow – but it's really only me," Yukawa murmured, his eyes fixed on the water. "It's rather strange."
"What's really strange is to hear you being so abstract," Utsumi remarked; when he looked at her questioningly she added, with a grin, "but I don't think it's a bad thing."
"Mhm." He made a thoughtful noise. "I used to find anything that I couldn't express in a mathematical equation frustrating. Ever since I was small, the unquantifiable was something I stayed away from. To be honest, I think it frightened me. I couldn't understand my peers' behaviour at all – why did those stupid children at school always try to fight over their fair share of strawberry milk if it inevitably ended with the confiscation of the prize? Why did the boy who lived next door so often try to fabricate logically impossible lies that were always unveiled in a matter of minutes by his mother or the teacher?" Yukawa shook his head, and smiled bitterly. It almost hurt Utsumi to see it. "I suppose it took me a while to figure out that not everyone thinks like me in this world. For a supposed prodigy, I found it so difficult to grasp that simple fact."
The wind was cold but Yukawa didn't seem to mind today; Utsumi hugged her jacket closer to herself, shivering for more reasons than one. "Sensei - I -"
"I apologize, this is unnecessary." He looked away.
"No… you can tell me whatever you'd like. If I'm going to judge you on something it'll probably be your obsession with trains, not anything like this."
He snorted at that. "I'm still surprised that you came back to my lab after that first laser case."
"Why wouldn't I have?" Utsumi grumbled. "You were always my last resort but after a while I suppose I started to find you more tolerable. It wasn't like Yuge-san and I would have made any progress on any of those cases without your help."
Yukawa chuckled then turned to look at her, his features suddenly solemn. He spoke slowly, unlike how fluently he normally spewed out his facts and equations. "Well, I'm glad you kept returning. Had I stopped my involvement with the police then – had I not become further acquainted with you – Sugiyama would have found me alone in the lab that night and surely left me for dead. There would have been no reason for him to do otherwise. It's at times like this I wonder about the scientific validity of fate." Utsumi had never considered it that way. As those words were sinking in, he added simply, "You've saved my life more than once already, Utsumi-kun."
Utsumi, for her life, couldn't formulate a coherent response to this. The silence, which had merely lasted a few seconds, seemed to stretch and become unbearable. Without thinking, she put her hand on the spot where Sugiyama had put that blade into him that fateful night, as if that would make it disappear. But by now, it was a part of who he was - of who they were. Both of them knew it. She heard his intake of breath and his body stiffened, but she remained still. Moments later, she saw his larger hand reach forward and cover hers, the hesitation evident in its movement – almost as if it hadn't had experience in doing such things before.
Despite its initial awkwardness, the firm weight of his hand on hers felt so reassuring. It was a start, she decided happily, and slowly, she let her head rest at the crook of his neck.
This time, he didn't flinch.
Yukawa felt as though he now finally understood why humans so often had the compulsion to be physically intimate with each other. Unconsciously, he found his arm moving to wrap around her – it just felt natural. He couldn't explain why he was carrying out this action in any other way.
He was also inexplicably warm. It wasn't a temperature he could have measured in Celsius, Fahrenheit or Kelvin – it was something deeper down than that. He didn't think he could quite put it into words, either. It was just… so warm. He found himself wondering if this could be close to what 'love' was. If that was the case, he came to the conclusion that it could possibly be a less ridiculous concept than he had previously conceived.
Then again, that hypothesis would still require a bit of investigation to be confirmed…
Oh, who was he trying to kid?
It was likely that he'd never know the answers to his inquiries about 'love'. But that was fine by him.
Some time later, her murmured voice floated towards him, as if from a dream – "If you think this is going to let you off the hook for the weekend, think again, Sensei." Her head was against his shoulder and he still had his arm around her.
He said softly, as if to not break the spell, "You're free to join me. The lodge has an extra bed."
"The first and last time I went skiing was in middle school. On my first run, I went right into a tree and knocked myself out. I don't think I went back onto the slopes after that."
"It doesn't seem like there was any permanent damage," Yukawa smirked. "I can teach you."
"I'm sure you can."
"I'll take that as a 'yes', then."
She pulled away from him, puffed out her chest, and in a perfect imitation of him, she huffed, "That's truly illogical of you, jumping to conclusions like that." Then, she added with a mischievous grin, "But I'll think about it, okay?"
He couldn't help it. Despite the fact that he had just been mocked, he found himself smiling genuinely for the first time in a long, long while.
- End -
Last notes: I wanted to be as medically accurate as I possibly could so I did a little research, which led me to brachial neuritis (which can be caused by traumatic injury to that general area such as gunshot or stab wounds; treatment of it consists of a) Controlling intense pain which can last from a few hours to weeks, and b) regaining use of the arm and shoulder afterwards). I know Yukawa's been through so much crap in this story so I feel a bit bad for making things as horrible as possible for him even after the resolution, but that's just how I roll.
Aaand I finally got to write about my OTP. It felt good. I hope you liked it as well.
On a more general note, thank you for sticking around for this long, despite the long gaps between many updates. This story has spanned over a year, unbelievably. I couldn't have made it this far without the encouragement from you guys (the wonderful followers and reviewers). This is the first long fanfic I've ever completed. The first, guys. You all helped make it happen. Thank you again. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm a bit sad that it had to end so soon but never fear, I'll try to write some more Galileo in the future :) .
Anyways, this is the end of Illogical. One last thanks for reading all the way to here. I'd love to hear your final thoughts and comments on the story in reviews (if there are still some of you around, that is – it has been a while). I'm also available to chat through PM or Tumblr whenever you'd like ^^
Peace out :)