"I'll leave the rest to you, Yuigahama."
Hikigaya merely shuts the door behind him.
Yui's mouth allows a pout to grace her lips, sulking at his abrupt departure – but the heat seeping against her hand from Yukino's fingers makes her remember why she's reluctant to leave.
The silence hanging over them isn't uncomfortable. She squeezes Yukino's hand as if to make sure she was still there before looking over her shoulder up at the quiet girl, a sheepish smile curving across her face.
"Um, do you mind if I stay a little longer?"
Yukino makes her sit back on the couch, lets Yui relax while she makes dinner for the two of them. Yui can't help but look around in awe a second time as she relinquishes in the cozy, though frighteningly spotless, living room. Her eyes sweep over the furniture before making their way to the large window, the view astoundingly beautiful.
Her feet moves for her, the gears turning as if on autopilot towards the landscape below. Yui's amazement leaves as a breath drawing puffs of smoke against the glass, a quiet, "Wow," spilling between her lips. She feels like she's about to fall from such a height, her hand resting gently against the clear window to keep herself steady (even when it won’t actually break from her weight alone; not when she’s just staring, anyway).
She turns her head a bit too quickly when light clinks and clatter resound behind her. Her hand instinctively kneads at the back of her neck, trying to ease the stressed kink knotting its way beneath her skin.
"Y-Yes?" Yui squeaks as if she had just been ordered to stand at attention, temporarily forgetting the tingling pain at her nape.
An elegant brow is raised between the spaces of Yukino’s fringe, ebony hair coloring the contours of her features to be as sharp as the words that tend to leave Yukino’s lips as she stares at Yui like she doesn’t understand why she’s suddenly so stiff at her presence (Yui vaguely wonders if Yukino knows just how intimidating she appears to be).
Yukino settles on the brown leather couch, placing the tray on the center table.
"Dinner is ready," she says simply, her expression giving nothing away but a blank canvas.
Yui's steps become a bit too cheerful despite the monotonous atmosphere (she wants to lighten the mood, bring Yukino out of her rigid shell), her stride having too much pep as she skips towards the couch, settling beside the quiet girl. She digs in almost immediately, her stomach getting the best of her as she chows down her dinner.
Yukino's cooking has always been deliciously delightful, so it didn't come as a surprise as soon as her tongue tasted specks of warm food that she instantly loved it.
Yui lets the pink dust her cheeks at having her undivided attention, how Yukino’s eyes sweep glances at her between silent chewing – a stark contrast to her own raucous munching. But it doesn't stop from her from downing the rest of her meal; it was just too good to pause from embarrassment.
"So," Yui attempts to make conversation, swallowing the noodles that are jumbled in her mouth, "You're feeling better?"
"Yes," Yui almost grimaces at how dull the girl could sound.
It still baffles her how two of her friends could manage such an emotionless feat. It took her an incredible amount of effort just to keep a straight face, let alone a bland tone in terms of voice. Emotions practically bled out of her like a gushing river. Yui knows she's easy to read.
"Um," Yui tries again, caressing the ceramic edges of her bowl. "Do you want to, uh, watch a movie?"
Yukino's blank stare makes Yui even more nervous than she already was, but before Yui could take it back, fumbling over her words – broken syllables spilling between her teeth, Yukino hushes her.
"Sure," she says, her response slow but steady.
Yui watches the various ads of different companies before the movie actually starts.
Yukino is seated beside her again, though slightly farther than before since it had been her turn to decide the distance between them (she should’ve offered to put in the movie disc instead). Yui notes the larger gap with a quick glance, ignoring the inkling feeling of hurt crawling into the crevices of her mind. She wonders if this distance Yukino made (one that is too large to be considered friends) meant that they were merely acquaintances instead.
Yui tries not to think about it – pretends that the thought doesn’t bother her by attempting to make herself feel more comfortable. Before she draws her legs up so her knees meet her chin, she mouths Yukino a silent, “Can I?” before raising them on the sofa at Yukino's nodding acknowledgement.
When the movie finally begins, Yui glances to her right to look at the other girl.
Yukino is seated neatly, posture remaining firm like always, her back straight and her hands folded over her lap. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't bothered by how prim and proper Yukino was, even in the warmth of her own home.
"Yukinon," Yui calls out, her nickname for the girl rolling off her lips like cotton, her voice soft amidst the quiet atmosphere – she waits for the girl to look at her.
Yukino's gaze remains transfixed on the screen.
"The movie, Yuigahama-san."
Yui bothers to look rather sheepish, rubbing the back of her neck as she sticks a tongue out.
"I know, I know. But Yukinon," she tries again, this time hoping to explain herself, "Aren't you tired?"
Yukino doesn't spare her a glance as she continues to eye the TV.
"Haven't we already established that?"
Yui hums, nodding to herself; knowing the other girl is still recovering from her fatigue. "Sort of,"
"Then why ask?"
Yui understands that Yukino's questions are harmless. It shows how forward the girl tends to be, not beating around the bush. It's what Yui likes about her, but it doesn't make her chest hurt any less. Yui wishes Yukino could be a little less sharp with her tongue.
"It's a different sort of tired," Yui mutters, attempting to explain, letting the script form in her head.
Yukino keeps mum, still refusing to look at anything else but the television.
"Like," Yui struggles to find the words, gesturing animatedly from where she sits, her hands pointing towards the other side of the couch, "You're so, stiff, all the time." Her murmur comes out almost silently. "So proper. Aren't you tired?"
When Yukino finally looks at her – really looks at her, Yui's left rigid on her side of the sofa. Too many colors of emotions cloud Yukino's eyes at once that when Yui blinks to make sure she's not seeing things, they're gone. What remains is the same calculative look that adorns Yukino’s eyes every single day of the week. It happens too often – that distant look. Yui wants to see more than that.
It frustrates Yui when Yukino returns her gaze back to the movie, as if the conversation they just had never happened.
Yui almost blocks the noises around herself with thoughts that wander before Yukino's whisper breaks all the pictures in her head and she is left curling up against her knees, pulling them closer to her chest. She lets her left cheek rest on them so she can look at Yukino – to watch the emotions play from the twitch of the other girl’s lips.
They're sitting through another movie.
Yui had somehow managed to convince Yukino that she wanted to watch some more and miraculously, Yukino listened despite her overdramatic spiel that in turn, provided nothing but strong skepticism. Yet she still listened and Yui was more than happy to spend extra time with her – even if the distance between them on the sofa remained the same.
"Do you like movies?" Yui asks, hoping to liven up the rather bland mood (she really should be used to it by now, though).
Yukino remains unflinching from where she sits.
"The predictability in movies make it hardly enjoyable, much less tolerable."
"... Then why are we watching a movie?"
"Because you requested it," she explains offhandedly.
Yui shoots up from her end, waving her hands childishly as she apologizes for making her practically sit through torture. Yukino should have told her.
"I-I'm sorry! You can turn it off, I should really get going anyway, and I'm sorry for making you sit through one already, so –"
"– please don't be mad! I'm sorry again – I should really leave, I'll get out of your way –"
"– and I won't make you watch movies ever again! I won't bother inviting you to go see a movie anymore and –"
"– movies aren't that great to pass time anyway and there's plenty of other things to –"
Yukino's head is turned towards her again, all sorts of emotions playing across her eyes, her lips barely twitching upwards in amusement.
"You talk too much,"
Despite Yukino's admonishing scrutiny, Yui doesn't let slip the fact that she had just referred to her by her first name. She makes it her job to remind Yukino of that.
"Say it again,"
"What?" Yukino's elegant brow raises once more, her lips a fine line.
"My name," Yui feels encouraged when realization dons Yukino's face, the latter's cheeks slowly turning a savory light shade of pink, "I want to hear you say my name again."
Yukino hums, as if considering it, pursing her lips as her cheeks gradually return to its original color.
"Not that!" She doesn't know where the courage comes from, but she moves from her spot to shorten the distance between them. "'Yui'," she clarifies, hoping that she'll get to hear it again.
Yukino refuses to budge.
Yui continues to pester the other girl throughout the rest of the second movie, ignoring the deliberate blank stare Yukino repeatedly gives her as a response – even when the credits roll and Yukino carries the tray of dishes back into the kitchen with Yui trailing after her.
Cleaning dishes could actually be fun.
Yui merely hums a tune to a song she vaguely remembers as she dries the platters. Yukino is next to her, washing and rinsing before handing it over for her to dry and put away.
Yui honestly thought, with how rich the other girl is, that there'd be maids to do the honors of cleaning after them. Especially considering if they had busy schedules to attend to and couldn't have time to do anything else.
But taking to account that this was Yukino she was thinking about, it wouldn't make sense for the girl to let anyone else but herself to take care of things. So housekeepers were likely out of the question.
The mere thought of Yukino shouldering everything on herself still leaves an unpleasant taste in her mouth.
Yui doesn't know how to let her concern spill through words. She was never very good at voicing her opinions. At least, not as concisely clear or unimaginably sharp like Hikki (if words had measurements of how sharp or dull it could be, his would put knives and daggers to shame).
Hers on the other hand, would be as blunt as the handles of said knives.
"Um," Yui almost drops a plate between her fingers at the slippery ceramic surface, "Oops, sorry." Her grin is sheepish as she scratches at her cheek from the nerves playing in her limbs.
The remaining patches of water lingering on her skin spills droplets to the floor.
"You're cleaning that up, Yuigahama-san."
Yui drops down immediately to fix her mess, streams of apologies pouring from stuttering lips. But just as she finishes wiping away at the stains of water on the tile floor, she bangs her head hard against the countertop on the way back up.
An exasperated sigh escapes Yukino as she eyes the blubbering mess, various choruses of "Owie!" accompanying Yui's dance of both embarrassment and childish pain, hunching over like her head was about to explode.
Yui doesn't realize that Yukino's hand is the one on her head until the latter speaks up about how much of a klutz she is.
"You make things look extremely difficult when they really aren't," Yukino's mouth is a thin line, but when Yui blinks, a ghost of a smile trails those lips. "Such as cleaning up the floor."
"B-But I didn't think the counter would be so dangerous before!"
She thinks this was a perfect moment for Yukino to at least release some sort of smile. But no curve forms at the corner of her lips as Yukino's gentle ministrations over her bruised scalp gradually make the pain go away.
Affection washes over Yui completely as Yukino attempts to rinse the rest of the dishes with her free hand, the other gently combing across her head. Before she knew it, a smile breaks through her face and Yui is washing the rest of the dishes herself with a bounce in her step.
"Yuigahama-san?" The surprise plays between the strings of each syllable.
Yui merely grins with childish glee at Yukino's curious expression, warmth spreading inside her like floodgates. She takes the plate that's still in Yukino's hand and cleans it up too.
When Yukino finally processes what exactly is happening, she attempts to remove her hand before Yui catches it over her head, keeping it beneath her soapy fingers.
"You don't have to say my name," Yukino raises a questioning brow as Yui smiles beside her, cocking her head to the side, "As long as you keep making me feel better, okay?"
Yui thinks it's ironic how Yukino is the one healing her (because it really should be the other way around – why else would she be here?).
Yukino does as she's told until Yui is finished and the latter keeps her hand tugged between her own, a silent 'Thank you' lingering across Yukino's skin as trails of Yui's fingertips.
Yui's smile is blindingly genuine that it makes Yukino wonder if her past smiles had been the same all along.
"Thanks again, Yukinon."
Yukino watches the other girl put her shoes on once again at her doorstep. Her arms are crossed as Yui pulls on her backpack, readjusting the straps so it'd fit her shoulders better.
She attempts to say something more than a curt 'You're welcome', but nothing comes to mind so she settles for a mere hum instead.
It bothers her how hard it is to suddenly come up with words to say. They had always come out naturally before – quick and to the point, but now it was as if she doesn’t know what to say and that in itself was troubling (she always knew what to say).
Yukino attempts to speak again when Yui gives her another one of her beaming smiles over her shoulder. Does this girl not get tired of making her mouth stretch that far?
She could feel her mouth twitch at the corners, as if attempting to form the same curve written across the other girl’s lips; before it stills and Yukino's face remains the same as always.
She's rather positive that no sign of emotion on her face comes off as an invitation to come closer, so it doesn't make sense to her when Yui takes joyful steps towards her and encircles her arms around her neck.
When a few moments pass and Yui still refuses to let go, Yukino pats a hesitant hand on her back – suddenly feeling something crawl up her chest and nestle there. Yukino doesn't want to acknowledge that it’s warmth – that she could feel.
"It's getting late, Yuigahama-san." Her tone remains neutral, something she had mastered long ago, as Yui draws back.
Yui responds with one more sheepish smile painting her lips before turning around and heading for the door.
Somehow, it's the growing distance between them that Yukino keeps note of and not the fact that it's about time she had finished the rest of the reports still lying around the table in her home.
She refuses to accept the fact that seeing Yui leave actually bothers her.
But when Yui's hand twists the doorknob, the gears in her head spins on overdrive and her limbs function automatically. Yukino's hand merely touches the material covering Yui's elbow as her lips move and words finally form through her mouth.
"I will only say it once," Yukino notes how close she is to Yui's back, "Once more, and that is it." Yui is seemingly frozen in front of her, her hand remaining rigid on the door handle. "So don't pester me about it anymore, understand?"
Her voice didn't come off as harsh as she wanted it to be.
Yui doesn't try to look over her shoulder. Yukino assumes it's because Yui's afraid of just how close they actually are.
Yukino tugs at Yui's elbow gently and runs her thumb across the cotton material of her sleeve. Her mind is making a point to repeatedly tell her over and over again that she's stalling the amount of time they have together on purpose.
Just so she could prove to herself that it wasn't true, Yukino finally allows the rest of the script to spill from shy lips.
"... I can see myself relying on you," Yui leans back involuntarily against her hand, the warm pressure against her palm encouraging Yukino to go on. "So I hope you're willing to wait for that someday, Yui."
When Yui spins around and pulls her in for another hug as soon as she finishes, Yukino allows a small smile to caress her lips against the girl's shoulder; Yui can’t see it anyway.
Yui only lets go once Yukino pats her on the head.