Don't Leave It Unsaid @talloran
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The heat wasn’t something they appreciated in this house. It was oppressive in a way that neither of them were particularly good at coping with, Iceberg struggling through the days with as many fans they could fit in his little office attempting to keep him cool enough in what’s always somewhat of a surprisingly hot Siberian summer, and Gears getting through in his own silent way. This morning was a little better, with Iceberg, his Yuka, draping himself across Gears’ chest in that beautifully familiar way of his, head of white hair tucked neatly over his heart.

The heat wasn’t something they appreciated in this house. It was oppressive in a way that neither of them were particularly good at coping with, Iceberg struggling through the days with as many fans they could fit in his little office attempting to keep him cool enough in what’s always somewhat of a surprisingly hot Siberian summer, and Gears getting through in his own silent way. This morning was a little better, with Iceberg, his Yuka, draping himself across Gears’ chest in that beautifully familiar way of his, head of white hair tucked neatly over his heart.

 

Gears runs a hand up through Iceberg’s hair as he wakes fully, and his lover stirs, pulling away from the warmth of his chest with a soft yawn cold enough to mist the air. It’s enough to twitch the corners of Gears’ lips up just ever so slightly, as his assistant grinds the sleep from his eyes with the heel of a hand. 

 

“Good morning, Yuka.”

 

“Morning, Charles.”

 

It’s Yuka who leans in and kisses Gears, lips moving against his for a moment before Gears responds, sliding his hand down and onto his shoulder. It’s also Gears who breaks the kiss, slipping back to slide his legs out of the bed and rise to his feet with a wince, hobbling to the bathroom.

 

It is exactly sixty-eight days, four hours, and thirty-seven seconds until Yuka, more formally known as Doctor Iceberg, will blow his brains out over the walls of his little office.

 

If he knew then, our dear Doctor Gears, as he gets into the shower and Iceberg slips to the kitchen to make their morning coffee, he’d perhaps have taken a little longer with him on this, the morning after Iceberg’s birthday. He’d perhaps have given himself more minutes in bed with Iceberg in his arms, a few more minutes last night with his name on Iceberg’s lips in a now rare show of passion as they made love. But he doesn’t know, and didn’t do this. 

 

Iceberg has left his coffee where it was poured so he doesn’t chill it taking it over to Gears, and is perched comfortably at his breakfast nook, resplendent in Gears’ own bathrobe to keep himself decent. He’s still half asleep, and his hair sticks up in all directions as he sips at his own coffee. 

 

“I’ll make breakfast.”

 

It isn’t an offer or a question of asking if Yuka wants breakfast, it’s a statement that Gears is going to make it for both of them, and they’re going to at least eat together before going back to their ordinary routines. Back to stacks of paperwork, containment procedures and the steady hardening of their hearts even to each other. 

 

They eat together in companionable silence, before Yuka slopes off to shower and make himself presentable before work, Gears clearing away their plates methodically and moving back to his bedroom to finish dressing, finding Yuka already perched on his bed’s edge (freshly made), pulling on his socks. Gears says nothing as they dress, and it’s with what’s almost an absence that he sees the slight tightening around Yuka’s eyes, the tiniest downturning of the corners of his mouth. 

 

He might hazard a guess that Yuka might perhaps be unhappy, but surely his lover would just say that, if it were the case.

 

It’s again Yuka who initiates their kiss when they leave the apartment, craning up onto his tiptoes to press a kiss to Gears’ lips before he goes towards his own office in the dank basement, where he will be greeted by a mountain of paperwork that Gears knows he will skip lunch to complete, and this will be another of the waves undercutting the cliff until in sixty-eight days, two hours, thirteen minutes and four seconds, Yuka kills himself it that same office, and the cliff collapses into the sea. 

 

Gears, for his part, goes to his little grey office to continue his little grey documents. A piece of the well-oiled Foundation machine. It’s perhaps midday when he goes to his meeting with Director Bright, Moose and the young upstart Doctor Kondraki, a rising star in the Foundation’s ranks that pushes Gears’ containment procedures in a way that was stressful. Not that he’d ever let on. It’s in this meeting that Gears has to start considering that he perhaps… Doesn’t feel right.

 

It’s surprising enough that he feels anything at all, given how hardened the years here have made him (even now, not knowing that when he is a little grey man he will still be in his grey office with his grey paperwork), and he clings to it like it’s a raft. He can’t stop thinking about Yuka, about that little tightening around his eyes and the downward turn of his mouth that made his stomach lurch more than any of the gelatine grotesqueries the Foundation’s catering core have put together for this lunch meeting. Gears picks up his pager as Bright drones on about staff intake and projected repairs to containment units. 

 

MY PLACE. AFTER WORK.

 

That should at least get Yuka’s attention. 

 

***

 

Yuka is leaning against the frame of his apartment door and doesn’t quite meet his eyes when Gears finally greets him and unlocks his door to let him in, and seems almost reluctant as he enters into the apartment. There’s an argument brewing. That’s almost pleasing, given the slow shift of their relationship into something colder than even Iceberg’s touch. An argument would at least make them both feel alive. 

 

“What’s the purpose of this?”

 

Gears doesn’t know how to answer, for those first few moments, and almost squirms beneath Yuka’s gaze. There’s something akin to an accusation in that question and he almost instinctively flinches away from it. What might be dilute guilt pools in the pit of his stomach. He closes the front door of his apartment, and removes his coat, hanging it on the coat hook. 

 

“I… Felt we do not get to spend time together as we should. As a couple. Just to be perfectly clear.”

 

The minute tightening around Yuka’s eyes slackens. There is what might be considered a wringing of hands, tiny, almost imperceptible if you aren’t detail oriented, if you don’t watch for that sort of thing from your lover that’s slowly becoming as unfeeling as you are. The gap between them is closed in mere moments, and this time, it’s Gears who initiates the kiss, Yuka’s lips moving against his in return, a hand coming up to knot in white hair and hold him close, hold him tight, like a shipwrecked man might clutch at the remains of his ship. 

 

Their movement to the bedroom are almost perfectly practiced in their fluidity and precision, Gears first pushing Yuka’s coat off, leaving it where it falls to the floor even as Yuka reaches up and undoes his tie in a few brick movements. They stumble into bed together, in each others arms, lips not parting for even a moment in almost uncharacteristic passion and enthusiasm. 

 

They stay tangled together afterwards in silence, Yuka pressed against Gear’s chest and tracing a circle at his lover’s hip. Gears, for his part, clutches his Yuka close like he’s the most precious thing on this earth to him. Yuka tilts his head back and Gears presses a kiss to his lips.

 

“I love you, Charles.”

 

“I know.” 

 

Yuka softens against him and slips his arms tighter around Gears’ waist, and they lie there in pleasant silence until the pry themselves apart to go make and eat dinner together. It’s one of their better evenings. Better than the last Valentine’s Day that they’d had together, of which each had been less passionate than the last. Gears falls asleep that night with his lover in his arms. 

 

***

 

When Gears awakens, it’s the present day, decades later, and he’s alone. A dream, he tells himself as he hauls his aching joints upright from the mattress in the same apartment. Little touches of Yuka still remain even here, in luridly coloured coffee mugs and knick-knacks that he cannot bear to get rid of despite being unable to come up with a practical explanation for keeping them around. He pulls on his careworn bathrobe and struggles into his living room as his joints scream in protest, and crosses to the mantlepiece, upon which sits a small nondescript urn and a piece of paper that he pulls down, as if reminding himself.

 

I know you’ll be the one to find this, Tell them I’m sorry. Please? And if you’ve still got a soul in there, warn the next guy.

 

He folds it away again. Absently notes once more the old, dark blood marking the corner. The careworn folds from being opened and closed again and again over the years when his memories decided that what he really needed was to remember how things could have gone. To remember that if he’d tried hard enough he could have prevented Yuka’s fate. 

 

But regrets, again, if considered, might prove like those mounting pressures that had ultimately been Yuka’s undoing. 

 

I love you, Charles.

 

I know.

 

Why hadn’t he said it back?

 

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