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Kanae hears about Nekasa Takuma. He hears from Ryuko, he hears from the staff, he hears rumors from the student body. The professor hardly ever leaves his lab, he hears, the professor never goes out, the professor keeps working, the professor sleeps on his computer.

He hears that Nekasa Takuma does not appreciate intruders in his workspace.

"What are you doing here?" Nekasa snaps from the doorway, and Kanae looks up. Even though he knows what Nekasa looks like, something tightens in his chest at the sight of his wild, uncombed hair, his glasses sitting lopsided on his nose.

"I'm Ryuko's new assistant," Kanae says. His voice comes out smoother than he feels it should; he's glad. He doesn't move away from the computer. "I'm admiring your work."

Nekasa snorts and comes over to shove at his shoulder. "You don't understand it. Nobody understands it, not even Ryuko. That's why they need me. I understand these things. I--"

Kanae turns to face him, then, and Nekasa's face distorts oddly. He trembles, as Kanae watches, and his lips move. "Professor," Kanae says. His heart is beating faster, and he doesn't dare look up at the security cameras he knows are trained on them.

But Nekasa says nothing more. He scowls and shoves Kanae again, and Kanae stands to let the professor sit where he was. "Don't even pretend to understand."

"I don't," Kanae agrees, because it's true; that wasn't his specialty. He never had the eye for science. "But Ryuko tells me it will be marvelous indeed."

"It will." Nekasa beams, as if Kanae's been instantly forgiven, and Kanae closes his eyes behind the shades. "I'm on the edge of something wonderful, here, something that could change how we look at genetics forever!"

Kanae doesn't reach out, doesn't touch the professor. Doesn't look at him longer than necessary. Doesn't say anything, just nods in an appropriately distant way and walks out of the lab and back up to Ryuko's office. It was a mistake to come here, he thinks now, but it won't happen again.

And this time, everything will be perfect.