Title: Slight Misunderstandings
Spoilers: for the drama special
Summary: On the night of Shin's graduation, a visit from Yankumi leads to a few revelations.
Disclaimers: Please note that Gokusen and its characters do not, unfortunately belong to me. It belongs to Morimoto Kozueko.
He closed his eyes as he shut the door to his apartment and leaned his head back against the frame. The darkness that surrounded him was only interrupted by the glare of the lights outside his small window. It wasn’t that late, so he could still hear the cars as they passed by the street of the apartment building. He took a deep breath. He and his friends has cut their celebration short that day, each of them vowing to see each other tomorrow when there was more time. That night, his friends had families who were intent on celebrating the almost miraculous graduation of their children. He smiled in the darkness. Despite his friends’ loud protest over the “family gathering” or “family dinners” they each had to attend, he could detect the note of pride and satisfaction in their voices. After so many close calls, they had all made it.
Shaking his head, he pushed himself against the door and opened his eyes to his sparsely furnished and empty apartment. Dropping the ramen-filled grocery bag on the floor, he walked directly towards the bed that served as a couch on many occasions and plopped himself with a groan. He didn’t begrudge his friends their happiness with their families. Far from it. But sometimes, on nights like these, he couldn’t help but feel a little envious not just of his friends’ families, but also of their goals.
Crossing his fingers beneath his head, he stared at the ceiling and thought back to that morning. Despite his parents not being there, he had hardly felt their absence. Amidst the group of well-wishers that surrounded him and his friends, he had been surprised to find himself in the middle of Yankumi’s “family,” accepting their congratulations as well as gifts.
He gave a small laugh, thinking of all the inappropriate gifts he had received. Unlike last time, he had been unable to politely turn down the gift-wrapped sake or any of the other various tokens of appreciation he had received from the Oeda family. He had a feeling, though, that if Yankumi had gotten a hold of her family’s antics, head were gonna roll. Thinking of how those four grown and damn scary looking men quaked with fear at the thought of their Ojou being the slightest bit put out, he held back a smile.
Strangely enough, he understood their need to please Yankumi. Hadn’t he, in some way or the other, attempted to please her in his own fashion? When he thought of all the little things he had done either on purpose or inadvertently in order to gain her attention or regard, he thanked the gods that his classmates seemed to be oblivious of his efforts. He could only imagine what his friends would say if they knew the extent of his…fixation on their homeroom teacher.
He gave an inward groan. If he thought his classmates were oblivious, then that didn’t even begin to describe the utter cluelessness that Yankumi displayed when it came to this aspect of his feelings. For that, he seesawed between being thankful and being frustrated at the whole situation. On the one hand, he was thankful that he didn’t have to bear Yankumi’s teasing about him falling for her good looks; but on the other hand, part of him wanted some sort of acknowledgment from her. Something that told him that she regarded him as more than just another student in her delinquent class.
Slapping his hand against the bed, he sat up abruptly and laid his arms against his knees. In the dark, he thought back to this past year. He didn’t think there was anything he could have or would have done differently, and yet—
The knock on his door interrupted his thoughts.
Glaring at the offending sound, he closed his eyes and pretended he didn’t hear it.
The knock came insistently again, however, and this time a familiar voice accompanied it.
He shook his head, hardly believing that his mind could be playing tricks on him.
“It’s me!” a cheerfully loud and familiar voice replied from across the door.
Muttering in disbelief, he ignored the tightening in his chest as he got up and strolled towards the door before throwing it open. His eyes met the laughing gaze of his homeroom teacher.
“Here I am,” she declared, her smile wide and, if he admitted it to himself, infectious.
Stemming the rising feeling of déjà vu, he looked down at her and replied with the same words he’d said the last time she showed up unexpectedly in his apartment, “How stupid.”
Caught off guard by her presence, what else could he say?
Hey, Yankumi, I was just thinking about you?
He winced at the thought.
Ignoring his comment, she stepped inside his apartment, dragging two bags behind her. His eyes followed her progress towards the small table before he belatedly noticed the darkness in the room.
“Hey, Sawada!” she gestured towards his place, “you didn’t forget to pay you electricity bill, did you?”
“Stupid,” he said again, a red flush staining his cheeks as he closed the door and switched on the lights. He could hardly let her know that he had been brooding in the dark right before she came. Shoving his hands in his pockets, he leaned against the door and contented himself in just watching her through half-closed lids. It was something he had done almost every single day this past year that doing so at this time almost seemed like a habit to him. “What are you doing here?” he finally asked after watching her settle-down on the floor of what could be considered his living room.
“I brought food,” she stated merrily, as if that were something she did every day. “It’s your graduation so I thought I’d treat you to something other than the ramen you were about to have,” she continued, nodding towards the bag he left by the door.
He smirked. “Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time?” he asked, adding a jeering note to his tone to offset the involuntary flush that stained his cheek at the thought of her doing something…well…nice for him.
She gave him a knowing smile. “Of course I did,” she claimed. “That’s why I had Tetsu and Minoru prepare the food this time.”
Rolling his eyes, he walked towards her and sat across the small table. Again, he stared at her silently as she began to empty out the two bags of food she had brought with her.
“You’re gonna love this,” she gushed as she opened one food container at a time. “It’s not as good as the hot pot at home, but it’s damn close. Tetsu and Minoru have really outdone themselves.”
He listened to her nervous chatter—and yes, he knew when she was nervous by just the content and tone of her speech—and waited patiently for her to get to the real point of her visit. He didn’t miss the curious glance she gave him just as he opened the door nor did he miss the careful way she took note of his apartment just before she entered.
Something was up. He just had to wait before it could reveal itself.
“My family and I really appreciate all that you’ve done for us,” she continued as she unloaded more food, “especially at the beginning when you helped keep my secret. You don’t know how much it meant to us.”
With his elbows supported by his knees, he watched her from above his clasped hands as she took a whiff of each dish right after opening it. He noticed the way her eyes would twinkle in appreciation or light up in anticipation as she carefully arranged each item on the table. Watching her like this, he could almost imagine that she was anyone else but his teacher. He could almost imagine that she came here as a friend or as something more…
He stifled a groan. She didn’t act like a teacher should, that’s for sure. Maybe that’s why he found it difficult to convince his brain that she was his much older teacher and therefore shouldn’t be the subject of the types of thoughts he’d been having. Okay, well, maybe she’s not too old. After all, what’s five years in the whole scheme of things?
He mentally slapped himself.
What the hell was he thinking at a time like this? Time to get to the bottom of this before his mind ran away from him.
“We’re really grateful for all that you’ve done,” she prattled on. “I know I’ve relied on you sometimes to cover up some slip I’ve made—"
What was she talking about now?
“So, consider this our ‘thank you’ for all the things you’ve done—"
“Yankumi,” he said softly, interrupting whatever it is she was about to say.
Her voice faltered into nothingness as she peered at him through her glasses.
“Heh?” she asked in that innocent voice he was so familiar with.
Not buying her act for one bit, he cleared his throat before asking again, “What are you doing here?”
“I told you,” she said quickly, reproachfully. “I brought food. As a ‘thank you.’ From my family. I thought it would be better than the ramen—"
“You said that already,” he informed her.
“Right,” she nodded agreeably, almost placating in her tone. “I think you’ve made quite an impression with my family, you know. It’s not often that they take a liking to anyone.” She paused. “Especially guys,” she muttered under her breath. “But they really—"
He took a deep, steadying breath. This was getting nowhere.
“How did you know I was here?” he asked her abruptly, as something clicked in his brain.
“Eh?” she made a coughing sound. “Oh yeah, about that. Well, actually, I didn’t exactly know that you would be here.” She fidgeted. “More like I found out you were going to be here so I thought to myself ‘why waste this opportunity to thank one of my students?’ and so here I am.” She gave him a big smile.
His eyes narrowed.
“As I said before,” she continued without skipping a breath. “I think we should celebrate—"
“Who told you?” he asked her softly, so soft, he wasn’t sure she heard him until he saw her eyes.
“Hmm?” she looked at him innocently.
“Who told you I’d be home?” he asked again, his voice a little louder as he dropped all pretense of being relaxed and stood up above her.
“Who?” she squeaked. “What do you mean ‘who?’” she repeated, looking up at him.
He could almost see her mind racing to find the right answer, the most appropriate answer…the answer that would stop him from pursuing the matter. He’d seen this look on her face enough times during this past year to know that whatever the answer was, it was something she was unwilling to divulge.
“Yankumi,” he said quietly, his eyes capturing hers.
“About that,” she said weakly, before looking down.
“Was it Kuma?” he asked steadily, all the while thinking he was going to rip his friend a new one the next time he saw him.
She looked up at him guiltily before looking away once again. “Eh?” she muttered nervously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I came here—"
“Because you heard I was alone on my graduation night,” he finished for her, his voice tinged with a small amount of bitterness. “Because you heard my parents weren’t even at the ceremony,” he added. “Because you heard that they weren’t even in town. Because you felt sorry for me and being the wonderful teacher that you are—"
She stood up, interrupting his tirade as she looked at him with fire in her eyes.
The silence stretched between them before he said, “I think you should leave.” He’d be damned before he became anyone’s charity case. He could feel an angry flush warm up his entire body. The very idea, the very thought that anyone would pity him was galling enough, but the fact that it was her was just added insult to injury.
He began to walk towards the door, intent on showing her the way out, when her hand caught his.
“Sawada!” she called, her voice low.
Looking down at her, he noticed the way she seemed to vibrate with an unnamed emotion.
“Sawada,” she repeated, gripping his hand with hers.
“I don’t need your pity,” he almost spat. It was humiliating…humiliating to know that the object of his more prurient fantasies had come to his apartment out of pity. He was going to kill Kuma when he sees him tomorrow.
“Pity?” she asked, the words seeming to galvanize her from her stupor. “Pity!” she almost screeched. Letting go of his hand, she used his finger to poke his chest. “What do you mean ‘Pity’?” she asked, her voice dangerously low as she advanced towards him.
Too late, warning bells started ringing in his head as Yankumi slipped in what he considered her ‘battle’ or ‘yakuza’ mode.
“You call it ‘pity’ when my family worked hard to prepare something nice for you?” she asked rhetorically as she pushed him back with both hands. “You call it ‘pity’ that they wanted to take part in your celebration?” she continued, backing him up almost to the door. She pointed to the food she brought sitting on the table. “Tetsu and Minoru spent the better part of yesterday getting those ready for today,” she informed him, the fire of indignation on every syllable of her words. “And I know all about Wakamatsu’s gift of sake which they all took pains hiding from me.” She made a snorting sound. “Why they thought you would appreciate such fine sake at your age is beyond me, but they thought it was a nice gesture.” Again, she poked him with her fingers. Hard. “And you call all their activities ‘pity’? How dare you belittle all their efforts!”
“It’s why you’re here, isn’t it?” he asked defensively, smarting over her comment regarding his age.
She punched him.
And being punched by Yankumi was…well…words failed him at this time as he fought to clear his head. He counted himself lucky that he didn’t end up sprawling on the floor. He looked back at her as he stretched his jaw. But then again, she may have taken it easy on him.
She closed her eyes for a second before looking at him again. After visibly calming herself, she backed away from him and took a deep breath. “I’m only going to explain this to you once,” she began. “My family wanted to do something special for you for your graduation.” She gave a small smile. “I guess after all those times you’ve had dinner with us, my family thought of you as one of their own. Funny thing about families, huh? Sometimes, it has nothing to do with blood.” This time she stepped forward.
Unsure of her intentions, he backed away. Just slightly. Just in case.
She grabbed his shoulders with both hands. “My family wanted to celebrate with you, but we backed off, thinking that your parents and sister might have had plans for you tonight. It wasn’t until Kuma called me that…well…that we found out differently. And now…now…” she gestured towards the table. “This is all we could do on such short notice.” She smiled. “There’s a bigger party tomorrow,” she informed him. “That’s when you have to act surprised.” She stepped back. “Tonight is just…” she shrugged. “I just thought you should celebrate tonight as well seeing that it is your graduation night and all.”
He almost groaned. How could he forget the unbelievable sense of right and wrong that was ingrained in Yankumi’s personality? She thought he should be celebrating? Then by God, of course he should be celebrating! Rubbing his jaw, he winced at the metallic flavor of blood in his mouth. One would think after all these years that would be used to the acrid taste. He glanced down at Yankumi and the concerned look in her eyes. “Stupid,” he mumbled under his breath.
“Eh?” she asked, not catching what he said.
“I said I was sorry,” he stated instead, choosing his words carefully.
“Eh?” she said again, looking at him with surprise. “Just like that, you’re sorry?”
He gave a wry grin. “I know when to admit if I’m wrong,” he told her quietly. He looked at the veritable feast she had laid out on his table. “Thank you for this,” he said, knowing he meant both the food as well as the company.
She grinned at him. If there was anything he learned about Yankumi, it was that she didn’t hold grudges for all the idiotic things her students might do or say.
“I’d be happy to knock some sense into you anytime,” she replied happily, as they both headed towards the table of food.
He shook his head and wondered not for the first time whether she deliberately misunderstood him. “You punch like a girl anyway,” he lied instead.
“What?” she asked, clearly offended. “Take that back!”
He grinned inwardly. “We should begin eating this,” he told her, deliberately ignoring her comment. “before it gets cold.”
Giving him a fulminating glare, she replied huffily, “I am a girl, idiot!”
“Uh-huh,” he answered, deliberately inserting placating tone. He loved getting a rise of out her. Grabbing some empty bowls, he began serving both of them in an effort to hide his amusement.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked. “Are you trying to pick a fight?”
“God, no!” he replied before he could stop himself.
“Hmph!” she snorted. “You guys always insult my sex appeal. I’ll have you know that I have a date with Shinohara-san next week and—" She reached out to accept a bowl of rice from him only to have him retract it.
“A date?” he asked, trying to ignore the instinctive cry of protest bubbling up inside of him. He looked at her closely. “I haven’t heard about any dates,” he told her. And he would have normally. Except for the beginning of the year when no one knew that Yankumi was part of the Oedo family, class 3-D seemed to almost have some sort of radar when it came to Yankumi’s life—most especially her love life. Or lack thereof, really.
“And why should you?” she asked, blissfully unaware of the undercurrents that he was sure were emanating from him. She closed her eyes dreamily. “Shinohara-san asked me on a date, not Fujiyama-sensei.”
What was it about that guy that had all the female teachers in his school clamoring for his attention?
She looked at him haughtily. “And so, I’ll have you know that you boys might believe that I don’t have any sex appeal, but obviously a man of good taste like Shinohara-san thinks differently.”
“You mean a man of eccentric tastes,” he retorted, stung by her casual dismissal of guys his age. He handed her the rice bowl.
“You’re just jealous,” she stated emphatically as she accepted the bowl from him.
He choked on the rice he was in the process of swallowing.
Did she know? Had she guessed?
His eyes watered as he coughed and felt Yankumi slap his back.
“Are you alright?” she asked, concerned.
Nodding and waving away her helpful slaps, his mind began to race. Was her cluelessness just an act? Did she, in fact, know that he—
“Just because you haven’t found a someone yet,” she began, “doesn’t mean you have to be so mean just because the people around you are dating.”
He exhaled a sigh of relief.
“I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you,” she continued positively. “I’m sure you’ll find someone out there for you. You just have to keep looking.”
He scowled at her.
“I mean…I’m sure there are places out there that you can go to so that you can meet more people of your own—" she paused and started to blush. “I mean, I’m sure there’s no shortage of –" again she started blushing.
He looked at her intently.
“Oh, you know what I mean,” she stammered, still blushing furiously.
“Eh?” he asked. “Sometimes, I consider it a miracle that I know what you mean.” He frowned at her. “But no, this time, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “I meant nothing. Nothing at all.”
Curious now, he decided to badger her.
“Yankumi,” he pressed on, “what did you mean when you said that there’s no shortage of people like me?”
This time, her embarrassment was almost comical to see. She ducked her head and refused to meet his eyes.
“Yankumi,” he said again, his patience running thin.
“Oh!” she groaned. “You don’t have to keep it from me, Sawada,” she blurted out. She looked at him earnestly. “You know you can tell me anything.”
A sick feeling of foreboding settled deep in his chest.
“It was by accident that I heard so I wasn’t sure if you were keeping it a secret,” she continued. “But you have to know that I wouldn’t care about something like that. You’re still my student!”
“Yankumi,” he said threateningly, “what the hell are you talking about?”
“You know!” she said desperately. “I didn’t mean to find out, okay? But remember that day that your sister visited the school? Well, I just—" she paused. “I overheard Kuma—or was it Minami?—say that you weren’t interested in girls—"
The sick feeling in his chest expanded.
“And so, for my comment earlier, I just meant that I know it must be difficult to find a boy you’ll like because there’s fewer guys who are interested in guys than there are girls who are interested in guys,” she finished in one breath.
For a moment, he wasn’t quite sure he heard her correctly.
“I am curious, though,” she trudged on. “When did you find out that you weren’t interested in girls?”
He blinked. Nope. There’s no mistaking it. He did hear her correctly.
He closed his eyes and counted to ten. Silently.
“Yankumi,” he finally said in what he considered to be a controlled voice. He opened his eyes and stared at her wide ones. “I’m not gay,” he stated calmly.
“Ehhh?” If possible, her eyes seemed to get even wider.
“I said,” he continued, all the while still counting in his head, “I’m not gay.”
“No way!” came her flabbergasted reply.
He gritted his teeth.
Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three…
Did she have to look so surprised?
She leaned across the table and stared at him like one would a bug under a microscope.
Twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six…
“Really?” she asked disbelievingly.
“I’m pretty sure,” he replied, attempting to keep his downright annoyance at her seeming inability to accept what he just said.
“Just because I’m not quite as girl-crazy as my so-called friends, it does not mean I’m gay,” unknowingly, his voice seemed to have upped a notch.
“But he said you weren’t interested in girls!” she protested weakly.
“I’m not,” he admitted. “I think high school girls are selfish and self-centered for the most part.”
“And you’re not interested in boys?” she clarified.
“No, I’m not interested in boys,” he reiterated bitingly. Why couldn’t she seem to get that through her head?
“Then what are you interested in?” she finally asked, looking at him strangely.
You, he thought, staring at the face that caused him many a sleepless night. He let the silence stretch out between the two of them before breaking eye contact and mumbling something under his breath.
“Sawada?” she called his name hesitantly. Whatever she might have seen in his eyes, her voice seemed a little wary now.
“I said leave it alone,” he muttered, looking away.
“Sawada,” her concerned voice reached him just before she reached across the table to touch his arm. She looked at him knowingly once he was able to meet her eyes. “You are interested in someone,” she guessed, her voice full of discovery. “Who is it?” she whispered. “I can keep a secret.”
He stared at her as all sorts of thoughts ran through his head. How could she be this clueless? How could she not know? As he looked down on her face and saw such curious and sisterly concern for him, he almost slapped his head with his palm. The way things were, she would never see him as anything more than a student! He didn’t need this, he really didn’t.
But, at the same time, the thought of leaving Japan with this unfinished business…
Throwing caution to the wind, he grabbed the hand that held his arm and yanked her against him from across the table. He barely heard her surprised gasp followed by his name from her lips when he covered it with his own.
His head reeling from the feel of her soft lips against his ravaging one, he hardly noticed the way her hands came to grip his arms as she struggled for balance against their awkward position. While wrapping one arm around her, his other hand wove through her hair to hold her head in place as he drank his fill of her. His senses were filled with her sweet taste as her lips opened involuntarily beneath his questing tongue. He felt himself surrounded by her, from the smell of her hair to the touch of her skin. His mouth moved hungrily over hers, desperate to assuage a seemingly endless thirst.
So intent was he on the feeling of utter lust, he barely noticed the hands that finally pushed him away with enough force for him to stumble backwards in his bed. Breathing heavily, he slowly looked up at her with blazing eyes.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, her chest heaving.
“Che,” he muttered, looking away.
“Sawada!” she shouted, almost shrilly.
“What do you think I was doing?” he asked caustically as he looked back at her. Pushing himself against the mattress, he sat up only to slouch back down, his arms against his knees.
“I’m you teacher!” her voice still shrill as she looked at him, aghast.
“You kissed me back!” he threw at her, disturbed by the denial he could see forming in her eyes.
To his surprise, she moved across the table and slapped him.
“What the hell?” Angered by her actions, he stood up and pulled her off balance against him before tumbling her in his bed. Taking advantage of her surprise, he kissed her again, only roughly this time. “Don’t!” he commanded as he noticed her raise her hand again. Gripping her face between his hands, he looked down in her almost panic-glazed eyes. “Don’t,” he said again, softly this time. He kissed her eyes gently, feeling them close against his lips. “Don’t,” he said again, almost pleadingly, as he lips settled once again over her own.
Moments later, he raised his head and met her questioning eyes.
“Who do you think?” he asked her, his voice rough.
She looked at him in confusion.
“You asked who I was interested in,” he reminded her. “And I’m asking you here…now…who do you think I’m interested in?”
“But…but I’m your teacher,” she protested, albeit weakly.
“What does that have to do with it?” he demanded. “You thought nothing of it when Noda was interested in Fujiyama-sensei.”
“But…but that’s different,” she said plaintively. “I…I…”
“You’re not my teacher anymore,” he told her. “I don’t need to go to your class or be graded by you.”
“Sawada,” she murmured, her hand touching his cheek. “This…this is just—"
“Don’t,” he told her again. He leaned his forehead against hers. “Don’t,” he repeated.
“Don’t what?” she asked. “Don’t tell you that I think—"
“Don’t,” he interrupted her. Looking at her intently, he whispered, “Don’t tell me that I’m infatuated. Don’t tell me that this is some idiotic puppy love.” He stopped and held the hand against his cheek with his own hand. “Don’t go out with Shinohara-san.” He kissed the palm of her hand. “Wait for me instead.”
And at her look of utter surprise, he groaned. He really was an idiot at times. Embarrassed by his outburst of emotion, he pushed himself off the bed and walked towards the kitchen.
“Forget it,” he said dismissively, his back towards her. Running his hands through his hair in frustration, he cursed his seeming inability to keep his mouth shut at these moments. “Forget everything,” he told her, still without looking at her. If there ever was a time for the earth to open up and swallow him whole, now would be it.
Behind him, he could hear Yankumi move from the bed and finally stand up. He could hear her walk slowly towards the door that would lead her outside.
“Sawada,” she called out just as she opened the door.
Closing his eyes against the ache he could feel against his chest, he said, “It’s Shin. The least you could do right now is call me by my name.” He turned to face her.
She looked at him with one foot outside the door. “Shin,” she said quietly.
He swallowed convulsively and waited for the coup de grace she was sure to deliver.
“Don’t be long,” she told him softly, just as she closed the door.
“Eh?” he muttered to himself. He stared at the door as if he expected it to come to life.
Don’t be long.
Did he hear her correctly?
Wait for me, he had asked.
Don’t be long.
And for the first time since he had decided to leave the country, his heart felt a little lighter.