Disclaimer: I do not own Gokusen.

Age Matters?

Chapter 11

The Calm and the Storm

"It's time to move."

This was the message that two officials in the local government, four in the national government, and two rugged men in dark shades heard. The first six simply dialed a number and confirmed something, while the last two rushed off to their respective leaders, eager to execute the plan that seemed to be lolling around for months already.

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By the time Souichi had returned to his office, it was a few minutes past office hours—Shin had gone home. He shook his head and smiled, amused, "Poor guy. He doesn't have a clue what news awaits him when he returns home." He looked at his watch and grinned, "I think he has received it by now…and has gotten the biggest shock of his life." He chuckled to himself. "But after that he is going to be happy." Eager to get home to his wife and three kids he grabbed his briefcase and jacket from his desk and took the lift down to the basement level where his car was parked.

Souichi was correct; Shin was going to get the biggest shock of his life when he returned home, but not of the sorts that Souichi was talking about. Not at all.

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Meanwhile, Shin was driving home, still troubled by Kumiko's sickness, and her apparent loss of distress over it. Also, there was the look that Souichi had given him earlier, which made him wonder what everything was all about. Souichi seemed to look at me as if I was…weird. As if I was supposed to know what was going on with Kumiko. His eyebrows furrowed, he put his hands on his face while waiting for the green light. But I don't know what is going on with my wife! She said its normal, but this morning she's been vomiting like there's no tomorrow…He sighed.

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It was…a sight. The clan members couldn't believe their eyes. Their clan head, Kuroda, was…whistling. When he began to smile widely and shake hands with anyone whom he happened to meet, they thought the sky was falling.

"Congratulate me!" His loud, booming voice said, in what could only be classified as an exclamation. And was he skipping?!?! The people in the house feared that it was the end of humanity as they knew it. Their clan head never acted that way. Sure, he was a nice man, but he was a nice AND quiet man. He wasn't a man who screamed in happiness, and rarely were his emotions seen in that degree.

The whole house shook in fear. What the hell's going on?!

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Kumiko grinned. Now that I have confirmed it, how do I tell Shin, Grandfather and the clan? I suppose I'll have to tell Shin first, of course when he gets home. Then the both of us can tell Grandfather…I wonder what their reactions will be? She smiled, touching her stomach. Shin hasn't specifically said that he wanted children, but…who wouldn't be happy if they found out their wife was pregnant? And I know for a fact that Grandfather would be really happy. If I remember correctly, he has expressed his want for grandchildren before. Right? Kumiko expelled a happy sigh and sat down on her bed. I hope you will grow up to be a very beautiful child, having your father's looks, your grandfather's gentleness, and an unbreakable spirit. I promise I will take care of you. Yup, I will be very careful with myself. She chuckled, which I guess means no more fighting practices now. I wouldn't want to miscarry.

There was a shout just as Kumiko put down the pregnancy test. Her happiness was dampened by confusion—no one shouted inside the house. And that shout sounded like someone who was being…attacked. I wonder what's going on. She decided to investigate, and padded softly towards the door. Her senses tingling, her body stance shifted into defense, anticipating something waiting for her outside her bedroom. She opened the door and went out noiselessly, body crouched, eyes wary. But at the last minute a thought entered her head. The baby. I can't fight, I might miscarry. I promised myself earlier… This made her waver, and it was at that exact moment that a chloroformed cloth covered her mouth. Her eyes widened before slipping closed, and her last thoughts were that of the baby and of Shin.

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Perhaps it was because of the shock at seeing Kuroda prancing around that the clan members' senses were blurred. They didn't have any inkling of what was going to happen. Most of them only realized it after the incident happened, and by then it was too late that the damage had been done. Nothing could repair it at all. Nothing.

This was what happened.

Tetsu just came in from buying supplies needed for the week. After he had closed the big wooden gate he was surprised to see everyone conversing with each other, as if there were very big news that had to be told. And everyone seemed to be involved. Using his left hand to support the bulge he was carrying at his back he trudged on inside and so intrigued was he that he forgot to place the giant lock back on the wooden door.

"What's happening?" He said, confusion evident in his eyes, and one of the women from the circle that he had approached left the group and said, "Kuroda-sama is acting funny. He seems to be skipping around shaking hands with everyone and asking them to congratulate them."

"What?!?!?!" Tetsu exclaimed. The master that he knew was NOT like that. He led the woman who told him of the news away, back to the gate where they were alone, and began to admonish her. "Now, now," he said, "don't spread awfully fictitious things about the Master! He will not be able to tolerate any lies said about him, especially if these lies are so false it would be laughable if they were true!" He almost screamed at the woman who had her eyes on the ground, afraid of him.

"But--!" The woman looked up, about to protest. But instead, she screamed. Tetsu was no longer facing her—he was sprawled on the floor.

Instantly, the place was silenced.

"What, what happened?" Some of her friends rushed over to her and asked her. Her face was white and very pale, and she stood there pointing at Tetsu, horrorstricken.

Tetsu was indeed lying on the floor, his face white, his neck crooked at an awkward angle.

The other women clamped their hands on their mouths to keep themselves from screaming, too, and called for a doctor. The men became alert, and they discovered that the large wooden gate was slightly ajar. Someone ordered them to fan out, and they did, examining the whole premises for any intruder. But they were going to fail, since as they were still looking for the intruders, they were already out of the clan house, out of the gate, carrying something with them. Or perhaps, someone.

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Of course Kuroda was alerted about what happened. Immediately, he returned to his old self and barked out orders to find out who did that to Tetsu. Poor Tetsu wasn't going to make it—he was passed out cold, his neck still at that awkward angle. The doctor shook his head.

When the men of the clan returned after their search, they too shook their heads. The intruders were nowhere to be found anymore. There weren't any traces or prints that were left behind. They seemed to be professionals. The men also bore more bad news. Kumiko was nowhere to be seen, and they could only arrive at this conclusion: she was abducted.

Kuroda's eyes widened, and after taking a moment to restrain himself, he issued more orders.

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It was five o'clock in the afternoon, but the world was still bright and shining. Shin scowled out of the window of his car. Traffic was piling up and the sunny afternoon didn't match his worried mood. He began tapping his foot against the car floor, and soon his fingers on the wheel followed the rhythm. What in the world is taking so long?! I'm worried about my wife, damn it! He blinked. And grinned. The married man couldn't help but think that he was far too immersed in being a husband now. Even worrying came naturally to him. It's nice to be settled down. He thought, and began whistling, his mood changing to match the one outside.

The sun was still shining brightly as ever, smiling down at everyone, perhaps a bit mockingly to Shin, but he did not notice.

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The mood inside the clan house had changed. Women were busy fussing over speedy funeral arrangements, and the men were inside the dining hall, talking, talking, talking. They seemed to be making plans for hours, but in truth only minutes had passed. The women were whispering about, some wondering what had happened, others knowing yet keeping their mouths shut. They were waiting for somebody. It seemed the men inside were waiting, too, Kuroda especially.

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"Ah! At last I have arrived. That traffic jam was horrendous. I wonder what's going on in the senate; a lot of cars seemed to be heading there. Just my bad luck that I chose that route home. Was supposed to be a shortcut but I ended up stuck," Shin continued to mumble to himself as the giant wooden gate was opened for him and he parked his car. He opened the door and looked up, puzzled to see that Kumiko was not at her usual spot, waiting and smiling at him.

I knew it, she's sick, he thought, and shook his head, preparing himself to lecture a wife who just would not listen.

He opened the sliding doors toward the house, and found it empty. The house was quiet, too, as if the Reaper had passed by, quite unusual for a clan house that was always bustling with activity. What's going on? Shin began to panic. He dashed to his and Kumiko's bedroom and found the bed empty. The panic escalating, and the feeling that something was wrong began to rise to Shin's throat, and he was surprised to see one of Kuroda's men standing before him, bowing. He cleared his throat. The man said, "Boss wishes to speak to you immediately. They are at the dining hall."

Shin fled towards the direction of the dining hall.

He was greeted by the presence of Kuroda and the few members he trusted. By the grave look their faces, something was very, very wrong.

Shin sat down silently, and waited.

"Kumiko has been kidnapped." Kuroda's voice boomed out, void of any emotion. The weight of the four words placed themselves heavily on his shoulders, and a sense of déjà vu overcame him, remembering the last time Kumiko was kidnapped. So she is sick…He felt rage, directed at whom or what he did not know. "Do you have any idea who?" His voice was carefully controlled.

Kuroda closed his eyes and said, "No. We have no idea."

Just then the phone rang.

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Yasue was wiping the glasses that were going to be needed for tonight. The girls were yet to come, since it wasn't even late afternoon yet. Even Wakamatsu had gone over to the clan house. He was helping her in the kitchen when his phone rang, and a frantic Minoru called him over, saying that the Boss had lost his mind. Lost his mind? Yasue chuckled. The Boss may be old, but he would never lose his mind. She was sure Wakamatsu knew that, but still he dashed out the second after he got her permission to leave.

Ahh. But it's nice to savor the alone time I have now. She leaned on the barman's counter. The lights were even dimmed. Yasue smiled.

The front door opened and she looked up to see a man in a suit and dark shades come in. Carrying a suitcase, he looked like a lawyer or a businessman.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but we're still closed. You can come back in about two hours." Yasue said to the man, wondering what he was doing about these places.

"I'm really sorry, Ma'am but can you just spare me this once? I've traveled far, and just need a glass of refreshment." He said, looking at her, his smile sheepish.

Well, he seems to be a good man, respectable even. It wouldn't hurt. "Well then, Sir, what do you want?"

"A bottle of beer would be nice."

"In this hour?" Yasue asked.

The man just shrugged.

Yasue turned around to get a beer, and felt something cold against the back of her head.

"What--?"

"Don't move." The man had the barrel of a gun pointed at her. Yasue began to tremble slightly. "I won't hurt you so don't attempt anything if you still want to live," the man said, "I'm just here to deliver a message for Kuroda Ryuuichiro."

In an instant the man's voice turned cold, and he said, "Tell him that we have the girl, and that he needs to go to this place to retrieve her." He told her the address and continued, poking the back of her head with the gun, "Remember to tell him. If he doesn't come by tonight, we'll kill her, and I'll come back for you."

The instant she didn't feel the gun on her head, Yasue turned around.

The man was gone.

Shaking, she picked up the phone.

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"Yes, Yasue, yes." Kuroda was speaking to the phone, using the same blank voice, his face grave.

"Wakamatsu is already on his way…Yes…Pull yourself together now…Yes…Thank you, Yasue. Now rest…Goodbye."

Shin watched him apprehensively. Slowly he put down the phone and relayed the news to them, that Kumiko was indeed kidnapped.

"Obviously this is a trap, but as of now we have no other lead and no other choice but to go." Everyone stood up, including Shin, who had been quiet ever since.

Kuroda nodded at him and Shin nodded back. Both had the eyes of men determined to get Kumiko back.

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The clan house was quiet, as a decision was made. Kuroda and Shin were going to the old, abandoned house located in the outskirts of town to save Kumiko. Two more trusted men were going as backup, and the others were to remain, waiting for any signal—whether to stay put or to follow.

Minutes later, a black car was seen going out of the clan house.

A man drinking in the street in front of the house momentarily stopped his drunken conversation with his friend on the phone to dial another number and say to the other person, "They've left."

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AN: Heh. Hi people! *cringes from the glares received* Oh well, :D

I hope anyone wasn't confused because of my setting-skipping, and time-skipping, if there were any. And I began to read the manga, and I FOUND IT CUTE OH GOSH. So I used Yasue here, heh, but can Tetsu be the Jdrama Tetsu? Please…? Even though I just use him. *apologizes*

I have no idea how you would react to this chapter, there seems to be a giant feeling of foreboding in here that I think will continue for oh…one more chapter. And...I'm not so sure if this chapter was not up to par. It may be my worst yet, a year and so of not updating has made me very rusty when it comes to AM? Thanks. Please review guys, I need some inspiration. And I promise that I'll be replying to your reviews, as a sort of 'return' for not updating for more than a year. THANK YOU!