Yankumi stood lost in her own thoughts. She could not believe that her students, those lame brain pain-in-the-asses, had graduated. She truly did not expect to miss them as much as she was. The gentle breeze brought with it a familiar sound that Yankumi had grown accustom to over the past two years. She could hear the usual shuffle of Sawada's feet drawing closer behind her. She knew that that familiar sound would also faint into a distant memory after he left for college. She felt a tiny glimmer of sadness with that thought, but why? She was happy for Shin. She really was.
Being lost in her thoughts, Yankumi forgot about Shin's approach. His standard remark about the weather made her jump slightly. "What?" announced a bewildered Yankumi.
Shin repeated his prior statement, "I said it getting cold isn't it?"
"Oh, sorry, yeah I guess it is."
"Are you ok?" Shin's curious glance forced Yankumi back into reality.
"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?"
"I dunno. You just seem a little…off."
Wanting to change the subject, Yankumi displayed a casual smile. You have to snap out of this funk, she thought. He is going to think you are loosing it. Then the question hit her, "What are you doing here? I would have thought you would be at the secret party I not supposed to know about at the Karaoke bar."
"There was something I wanted to do first while I still had the nerve."
Intrigued, Yankumi turned fully toward Shin to get the details. "Really? That still doesn't explain what you are doing here."
This time Shin smiled, which unnerved Yankumi slightly. He never smiles was the only thought that came to her. Well, now I am completely confused. If there is something so important that he has to do that…oh, maybe he is meeting someone. That has to be it. Verbalizing her thoughts, she inquired, "Are you her to meet someone?"
She pressed on, "Someone that you like?"
Again, He nodded.
"So, should I leave?"
Now he looked confused and slightly disappointed, "Why would you leave?"
"Because, you are meeting someone here. I'll only be in the way. Well, good luck."
As she turned to go, a feeling suddenly flooded her heart. A strange feeling. A disturbing feeling. A jealous feeling. But this is preposterous, she thought, why am I jealous of some girl Sawada likes?
Lost in her thoughts again, Shin's hand grabbing hers startled her back into the present.
"Wait. I came here to talk to you."
Suddenly, the truth was beginning to seep in. He is meeting someone to tell her he likes her, right? So what does that have to do with…shit! Everything became crystal clear. She reclaimed her hand with a panicked jerk. This is not happening. She looked at Shin in disbelief.
He smiled again and rubbed the back of his head, "Well this isn't exactly how I was expecting this would happen, but…" His face became serious. He placed a hand under Yankumi's apprehensive face and began to lean in for a…wham…Yankumi upper-cutted Shin in the stomach.
"What the hell are you thinking? You're my student…"
"No…I'm not…remember?" Shin stuttered as he tried to catch his breath. "I am no longer your student."
She could not believe this was happening. "When did you decide this? No, don't tell me. I can't handle this. I won't handle this. I'm leaving." Yankumi turned on her heels and ran as fast as her legs could carry her (which was extremely fast).
Stumbling to his feet, Shin grumbled, "Well, that could have gone better."
Yankumi ran and ran and ran with no destination in mind, but somehow her feet carried her back to the school. A familiar voice called after her. She stopped and saw Fujiyama-chan walking toward the bus stop. "Yamaguchi, what are you doing back here?" Her inquiry shifted once she looked into Yankumi's startled face. "What's wrong?" she asked in a stern but worried voice.
Yankumi managed to stammer out "It's Shin…he…" causing Fujiyama to really became concerned. "What's happened this time? Is Shin hurt?" Disoriented, Yankumi hesitated too long and Fujiyama slapped her. She demanded, "Snap out of it and tell me what happened."
Yankumi gathered herself and relpied, "Shin told me he had feelings for me. Fujiyama-chan he tried to kiss me, so I puncked him in the stomach."
Fujiyama laughed so hard tears began to roll down her face. Her voice full of relief she said, "Is that all? You almost gave me a heartattck for nothing."
"Nothing!" Yankumi shrieked, "He is my student, and this is totally unprofes…"
Fujiyama broke through before Yankumi could rant. She casually pointed out, "Shin Sawada stopped being your student this morning. We were both there and witnessed him getting a diploma. You two are free to finally care on your affair in public."
Yankumi's exasperation made Fujiyama laugh again. Yankumi's face had turned beet red at her mentioning a secret affair. She affirmatively denied any involvement whatsoever with one of her students so strongly that Fujiyama began to think there were feeling on Yankumi's side as well as Shin's. "Well," Fujiyama started, "I don't see why you wouldn't want to be with him. I mean his cute. I wouldn't kick him out of bed."
This really flabbergasted Yankumi. She was actually pondering what her friend's statement. What was so strange about Shin liking her? She was an attractive woman. He was always a little protective of her even though she could clearly take care of herself. But, her life was too complicated to let him in, right?
Fujiyama took this opportunity to nug Yankumi a little more. She casually remarked, "Yamaguchi, how often do you think you will find someone who doesn't care about your family connections. Sawada has been keeping your secret for two years, why do you think he did that? It wasn't just to save your job, and if you thought it was, you are not as smart as I thought you were." She turned, and with a wave and a joyful good-bye, Fujiyama disappeared down the hill.
Yankumi slowly made her way back home. She was so deep in her own thoughts that she did not notice the cars parked in front of her home. Her mind was so clouded that she did not her multiple people call her name as she entered the house. She walked up the stairs without ever responding to the questioning glances of the waiting Ooedo Clan members.
Kyo came to check on her. "Ojou" he said behind the closed door, "are you in there?" He slowly opened the door just in case she was going to throw something. With her you never know, he thought. When he finally walked into the room, Kyo saw Yankumi sitting on her bed hugging a pillow tightly. "Ojou, what's wrong? Shin called eariler looking for you. He seemed concerned."
With the mention of Shin's name, Yankumi finally acknowlegded that Kyo was in the room. She asked, "Shin called, when?"
"Well, I dunno, maybe an hour ago."
"Did he say anything specific?"
"No, he was just wondering if you made it home yet. We were about to go looking for you when you walked in a minute ago."
She began to babble, "He was worried about me" over and over to herself. Kyo was really starting to get worried. Sat next to her on the bed and felt to make sure she wasn't running a fever. Yankumi shuttered at his touch. She gave him a weak smile before she burst into tears. Yankumi buried her head in his chest and let out a shuttering sob. He held her for a few minutes unsure of what to do next. Finally, Yankumi lifted her head and tired to give Kyo a reassuring smile. I'm worring him, she thought. Best to explain myself before he alerts the household that I'm loosing my mind.
Yankumi tried to explain the course of events as best she could. She told Kyo about her meeting with Shin and how he told her his feelings, and she related to him her conversation with Fujiyama. Need less to say, Kyo was relieved once Yankumi settled down and divulged her quandary. In a reassuring voice, Kyo commented, "I not sure about your feelings, but it has been quite obvious that Shin had feeling for you. We, the caln, have known for a while now."
"Don't get upset, Ojou. We didn't say anything because it was none of our business, but in my opinion, Shin is much better for you then Shinohara." This time he braced himself for the inevitable punch, but one never came. He looked back at Yankumi and could tell that she was digesting his words.
She finally broke her silence after what felt like hours (but was really only a few minutes) and said, "You know I never really let myself see Sawada as anything other than a student, but…now…I dunno how I see him." She was genuinely perplexed.
"What do you think I should do?"
Her question astonished Kyo. This girl, he thought, has been independently living her life without any advise for so long…wow, she must be confused if she's asking for help now. But before he could give her a response, there was a commotion coming from downstairs. He could hear Tetsu's feet taking the stairs two at a time. He paused to knock at the door knowing that if he entered without permission his life was over.
Timidly he asked, "Ah, Ojou, can I come in?" Whn Kyo gave him the go-ahead, Tetsu entered and announced, "Shin's downstairs looking for you."
Yankumi jumped up so fast that Kyo nearly fell off the bed. She ran past Tetsu and zipped down the vancant stairs leading to the entrance way. Shin stood just inside the door with his hands in his pockets. He had an unsure look upon his face like he might bolt at any point. Yankumi stayed on the bottom step and asked, "What are you doing here?"
Shin took a step back and replied, "Sorry, I just wanted to make sure you were alright. I hope I didn't upset you too much."
"No, it's me who should apologize. I should not have hit you."
"Well," Shin took a step foreward, "that is how you respond to unpleasantness."
Yankumi walked to the door frame. Leaning up against it, she smiled. Cocking her head, she responded, "yeah, but I still should not have hit you. It's just that…"
"I got you off guard. I guess I should have practiced telling you that I loved you better."
"Wait," Yankumi took another step foreward, "repeat what you just said."
Shit, know he knew he screwed up. "Oh, nothing"
"No," she was in front of him now, "what did you say?"
Maybe… "I said 'I love you.'"
Yankumi put her hands behind her back. "That's what I thought you said." She drew closer to Shin. He wasn't sure what was happening, but she hadn't hit him so things were improving. "I don't know how I feel about this, but…"
"But? Are you saying that…"
"I don't know what I'm saying." She started to turn away, but Shin grabbed her shoulders. Now is the time to be bold, he told himself. This time when he tried to kiss her, she let him.
The whoops and cheering from the other room interrupted the other wise romantic moment. Yankumi broke away from Shin to 'kick some eavesdropping ass' (her words). Shin could not help but smile. Finally, he thought, think are looking up.