Title: Hearsay

Summary: Yankumi's love life is the topic of the day again, and it's irritating Shin.

Author's Notes: This is sort of a combination of the manga and drama; Yankumi's personality is a kind of blend of the way she is portrayed in both the manga and the drama. This story references events that happened only in the manga (volume 4), but refers to the class as '3-D' which is only the case in the drama.

Disclaimer: I do not own Gokusen.

"Big news, big news!" One of 3-D's resident gossip hounds flew into the classroom, skidding to a halt by Yankumi's podium. (Yankumi herself was not there, and they were about to discover why.) "Guess what our homeroom teacher got up to last night!"

Shin's eyes, previously closed while he rested his head on his desk, snapped open.

"Ehh, nobody cares about Yankumi's boring life," Noda said dismissively. "I bet she had instant ramen for dinner and watched her favourite drama - that's not interesting. Talk to me about what Fujiyama did last night."

"Wrong, wrong, WRONG!" the boy sang, a wide grin splitting his face in half. "Unless, of course..." the grin became a sly smile, "... Fujiyama also received a proposal of marriage last night!"

"WHAT?!" the class exploded.

"Who?" Kuma wanted to know.

"How?" added Uchi.

"Why?" Noda couldn't understand.

The boy shrugged. "I don't know."

The atmosphere underwent a sudden, unpleasant change. People began to rise from their seats in a distinctly threatening manner, and the boy backed away nervously.

"Oi," said Shin quietly. "Back off, will you?"

The tension eased, and the would-be aggressors reluctantly sat back down again. But when the boy looked into Sawada Shin's eyes, he strangely didn't feel any sense of relief. In fact, the silently raging fury on Shin's face would have driven him screaming out of the room - if his feet hadn't felt as though they were stuck to the floor.

"What," Shin began slowly, "do you know?"

The boy whimpered. "I-I heard her talking on her phone this morning," he stammered. "She was s-saying something about how some guy had proposed to her last night. She said it hadn't been very romantic. Actually, she didn't sound very happy about it at all."

"Maybe it's arranged," suggested Minami.

"Or another omiai," said Uchi.

"If it is," the boy managed bravely, "she must have rejected other men before. She said something like, 'Should I just say what I said last time this happened? It worked then.'"

"More than one man has proposed to Yankumi?" Noda sat back, bewildered. "Impossible..."

"What's impossible?" The woman herself had arrived, bearing a stack of ominous-looking papers. She grinned suddenly. "Ah, you think it's impossible to pass this test? Not true! I've been over this material with you several times, so just read each question carefully and you'll do great."

Silence stretched across the classroom.

"What?" she asked. She noticed the lone boy standing nervously by himself at the front. He squeaked and ran back to his seat. "None of you are going to complain about the test? How wonderful..." Her face contorted into a glare. "Unless, of course, you're up to something."

"What are you babbling about?" Shin muttered irritably. "We're not complaining - just let us take the test and get it over with, ok?"

She raised an eyebrow. "Fine." She began to pass the papers out. "I've allocated forty-five minutes for this, but it should take you less than that, these questions are easy." As she reached Shin's desk, she took her time handing the paper over and said quietly, "Hey, what's up with you?"

"Nothing!" He scowled, annoyed, and fixed her with a steady, almost insolent gaze. "So - am I going to get an invitation?"

"Invitation?" she repeated, confused. "What are you talking about?"

"Oi, Yankumi, are the rest of us taking this test or can we have this lesson off?"

She growled at them, "Shut up and be patient, will you?"

She spent the class sitting at the front, tapping her pen restlessly against her leg and staring out of the window. She was oblivious to the curious glances of her class, who weren't really taking the test seriously and were passing notes, placing bets on the status of Yankumi's approaching wedding.

Shin had completed the test in record time and was watching Yankumi. Unlike the others, who stole quick, fleeting looks at their distracted teacher, he was staring openly and unapologetically. 'Look at me,' he demanded silently, 'Just look at me.'

As if on cue, as she turned away from the window, her eyes caught his and widened with surprise. Shin took advantage of having her attention and made a gesture, pointing upwards towards the ceiling.

She nodded very slightly, and surreptitiously tapped her watch. Later.

Instantly he felt some of his anxiety drain away. This probably - no, it couldn't be what they were all assuming it to be.

Yankumi, married.

A bitter taste rose up in his throat, and something tightened in his chest. He hated this feeling. He couldn't wait for this whole mess to be cleared up once and for all.

"What do you mean, it's true?!" He stared at her, aghast. It had obviously been too much to hope that the kid had misheard, or misinterpreted Yankumi's phonecall. Shin was battling a very powerful urge to punch something.

Yankumi leaned back against the railing, propped up by her elbows. She tilted her head back to stare up at the sky. "He's the 2nd generation boss of the Uma-no-O group. He says he's in love with me, but I don't believe him. Anyway..." she sighed, "since he's proposed again, I have to fight him tonight."

As if this whole thing weren't bizarre enough. Shin shook his head. "Do I want to know why you're fighting a guy who wants to marry you?"

She shrugged. "Last time... it seemed like the best way to get rid of him. There was no way he could have defeated me, so it was my way of rejecting him. But apparently he's been training since, so..." She lifted her hands in a 'what can I do?' gesture.

"And I guess telling him you're not interested is out of the question... for some reason?"

She pushed away from the railing, swinging her arms loosely, her hair whipping her face in the wind. "I'm trying to be nice about it. It's not as if I reject people every day, you know."

Shin scuffed his foot against the ground. "What are you going to do if he beats you?"

She turned sharply and glared at him.

He stood firm and met her stare. "I'm just saying..."

"He won't." She started to walk away from him, her shoulders thrust back stiffly. She paused with a hand against the door to the stairs, but didn't turn around. "If he did... I'd still reject him. But he won't." She pushed the door open and disappeared, letting it swing shut behind her.

Shin sighed and sprawled lazily on the bench. He had no idea whether to be relieved or not.

The next day, Yankumi breezed happily into the classroom and beamed at them all. "Well, your test results were awful," she declared cheerfully, "except for Sawada - he got full marks, of course. However, I don't care, so let's just say we'll redo the test in a couple of weeks and forget about it, ok?"

And she flung herself into her chair, pulled out a magazine, and apparently forgot all about the fact that she was supposed to be teaching them.

"Ahh," Minami grinned, "Yankumi's feeling all the happiness of love. Who's this fiancé of yours, then? Can we meet him and thank him for making you less scary?"

Shin's heart thumped just a little bit harder. Surely she hadn't actually agreed to marry this guy? She'd been pretty clear about the fact that she didn't love him - what could have changed her mind overnight?

Yankumi fixed Minami with a steely glare. "What. Are. You. Talking about?"

"It's ok, Yankumi, we already know," Noda swung his feet up onto his desk. "You're getting married! I mean, the guy's gotta be insane to even consider it, but hey, who are we to judge?"

Yankumi's eye began to twitch violently. "Where exactly," she began softly, "did you hear this information?"

The boys of 3-D weren't stupid. They'd been around Yankumi long enough to know when they had entered dangerous territory, and when a beating was imminent, and they'd learned that it was no time for heroism or self-sacrifice.

"That guy," Noda pointed at the little pipsqueak who'd brought them the news.

Yankumi rose from her seat, a decidedly insincere smile plastered on her face. "Kazuya-kun," she beckoned sweetly, "come with me for a little while, won't you?"

The poor kid gulped, took one last look around the class in hopes of salvation, and found none. Even Shin, who was normally beneficent in these situations, felt disinclined to lend a hand on account of all the stress he'd had to endure over the last 24 hours.

And so it was that Kazuya disappeared for the morning, returning after lunch with a swollen face and notepad in hand. 'Yankumi says silence is golden,' he wrote, 'so I can't talk for two weeks.'

They decided that in light of recent events, it might be no bad thing.

That afternoon, Yankumi made it clear that she was under no circumstances getting married any time soon. "I have you guys to consider," she added beatifically, "so how can I even think about love right now?"

Shin met her on the roof towards the end of the day. She was squinting into glow of the sun, a smile still tugging at the corners of her mouth. She looked pretty - not that he'd ever tell her that, though. "So you won, then," he said instead.

"Yep." She glanced at him. "Did you really doubt I would?"

He frowned and stared down at the second years playing football on the ground below. "Not 'doubt' exactly," he replied reluctantly. "More 'worry'."

It took her a second to realise what he had said. She turned her head away but he could hear the smile in her voice when she said, "I should be insulted, but I guess it's not so bad to have people worried about me."

He watched her fingers trace idle patterns on the railings. "Are you going to fight every guy who wants to marry you?"

The look in her eyes was strange and unfathomable, and made him swallow roughly. "Only the ones I'm not in love with," she murmured. "But apparently the ones I am in love with don't want to marry me, so..." she shrugged."I guess I have to devote myself to my students." She reached over suddenly and ruffled his hair. "Better damn well be grateful, brat."

He knocked her hand away. "Only for now," he muttered, shouldering his bag and walking away from her.

"What do you mean?" she called after him. "Be grateful forever, idiot - I've practically become a nun because of you guys! And - hey! Are you going home? What time do you think it is?"

Shin let the door shut on her ranting. Two months until graduation... If she wanted to keep herself off the market until then for the sake of her students, he wasn't going to argue. But come the end of the graduation ceremony, she'd better damn well be available again because whether she liked it or not, he didn't plan to hold back once she was no longer his teacher. And by the time he was done, she wouldn't even think about challenging him to a fight.

Author's Notes: Explanation – in volume 4 of the manga, the boss of the Uma-no-O group proposed marriage to Yankumi (because he'd met her before and fallen in love with her). She declared that she couldn't marry a man weaker than her and challenged him to a fight. He thought that she was just playing hard to get and went easy on her – Yankumi beat him easily, of course, but apparently he just fell even more in love with her after that.