Title: Stumble and Fall
Author: Avelynn Tame
Disclaimer: I do not own Gokusen.
Summary: A new teacher has arrived at Shirokin, and he's not bothering to hide his attraction to the homeroom teacher of a certain delinquent class. 3-D greet him with their usual kindness and warmth, but Yankumi is far more interested in the reaction of one Sawada Shin…
Author's Notes: I've been sitting on this for a while, carefully editing and re-editing until I decided it was fit to be seen by human eyes. This is slightly more manga-based than some of my other fics, but there are elements of the drama in it. I do tend to see the 'main five' guys in their drama forms (since, for example, Oguri Shun as Uchi is much more pleasing to the eye than manga-Uchi).
After completing her teaching degree, Kumiko had of course spent a year in compulsory teacher training, and like all other graduates she had split this year into two six-month stints – one at a smaller, rural high school and the other at a larger school in the centre of Tokyo. It had been a wonderful experience – at each school she had been welcomed by all of the teachers, the students had been courteous and hardworking, and by the end of her time there, she felt that she had learned a lot.
But although they were nice schools, in a good area, with pupils who worked well above the academic standard that they were expected to achieve, Kumiko did not apply for a position at either of them when the year was up.
Instead, much to her colleagues' surprise, she applied to the infamous Shirokin Gakuen, whose students could allegedly strike fear into the hearts of even the toughest of men. "But... they're violent," the other maths teacher at the larger city school, Hayashi-sensei, had tried to dissuade her. "Most of them are members of gangs... not to mention the number of times they've been arrested. Yamaguchi-sensei, are you sure about this? You'd be able to get a job here easily if you wanted one."
Kumiko had smiled, and thanked the other woman. "But I want to work there," she explained. "That type of student is exactly who I want to work with – so that I can help them, and be the kind of teacher who won't just turn her back to that sort of thing."
No-one got it. Instead they all wondered how the small, geeky, nervous Yamaguchi-sensei could possibly cope with a class of brutal delinquents.
Kumiko knew what they were thinking, and wasn't surprised. People had made those assumptions about her all of her life. A lot of them had later discovered just how wrong they were, but some slipped through the net, and would carry the misconception with them for as long as they lived.
Still, it didn't really matter to her. All she cared about was getting the job at Shirokin. She was happy to leave the comfort of the nest, and to take on a much more demanding role. It was what she felt she was made for.
She still occasionally kept in touch with her former colleagues at Okida Gakuen and Yasuda Gakuen, initially because she had wanted to reassure them that she had survived the first week with all of her limbs intact, but later because she was proud of her students and wanted to share the latest news. She already knew that some of the teachers there were beginning to change their minds about Shirokin based on what she told them, and it reinforced her belief that she had made the right decision.
Her first year at Shirokin passed by, and her second was almost half over by the time she gave any thought to the idea of new teachers (after all, it was hard enough keeping hold of the ones they already had).
"Ah," Hayashi-sensei said over the phone, one cool crisp day in September, "it's getting to that time of year, isn't it?"
"That time..." Kumiko repeated. "What do you – oh, you mean about the new trainee teachers? Of course, your second batch will be starting soon. You'll have to keep me updated with their progress."
"Well, yes, but what about you?"
Kumiko had assumed that, as there were no trainees in sight when she had first started at Shirokin, that there was no training programme in place. She supposed that it would be quite a stressful place to train, but then, it would be one way of proving a teacher's worth. If they could cope here then they could cope anywhere.
Her assumption, logical though it was, turned out to be false.
"Oh no, we do have a training programme," the principal told her later that day. "It's just that... well, no-one ever applies."
"Oh." She blinked. "No-one at all?"
He sighed, staring out of the window. "There are too many schools now, and too few teachers. With all of the training programmes being offered by other schools... well, not many people are willing to trade a top-ranked school for a place like Shirokin."
Kumiko couldn't help but feel indignant on behalf of the place she now considered to be her own school. "What about this year?" she demanded, half forgetting who she was talking to. "Have you had any applications so far?"
He shrugged. "The deadline is in two weeks. I'm not really expecting anything – we haven't had any interest in years."
She slammed her palms down onto the desk, making the old man flinch. "Well, that's not right! People shouldn't just decide against the school based on its reputation. Either they can call themselves teachers or they can't! No teacher worth their salt would choose only to work at 'good' schools – that kind of person isn't a teacher at all!" Her mouth was set in a thin, firm line. "Principal, would you mind if I sent out some notices to universities in the area to publicise the opportunities at Shirokin?"
He gave her a sad smile. "It's nice to see someone with enthusiasm for this kind of thing, but please don't get your hopes up, Yamaguchi-sensei. By all means, send out as many notices as you like – I'll be glad if even one person applies."
"Then let's just aim for one person," she told him with a confident smile. "One is better than none at all, right?"
That day she worked hard at putting together a small, punchy poster and sent it out to as many universities as she could. Just one person could make the difference, she thought.
After that, it barely crossed her mind – she had to organise rigorous tests for the boys of 3-D, who once again were slacking off and needed to be reminded that hard work had to be done on a continuous basis rather than just sporadically, whenever they were in the mood.
By the time she had got through that trial, the deadline had passed the previous week, and it was with some trepidation that she went to see the principal to find out what the result had been.
"Oh yes," he said, his face brightening. "I meant to tell you earlier – we did have an applicant. I accepted him instantly, of course – his CV is really quite impressive. He's starting next week."
Kumiko's spirit was lifted immediately at the idea that, with even a little bit of effort, Shirokin could have as much success as any other school. Just imagine, she thought, what could be achieved if they really tried.
"Hmm? Oh, sorry..."
"I was saying that our new trainee is unique because he'll be splitting his time between maths and physics – he studied both subjects at university, you see. So he'll be helping you with your classes."
"Ah! Excellent. I'll be glad to pass on my expertise." She grinned, pleased with the idea of taking someone under her wing.
"Yes, well..." the principal cleared his throat, "just be careful with 3-D. If all goes well we could be giving this man a job – I don't want him to be scared off by a bunch like that."
Kumiko frowned but held her tongue. She usually expected the principal to be kinder – he had, after all, hired her – but he was obviously worried about losing a potential teacher. She elected not to scold him, and beat a hasty retreat before he could notice that she was ticked off.
This would be the first new teacher to arrive since she herself had started working at Shirokin. She remembered the advice she'd been given – wear a tracksuit and trainers so that you can run easily; don't walk through the school grounds alone; always carry a whistle so that you can call for help.
She snorted. The kids here were arrogant and rowdy, that was true, but the teachers were equally problematic – too cowardly to hand out discipline when it was necessary, too narrow-minded to see what was beneath the surface, and too lazy to make any effort to solve problems – they would rather let someone else deal with it.
With any luck, she would be able to show this new teacher the right path – and having 3-D around might even be a help. If ever there was a perfect example of why good teaching was necessary, it was 3-D.
She grinned again to herself, and picked up the phone to compare notes with Hayashi-sensei.
Author's Notes: Just setting the scene… things will start happening soon, I promise! In the meantime, for each review I receive, I will eat an M&M! Everybody wins! (Well, mainly me…)