Counting the Differences

Chapter Thirteen (aka Twelve Part 2)

So far, so good. Davina carved out a square of steamy, cheesy, zitti and carefully maneuvered it on Shin's plate. She replaced his plate in front of him, ignoring the prickly pain in her cut hand, and with a straight face, carved a portion out for herself. She was grateful to have her hands busy, as but for the sounds of her cutlery motions, it was overly silent in the house. Shin hadn't said much and appeared to be mentally occupied and Davina would be lying if she said it didn't cause her to doubt the date so far.

Shin's eyes followed the steamy air that floated from his plate, "itadakimasu." Davina briefly froze from surprise when she saw Shin's gracious smile, blurred partially through stream.

"Bon appetit." Davina said through habit.

Shin picked up his fork and stabbed at the pieces of penne pasta. Hmmm, a French saying; he recalled the FSI language books on the shelves. He had seen Davina sigh softly to herself and wondered if she had noticed his mind was somewhere else.

After school had ended earlier that day, Shin walked right by Asakura-san under the canopy of trees. With a tiny nod of the head, both communicated mutual respect. It was at that moment, the words of Yankumi's grandfather replayed clearly in his memory. A Yakuza boss, as Shin stereotyped, would have threatened Shin to keep his mouth shut. However, the boss only sincerely asked, "let me ask you, man-to-man, please keep my business a secret."

For the Yakuza boss, or Yankumi's grandfather to actually bow to Shin and refer to him as a man meant a lot to Shin and that determined the concern the boss felt for the quirky homeroom teacher. And earlier that day, as Asakura-san was readying the takoyaki booth, he said with faint sadness that becoming a teacher was Yankumi's dream and that she would not become the fourth Oedo boss. Shin had once again been awed by the selflessness of the Oedo Yakuza.

Part of Shin knew he had uncovered gold in Yankumi's secret and such could have been used as blackmail. Before, maybe, he would have used such precious information to prank or as a shield of protection from his untrustworthy teacher. However, Shin had already decided that Yankumi's secret was safe with him.

Davina, meanwhile, was playing with her fork, swirling around her food, too nervous to take a bite. She occasionally made sly glances at Shin, checking his face for signs of disgust or choking. Shin was unfocused, distant; she hoped it wasn't due to her cooking or her cutting her hand earlier.

"Does your hand hurt?" Shin asked abruptly, catching Davina off guard who had gotten used to the silence. Was she really that obvious or could that boy really read her mind?

Davina squeezed her fork and stabbed a piece of penne. "Huh? Why do you ask?"

Her hand shook, perhaps tender due to the bandage, and she hadn't taken a bite of her food yet, Shin thought. "Just asking," Shin curtly replied.

Davina blinked. Again, she was taken aback by Shin's random and subtle concern. Shin continued to eat his food, while Davina finally took her first bite. The tomato-y and cheesy smell made her mouth water as she brought the fork to her lips. She couldn't help but let out an "hmmm." She hadn't realized how hungry she had been.

"Oishi, ne?"

Davina couldn't help but smile. "Thank you." Her parents had told her countless times before that they liked her zitti dish, yet hearing it from Shin made her well up in such happiness.

She intended to be graceful and virtually flawless for the dinner. She had painfully learned that such perfection for the sake of her hand could not be attained. However, Shin's mere presence and the thought of his concern relaxed her in such a way that she nearly forgot the pain in her hand. Remembering the way he applied pressure and held her close, why could people, like Headteacher or Tatsuya and his friends at Shirokin for example, make such hasty judgments of Shin?

You have nothing to gain by being with Sawada. A mental transcript of Tatsuya's words caused Davina to slightly recoil in her chair. Her jittery hand flexed in her lap, recalling how hard she had squeezed her chair while hearing Tatsuya and his friends make such snide remarks about Shin, Yamaguchi-sensei, and 3-D. Why? Davina looked at Shin from across the table, feeling nauseating guilt from simply listening to those nasty comments.

Shin hadn't peaked up, but he clearly saw Davina's worried face. He realized he hadn't said much and still wondered if she sensed his preoccupation.

"You made this yourself?" Shin asked, again cutting the thick silence.

"Mmhmm." Davina swallowed another bit of food. "By myself."

"Davina," Shin called.

Davina nearly dropped her utensils. "Yeah Shin?"

Shin pointed to his chin, "you have cheese on your chin."

Davina's throat tightened, nearly causing her to choke. She left her utensils in her food and reached for her napkin. Shin quietly laughed as she frantically padded her chin. Davina sighed, more embarrassed by her action than the cheese itself.

Oh, Davina. This date was NOT going according to plan. She gingerly smoothed her napkin in her lap, still feeling the tender cut on the palm of her hand, even while it was covered by a bandage.

"Does your hand still hurt?" Shin repeated earnestly, leaving Davina dazzled again.

"Hmm? Oh, it's alright." Davina flexed her hand to show Shin she could still move it with ease, however sharp pain spiked through her hand. "Why you ask?"

Shin stirred away. "You were rubbing the bandage with your thumb."

She hadn't realized that she had been picking at the wound. No wonder he asked twice. "My hand's fine...really." She allowed the volume of her voice to shrink into a whisper for the latter half of her comment. Shin didn't give any indication that he had heard. No murmur or nodding of his head, just sounds of his silverware gliding against his plate.

When Shin didn't look up, Davina focused on her dinner, absolutely starving, but too nervous to eat large bites.

"Is your family Russian?" Shin asked without warning, without lifting his eyes from his plate.

Davina blinked, not expecting the question. "Um, no, not as far as I know. My mother's side is purely French. My dad is American born, but fairly mixed with British, Irish, some Italian..." Davina wondered if she should tell Shin about her Japanese great grandfather... but before she could decide, she blurted it out. "...Japanese."

Shin glanced up, slightly perplexed, as if to see if Davina's complexion should any evidence of Japanese heritage. The thought never occurred to Davina that she might actually look a little Japanese. However, she knew that such a minority part of her family history wasn't so precisely displayed in her features.

"My father's ¼ Japanese, which makes me 1/8." Davina said oddly. It felt odd for her to even acknowledge her tiny bit of Japanese heritage. In her mind, when the time came, she expected to be shy about telling Shin.

Shin scrutinized her face structure, even from his distance, and concluded that she looked very un-Japanese, not in a negative sense though. "I never would have guessed." He uttered dryly, returning to eat his food.

It was silent again, save the sounds of Shin's quiet chewing.

Davina remained keen on Shin, curious about his curiosity, no matter how vague he tried to display it.

"Hey, Shin?" Davina remembered. "Why did you ask if my family was specifically Russian?"

Shin swallowed the bite of food in his mouth, taking his time. "You speak Russian, don't you?"

Davina was dully confused. She thought back and suddenly remembered the time at the train station with those Russian tourists. "Well, I know only a little bit of Russian." She held up two fingers to show 'a little' as most people did.

Shin continued on, figuring that since her family was stationed in Japan, she had probably been stationed elsewhere. "Where did you learn?"

Davina scratched her cheek. "From when I was about 13 or so, living in Baku, Azerbaijan. There I learned bits of Russian and Azeri. The official language there was Azeri, but most of the people I knew there were educated in Russian at the international school."

Shin then remembered for the first time when he had first asked Davina if she were American and the long gap of silence between his question and her answer. She had given him the short-sweet version. Normally, Shin wouldn't pry into someone's business, but even while Noda, Minami, Uchi, and Kuma had drilled him earlier with their own questions, Shin admittedly himself was quite interested as well. Davina also wasn't sending him a lead. He had waited for her to openly share her past, but he decided that she could be waiting for someone else to open the door.

"Remember when I asked you if you were American?" Shin said, plainly yet Davina couldn't help but smile. Did Shin understand now? "Well, are you really American or did you say that because you weren't expecting to see me again?"

Davina's eyes widened due to the bluntness of the latter half of his question, but she relaxed, figuring this was Shin's sense of humor. "I wasn't lying, you know. I am American, but through my father's birthright. I was not born there, nor have I spent the majority of my life there."

Shin knew he had been gravely misled by her original answer, however, he couldn't blame her still. Davina now saw she held his undivided attention, regardless of what distracted his mind earlier. For the first time ever, Davina felt at ease when sharing her story, even with a language barrier.

Davina nudged her head to refer to the living room. "Did you by any chance see the photo of a brown-haired woman carrying a child with a desert beach behind her?"

Shin merely nodded, vaguely remembering photo.

"I was born there. In Algiers, Algeria."

Shin's face squinted slightly. He certainly hadn't been expecting that.

Davina pointed to a large blue-eyed wall ornament hanging above the couch. "There my mother learned of the Nazar. Ever since, that ornament has followed us from all sides of the globe."

Shin didn't remember perceiving it before, but didn't think it was particularly shaped like an eye. "Other than the bits of baby Arabic, images of the political demonstrations, and the daily quince call to prayer, I don't remember much from Algeria. The part of my childhood that I can tell you about I was living in Paris, France.

"My mother's family was nearby, along the Mediterranean coast, so I became very close to them then. There was also where I took my first ballet class." Davina said with beaming with subdue passion.

Shin heard a faint leap in her voice for the latter half of her statement. He smiled. He recalled her holding her little pink slippers, and waiting for the doors to slam on them. "To break them in," Davina had said pointedly. Again, Shin did not know any other ballerinas to confirm the odd demeanor they took to break in their shoes, but Shin left it at that. It wasn't as if he actually thought to argue such behavior.

Davina stared off, away from the table, reminiscing on the powerful excitement that ran in her veins when she aspired to be just like—no better than those long, graceful woman, gliding across the floor on their toes, as if without effort. Her father before had zero interest in ballet, wouldn't even feign it for Davina's mother. However, he had cheered Davina on, sometimes obnoxiously, at her recitals.

Or at least when she was younger at least.

"How long did you stay in France?" Shin asked when he noticed her mood turning sour.

"We stayed for a long time, at least in comparison to the other places. I was about eight when we left Europe to live in America for the first time." Her exterior became chipper again and Shin relaxed.

"First, it was New York City, then to Raleigh, North Carolina for a short time. Then the army decided that they wanted my father in California, so we moved to San Diego."

Even Shin at this point was beginning to lose track. For many, the universal question of 'where are you from?' was regarded as a conversation-starter. No wonder Davina kept such details short and simple.

"My parents actually got bored of living in the states, so they both took international projects, which moved us to Baku, Azerbaijan, then later London. For my dad's job then my mom's job respectively. A few years later, even my parents decided that they wanted to settle down in one place, and they chose New York. We all honestly thought it was a permanent move, but then the Twin Towers were attacked."

Shin peered away then down to the ground. He also hadn't expected that.

"My father told my mother and me that on the days of the attacks to not get too comfortable. My mother believed we would go to the middle east, but we came to Japan instead." Davina remember what it had been like to sit on the stairs and ask her father about the sudden but inevitable relocation. He had been short with her because of her smart-alack comment. "Get rid of that snappy attitude of yours, Davina."

Shin could sense pangs of sadness from Davina, unsure if it was due to her move to Japan or something else. "Where do you consider home?"

Davina sighed at the question. She had asked herself that many times in her life and never found a solid answer. Many considered home to be their place of birth, but for Davina, she honestly had no emotional tie to Algiers other than her birth. "I guess I've always considered home to be a place where I can dance in peace." She ended with a meek closed-eye smile.

Shin doubted the full sincerity of her smile, but didn't say anything. "Does that mean you've always felt like a foreigner?"

Davina, startled, opened her eyes and let her mouth hang slightly agape. Then she bit her lip and hummed to herself in thought. Shin exhaled slowly, already regretting his question.

"My whole life if I think about it. When I was younger, it was not as apparent, but even I felt foreign in America, with my U.S. passport, when we first moved there. Oh, but I'm used to it by now."

Shin thought that last bit was to reassure him, but he wasn't certain.

She felt it was time to change the subject. "How are the boys in 3D doing since midterms?"

Shin didn't say anything for a few moments, worrying Davina that her changing of the topic was too soon. "Noda came clean to Fujiyama. Headteacher had made a mistake on the exam, and Kuma ended up with 29, not the 30 needed to save Fujiyama from getting fired. It wasn't until after Noda told Fujiyama about his photograph of her working at the club in Ginza, that Headteacher's mistake was pointed out. Everyone makes mistakes as Yankumi says."

There it was again, the slightest of smiles swept across his face and was gone within a blink of an eye. Davina hadn't been certain if she hadn't been imagining it. "I'm guessing that Fujiyama is especially upset with Noda..."

"On the contrary, he's happier than ever. Immediately after school was dismissed, Noda made a pact with her that if he scored 80 points on his final exam, she would agree to go out on a date with him."

Davina remembered Noda during the exam study time. Later in the week, Davina noticed he had been yawning more, puffy gray circles under his eyes, he would fidget in his seat restlessly if as he were always agitated. However, his dedication was remarkable. And he did it. He had done more than the absolute bare minimum. As Davina's dad would say, he had hit that ball out of the park, and it was going, going, gone.

Davina saw for herself the first study guide Yankumi wrote and Noda and the rest of 3D were right to be happy. "She agreed?"

Shin smoothed his hair behind his neck and adjusted his charm necklace on his collar. Davina placed her elbows on the table to rest her head in her hands. She leaned in to get a better look, that charm...

"I didn't hear her response, but he walked away in embrace with Minami, Kuma, and Uchi, and exclaimed that he was going to treat everyone." Shin's thumb graced on the edge of his lip, thoughtfully.

"Hmm, didn't you go with them?" Davina piped up.

Shin's brow lifted, but he was still overly calm. She hadn't known she had touched, however indirectly, on something crucial that Shin had meant to keep secret. Behind his own thumb, Shin smirked, reminding himself not to get too ahead of himself. "Remember, the cell phone I showed you?"

Davina nodded.

"I was returning it to the owner, and remember, I was with you."

Oh, she definitely remembered. Davina had managed to control her blushing, but the excitement that sprouted from that single incident was enough to make Davina bare her teeth. She thought back to Noda, trying to imagine him extremely happy. "That's love, isn't it?"

Shin didn't respond, waiting for Davina to finish.

"From what I have gathered about 3D during my short time with them, is that...many people don't have confidence in them. Noda was able to combat that, not just for himself or Fujiyama, but for all of 3D."

It was not difficult to read in between the lines for Shin. He had earlier suspicions, but figured to wait to act on them. "Has Tsuchida or anyone else from 3C tried to contact you since the last you saw them?"

Davina shook her head. "I haven't seen or heard from Tatsuya since Saturday. And I prefer it that way."

Shin carefully nodded. He had intended to say that Tsuchida hadn't shown up for the last couple of days, but Davina didn't need to hear it. He didn't want to fumble over a sensitive topic. Another subject change was needed.

"How do your parents take to you doing ballet?" Shin asked, more lightly.

Davina's expression didn't chipper up like Shin had expected. "My parents don't dislike me doing ballet, as much as they don't want me to invest too much hope in going pro. Back in New York, there was going to be an autumn audition for a ballet institute that I dearly want to attend. Go to college, they keep saying, what everyone keeps saying. I wanted to stay in New York while my parents came to Japan, but my parents already didn't want me living alone. I can't wait until I'm out on my own."

Shin opened his mouth as if to say something, but did not utter a word.

"When I move out, I won't have to deal with that old man!"

"Things will be better when I move out."

"Soon, I'll be able to do my own thing, without my parents interfering."

"I'll never have to babysit again! When I make MY plans, nothing will change them, except me!"

Kuma's, Uchi's, Noda's, and Minami's voice echoed in Shin's mind. Shin had yet to tell anyone about his living situation and he wasn't sure if he would ever be open about it. No one asked about his family and how living with them was.

Perhaps it was the lighting and the shadows, but Davina sat somberly in silence. Shin put his fork next to his now empty plate and with a sigh, rose from his chair. "Toirei?"

"Oh, bathroom?" Davina pointed to the hallway, "second door on the right."

Without another word, Shin left the dining room. Davina's eyes were fixed on his empty chair, never realizing how loud steps sounded in the dining room.

Davina groaned to herself, slamming her elbows on the table, her face in her hands. Was this what it was supposed to be like after the English midterm? She was glad that Shin dared to ask her such questions, but maybe he hadn't expected her less than thrilling responses? Maybe it was time for her to ask questions...but what sort of things do you ask Shin Sawada?

Davina studied the grain on the table top, wondering if she should check her makeup. What sort of things did Shin do on his own? What sort of things made Shin happy? What was he planning to do after graduating?

Where was Shin?

Maybe it was due to being alone, but Shin seemed to be gone for a long while...

Davina walked away from the dinner table and down the hall. The bathroom light was turned off and the door was slightly ajar. Her room light, near the bathroom, was lit. She tiptoed into her own room—rather silly—Davina thought to herself.

Shin's back was facing her initially, he was holding something.


Unsurprised, he slowly twisted around, revealing a framed photo in his hands.

"Oh, one of my older ballet photos," Davina reached for the frame to gaze upon it herself. She was extending her leg high in the air in a leap. One of her best moves.

Shin remembered Noda proudly hauling his camera and laptop into the 3D homeroom. "I got footage of Davina's quick ballet dance from our last English study session." He quickly tapped keys and played a clip. Kuma, Minami, and Uchi leaned. "Sugoi!" They exclaimed in unison.

"Aren't you gonna take a look, Shin?" Kuma chided.

Shin so nearly asked "why?" but knew better. His friends, hell, everyone in 3D, thought he was entitled to be gushing over Davina or jumping every time she was mentioned. And Shin had zero clue as to why they could think that he was capable of such things.

"You know..." Davina set the frame back on her desk and walked over to her dresser. "You might think this is silly, I have a collection of my old shoes from performances." She pulled open the double doors of the dresser and curtained her hanger of clothes and exposed cabinets of a dozen old, yet still beautifully decorated, ballet slippers.

Shin gazed over the collection. Some were white, blue, red, black, but were most were still their true pink hue. Recalling what she had said about her first dance lesson being in France before age eight, she must have been dancing for a long time, most likely being the reason why she had worn so many.

She reached for a small snow white shoe. "These are actually demi Pointe, before you learn to go on Pointe or your toes." Tiny gray snowflake patterns glittered the white fabric with a small snowflake pendant above the box and opening of the shoe. "My mother got them for me when I was in my first freelance production, the Nutcracker."

She must have been young, the shoe itself was about as long as her palm.

"These shoes hold their own memories, which I guess is why I've kept some. This one was my first and is still my favorite."

When Shin didn't continue, Davina then bit her lip and return the shoe to its proper place. She tried to formulate a question for Shin. "Shin, have you done something like this?" She bit her lip again, hoping that Shin had interpreted her question as referring to her being committed to ballet.

Shin smoothed the hair on the back of his neck, having an answer to the question, but unsure if he wanted to answer. Finally, his hand fell to his side and he answered, "I played baseball for several years."

"Really? What position?"

Shin shoved his hands into his pocket, restless from embarrassment from Davina's excitement. "Pitcher."

Shin. A pitcher? Davina pictured him with a mitt for a moment then remembered his poker face, which suited the position. Was that the beginning of the poker face? She dismissed her amazement for another curious question. "Do you still play?"

"Not officially." Here it comes, Shin mused to himself.

"Why not?" Davina asked sincerely.

Shin involuntarily sighed and shut his eyes for a few seconds. Davina immediately regretted her question, regardless of how natural flow of the conversation.

"I didn't mean to—

"No...Davina..." Feeling responsible for the sudden tension in the room, Shin decided it was necessary to answer. "Baseball was a part of my life before Shirokin. Back when I was still attending Chuo."

"Would you ever want to play again?" Davina asked, surveying his reaction.

Shin opened his mouth to utter something, but seemed to have lost it. "Never thought about it really."

Shin's poker face had paled into obvious sullenness, for which Davina blamed herself. Yet her curiosity begged for one more question to press forward. "But why did you leave Chuo?"

"I was kicked out."

Davina couldn't help the gasp that left her gut. She had never known anyone who had been kicked out of a school before. A wave of guilt overcame her when she met Shin's eyes. They were emotionless, but she knew better.


"I guess you can say, I got tired of it. The stuck up kids who were felt they were entitled to anything and everything they wanted. The lineage. The power-lusting teachers who didn't give a damn about anything but themselves."

"Wow..." Davina whispered, deeply astounded. She stared back at Shin, but inattentively due to the dramatic thoughts in her mind.

The trademark face of surprise, Shin thought. People who found out that he had been kicked out of a school wore that face without fail. He had said too much or shouldn't have said anything at all. Unaware of how to react, Shin simply balled his hands into fists in his pockets, turned around and headed for the door.

Before Shin could push the door aside, a strong grip on his forearm halted him.

Shin straightened and waited, but not turn around to face Davina.

Davina swallowed the lump in her throat and inhaled a calming breath of air. "You can leave if you really want to, Shin. Just know that I'm not judging you to be any less than when you first walked into my house. It's not a big deal."

She let the words float between them for a while, hoping for Shin to turn around. When he didn't, she let go. He took a step forward, respired heavily, and then casually turned around.

It's not a big deal, replayed in his mind as he looked down at Davina, her green eyes gazing seriously into his brown set, and her arms were crossed tightly over her chest. "Uruse yo." As the tension evaporated between them, Shin chuckled to himself, baring his teeth.

Finally, Davina dramatically sighed and laughed at herself. Stupid Shin.

Merely inches away from Shin's collar, Davina spotted his necklace hanging a large hand-shaped charm. Feeling the charm between her own fingers, Davina inspected the symbol, then smirked.

"Jainism?" Davina claimed, not expecting to be wrong.

Shin also touched around the palm edges of the charm. "For non-violence."

Davina giggled lightly. How could she possibly forget how 3-D acted? She once saw someone punch his friend in the arm as congratulation for answering an English question correctly. "Is 3-D a bad influence on you?" She quipped.

Shin uttered, "you're the first one who got it right." He then grabbed her hand and slowly led her arm to his shoulder. Davina didn't realize her smile had stiffened and that her cheeks were burning with pink. Shin's expression was so serious that Davina could only watch his side as his other hand glided through her hair, down her back, and stayed at her waist. His fingers graced gently along her cheek and hair, then finally cupping her chin. His brown eyes met her green set. She was blushing unlike ever before, and though her expression was strained at first, her lips gently spread into a soft smile.

Shin soon tugged her chin towards his and shut his eyes. Davina relaxed herself, closing her own eyes. His warm breath brushed against her cheek, when Davina abruptly pulled away.

"Wait, I heard something."

Sounds of a key jamming into the door lock and unlocking made Davina pull away from Shin.

No. She couldn't believe it. They never came home early...

"Davina? Hello? We're home."

Davina could hear the usual noise of her mother setting her large case in the living room, removing her suit blazer, exhaling in relief. Suddenly a loud set of steps pounded towards Davina's door. "Davina? Why didn't you clear off the table when you were finished?" Esmée stepped through the doorway, her casual, tired face overwhelmed by surprise when she laid her eyes on Shin standing inches away from Davina.

"Davina!" Esmée rubbed her temples. "You didn't tell us you had someone coming over."

Without thinking about it, Davina responded back to her mother in French. "Yes, I told you and dad yesterday, remember? Maman, this is Shin." Davina gestured to Shin. Poor Shin, Davina thought grimly, however his poker face showed no signs of confusion or disarray.

"Oh, Davina. We were thinking it was going to be some of your girlfriends, not a boy. Unsupervised! Ai yi yi, what is your father going to say?" Esmée continued, pressing her temples as if a headache were coming on.

"Going to say about what?" Joined a stern, sturdy voice from the doorway.

Davina really wanted to kick herself at that moment; she failed to hide her discontentment with her cringing face. Her father, still in uniform, stood next to his wife, eying Shin from head to toe.

"Davina, you didn't say you were having company." Her father directed towards her, bit of disapproval leaking into his tone.

"But, dad! I did yesterday. Remember when I was preparing ingredients to cook?" She said, trying to jog his memory. Davina was getting further agitated by having to repeat herself twice within under a minute about something her parents should have known.

"Esmée, didn't you say that her girlfriends were coming over?" The sergeant mumbled above his wife's ear.

"Dad, this is Shin. Shin, these are my parents." Davina simpered like never before, internally begging for her parents to not scare Shin away. She had never dreamed that Shin meeting her parents would have happened like this, but she needed to make the best of it.

Esmée smiled sweetly at Shin. "Pardon my rudeness, Shin, I am Esmée, Davina's mother—

Davina's father stepped forward towards Shin directly to shake his hand. "Davina's father, Sergeant Ken Summons of the United States Military."

This is not happening? Davina prayed glumly. He's already starting the militant intimidation, and he's barely been in the room for two seconds!

Shin politely offered his hand and roughly shook the sergeant's. "Sawada, Shin. Dozo Yoroshiku." Shin's expression lightened politely in greeting with the sergeant, however Ken's, Davina's father's, face remained cold as stone.

The sergeant studied Shin, from his hair to his shoes. Oh, Davina knew that look. It would take five seconds for Davina's father to decide if he liked him or not.

Dying to get out of the room, Davina pulled Shin away by the elbow at her first chance and began escorting him out. "Well, sorry that was short, but we all have school tomorrow and Shin has an early commute." Davina said shrilly. "Be right back."

"Goodnight, Shin." Esmée said dearly.

Shin gave a quick bow of his head. "Oyasuminasai."

Davina was already pulling Shin away before her father could offer his farewell face to face. "Goodbye, Shin." Her father's voice powerfully followed them all the way to the door. When the door shut behind her and locked, Davina leaned again it and inhaled with relief.

Shin smirked at her and she smiled back sheepishly. "Here, let me walk you to the gate."

Davina greeted the cool breeze with joy as she strolled down the gate pathway next to Shin.

Her parents had impeccable timing. Shin had nearly kissed her and now it was impossible to recreate that moment. She crossed her arms over her chest and watched the pavement drift by her, consumed in disappointment.

Shin seemed mostly unaffected by her parents showing up, but every so often, he would glance at Davina, and softly chuckle to himself.

He stopped a bit away from the road crossing. "Gochisousama deshita." Shin uttered sincerely, forcing Davina's frown into a smile.

"You're welcome. And, I'm sorry...about my parents—

"Betsuni." Shin shrugged, judging by her already deep guilt, he knew his words alone wouldn't reassure her. "No big deal."

Davina set some stray hairs to her ear and then embraced Shin. She inhaled his sweet scent then let him go. "Good night, Shin. Get home safely."

Shin ran a hand through her hair then softly kissed her cheek. "Oyasumi." With that, Shin swiftly left to cross the road, leaving Davina there, dazed and unable to move. Her fingers gingerly touched her cheek. Squealing and grinning to herself, she happily couldn't decide if she needed to sit down or dance. She had loved his lips on her cheek. She had loved his touch on her waist. She had loved his smile and laugh. Oh, she couldn't wait to get back to her room and practice.

"What happened to your hand, Davina?" Her mother asked concernedly when Davina returned.

Davina had forgotten about her injured hand. "Just cut my hand on some glass, was an accident." She quickly grabbed Shin's plate, glass, and utensils to take into the kitchen.

Davina could feel her father's piercing scowl in her back from the couch, over his newspaper, as she cleared the table.

"I am appalled that you did not tell your mother nor me that you were having a boy over." He scolded and loudly turned the paper page.

"Daddy, I'm seventeen. It's not that big of deal. I don't know what you're thinking, but you can trust me." Davina grabbed her plate to take into her room, maybe she could finally get some food in her stomach.

Don't you daddy me, he thought. "Davina! What do you expect me to think? I found a long-haired boy in my teenage daughter's bedroom!" Her father projected, meriting an unseen rolling of eyes from Davina. Her father's paranoid perception was worse than what it really was.

She ignored both of her parents' intensive stares and made her way to her room. "I'm gonna practice."

"Oh-kay," her mother said faintly, just as Davina's door shut. Esmée shook her head with a sigh, then continued her paperwork. Ken meanwhile pretended to be reading his newspaper, but was going over details in his head.

Shin. A full image of Shin displayed clearly in his memory. Even in his short time of observation, merely seeing his daughter standing next to that kid was perplexing. Yes, as Davina said, she was seventeen, so Ken knew he shouldn't be surprised by his daughter's interest in boys. It was their or Shin's interests in her that worried Ken. But what upset him the most was that his daughter had actually try to hide the boy from himself and Esmée.

"I told you she was acting strange." Esmée quipped with satisfaction across from Ken.

Davina had to practice extra hard that night. She hadn't been focused in the last couple of days and she didn't want to slack off and have Madame notice.

Counting aloud for her exercises, she knew she was just standing a few feet from what he had almost kissed her. She could not wait until lunch the day after to share with Jayla and Mira the news. Davina's night hadn't turned out at all like she expected, and for that, she was dearly thankful.


A's N: Let me make a confession, everyone. The main reason why I am taking so long with these new chapters is because I dearly wish for them to be good. For this chapter, I [figuratively] threw away pages I thought were scrap. I feel I owe it to you all to take the time and make the wait was semi-worth it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and I hope it was worth the wait. Thank you so much for reading my story.