Chapter 2: A Confession of an Inhibited Love
Tsuchiya sat beside Yankumi during dinner time. The whole Yakuza family and the guest were all seated at the low table enjoying their meal consisting of home-cooked Japanese food, fruits, and sake.
"Wow, I never thought tofu would work well with ramen!" Tsuchiya mused as he ate the food. "It's delicious!"
"Hehe, thank you for the compliment," Tetsu replied. "I am glad you like it."
"That's the Kawamoto brand he used in the ramen," Yankumi shared. "But I think we try Honjo-san's tofu some other time."
"Yes, I agree," Yankumi's ojiichan replied. "Honjo-san's tofu is something which you can call 'home-made', and it is not even expensive."
And during the meal, Tsuchiya commented that Yankumi is small but terrible. Because of it, Tetsu's eyes blazed with flames, grabbed a nearby katana, and was about to attack Tsuchiya, but Yankumi stopped him. Tsuchiya was scared to death but calmed down when Yankumi stopped her henchman. He explained himself, stating that it is true that Yankumi is shorter than they are (being a female of course), but that she had made such a big impact on them. Her ojiichan smiled at her and commented that her efforts were all worth it after all. She had cultivated fine students from scratch.
"Uh, is it all right if Yamaguchi-sensei and I will go on sight-seeing tonight at the park?" Tsuchiya shyly and politely asked the old Yakuza.
Tetsu looked at him jealously, but kept his cool. The old patriarch smiled in spite of himself.
"Of course, you can," he said. "It is a nice Sunday evening after all."
"That's nice, Tsuchiya," Yankumi replied. "I'd go."
And he smiled his cute smile at her again.
"There is a fireworks show tonight at the park," Tsuchiya said as they walked. He was still fanning himself with his signature ubiquitous fan.
"Then, let's see it!"
A lot of people were already at the park waiting for the fireworks, but they didn't get near the crowd. They stayed under the tree waiting for the main event. But even before they could see the fireworks, the people were already musing at the sight on the sky. A crescent moon lying on its back was facing a star on top of it. Someone made a comment.
"That's not a star. That is the planet Venus!"
The whole lot of crowd stared at the sky in wonder. Many then were betting as to the superstitions behind the event. Tsuchiya also mused at the sight, but then, he looked at Yankumi. She was such a girl, he thought, easily mesmerized by the celestial show.
"Ah, I wish I could see this with Dr. Natsume…." she sighed.
"Who's that?" Tsuchiya asked, curious.
"Oh, he is the school doctor. You know, he is so cool and handsome….kyaaaaahhh!" she squealed.
The moon and the planet were soon lost in sight as the fireworks began to dance across the sky. Everyone was shouting and yelling and wanting for more. Yankumi jumped for joy to see such beauty.
"Ah….suteki (wonderful)!" she squealed again. "Kirei (beautiful)!"
The sky was lit up all the more with more and more sky flowers. Yankumi was in a daze as she continued to stare on. She only woke up from her own revelry when she realized that Tsuchiya held her hand.
"Just like you, Yankumi," he whispered.
Yankumi looked at him in shock as he smiled and pressed her hand to his lips.
The couple went away from the crowd and all the firework spectacles. They sat at a swing nearby.
"What are you doing, Tsuchiya?" she demanded.
"Like what I had said, you are beautiful," Tsuchiya said. "And I like you."
Yankumi froze. Nobody had shown her some interest except for Sawada Shin. She perceived Shin's feelings for her but she didn't mind it. She was all over the moon at Kujo-sensei before and Dr. Natsume now that she never knew somebody was actually interested in her. She did not know how to react, nor did she know if she can accept his feelings. When she looked back at Tsuchiya, she found out she couldn't look at him that easily the way she looked at him before.
"Why….? When? How?" Yankumi asked.
And so Tsucchi shared his secret.
"I guess you remembered the time when the school gave the expulsion punishment after I assaulted Ishikawa, my junior high teacher. You were defending me and interceding on my behalf, and I couldn't even defend myself. I felt my heart broken to pieces when you bowed down to all of them because I had seen for myself that you were not the teacher we were expecting you to be. Thanks to you, I stayed and was able to continue school. When we got back to the classroom that day, I wondered if you were also as devoted if you were somebody's girlfriend. When my classmates teased me to Miyazaki, remember that I told them I prefer older women? And you remember saying that it was you I was interested in? I know both of us were joking, but I know you never meant what you said. As for me, I know I meant what I said. Eversince that event, I enjoyed going to school, I enjoyed being with my friends and classmates, and I enjoyed homeroom and math classes because I can see you. I never told Takeda or Yabuki about this, and I kept this to myself. I had been dying to tell you how I feel after graduation, but I never got the chance because I know you will not reciprocate my feelings. I also know I am not man enough to confess because I want to show you that I must make something for myself first, make a name for myself, so that when time comes, I can show to you what I had become because of you. And so, through all these years, I tried to do my best to work hard and made you my inspiration. For me, you were my reason keep pushing on. Even if a lot of girls were flirting at me, I never forgot you. And now, I am proud to say that because of you, I have achieved something for my life, something I can call mine. However, I also doubted if I can ever see you again that I tried to push away my feelings and just keep on working. But when I saw you on TV when you defeated the highjackers, my hopes came up again, and I had been praying hard that I would be able to see you again. And good thing, I saw you with Odagiri, but of course, we couldn't talk much during Kurose's press campaign because I was on duty and you and Odagiri happened to be busy as well. When Ogata and the gang asked for help, I didn't hesitate to help them, not even knowing that they were your previous students. They only told me they were Akadou graduates. After that incident, after Kurose was arrested, I still couldn't get close and talk to you heart to heart because everyone was there, and you were praising all of us for the teamwork. After that, I never got the chance to see you or even visit you in school because I was promoted, and I got busy too. I prayed all the more that one day, I would get the chance to at least get to know you more on the personal level, and not as the teacher you used to be. That is why, yesterday, I was so happy to be able to see you doing the grocery and being confused at times. I always thought you always had the best of solutions all the time. When I saw you being happy looking at the fireworks this evening, I concluded that you are the same as the other girls who can be swayed to anything beautiful. And now, here I am, I want to tell you how much you have mesmerized me both as a teacher and as a person. You do things with all your heart and you are not afraid to do what you think is right, and you are not embarrassed to show that you are not as fashionable as the other girls that I know. Your beauty is even natural. That is why you are unique and that is why I like you."
Yankumi looked at him long enough before she looked away. Nobody had said it to her. Everyone had been praising her for her work as a teacher, but no one had ever praised her qualities as a woman. However, Tsuchiya's admiration is deeper than she thought. She didn't know what to say, all the more that Tsuchiya held her hand.
"Yankumi, I like you," Tsucchi confessed before kissing her hand again. "I am not asking you to reciprocate my feelings now but at least, allow me to show you. And I am willing to wait."
Both of them stood up, and Yankumi could feel her breathe getting deeper when Tsuchiya hugged her and buried his face on her hair. She suddenly realized that perhaps Tsuchiya can be a good boyfriend if given the chance. Yeah, she remembered Tsuchiya saying he preferred older women. And of course, she remembered asking if he meant her, even if she was just joking. She never knew Tsuchiya took on the joke. She remembered her thoughts the night before. No wonder Ichimura and the gang had teased them when they got inside the ramen house. No wonder Tsuchiya fidgeted when she got back from the restroom. And that smile. His smile is just….different. She had recalled that smile. He had a different smile when he laughed with his friends, a different smile when he was flirting with girls, and a different smile when he was sarcastic. When he smiled at her, he looked shy and looked cute just like the guy next door, a look different from his physical bad boy image. She had always wondered what he meant to her when he smiled before but she never gave it a thought. What is? When he confessed to her, she finally came to understand why he was smiling to her that way, and at that moment, she felt herself melting and wanting to give in. Tsuchiya really felt strong but at the same time, soft, and so, it was why Yankumi hugged him back.
"Tsuchiya, thanks for the compliments you have given me as a teacher and as a woman. But, I had realized something too," she said to him even as they hugged. "I think there is something in your smile….it is mysterious….it is mesmerizing….it takes my breath away"
She wasn't able to continue talking because Tsuchiya, all of a sudden, cupped her face and kissed her lips. She had wanted to resist but then, she couldn't because his lips were so soft that she wanted to have more of it. So she kissed him back as well. She never knew that her first kiss would actually come from her previous student. She was wondering why she didn't receive one from Sawada. Well, she couldn't resist now. After all, Tsuchiya had already proven something to himself, and it was because of her that he had become successful. But the kiss was not a sign of gratitude of course. It was an oath of love. When they were done, they pulled away and looked at each other and smiled. There, Yankumi fell again for the sweetness of his smile.
"Tsuchiya," Yankumi whispered. "I am not ready yet but please wait for me. Please give me some time."
Tsuchiya smiled. Yes, he was definitely willing to wait. He was.
(Don't say you love me, you don't even know me,
If you really want me, then give me some time.
Don't go there, baby, not before I'm ready.
Don't say your heart's in a hurry, it's not like we're gonna get married.
Give me, give me some time….)
"D…d…did you see that?" Kuraki said to his friends, who, like him, were hiding behind the bushes across the swings in the park.
"Whoah!" the others chorused in amazement.
"Tsuchiya denies so much but isn't it obvious that they are lovers?" Ichimura retorted.
"They aren't," someone spoke from behind them. When they looked at the person, they complained.
"Don't just show up like that, Odagiri-sensei," Honjo complained, and he was only given a half-smile.
"It is just fortunate if Yamaguchi and Tsucchi end up together," Odagiri said. "After all, Tsucchi's my pal. And also, there will be one less girl to swoon over Dr. Natsume."
Swooning over Dr. Natsume? She is still at that? The thought left them laughing silently, but Odagiri only rolled his eyeballs. Kazama whacked them with his hand so that they will shut up and prevent them from being busted. They continued spying over Tsuchiya and Yankumi, who were gaily walking back to the crowd to watch the fireworks spectacles across the night sky.