A/N: So this is the second half, please enjoy!
Chapter 10: We Promise Part 2
The next morning flew by like a breeze without much to talk of. Well, there was the incident before school of Yankumi forcing Sayuri to get onto a bus to chase after Kujo-sensei with her, ignoring the girl's insistence that there was no point since they would have to get off at the next stop anyway. On the bus, the yakuza background in both females shone through as a group of high school boys refused to give up their seat to an elderly person. Sayuri was a whole lot more toned down than the older woman, but the combination of the two of them had scared off almost the entire bus. Then, at Momogaoka, the dark-haired girl was subjected to the teasing of her friends who were pumping themselves up to hang out later. Naomi and Maki were going on about how they should dress up and really surprise the guys, which Sayuri rejected flat-out. She had headed over to Kurogin, hoping for some normalcy in her day but found none. Instead, she found the next best thing: entertainment. This came in the form of practice interviews. Tsucchi, Omori, Kojima, and Hamaguchi were being interviewed by Joyful Company tomorrow for job positions, so Yankmui wanted to help prepare them properly. Four chairs were placed in the middle of the classroom with Yankumi sitting at a desk in front of the class facing them. The rest of 3D either sat behind their teacher or behind the interviewees' seats. Sayuri sat between the two leaders right in the front of the class. The four students were called into the room as their classmates ooh'd and ahh'd like the high school boys they were. Right off the bat, it was obvious that there was a lot of work that needed to be done.
"Tsuchiya, don't fan yourself," Yankumi instructed and was met with a hostile response. "Kojima, take off your hat. Omori, the last person closes the door."
"Man, you're so annoying," Tsucchi said while continuing to fan himself.
"Hamaguchi, you can't wear sunglasses," the teacher called out to the other boy who whipped his shades off, revealing his eyes for the first time. Or at least, it was the first time for Sayuri.
"He's got round eyes, surprisingly," Sayuri said to herself as Hamaguchi blinked rapidly. She had to fight the urge to laugh out loud. Once the boys made a proper entrance, the actual interviewing started.
"Tsuchiya-kun, why do you want to work for us?" Yankumi asked perfectly in the role of an interviewer.
"Because Yankumi encouraged us," the tall boy answered innocently. Sayuri bit down on her lip as others in the class fell over each other from his surprisingly honest response.
"That's not what you say," his teacher reprimanded. She followed up by giving an example and instructing the boy not to use the slang, gay-cen. "Really…," she said under her breath with a sigh. "The next person," she moved on. "Omori-kun, please tell us your favorite saying."
"Favorite saying?" the blond boy asked, clearly at a loss. "Iya, I don't have one. Maybe, money." Sayuri couldn't help but smile at these clueless boys who always tried to put on a tough act. There was nothing tough about them right now, but the girl could tell that Yankumi's patience was wearing thin as she tried to explain that what she meant was a proverb or maxim not a word. Omori yelled in frustration not knowing what either one of those were.
"Ah… Like 'It's good to fight'," Kojima said enthusiastically from next to Omori.
"'Get rich quick'," Hamaguchi threw out with a smile and hand gestures.
"How about 'BBQ lunch'?" Tsucchi asked in all seriousness. Sayuri would have allowed herself to laugh had the math teacher not slammed her hand down on the desk at that moment. The young girl reacted quickly.
"Are you trying to make fun of me?" Yankumi said in her yakuza tone as she stood up, shoving the desk out of her way. Sayuri got to her first followed by Ryu, Hayato, Take, and Hyuuga. All five of them struggled in holding the woman back while Omori, Kojima, and Hamaguchi tried to hold Tsucchi back. 3D had all gotten out of their seats. "Do you want to do this or not?" the yakuza heiress asked angrily.
"Then, why don't you show us an example?" Ryu said calmly from the side. Everyone looked towards him.
"Yeah," Hayato agreed. "We've never been interviewed before." Sayuri nodded her head, understanding their reasoning.
"Why should I?" Yamkumi asked childishly, seeming to have calmed down.
"Is it that you don't have any confidence?" Take asked in a tone that suggested he knew she didn't. Everyone else in class, including Sayuri, egged the teacher on with an 'hmm'.
"Suspicious," Hyuuga said in a deep voice.
"There's no way," the teacher said defensively. She shook off the students with an unnecessary force. Only Sayuri didn't seem taken back by it. "Alright, fine," she agreed. "I'll show you guys the right way." Walking forth, she addressed some unknown presence. "Watch me," she said accompanied with a wink and peace sign. The guys just stared at her peculiarly then turned away. Sayuri smiled as she walked to her seat.
"Yuri-chan, too," Hayato said, stopping the girl. "You can show us how it's done."
"Eh?" the girl's smile faded. "I don't want to," she said looking around the class. It was becausethey were friends that she didn't trust them. Hayato simply nodded to a few guys as they surrounded the girl.
"Gomen ne, Yuri-chan," Misawa, one of the guys, said while trying to drag the girl outside. She shook off the hold much like her Nee-san had just done a moment ago and was about to walk up and teach the dark-haired leader a lesson for trying to order her around when she was pulled back by a slender arm.
"There's nothing to be shy about, Yuri-chan. Let's go," Yankumi said too cheerily for the younger girl's taste. She tried to fight her way out of the woman's grip, but it was futile. She cursed herself for not training more properly as a child and reluctantly followed the stronger woman. They waited outside for about a minute or two before they were finally allowed to enter. There had been a lot of shifting noises during this time.
"Shitsurei shimasu," Sayuri bowed as she entered the room. She stopped before moving to the chairs, though.
"Shitsurei shimasu," Yankumi reiterated as she closed the door then walked right into Sayuri. She looked up and saw what had made the young girl freeze. Hayato, Take, Tsucchi, and Hyuuga all had on ridiculous glasses and were seated at the front of the room with semi-serious expressions. Hayato had taken off his blazer and unbuttoned his dress shirt in some attempt at looking professional. Sayuri saw that a pair of glasses laid untouched on Ryu's desk as he faced away from his idiotic friends. He gave the girl a small shrug as if to tell her that he couldn't stop them.
"Take a seat," Hayato said in a breathy voice. Sayuri and Yankumi made their way to the center of the room uncertainly. The older woman sat down with more confidence.
"Alright, bring it on," she said like was preparing herself for battle. Sayuri mimicked her Nee-san, gritting her teeth and nodding fiercely.
"This isn't a fight," Ryu reminded from his seat. The two females snapped out of their aggressive modes.
"Hai," Sayuri said in a small voice that Ryu couldn't help but give a tiny smile to.
"Why did you want to work here at Kurogin Academy?" Hayato said in a fluid and soft tone, addressing his question to Yankumi. He ended by coolly pushing his glasses up. It was all so ridiculous that Sayuri had to look away so that she wouldn't laugh. Yankumi gave some really long and thorough answer that made no sense to her class and that even Sayuri had a hard time following. There were sounds of protest from the boys even before she finished speaking. "What language are you talking?" Hayato said in his angry voice, which was at least more normal than his sophisticated one. Clearing his throat, he returned back to the act. "Wakamatsu-kun," Sayuri raised an eyebrow waiting to see where this was going. "Why did you want to participate in 3D's 'Practice Interview Project'?" he asked with a fake smile.
Sayuri plastered on one also, "I didn't." Yankumi nudged the girl a little from the side while some of the boys couldn't hold back their laughs. Hayato shook his head and tsk'dthen wrote something down on the paper in front of him. Tsucchi posed the next question.
"Who do you respect the most?" he asked the both of them, imitating the voice of an elderly man.
"My grandfather who took care of me as a parent," Yankumi answered truthfully.
"Grandfather?" Tsucchi repeated. He looked to Sayuri next.
The girl gave a creepy grin, "My father who will kill anyone who picks on me… Slow and painfully." The temperature in the whole room dropped several degrees. The pig-tailed woman nudged the girl a little harder this time. Ryu and Hayato just gave each other apprehensive looks.
"Well then," Hyuuga said in a somewhat normal voice. "Let's have your measurements." Sayuri rolled her eyes and told herself that the sleazy smirk on her friend's face was only made unconsciously.
"That's not going to happen," she said crossing her arms.
Yankumi naively answered without skipping a beat, "Well, starting at the top, 95-58-88." The younger girl looked over at her companion doubtfully. Shouts asking if that was real came out from the class. "Why are you asking that question?" the woman demanded having thought it over after she spoke.
"You shouldn't lie," Ryu told his teacher who answered with a passive 'hai'.
"Well, do you have a boyfriend?" Take asked the teacher next with his chin on his hands.
"Eh?" Yankumi exclaimed in surprise then turned all schoolyard-crush-like. "Well, I have someone I like, but it's not going well with him though." She held an innocent smile. Sayuri tossed an all-knowing look at the older woman. That was different from what she had said yesterday morning.
Ryu yet again made another side comment, "We didn't ask for such details." Yankumi looked up in embarrassment.
"Moving on," Take said before the woman could blow up. He addressed the next question to Sayuri, "When was your first kiss?" The guys in class all quieted down to wait for the girl's answer. She had lost the feistiness she had had throughout the interview and was biting down on her lip. Hayato cleared his throat conspicuously with the hint of a smile.
Ryu looked over at him, "Don't tell me…"
"It didn't count!" Sayuri said standing up red-faced, confusing some of the slower people in the class. She looked around the room self-consciously. "Don't ask such questions!" she yelled and stalked out of the classroom in a fit.
"Yuri-chan," everyone called out. Since school was basically over anyway, Ryu, Hayato, Take, Tsucchi, and Hyuuga all followed her out. Yankumi let them go but kept the rest of the class. When the guys caught up to the girl, they found her outside the Kurogin gates leaning against a wall. No one dared to approach her, though. Take took the first tentative step forward.
"Yuri-chan, gomen ne," he apologized for having asked the thoughtless question in the first place. Sayuri saw the look of worry and guilt etched in her friend's childish face and instantly felt bad.
"Iya," she said although she was still pouting. "I'm just overreacting." Take gave a small smile at this, which Sayuri returned. Hayato stepped forward and opened his mouth to say something, but he seemed to think better of it and stepped back. Ryu took note of this but kept quiet.
"We're meeting Maki and the girls at Café de Rovne soon," Sayuri said looking at everyone. She hated ruining the mood all the time with her problems. "We should probably go now," she added a genuine smile that convinced them all that she was okay.
"Let's go," Hayato said to the group.
The walk was spent with Tsucchi and Hyuuga talking about their excitement at getting to see Naomi and Aiko and having the others listen to them. They talked about Tsucchi's job interview tomorrow, too. Sayuri chose to remain silent and mainly stayed in the back, walking with Ryu who was perfect company for when you didn't feel like talking. 'It really didn't count. It really really didn't count,' the girl kept telling herself, still hung up on the question she had been asked. 'You can't consider a stupid mistake in elementary school as a first kiss.' Arriving at Café de Rovne, Sayuri had successfully cleared her thoughts of that event which did not exist and instead was looking around the place, hoping to spot Noriko. She opened the door to the cafe and made a beeline for the owner. Before she could open her mouth to ask anything, though, a chuckle had escaped the old man's lips.
"She's not here," he said, obviously having known what the girl would ask. "She's been avoiding coming here ever since I relayed your message," he seemed sad at having to tell the girl this news. Sayuri frowned having to hear it.
"Sou ka," she said as she turned around dejectedly and walked over to sit down at the table. The guys joined her carefully so they wouldn't upset her any further. Sensing this, Sayuri looked up with a smile. "Ne," she said trying to sound happy. "Didn't you say you need to fill out your resume, Tsucchi-kun?" The taller boy nodded and smiled, taking out his papers. The group spent their time waiting for the others by helping their friend with his resume. By the time the girls got there, everything was finished. All that needed to be done was to get Tsucchi a decent photo since all he had was a hostile looking one which screamed trouble and one with Take and him surrounded by hearts which was too inappropriate. Everyone introduced themselves before heading out to do just that. Sayuri noted how Maki and Take stuck to each other, straying away from the group. She also saw Tsucchi's particular interest in Naomi. They were talking and laughing as they lead everyone forward. The dark-haired girl shook her head as she watched Aiko shy away uncomfortably at Hyuuga's efforts to get her number. She let out a small laugh, resolving herself to have fun tonight with this lot of misfits. Everyone waited outside the photo booth as Tsucchi went in, chatting amicably.
"Alright, I have my picture. And my resume is done, too," the tall boy said in satisfaction once he picked up the photos. Sayuri and Naomi walked up to the boy, clapping and faking moved expressions. The others laughed. Hyuuga went up and cheered for his friend.
"Okay then," Hayato said calling the group's attention. "Along with Sayuri's exam, should we celebrate his upcoming interview?" He got ooh'sfrom the guys as Sayuri tried to remember where she had heard that before.
"Nobody celebrates an interview," Ryu said from his position leaning against the booth.
"Daijobu, daijobu," Hyuuga went over to the serious boy. "There's nothing to be scared of." He rested an arm on Ryu's shoulder.
"Sou sou sou. Let's go karaoke," Take suggested excitedly. The girls all turned to each other, tilting their heads. Sayuri cracked a smile, and that's when they all broke into laughter. The guys gave them confused looks.
"Ne," Maki started in between laughs. "I didn't know how alike we all were."
"The exact same," Naomi said with a smile.
"Eh?" the guys wondered what they were talking about.
Sayuri just smiled, walking ahead. "Nandemo nai." Still confused but happy at seeing their friend truly smile, the guys began following after the girl.
"Okay, then let's go," Hayato said excitedly as he and Hyuuga goofed off going the wrong way and such. Take and Maki walked together while the rest followed behind. Tsucchi was at the very back of the group, trying to put his papers back into his bag. They slipped from his grip, though. As he bent down to pick them up from the ground, a foot stopped him.
"Aren't you from Kurogin?" Sayuri could hear in the background. The others stopped when the girl turned around.
"Tanabe from Todoroki," Tsucchi said standing up straight. Sayuri only took a split second to register Taro's school name. She could sense the danger radiating from these two. The group turned back around and walked right into the trouble. Sayuri pulled the girls back.
"Should we call the police?" Aiko asked, concern lacing her voice.
"Iie," Sayuri answered. "You guys just stay here." Maki nodded her head at the other girl's words, knowing this was serious. If it had just been her and Sayuri, she wouldn't have minded, but their friends weren't as inclined towards violence. Naomi stood off to the side, not paying attention to the girls, too preoccupied with watching the confrontation unfold.
"You guys are gonna find work, too?" this Tanabe person asked. Sayuri already didn't like his attitude.
As hot-headed as ever, Hayato answered. "Huh? You gotta problem with that?" Sayuri ran up to the boys, ready to stop them if necessary.
"Gonna work hard once you graduate?" the jerk said condescendingly.
"None of you business," Take spat out. Sayuri was a little surprised, but she guessed that the boy was just as unhappy with this turn of events as the rest of them.
"Working?" Tanabe said with a smile that turned into a sneer. "Are you guys stupid?" he asked as he tore up Tsucchi's resume and photos.
"Why don't you stop it already?" Hayato said intensely as he grabbed the other boy's blazer. Sayuri put her hand on his arm, but it was Ryu who spoke.
"Stop it," he said in his calm manner. "Don't pay attention to these kinds of guys." The dark-haired girl understood what the quiet boy was trying to say, but once the words had left his mouth, she could tell that the others wouldn't. There was no going back now. The Todoroki guys all turned to Ryu.
"These kinds of guys?" Tanabe repeated. "Now you've said it." Sayuri dropped her hand and sighed defeatedly as another guy grabbed Hayato's collar.
"You looking down on us?" he asked angrily before the impulsive 3D leader sent a punch flying at his face.
"Hayato!" Sayuri screamed but the boy didn't listen. Each Kurogin boy grabbed a Todoroki boy as the fight broke out for real. Ryu and Sayuri played mediators trying to stop their friends although the levelheaded boy also had to dodge his own share of blows. Two older businessmen walked by the fight, almost getting hit themselves.
"Man, what's with high school students nowadays?" she heard one of them say. Sayuri didn't have time to worry about these strangers, though, because she saw a Todoroki guy going straight after Maki, Naomi, and Aiko who all remained in the back, away from the chaos like she had instructed. She pulled him back and sent her fist into his gut, causing him to crumple to the ground. Her three classmates stood with their mouths open, gaping at their friend. She went over to them.
"Gomen," the girl said. "You guys should just leave first."
"Demo…," Maki began. Sayuri sent her a pleading look. "Wakatta." She pulled Naomi and Aiko along as they left the scene. The dark-haired girl turned her attention back to the brawl. Ryu was still trying to get his friends to stop, but it was obvious that his attempts were unsuccessful. The fight was basically over with anyway. The Todoroki guys all laid sprawled out on the ground with various injuries and bruises. Sayuri ran up to Hayato who was still pounding the first guy he had punched.
"Hayato!" she called. "Yamete." The girl grabbed her friend's arm as it came down to make contact with the victim's face again. "Let's go," she pleaded as she pulled him up and along. Seeing this, Take, Tsucchi, and Hyuuga began retreating also. They were some distance away before Sayuri allowed them to stop. She backed up, standing by Ryu and staring at the others.
"Where are the girls?" Hyuuga asked looking around.
"You're asking that now?" the Momo student snapped. The guys all looked at her. "What are you thinking getting into a stupid fight like that?"
"You saw what they did to Tsucchi," Hayato defended.
"Don't you get it?" the girl shouted. "There are times when you have to act smart. Times to exercise self-control. Try to live your lives more seriously!" she told them angrily. The girl took a moment to collect herself. "Up until now, you've had people covering for you no matter what you did. But it's all going to be different once you graduate. It's not as simple as 'clean up your own mess'." Here, her voice softened up a bit, "You'll have to take responsibility for your actions from here on out. Your thoughtless acts might involve others and hurt them. There might be things that can't be undone." She sighed to herself, "Just keep that in mind."
Hayato stared at his friend for a second then huffed. "Stop trying to lecture us like Yankumi," he told the girl, brushing off her words. Sayuri looked away from the boy angrily. She tried to steady her breathing as she clenched and unclenched her fists.
"Do whatever you want then," she gritted as she fought back angry tears. What good was being caring guys if they didn't care about their own lives? Why was it so hard for them to do that? The girl thought she had known her friends better, but now she doubted herself. She stalked off toward home, ignoring the calls from Take. Ryu let her go silently, unable to come up with a good reason as to why she should stay. Yup, this was justthe night she needed to prepare herself for her entrance exam tomorrow.
"Ohayo, Yuri-chan," Maki greeted less cheerily than usual the next morning. The girl had gone straight to bed when she arrived home last night and talked to no one. She left for school by herself this morning, unsure if she'd be able to face her Nee-san without telling her everything. She had to come to class today before she went to the exam since it didn't start until the afternoon. Sayuri sat down at her desk without saying much. She only nodded her greeting to the others. She hadn't talked to any of the guys since last night, except for texting Tsucchi good luck for his interview which he only replied to with an arigatou. The dark-haired girl sighed to herself. She just didn't know what to do with the guys.
"A-anno." Sayuri looked up from her desk. Naomi was standing with her head bowed. "Gomenasai!" she apologized. The seated girl raised an eyebrow. "I knew those guys last night," the girl confessed. She explained to Sayuri how the guy she had been seeing was actually a guy named Takagi-kun, a graduate of Todoroki. That alone had gotten Sayuri to sit up straight. Taro's cousin? That was the worst possible guy she could choose to date. Apparently those jerks yesterday weren't just his kohei, they were his friends - the ones that she had mentioned before about being obnoxious. Naomi assured the girl that she wasn't seeing Takagi anymore, much to Sayuri's relief. She apologized again for last night.
"Iie," the dark-haired girl said. "It's not your fault, Naomi-chan." Sayuri couldn't blame the girl for something she had no control over. The blame went to other people who didn't know how to control themselves. She said no more on the topic, too tired to think about it further. (That proved to be a harder task than expected, though.) Instead, she focused her thoughts on passing the entrance exam for Waseda which she needed to start heading out to. Maki, Aiko, and Naomi all wished Sayuri good luck as she left for the testing.
The exam period only lasted for about two hours, so the girl decided that she would go and check up on the guys afterwards. It was the only thing she could tell herself so that she wouldn't be worrying during the exam, which worked. Leaving the building, Sayuri felt confident that she had tried her best. Whether she passed or not was a different story. With that worry out of the way, though, the girl felt lighter as she walked towards Kurogin. Now she just had to reconcile with the guys. As she reached the gates to the academy, they all came stalking out of the building angrily. It took Sayuri off guard and made her lose some confidence. Hayato looked up at the girl in surprise, calling out her name, but he quickly collected himself and moved on. Take, Tsucchi, and Hyuuga all looked as if they would stop also, but they followed their leader in the end. Only Ryu remained in front of the girl.
"Doshita no?" she asked, her eyebrows knit together. The quiet leader explained to her how the old men from last night were actually interviewers from Joyful Company. They had dropped Tsucchi, Omori, Kojima, and Hamaguchi without letting the students get interviewed. Sayuri bit her lip, realizing her words from last night had come into fruition. Ryu continued to tell her how the Vice Principal wasn't allowing anyone from 3D to look for jobs now since it was hurting the school's stupid reputation. The Superintendent even threatened expulsion. He also told her how Yankumi had declared that it was her dream to have all the students graduate together and set on the right path. "Nee-san," Sayuri said. She took in a deep breath. How did things become such a mess? Ryu left the girl to herself as he went after his friends. Not wanting to face anyone right now, Sayuri took a walk around the area, deep in her own thoughts. She wondered to herself if maybe she had said a little too much last night. Still, the girl knew that those things needed to be said. She thought to the practice interviews they had had yesterday. Tsucchi, Omori, Kojima, and Hamaguchi had all been so excited. What was this now? She suddenly felt anger rising inside of her, anger towards the guys that had ruined everything for her friends.
As if summoned by her thoughts, the girl spotted the Todoroki uniforms up ahead. Blinded by her rage, she stormed toward the group without thinking and called out, "Oi!" The faces that turned toward her, though, didn't belong to any of the guys from last night, but Sayuri still recognized them. "Ta-chan..." The boy looked back at the girl in surprise, but he steeled himself quickly.
"What do you want?" Tomikawa demanded from the side. He was currently shooting Sayuri a very hostile look. The girl remained unflinching under the stare. She turned her eyes back to her childhood friend.
"Can we talk?" her voice was soft as she asked the question, but there was a seriousness in her expression that said she wouldn't allow for the answer to be no. Taro seemed to hesitate for a moment before sending his 'friends' away, much to their protests. Sayuri watched them walk off and waited until they were far away enough to start talking again. She gave a small smile, "Not too cool to be around me now?" The boy looked away, uncomfortable with her joking. Sayuri sighed. "I guess we can talk about our problems some other time," she said tiredly. "I have a favor to ask." Taro returned his attention to the girl. "Can you stop your guys from causing trouble with Kurogin?" she was staring intently at the boy, waiting for an answer.
For the first time since they reunited, her old friend smiled again, except this was a twisted smile full of spite. It was nothing like the ones in her memories. He scoffed, "And why do you assume those punks aren't the ones picking a fight with us?" Sayuri struggled to keep her composure.
"Do you not know what happened yesterday?" she asked calmly. The girl proceeded to explain to the Todoroki head about the run-in from last night and its consequences this morning. All of this was obviously news to Taro, but he hid it pretty well. "They aren't even allowed to look for jobs anymore."
The boy shoved his hands into his pocket. "It has nothing to do with me," he dismissed it all, turning away. Sensing that Sayuri was about to push the subject further, he added, "Who cares anyway? Don't act like any of us actually have a future." He turned back to face her as he continued. "We're all just a bunch of delinquents with one thing going for us: fighting."
"Don't screw around with me!" Sayuri bursted out in a yakuza tone that Taro found familiar even after all these years. "Eighteen years old, you're all just kids," the girl said, ignoring the fact that she fell under the same category. "Good or bad, you sometimes just go with your gut feeling with no regard for gain or loss. You make mistakes," she told him. "Finding work or going to college is just the beginning of your lives. Don't talk like it's already over!... You have to face your life directly, and keep that up until the end so that you don't have any regrets," she added more softly. Taro stared at his old friend for a moment then tore his eyes away, unable to hold her gaze. Sayuri let out a deep breath. "Keep them in line or don't, do whatever you want," she said emotionlessly. "I just thought I should I ask." She didn't wait for a reply or reaction as she turned around and made her way home. Why did she always end on notes like this? The girl felt frustrated with herself for such a lack of patience. More so than with herself, though, she was frustrated with everyone else for such low belief in themselves. Was that all they amounted to in life? Being the tough guys in high school? The girl ran a hand through her hair tiredly. She wasn't about to give up. One way or another, she would make these guys take themselves more seriously. A yawn escaped her lips as she reached the door to the Oedo house. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a good night's rest before getting started, though.
Instead of heading straight for Momogaoka the next morning, Sayuri decided that she could take the day off. Seniors weren't exactly required to come anyway, and she could just use the stress of the exam as an excuse. The girl chose to head toward Kurogin with her Nee-san. Both females carried with them piles of information regarding trade schools and job offers that they had gathered sometime on their own. When Yankumi had seen Sayuri with her pile that morning, she had given the girl a proud smile although she did note how the younger girl's stack was higher than her own. The two of them walked into 3D cheerily after a 'fight-oh-OH!'per Yankumi's wishes. The class greeted their teacher with scattered and disconnected oh's and ohayo's when she entered. For Sayuri, they all got up and greeted the girl in a uniform manner. She grinned ear to ear.
"You guys... never act like that for me," Yankumi pouted, amazed at her student's behavior.
"Eh?" Sayuri looked over at the woman. "Don't they do that every morning?"
"They do for you?" the teacher asked almost jealously. The Momo student smiled guiltily and shrugged her shoulders. She looked up to face the class and saw that every one of the five boys in the back held dark expressions. They all stared at each other until Yankumi came forward, making the guys look away. She passed out papers and explained to everyone that there were still some jobs they could apply for or at least look into.
"Look them over," the teacher instructed as Sayuri made a move to help her. "If you find one that you're interested in, ask me about it."
"I told you already," one of the 3D guys said in an exasperated tone. "I want to be a job-hopper."
"It's okay to be a job-hopper," Sayuri said with a smile. "But even they work. We're just telling you to think about what you want to do first as a job-hopper," she explained softly.
"What kind of job... hm...," another boy said in answer. Yankumi butted in to help out.
"Okay, let me ask you. What interests you the most?" the teacher asked. She received cars and motorcycles as an answer and suggested working at a garage to her student. Others in the class also voiced their own interests and received guidance from the older woman. One boy, however, showed a skeptical attitude when Yankumi advised him to become a martial arts teacher, obviously having no faith in his own capabilities.
"Don't give up right from the beginning," Sayuri encouraged from the side. Although Ryu, Hayato, and the others still had grumpy demeanors, they listened closely to the girl. One of them in particular took her words to heart. "You won't know until you try."
"Then, maybe I'll work for a pachinko store," Misawa said excitedly as his friends around him cheered.
Okuma got good-natured hits on the head for his words. "I'd like to work at a family restaurant or fast food restaurant. I can eat every day." Sayuri laughed at this.
"See," Yankumi told the class. "Just thinking about it gives you lots of ideas." The younger girl smiled brighter at her Nee-san's enthusiasm. "It's nothing difficult. The important thing is to work responsibly no matter what kind of job you have, part-time or full-time." Here, the woman gave one of her signature grins, "You must never slack off on your work." She looked to the back of the class and saw that the guys were still acting mopey. Sayuri noted how she sighed but only seemed to gain more determination from this. The girl steeled herself also. Getting these guys to change wasn't bound to be easy.
The next couples days passed in a blur as Sayuri helped Yankumi look for job openings and score interviews for the 3D guys, who began coming to them more open-mindedly with ideas and thoughts. Both females stayed up late at nights looking through directories, magazines and newspapers. The other members of the Oedo family also lent their support. The two went out often to the actual workplaces to personally request the employers for jobs or interviews, pleading and bowing their heads profusely. It was on one such outing that Ryu, Hayato, Take, Tsucchi, and Hyuuga found Yankumi. Sayuri had been assigned a different workplace with no luck and had decided she would return and help the yakuza heiress with what she could. Two was better than one, wasn't it? She walked up to find the guys standing and watching their teacher from a distance.
"She told us before didn't she?" Ryu said to the others, referring to their teacher's dream.
"She's begging them so much," Hayato merely stated, unable to comprehend why she was.
Take voiced this thought. "Why is she doing so much just for us?"
"What dream?" Tsucchi asked.
Hyuuga added in a worn voice, "There's no use keeping hope in us."
Sayuri stepped forward with an understanding expression. "You guys don't really think that do you?" she questioned in a quiet voice. They all turned to her. The girl knew better this time than to provoke the guys. She wasn't looking for a fight. She would just have to control her temper better, which was what she was asking them to do anyway. "Wanting you all to graduate, find your own paths, be proud... it's not all for nothing, is it?" The five boys stood looking away from their friend, not sure how to face her. The girl just smiled a broken smile then ran up to join the math teacher in bowing her head, refusing to look back at the others. She had no idea when they left, but they were gone by the time she had turned around.
The next morning saw the celebration of Takayama, the first from 3D to receive a job offer. That, however, wasn't all. Sayuri and Yankumi had also managed to persuade Joyful Company to give Tsucchi, Omori, Kojima, and Hamaguchi another chance, which they informed the boys of. Tsucchi thanked the two and smiled shyly, truly greatful for what they had done.
"We'll pay you back," Hayato said as he walked up to join the group.
"Pay back?" Yankumi asked in a confused tone. Sayuri remained silent as she listened on.
"He means we'll graduate," Ryu explained nonchalantly. His teacher looked up wide-eyed as the Momo student gave a content smile, needing no more words to be said.
"All of us together," Tsucchi continued anyway.
"We don't want it to go the way the Superintendent wants it," Hyuuga added.
"Just watch us," Take said jabbing a finger at his teacher's shoulder. Both females were on the verge of tears.
"We definitely won't fight until we graduate," Hayato declared. He and the rest of the guys held bashful smiles.
"We promise... the both of you," Ryu said, giving Sayuri an intent look which she couldn't hold. The girl smiled despite that, though. She had her friends back. This extra little promise was more than she could have asked for, having not expected it. After the school day ended, the group of six made their way to Cafe de Rovne for the first time in a long time. It felt nice being back and hanging out like this. It felt right. Sayuri didn't have enough time to talk and catch up with the guys, though, before she realized that her exam results for Waseda were out today.
"Eh? Hontoni?" Hyuuga asked, still not fully believing that he actually knew someone smart enough to apply to such a school.
"Do you need us to go with you?" Hayato asked the girl readily. Take stood up with a happy smile, all for the idea.
"Eh?" Sayuri breathed out, suddenly feeling panicked. What if she hadn't made it? Well, their support would be nice. She began nodding her head in response then stopped. Did she really want the guys there to see her disappointment? "Iie...," she said unsurely. They would eventually find out if she hadn't gotten in, though. Did she really want to have to tell them herself? "Actually...," Sayuri began before stopping again. No, it would still be better if she went on her own. She was a strong girl anyhow. She could handle it. "You guys just wait here." Her friends all nodded, having been confused by her own little internal battle. They wished the girl luck as they watched her leave to go find out her fate.
Sayuri walked the first half of the distance in anxiety, wringing her hands and fighting her nerves. She eventually broke into a full on sprint as she couldn't take waiting any longer. A horde of high school students stood around a large bulletin board when the girl arrived at the spot. She stopped just at the bulge of the group to collect her bearings before pushing her way through the crowd with ease. Scanning through the list posted quickly, the girl almost missed her number. When she backtracked and saw it, she exulted, jumping up and down, cheering like the teenage girl she was. Sayuri ignored the looks that were tossed her way and ran back to Cafe de Rovne as fast as she could. She had to let the guys know. She wanted them to be the ones to congratulate and celebrate with her first, to see them smile proudly at her accomplishment. Before her brain could tell her that her heart was only focusing on one guy, she had already made it back to the hangout. When she stepped inside, however, the place was empty and the guys missing. All that was left were sprawled out magazines open to job listings and Ochida-san. She turned to face him now. Sayuri wasn't even given the chance to question the owner, though, because someone else had come rushing into the establishment at that moment. The old man gave a face of recognition that caused the girl to exclaim as she turned around.
"Nori-" she stopped halfway. "Ta-chan?" The boy was breathing heavily, having obviously run all the way here from who knows where. "Doshita?" the girl asked concerned. He lifted his head with a serious look in his eyes.
"Despite what you may think, I don't have complete control over everyone," Taro said slowly and deliberately. Gauging the boy's expression, Sayuri was able to put two and two together. "The abandoned building behind Todoroki. Tanabe has a lot of men," was all he said. The girl instantly ran out of the cafe as if her life depended on it, heading to where her friends were. "Be careful, Sa-chan," Sayuri thought she heard Taro whisper to himself as the bell signaled the door closing. She didn't have time to worry about that, though. The only thing she allowed to run through her mind was the faces of her five friends who she had just made up with. Wasn't trouble coming a little too soon? They couldn't really be thinking about fighting aga-
"Yuri-chan?" Yankumi called out as she and Sayuri both neared the location.
"Nee-san, what are you doing here?" the younger girl asked only taking a moment's pause. Her question was indirectly answered by the Kurogin teacher's next words.
"Shiratori-sensei!" The two yakuza bred females ran over to the English teacher who was very obviously rattled.
"Yamaguchi-sensei, over there," she pointed to the large group of Todoroki students gathered around the guys, bloodied and bruised. "They won't fight back at all!" Shiratori-sensei shouted in distress. "They didn't try to hit them back even once."
Sayuri paled as she looked towards the guys, "They can't..." Tanabe was going from person to person, hysterically trying to figure out why they weren't fighting back. Sayuri clenched her fists in pure rage. She started forward but was stopped by Yankumi. The older woman gave her a look of warning. "Demo -" she began to argue.
"Do you want to let their efforts go to waste?" she yelled at the girl as tears began forming in her eyes. What was she supposed to do then?
Yankumi turned towards the scene with look of determination. "Don't touch my precious students!" she yelled. "You've done enough."
"Who're you?" Tanabe asked unimpressed.
"Me?" the woman humored the punk. "I'm their homeroom teacher." The Todoroki gang began to laugh at this fact, totally unaware of who she really was. The yakuza heiress began pulling out her pigtails now. "I won't let you lay a finger on them," she said as she took off her glasses and shook her hair out.
"The homeroom teacher here to avenge her students?" Tanabe asked condescendingly.
Yankumi's voice started out soft and ended loud, "Don't kid around!"
The other boy made his way towards her, "You wanna fight?" He hesitated a bit seeing that the female teacher wasn't backing down. As he gave a shout, though, he threw a punch right at her. The second it was released, Sayuri could tell that Yankumi wasn't making a move to dodge it. The girl took one step forward.
"Nee-san." The fist made contact with her face as everyone was stunned. All the guys widened their eyes in shock. The woman slowly raised her head. Sayuri could just imagine the look in her eyes by seeing Tanabe's reaction.
"Why aren't you running away?" he asked a little shaken. He yelled, "Fight back!"
The math teacher began walking forth as Tanabe retreated. "You won't understand why they weren't fighting back," she started out in a quiet but serious voice. "They weren't holding back just to entertain you. They've endured so much," she said as she gained more emotion. "I can't just waste their efforts." Sayuri bit down on her lip, realizing she would have done just that. "Hit me all you want," the yakuza heiress challenged in a tough manner. "But make sure you know what you're doing because I'm prepared for the worst!" Tanabe fell backwards as Yankumi yelled that last part. He looked around and gulped then turned to his group.
"Ikuzo," he told them quietly. They all began to run out at his words. Sayuri took no note of them as she ran towards the guys. She and Yankumi both knelt down in front of them.
"You guys...," the girl choked out. There were wet streaks running down her face. "Are stupid."
"You let them do this to you," Yankumi said in the same tone. Both females surveyed their damages. They all struggled to sit up.
"Yeah, we're stupid," Tsucchi agreed.
"But," Hayato added in a rough voice. "We can't help it."
Ryu sat unmoving in his spot. "We promised you." He had a small heart-breaking smile on his face.
"We're going to graduate," Hyuuga said with anticipation, ignoring his pain.
Take winced a little, "Together with everyone."
"You guys...," The 3D teacher smiled through tears as she looked at the bunch of them. "You guys really are... students I can be proud of." She got up and messed up all their hairs in that affectionate way of hers. The guys were too tired to stop their teacher, or at least that's the excuse they would use. They all made noises of protest as they pretended to be embarrassed. Sayuri laughed at the scene, fine again now that she knew her friends were alright. She looked to every one of them and smiled. These guys sure knew how to make a girl worry.
"Waseda," Ryu said in a breathy voice. Sayuri looked towards him. "How'd it go?" Even after all he had just gone through, he still remembered to worry about her. Sayuri broke into a smile.
"Safe," she said along with the hand gesture. The guys all grinned and congratulated the girl despite their current conditions. Where else could you find friends like these? She walked over to help each one of them up. Yankumi did the same. And where could you find a teacher like that? Sayuri looked over at her Nee-san with a proud smile. This was the greatest group of people she would ever meet.
The next day was the interview with Joyful Company. All five boys still wore wounds and traces of their encounter with Todoroki. Because of this, Tsucchi wanted to back out, afraid that he might ruin it for the others again. Yankumi told the tall boy to be proud of himself because he did nothing wrong. She said that he should be honest if they asked him about his injuries. All of 3D cheered for their classmates as they sent them off with smiles and well wishes. Sayuri made her way to Kurogin immediately after her classes ended. She still missed seeing Tsucchi, Omori, Kojima, and Hamaguchi off, though.
"Eh?" the girl said as she arrived breathing heavily. "I went as fast as I could, too." She frowned, upset with herself.
"Well, it wasn't fast enough," Hayato teased her.
"Urusai," the girl said with a pout. The others all laughed at her expense. Yankumi was the loudest, so everyone turned to look at her when she stopped abruptly.
"I forgot to ask yesterday," she began. "How did you know the guys were there, Yuri-chan?" Shiratori-sensei was the one who informed her, but as far as she was concerned, no one else could have known. In the heat of the moment, the question had slipped her mind.
"You guys didn't come together?" Hyuuga asked curiously from the side. That's what they had all thought. Sayuri's expression softened.
"Taro," she uttered the name like it explained everything. "Ta-chan came and told me." The Haiirokin group all looked at one another meaningfully.
"Why would he...," Hayato started to ask in confusion.
"Because he still cares," Ryu answered knowingly. He looked to Sayuri who was unconsciously nodding her head at his words.
"That guy" Take said to himself as a smile formed on his lips. No matter what had happened between them, in the end, they were all still friends.
Yankumi and Hyuuga seemed to not understand what the others were talking about. Before they could have things explain to them, though, Washio (the Japanese teacher) came running into the classroom. "Yamaguchi-sensei!" he said in that annoyingly shrill voice of his. He looked around, nervous to be in 3D. "The Superintendent wants to see you in his office." The man was about to bolt out of the class, but he caught sight of Sayuri and almost had a heart attack. "Anata!" The young girl was dragged along to the teacher's room with a helpless Yankumi since, apparently, it was such a huge crimefor a girl to be at Kurogin. Weren't they going co-ed next year anyway?
The three of then entered the Superintendent's office all in a different manner. Washio was very cautious of his movements while Yankumi came in solemnly like a student expecting to get in trouble. Sayuri waltzed into the room carelessly with a bored expression. The girl didn't feel like humoring these so called 'educators'who never seemed to cut 3D any slack. She looked away as the man in charge began talking.
"I asked you to bring one person," the Superintendent said in a tone full of faux friendliness. Sayuri thought maybe it had become that way permanently through overuse. "But you come back with two." He addressed the girl next. "And who might you be?"
"Wakamatsu Sayuri," she answered in a haughty voice. "Yoroshiku." The smile on the man's face faded as he took in her tone and attitude. The Vice Principal's face, however, seemed to light up at the name. Sayuri had been the signature used by the sender of his Valentine's Day chocolate.
"Omai... Valentine's chocolate...?" he asked with a creepy smile. All eyes turned to him questioningly.
The Momo student backed away a little and leaned in closer to her Nee-san. "Nani sore?" she whispered to the side with her arms crossed over her chest. The older woman titled her head in confusion.
"I found her trespassing," Washio spoke up. "She was in 3D's class." The Superintendent made a face as if that explained everything. The Vice Principal was more clueless.
"You even snuck into the school to see me?" he said shaking his head with a sigh. Monkeyface (as the guys often referred to him) walked over and placed his hands on the girl's shoulders. "Sayuri-chan," he said in a patronizing voice. She raised her eyebrow at this. "Not only am I married, I'm too old for you... It just can't be," his face was completely serious. Sayuri's mouth hung open in disbelief at his words. The others also watched on in shock. "What you're doing is very inappropriate," he reprimanded then added to the side as he turned around. "Man, you should have at least signed a fake name."
The young girl scoffed as she recovered herself. "Anno sa," she called out. The Vice Principal faced her with a pitying look on his face. She nodded her head towards the faculty room, "That teacher out there is also named Sayuri, isn't she?" The adults in the room all looked out. As if on cue, Wanibuchi-sensei, the music teacher, looked up and inside the office as if searching for someone. The younger of the Sayuri's had noticed the name plate on the teacher's desk when she had first walked in. Being observant and paying attention to detail made for good lawyers.
The Vice Principal snapped back, blinking away his shock. His boss coughed and grabbed some files, pretending as if he just hadn't witnessed the weird scene he obviously had. Yankumi looked around the room awkwardly, unsure of how to redeem this situation. "Anno, you had to speak with me, ne?" she addressed the Superintendent. The Vice Principal took this chance to pass the attention off.
"Yamaguchi-sensei, what are you thinking?" he yelled. "Sending him for an interview with a bruised face. You really have a lack of common sense!" he continued, referring to Tsucchi. Sayuri's face darkened at this. Now she didn't have to feel bad for acting rude to these men.
"This will hurt our school's honor," the Superintendent said calmly from his desk, not even caring to consider what it means to the students. Yeah, she definitelydidn't have to feel bad.
"Tsuchiya didn't do anything shameful," Yankumi answered surely. She stared down her boss as he looked up from his papers.
"Well, we'll be rid of them after March," the man said taking off his glasses. "The 3D students... as well as you." He had that fake smile plastered on his face again. "You," he turned to the young girl. "We can get rid of right now." Sayuri would have fired something back except she knew that it wouldn't help hers or Yankumi's situation at all. Besides, everyone had just learned their lesson on self-control. She was saved by Washio coming back into the room (although no one had really known that he left). He was informing the Superintendent about the arrival of someone from the board of directors who the man referred to as Matsubara-sama.
Following everyone out of the office, Sayuri could hear the other teachers all gossiping not-so-quietly. Apparently, this woman was very wealthy and would be financing the school big time. Her grandchild was also reportedly supposed to start attending Kurogin come April. The entire faculty bowed as the Superintendent thanked Matsubara-sama for her time. This gave Sayuri and Yankumi a chance to see the woman clearly.
"Obaa-chan!" they exclaimed simultaneously. This was the elderly woman they had helped a few days ago on the bus with Kujo-sensei. The shock at seeing her here showed on both their faces. She seemed genuinely pleased to see the two girls, though, pressing to see if it would be possible for Yankumi to take her grandchild in her class next school year. Of course, the Superintendent couldn't refuse the academy's largest benefactor. The yakuza heiress exulted in keeping her job as Shiratori-sensei and Baba-sensei rushed to congratulate her.
"Anata," Matsubara-sama addressed Sayuri next. "Isn't this an all boy's school?" her tone was kind as she asked the rhetorical question. The Superintendent jumped at the opportunity to fulfill at least one of the things he planned.
"I was just about to kick her -"
"I'm a senior at Momogaoka," the young girl explained, cutting the man off. "My friends still have to attend full days so I visit them once I'm done." The elderly woman smiled as she nodded her head in understanding.
"Ii na," she said. "Kurogin must have very good relations with other schools. Sayuri strained a smile at this comment. Matsubara-sama obviouslywasn't as well informed about the school she financed as she should have been. Still, the girl was grateful for this fact. "You shouldn't have to kick out such a nice girl, Kurokawa-san. It's their last year as high schoolers." The Superintendent's face struggled to stay composed as he listened to the woman. "You're going co-ed next year anyway."
"H-hai," he answered submissively.
Sayuri walked over to her Nee-san with a huge smile, high-fiving her secretly like a little kid. She turned around to face Matsubara-sama. "Arigatou gozaimasu," she bowed politely. Now the Momo student didn't have to sneak around 3D's class like some kind of burglar. When things get good, they get great, don't they? Sayuri smiled to herself. Everything was starting to look up. All that was left to do was to get to the root of the Taro and Noriko problems. She thought back to yesterday and what she thought she had heard the boy say as she was leaving Café de Rovne. Maybe things weren't completely hopeless with those two. Ochida-san also seemed completely willing to help. Well, she'd never know if she didn't try, ne?
Was the story too all over the place? Sorry that you guys will need to wait so long for the next chapter to come out, but I promise that it'll be good, so please keep reading! Anyway, leave me a review and tell me what you think? ;]