Disclaimer: I do not now, nor will I ever own Gokusen or its characters.

Recap: Shin is having kinky dreams about Yankumi and ends up making his interest known when he finds out that Yankumi is going on a study date with Shinohara. Tension between the two steadily rises as Yankumi is unsure of what to do because a student teacher relationship is so taboo, and she can no longer act like she doesn't feel something for Shin, even when still in denial. Shin and Uchi get into a fight after Uchi makes some assumptions about Shin's feelings toward Yankumi. Shin looses his shit when he sees Yankumi and Shinohara on their date and hears Shinohara confess his feelings to Yankumi. More tension rises. Yankumi feels increasingly confused with her feelings for Shin and her lack of feelings for Shinohara. More tension.

Title: Clash of the Tigers

Rated: M (language, sexual content, violence)

Pairings: Shin/Kumi

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water'd heaven with their tears,

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

-William Blake

Chapter 5: Tension

Class 3-D was unusually quiet. The silence seemed strained, filled with tension and unspoken thoughts. Her students were faced forward, quiet, and actually doing the problems she had written on the board, or at least pretending to. The point was, they were acting like well behaved students. It disturbed her greatly.

Since she started working at Shiroken, every moment had been pure chaos. It had never been this quiet. As soon as she entered the classroom, she knew their was something wrong. As per usual, as of late, she entered the room with trepidation. Sawada. She still didn't know how to deal with him, but she knew she had to do something to fix their fractured relationship. It had been a little over a month now since she started going out with Shinohara-san and, her and Shin just seemed to drift further apart.

She was getting tired of all this tension between them. She was getting tired of hiding from him. She was just plain tired. She didn't know what to do, but, dammit, she couldn't do this anymore... and, if she had to be honest... she missed him. She missed talking to him, she missed having him at her home, and she just missed being in his presence that always calmed her.

It seemed that the tension between the two of them also started to rub off on others. Between Shin and his friends, and between her and her colleagues, everyone was becoming a tense, irritable, morose mess. She even heard the usually timid and even tempered Ando-sensei snapping at Kyoto earlier. This is just great, she thought dejectedly, now my problems are beginning to affect the entire school.

She always wanted quiet well behaved students, and now that she had them, she hated it. Careful what you wish for, she thought. She wanted the chaos that normally ensued in her class. Her kids were tense and refused to look at one another. She didn't know if it truly was the tension between her and Sawada that affected them, or if it was something else. If it was something else...and she had to guess... she'd say it had something to do with Uchi and Sawada. The tension between those two was thick enough to choke on. She couldn't imagine what could've happened to them to have it so they were no longer speaking to each other.

She didn't know how much longer she could take all this quiet. The ticking of the clock was grating on what sanity she had left. The silence in the room amplified everything. The scratch of pencils on paper, the rustle of clothes, the damn ticking of that damn clock... it was all so loud. She swore she could even hear them blinking. Any more of this and she swore she'd go ape shit.

She obviously wasn't the only who felt that way, for as soon as she felt the last bits of her sanity crumbling away, and prepared herself to do Kami knew what, Shin kicked his desk away from him and rose up, heading for the door. The sudden noise caused more than Yamaguchi to give a startled jump.

Because of the awkwardness that was still between them, she normally would've just let him leave without doing anything to stop him, but she had resolved to fix the tension between them, and even though she was slightly apprehensive to speak with him, she had already promised herself.

"Hey! Sawada! Where the hell do you think you're going? I'm still teaching a class here, in case you hadn't noticed," she was proud to hear her voice only crack once during her rant.

Her addressing Shin, and sounding like herself, for the first time in a month, seemed to pierce the room. She could almost hear the collective sigh leave everyone's mouths as the playful banter, that was usually heard, began to fill the room once more.

Shin had paused with his hand on the door, shocked from finally hearing her acknowledge him. It felt good to hear his name come from her lips, even if it was by his last name. He turned his head to peer at her past the heads of his classmates. She seemed to be struggling, but she maintained eye contact with him. Progress.

"Everything you're teaching I know. So their really is no point in me staying here."

Though the noise level didn't drop, the rest of the class aptly paid attention to the two opposing figures.

Yankumi felt her ire rise. Why that smart mouthed little bastard. Putting her hands atop her desk, she leaned forward and glared at Sawada, "Whether or not you think you need this class is irrelevant. You're supposed to stay here and do what I say."

Shin snorted.

Yankumi narrowed her eyes.

"Look, we all know how smart you are Shin," her voice took on a condescending tone, "I give it to ya. You're a smart kid, but while you may be smarter than any of the students in this class, you don't know more than me. Now sit down, while I go get something more up to your level."

Shin's eyes had narrowed to the point of near slits and his jaws and fists were clenched hard enough to hurt. She was doing it again. Making him feel like an insignificant child. He was sick of the reminder. He already knew about their age gap, a mere six years. He didn't need her constant reminder of it too. "I'm quite aware of the fact that I'm not as knowledgeable as you are, oh great sensei," and now his voice took on a mocking tone, "but as much as you know, there are people in this school who are smarter than you." With that said, he quietly opened the door and firmly shut it.

The class seemed as shocked as she was. Shin never talked to Yankumi that way. Sure he made fun of her, and sure he mocked her, but never like that. She was unsure of what to do for a few moments before she decided to go after him. She knew Shin was upset with her, but he didn't have to be so rude. Especially in front of her other students.

She was almost out the door when Kuma's voice stopped her. "Yankumi? Did something happen between you and Shin? You guys have been acting weird ever since you started going out with that cop."

Yamaguchi froze as all eyes turned to her. She never gave her students enough credit. She honestly did believe they were capable of anything they put their minds to, but when it came to the power of perception... she never expected much. And now, as she was being stared at by her entire class, she had no idea what to say to that.

"Ano...a-a-a-a-ano, um...nani?"

Instead of the usual mocking to her dim witted response, they just stared passively at her. She knew she was in deep shit. It was way too serious in there for comfort and she knew she wouldn't be able to brush them off with one of her usual off handed responses.

Minami turned to her then. "Come on Yankumi. What's going on? Theirs a lot of tension in here and it seems to be centered around you two, so what's the deal?" Their were small sounds of agreement coming from the rest of the class. It seemed that everyone had been wondering the same thing.

Oh Kami-sama, what am I going to do? Yamaguchi thought morosely. She had no way of answering them without revealing too much. All their questioning, and slightly accusing, stares unnerved her. Most of all Uchis'. The way he stared at her made her feel as if he knew something. It was very unsettling.

"Wha-what are you guys talking about?" she laughed nervously. "Theirs no tension between us. You guys are imagining things."

"Oh don't give us that crap Yankumi," Uchi growled. "We know that something happened between you two, and we want to know what it is! More than that, we deserve to know." The class was loud in their sounds of agreement, and Uchi's words seemed to open up a flood gate of questions.

"He's right; we have a right to know Yankumi."

"What'd you do?"

"Yeah, did you piss off Shin or something?"

"What did you do Yankumi?"

"What did you do?"

The class was boisterous in their quest to know the truth. In all honesty, she was slightly hurt that they would automatically think that she was the one at fault. Of course they think it's all my fault, she thought bitterly, they would never think their precious leader could do anything wrong. She began to panic. She had to give them an answer and she was never good at lying.

"Look you guys, anything that happened between Sawada and I is between us and will be fixed. You guys really have no right to butt in like this." She hoped the answer would make them lay off her. It didn't. Instead it seemed to fuel their indignation and anger.

"Don't treat us like we're fucking kids Yankumi," Uchi yelled. Yankumi could only stand in shock. "You always do that! You act like we're babies that need to be protected and coddled and like you know everything that's best for us. We may not be adults," and at this Uchi pointed his finger at Yankumi's face, "but we're not kids either. We're old enough to make our own decisions and decide what we wanna do with our lives." The end of his rant was followed by cheers and affirmations by the entire class.

Yankumi had been ready to retort until he said that last sentence. It seriously got her thinking. I don't act like that... do I? The thought that they may be right put a lot of things into perspective for her. Shin wasn't an adult, but he wasn't a child either, he was a man. A young man, but still a man and he was old enough to make his own decisions and decide what he wanted out of life. Do I baby him? She would have to find Shin and have to have a serious talk with him. But first, she had to deal with her students.

"You're absolutely right Uchi. I do baby you guys and I apologize for that, but you guys are not only my students, you're my first students and that makes me want to protect you guys in every way. I don't want to baby you, but I do want to help you. Now I know that things seem... weird between me and Shin, but you guys are just gonna have to trust me when I say that I'm going to fix it on my own." At Uchi's snort, Yankumi lost it. All she had done for them and the nerve of that little... "Ungrateful bastard! Haven't I always been there for you? For all of you? Haven't I always helped you when no one else would? Haven't I always given you all the benefit of the doubt despite your less than charming reputations? Haven't I? And the first time I ask you to just trust me, and this is the response I get? Would you like it if I just treated you like everybody else did? Huh?" She looked across the classroom where no one met her glare. "I don't deserve this attitude, and I don't know how much more of it I can take. Something has to change because this, is not working."

Just when she was sure she was going to say something regrettable, the bell, like an angel sent from above, rang, signifying the end of class and the end of her torment.

"Oh thank Kami," she breathed. With a speed that would make others question her humanity, she fled out the classroom and ran down the hall while shouting out homework instructions, leaving a stunned class in her wake. She finally stopped running when she reached the landing that would soon lead her up to the roof.

"That was entirely too close. I don't know how much more of this I can take. I'm gonna end up with an ulcer because of all this. This is all that damn Sawada's fault! If he had left me alone, and not violated the teacher student relationship then this would've nev... Hold on Kumiko. You can't keep blaming him, and complaining won't solve or change anything." She nodded her head in agreement, anger gone. "I vowed to resolve this and, dammit, I'm gonna do it." With her objective set out, Yamaguchi marched up the steps and to the roof. Stopping in front of the door, she put her hand out and prepared herself. "Fight-o O!"

Flinging open the door, she squared her shoulders and marched through.

Shin was lying against one of the walls, arms folded behind his head, gazing up at the sky. In all honesty, he wasn't even that mad. He was too used to it to still get angry every time she unwittingly made a rude comment. Resigned. That's how he felt; resigned. He was coming to terms with how things were going to be between him and Yamaguchi, but, dammit, he didn't like it.

Shin sighed. Maybe I should've waited until I graduated to make my feelings known, Shin thought. I knew she'd act this way once I told her. At least if I had waited until I graduated she wouldn't have to worry about losing her job.

Shin sat up, resting his arms on his knees. The weight of their situation finally hitting him with the force of a Mack truck. He was being selfish, he realized. Selfish and childish. He finally understood Yamaguchi's conflict. She already had enough to worry about being a yakuza princess, but he was adding on to it by trying to start a relationship with her. He felt stupid for taking so long to realize something that seemed so obvious. More than stupid, he felt like a child. He leaned forward, resting his head on his arms. He knew how important teaching was to her, and here he was jeopardizing that.

She's right. I'm not that smart, he thought wryly. It was a child's selfishness that made him go after Yamaguchi, and it was an adult's admission that let him realize his selfishness. He couldn't help it though. He never felt this way about anyone before, and he doubted he ever would... Looking back up to the sky, he couldn't deny his truth. He was in love with his teacher. He was in love in with an older woman, who was in love with another man. Shin snorted. How's that for mellow drama? He would apologize, he reasoned. He would apologize for only thinking of himself and his own wants and needs, and for not thinking about how strenuous it was for her to deal with.

His thoughts were disrupted by the loud slamming open of the door. Yamaguchi? He thought, She actually came after me? He faced forward once more, a small smile on his face. It felt like it'd been years since they'd last met on the roof. He couldn't deny that he missed seeing her up in, what he dubbed, their special place. Going back to his original position, Shin closed his eyes and feigned a nonchalance he didn't feel.

That's how Yamaguchi found him. Arms folded behind his head, shoulders leaning up against the wall, legs slightly bent. The picture of nonchalance. Bastard.

Yamaguchi marched over to Shin, arms akimbo. Glaring down at him, seeing him look so calm, she could barely contain her fury. She felt as though her world was falling apart around her and there he lied, acting as though everything was okay. It wasn't okay. Nothing was okay.

Kicking him on the foot, Yamaguchi felt her resolve shrivel away in the face of her resentment and rage. "What kind of crap are you trying to pull Sawada?" she barely managed to keep her voice from screaming. "Do you have any idea what you're doing? What you've done? Because of you, the entire class is suspicious of me! Are you trying to ruin my life?"

Yamaguchi's rant fell on deaf ears, as Shin stood up and just stared at her. I was right, he thought morosely, I am jeopardizing her career. Shin was brought back to focus when Yamaguchi snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Are you listening to me?" Shin just stared. "I can't believe you!" she said in a furious whisper. "I cannot believe how utterly selfish and thoughtless you are! I am so disappointed in you Shin. I really thought you were better than this. And you call yourself a man. I can't see ho-" Yamaguchi was cut off as Shin finally erupted, eyes blazing.

"I know! I know I've been selfish! I know I've been thoughtless! I don't need you to shove that in my face!" Shin moved a hand through his hair, and started pacing. This wasn't how he imagined this conversation going.

"A real man would suck it up! Not bitch about it! Take Tomoya-san for example, he analyzes a problem before acting thoughtlessly and is prepared for the consequences if things don't go according to plan. Tomoya-san knows that his choices can affect those around him, and is smart enough to act accordingly," she shouted back. What am I doing? Why am I bringing up Shinohara? This wasn't how she pictured the conversation going.

Shin felt his control snap. A real man? Tomoya? Since when was she on a first name basis with him? She did it again. She was reminding him, that once again, she was an adult and he was still a minor. A minor that didn't stand a chance against her precious Shinohara. Storming up to her he grabbed her by the arms. "I am twice the man that Tomoya bastard will ever be," he said in a furious whisper, before crushing her to him and giving her a bruising kiss.

Their was nothing gentle about the kiss. It was all teeth and smashing lips. Yamaguchi closed her eyes for second, simply giving into the moment, before she began to struggle. Pulling out of his grasp, she slapped him, breath harsh.

"Have you lost your damn mind?" angry with herself for the huskiness in her voice.

"Yes!" Shin shouted before surging forward and, this time, pushing her up against the wall, her arms held above her head, his body flush against hers, giving her a forceful kiss that scorched her deep in to her soul.

In an attempt to bite him, Yamaguchi opened her mouth. Mistake. Shin immediately took advantage and forced his tongue in, tasting her. Yamaguchi moaned in spite of herself.

As soon as it happened it was over. Shin abruptly let her go, making Yamaguchi stumble, her knees giving out on her until she ended up on the floor. Struggling to get his breathing under control, Shin looked down at Yankumi, who still seemed lost. He felt satisfied and disgusted with himself at the same time. Getting his bag, he headed for the door. "Later Yamaguchi," he muttered.

Hours later, Yamaguchi still knelt in the same spot, in a daze. My resolve...my promise... what the hell happened?

She couldn't say how she got home. Nothing registered in her mind, everything was just a blur. Only one thing, one person, remained a constant in her mind; Shin. She felt like she was in a daze. She completely ignored logic and slapped one of her students. She completely lost control. And Shin... She had never seen him act that way before.

Did I cause that? She wondered. Am I the reason why Shin is acting so... crazy? Obsessed? Wild? Her mind provided. Kumiko sighed, fingers tightening briefly around her cup of tea, before loosening. She was sitting on the back porch of her home, gazing into the star filled night.

Unknown to her, her cronies were all gathered behind her, trying to discover what was wrong with their precious Ojou.

"What do you think happened to Ojou?" Minoru asked.

"Maybe that cop she's dating broke up with her?" Guessed Wakamatsu.

"He better not be the reason my Ojou's in turmoil because if he is, he'll find himself swimming with the fishes at the bottom of Tokyo Bay," raged Tetsu.

"Calm yourself Tetsu," admonished Kuroda. "Have any you actually asked her what's wrong?"

Looking at their blank faces he could already guess their answers. He sighed, "And why haven't you asked her?"

Wakamatsu move forward. "But Kumichou, Ojou can be very scary when she is like this. It is impossible to know how she'll react... and one of us usually ends up getting hurt." The others nodded their heads in affirmation.

Kuroda puffed on his pipe for a bit before laughing. "You're right. She is her mother's daughter. She had a fiery unpredictable temper too. I will go talk to her." He said as he got up and walked towards his granddaughter.

Kumiko was, once again, contemplating her relationship with Shin and what she could do to fix it. That's all she seemed to think about lately. Shin. Even when she didn't want to the damn brat wormed his way in to her thoughts.

She sighed. This wasn't how she envisioned things would be when she became a teacher. She imagined respectful students who would draw inspiration from her as she drew strength from them. Who would be the best at everything because she believed in them and because they encouraged one another. She would meet a fellow teacher who also shared her beliefs and passion for teaching and they would work together improving the learning world and making it a better place for students everywhere! ...Then she found out that she would be working at Shiroken... A school known for its horrid reputation and problematic students. She was hesitant at first, it wasn't what she envisioned, but she was happy just to become a teacher and as long as she could help and educate the youth of her country, she was more than happy to accept the job. Once she was told she'd have 3-D and she saw the pitying stares given to her, her resolve had, once again, wavered. But after hearing the way Kyoto would just so callously write them off like that her resolve had strengthened and she swore that she would make these delinquents be the best students they could be.

Admittedly, her students did not have the best grades. Did not have the best attendance. Did not have the best athletes. Certainly didn't have the best attitudes. But in her opinion, they had the best hearts. She had seen for herself the transformation and the lengths they would go through to protect one another, and that had made her happy and proud to call them her students; especially knowing that she had a part in it. She was helping and making a difference just like she had always dreamed of doing.

She did not, however, ever picture one of her students falling in love with her. She had hoped and expected her students to love her and she would love them in return, but the love she was thinking of was more platonic. Sawada appeared to be in love with her, not just love her. And their inlayed the problem. Her students were supposed to love her, not be in love with her. She hadn't prepared for this development. It never occurred to her that something like this could happen.

She sighed into her, now, ice cold tea. As she watched the little stick float around and move slightly because of the ripples, she pondered the ways of the world, and whether or not it was true that everything happens for a reason. If that were the case, then what did that mean for her and Shin? What did that mean for her and Shinohara? The man she thought she loved, but was quickly growing tired of. She sighed for the umpteenth time and changed her gaze to look at the stars. She wanted to turn her brain off and just take in the natural beauty, but it seemed that no matter what she wanted, her mind would be forever plagued with her conflicting predicament until it was solved.

She felt like bashing her head against the wall she was leaning against. Why me?

She knocked out her pity party when she felt her ojii-san settle down next to her. She could smell the herbs from his pipe and the smell that she began to associate with her ojii-san comforted her somewhat. At least he would never change.

Looking up at the stars that glittered the night sky like diamonds, Kuroda blew a few smoke rings into the air before facing his granddaughter. He had been noticing her inner turmoil for awhile now and he finally decided that it was time that he try to assess the situation and then offer her some words of wisdom. He wanted her to grow on her own, but she was still young and could use a little guidance every now and again.

"Eh, Kumiko, you seem to be in conflict with yourself. Is their anything wrong?"

Knowing that it would be useless to try and act like their was nothing bothering her, Kumiko wondered exactly how much to tell her grandfather and what was better left unsaid. "Ojii-san, have you ever had your heart be in total conflict with your mind? A few... situations have developed in my life and I am unsure what to do. All my previous beliefs are being questioned and what I thought I knew to be right is suddenly... debatable. I'm just so... confused. And tired. I'm sick of being in conflict with myself, but if I make a hasty decision I could end losing and hurting someone important to me. What should I do?"

Kuroda took some more puffs from his pipe and allowed his own anxiousness to breathe out along with the smoke. Kuroda acknowledged that he was not a young man and could no longer do most of thing that he use to take for granted, but even with all of his youth, energy, and strength failing his mind was still as sharp as ever. Kuroda was no fool. He had noticed the shaky relationship that seemed to be developing between his daughter and the young Shin Sawada. And if he had any doubts about the boy's feeling for his granddaughter they were gone when he saw just how much turmoil was in his eyes when Kumiko had started to forbid Shin from having dinner at their home. And any mention about that cop who seemed fixated on his granddaughter automatically had the boy clenching his jaw and his fists. The boy was in love with Kumiko, and judging from the confusion and turmoil that rolled off her in waves, he had made his feelings known.

His poor oblivious grandchild. He had wondered how she would react when it finally became known to her. He knew she wouldn't be jumping for joy, but he thought that she might handle things with a little more grace and tact. But considering the aura he was sensing from her and the tone he got from the boy when he called, just to check up, it seemed that his grandchild had reacted purely on instinct instead of taking the time to analyze both his feelings and hers. He held no doubt in his mind that Kumiko held some sort of feelings for the boy. She conversed with him the most and he was the only one who knew about her yakuza background. She trusted him with things she wouldn't trust other to. She held the boy in high esteem and because she knew that on some level, she did care for Shin, it would hurt her all the more and make her think less of herself as a teacher.

Of course, it could be reasoned that she would react this way if she had a falling out with any of her students, but he sincerely doubted that she would be filled with as much agony and conflict as she was now if it had been any one of her other students. She work at making the situation better, not spend all this time wondering and contemplating.

Kuroda liked the boy. Shin Sawada was a fine young man. He had heart, he had passion, he had drive, and he had intelligence. All good qualities to find in a man, especially at his age. He thought Shin would take good care of his granddaughter. He'd look out for her, provide for her, and most importantly, he'd love her. He wouldn't have to worry about having to sick his crew on him because he got a call one day from Kumiko in tears about how she was being abused or mistreated. Admittedly, he would prefer someone a little older for his Kumiko, but their was no denying the passion that inlaid everything he did. He'd make a fine son-in-law.

It was with all these facts and knowledge in mind, that he finally spoke. "Kumiko, the only time your heart will be at war with your mind is when you feel very passionate about something. If it's minor, then you can make any decision you want and if it doesn't work out, that's unfortunate, but it's not as bothersome to you. The fact that you are so utterly conflicted and completely at a loss shows that you care deeply for what ever it is that troubles you. When in such deep conflict, it's best to listen to both what your heart and mind have to say, but if you find yourself at a standoff with no end in sight, then it's always best to follow your heart."

"But Ojii-san, what if my heart's wrong? What if I make a mistake and end up regretting it for the rest of my life?" she implored.

Kuroda smiled gently at the desperation in her voice. To be young again, he thought. "Has listening to your heart ever led you astray before?" She shook her head and opened her mouth in question, but Kuroda continued to speak, not giving her a chance to continue to place doubts. "And it never will. If you listen to your heart then you will find the inner peace that you seek, because even if it ends up becoming unpleasant, you won't be in conflict about it anymore because you know you did what you felt best and you'll have no regrets. Life is full of ups and downs. Just like your roller coasters. You tend to start low in life, but as you get older and more experienced you get higher. Then something might happen to bring you back down or throw you for a curve. It's a never ending cycle Kumiko. The only difference is that you decide the final out come. Life is what you make it. If you choose to be happy, then even with hell breaking loose all around you, you'll still find the ray of hope that gets you through the day. If you choose to let all the little things overwhelm you, then something as minor as a stubbed toe will ruin your day," Kuroda tapped the ashes left in his pipe on the wooden floor and stood up. "Follow your heart Kumiko and you'll live a life with no regrets." with his parting words of wisdom he went inside and closed the shoji door allowing her, her privacy.

Kumiko laid back and contemplated her grandfather's words. Follow your heart and you'll live a life with no regrets. Slapping her legs, she stood up with a look of determination on her face. She would not let things stand the way they were. She would talk to Sawada and resolve this once and for all, and what ever happened, happened. Rushing to the door, she hurriedly put on her shoes and sped outside, feeling her old confidence for the first time in weeks.

Shin felt restless. Why did things never go the way he planned when he was dealing with Yamaguchi? He hadn't meant to kiss her. He hadn't meant to put his hands on her. They were supposed to rationally talk things out like two adults. Only that didn't happen. Instead, she lost her temper, something he was still confused about, and he had lost his in return.

Shin was sprawled out on his couch, with one arm laying on his forehead and the other hanging off the edge of the couch. He had immediately changed out of his school uniform and into his P.E. shorts; the clothes made his skin feel itchy. Gazing up at the ceiling, though not really seeing it, Shin wondered about what his next move should be. I have completely screwed things up. Why'd it have to be this way? He was turning into a complete asshole. He was alienating himself from his friends, Uchi still refused to speak to him, Yamaguchi was starting to despise him... He had messed things up so bad he wasn't sure if he'd be able to fix it.

He wanted things back to the way they were. He wanted his friends to speak to him and goof around like they always did. He wanted that damn cop out of the picture and put as an unattainable fantasy for the women again. He wanted Yamaguchi to feel comfortable around him again. He'd rather go back to being just another one of her precious students than have things as the way they were now. At least before he still had fun and he still had hope, but now... He didn't know what the future held for him and his friends or him and Yamaguchi. He was sure that he could reconcile with his friends easy enough. A simple apology or peace offering would fix that, but now, because of the fight that had happened between him and Uchi, their would always be an underlying tension. They could ignore it, but that wouldn't make it disappear. Usually the same could be said with Yamaguchi, but the fights they had were much more different from the fights that he and Uchi had had. Things could never go back to the way they were for them, and he regretted that most of all.

Shin was interrupted from his morose thoughts by a loud banging on the door. Who the hell... It was midnight. He didn't know who would be at his door this late. As he got up to answer it, he entertained the idea that it could be Yamaguchi, but then quickly dismissed it. What would she be doing here this late? And she was still mad at him, so she'd have no reason to come over. Sighing, he opened up the door.

Yamaguchi had been going over in her head exactly what she would say on the way to Shin's apartment. She would be firm and up-front with him. He would listen to what she had to say and she would do the same for him. They would consider one another's feelings and work some kind of solution. She would stay there all night if she had to. She would refuse to leave until this issue was resolved. Nodding her head in affirmation of her own thoughts, Yamaguchi finally began to notice the lack of people on the usual busy streets. Exactly how late was it? She checked her phone and blanched at the time. 12:17? It was that late? She began to falter. Maybe she should wait until a more acceptable time. No, she shook her head. She would settle this now once and for all.

With renewed purpose, she marched all the way to Shin's apartment where she began banging on the door. What was taking him so long? Was he asleep? Just as she was about to start banging with more force, the door opened.

Any words she was going to say froze in her mouth as soon as she caught her first look of Shin. He stood in the doorway, hair tousled, eyes dark and smoldering, and wearing nothing but some low hanging boxers. How had she ever thought him to be a child? Against her will, she found her eyes tracing the contours of his body. She was surprised. With clothes on, he didn't look very buff. In fact, he looked kind of scrawny, and while she knew their to be strength in his lean build, she never thought that he'd have the body to prove it as well.

Her slow observation of his torso didn't go unnoticed by the man in question, nor did it have no affect on him. He could feel his body tightening as she continued her perusal. As she unconsciously licked her lips, Shin's control almost snapped. He felt the overwhelming need to grab her and pull her against his body, but having remembered what usually happened when he acted without thinking, he ignored the need.

Gritting his teeth, he asked, "Did you want something Yamaguchi?" his voice betrayed the frustrated desire he was feeling and came out as a low growl.

Snapping out of her less than pure thoughts, Yamaguchi blushed and turned her head to the side, looking at the wall. She couldn't get herself to look him in the eye quite yet.

In her embarrassment, she wanted to snap at him for catching her checking him out, but she remembered that she was there for a reason and she wouldn't let anyone or anything dissuade her from her purpose. With that in mind, she stepped in without explaining herself.

Looking around, she noticed that everything still looked the same as it did since the last time she visited. Clean, untouched, and sterile. The man could use some pictures to make the place feel more welcome, she thought. Shaking herself, she turned to face him. It was harder than she wanted to admit to retain eye contact. "Sawada, we need to talk. Things have been too awkward between us for too long and this is unacceptable. I don't like the way things are. Our problems have begun to affect those around us and this can no longer continue. So me and you are gonna talk this out until we come up with a way to fix it. Okay?" she was proud of herself for remaining so firm with him. She could do this.

Sawada slowly rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hand and then continued upwards to rake his fingers through his hair. He let out a big sigh. "Yeah, I know. Things have become... crazy. I never wanted it to be this way, Yamaguchi. I guess I just let things... get out of hand." He started towards the kitchen. "Go sit down. I'll make us some tea."

"Feel free to put a shirt on too," she muttered.

"What was that?" Shin called out.

"Er, uh, nothing," she stuttered.

Shin frowned, but continued to pull out packets of tea.

Yamaguchi settled on the couch and laid her jacket across the back. She decided that if she was going to do this right then she couldn't look at it like a math problem. She'd have to speak from her heart or else one, or both, of them would end up going away mad at the other. That had happened enough and she had no desire to keep up the repetitive routine any longer.

She waited until Shin settled down next to her, a respectful distance away, to speak to him. She was chagrined to notice that he had only managed to put on sweat pants over his boxers. Looks like he'll be forgoing a shirt this evening. Great, just great. That'll make having this conversation so much easier. Making sure to keep eye contact, she started. "Look Sawada, I know in the past that I've treated you like a kid and I've tried to... baby you, but you must realize that I never did any of that on purpose. I just wanted to help and protect you. All of you. I only wanted you all to receive the best things out of life, but I now realize that only you can say what's best for you. I just hope you'll let me help you on the way there."

Shin sat silently, absorbing everything she said. He wasn't sure how he expected the conversation to start, but that certainly wasn't it. She was speaking to him as one adult would to another. He relished in the small victory. He was no longer being treated as a child, and she was even acknowledging the fact that she had been treating him like one. Things were starting to look up.

"Thank you Yamaguchi. I needed to hear that. I know that you just want to help us, but there is a fine line between nurturing and babying. It means a lot to us that you're always there and that you look out for us, but you have to remember that you're teaching a class full of young men. We're going to want to do things our own way, regardless if our way leads to disaster... I'm sorry for yelling at you. It wasn't your fault, and I could've handled things better. I guess I just over-reacted. Every time I stopped to think if I could do things differently, I had already made things worse. I should have never dumped on you like that. Gomen."

"I never should have banned you from coming over to my house any more. That was... wrong of me and I never should have done it. The guys miss you," she mumbled.

Shin smiled. "It's okay. I never should have insulted you in front of the class like that, or at all. You didn't deserve that either. I just got defensive and I lashed out. That was childish of me."

They sat there for awhile not saying anything. Shin leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees and Yamaguchi sitting sideways with one leg curled on the couch and the other hanging off. The sudden whistling of the tea kettle made them both jump. They both shared an embarrassed smile. "Be back in a minute," he said, getting up.

Yamaguchi smiled. She felt good, like a weight had been lifted. They were finally reconciling and talking things out. Things could go back to normal. She felt a pressure ease in her chest. She sat up as Shin walked back and handed her the tea. His brows were furrowed, it seemed like there was still something plaguing his mind.

They sipped their tea quietly and made small talk. Wakamatsu's daughter had won second place in the science fair. Natsumi had gotten all A's on her report card and as a reward, was going to with her friends to a hotspring in Okinawa.

"Are we really going to do this? Shin asked softly.

Yamaguchi's heart rate sped up. "Do what?"

Shin snorted. "Pretend like theirs nothing between us. You can ignore it if you want to, but that doesn't change anything." He put his tea cup on the table and faced her.

Yamaguchi followed; panic beginning to make its way into her stomach, making it churn painfully. "Shin, please. Can't we just go back to the way we were? We can pretend this never happened."

Shin's nostrils flared and he began to shake his head. "Iie, Yamaguchi. We need to talk about this. I was waiting for you to bring it up, but I see you had no intention of doing that, so I will." Shin made his way closer to Yamaguchi and grabbed her hands, staring intently in her eyes. "Yamaguchi Kumiko, suki desu. I'm not sure when it started, but I've felt this way for awhile. Aishiteru Yamaguchi Kumiko."

Yamaguchi was stone cold still. She didn't move. She didn't blink. She even forgot to breathe for a few seconds; which caused her less than graceful choking gasp. "Ehhhhhhhh?"

Shin smiled in a chiding manner. "I suggest you get used to the idea Kumiko, because I love you and theirs nothing you, or anyone else, can do to change that." Shin whispered the last words as a soft caress against her lips. Glancing once to look in to her eyes, he closed the distance and gave her the gentlest of kiss that left a burn mark on her heart. His lips trailed over to her cheek where he then rubbed it with his own; scent marking her. He pulled away, satisfied with the look on Yamaguchi's face.

Slowly, reluctantly, he pulled away from her and helped her to stand. Yamaguchi, in some vegetated shock mode from the kiss, could do no more than comply.

Shin helped her into her jacket and led her to the door, stopping to help her into her shoes. Opening the door, he guided her to the stand. Leaning in, he rubbed his cheek against hers once more then whispered, "I turn 18 in 2 weeks and graduate in 4 months. I won't be your student for long Kumiko-chan." With that, he pecked her on the nose and gently shut the door.

It took Yamaguchi ten minutes before she finally moved away from the door and started to make her way home, her mind in a daze.

End Chapter 5: Tension

Frickin' A! I just got Dr. Phil on yo asses with that "follow your heart" crap. Totally made that shit up and it sounded good, huh! I should get a tv show. I can fake a country accent real well. =]

This was not easy to write, but I did my best to lighten the mood and make it seem believable. I was gettin tired of writin all that angsty crap. For those who have been with me since this story originally came out, if you noticed, this story started off as romance/comedy. This was s'pose to be a light hearted fic, but because I let my hands do the talking, it came out like this. This making it up as I go along crap ain't workin no more. I'ma have to try something else.

What really got my butt in gear to update this is I no longer have the luxury of time. I (dun dun dunnnnnn) have JOINED THE MOTHER FREAKIN AIR FORCE! YEAH BABY! And yes, I already know, I'm awesome. =)

R&R! Lates! ***Obsidian Tigress***