Disclaimer: I do not own khr, it is owned by Amano Akira
Chapter 12: Lessons
There are times I wish I had met these pubescent boys earlier - wish that I could watch over them and every decision they make, be that figment of imagination on their shoulder that says, "You should probably take a second to reconsider what you're about to do."
Life would have been so much easier that way, but instead I'm at the hospital waiting room, listening to a yelling match between my students. Takahashi had been walking home with the Sasagawa siblings when they had run into the same Hibari lackey he fought with previously. One insult from the short boy happened after another and when the first punch was thrown, poor Kyoko was caught in the cross-fire. It was easy to put together the rest of the story as Ryohei and the large pompadoured teen were catered off to the hospital for a fractured arm and a dislocated shoulder.
The cherubic face that Takahashi sports like an emblem is gone, instead the boy is hunched over the bench as he stares at the white hospital floor with fingers gripping his black hair. The usual teasing nature is gone as he sits there silently, among the raised voices of his two club mates.
"You getting all pissy isn't going to solve anything Haruka-senpai," Hiroshi grits out, as he spares a glance at his motionless junior by his side.
The upperclassman's idol-like face is marred with a sneer, "Easy for you to say, it's not your last year here."
As the words leave the third year's mouth, a weak mumble is heard. Takahashi is still staring at the floor as he says barely above a whisper, "I'm sorry."
Haruka grabs the young boy by the collar, "I don't need your sorry, it's not going to change anything." Shaking the smaller boy he asks, "Why can't you just use your brain for once? Why is that so hard for you?"
The Midori part of me is crying. What am I supposed to do? They're teammates, people make mistakes, why can't they just forgive each other? There will be more opportunities in the future- your friendship is stronger than this!
The Cassidy side of me knows where this is going - too familiar with the blame game, can predict the things that might be said next. I know things won't end well if they keep going at it. I grip the tall boy's shoulder, I know he's hurting but he has to stop - stop before he says things he shouldn't.
"You need to cool off."
The squeak of his sneakers is deafening in my ears, as he spins around to face me, rage still evident as his face colors, "You don't understand - "
"I said, cool it."
Perhaps this is the first time the vice-captain sees me as his adviser, not just some random teacher they needed to keep the boxing club running. That I am not all sunshine and rainbows, that even though I can be clueless about the sport - I am an adult and the figure that is supposed to keep them in check when their emotions run too high.
Haruka can't hold my stern gaze, pushes my hand off his shoulder and stomps off.
I'm sighing, because really now - was he making me chase after him? Why were kids so dramatic?
I look at the other two silent boys and try to put on a reassuring smile. Gently grazing my fingers over the top of Takahashi's hair I say softly, "he just needs some time to himself. You focus on recovering, okay?" The young boy touches the gauze around his knuckles and nods wordlessly, gaze back on the floor. I try to not let the grimace make it's way on to my face, merely exchange a look with Hiroshi who gives me a hopeless shrug.
I leave the two to their own devices. As much as the first year and second year banter, they are the two with the closest relationship. If anyone could console Takahashi, it would be Hiroshi.
Following the tall, black haired teen is easy. He barely made it to entrance of the hospital before I drag him to the side of the building and sit him down.
I let him morph back into his usual calm and collected demeanor, or what's left of it anyway. But I can see from the way he taps his feet quickly that he won't be able to control his emotions.
I stare as patients and visitors come and go, the creaking of the wheelchairs is the only noise between us. This moment has me reminiscing as I think about my own athletics days as Cassidy. Inhaling deeply I turn to the boy who still refuses to meet my eye.
"You're a senior, you're about to graduate, and you're walking into a tournament that at one point you felt like you would have a pretty good shot at winning. You can picture your arms around your teammates and being able to stand up on that stage." Images of batons, crutches, and trophies flash through my head as I continue, "but now that your ace is out of commission you feel like there's no hope. Then you start to think of where things went wrong, what your teammates could've done but most of all what you could've done."
I can feel the gray orbs on me now as I continue, "I can't say I know how you feel and I can't guarantee things will get better. However, we've all been angry before and from what I've learned is on the flip side of anger." I paused as I look into wet eyes, "There's fear."
He looks away quickly, and stays silent for a while. Minutes pass by before he being quietly, "It's so unfair, we had a chance for once. Captain and I worked so hard to recruit members this year, so we could finally enter the tournament."
He continues to mumble as the tapping of his feet subside, "But I always knew Takahashi was like that from the start when he signed up for the team, Captain would scold him - would say there's a limit to getting your opponent to riled up in a match. But I just let him do it. I even encouraged it, because I thought it was a good thing since it always made people lose focus when in a match with him." He shakes his head as he stares aimlessly, "it makes me wonder if I had backed up Captain - made it a point to teach him better instead of just focusing on myself all of this wouldn't have happened. I'm the vice-captain of the team and all I cared about was making sure i'd win my match."
The all to familiar feeling of guilt is back, I know I can't force him to stop blaming himself so I can only say, "You don't know that, and if you start thinking like that - it'll drive yourself into a hole. Keep this in mind, sometimes things happen and all you can do is move on and use this as a lesson."
He's rubbing his face, as big wet droplets hit the ground, "Crap."
I'm at a loss, what else do you say to a sad teen in a shitty situation? So I let him cry, knowing right now he didn't need to be coddled. He just needed to let it out.
As the sniffles come to a stop and the third year's breathing begins to even out I ask, "Where's Sakamoto?"
I watch as he the teen lets out a long sigh, "Like you said sensei - we all need to cool off. Captain is just doing it somewhere else."
Despite my numerous calls, I couldn't get in contact with Sakamoto, Yuki that day.
As weeks went by and the tournament lost - the club room's atmosphere was no better than the hospital. It was absolutely suffocating as the boys worked in silence and practiced halfheartedly. It was hard for my mind not to wander at the sullen-distant faces, and my distraction seemed to show despite my best efforts.
"Are you okay? Something seems to be bothering you."
I try a futile attempt at a smile - cheeks hurting before i let out a defeated sigh. It's so hard to push the feelings down and away when I hear his voice. "I feel useless."
It's odd, even though Alessandro isn't in front of me, even by just hearing his voice laced with concern makes me feel vulnerable.
Despite not seeing him I can practically hear him nodding along as he thinks, "You must be taking about your students."
Is it bad that I can't muster up a reply? Can't even murmur in agreement, to keep the conversation going.
Taking the conversation in stride he continues, "Sometimes you have to let them handle it themselves,"
I will myself, not to curl my finger around my ringlet and yank, as I mull over his words. Finally I ask, "What do you mean?"
His usual nervous boyish tone is gone, replaced with confident sage advice. "You're their mentor and teacher, you're supposed to provide guidance - but their decisions aren't on you."
I almost let the small giggles escape - instead a wry smile makes it to my face as I softly curl my hair along my finger. The answer was so obvious - so simple! Yet I felt blindsided, wanted to watch over them and correct their actions the way I thought they should have been done. What I would have done. These boys aren't me though - perhaps I had been imposing too much, controlling too much.
"You can't solve their problems, they have to do it on their own and learn how to mediate conflict."
This time I'm the one nodding in agreement, exasperated smile making it's way onto my face. If I was like this with my students, I can't imagine what I'll be like with my kids. "I'm hovering too much aren't I?"
The boyish demeanor is back as he chuckles, "Just a bit, but it really shows that you care for them." He let's me muse quietly for a few seconds as I take in his words, "You have a big heart, it's what I like about you."
I'm flustered at this point - when did we get all romantic again? Changing the topic I ask jokingly, "You make it sound like you've experienced this?"
"It's something that my experiences with Borin-sensei have taught me, he's been easing off a bit now though."
It's my turn to nod along, as I think of the story Alessandro mentioned with bears and forests. "That spartan professor? Wonder what happened for him to do that?"
There's a beat of silence before he quietly states, "Unfortunately if I told you, I'd have to kill you."
I can't hold it in as the giggles erupt- he sounded so serious.
"Thank you, I needed that."
The club room was still frosty - I hadn't seen them interact at all with each other and graduation was around the corner for the two boxing seniors. So perhaps I should have seen the impending explosion happen as Takahashi rushes past me. I would have laughed at the sight of the short boy grabbing his much taller captain by the collar, if it weren't for the tears in his eyes.
The other members stared, frozen in their spot as the boy pleaded, "Captain! I'm sorry! You can hit me, yell at me, anything! Please don't just leave like this!"
Sakamoto, Yuki blinked slowly and nodded. "Just let me do this okay, and then I'll forgive you."
The older boy gears his arms back and I can see the first year screw his eyes shut. Oh heck no!
Maybe Alessandro was wrong - maybe I should be interfering, because violence is not the answer. I'm walking forward, ready to snatch Yuki's hand - but Haruka grabs my wrist instead. The vice captain shakes his head - and he's smiling putting his index finger to his lips as he uses the other hand to point over to his captain.
Instead of the incoming punch I had expected, the tall boy clamps his hand down on his junior's shoulder. Jolting Takahashi's eyes fly open, and can only see the team jacket in front of him.
"Take it," Yuki encourages.
Fumbling he stretches out the material to see the back of the jacket, and stares. "What - what is this?"
My heart melts at the sight, as I read the title on the back. Jeez these boys.
Yuki grins, a bright smile on his face before saying, "Hey, as the new vice-captain, you have to be prepared for anything!"
The relief comes out in a few tears as the cherubic boy wipes vigorously at his face, mumbling, "I thought you hated me, I ruined your last chance!"
He was met with a knuckle sandwich from Hiroshi who exclaimed, "will you stop saying that!" He rubs his best friend's head hard, as if to grind the self-blaming thoughts out of his head.
"But it's true," Takahashi whispers.
"It's all right, I mean it does suck don't get me wrong," the captain laughs as his fingers caress the ropes of the ring. The boy looks at me and smiles, "However I believe that this team will go to championship one day - and I'll be rooting for you all when it does. Don't you think so Harada-sensei?"
My grin is matching his as I affirm, "You bet. That doesn't mean either of you can slack off in high school though, we'll go to all your matches too and cheer you on."
From my peripherals I can see Haruka handing a similar jacket to the other first year on our team.
"You got this Captain Ryohei, we're counting on you."
The tender moment is interrupted by the silver gray haired boy. As he grabs his uniform jacket in his hand and pumps out a fist, all while yelling, "You can count on me, to the EXTREMEEEE!"
The weight is gone from my chest as I internally thank Alessandro for his advice. There's laughter and jokes, and everything feels right with the world again.
Nagi needed more friends her age - at least that was my justification as I asked her to tag along with the rest of my family.
My cousin's smile is bright as she stares at the younger girl in front of her, "Hiya my name is Aizawa, Sayaka. What's your name?"
"My name is Hayama, Nagi." They're a sharp contrast as the blunette refuses to look into the middle schooler's face. Her gaze settles on the ground and I can see her tugging at the hem of her shirt. Social anxiety perhaps?
As her eyes search around among the moving boxes, and luggage she spots my feet. Her stare slides up and I watch as a small smile appear on her face. She mumbles softly, "Hello teacher."
Sayaka is openly frowning, the exaggerated downward tug of her lips is evident. Oh she's jealous of me isn't she? She puffs out her cheeks as she stares at me enviously. Ha, how stinking cute - she thinks I'm taking her new friend away. I wink at her, thrilled to see the color appear on her cheeks. I turn to not-yet Chrome and place my hands on my knees so Nagi can see me a bit better, "You don't have to call me that anymore, just Midori is fine."
"I - " I can see the refusal starting to show, and place my hands on my hips. I'm not taking no for an answer, she can tell I'm adamant as she shyly says instead, "Okay, Midori-san."
Sayaka doesn't seem to understand personal space as she shoves her way in between us. She's beaming as she peers into Nagi's widening eyes. "Me too! You can call me Sayaka, is it okay if I call you Nagi-chan?"
"Oh." The young girl seems to short circuit momentarily. Sayaka mimics my stance as she looks at her expectantly. A blush makes its way onto the elementary schooler's face as she mumbles even quieter, "Yes, Sayaka-san."
There's stars in the 12 year old's eyes as she throws her arms around her newly made friend, "So cute!"
Their cheeks are squished together now as Sayaka holds Nagi close - the blunette strangely enough doesn't look uncomfortable. I realize it's okay as a small smile makes its way onto her cherubic face. The black haired pre-teen's enthusiasm doesn't wane as she asks, "Midori nee-san, you're so close to Kokuyo Land! Can we all go together next time?"
"Of course. We'll go the next time you two can visit, I would love that."
I leave the two to their devices, sure that after the flooding of Sayaka's need to glomp all things adorable, the two will be able to become good friends.
I had moved into my new apartment yesterday, and was still in the process of sorting boxes. Thankfully my parents and brother had come today to assist with the big move. They brought various household items and a little blunette to help. I had also employed Sayaka's assistance with the promise of giving her my limited edition plush toys from childhood, they seemed to be all the rage nowadays.
Before I forget, I pick up a small box from the corner, I hand it to my brother. "Here is a package from Alessandro!"
Perhaps physical contact is our family love language, as I feel an arm slinging around my shoulder.
He raises a brow as he lifts the package out of his hand, "You still keep in contact with him?"
I blink as I wonder aloud, "You don't?"
He shrugs as he rips the tape off the box, "It's not that I haven't tried, it's just - I guess we drifted a part? At least he remembered to give me a bribe if he's still serenading my sister."
"Brother!" My face is absolutely flaming as I survey the area quickly, thankfully the two girls are farther away and I won't have an insufferable pre-teen teasing me. He yanks out a textbook and by the way he stares at it and holds it to his heart like the holy grail, I can guess the the squiggly black mark on the cover is probably Borin's signature.
"He has my permission to marry you if he ever proposes." This time I let my Cassidy side take over 100% as I slam my palm hard against his shoulder.
I almost regret it as my mother turns over at the sound at the same time Akaya mutters, "Ouch, you've gotten a lot more physical as of late. Touchy subject is it? But then again, you and him were like this."
He makes a hand gesture that wasn't appropriate in front of the kids, and definitely not in front of our parents. My scream-whisper is ferocious as I slap my hand over his making sure no on was watching, "Don't do that in front of mom!"
"Relax, it's not like you've done anything you need to be embarrassed about."
Okay so the day prior I may have sent a fully clothed but definitely racy photo and suggestive text, asking Alessandro to visit me in my new apartment when he was back in Japan. But I swear that was it, despite my frustrations starting to peak.
I'm horrified because oh gosh I have to stop thinking about this now, but can't help it as I begin to derail-
My long distance relationship with Alessandro, if I could even call it that was mentally draining. Not to mention, I craved his touch. I missed the soft head pats, the caresses of the cheek, the soft peck on the lips, brush of my hand against his and so much more. It was driving me up the wall having not seen him in person for almost a year and I knew I was getting desperate. The man was a total hottie who was bound to be surrounded by beautiful woman, and as much I didn't want to admit it - I was starting to get insecure. He said he was going to visit Japan soon, but he wasn't sure when. He noted he had to wait on his teacher about a few things - something about bosses shifting.
However I didn't know how soon, soon really meant. So if it took a little skin showing and seduction to hurry him up than so be it - but this train of thought was not something I wanted to talk about with my gosh darn older brother.
"Wait why do you look like that?"
"Nothing!" I make a mad dash for the girls - there's no way he way he would continue talking about this in front of kids, right?
Realization begins to dawn on him as he thunders after me, "wait just a minute!"
Alessandro better come quick, or I'll go to Italy myself and drag his butt here regardless of him being adamant about him visiting Japan instead. There's no way in heck I about to suffer from Akaya's lectures alone.
Just like that a year flew by, and my first year as a teacher came to a close.
AN: A chapter in which our MC is an MVP and a very thirsty gal.
Apologizes this is taking so long. There's 14 more chapters left, almost half way done!