Chapter 06: The Secret Garden
There were a few things that Yuzuki hadn't considered when she had decided to work on telling Hadwin about her feelings.
For one, she was suddenly painfully aware that she wasn't the loveliest girl around, and that even though she didn't think her chances were good before, now she knew they were inexistent. Because someone like Hadwin would probably have an idea of what to look for when choosing to date someone, and Yuzuki was pretty sure she didn't fit within that image.
The second, and much more troubling issue, was how her parents would react if they ever found out. That is to say, if by some miraculous act of God things worked out in her favor. And if things went well, how would she even tell her parents.
'Oh hi, yes, this is the man I'm dating, and yes he is my teacher and several years older than me, but please don't worry and please try to get along,' yes, that would probably go down badly, and she was very curious as to how Mira had managed it.
'Maybe the shock killed her family,' Yuzuki thought idly, as she swept the sidewalk in front of her parents' shop.
She let out a tired sigh and headed back inside. Her mother was fixing up some cookies in pretty little boxes with neatly tied bows. They sold quite a lot of those on a daily basis, and it was something Yuzuki's mother was proud of. After all, it was her own top secret cookie recipes. Yuzuki knew it was also the packing that made them a top selling item. They were very cute boxes, after all.
"Oh, Yuzuki, if you're done outside, come help me with this," her mother called.
Gladly, she went to wash her hands and put away the broom before joining her mother in tying bows and fixing tags onto the boxes. It was one of the tasks Yuzuki enjoyed the most when working with her parents. They worked in silence for a while, the older of the two humming quietly as she filled the boxes and closed them up. Yuzuki was still thinking though, just working without putting any real thought into it, something that her mother noticed soon enough.
"Is something wrong, dear?" she asked suddenly, startling her daughter.
"What? Oh, no, not really," Yuzuki was quick to reply.
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, you just seem very distracted," the woman said.
"Oh, um, I'm just tired, I suppose."
It wasn't completely untrue, as it had been a rather tiring to just go to school as of late. Yuzuki's mother seemed convinced.
"I see, well, why don't you go home then?" she said.
"Get some rest. Your father and I will finish here soon, okay?"
Yuzuki would have refused any other time, but she really did need some time on her own.
She left a few minutes later, feeling a bit bad about leaving her parents to do all the work, but at the very least it wasn't a very busy day. On the way home, she stopped by the convenience store to pick up some juice and greeted the old man that owned the store, just like she always did. It was one of the places she visited often, since it was between her parent's shop and her home, and the owner was a nice enough man.
It didn't take her long to get what she was looking for and she headed back to the front of the shop to pay for the carton of juice, still tired and too distracted to pay attention to much of anything. The one thing that did catch her attention, nearly made her drop the juice in her hand, because the person currently standing before the counter was Hadwin and Yuzuki had almost had to interact with him outside of school. It was a terrifying thought, because then she'd have no real reason to speak to him, nothing to ask and no motive to hide behind and who knew what she would end up saying under that situation.
Unfortunately, she had been so lost in her thoughts that she failed to realize that she was leaning too much on the display of chips she was hiding behind. The whole display began to topple over, but she managed to grab onto it and struggle to keep it upright. She heard someone walking over, presumably to help and began to panic because, what if it was Hadwin?
'Please don't let it be him, please don't let it be him,' she was desperately chanting in her head.
"I've got it."
'Of course it's him,' and it was a hard task to keep from groaning in frustration.
"T-thank you," she said instead.
The display was fixed and Yuzuki started picking up the bags of chips that had fallen off, doing her best to not look at the teacher and trying to will away the bright blush on her face. But then the man started to help as well and she just knew her face had just gotten even more red. With luck, she thought, he would think she was just embarrassed which she was - for knocking the display over. A young man that worked in the store took over in cleaning up the mess, and Yuzuki was left to apologize to the old man behind the counter, who just laughed and waved it off, saying nothing had been damaged.
"Please just be more careful, or you could get hurt one of these days," he said.
"Y-yes, um, thank you," Yuzuki responded, taking the change he handed her along with her purchase and turning to leave.
And then she almost walked into Hadwin.
"E-excuse me," she said, quickly averting her eyes.
And how much more embarrassing could the situation get? Maybe she should have just stayed and helped her parents, then nothing would have happened. But no, she just had to leave.
"It's alright," and then the teacher reached over and took his purchase from the counter.
Yuzuki noted it was a pack of cigarettes and wondered when he had started smoking. It wasn't the healthiest habit to form, after all. She didn't put much thought into it though, as she practically ran away, hurrying out of the store and only slowing down once she could see her house.
Hadwin was left to stare after his student with an arched eyebrow and a questioning look.
"Do you know her, Hadwin-san?" the old man behind the counter asked.
"Ah, yes, she is a student of mine," Hadwin answered.
"Hmm, strange girl," the other said thoughtfully, shaking his head a bit.
Hadwin fully agreed, but only nodded and bid the man goodbye before walking out. Now that he thought about it, the girl really was strange, but he credited it to the fear his students usually had of him. Still, there was something nagging at him, a little voice in his head telling him he was wrong and just generally pissing him off. Not surprisingly, it sounded a hell of a lot like Kairos so Hadwin didn't feel too bad for ignoring it. He had other things to worry about.
The next morning, Yuzuki really wanted to stay home, because she still felt pretty embarrassed, but she knew she shouldn't really miss school, so she went anyway. Besides, she still meant to reveal her feelings to the teacher, though she had no idea how she would manage it when she could hardly look at him. It started out as a pretty good day though, mainly because she managed to hide from Akira, who would no doubt tease her as usual. She wasn't much in the mood for that though.
In retrospect, it had probably been a bad idea to hide so close to the art room.
And Yuzuki honestly thought she had jumped about a foot thanks to the startling shout. She managed to keep her heart relatively steady though, and turned to face the man who just seemed to delight himself in giving people near heart attacks, because Kairos was walking out of his classroom. Yuzuki nearly facepalmed when she noticed she was standing across form it.
"Good morning, Kairos-sensei," she said, and was honestly surprised that she hadn't stuttered.
"C-can I help you?" ah, and there it was, Yuzuki thought.
"Hmm, well not really, I was just curious," the teacher said with a shrug.
"Oh just little things, like what you're doing here when your first class is so far away, or if you've had a talk with Hadwin-kun, stuff like that," he said all too casually.
Yuzuki felt like running away again, she really did.
"W-what, no, I, uh - what, um, what would I have to talk to him about?"
And the grin Kairos wore now made her wonder why she had even asked that.
"Well," the teacher said, dragging out the word.
And Yuzuki had never thought she'd ever be so glad to see Akira.
The boy walked over, waving happily and grinning from ear to ear, no doubt satisfied at having found his friend. He stopped only when he had reached the girl and the teacher, throwing his arms around Yuzuki and all but hanging from the girl.
"Oh hello, Kairos-sensei," he greeted, and Kairos didn't seem all too bothered at having been interrupted.
"Good morning, Murakami-kun," the teacher responded cheerfully.
Yuzuki had the sudden, and very horrible, realization that maybe it wouldn't be a good think to have those two together, because Kairos knew about her crush on Hadwin just as Akira did, and if they found out it would be a nightmare. For Yuzuki, at least. She was sure the other two would have the time of their lives torturing her. If only the bell would ring, then she could make her escape. Then, by some miracle, there was a crashing sound back in the art teacher's room, and the yowling of a cat.
If she was asked, Yuzuki would deny having run, because she would never run from a teacher and her friend. That was just rude.
No, she just made a somewhat hasty retreat. That was all.
She decided to get some fresh air, because it would probably help her clear her head. Also, no one ever went to the small garden on the school grounds. Gardening wasn't really something high schoolers would be interested in, so she supposed it was only to be assumed. Still, she enjoyed the place. It was nice and peaceful and there were no weird teachers or insane friends to bother her, and that was as good as it got. It's placement was rather strange, as it was able to stand on the same level as the school's second story, but that was thanks to it being built on a hill. Yuzuki thought it was a good thing, as it gave any visitors a good view of the rest of the school below.
Not to mention that it was right next to Hadwin's classroom.
But that had nothing to do with why she liked the place, nope, not at all. Because even if she could manage to catch a glimpse of the teacher while he was working it wasn't much. And it wasn't like that was why she went, because she wasn't a stalker.
Just in case though, she'd make sure Akira never found out.
As it was, today wasn't one of the usual days in which the science teacher was working behind his desk. Nor was his window shut and the blinds mostly closed, no. Today Hadwin was leaning out his window and smoking. And Yuzuki meant that in the literal sense(not that she would ever use that in anything but a literal sense, especially not to describe someone, of course not), as in, he was holding a lit cigarette and just looking out at the garden with a positively bored expression.
For a moment, Yuzuki just stood there, relatively surprised and at the same planning how best to slip away without being noticed(and boy, hadn't she been running away an awful lot lately). But then Hadwin saw her and Yuzuki froze and could just manage to greet the man.
"Oh, um, good morning, Hadwin-sensei," and she thought she was getting better at not stuttering every time she spoke.
Hadwin, for his part, looked entirely too calm given the current situation. In fact, he didn't even bother to put out his cigarette, just held it in his hand while he waved Yuzuki over with the other.
"Good morning, Ohayashi-san," he said when the girl was close enough.
"What brings you here so early?" and then he took his cigarette back between his lips.
Yuzuki thought that was a pretty good question, because she knew it was awfully early to walking around the school, but she had always liked to get there early. Better than being late to class, she thought.
"Oh, am I, uh, not supposed to come here?" and if she wasn't she honestly hadn't heard anything about it.
Hadwin shook his head and let out a short puff of smoke, thankfully, away from Yuzuki.
"No, it's just unusual for anyone to come around. Not a lot of people care about gardening," he said, and finally put out his cigarette.
Though Yuzuki wasn't sure it was a good thing that he did so on the windowsill.
"So what are you doing here?" he repeated his question.
For a moment, Yuzuki thought how best to answer because she didn't think it would be good to tell him she was hiding from Kairos and Akira. That would probably raise more questions, so she went for the next best thing.
"I just, um, I like coming here. It's peaceful," and that wasn't really a lie, because she did like plants and the quiet of the small garden.
Hadwin hummed in agreement and looked out at the plants. They were growing rather nicely, and Yuzuki didn't really know how that was possible since the botany club no longer existed and they had been the ones to use it the most. She had always assumed the caretaker of the school grounds did so.
"I should probably water those," the teacher said thoughtfully.
And apparently, Yuzuki had been wrong in her assumptions because Hadwin turned and dug around in the area around his desk for a while before pulling out a watering pot and holding it out to Yuzuki.
"I'll give you extra credit if you water them," he said and Yuzuki blinked because, really?
Obviously, she had fallen and hit her head while running away from Kairos and Akira and was having a rather strange dream because there was no way Hadwin had just pulled out a water pot and offered her extra credit. That was just not possible.
"Ohayashi-san?" Hadwin called, because it looked like the girl was off thinking about something.
"Oh, uh yes, um, I-I will," and she took the pot before she could really think too much on what was going on.
The garden wasn't terribly large and it didn't take long to water the plants, though she did have to fill the pot twice from the water tap. Hadwin was writing on the board when she walked back over to the window to return the water pot.
"Thanks," he said, taking the object from the girl.
"You're welcome," Yuzuki responded.
"I didn't know you took care of the plants," she managed to ask.
She had been wondering about that for a while.
"Someone has to," the teacher said with a shrug.
"I thought the caretaker would."
And Hadwin actually scoffed at that.
"The man was killing half the plants by the time I told him not to bother. Figures I'd have to do someone else's job again," he said, muttering the last part.
He cast an appraising look at Yuzuki and she tried very hard not to fidget.
"Say, Ohayashi, you wouldn't mind watering them every now and then would you?"
Yuzuki blinked a few times and then just stared.
"No, I, um, I wouldn't," she told him.
"Good, I would do it, but things are getting busy this year and we might use them later in a lesson. I'd like to keep them alive until then and you seem competent enough."
And that almost sounded like a compliment, coming from Hadwin. Hell, Yuzuki very nearly blushed.
"I-I'll take good care of them," she declared, and she really meant it.
The bell decided to ring at that moment, startling her a bit.
"Oh, I should, um get to class," and she left before Hadwin could say anything because she could feel her face getting hotter.
For his part, Hadwin just stared with a raised eyebrow, because Yuzuki was in his class and could have just jumped in through the window. He did it often enough.
"Odd girl," he muttered, and turned back to his work.
Yay! Finally done with this chapter! And now, I shall ride off into the sunset...until the next chapter when I shall ride back. Or maybe I'll just work on my other stories. Yes, that sounds like a good plan.
Anyways, hope you liked it, because it was pretty fun to write. As always, thanks to those who've reviewed and added me to their lists. Please review if you get the chance, reviews make my day. And, if you're interested in any of my stories, you can check out my blog at inkanonymous. tumblr. com. Just take out the spaces. Not much is in there at the moment, but I'll add more later, and you can submit prompts if you want. Until next time!