I've formed a series of this particular world in my head. There are three side characters in this story that I'd like to explore, but that's for later. Right now I'm calling it the Notice Me Senpai series.
After lunch, I hadn’t given the scene much thought until, at around five o’clock, both Itsuma and Scott Cooper walked in my class room.
My little troublemaker owned the space when he walked in. One might have mistaken him for a Japanese prince of some small unknown province. Only royalty of a tiny country would have that much self-admiration. Don’t hurt yourself squeezing your ego in the room.
Standing with feet firmly placed as if he were on the first place winner’s podium stand, Itsuma’s energy exuded confidence. I glanced at him with what I hoped was my best disparaging look.
Behind him Scott Cooper twirled a wrangler’s rope with expert precision. The loop circled Scott in meticulous up and down motions. He danced a cowboy’s jig with the rope as if he’d been born to raise cattle. With those boots, jeans, button shirt and cowboy hat he should be on the back of a horse.
The kid looked at me with those beautiful green eyes, effortlessly continuing his rope hopscotch. Those eyes weren’t those of a child’s, but of a man who’d seen a lifetime of evil and decided he was here to save everyone. It was heart shattering to look into his soul, and yet, Scott instilled hope in my heart. Like a survivor, he threw off an air that people could overcome the worst of times. As if he were living proof.
In contrast, Itsuma’s inflated ego and Cheshire smile set off all my warning bells. I wasn’t afraid. Inwardly, I was reprimanding the chubby that sprang as soon as the duo stepped across the threshold of my classroom. I’d waited way too long to find a partner. Maybe after this I’d go to the bar to relax. Find someone to help keep my head on around this jail-bait of mine. That was it…I just needed to let out this frustration.
I stood, pulled out my drawer of no-no’s and set out Itsuma’s iPod on my desk. Then I placed the two pieces of his headphones next to the iPod.
“If I take this again,” I said. “You’re not getting it back.” I pulled out the new package of ear buds and set them next to his equipment.
Itsuma picked up the unopened accessory and laughed like I’d told the best joke he’d ever heard. “Sensei, you sly fox.”
The sound of his mirth tickled my heart. Craptastic. Now I knew why this “prince” slipped under my skin as easy as getting under a bedspread. Intense attraction. Yep, definitely going to the bar tonight.
Itsuma wiped the amused tear under his eye and said, “I was wondering why a math teacher would have wire cutters in his pocket. You planned this from the start.”
“What? No!” Had I? “I bought the new headphones at break.” I thought the gesture would soothe any harsh words he might throw my way. “The wire cutters were just coincidence.”
Scott stopped his deliberation, folded up the lasso and sat on one of the student desk tops. Pull up a chair and some popcorn. This should be a fun show, cowboy.
“Thank you for replacing my property, but I want something for my pride,” Itsuma said.
My mouth ran off before I could think. “Great. The high and mighty emperor gets ass-hurt for being called-out for his lousy attitude.”
“Scott,” Itsuma said. Molten lava burned in The Prince’s eyes. “Close the doors.”
The cowboy stiffened and stood up. “Zuma, come-on man.”
Something about Scott’s plea heated my blood. It was almost as if he were telling me to run.
“No,” Itsuma said. “I won’t be humiliated. I want a piece of my honor back.”
Japanese and their honor. No out for me. That was fine. Let’s go.
One moment Itsuma was grinning like an innocent fool, and the next battle-ready eyes pierced my soul. He spread his legs out like a mixed martial arts master and lowered himself to fighting stance.
This kid’s capability to go from normal to death-con five was a bit unnerving. But if he thought I was his bitch, he was in for a surprise. I wasn’t the co-captain of the wrestling team in my day because I waved pom-poms around.
From behind my desk I assessed the challenger. I may look like a complete math geek, and I was, but I was not your average nerd that sat on my ass all day. His provocation pulled at my dignity. Fine. I’ll be your huckleberry. I rolled up my sleeves and rounded the desk.
“Zuma!” Scott said.
“Stay out of it.” Itsuma came at me with a power strike. He’d had training. His form remained balanced. He was also fast.
I dodged a side kick and a few flying fists.
My specialty was up close and personal. At the moment I was at a disadvantage. All I could do was block and dodge until I could find my opening. That was okay. Let him tire himself out. The kid was smart though. He realized I was trying to get closer and he pushed me back with his flying feet. Just one more fancy spin and I’d have him. Oh, fuck yeah. This was as much fun as Nationals. Having Itsuma as a dancing partner freaking turned me on. He was awesome. His form beautiful. I could watch him for hours making these high flying, black-belt moves.
The Little Prince was energy incarnate. Still I smiled, dodged, blocked and watched his technique. Then it was my turn. I couldn’t say he made a mistake, just that he must thought I didn’t have any offensive moves. Maybe he thought I’d trained in Judo. I wasn’t that passive.
Finally, I snuck in from behind when he went for a side kick. With a head lock I crumpled Itsuma like a piece of paper. My hands clasped together while he tried to finish his fancy spin.
“Give up,” I said. “You won’t win.”
“Fuck you,” Itsuma spat out.
“Do you yield?”
“Hell no.” Itsuma struggled.
We grappled, but every move he made I anticipated. I kept him locked down. He wasn’t going anywhere. “If you don’t yield,” I said. “You’ll force me to choke you out.”
“No,” Scott said. “You won’t.”
The rough leather of a lasso clenched down around my ankle.
“You will not hurt my friend,” Scott said. He yanked my leg. Standing wasn’t an option. He’d pull my balance from under me. I went down on my right ass cheek. Itsuma gasped for air. Shit. That was a new one. I was going to get beat to hell.
~ Until next time!