”I wanna give a chocolate to Rengoku-sensei!“
"Hey! Don’t copy me! I also want to give him one!”
“You guys… What are you thinking, giving chocolate to a teacher?”
“Oh, shut up! You know he’s simply dreamy! If you don’t agree, you are lying to yourself and to God.”
Shinobu had to stifle her laugh upon overhearing the conversation of female students who sat behind her, taking care not to choke on her meal and let them know she was listening. It was a week before the annual celebration of love, so this kind of conversation was expected everywhere she went. And yes, Rengoku-sensei indeed was dreamy. Aside from being handsome, he was nice and energetic, and his lessons were fun and easy to understand. It’s no wonder everyone loved him so much.
Not that she could say that out loud though. Someone’s gonna sulk if she openly admitted that.
“Ah, but won’t Tomioka-sensei confiscate chocolates on Valentine’s day? You know, with him being a stick-in-a-mud and stickler for rules?”
“No way! There’s no written rules that it’s forbidden to bring and give chocolates on Valentine’s day, right?”
“Yes, but it’s very possible of him to do that, no? He may see it like we're playing around or something.”
That was spot-on, Shinobu thought, munching on her udon quietly. These girls understood that guy pretty well.
A slight movement from her junior who’s sitting beside her caught her attention. Kanao may be eating her curry rice silently, but Shinobu swore her shoulders slumped a bit after hearing those girls behind them, like she’s… disappointed?
“Do you plan to give someone a chocolate on Valentine’s day, Kanao?” Shinobu asked with a giggle, partly joking because she thought that couldn’t be, Kanao was a quiet girl, she’s not close with many boys and she didn’t seem like the type to be so proactive—
But Kanao choked on her curry, face turning as red as tomato.
It was just so unexpected that Shinobu couldn’t stop herself from gaping, though soon her open mouth transformed into a smirk. She’d grown up! Kanao had grown up!
“So?” the upperclassman asked with a teasing smile on her face after Kanao gulped a glass of water, “Whom is it for?’
Kanao looked like she wanted deny it, but quickly gave up and hung her head down in embarrassment. How cute.
"Maybe not,” she squeaked, fiddling with her curry rice. “Tomioka-sensei’s going to confiscate it, anyway, so…”
Oh, no way she’d let him get in the way of her beloved junior’s love story!
“Ahh, you don’t have to mind Tomioka-sensei,” Shinobu said, patting Kanao’s shoulder. “He won’t take a single chocolate on that day!”
The younger student looked at her with a confused expression on her face, but Shinobu just gave her a wink, promising a truth in her statement just now.
“But you have to tell me to whom you’re going to give your chocolate!”
She never received anything from Kanao to answer that question, but at least her crimson cheeks looked absolutely adorable.
“I heard Tomioka-sensei will be absent tomorrow!”
A day before Valentine’s day, the rumour that the Discplinary Demon wouldn’t be coming to school the next day was a hot topic, if not extremely rejoiced, among the students. The girls threw their hands in the air upon the news, relieved they would be able to convey their feelings to the people they admired and loved on the special day, while the boys jumped in joy on the prospect of them getting chocolates, even if they were obligatory.
Behind the pharmaceutical clubroom’s door, Shinobu giggled quietly, amused at how hated that guy was to the point a celebration was held by the students to commemorate his absence from work.
True to the rumours, Tomioka-sensei did not come to school on February 14. Some said he had an emergency business on that day, but some joked that maybe he knew he wouldn’t receive a single chocolate, in contrast to Rengoku-sensei, so he locked himself away in his room to avoid from being broken-hearted.
Well, they were wrong.
Shinobu made her way to a small apartment located two stations away from the school, a plastic bag from the supermarket nearby in her hand. Her steps were light as she climbed the stairs to one specific unit on the second floor.
After three knocks on the door, it was opened by none other than the Disciplinary Demon of Kimetsu Academy.
“Good afternoon, Sensei,” she greeted, a grin on her face. “How’s your day-off today?”
He grumbled, but stepped aside to let her in. “No one saw you’re coming here?” he asked cautiously.
“Positive. Everyone is too busy with Valentine’s day to care about me.” Shinobu walked to the kitchen, already memorised the apartment’s layout in her head, and put the plastic bag she was carrying on the kitchen counter, her school bag in front of the cabinet. “Also, everyone is rejoicing your absence from school. If you don’t want to be hated, you’ve got to learn to lighten up!” she laughed, taking the apron hung by the counter and wore it swiftly.
“… Students are supposed to study, not fool around with chocolates,” Tomioka replied, closing the apartment’s front door and locking it.
“Oh?” Shinobu rummaged her school bag, pulling out a box wrapped in scarlet paper with a yellow ribbon decorating it. Once the teacher showed up on the kitchen’s door, she shook it with her hand to make a rattling sound. “Then I guess this is mine to eat.”
The teacher frowned, and she covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing too hard. “… I took an absence because you asked me.”
“I didn’t ask you to take a leave! I just asked you not to confiscate any chocolate on Valentine’s day. I can’t have you ruin Kanao’s confession.”
He folded his arms, leaning against the doorframe. “You know I can’t do that, Shinobu.”
“I know, I know. That’s why you took a day-off.” She certainly couldn’t hold back her chuckle now. Shinobu gave the box to him, which he quietly accepted, although with a scrutinising look at it. "You’re so difficult, Giyuu-san. Honestly, why are you so fussy about Valentine’s chocolate when you’re dating me? Oh, don’t worry about the chocolate, I don’t lace anything suspicious on it.”
“Not yet,” he corrected, ignoring her last comment, “not until you graduate.”
“Aah, being fussy again with such minor details.” Shinobu sighed, wondered if she’d be able to make him less serious somehow in the future. Not that he’s wrong; the only thing they had done was confessing their love to each other, quite randomly and unromantically, if she recalled correctly. He’s adamant on starting their relationship only after her graduation, since it’s unbecoming of a teacher to date a student; and she, too, would like to avoid a scandal before entering university. Since then she would occassionally come to his house just to cook and study, but they had never done anything else as a couple.
But he still listened to her selfish request to not interfere with Valentine’s day celebration at school, even going over and above by taking a leave simply because he knew he wouldn’t be able to tolerate students playing around when they’re supposed to be busy with exams. It was hilarious, but still she was touched by his dedication.
“Okay, I’m going to cook so shoo,” Shinobu said as she pushed him out of the kitchen, then started preparing his favourite meal as a silent thank you for indulging her.
She loved how his eyes lit up when she filled his bowl with a large piece of salmon along with the radish soup where she simmered the fish in, and how the corners of his mouth inevitably twitched and formed a smile. It's still entertaining no matter how many times she saw it, especially since he’s infamous for his frown and strictness. Truly, there’s never a dull moment with him.
Her purpose for coming to his home was solely to cook, and partially to tease him for being hated by the students, so after the meal she quickly excused herself.
“You sure you don’t leave anything behind?” he asked, leaning against the wall as she put on her shoes. “I can take you home by the car if you want."
“Aside from my chocolate, no, nothing else. And it’s only 6 PM, so quit being such a worrywart,” she laughed, enjoying his frown upon her first answer. “I’m kidding! Those chocolates are for you. See you tomorrow at school, Tomioka-sensei.”
As she touched the doorknob, she remembered she had forgotten something after all.
“Sensei.” Turning around, Shinobu gestured him to come closer. “Can you come here and crouch down, please?”
Although bemusement was present on his face, Tomioka followed her instruction without asking and crouched in front of her, forcing him to look up to see her.
Shinobu covered her mouth, but the twitch of her eyes indicated she was, again, smiling teasingly. “Oh my, I may like to see you like this more often, looking up at me.”
The teacher was ready to roll his eyes at her joke, but her hold on the either side of his head stopped him, and the press of her lips against his forehead made his entire body freeze.
It took her five seconds before releasing her hold on him, and she had to bit her lower lip in glee at the delightful display of his dumbfounded face in front of her. She noted to herself she should make a surprise move like this every now and then.
"Happy Valentine’s day, Tomioka-sensei,” she said with a cheeky smile, then exited the apartement before he could say anything back. “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
Shinobu left the premise with a skip in her steps, the wind cold of February did nothing on her warm cheeks. She surely couldn’t wait for next month to come, the time when she could start teasing him with kisses without any restraint.