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It's Not a Secret (Chiba)

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Chiba ~ Monday, July 3, 2017

By the time kendo practice finished, it was almost time to head back to the dorms for dinner. Chiba headed up to the Durak room first, in no rush to experience yet another night of curried something or other. He knew Joker and Sonoda would have no interest in going to eat at the dorm with him, but at least he could spend some time with them before giving up and going to dinner. Unless... maybe Sonoda had been in a good enough mood to cook without being asked. But no, that never happened. No freebies.

Well, eating at the dorm sometimes wasn't all that bad. Anyway, Joker had been smiling all day; that meant something good had happened.

When he opened the door, Sonoda and Joker were having an animated conversation, and they paused just long enough to nod a greeting before getting back to it.

"Yuki seemed awfully cheery at lunch today, I wonder if they really did it." Sonoda's nose wrinkled in disgust. "I just... ugh."

"Yuki is always cheery during lunch," Joker reminded him. "It's no guarantee that anything happened while they were off the island, but... they were definitely gone until the next day. They didn't come back before the bridge was raised on Saturday night."

"My cousin out with a student all night... there's no way he wouldn't go for it."

"Is that so? Is he the type to take advantage like that? I thought you said you knew absolutely nothing about his love life, Eiji."

Sonoda's cheeks pinked. "I don't know anything about it! I'm just... listen, Kiyo, if you were out with Yuki all night, especially after he kissed you like that, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't pass up the chance to get some action."

Joker rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "That is true. And our little Ace was so willing, too. But then again, the professor is very serious about his job. Would he really do something so risky?"

What's going on? Chiba looked from Joker to Sonoda. Something up with Asahina? And Sonoda's cousin... that's Professor Sakaki, right?

"Um," Chiba interrupted, not sure if it was a good place to jump into the conversation. "Joker-sama, what are you two talking about?"

"Ah, Hayato, you haven't figured it out already? Well, I guess that's what happens when you pop in during the middle of a conversation." His blue eye sparkled - amused, or teasing? Chiba still couldn't tell sometimes. "We're talking about Yuki."

"Right," Chiba agreed. That much was obvious.

"You do know who my cousin is, Hayato?"

"Professor Sakaki... I think."

"Right. So we're talking about Yuki and that rotten teacher. You follow so far?"

"Yes." Chiba tilted his head to one side, considering. "So, are you talking about after the baseball game? Asahina scored the most points, so naturally the professor took him out to eat. Isn't that what was promised?"

Sonoda let out a long, exasperated sigh. Joker just laughed. "Hayato. Did you somehow miss the part about the kissing? Oh, I forgot, your brain has some sort of internal censoring mechanism for anything that's not related to kendo."

"Joker-sama, please don't tease me." Chiba pouted a little. Am I really that easy a target?

"Sorry, Hayato, it's just so easy."

I knew it.

"Kiyo, he's not going to get it unless you say it plainly." Sonoda was leaning against the wall, arms folded over his chest.

"It's because Hayato has a pure heart." Joker raised one hand as Chiba opened his mouth to protest. "Now, now, Hayato, that's a compliment. After all, the Ace has a pure heart, and he's proven himself to be the strongest of all of us, hmm?"

Strong. Chiba smiled; Asahina had absolutely proven himself to be strong-willed and fearless, and thus, worthy of respect. "That's right! Asahina is very strong."

"I think Hayato goes a bit beyond a pure heart, Kiyo..."

"That may be true."

"Joker-sama, please don't talk about me while I'm sitting right here."

He laughed. "Sorry, sorry. In that case, let me tell you what we were talking about. Of course, it's only speculation right now, so don't go spreading it around, okay?"

"Understood." It was standard procedure, keeping Joker's wild ideas a secret until he was ready to reveal them to others. Chiba didn't really understand the appeal of collecting and sitting on all sorts of private information about the other students, but he could certainly appreciate being in such an exclusive position, trusted with all sorts of gossip. It didn't matter that the information was unimportant; all that mattered was that Joker trusted him enough to share it. Chiba didn't care for school politics or any of the intrigue that Sonoda and Joker seemed to live for, but that bond of trust made being part of Durak worthwhile.

"To put it simply, Hayato, it seems that Professor Sakaki is sleeping with Yuki."

Chiba blinked. "You don't mean..."

"Geez, Hayato, you're so dense sometimes!" Sonoda's cheeks were red. "I can't believe I have to say something like this, but my cousin - that's Professor Sakaki, in case you forgot - is probably having sex with Yuki."

Chiba could feel a blush creeping up his neck. Surely it wasn't true. But they'd been discussing it so seriously, and Joker wouldn't just make up something like that... would he? "O- oh. M- maybe that's why Asahina has seemed different lately..."

"Really? Different how?"

He thought for a moment before replying, not quite sure how to put his observations into words. Asahina's mood had shifted, becoming more than just cheery. There had been something special about him recently, an infectious joy that others couldn't help noticing, even if they didn't know the source. Or rather, even if they guessed at the reason, they assumed that it was the afterglow of winning the Bell One and saving the school. It was easy to share in that joy; like most of the other students, Chiba was grateful that school and competition life had continued uninterrupted. "He's... happier than usual. Asahina is always happy, but now it's different. You can tell that something good happened to him."

"Good?" Sonoda snorted. "How is that good?"

"I'm just telling you what I noticed..."

"Hey, Eiji, if you're still pissed about the good professor double-crossing you, this is the perfect opportunity to blackmail him."

"Seriously. That's not a bad idea..."

"I could even post something up on Hocus Pocus about it. Vaguely, of course, we'd have to protect Yuki's identity, but it would be interesting to get some bets going on how long it would take for an inappropriate student-teacher relationship to be discovered. And we could also take bets on what the fallout might be."

Chiba stood so quickly that his chair fell over. "Joker-sama, you mustn't!"

"Oh, Hayato, you're awfully worked up. Why not? If Eiji decides to act on the information and ruin my fun, it makes sense to try and get at least a little something out of it."

"Because it would make Asahina sad! How would you feel if you loved someone and then something bad happened to them?" Chiba's hand went to the wooden sword at his side. "I won't allow it. Even if it's you, Joker-sama."

"Hmm, those are very strong feelings, Hayato. Is there something you're not telling us?"

"Heh, could it be that you're referring to yourself, Hayato, and not Yuki?" Sonoda's grin was almost predatory. "When you mentioned loving someone?"

Chiba turned away before his face could go completely red. "I- I need to go eat now. Excuse me!"

"Hayato, fix your chair before you leave."

He paused, hand on the doorknob. "Yes, Joker-sama."

~ end ~