Irina had the penchant for getting Karasuma Tadaomi into the most irrational of moods and after an offhanded comment on how Irina had no skills - which was the biggest of all lies, Tadaomi thinks, because she was very talented in multiple aspects, but Tadaomi had just hoped it would make her mad and leave him alone - she had stomped her foot and proclaimed that being a master seductress required an arsenal of abilities and peak performance, to which he had told her being a master seductress required only large boobs, and she’d smacked him with a rolled up worksheet and challenged him to prove it.
“Since being a honeypot only requires your body, and you have,” she rakes her eyes up and down his frame and he fights the urge to fidget, “a marvelously remarkable one, why don’t you be a honeypot and back up your words?”
“I don’t have time for this,” Tadaomi says. He doesn’t even want to begin comprehending what she has planned, not with the devilish grin on her face that reminds him a little of Akabane.
“You're just a coward," Irina baits, "backing out already? Where was that smart talk? That sultry sass?"
Tadaomi reevaluates his options. His paperwork can wait, he thinks, so he grabs his bag and bolts, Irina hot on his heels and blabbering descriptions that didn't even make sense. All those times she bitched about climbing the mountains and how she didn't have the physique for it? Nothing was stopping her from sprinting after him in heels. Tadaomi was never carrying her down the mountain again .
"If I hear you out," Tadaomi says, because they're at his car and she's clambered atop of it and Tadaomi wouldn't drive off and risk her death even though he thinks she could break her fall well enough. "Will you leave me alone?"
Irina taps a well manicured finger to her chin, then raises her eyebrows and smirks. "Yes."
Tadaomi resigns to his fate and crosses his arms. "Alright, what's your wager?" He thinks he can manage chatting a girl up in a bar and getting her number - he never considered himself a smooth or suave man but he gets numbers just by existing, and he surely couldn't fuck up saying one or two words, right-
"You have to seduce the principal."
"What?!" Tadaomi stares at her grinning face in horror. "Are you insane? I'm not seducing the principal-"
Shit. That voice didn't come from either of them, it came from behind Tadaomi and sounded too familiar to be a coincidence. Irina had a maniacal glint in her eyes and she could see if there was anyone behind Tadaomi's back, which means her question was intentionally phrased to induce his outburst. "You," Tadaomi hisses at her, just as Gakushuu Asano skids to a stop next to them, looking incredulous.
"What did you just say?!"
"Nothing," Tadaomi grits his teeth, just as Irina says "he wants to seduce the principal," and Tadaomi whips around and glares at her.
"I do not ," Tadaomi says, turning to the child who's looking at him as all the stages of grief run across his expressions, "I apologize for the misunderstanding-"
"I'll help you," Gakushuu Asano says quickly.
"This your car?" Gakushuu Asano dashes around it and hops inside the passenger seat, and looks out at him expectantly. Irina's already clambering into the back and sprawling out like she owns it.
Tadaomi gapes at the both of them and opens the driver's door. "Get out, both of you. I don't want to, uh, seduce the principal . That's a ludicrous notion. Why are you supporting this? He's your father?"
"Yeah," Gakushuu Asano says, strapping in his seatbelt. He pats the driver's seat.
"W-what about your mother?" Tadaomi gapes.
"Died when I was five. Do you really want to have this conversation in the middle of the parking lot?"
Begrudgingly, Tadaomi gets into his car, only if it's to shut the doors to prevent any chance of eavesdropping. He hates Irina, he does.
"I've entered coordinates into your GPS," Asano tells him immediately. "Drive."
What a bossy kid, just like his father. Tadaomi has no intention of staying within Kunugigaoka's walls any longer so he drives. The coordinates are supposed to lead to a mall, which comforts him at the very least because that means Asano junior wouldn't murder him in public for suggesting about, uh, seducing his father. Then again, the kid seemed oddly into the idea.
"Why do you like him?" Asano says.
"I don't," Tadaomi says stiffly. Behind him, Irina bursts into giggles. "This was all her idea. I have no intention of having any sexual encounters with the principal, who is my boss, I might add."
"Why?! What's wrong with my father?" Asano demands. Tadaomi swerves into another lane and curses.
"Nothing!" Tadaomi says quickly. "I'm sure he's… very nice." That was a lie. The principal scared him.
"He's not really your boss, I know you're not a real teacher," Asano says easily, and Tadaomi jerks in his seat and turns to stare at the kid.
"I googled you. Your name comes up under several government sites. You're an air force instructor," Asano says. He leans back on the chair. "I don't know about Miss Irina, though." He looks critically at Tadaomi. "I don't understand why you're teaching at 3-E and why only on the subject of physical education, but that line of inquiry can wait. Tell me why you like my father."
"Like I said, I don't," Tadaomi hisses.
"That's a lie," Asano crosses his arms. "Even if Miss Irina put you up to it, you considered it."
"...I have not," Tadaomi says. Even if the principal is objectively attractive, he's older than Tadaomi and he has a kid and a wife. Well, no, not the wife. That's not an obstacle anymore, and the kid seems rather supportive about this endeavour. Wait, no, that is not the direction his thoughts should take. Tadaomi glares at the road.
He bets Asano isn't even interested in men.
Young Asano is staring at him, grinning.
"Despite your lack of interest, you're still driving to the destination heavily suggested to aid in your seduction of my father when you could have just as easily turned this car around," Asano points out. What a brat. He reaches out and switches off the GPS. "Take a right."
Just to be spiteful, Tadaomi takes a left. Irina snickers at him. Asano glowers. "U-turn here."
Tadaomi drives straight.
"Don't miss the left at the next junction," Asano snaps.
"We have to go around, can you just go right for once?"
"Can you let me drive? Go right."
"You're insufferable," Asano mutters, and Irina loses her shit. "Father'll eat you alive. The building on your right, please."
The kid said please, so Tadaomi would be nice and- wait. What?
They drive up at a rather pretentious looking mall which Tadaomi was sure he was… going in the opposite direction of. He looks at Asano, who gives him an innocent looking smile.
"Empty parking space to your left," Gakushuu Asano says. Tadaomi's too shocked to respond and a little scared, so he obliges.
"So easy," Asano sighs, getting out of the car and waving a hand in a 'follow me' motion. Irina throws an arm around him and Tadaomi glares at their backs. They'll make such wonderful friends. He should leave while they're distracted - wait, where are his keys?
There's a lofty giggle from Irina. Tadaomi sees her dangle his keychain in front of his eyes, and pockets it. Dammit.
“Why are we even here?” Tadaomi grumbles. It’s a high-end complex with designer brand names stretching further than he can see, and the floor has the cleanest tiles of any shopping mall he’d ever been in. There were large glass beads hanging from the ceiling, for god’s sake. He feels out of his element.
“To get you a new outfit for your date, of course,” Irina says cheerily. “This place has the best clothes, I come here all the time.”
Tadaomi knows that her fashion sense transcends his cognition but he’s slightly offended. “What’s wrong with my current outfit?” It’s a black suit. A black suit is a classic, isn’t it?
Asano turns around to stare judgmentally at Tadaomi’s daily dress choice. He looks very much like his father attempting to coerce a few more million from the government, and then raises an eyebrow at Tadaomi as if to say, are you seriously asking me this ?
Tadaomi decides to stay silent for his survival.
Irina’s been delegated to dress Tadaomi up, a task which she partakes in glee. Asano is making many calls in the picture of a young adult and not a middle school student, and Tadaomi doesn’t want to find out what they’re for.
“How’s this?” Irina says.
“Uncomfortable,” Tadaomi says, because he doesn’t want to admit that this suit is the softest thing he’d ever put on in his life. Irina herds him to the glass panel looking out into the walkway that is fortunately empty save for Asano is leaning against the banister, chatting on the phone. He surveys Tadaomi with a flat gaze and gives Irina a thumbs up.
“Why are you making me do this?” Tadaomi says.
“Don’t you want to go on a date with Asano?” Irina says, flicking through the racks. Tadaomi deliberates between grabbing his keys back or just bolting home, but they’re practically a city over and Irina’s dress is so tight there’s no way to pickpocket her without groping her. Is that why she’s wearing this?
“No,” Tadaomi says.
“Why not? Isn’t he handsome?” Irina says.
Tadaomi curls his lip. “That’s not the point.”
Irina flashes him a mischievous grin at the lack of denial. “Come on, it’s one date, and you can practice your seduction skills.”
Tadaomi sighs. “Listen, I apologize for my comment, alright? It was unwarranted. I acknowledge and admire your abilities.”
“You can’t get out of this, Tadaomi,” Irina sings. “Gakushuu’s just reserved you two a table. There’s a three digit cancellation fee, so…”
“There’s a what?!”
“Do you know how hard it is to get tables for a Michelin three star restaurant on such short notice? Kid’s got skills. Of course, I could also achieve that,” Irina hums self-satisfyingly, and looks at the shirt she picked out. Tadaomi trusts her tastes and it looks like a flattering cut, but-
“Tell me that is not a thousand dollars.”
“This is a thousand dollars,” Irina agrees.
Tadaomi grabs her arm. “We don’t have that kind of money!”
“Why does he have- isn't he fourteen- we are not buying that!”
“You’ll be hard pressed to find anything below this price range here,” Irina says. Against his protests, Asano swipes a black card which no middle schooler should ever own or be trusted with, a stance Tadaomi adamantly goes by given that he just spent five thousand American dollars on a full outfit that wasn’t even for him. How badly did he want to get his dad laid?
No! There was no going in that direction, not now, not ever!
Against his will, Tadaomi is forced into his car again, and Asano commanders his GPS. “You’re going to drive where I tell you to,” Asano says.
Like hell he is.
Tadaomi takes irrational twists and turns, selectively following Asano’s directions in a random fashion that should be unpredictable, and Tadaomi watches in dismay as they reach their destination nonetheless. He’s starting to reconsider his role as a professional. He’s going to kick his coworker and a child out into a street in the middle of a highway.
“Do you like French restaurants, Tadaomi?” Irina says.
“No,” Tadaomi says.
“I can’t believe you chose a black suit, of all things,” Asano is lamenting as he thumbs through his phone. “That’s so boring.”
Tadaomi makes an offended noise. “It’s my favorite color.”
“Boring,” Asano repeats, rolling his eyes. “That’s okay, my father is boring too. You’ll make a great couple.”
“I will not. Be dating. The. Principal,” Tadaomi says.
“Not yet,” Irina says. Tadaomi glares at her. She kicks his seat.
The key is swiped out of the ignition before Tadaomi makes his escape. He resigns to his fate as Irina all but drags him out of the car. To be fair, Tadaomi thinks, he's on a disadvantage here wearing the most expensive thing he’ll ever touch, so he doesn’t want a single scratch on the clothes. "Where are we?” Tadaomi demands.
“The restaurant,” Irina says, and Tadaomi’s eyes widen.
“Wait, now? Today?”
“Well, duh,” Irina says. “Why put it off? I already told you a reservation was made!”
“I thought you meant for like the weekend,” Tadaomi hisses at her, “it’s a school night!”
Asano pauses his conversation with the hostess at the podium turns around to stare at Tadaomi. “I was assuming you wouldn’t have any after-dinner plans, after all, since it was made clear that you have no interest in it being a date ,” he says, and Tadaomi wonders if this is what a fly feels like in a spiders web. “Unless there are certain… night activities you would be interested in partaking, instead of having a good night’s rest to prepare for lessons tomorrow?”
Before Tadaomi can reply, there’s a familiar voice behind him. “Is this seriously what you cancelled my meeting for?”
Tadaomi cringes. Irina says “hi boss!” too enthusiastically and Asano - Asano junior, rather, the distinction has to be made now that there are two of them in proximity - grins at his father, waving.
“Father,” Asano says, eyes lighting up that’s oddly cute for a little psychopath. “I got you a present!”
“It’s not a present if the gift is purchased with my own money,” Asano senior deadpans. Tadaomi glances at him from the corner of his eye and perhaps it’s the context of the situation, but he realizes that Asano truly looks stunning. He tries to purge that thought from his mind immediately.
“That’s not the present,” Asano junior says, and he skips up to Tadaomi with such an angelic expression that Tadaomi wouldn’t know was fake if he hadn’t witnessed firsthand how immensely insufferable this kid was. Asano junior pokes Tadaomi on the cheek. “He is!”
“Is he now,” Asano senior says.
“Enjoy your date!” He and Irina both say in unison, and they run off like the children they are.
Tadaomi finds himself staring awkwardly at Asano, who’s looking at him with mild curiosity. “I wasn’t aware you were interested in men,” he says.
“I’m not,” Tadaomi says quietly.
"I see," Asano hums, in a tone of voice that says he doesn't quite believe him. "Since my son has generously set this up for us and it would be a waste of," he checks his phone and makes a face, "...a small sum of money if we fail to show, shall you join me anyways? A casual dinner between acquaintances, then?"
Tadaomi's throat is oddly dry. Asano's cuff-links were really shiny. "Lead the way," he manages. Asano turns back to the hostess, who had thus far been watching with poorly concealed amusement, and she directs them to their table.
From the glass window, Irina and Asano junior pops up to wave at them. Asano senior waves back, and Tadaomi scowls at them.
"What interesting company," Asano says to that. "I wasn't aware they were acquainted."
"They weren't, until today," Tadaomi tells him. "Irina and I were in… discussion, and Asano- ah, Gakushuu, happened to be in the vicinity."
He's saved from elaborating further as their hostess comes back with a set of menus. "Can I get you two started on any drinks while you wait?"
Tadaomi stares down at the drinks menu. He's hopelessly lost.
"I don't suppose you read French," Asano interrupts. To his credit, he doesn't sound condescending in any way. "If I may?" Tadaomi nods his thanks. He doesn't know what Asano orders for him but he thinks that Irina must be laughing her ass off somewhere.
"Does, uh, Gakushuu do this often?" Tadaomi says, awkwardly wincing at the question. "Set you up, I mean."
"No," Asano says. "Although this isn't the first time he's done so. His intentions are often… vexatious, however, so this is quite a surprise. If you don't mind me asking, how did you get roped into this? Since you don't have preferences in men."
Tadaomi sighs. He hadn't spent too long with the younger Asano but him deliberately setting his father up on terrible dates already seemed greatly in character. “He happened to overhear a conversation Irina and I were having about seducing you.”
Asano’s eyes widen.
Tadaomi realizes what he just blurted. “Oh, no, I didn’t mean it like that,” he says quickly, feeling warmth rush to his ears. “I had, uh, made an offhand comment about how seduction was simple. Irina took offense and challenged me to seduce someone and she, uh, suggested you.”
Asano stares at him. Tadaomi averts his eyes.
“Your starters,” the hostess says, once again saving Tadaomi's life. He watches as Asano picks at the assortment of forks and elegantly takes a bite of the appetizers. He follows suit, feeling out of place-
“-relax,” Asano whispers to him, voice husky, and Tadaomi jerks upwards. Asano is grinning at him. He’s just like his goddamn son.
“You won’t see anybody here again,” Asano says. “The purpose of all the cutlery evade even me.” That’s a poor lie as the man himself is clearly aware of which of the seven spoons he needs to sip his soup with, but Tadaomi appreciates the attempt.
“How was work?” Asano says.
Tadaomi opens his mouth, then shuts it. Asano knew about his work. He was the principal of the school Tadaomi worked in, for god’s sake. At the look he gets, Asano rolls his eyes a little. “Well, we can’t exactly converse about the weather, can we?”
He makes a fair point. Tadaomi was terrible at small talk. “...Work was okay,” he says. “The children are doing well. The octopus and Irina are both incredibly irritating.”
Asano snorts. “3-E is advancing wonderfully,” he says, “I suppose it’s thanks to you, Karasuma.”
Tadaomi winces. Being addressed as Karasuma was such an odd feeling for this… not-date. “The credit has to be given to the octopus,” he says, and then adds on as an afterthought, “and Irina.” Even if Tadaomi was going to kill her.
“She is an excellent languages teacher,” Asano agrees, “the students are making improvements in leaps and bounds, I hear. Gakushuu is very frustrated by it. It’s strange they’re getting along.”
“Well, she is rather young,” Tadaomi points out. “She relates to the children better, I suppose. A grasp of… teenage slang, and whatnot. Sometimes in Japanese, it’s as if they’re conversing in an entirely different language.”
“Ah,” Asano nods seriously. “Memes.” He takes a sip of the wine that costs more than Tadaomi’s tie. Perhaps not? He doesn’t quite want to think about which item is more expensive, he doesn’t think his heart could handle it.
“I have a rudimentary understanding of… the teenage social media based language as well,” Asano says. “It’s rather amusing to watch the children’s interactions if you attempt to use it. I suggest you give it a try.”
“I don’t know how to use slang,” Tadaomi admits.
“The amazing thing about this is,” Asano says, “you don’t have to.” He takes on such a wicked smirk that an outsider would think they were plotting a murder, not discussing on how to make fun of their students. It makes him look devilishly handsome. Tadaomi hates himself for thinking that.
The conversation flows easily after that, mostly because Tadaomi asks about what Gakushuu thinks of his father speaking in teenage slang, which leads to entire tangents on Gakushuu himself. Tadaomi doesn’t think he’d learn that much about Asano’s son, but it’s cute to see how excited he gets discussing Gakushuu, laced with affectionate insults and calling him a brat. It’s reminiscent on how Irina discusses 3-E, sometimes. Tadaomi called her out on it once and she’d raged high hell denying any form of attachment to the children, before texting Yada confirming their dinner plans and braiding Okuda’s hair as her ponytails came apart from physical exercise.
Tadaomi doesn’t think he’d enjoy talking about politics, but Asano is a brilliant conversationalist that frames policies and controversies in an interesting light that reflects his stance as an academic.
By the third course, Asano requests he calls him Gakuhou, after Tadaomi fumbles over referring to both him and his son as “Asano” for the fourth time. It’s small but inexplicably intimate and Tadaomi finds himself reminded on the not-date they’re supposed to be on, and blushing a little, he says "call me Tadaomi, then." Asano - Gakuhou takes it in stride. He must have people falling over their feet for him all too often.
After the dinner, Gakuhou gets the check, but he’s informed happily by their hostess that it has been put on a tab. Gakuhou’s pissed about it, which is funny.
“Put on a tab ,” he says, with childish finger quotes that Tadaomi finds it hard to not giggle at. “You mean my 14 year old son who’s using my money to ‘treat’ me to a dinner that he’s chasing on my tab?”
“Well, he’s certainly prepared,” Tadaomi says.
“The boy lives to drive me insane,” Gakuhou mutters. He taps out something on his phone and they take their leave. Standing outside the restaurant in the crisp night air, Tadaomi isn’t sure what to say.
“Would you like to come to mine?” Gakuhou asks, a lilt of suggestiveness in his voice. Tadaomi feels his face heat up at the insinuation.
“I have work tomorrow,” Tadaomi says weakly.
“I know,” Gakuhou says. Right. He was his boss.
At his fluster, Gakuhou laughs. “I’m messing with you, I apologize, you are very amusing to watch. I would like to have you over for a cup of coffee but the invitation doesn’t extend to my bedroom, I’m afraid. I’m aware of your… lack of interest in men,” he says, and yeah, he doesn’t believe Tadaomi one bit. Tadaomi isn’t even sure if he believes himself . “And it would be quite a breach of professionalism if we have any sexual relations.”
Tadaomi blushes anyways, but he’s relieved. “I apologize, I thought-”
“Furthermore,” Gakuhou tacks on, “I’m fairly certain I saw those two drive away in your car.”
Wait, what?- Tadaomi empties his pockets and curses. When he looks up, Gakuhou is watching him with mirth in his eyes.
“Can Irina even fucking drive?” Tadaomi mutters. He’d never seen her commandeer a vehicle before but come to think of it, he’s fairly certain she can, but Irina had such an odd skillset it’s never certain what she can or cannot do. He’d watched her twist and turn on ice with the grace of a professional skater but falls flat on her ass on rollerskates, which are pretty much the same thing, aren’t they?
“It’s okay, Gakushuu can drive,” Gakuhou says.
“You taught him to drive?!” Tadaomi says incredulously. “He’s fourteen!”
Gakuhou shrugs. “He wanted to learn, so I didn’t see why not.” What an enigma of a father-son duo they are. Tadaomi's interested. Marginally.
When they pull into the Asano’s driveway, Tadaomi is pissed to see his car already sitting in front of the unfairly large mansion of a house, and extremely relieved to see it in pristine condition. He’s prepared to give the two a piece of his mind, yell at Irina for encouraging theft in front of the kid and demand to know who drove, but when he steps over the threshold into the living room, his heart lightens.
Irina has intricate braids in her hair, the younger Asano is wearing what is actually wonderfully applied makeup. Both of them are sporting bright manicures, wearing soft pajamas, and they're in the middle of a video game on the insanely large television. It’s actually kind of cute.
Come to think of it, despite the dubious basis for the not-date, Tadaomi actually had fun. Gakuhou was a nice conversation partner and he’d been gifted a several thousand dollar ensemble against his will. Maybe he’s not that mad at them.
Neither of them look up at their entrance, but Gakushuu says, "if you two fuck, I'm reporting you to the board of ethics."
Tadaomi face colors. Never mind, he is that mad at them. "We weren't even-"
"Get your mind out of the gutter," Gakuhou says, walking past them and tossing his keys onto the coffee table. What an oddly normal and domestic action from a man who looks like he eats, breathes and sweats professionalism - no, Tadaomi’s perception of him has changed.
Just a little bit. Gakuhou’s still his boss, after all.
"Those nail colors aren't permitted on school grounds."
"Bite my ass, old man," Gakushuu says.
"That's incest," Irina says, distracted. "Fuck! Stop cheating!"
"I'm not! I'm just better than you!"
Gakuhou rolls his eyes. Tadaomi settles in on the couch next to Irina and watches the game, which were full of flashing colors and bright lines zipping around the screen that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. How were they even following this?
Gakuhou comes to sit on the other end of the couch next to his son and scowls at the television. "Your aim is horrible," he says.
"I have an almost perfect score!" Gakushuu yells.
" Almost perfect," Gakuhou says.
Gakushuu curses. Irina twists to kick him and the two start a scuffle whilst still in the midst of the game, holding their controllers out of reach. Tadaomi ends up with a lapful of Irina as she shoves her foot in Gakushuu's face, who has all but clambered onto Gakuhou and was using him as a human shield.
"How old are both of you?!" Tadaomi snaps.
"How was the date?" Irina says. She elbows him in the ribs trying to evade Gakushuu's kick, which Tadaomi isn't sure is entirely accidental.
"It wasn't a date," Tadaomi says.
"Neither of them are legally adults yet," Gakuhou sighs long-sufferingly, and oh, right, Irina was just 20. All her childishness is suddenly put into perspective. Was he seriously co-teaching with a literal child this entire time?
"Ow!" Gakushuu yells, not accidentally smacking Gakuhou in the face. "Did you just bite me, you insane woman?"
Irina gives him a flash of her sharp teeth. "All's fair in assassination and Mario Kart!"
Tadaomi looks up. Gakuhou looks back. They share a mutual look of understanding, Gakuhou takes a long blink, and they both quickly shove the duo off them and leap to their feet.
Gakushuu and Irina go crashing into the coffee table with undignified screams. Despite himself, Tadaomi snickers.
"Fuck," Gakushuu says, as Irina clings onto him and promises a venemous working relationship with Tadaomi for the next few months. "You two are really perfect for each other."