art by @edalnem on twitter
“I didn’t expect you here”
With a twirl I turned around to the low voice that addressed me, waving my hand as a greeting and shoving my bag on the floor to free the seat for him.
His arm was raised as a reaction to my greeting and he brought up a small ‘hey’ before sitting down next to me.
The lecture hall started to fill steadily, although there weren’t as many people as normal. The seats and rows climbed up the auditorium and were made to hold up to 300 students, yet only about 30 entered with murmurs rippling through the small crowd.
Looking forward you could see five stations with chairs and makeshift walls propped up, making it impossible to look through the walls if the curtains were drawn. I was slightly confused as to why we would need something like that in an anatomy class though.
Are we going to dissect animals?
That would make sense!
AS this was a class I only took for my personal interest and not really for credit and my studies, I didn’t get to read the syllabus yet. It was hard enough to even get into this course, there were only two this semester.
What a coincidence that he was here too.
Oikawa had packed up his bag but was more quiet than usual, with a quick dip into his bag he fished out a thick black notebook with colourful small bookmarks adorned around it.
I watched him intently as he opened a certain passage and flipped through it with quick motions as he seemed to search for something. My eyes were seemingly glued to the neatly jotted notes as he grazed his fingers over the words.
“Ah”, he announced and he quickly brought up a pen to scribble something next to his bullet points.
Fully immersed as he was, I didn’t want to interrupt his moment of silence, but as he kept rereading the same passage the professor came in and his eyes drifted back to me.
Smiling fully, I expected him to say something but there was no reply in his expression.
“Is everything alright?”, I asked him.
“Huh”?, he jolted slightly but only a bit as he looked away and at me again.
“Yeah, I’m fine thank you”
There it was, his signature smile. Something felt foreign about it, like the distance between him and his surroundings getting bigger.
“Ah, I’m glad! Aren’t you excited about this class”
The pen between his fingers wiggled back and forth and his gaze grew distant as he caught the makeshift wall block at the front of the hall.
“I mean sure, it’s just a little weird I guess”, his hand trailed up to his neck as he rubbed it, “do you have to take this for biochemistry?”
Slightly taken aback I forgot I actually told him about my major.
Right, the lab.
“Nope! But I really was interested in medicine before I started biochem, so I tried to at least get into some pre-med classes on a whim!”
He chuckled lightly, but something about it all felt uncomfortable to me.
Am I missing something?
Well, are you cool with the stuff in this course? I mean”, and his gaze trailed away just a tad before meeting me again, “it’s a little intense”.
I knew this was an anatomy class, is he talking about lower parts and stuff?
Or like animals and dissections?
I get it, there’s probably a lot of people who can’t see blood or something.
“Oh no, I’m totally cool with that stuff! It’s like, natural right?”
His eyes widened for a short moment, and at this point I really thought I was imagining things, but why was he reacting so weirdly?
“Uh, yeah. Natural”, he mumbled a little lower than before.
Maybe I should lighten the mood? Is he worried?
“Like, I’ve done stuff like that before so it’s totally cool”, I nodded to myself.
It was true, I remembered that one time my mom taught me how to prepare a chicken.
That counts as dissecting.
Placing my head onto my hand leisurely I looked back at Oikawa, who now most definitely had some sort of problem.
His head was placed on the desk as he groaned.
“Wow dude, are you okay?”, I asked and got closer to him as I inhaled a whiff of really stale coffee.
He’s really stressed about something.
I mean it’s a new semester, it makes sense that he’s preoccupied.
“So…”, his voice rumbled through the desk and sounded a little dull so I held my head a little closer to him out of instinct.
“You’re experienced with this stuff? It doesn’t bother you?”
So he was worried!
I knew it.
“Totally!”, this time he snapped his head up and looked me up and down as if I was absolute batshit crazy.
You’re getting rude.
“I’- I’m sorry that’s none of my business”, he mumbled and turned to the side, and before I could retort something we both snapped our heads to the door as the professor placed his bag loudly on the desk.
Let’s just say I was shocked at the organizational part of the lecture.
Afterwards, my beet red face was buried in my hands and stale coffee turned back into the normal scent I was used to.
Still, I was probably smelling burnt at this point.
“Uhm”, I trailed slowly as I let the events of the last few minutes recap in my head.
Hands on anatomy class.
Mandatory group work.
As I looked to the side, Oikawa who had pulled out his booklet again, I caught his finger sitting on a highlighted part of his notes.
Taking a medical history: Palpations and Percussions.
His eyebrows were scrunched and he looked like he wanted to hit something, his coffee scnet strong as ever but not as fresh as I was used to.
Oh my god.
My mind was raking through the things I’ve said before, and now I realised why he was so standoffish the whole entire time.
I told him I’m experienced with this.
I told him I’ve done this before.
If it were possible to send a plea and just get swallowed whole by a gaping hole underneath me, I would gladly take the chance.
The professor kept talking about the ways to take a medical history, and that we would focus on the practical part of the anatomy and teach us how to properly examine a patient. After the organizational part which was still reverberating in my mind, he explained how we will be divided into groups and work with tutors that will teach us everything.
“The pre-meds here will need this for their medical school applications and some others of you might study law and forensics, but there’s also some of you here that are just curious. So we will take this all step by step and have a good semester ahead of us!”, he clapped into his hands and started to roll up his sleeves.
With all the thoughts in my brain I couldn’t even take the chance to observe the professor. He was of smaller height and had bristles of curly black hair and a constant smile plastered in his face.
He seemed extremely nice and from what I Still remembered from the start was that he worked a lot with athletes.
Interesting. Must be cool to have a class in which all kinds of majors and minors clash together. I really thought this was going to be a medical only class.
“So!”, and with the professor’s words five other students who were all seemingly older approached the front and each took a seat at one of the makeshift booths, “I have an alphabetized list here and as we are exactly 30 students we will form six groups of five students! I will put the names on the board and mark attendance as I go!”
My throat started to close up as I felt the reality of the situation dawning on me. No only was it possible that I had to touch a random person half-naked, or even be touched half-naked.
There will be five pairs of eyes on me while doing so.
“I mean you can still leave”, his voice made me jump as he brought me from my internal monologue and I looked to the side again. He probably either picked up my scent or just knew what to say in the moment.
Oikawa had his eyes averted a little bit but caught my panicked gaze.
He’s right. I could. I didn’t need this for credit, and it definitely wouldn’t hurt me in any way. Would be a shame for the allocated place as it took a lot of time to actually get into this course but… Nothing keeps me here.
I could go up to the professor, tell him there was a misunderstanding and I didn’t read the syllabus and I could leave! It would be easy.
I inhaled sharply as I realized the complete opposite would be true.
The professor would obviously ask me why I wanted to leave! Why would someone get into a course like this that had limited resources just to leave on the first day?! Wouldn’t that be extremely rude?
Closing my eyes I visualized myself walking to the professor, him looking at me with confusion but nodding as I walked to the door. Everyone’s eyes on me as they ask themselves why the cowards leave.
What a joke!
“No way!”, I blurt out in a whisper.
No way I’m giving this up now. I wanted to take a course like this and I signed up for it to be grueling or gross, this is just a medical thing.
I caught Oikawa still looking at me, and when I turned around in my seat to him he looked a little taken aback.
He’s here too.
I can totally do this.
“I-It’s fine I’m staying”, my voice didn’t sound as steady as I wanted it to, so I threw out a forced smile to appear totally fine.
I might just get groped.
All of the concerns resurface again before they were cut off by the professor calling my name out.
“Here!”, I called and walked downwards in the direction of the booths. With a nod he acknowledged me and ushered me towards the last booth.
A tutor was already sitting there, and to my surprise she was female. At least that made me more comfortable and she greeted me with a smile.
She was sitting on a stool that was surrounded by a half circle of five others, presumably for us. She gestured for me to sit down and we waited for the rest of the students to be assigned.
“Hello”, she chimed at the other students and I noticed Oikawa with them.
Of course. Alphabetical order.
I slumped my shoulders that were way too tense just to relieve some pressure, but it really didn’t help. Mx heart was still thrumming, and I wasn’t sure if it was anticipation or anxiety. My feet kicked upwards in a rhythm as I waited, and I felt a shift next to me as Oikawa sat down.
“Okay, that should be everyone!”, the girl chimed and introduced herself with a sweet tone, “My name is Misaki Hana and I am a first year med student. Today we will start off again like Takeda said with palpations and percussions!”
A rumble went through the group and I caught some other younger girls and guys looking very intimidated by this whole ordeal.
“First and foremost, I can understand that you’re all nervous and I’m totally okay if you guys are hesitant, but”, and she let her words hang in the room before her gaze turned very serious, “I expect you all to respect each other and be mature. Whoever is sitting on my stool soon will be in a very vulnerable position. No playing around, alright?”
We all nodded in unison and Misaki gave us a look of approval before looking around.
“Allright, I will get right to it and show you guys what we will be doing. Every session we will have someone else on the ‘hot seat’ so it stays fair to all”.
She grabbed a couple of utensils from a side table, one of them being a fuzzy stick that almost looked like a Q-tip.
“As most of you only know of palpations from textbooks at best, I’m gonna go with a male first to make all of this a little easier alright? Ladies, your time is coming too, no worries”.
I wasn’t sure if I should be glad or even more terrified, as I was surely not being groped today but the future still hung loosely in front of me.
Also, what if I have to palpate?
“Can I have you please?”, I followed Misaki’s finger to see who she was referring to, but before I could register anything, Oikawa already got up with a nod and walked towards her.
Oh my god.
My whole body tensed and my ears felt like they were filled with cotton as I could only observe Misaki’s conversation with Oikawa. SOmething about only the top and ‘we’re starting light today’ and before I registered the rest he grabbed the hem of his shirt and threw it over his head.
As his head popped out of the shirt he shook his head vigorously and laughed a little with the fabric in his hands.
“You’re quick at that huh?”
Misaki’s comment made me raise a brow and look at Oikawa’s reaction, who started to fold the shirt and gently place it on the side table.
“Ah, well quick changes happen often as an athlete”, he reassured and sat down on the stool.
As if the whole situation just shifted, I caught his eyes when he turned to face us all.
His Adam’s apple bobbed as he sat there exposed, his skin completely soft and clear.
I felt my face heating up out of embarrassment when he smirked a little bit, and my eyes immediately wandered into another direction.
Mhm. That’s a nice floor.
“Well, before I start. I know it’s pretty uncomfortable. But this will in some dorts be your job soon. Be professional. You need to look, feel and access to actually learn.
My head whipped up and I found our tutor standing behind Oikawa, her hands on the sides of his neck.
“You inspect the neck first. Prod with all fingers at the sides then move up just below his jawline right here. Why?”
“We check for the lymph nodes?”, a guy answered and Misaki hummed a yes.
Her fingers trailed down to his shoulders and kept pushing into the flesh with calculated moves.
For a second I totally forgot where we were, because the bits of information and the actual praxis of the palpations looked extremely interesting. It reminded me of the moments where I wanted to study medicine myself.
“Now we move to the chest with the percussions. One hand splayed on one side of the chest, the other hand makies a sudden and limb movement to knock against your own middle finger”, she demonstrated the move as a hollow sound bounced through the small booth. I looked at the tutors movements.
Not in a single moment did I actually look into Oikawa’s face again, but immediately after I thought that I instinctively stole a glance.
As if it were nothing, he looked around the room or followed the traces of Misaki’s hands, obviously a little nervous but more bashful than anything else.
Something about that irked me, did he not care about being touched in front of all of us?
Maybe that was the professionals Misaki was talking about.
“Alright! All done! Was that so bad?”, she looked at us as we shook our heads and at Oikawa who had his arms leisurely hangin in his lad as he smiled and shook his head as well.
“Okay then, you’re up!”
Oikawa’s smile fell as Misaki ushered me to the stool, and I realised that all of that was just the first step to the lecture.
This was just the beginning.
“You have to actually palpate the skin, if you can’t feel the tissue you won’t be able to diagnose”
“Y-Yes”, I rasped out as my hands pushed a little harder into Oikawa’s shoulders.
What is happening.
My mind was racing with all the comments Misaki was making, as I tried to follow her instructions thoroughly. Meanwhile Oikawa was just hangin his head low, probably to be more comfortable as I nearly stabbed his back.
I knew where the lines were supposed to be, I knew where to push as Misaki instructed me, but with every centimeter that I had to go lower I felt a shift in his body.
Sometimes it was just a shiver and I apologized, sometimes it was a sudden but very light spasms when I prodded near his chest.
“Okay, now just finish it off with two percussions on his chest to check what?”
“The lungs?”, I asked quietly and I felt a rumble on my hands as Oikawa snickered.
“We check for fluid in the lungs”, he rumbled beneath me and I pursed my lips.
That’s basically what I said.
With a strong push I placed my hand on his chest a little too quickly, and I hadn’t realised that I actually touched his nipple until he cleared his throat.
I swallowed my absolute embarrassment and just quickly knocked against my own fingers to check the lungs, and when Misaki nodded in approval I turned away immediately and sat down on my assigned seat.
With a quick peak I looked up to Oikawa, who I was ready to look smugly back at me, but something closed in my throat as I saw the slight blush creeping on his cheeks.