Disclaimer: Digimon is copyrighted by Akiyoshi Hongo and was produced by Toei Animation, Bandai, and Disney. The plot is the only thing I own, and no profit is being made in any way through this story.
Making the Grade
Every student within the classroom gossiped quite loudly today. Wherever looked, groups of teenagers eagerly conversed with each other. Some had mild bewilderment, while others showcased complete excitement.
"So what do you think Ms. Asagi will be showing us today?" wondered Takato Matsuki while playing with his school uniform, which was a black long-sleeve shirt and dark gray pants.
"I don't know," replied Kazu Shiota, his eager face hovering above. "But rumor has it that it's gonna be really good."
Jeri Katou, in a black shirt and black knee-length skirt (the traditional female uniform for high school), looked back, doubtful. "You believe so, Kazu?"
"I don't think so, Jeri," he replied, tapping the trademark visor with his right hand. "I know so."
Just then, the door creaked open, and everyone quieted, and Kazu slunk back into his seat (his visor stuffed into his backpack).
Ms. Nami Asaji, in a bright yellow shirt and white pants, walked to her desk with a smile on her face and directed herself to her students.
"Good afternoon, class."
"Good afternoon, Ms. Asaji."
Nami eyed the fifteen-year-olds' faces. "From the happy expressions, I believe you all had a good day today?"
As people responded with approval, a male student's right hand waved above from the middle of the class.
"Rumor has it that you were gonna show us something interesting today," he said, and every student (especially Kazu) began waiting anxiously for the answer.
"Yes, Kaoru, you're right," nodded Nami, "I do have something interesting for all of you today, and it's a real treat, too."
With her left hand, she opened a drawer and placed a white box onto her desk.
"Late last week, the National Museum has given the whole school permission to show all the students a special form of fossil."
The class began exclaiming words of excitement, but was quieted after a "Shh!"
"Now that every class before us has had the ability to see what the fossil was, it's now our turn to see it and discuss it."
The class became silently giddy.
"And if you all wondered why you didn't exactly know about the fossil, it was because that everyone, students and higher ups alike, was been placed under a gag order: No one was allowed to talk about it to anyone who attended this school until either the tour ended or that they've seen the fossil themselves."
Some scattered "Oh's" were heard.
"So that's why no one mentioned anything specific about it," murmured Kazu to Kenta Kitagawa beside him.
"This tour must've been taken very seriously, then," agreed Takato to himself.
Another "Shh!" from Nami killed the noise.
"Now since everything is talked about," she said and, with both hands, lifted the cover, "I like to show you the mentioned fossil."
After putting the cover down, she extended her right hand, delicately grabbed its contents, and lifted it.
"Now, I want this passed around so everyone can see it," she instructed as she walked to the first row on her right and handed it down.
One by one, everyone was soon getting the opportunity to witness the fossil, and this contributed to a huge variety of reactions. Some expressed complete amazement, others showed signs of confusion, and quite a few felt that there was no need to see this fossil in the first place.
"Here ya go, Takato," said a female student several minutes later and motioned to her right.
"Thanks," said the goggle-head, accepting the offer, and began examining the fossil with a sudden glimmer in his eyes.
"What is it?" asked Jeri, leaning over.
Takato turned to her.
"It's a fossil that I've been wanting to see for a long time," he replied.
"It is?" interrupted Kazu.
The Matsuki child nodded. "Take a close look at the shiny side."
He passed it back, and Kazu started looking at it.
What he saw was a rock fragment at about seven inches long and four inches wide. The shiny side exposed several lines similar to wood grains, and various minerals illuminated brightly when directly underneath light.
After passing it off to a male student behind him, he tapped Takato on the shoulder.
"Dude… sorry to mention this," he whispered, disappointed, "but I really don't see anything 'special' regarding the rock."
Takato chuckled. "But there is something unique about the rock."
"No, there isn't," retorted Kazu, shaking his head. "The rock looks very ordinary."
"…Well, I don't know, Kazu," pondered Kenta while tapping his chin. "There was something odd about it, but I'll need to look at it personally before coming with a conclusion."
Sure enough, the emerald-haired Tamer soon got the opportunity to view the fossil himself, and while looking at it, he yelped out of surprise, and his black eyes looked like they were about to fall out of its sockets and onto on the floor!
"I was indeed right," he exclaimed breathlessly. "There is something strange about this rock, after all."
Kazu maneuvered his body to the right. "How is that, Kenta? Everything's normal about his so-called 'fossil.'"
"Yes, it looks normal," Kenta replied. "But it really isn't."
He turned to Jeri in front of him.
"Just look at the center," he said and handed it off to her.
The girl obliged and inspected the middle. As Kenta predicted, she, too, expressed some surprise.
"Wow, you're right, Kenta," she said. "Something about the center of the fossil really does stand out… But I don't know what it is, though," she added with a frown.
Nami chuckled, her arms behind her back, and Jeri looked up. "Don't worry, Jeri, you and everyone else will find out in a few minutes."
Afterwards, the female Tamer child passed it to another student, and the inspection continued until everyone else got the chance to view this mysterious fossil.
"Here you go, Ms. Asaji," said a female student with bushy black hair as she laid the rock inside the white box.
"Thanks, Ayumi," replied Nami, and the student went back to her seat, a curious expression on her face. "So, class, what did you think about reviewing this rock?"
A student from the back raised his hand. "Ms. Asaji, what's so special about it? It looks like a normal piece of rock fragment to me."
Many students, Kazu included, nodded in agreement, making Nami laugh for some reason.
"I expected a lot of you to react like this," she admitted. "According to scientists in the Natural Museum, many kids from infants to teenagers have had no idea what this fossil is until it's explained to them."
A couple of kids from the middle responded with a "Huh?" while some others reacted with an "Oh."
"So, what is this fossil, Ms. Asaji?" wondered Jeri.
Confusion resonated throughout the classroom.
The crowd quieted at once.
"I think your health teacher has recently talked about how and why your body excretes, right, class?"
"Just like us, every living thing on this planet, including plants, excrete, too. Unlike animals, however, plants excrete in the forms of Oxygen when under sunlight, Carbon Dioxide when in complete darkness, and dew during the process of transpiration. The thing is that, unlike us animals, plants recycle some of its 'waste' to strengthen themselves during very grueling times.
"The talk about 'waste' leads me back to the fossil." She picked it up again and showed its shiny side to the class. "Can you all see traces of brown in the center, everyone?"
The teenagers responded with approval.
"The brown traces are a dinosaur's defecation, which has since become fossilized."
Murmuring erupted the classroom again.
"Ahem!" called Nami, and the chattering died, but not all the action was through. "Yes, Kazu?"
"So let me get this straight, Ms. Asaji. All this hype, all this excitement, all this attention was really about reviewing nothing more than fossilized dinosaur dung?!"
Nami nodded, ignoring his impatient tone. "Exactly."
"Holy crap, that's so cool!"
Unfortunately, his last three words were drowned out, and every student suddenly roared into loud, hysterical laughter.
Kazu looked on, confused. "What's going on?" he wondered, his voice a little louder than normal. "Why's everyone laughing so hard all of a sudden?"
Jeri looked back, her lips forming into a big grin. "I think it's because of that pun you made regarding the dinosaur coprolite," she replied, chuckling.
"Pun? What pun—?" asked Kazu… but stopped short. "Oh, no!!"
And there it was. The bold, slightly cocky Kazu Shiota was suddenly becoming embarrassed. His hands covered his mouth, his cheeks flushed bright red, and his head hung in shame. And it was all because of an inadvertent pun regarding the dinosaur coprolite.
"Me and my big mouth!" he thought angrily. "Me and my big, stupid, fat mouth."
From her desk, Nami Asaji kept a straight face, although this was slowly changing.
"You've really outdone yourself this time, Kazu," she thought, slightly amused, while eyeing the crowd. "I think I'll give the class a couple of minutes so they can calm themselves down from all the hysterics; I really need to think about what to assign them for homework over the weekend."
Once the laughter died down, Nami and the rest of the class began talking about the fossil. Like where it was found and which dinosaur did it belong to. Then, Takato mentioned a very interesting fact about the coprolite, which made Nami nod: Some jewelry, like necklaces, was indeed made out of this special fossil, and the rest of the students became intrigued. Since dinosaur coprolite was all everyone talked about since the pun, a conversation about jewelry made out of it and its possible value made a lot of sense.
"Okay, everyone," Nami instructed after checking the wall clock above the entrance, "our one-hour class has just come to an end, and school's finished for today!"
A brief groan from the students was quickly silenced.
"For homework, I want all of you to write a minimum three-page report regarding dinosaur coprolite, and it's due Monday morning. And please, proofread your essay carefully. I've been getting many papers that are riddled with spelling and grammar errors, and it's becoming very annoying lately. You don't want your grades to continually slip to where you'd have to retake the grade, do you?"
"Good," she nodded, "so be responsible, okay?"
Afterwards, everyone began placing their books and papers into their backpacks, and many had soon exited the classroom quicker than a burst of wind.
Takato, Jeri, Kenta, and Kazu were the only kids left inside.
"Hey, I forgot to tell you," said Jeri happily. "Father, my stepmother, and my brother, Masahiko, are all having a very big dinner at eight o'clock tonight, and they wanted me to invite you and your Digimon over."
"If there's bread the shape of his head, Guilmon would be running to your house in an instant," said Takato and hoisted his backpack.
"Yes, Takato, there is going to be Guilmon Bread," smiled Jeri. "Your dad gave us a copy of the recipe so we could do it ourselves."
"Then we're coming!" the goggle-head exclaimed, making Jeri chuckle.
"What about you, Kenta?" she continued.
"I'll come over, too, Jeri," beamed Kenta and adjusted his glasses. "MarineAngemon's feeling very bored lately, and this is a perfect excuse for him to get excited."
"We'd like that," said Jeri. "And Rika, Ryo, and their Digimon have also agreed to come over. Unfortunately, Henry, his siblings, and Ai and Mako will be absent. All are very busy, and their weekend will become even tougher. So, how about you, Kazu?"
Kazu had his head hanging pitifully, but after being asked, he shot up and looked at the cheery trio.
"Oh, I'll come, too," he replied. "I need my mind off school every once in a while."
Everyone giggled from his quip, and they all said their good-byes for now.
Kazu, however, was just beginning to stand up from his chair. The merry in his face was all gone, replacing it with remorse and pity. His cheeks, while no longer that red anymore, still tinted bright pink (the redness had since traveled to his ears). And he had now wished to replace his visor – which remained in his backpack – for a paper bag that had taken a trip to the landfill.
"I need to do the right thing, just so I won't feel guilty anymore," he thought and looked at Nami Asaji, who had placed the box back in the drawer and was taking papers out from her travel bag underneath the desk.
After packing everything up, he walked slowly to her.
Nami looked up. "Yes, Kazu?"
The Shiota child gulped.
"I wanna apologize to you for what I said earlier."
"Apologize?" Nami blinked confusedly. "What for?"
"For saying 'crap.'"
"Oh," realized Nami. "Your 'holy crap' pun from the beginning of the session.'"
Kazu looked down, a cross expression on his face, and Nami became bewildered again.
"Kazu, are you okay?"
He raised his head up after hearing her voice. "The thing about the pun, ma'am, was that I wasn't intending for it to be a pun. I was being very serious when I said that phrase. Their reactions did not only catch me off-guard, but it made me…" his face burned red again, "…really embarrassed."
The moment he let his head dangle he heard noise again. It did not sound as if it was crying, but it did not feel like it was pity, either. It was something else, something with a lot of action, a lot of emotion. And he found out once he straightened up again.
"Oh, great, now you're laughing, too?!" he whined as he saw Nami laughing hysterically. "It must be 'Let's All Laugh at Kazu's Mistakes' Day today, I believe."
Nami's uncontrollable laughter slowly ceased after his sarcastic remark.
"Sorry about that, Kazu," she said, her grin a stain on her face. "It's just that hearing you being serious made it really funny."
Kazu raised an eyebrow. "I see nothing funny about it, other than an admission of someone insulting me."
"But that's the thing, Kazu," said Nami, shaking her head, "it's not. Accidental humor is normal, and in some cases, it can even be funnier than intended jokes. Yes, it's normal to feel embarrassed by it at times, but it's not worth it to lament about it or feel like you want to hide out for the next several days."
There was a long silence.
"So, I was worried for basically nothing, then?" asked Kazu while trying to keep a straight face.
"Not exactly," corrected Nami. "Just don't overreact over a harmless situation."
"Oh." His tone indicated that he was feeling much better… but he still needed one more thing to straighten out.
"I like to ask another question. Why are you not even upset that I even swore in your class? Why wasn't I punished or scolded for it?"
Nami found herself laughing again, which bewildered him.
"Kazu, this is not elementary school," she replied after calming down. "If you were three to four grades lower, whether it was aimed at someone or not, I would've given you detention instantly. But in this situation, you're in high school, the word 'crap' wasn't intended to be used to personally insult anyone, and words like 'crap,' 'damn,' and 'hell' at this level of education are usually NOTHING in this complex! But if you swore in an even stronger word, whether it was supposed to insult someone or not, THEN I would've taken swift action against you."
Kazu was speechless.
"So… I'm off the hook for this case?"
Nami nodded with a hum. "But next time, try to not only refrain from using words that are too strong for your age, but try not to swear for the sake of others, too. Sometimes, there are unwritten rules that should never be broken."
"Gotcha," replied Kazu and did a military salute, which resulted in both parties briefly chuckling.
After both silenced, Kazu eyed a small stack of papers located on the left side of the desk.
"Ms. Asaji, what are all these papers here?" he asked her and pointed at it with his right index finger.
Nami eyed the pile.
"Those are last week's essays that still need to be graded."
Kazu mouthed out "Wow" as she explained to him. "And has the grading been very difficult lately?"
Nami sighed, disgruntled.
"You have no idea."
Curiosity ran through his mind.
"May I look through a couple of them while you begin grading?"
"Be my guest, Kazu," said Nami. "Just promise not to tease anyone, okay?"
"I promise," grinned Kazu. "Although I'd love to do so if allowed."
With that, he grabbed the paper on top and began reading.
"WHAT THE HELL!!!"
Nami put her pen down on the graded essay before her and looked up. Apparently, either it was a slip of the tongue or he forgot about the "unwritten rule" already. "What's the matter?"
Kazu did all he could to keep his glance on the paper. "You're telling me that someone… in this class… TYPED THIS THING?!!"
He could no longer muster the ability to prevent him from straining his eyes any longer, and he handed Nami the paper, who took a few glances.
"I hate to say it, Kazu," she said sadly, "but someone literally did type the essay this way."
Little exhales from the Tamer followed. "But how could anyone be able to type an essay that looked similar to a godforsaken chatroom?"
"I don't know," replied Nami Asaji, "but unfortunately, there are un-graded essays that are written worse than what you're currently seeing."
Kazu fought hard to keep himself from being pull down by the magnet underneath the floor. "You've got to be KIDDING ME!!"
"Wanna look through the pile again so you can see it for yourself?"
The magnet finally won the battle, as his head comically smashed against the wooden floor.
"I think I'll save myself from witnessing all the horror, thank you."
Nami rolled her eyes. "Thanks a lot."
"Don't mention it," laughed Kazu. "Really, don't."
The end of the conversation resulted into some more laughter. And after what was perhaps a bit of an anxious, angry, guilty talk on his part, everything seemed to have mellowed down and became nice, calm, happy, and peaceful— Well, sort of.
Suddenly, clicking on was the light bulb within his mind.
"Ms. Asaji, has my paper been graded yet?"
The teacher suddenly stopped writing and laid the pen down on the paper.
"I don't think so."
The light bulb evolved into a miniature star.
"If it hasn't been graded yet, could you do so after this one?"
All words left her after hearing that. Of all she thought he was going to say, this was not one of them. Never did she prepare herself for his question. It was not thought of, not even close. She was expecting something else, namely something a little more arrogant. But after seeing him becoming humble all of a sudden, she began wondering whether it was someone disguising himself as Kazu in the first place. Because this was not the Kazu she knew of from a while ago. Therefore, it was going to take a little time to let the surprise sink in and consider the option.
"You know, Kazu," she said in a slow tone, "I like your idea. If it hasn't been graded yet, we'll do so after I finish this one…" she glanced at the page, "…and I'm just about done with this one, anyway."
Nami laughed at his cheer. He might be a teenager, but from his passion, he was still at kid at heart. And she hoped it was going to remain there until he graduated.
After finishing the paper's corrections and finalizing its okay grade, something entered her mind.
"Kazu, you've been standing for a while. Maybe you could sit down so you can rest?"
The Shiota child became confused. "Where, though? I don't wanna sit in my usual class spot."
"Not there, silly," laughed Nami. "I was thinking if you could sit next to me so we can discuss your paper while I grade it."
Kazu smiled wide. "I like that," he said, but quickly frowned, "but how can I sit there when these benches are nailed to the floor?"
She pointed the end of her pen to the wall at the back of the classroom. "You can use that spare metal folding chair back there, if that's okay."
Kazu wasted no time, as he ran to the back of the room, picked up the metal chair, and returned.
"Ya know, Ms. Asaji," smiled Kazu as he unfolded the chair on her right, "while you invited me to sit next to you, I thought you were gonna allow me to sit on your lap."
The oxygen within her stalled.
"You thought I would let you sit on my lap?" she gasped.
"Well, from the twinkle in your eyes, I thought that was exactly what you were going to say," he answered innocently.
For some reason, Nami grinned wickedly, and she flicked a strand of hair away from her face. "If that's so, were you believing that you'd enjoy doing so?" she joked.
Kazu backed up two steps. "Eh… no."
"Riiight. Sure you wouldn't enjoy it."
Shaking his head (and trying his best to stifle a loud laugh), he slunk into his chair and crossed his legs, his right leg over his left. Talking with Nami was indeed entertaining, and it was right in his alley, too. Teasing each other in a friendly manner during the conversation would really fit, in his opinion, and the humorous jabs between them provided all the entertainment.
"So this is done," Nami said and placed the graded paper aside. "Now let us see if your paper is one of those needed to be graded."
With that, she grasped onto the stack, brought it up to her, and began flicking each page. One by one, she murmured whom the papers belonged to, and she did so very carefully to make sure nothing was overlooked. Thus far, nothing named "Kazu" was uttered, and this made him wonder whether his paper was indeed graded or not.
He directed himself to her.
"Here it is. Kazu Shiota's essay." She took out a four-page paper from the middle of the pile and flipped the pages to see if there was anything written by her. "Nope. No notes."
Kazu kept his external composure, but he felt very excited inside.
Nami noticed the inner-joy, but said nothing about it. "Are we ready to begin grading your essay?"
"By all means," grinned Kazu.
After put the stack aside, she placed his down before her and began reviewing.
"From the first glance, I can tell that you're going to do very well," she said.
Kazu's grin widened. "You think so?"
"Definitely. To be honest, actually," she added before he could say anything, "you, Takato, Jeri, and Kenta have all done well throughout the trimester thus far, and all the essays – including the assignment from last week – have received very excellent scores… In fact, you four are in the top seven for best grades in my class and in the top ten for best grades in this trimester overall."
"No, I'm not," she replied and commenced reading silently.
Kazu, though, could not verbally contain himself.
"Takato, Jeri, Kenta, and I have some of the best grades! YES!!"
Nami detected his thoughts and chuckled after she noticed him pumping his fist.
"You could only keep him calm for so long, which is one reason why he's been a very great student."
"And in fact, one of you four has the best grade overall, for BOTH categories."
A loud gasp followed.
"Way, Kazu," she said, her eyes on the paper. "And do you want to know who it is?"
He nodded vigorously.
"Well, let me give you a couple of clues for you to think about. He's very bright, likes to think despite not liking to do so, doesn't take anything trivial too seriously sometimes, and everyone just can't help but admire him."
He began thinking. The clues were a little puzzling, as they were so vague. But he knew who was not one of them: Jeri. For a long time, he was certain she had the best grade during the trimester and Ms. Asaji's class, and it disappointed him that she was not it. For the other three, himself including, this was really difficult. After knowing each other for so long, it was tough to notice the differences. They each had the very same traits, although it all varied depending on that one's personality. As a result, the clues confused him quite a bit.
"I don't know, Ms. Asaji, I'm sorry," he concluded at last.
Nami scribbled something down and eyed him with a smile.
"You, Kazu, have the best grades in both categories."
If anything would floor him, this was it. Him… Kazu, bright, cheery, and a little arrogant… had the best grade in Ms. Asaji's class? And on top of that, he had the best grade in this entire trimester, as well? Oh, this was a mistake. He was certain of it. Either the computer system suffered a massive glitch or she was lying in order to brighten his hopes up more, a lot more. It just had to be one of those two choices. No way was he that smart.
"Y-You must be t-telling the wrong p-person," he stuttered. He tried the best he could to form anything coherent, but the options were fading fast. "Y-Y-You must be thinking s-someone else had the b-best g-g-grades, n-n-not me."
"No, Kazu, I'm not." Nami shook her head, her eyes closed. "The stats, past essays, exams, perfect class participations, and no getting into detentions have proven to me that you indeed are the best student in the school." And before he could refute anything (which was impossible by now), she opened her eyes and added, "And I have checked the computers, too, and they've all worked well. No glitch, no virus, no nothing was found inside to manipulate the school computer system. It has all been genuine."
Kazu's response was only a few brief babbles. His ability to speak had completely disappeared.
Nami could only shake her head while watching it all unfold. One of her regular students had gone from the dumps to being the smartest of them all. It could only take both a will to perform at his best and a small miracle for him to do so well in school, especially since he hated it half the time. And in conclusion, she did all she could to prevent herself from shedding a tear.
To be honest, the afternoon provided a golden opportunity for both of them to talk to each other.
Nami rarely talked to her students in any time besides class; very few had entered her office, a place she rarely went to, anyway. She preferred to do her work where it was most comfortable and less boring: in front of her desk inside the classroom. And with no more lessons taught in the entire school for today, all the pressure for her grading the essays was absent. As for Kazu, she believed he was a really great kid, and it was not because she thought so. It was because she knew so. She knew he had the capabilities of being smart since the beginning, he just never showed it— Not until about three years ago, when the crisis against the D-Reaper ended. It was not until afterward did he show off his intelligence, and, boy, did he pick the right time for it. He was not going to regret it, and she was going to make sure of that.
Kazu, meanwhile, never had many conversations with a teacher; from the clock, this was the longest conversation he had had with any teacher. From what he could remember, neither he nor Ms. Asaji got along that well. As he recalled, they always gave each other a jab or two, and on Kazu's side, the jokes were a little insensitive. (But because all this happened outside school grounds, she could not punish him for it.) This talk, however, made him quickly regret ever uttering the insults. Yes, there were a few jokes landed here or there, but rather than the usual punches prior, they were merely playful rubs on the head and in the heart. The disrespect was missing, and kindness replaced it. He really welcomed the change, because it provided a way to start anew, a path to begin a new friendship. This time, though, he would be more humble and sensitive rather than hurt her feelings. And there was no way he was going to break up this mended bind. Not after today.
He directed his attention to her after hearing her slightly low voice, and what he saw was a face that contained slightly glossy eyes.
"…You've really outdone yourself with last week's paper. You've shown nothing but success, and this paper reflects it."
"It does?" wondered Kazu and finally uncrossed his legs.
Nami nodded and handed the paper to him.
When his eyes scanned the notes and checkmarks, she was telling the truth. He was really succeeding in school, and the positive comments only reflected it.
However, when he checked the top of the first page, he realized that he really did outdo himself…
A grade of "100" was written above the title.
"Oh, my god…"
Nami put her pen down.
"Yes, Kazu. The quality of last week's paper has earned you your first A-plus."
But he had no more words to utter. The surprise was just too much for him.
At last, his emotions returned, and it all came in one action.
Like a camera flashing, he quickly lunged out of his chair and tightly embraced the young woman around the neck, and a couple of happy tears fell from his eyes.
"Hey, hey!" she exclaimed as she performed her best to prevent herself from crashing onto the floor. "You can thank me all you want, but take it easy!"
Realizing what he had just done, he released his grip on her and stood up, a blush tinting his face.
"S-Sorry, Ms. Asaji," he said slowly. "I-I was just overcome from enjoyment for a second."
Nami chuckled and pushed herself up from her chair.
"It's all right, Kazu," she said with a small smile. "Now that I think of it," she added while tapping her chin, "I'm glad that you expressed yourself this way, because it showed me just how much your hard work has paid off and how much you take your homework seriously."
Kazu grinned widely, his teeth exposed, and he looked at the "100" once more. He had to agree with her about him not taking homework for granted, although he still disliked it somewhat. "Nami," he said, "I like to thank you for already giving me a day I'm never going to forget."
"You're welcome, Kazu," she replied with a small bow of the head. "And I'll have to admit that I had a great time talking with you today. It's been a great experience conversing with one of my students, something I rarely do nowadays."
Kazu pondered. "Maybe we can talk to each other again some other time?"
"I'd be honored," she said.
"Good." He put the paper in his backpack and looked up at the clock above the door, which read "3:15," according to its arms. "I think it's time for me to go. My parents will be worried about me."
She followed his gaze.
"I think you're right," she said and looked down. "And from what I recall, I heard that you and several of your friends accepted Jeri's invitation in coming over and having dinner at her house later tonight."
"Shoot! I forgot about it!" While crying out, he slapped his forehead with his right hand. "Good thing Guardromon's capable of flying very quickly in case I'm late."
Nami chuckled upon hearing that, which Kazu caught.
"Okay, then," he said, regaining his composure, and he swung his bag off the ground and secured the straps around his back. "I'll be off now."
"So I'll see you again on Monday, then."
Kazu gave her a "thumbs up." "Without a doubt."
Nami replied with a happy nod.
However, as he began approaching the door, he stopped and turned to her again.
"Ms. Asaji, may I ask you one more thing before I go?"
Nami wrapped her arms behind her back. "Anything."
The fifteen-year-old absentmindedly scratched his head.
"I was wondering…" he started, "…if we could hug again."
Nami slightly jumped; like the previous suggestion, this was also unexpected. Today had provided her a few surprises, and this one topped them all. A student asking her to be willingly hugged was the last thing she thought of.
Finally, she unclasped her hands and walked two steps towards him.
"Of course, Kazu."
A big grin appeared on his face, and he soon found himself tightly hugging her. This time, though, Nami returned the favor, as she wrapped her arms around him, too.
Moments later, their hug broke, and Kazu bolted his way out the door and into the hallway.
"See ya next week!" he shouted out as his voice quickly quieted.
"Bye, Kazu!" she called back just as she heard his footsteps slowly go. "And remember to bring your completed essay on Monday!!"
"I WILL!!" were his last words before silence fell again.
Afterwards, she took a longer glance at the clock.
"I think it's time for me to get going, too," she said to herself.
With that, she began putting her students' essays back in her bag. She had planned to complete at least twenty-five percent of the papers today, but talking with Kazu forced her to forego it. Nevertheless, she hadn't minded, for her and Kazu's conversation made her day worthwhile.
But if there was anything to remember, it was that she had learned a very important lesson today, and that did not include teaching her students about dinosaur coprolite.
"It was great talking to one of my students, like he and I were very close friends… Forming a friendship with my students isn't something I've ever done. After today, however… I think I'm going to give that a chance."
And she swore to make sure of that.
Author's Note: What do you think about the story? Please review to tell me your thoughts about it.