It was not so much curiosity that consumed them as the boy came bursting through the door demanding their attention, as it was annoyance. Balls had to be caught and stopped, conversations halted, plane construction cancelled indefinitely and guitar riffs paused right at their peak. The boy noticed none of this as he stood grinning at the front of the room. All he could see was the glory of a good scoop.
"Well?! What is it?" a voice demanded of him.
"He's got nothing, just ignore him" came another.
But the class lingered, expecting. Waiting.
"You better do something! You're wasting our time!"
The boy grinned further still. In his hand he held a rolled up piece of paper, the size of a small poster. He loved the feeling of building tension. He would enjoy it a few moments longer.
"That's it!" came the roar of the crowd as they began to leap out of their seats in an effort to disarm the boy who had unwittingly interrupted their study time.
"QUIET!" came an alarmingly commanding voice from the back. The class of 3-D turned to see Sawada Shin standing at the back of the room. Sawada loped over to his chair and sat down.
"He's had his fun. He'll show us now," he said, indicating to the boy. "Won't you?"
The boy at the front of the room swept the shaggy, unkempt hair from his eyes and nodded at Sawada.
"You know it."
He turned back to the rest of the class who were inches away from beating him to a bloody pulp and held up what was in his hand.
"This, gentlemen, is perhaps the greatest piece of…let's call it information that you will receive all year. Not only will it restore your faith in women, but deep in your hearts, you will feel a sort of tenderness towards the schooling system that has clearly not failed us as we believe."
"Is that a threat?" Came an angry cry.
The boy paused, confused. "Wha… no. I'm just saying…"
At the back of the room, Sawada sighed and rolled his eyes.
The boy at the front, sensing he was in imminent danger of losing the crowd, unravelled the poster and attached it to the chalk board with a series of quick movements.
There was a great pause before shouts of appreciation and slaps on the back were delivered to the victorious barer of good news.
"Whoa, where'd you find this piece of meat?!"
The poster revealed a picture taken from behind of a woman who was turning, unknowingly, to face the camera. She wore a surprisingly sensuous look across her face which was strict, stern; yet representing neither anger nor hatred. It was a look that simply registered a situation which lacked the necessity for excessive emotion. She adorned a svelte full length, figure hugging backless black dress which complimented and accentuated all the right curves, but left an air of mystery about her which the crowd found pleasing. Her long hair was out and fanned across her bare back. On her pouting lips she wore a deep, come-hither red.
The crowd was too busy hooting to notice the real good news. It was only when Sawada lifted his head from his desk that he found it necessary to do a double take and rise slowly from his desk.
The class grew silent as they finally took in the obvious. The boy took his cue and stepped forward.
"That's right boys. This is none other than our dorky, sweatsuit wearing, pig-tailed, utterly unappealing homeroom teacher. Did I not promise a restored faith in the education system?"
"It has to be a fake. You stuck her head on someone else's body again didn't you?"
"I guarantee I did not. That photo is pure, 100 nature's home grown. That picture, this whole revelation boys, is what is commonly referred to as a miracle."
The class had only a few moments to swallow the information before the sound of footsteps and a distant "Fight-oh, oh!" echoed in the hallway.
"Quick! Move! Move! Move!"
The class raced back to their seats, the was poster ripped from the board and stuffed in the nearest locker just in time before the door opened and a cheery Yankumi bounced into the room.
She faltered, noticing her entire class was sitting, watching and waiting for her. A first if ever there was one.
"Good… morning, class?"
"Good morning Yankumi!"
She smiled. Finally she was having an effect.
She began to prepare the lesson, setting out her books and finding her chalk. There was some tape she didn't remember using stuck to the board which needed careful removing before she could begin, so she set to work while the class waited patiently.
"I still don't believe it." The murmurs began.
"Shhhh. She'll hear you."
"Why would she dress like this when she could look like that?"
"I would definitely take an interest in maths, that's all I'm saying."
She turned to face the group, trying to remain bright and bubbly.
"Is there something I should know?"
The group shook their heads and said nothing, their minds too busy remembering.
"You look hot in black!" came a faceless voice.
The class burst out laughing.
Yankumi found it increasingly difficult to remain light.
"Sorry, I didn't catch that?"
Goaded by the laughter, the class began to feel brave again.
"What I wouldn't do to the other one."
"There is nothing I wouldn't do!!"
"Those are some nice legs, why don't you show 'em off a little more?"
"Why do you wear your hair like that anyway? It's so childish."
Yankumi was quick to respond and moved forward to stand in front of the unfortunate troublemaker who was foolish enough not to disguise his position.
"Why do you think I wear my hair like this?" she asked coldly, disarming their courage.
The deathly silence was filled by the sound of one voice.
"Because you've fallen for the misconception that appearing less threatening makes you a better teacher, I suppose."
There was a simultaneous intake of breath as the class turned to face Sawada Shin, who didn't blinked as Yankumi began to walk calmly towards him.
She smiled half-heartedly and stopped before his desk, leaning over so her face was barely inches away from his own.
"And tell me Sawada, do I appear less threatening this way?" she asked, barely louder than a whisper.
Against his will he thought of the poster which moments ago had been plastered across the board.
"Well? What do you think?"
He gulped involuntarily. "No…yes, but…."
The corner of her mouth twitched as she forced back a smile.
"And my teaching?"
He could smell the faintest whiff of perfume, taste her breathe on his own. Her lips, he couldn't stop himself from noticing, were close enough to kiss if he only shifted forward slightly in his seat. Biting his bottom lip he forced himself to lift his eyes and meet her gaze.
"Great!" she replied, reverting back to her former bubbly self. "On to maths! Take out your books everyone!"
She bounded back to the front of the room as the class reluctantly turned around and began to take out their work books, making sure Yankumi was aware of the hassle she was causing through a series of grumbles and groans.
Shin sat exactly as she had left him, taking in a few short, shallow, shaky breathes.
Uh-oh, he thought, I think I'm in trouble.