Just a special ficlet for Natty.

As she walked down the hall, head down, watching her feet drag sloppily along the tiles, Natty felt really discouraged. She usually liked school. A lot. This time it was different, though.

The summer had been way too short, it seemed. She had had too much fun, that was the problem, and it was going to be tough to get back into the routine of sitting in a classroom when the sun was shining, beckoning her to come out and play.

She walked into her classroom, and even the sight of her best friend Kayla wasn't going to cheer her up completely today. After saying hello and mustering a wry smile, Natty plopped down into her seat.

She hated sitting at the front but since that was the only seat left, it was the one she was going to be stuck with for the whole semester. And right in the middle row, too. Sucks!

Mrs. Tate, who was sitting behind her desk going through some papers, looked up and smiled at the class warmly. Standing up and coming around to the front of the desk, she glanced towards the clock on the wall, which read 8:58, and opened her mouth to speak.

"Welcome back, students. I hope you're all prepared to work hard this year."

After the groans died down, she continued.

"I know it's difficult for you to begin a new year when it's still summer and you haven't yet turned your minds back to your school work. So today, just to ease you back in, I've arranged for us to have a guest lecturer. He should be here any minute now."

The class shifted around in their seats, friends leaning close to whisper to one another.

I wonder who it could be? Natty thought, only mildly interested. Well, at least they weren't going to plunge right into the giant stack of books she had in her knapsack. She made herself as comfortable as possible and wondered if she could nap without anybody noticing her if this guy was really boring.

"Ah, here he is now," said Mrs. Tate, going over to the door when a knock sounded. Opening the door, she said, "Come right in, Mr. Bartowski."

Leading him into the room graciously, Mrs. Tate continued to speak, introducing her guest to the class and helping to set up the laptop he had brought with him, pulling a monitor on a stand over from the side of the room so the students could see it.

But Natty didn't hear a thing. She sat up straight in her seat, her attention no longer focused on the outdoors, on what she had done that summer, on anything other than this man standing about three feet away from her.

He was tall and slim with an unruly mop of brown hair and thick, dark eyebrows arched over the softest brown eyes Natty had ever seen. He smiled easily, giving the impression that was his usual facial expression, and one side of his mouth quirked up higher than the other, creating the tiniest dimple in that cheek.

He was wearing a cool combo of white shirt, gray tie and casual pants with sneakers, a pin on a pocket protector full of pens that read "Buy More, Nerd Herd" with the name "Chuck Bartowski" along the bottom.

As he bent over the laptop next to Mrs. Tate and connected the cable to the monitor, he glanced up, looked directly at Natty and, with a twinkle in his eyes, smiled and winked at her, and Natty smiled back brightly, suddenly feeling glad that she had gotten the front seat.

The End