Breaking away from my norm to do a fairly small Azumanga piece (probably only be about 10K or so in length). A shout-out goes to DB Sommer and his many awesome A.D. fics, one of which led to the inspiration for this one. Go read his stuff. But read this first, otherwise you might forget to come back and read it once you've finished with all of his.
An Azumanga Daioh fanfic
By Legendary Legacy
Standard Disclaimer: Azumanga Daioh belongs to Kiyohiko Azuma. The plot is, to the best of my knowledge, my own.
Enjoy. Or don't. Your choice.
The ringing of the bell tower, followed by the cheer from a particularly hyperactive girl from Classroom 3 which could be heard from even greater distances away than the bell, signified the end to another school day.
"Enjoy your day off tomorrow, everybody," Yukari bid as she headed for the door ahead of everyone else. "Have your papers on my desk first thing when you get back."
The child prodigy Chiyo hummed happily as she gathered her things. Returning a wave to a departing Sakaki, she moved around the desks to join the rest of her friends gathered at Yomi's seat.
"WOO, DAY OFF!" Tomo shouted gleefully, causing everyone around her to flinch at the volume. "We need to go do something!"
"Let's go to Chiyo-chan's Summer House!" Osaka suggested in that blissful tone that she'd long ago become known for.
The others all gave her a mixture of odd stares, something else that she had become known for.
"Osaka, we only have one day off," Yomi told her. "We'd barely get there before we'd have to come back."
"Also, it's April," Kagura pointed out.
"Oh." Osaka drooped, but only for a second. "Well then, let's go to Chiyo-chan's Spring House!"
"But I don't have a Spring House," the younger girl informed her. "Just a Summer House and a Winter Lodge."
"Then where do you live during Spring and Fall?" Osaka asked.
"Ah...at my regular house, here in town, remember?"
By the look on her face, it seemed she hadn't remembered until that very moment. "Oh, that's right."
After a pause, Yomi spoke up. "Anyway, we-"
"Don't you think it's kind of unfair for Spring and Fall to have to share a house when the other two seasons get their own?" Osaka interrupted.
Chiyo couldn't seem to find a proper answer for that.
"We really should do something a bit different," Yomi began again. "With all the testing and extra activities we'll have coming up soon, our schedules are probably going to be packed."
The statement brought Chiyo back to her senses. "Actually, I was wondering if you all would like to come to the zoo with me tomorrow."
"To the zoo?" Tomo asked.
The little girl nodded vigorously. "Yeah, some of my friends from Elementary went yesterday and told me about it. They said they've got a lot of new animals that weren't there a couple years ago. They also said that one of the tigers had just given birth to a litter of cubs the day before, and they were being kept in the nursing area for people to come see."
The group looked up, finding Sakaki standing before them. Kagura turned her head toward the door, then back to the taller girl. "Weren't you already...?"
"A zoo sounds fun," Osaka mentioned. "I haven't been to one since I moved here."
Kagura shrugged. "Well, I haven't been there since I was twelve. I wouldn't mind seeing what's changed."
Yomi sighed. "The zoo does sound fun, except..." She fought back the twitch of annoyance from reaching her face. "We'd need to have a parent or someone go with us."
"Why?" Chiyo asked.
Yomi gazed at her desk, looking ashamed. "Tomo and I aren't allowed in the zoo without supervision. Not after...last time."
The words 'last time' seemed to echo ominously throughout the classroom as the others all took turns glancing at one another, wondering who should be the one to ask the question.
Finally, Osaka did it. "What happened last time?"
Yomi shot a venomous glare at her oldest, 'dearest' friend. "The last time the two of us went to the zoo together, one of us decided to sneak into the wolf habitat-"
"It was me," Tomo clarified with a casual raise of her hand.
"As if they needed help guessing!" Yomi snapped. She then let out a deep sigh as she continued her story. "Of course, she got found out, I got dragged into the mess, we got kicked out, and now for at least another two years, we're not allowed back in without an adult."
The others all let that sink in.
Kagura found her voice again first. "You know, I remember a couple years ago seeing a report on the news about an idiot teenage girl having to be rescued from the wolf habitat at the zoo. ...Somehow, the fact that the idiot was Tomo doesn't surprise me that much."
"You don't have to say it like that!" the aforementioned girl shouted.
Yomi nodded. "If anything, 'idiot' is far too generous of a word."
Tomo huffed and crossed her arms. "I just wanted to see the wolves, is all. They put them in this big woods area where there's all these different places for them to hide and they never come out no matter how long you wait for them, or how loudly you shout at them to come out, or how many of those nasty food pellets from those gumball machines you throw into the pen. So then I figured, 'Maybe there aren't even any wolves in the pen and the zoo people are getting rich off of false advertising', you know?"
"And what did you learn?" Yomi prompted.
"That wolves can run really fast but aren't good at climbing trees," she replied, nodding her head sagely.
"...So we need a supervisor, then?" Kagura asked in an attempt to change the subject.
"My parents work tomorrow," Chiyo said.
"Mine too," Osaka added.
The others all gave similar responses.
"Well then, there's only one thing left to do," Tomo stated.
Yukari fixed the group with an utterly bored stare.
"You want me," she spoke slowly. "-To spend my well-deserved day off, where I don't have to put up with any kids and their stupid questions about why Americans are allowed to change the definitions of words to mean whatever the hell they want them to mean without informing the rest of the world to prepare them for it beforehand-"
Chiyo mentally shrugged. It had seemed like a perfectly valid question when Osaka asked it, and something she'd probably need to know herself once she moved there.
"-a day where I could be sleeping in or out drinking, and instead spend money on a day of corralling the lot of you around a smelly, crowded, noisy zoo, filled with even more kids that I don't want to be around, with nothing to do but watch dumb animals sit in cages doing nothing but eating, sleeping and crapping?"
"That's about right," Tomo confirmed.
Yukari tilted her head, humming softly. "Well, I don't have anything better to do..."
Chiyo's eyes lit up. "So then you'll take us?"
"Did you not just hear me!" she demanded. "Noisy? Dumb kids? Crapping? Hell no, I won't. But, since I don't have anything better to do, I can just spend the whole day in bed." She brushed past the group and made her way to the door. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go get an early start on that."
The girls watched Yukari walk away for a few moments before turning as one to the other occupant in the room.
"What about you, Nyamo-sensei?" Tomo asked.
The gym teacher, who had been leaning back against the edge of her desk during the entire conversation with Yukari, shrugged her shoulders lightly. "I guess I could spare a few hours to take you all."
"Oh, no you don't!" Yukari shouted as she dashed back into the room. She pointed an accusatory finger at her old friend. "I know what you're trying to pull here! Trying to butter up my students and turn them against me before the next Athletics Tournament! Probably tell them all sorts of humiliating stories behind my back! They're all untrue, by the way, and in fact most of them are probably about her," she mentioned to the girls before quickly rounding back on Nyamo. "Well, don't think for a second I'll let you get away with it! I'm taking them to the zoo whether you like it or not!"
Nyamo merely shrugged again. "That's fine. I have other things that I could be doing tomorrow anyway-"
"Oh, no you don't!" Yukari shouted again. "You think it's fair for me to waste my precious day off doing something I don't want to do while you go out and get drunk and trade bad pick-up lines with the men at the bar? Not a chance! If I have to go, then you have to go!"
Nyamo sighed. "Then just let me take them if you really don't want-"
Yukari whirled back on the girls. "Meet outside the school tomorrow at nine; we'll pick you up! Let's go, Nyamo!" Not waiting for an answer, she grabbed Nyamo's hand and dragged her out of the room.
The six friends stared after them for a few moments until a sinking feeling set into them.
"Did she say she'd be picking us up?" Yomi asked.
Chiyo began to twitch violently.
"I'm sure Nyamo-sensei will be able to stop her," Kagura said, though she didn't sound as confident about it as the others would have liked.
Chiyo's twitching increased.
Nine A.M. found five of the six girls standing outside of the schoolyard when a green van with a few dings and dents (all most likely fresh) came barreling around the corner, screeching to a halt a few feet away.
"Yo," Yukari greeted from the driver's seat after rolling the window down. The girls turned as one to the passenger seat, giving Nyamo various looks of betrayal.
The gym teacher raised her hands helplessly. "I tried, honest! I thought we'd be taking two vehicles like we usually do."
"Fortunately, my neighbors had this van that I could borrow," Yukari informed them.
"Whoa, someone was stupid enough to let you drive their car?" Tomo asked.
"If by 'let me' you count 'I know where they keep the extra key and I decided to use it for the day while they were out of town on vacation'."
"...You mean you stole it?" Osaka surmised, asking what the others were all thinking.
"Of course not! We do this with each other all the time." Yukari explained to them in her Teacher voice, which wasn't much different from her regular voice aside from being a little preachier. "Sometimes they borrow two cups of sugar and a measuring cup from me, sometimes I bring guys over to use their backyard hot tub when they're all asleep. It's a give-and-take relationship that we have, you see? But enough of that; hurry and get in, we're burning daylight out here!"
Kagura leaned toward Yomi. "If we get in willingly, does that make use accessories to theft?" she asked in a hushed tone.
Yomi shrugged. "Chiyo-chan would probably know."
Yukari looked around, noting the absence of the youngest girl. "Where is Chiyo-chan anyway? Going was her idea, wasn't it?"
Sakaki spoke up. "She called me earlier this morning. She said her self-preservation instincts demanded that she get up early and take the bus to the zoo instead."
"Proving, once again, that Chiyo-chan is much smarter than the rest of us," Yomi muttered as she climbed into the backseat.
"Well, whatever," Yukari said, putting the van in gear once everyone was in. "Sit back and relax, we'll be there before you know it."
Before they knew it...
"Yukari, for God's sake, slow down!"
"What are you yelling about, Nyamo? I'm only going fifty-five."
"WE'RE IN THE PARKING LOT!"
"This wasn't as fun as I thought it was going to be," Tomo confesses, clutching painfully to Yomi's right arm, who was having a difficult time trying to shake the girl off because she had Osaka clutching painfully to her left arm as well. In the row behind them, Sakaki appeared as stoic as usual, though one only needed to notice her white-knuckle grip on the seat beneath her to tell what sort of stress she was under. Kagura wasn't holding up much better, though she was making it a point to not scream in terror while in the presence of her rival. No matter how justified such an action would be at the moment.
"Old woman on a motorized cart!" Nyamo warned loudly. "Old woman on a motorized cart! Oldwomanohmygoooood!"
There was a sickening crunch as the car finally came to a stop, leaving everyone except for the driver frozen in horror, none able to bring themselves to look out at the carnage that was surely-
"Look at that!" Yukari harped irritably. "That old hag can run just fine! She had no business parking in that handicap spot!"
Over by the entrance gate, Chiyo twitched at what she'd just beheld. Even when she wasn't riding in it, Yukari's car still managed to traumatize her.
A/Ns: Just so we're clear, I have no idea how different Japanese zoos are compared to zoos here in the States, so I'll be assuming they're basically the same, which I feel is a fair assumption.
FYI: There's a zoo not so far from my home that has a wolf exhibit. It's a large, forested area, big enough that they have you ride a small trolley around the outer wall of rather than walking around it. I've gone to this zoo well over a dozen times in my life, and have never once seen a wolf. Not once. If not for the twelve-foot high caged walls around it, I'd have probably climbed in to search for them myself a long time ago. Frustrating, ya know?
Anyway, 'til next time.