EDIT 5/1/13: Added a scene to the beginning that was accidentally cut out during the first upload. Sorry about that.
Three years without an update... that's pretty horrible even for me. Sorry about that. I've been occupied with my other fics, and real life is taking up a lot of free time, and uh... Typical Author Excuse No. 3. Anywho, just to prove that none of my stories are truly dead unless I say so, here's chapter 2. Can't really justify the wait, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Once everyone's heart rates dropped back to normal and Nyamo spent some time profusely apologizing to the old woman for Yukari's recklessness, the group met up with Chiyo and purchased their tickets. The man at the booth did a double-take upon seeing Tomo, but Yomi pushed her along before any questions could be asked.
"So, here we are," Yukari announced, glancing around the crowded area around them. She turned to Nyamo. "Well, let's let the kids play while we go get a drink."
"It's nine-thirty in the morning, Yukari," Nyamo informed her. "And zoos don't sell alcohol."
"What!? Then why did we agree to come here?"
Nyamo could only hang her head and sigh.
"How close are we to the nursery?" Sakaki asked Chiyo, who had grabbed a map of the park from the front desk and was now studying it intently.
"Hmm...It looks like it's toward the back. Right now we're closest to the reptile and bird habitats."
Kagura bent down, gazing at the map over the shorter girl's shoulder. "They still have the big aquarium with all the tropical fish and sharks and stuff, don't they?"
"Yep; an aquarium, a dark cave for the nocturnal animals, separate sections for the large and smaller land animals-"
Tomo interrupted with an excited yell. "Let's go! I wanna see everything!" Before she had a chance to charge off, Yomi reached out and clamped down hard on her friend's shoulder.
"You're not going anywhere on your own! I am not jumping into any cages to save your butt."
"Aw, come on Yomi! I'm not stupid enough to try something like that again!"
"I find that highly debatable."
"We'll just have to stick together in groups," Nyamo said. "No running off on your own and we'll all get through the whole place before we're done."
Everyone nodded and, with the rules laid down, they set off for the first exhibit.
The group arrived at the large, luminous cave-like structure that housed all of the reptiles. As they walked toward the entrance, a young zoo employee carrying a large box brushed by in front of them.
"You got here just in time for the feedings, if you're interested," she informed them cheerfully, giving the box a small shake which elicited dozens of tiny squeaks from within. Yomi, Sakaki and Chiyo, who were not at all interested in seeing mice being eaten by snakes, decided to bypass the place completely and wait on the other side. None of the others seemed to share their feelings and went right in, most of them even carrying food of their own to snack on while they watched.
The remaining five stopped first at the wall of glass that the lizards were held in, where the woman had just finished dumping a small sack of crickets into. As they waited, hoping to witness one of the chameleons attempt to catch one, Kagura turned to the teachers. "Is it true that chameleons have tongues that are longer than the rest of their bodies?"
"Most of them do," Yukari confirmed.
"Wow," Osaka breathed, staring at the lizards with a newfound interest. "Chameleons must be the best kissers on the planet."
All four of her companions turned to stare at her.
"You...want to kiss chameleons?" Tomo questioned.
Osaka shook her head. "No, but my uncle once told me that if you could touch your nose with your tongue, it meant you were a good kisser. So if chameleons can touch any part of their body with their tongue, that would mean that they're really, really good kissers, right?"
Tomo thought about that. "I guess that makes sense."
Nyamo chuckled weakly. "Actually, I don't think it-"
"I can touch my nose with my tongue," Yukari interrupted before doing exactly as she claimed. "And I'm definitely an awesome kisser!"
"It's too bad that most of the men you've gone out with end up cutting the dates short before you're able to prove it," Nyamo commented.
"At least I GET dates!" Yukari shot back.
The two glared at one another as the younger girls took a few seconds to try replicating Yukari's action, but all failed.
"But you know," Kagura said once she'd given up. "I always heard that you were supposed to be a great kisser if you could tie knots in cherry stems with your tongue."
Tomo scoffed. "As if anyone could really do that!"
"Actually, I can do it," Nyamo informed them.
"No way!" Tomo stated skeptically.
"No, really," the gym teacher assured her. "Yukari and I used to practice with them all the time back in middle school and I got really good at it. It's been a while since I've tried it, but I'll bet I still could."
Tomo pulled the lid off of her soft drink, plucked out a maraschino cherry that was fortunate enough to have been placed in it and handed it to the older woman. "Let's see it."
Nyamo stared quizzically at the small red fruit, then shrugged and popped the whole thing into her mouth. Behind her, not to be outdone, Yukari grabbed the cherry from her own drink and did the same. The trio watched anxiously as the two teachers went to work, their faces screwed into concentration as their mouths twisted back and forth with their effort.
After about fifteen seconds, Nyamo reached into her mouth and pulled out the cherry, holding it up triumphantly by its tightly knotted stem.
"Oooh," the three girls said in amazement.
"Aaah," came an appreciative response from a few men who'd noticed the display.
"Wow, she didn't even break the stem from the cherry," Kagura noted with increased awe.
"I guess I haven't lost my touch after all," Nyamo giggled, happy that her recent romantic dry spell hadn't affected her too badly.
Everyone turned back to Yukari, who appeared to be struggling, if the wild shaking of her head was any indication.
"She might be at it for a while," Nyamo told them.
"Then let's go watch the snakes eat," Tomo suggested.
"You know the weird thing about snakes?" Osaka asked as they began moving on. The others just looked at her questioningly, so she continued. "Their whole bodies are just a head, a tail, and a really long neck, right?"
"Right," Tomo said with a quick nod.
Nyamo opened her mouth to correct the girls, but changed her mind. Sometimes it was just easier to observe such things without getting involved. Besides, it was her day off, and she wasn't a biology teacher anyway.
"I always thought they were a head, a neck and a really long tail," Kagura mentioned.
"Why would a snake's food go into its tail?" Tomo asked.
Kagura opened her mouth, then closed it. It was tough to argue that sort of logic.
"Anyway," Osaka went on. "That means that when a snake swallows its food, it gets stuck in its throat, right?"
"I guess so," Kagura said after a short pause for thought.
"So then how come you never see a snake choke to death on its food, especially when the stuff they swallow is usually bigger than the snake's head?"
Tomo and Kagura thought on that for a moment while Nyamo suppressed laughter.
"Maybe snakes don't have gag reflexes," Kagura theorized.
"That can't be right," Tomo told her. "Everything has a gag reflex, don't they?"
"Actually, I don't have one," Nyamo piped in.
"Really?" Osaka asked.
"Prove it!" Tomo challenged.
Nyamo shrugged helplessly. "I...don't really have any way of proving it right now."
Tomo scratched her cheek in thought. "Then when we're done in here we'll just go find one of those stands that sells frozen chocolate bananas on sticks and you can show us with that!"
The group moved onward, unaware of the increasing number of men who were now following discretely behind them.
Back by the chameleons, Yukari accidentally swallowed her cherry, stem and all, grumbled noisily about it for several seconds, then stomped off to catch up with the others.
"Hey, while we're waiting for the others, why don't we go inside the bird house?" Chiyo suggested, which Sakaki and Yomi readily agreed to.
The three walked the short distance to a large wooden building and stepped inside. Instantly, they found themselves bombarded with the cheeps, squawks and caws of hundreds of birds, all of varying size and color. While a few specific types were confined to their own cages to the sides, the majority of them were gathered into the extra-large exhibit cage in the center of the room.
They moved to the center cage, where Chiyo and Yomi began pointing out and identifying the different species that they recognized to each other. Sakaki listened to them for a few minutes, feeling a little bored. Birds might have been pretty to look at with their bright colors; they just weren't exactly cute. And all the squawking and chirping was giving her a bit of a headache.
Then, something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Turning, she spotted a family laughing as they moved away from a cage that was isolated from the rest. Inside the cage was a large brightly colored bird, yellow on its front and blue on its back, with a short, hooked beak and a zebra-striped face.
Curious, she walked over to the cage and the small wooden sign in front of the cage, which identified the bird as a South American Macaw. Beneath that sign was a smaller one that read "Hello, my name is Boko. If you talk to me, I'll talk back."
Sakaki grew even more intrigued. She'd read a few books before about talking birds, but had never seen one in person. She glanced back to the colorful bird, who was staring back at her almost expectantly. She decided it was worth a try.
"Um...hello, Boko," she greeted tentatively.
Boko let out a low-pitched squawk and bowed its head. "Hello. Awk! Hello."
A light blush spread across her face. It may not have been near as adorable as a kitten, or even a puppy, but a talking bird was still pretty cute.
"I'm Sakaki," she told him.
"Sakaki!" the bird agreed with a sharp whistle, making her smile and wonder what else she could get him to say.
"You're really pretty, Boko."
"You're pretty hot yourself, sweetcheeks. BAWK!"
The girl's expression fell so fast, it was as if she'd been shot. "W-what?"
"You got it going on, baby, raww!" Boko stated. "Show me how you work it!"
Sakaki's face flooded crimson. She was so flustered that she couldn't even speak, and so instead turned and quickly walked away.
"Hate to see you go, toots, but I love to watch you leave!" Boko called after her, which only made her retreat faster.
Nor five seconds after Sakaki left did Yomi happen to wander over toward the display.
"Oh cool, a talking bird!"
Having finished an examination of a pair of New Zealand kiwis, Chiyo backtracked to find her companions. She spotted Sakaki standing off by herself, not looking at any of the birds, and walked over to her.
The tall girl started at being addressed before turning to face her friend, hoping that her intense blush was back under control. "Chiyo-chan."
"Are you okay?" the young prodigy asked in concern.
Sakaki nodded slowly. "Um, Chiyo-chan... how much do you know about talking birds?"
Chiyo hummed thoughtfully. "Well, I know that there's several different species that can do it. And I know that they don't really know how to talk; it's just that they're really good at mimicry. They can repeat all sorts of sounds that they've heard before, including human words."
Sakaki considered the explanation. "So, if one of them were to say something... strange?"
"Then it's just because they heard someone else say it," she confirmed with a grin.
That information made Sakaki feel a whole lot better. Boko wasn't a creepy, perverted bird; he'd just been unfortunate enough to hear someone else saying creepy, perverted things. It still wasn't cute, but at least it wasn't his fault.
Still, she should probably get Chiyo-chan out of there before she ended up venturing over to Boko. She wasn't about to let the little girl's ears be tainted by such dirty talk. She just had to track down Yomi and-
"Who are you calling fat, bird!?"
The two girls turned, as did most everyone else in the building, toward the macaw cage, which their friend was angrily banging her fist against. With a cry of panic, Chiyo ran over and threw her arms around the older girl's waste.
"Please stop, Yomi-san! You'll get us kicked out!" she cried as Sakaki gently began pulling them both away from the exhibit.
Yomi didn't seem to notice either of them, as she was still glaring daggers at Boko who, despite not having lips, still appeared to be smirking at her. "How about I grill you up into yakitori and see how fat I get from that!?"
"Please calm down, Yomi-san!" the little prodigy begged. "He wasn't saying it on purpose or anything! Macaws only repeat things that they've heard other people say, that's all!"
"So then you're telling me that the bird heard someone else say that I have my own gravitational pull?!" she demanded, throwing a fierce glare to the people around them, who were all quick to clear the area.
"Please don't be mad at him, Yomi-san," Chiyo said again. "Macaws aren't smart enough to actually understand our language."
"He might be smarter than you think, Chiyo-chan," Sakaki commented, swearing that the bird in question had just winked at her. Yomi gave a firm nod in agreement.
"But he's really not," Chiyo assured them. "Here, I'll show you." And before either girl could stop her, she stepped in front of Boko's cage and addressed him. "Hello, Boko."
The macaw stared at her, tilting its head as though evaluating her in some way. "Awk! Don't worry, I'm sure you'll fill out soon."
Chiyo tilted her own head in confusion. "Fill out what?" she asked innocently.
"Drink lots of milk!" the bird squawked, flapping its wings for emphasis. "And don't forget to massage them three times a-"
From behind Chiyo, Yomi lifted her hands, placing one clenched fist on top of the other and then twisted them in opposite directions. Beside her, Sakaki gave Boko her best intimidating stare. She didn't look all that different from usual, but Boko seemed to get the message.
"...B-Boko want a cracker?" the bird stammered.
Chiyo stared at him a moment longer before turning back to her friends with a knowing grin. "See, girls? Just because they know how to form words and sentences, it doesn't mean they actually know what they're talking about."
"I guess you're right, Chiyo-chan," Yomi said as Sakaki nodded beside her. "I definitely should have known better than to doubt you."
"We should go find the others," Sakaki suggested, hoping to get Chiyo away from the dirty-minded bird before he started shooting his mouth off again. Chiyo nodded in agreement and the three headed for the exit, but not before the older two gave Boko one last glare over their shoulders.
Once they were out of sight, Boko brushed a wing across his forehead, whistling softly. Some humans just had no sense of humor.
Once outside, the girls looked around for the other members of their group.
"There they are," Sakaki said, pointing toward a nearby food cart, where Tomo, Kagura and Osaka were staring expectantly at Nyamo, who was...
Yomi's eyes widened and Sakaki blushed as they watched the spectacle from afar.
"Someone should really tell Nyamo-sensei to chew her food," Chiyo stated worriedly. "She's going to end up choking trying to swallow a whole banana like that."
The next update shouldn't take near as long as this one did, but I will admit that this fic isn't my top priority right now, so I can't say for certain when the next chapter will actually show up. Thanks for you patience.
Til next time.