A young woman wearing a red sports jersey suit rushed into the room. Her pigtails were messily done and her glasses were askew. So this was Yamaguchi Sensei…
"Rather nerdy looking," I muttered to myself. I hadn't expected her to be so young.
Sawada glanced at me and said blankly, "She's a lot more than she looks."
"Oi, Yankumi!" Minami shouted. "You're late!"
"Sorry, I overslept," she said sheepishly.
"Yankumi?" I said. What was that, her nickname?
"Her name's Yamaguchi Kumiko," Uchiyama explained. "We shortened it to Yankumi."
Oh. I didn't know that people actually called teachers by their nicknames to their face.
"Yamaguchi Sensei! You're late AND you have a new student!" Sawatari Kyoutou said sternly from the doorway.
"New student?" Yamaguchi Sensei, or Yankumi as I began to call her in my mind, asked.
Sawatari scanned the room for me, or rather for the "perfect school girl" I had been ten minutes ago.
"Wait, where is she? Did you fools scare her off already?!" he demanded.
I raised a lazy arm in the air. "I'm here, sir."
The class began to laugh at him. "Who's the fool now?"
"Hmph. Well, take care of your class, Yamaguchi Sensei!" Sawatari said with an exaggerated glare and stormed off.
Yankumi turned to me and smiled.
"I'm Yamaguchi Sensei. You can call me Yankumi if you want, since the class came up with that nickname for me. Can you introduce yourself to us?"
I stood up and Noda gave me a thumbs-up with a grin.
"I'm Nakajima Kana. Don't call me Kana-chan…just Kana is fine. I've been expelled from three schools for violence or violent behavior. Anyways, I chose Class 3-D because it was my class number at the last school I was at. I figure I belong here anyways, since you guys seem pretty cool. I can handle all of you," I said, throwing Minami a smirk. "So yoroshiku*."
The guys whooped and rose in applause, except Sawada. He just raised an eyebrow at me before going back to sleep. The guys continued to applaud, which was pretty stupid, because I hadn't said much. But I felt welcome. I sat down and waited for Yankumi to give me the "lecture" about the importance of school and not getting in trouble or to just stare at me in disbelief.
However, she simply smiled. "Let's hope you won't get expelled again," she said cheerfully.
I stared at her. Most teachers just gave me a look, as if they didn't want to deal with me. How could she laugh off my expulsions like they didn't mean anything? Most teachers assumed I would get kicked out anyways.
"She's different," Sawada said, summing it up in two words. I looked over at him so he could elaborate, but his head was down on the desk again.
"So I guess I should start class now!" Yankumi said, and then the bell rang. Everyone stood up and walked out of class. I only had a brief look at her dejected form before Uchiyama grabbed my school bag and dragged me out of the room with them.
After school, Kuma asked me if I liked my first day.
"It was alright, I guess," I said, unbuttoning my white collared shirt to reveal the gray tank top I wore underneath.
"So you want to hang out with us?" Minami asked. I shrugged. "I'll show you how to have a good time," he said suggestively, swinging an arm around me. I looked at him, wondering how I should beat him up.
"Oi, you have a girl already," Uchiyama pointed out.
"So?" Minami smirked.
"So I get first dibs on Kana," Uchiyama said, shoving Minami's arm off to replace it with his own.
Sawada rolled his eyes while Noda egged them on.
"Hey, I'm not an object to be fought over!" I said angrily. Uchiyama immediately removed his arm.
"Sorry," he and Minami muttered, and I glared at them.
"I suggest keeping your arms to yourself from now on," I said firmly. "But buy me ice cream and I might forgive you this time."
"Nice," Kuma said, smiling at the thought of food. "Yeah, buy me one too, while you're at it."
Uchiyama and Minami looked at each other and shrugged.
"Sure, for Kana."
The guys ignored Kuma and began to walk toward the commercial area of town.
We hung out for hours. I don't know how time passed so quickly, but I found myself enjoying myself in the company of others for the first time in a long time. Uchi, as I called Uchiyama for short, and I hit it off really well, as if we had always known each other. We got on each other's nerves a lot by teasing, but it wasn't bad.
"Uchi-chan, who did your hair?" I asked, reaching over to give his blond hair a touch.
"Don't call me Uchi-chan!" he growled. "And don't touch my hair!"
"Uchi-chan, Uchi-chan!" Noda chanted, hopping around Uchi with his hands in his pockets.
When the lights began to illuminate the city, we began to head home. Minami spotted his girlfriend in the crowd and decided to go with her, waving good bye to us. Sawada also left us before we reached the residential area. I didn't really notice, because Sawada rarely talked to me anyway. I was in a good mood all the way home.
The next morning, I met Uchiyama on the way to class. He looked pretty happy.
"Yo," he said to me, then slung a casual arm across my shoulder. I gave him a look, but I didn't really care. He noticed, and didn't remove his arm.
"Why are you so happy?" I asked. Something good must have happened.
"Maybe because I have a pretty girl on my arm and I look good," he said, grinning at me.
"So you're using me," I said, looking at him with a cold expression. He stepped back and his expression changed.
"No, Kana, I was just kidding," he said slowly, trying not to make me angry. I shrugged.
"Baka," I said, laughing at him. He realized that I had been making a fool of him, and shoved me lightly. I shoved him back before he replaced his arm on my shoulder.
Minami suddenly stumbled out of the teacher's lounge as we passed it. He had a large bruise on his cheek and a cut running down his face.
"Minami," I said, staring at him. Uchi looked worried.
Suddenly, Sawada also walked out of the teacher's lounge, but Sawatari accompanied him. He merely glanced at us, then was led away. I saw the bruise forming on his cheek.
"What happened?" I demanded. Minami shrugged. He had barely even looked at Sawada.
"Yesterday, I got beat up by these high-school punks after you guys left. Then this morning, Shin told me to stop seeing my girl, so I socked him. We got yelled at for fighting."
"Then why is Shin being punished?" Uchi asked, confused.
"Because it looked like he did a lot of damage to me, and that I only defended myself."
I glared at him. "Some friend you are. Sawada didn't even touch you!"
"What was I supposed to do? Tell them I got beat up by a gang? That would have gotten me expelled! Besides, he had no right to say that to me. Who does he think he is, telling me to stop seeing my girlfriend?"
We walked to class in silence. I was angry at the way things were being unfairly carried out. In the class, Sawada was always the quiet one, but without him, it was quieter.
Halfway through Yankumi's lecture, all of the teachers burst into our classroom. They were moaning about how we had wrecked Sawatori Kyoutou's car. We all went outside and saw that his nasty yellow Volkswagen beetle had been covered with graffiti with ridiculous statements about him. I almost burst out laughing, but kept my emotions in check.
"I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU COULD LET THEM DO THIS TO MY CAR!" Sawatari yelled at Yankumi.
"How do you know that they did it?" Yankumi asked innocently. 3-D all nodded.
"BECAUSE OF THAT!" he yelled, pointing to the paint traces on our classroom floor.
"Why couldn't you guys be a bit more discreet?" I heard Yankumi mutter. I raised an eyebrow at her comment. A teacher was egging us on to graffiti on people's cars?
To Sawatari, she said, "Don't worry, Kyoutou, I'll deal with it."
"You better," he growled, and left our classroom, the other teachers following him.
"Class, I know you guys meant it as a joke…" Yankumi began.
"He deserved it!" a classmate yelled out. The rest of the class grumbled in agreement.
"Whether he did or not, it's only fair if we clean it up for him. We're all meeting after school to wash his car, okay?" she said. The class mumbled in response.
After school, Minami left, waving to the rest of the class.
"Wait, Minami! What about the Kyoutou's car?" Yankumi said, trying to follow him.
"Don't stop him," Uchi said, holding Yankumi back. "He has a date with his girl."
"A date? High school love," she sighed. "We'll overlook it this time. To work, guys!"
"In our school clothes?" someone asked. I knew where this was going.
"That's true. We don't want to mess them up. Go change into your PE clothes and meet me by Kyoutou's car in 15 minutes," Yankumi said, letting us go.
No one met her. We all left, leaving Yankumi to wash the car. I grinned. I had nothing to do with the graffiti, but I knew that no one wanted to wash it off.
"What happened to Sawada?" I asked Uchi, Kuma, and Noda.
"It seems like they aren't going to let him go to class before he writes an apology statement. They're giving him until the end of tomorrow. If he doesn't write it, he'll be expelled," Noda explained to me.
I stared at him. Sawada hadn't done anything wrong. From what I knew about him, I figured he wasn't going to write the essay.
We all went home, having doubts about whether Sawada would ever return to class 3-D.
The next day, Minami came to school in a really bad mood. When Uchi asked him what was wrong, he told us that his girlfriend broke up with him.
"And after she did, the leader of the gang that beat me up told me that she was actually his girl. The gang told me to meet them by the harbor after school. He said that if I was foolish enough to try to take his girl, that I would meet them." Minami said.
"You aren't going, are you?" Kuma asked him. Minami glared at him.
"Do you think I have a choice? Of course I'm going, and nobody can stop me."
The entire day, people tried to convince him not to go, but he didn't listen.
When the last bell rang, Minami left the classroom, much to the horror of the class.
"He's going to get beat to a pulp," they said, talking among themselves.
"Why isn't anybody going after him?" I asked. I figured that somebody would at least go.
"You think we stand a chance? You heard him. No one is going to stop him. If we go, we're only going to get beat up like he is."
I stood up. "I'm going to the bathroom," I said. Already, I was pissed. No one knew what friendship meant in this freakin' school. I was going after Minami.
*Yoroshiku: again, more of a "nice to meet you"