"What on earth is going on in here?" she shouted sharply over the noise, hands on her hips.
The was a short silence as Ken and Farfarello untangled themselves from each other.
"I had nothing to do with this crass display of violence, Miss Birman," Bradley piped up, buffing his well-groomed nails upon his suit jacket. "I would never participate in such brutish activities."
Birman resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Thank you Bradley. Now who can tell me what's going on here?"
Yohji rushed up to Birman. "I saw the whole thing, Miss Birman," he declared. "It was oh-one hundred hours. The office was calm until the telephone rang. There was a cry of distress and I knew that my services were needed. The two suspects - "
"Er...that's enough Yohji," Birman interrupted. She glared sternly at Ken and Farfarello. "Keep your hands and your feet to yourself. Does this rule sound familiar?"
"It wasn't Farfie's fault," Schulderich announced, rushing to stand protectively beside the silver-haired boy. "Ken started the whole thing!"
"No he didn't!" Ran snapped, glowering angrily.
"Farfarello started the whole thing when he stole Nagi's sharpener," Omi tattled. "Didn't he Nagi?"
The youngest boy nodded earnestly. "He did, Miss Birman, he really did."
"I see." Birman knelt down in front of Farfarello. "Farfarello honey, we have a sharpener on the windowsill that everyone can use," she reminded. "You do know that right?"
The boy nodded sullenly, staring at the ground.
"Then why did you steal Nagi's pencil sharpener?" she prodded. "That wasn't a very nice thing to do. Stealing is wrong. You know better than that."
Farfarello looked at his teacher. "Stealing hurts Santa."
"Why do ya wanna hurt Santa for?" Ken exclaimed in disbelief.
"I hate Santa. He's a fat goof."
Both Nagi and Omi gasped.
"Everyone knows that there's no such thing as Santa," Bradley proclaimed importantly. "He's just a superstition like Big Foot and communism."
"Santa is so real!" Omi insisted. "I saw him last year!"
"If I could just investigate the North Pole, then I'd find out if he's real or not," Yohji said.
"Miss Birman, Santa Claus is real, isn't he?" Nagi looked up at her with wide eyes, his lower lip quivering slightly.
"Yes, he's very real," Birman lied. "I saw him lots of times when I was a little girl. Now I want everyone to get into their seats and settle down. We have a lot of work to do today. And..." She fixed Ken and Farfarello with a firm, no-nonsense look. "I don't want anymore fighting otherwise you'll both end up at the principal's office. Understand?"
Both boys nodded.
"Good. Now get in your seats and take out your pencils and erasers. We're going to do some writing today." She stalked away from the little desks up to her own where she began to hunt for her day planner.
Schulderich sat down beside Farfarello and took his arm. "Want me to get some ice, Farf?" he asked, examining the bruise that discolored the wan flesh. "That clumsy geek made a bruise on your arm."
"It doesn't hurt," Farfarello replied, staring at the bruise. "I didn't even feel it. But I know Santa's gonna hurt 'cause he doesn't like it when kids fight. He's gonna hurt real good."
Schulderich remained silent as a wave of protectiveness for the yellow-eyed boy passed over him. Farfarello hated Santa because his family had been killed last Christmas in a drunk driving accident. He blamed Santa for taking them away from him.
The redhead took Farfarello's hand and held it tightly. He wasn't able to bring Farfarello's parents back this Christmas but Schulderich was saving all his money to buy him a really cool blender. Farfarello always played with his mother's blender when he came over. It would make him happy, at least Schulderich hoped it would. Farfarello looked very nice when he was happy. His smile made Schulderich feel warm inside.
"After school, I'm gonna bury that dumb Ken in a snow pile," Schulderich grumbled. "That'll teach him to start a fight with you."
Farfarello smiled slightly and squeezed his fingers around Schulderich's.
Ran pulled out the crushed box of Spiderman band-aids that his mom made him keep in his schoolbag. "I got the Hob Goblin, Dr. Octopus, The Shocker, Spider Carnage and Madam Web left," he recited. "What do you want?"
Ken looked up from his torn jeans and scraped knee. "Spider Carnage all the way! He rules!"
"Keep your voice down Ken," Miss Birman called out.
Ran carefully bandaged Ken's injured knee. Then he glared at Farfarello. That crazy lunatic had no right to hurt Ken. Ken was only trying to help. After school, he'd teach that dumb idiot to try and hurt Ken.
"Alright class," Birman said, stepping out from behind her desk to stand in the center of the classroom. She tucked a stray strand of hair back into her stylish up-do and gazed at her eight students. "Has everyone got out their pencils and erasers?"
"Why can't I use my laptop?" Bradley whined. "I don't wish to use such rudimentary implements."
"We've been over this Bradley," Birman reminded him patiently.
"Well can't I at least use a ballpoint pen?"
"Bradley's ding-a-ling-a-cuckoo," Omi informed Nagi, eliciting a loud giggle from the younger boy.
"I'll say!" Ken chimed him, overhearing Omi. "I'd never wear a dumb suit like that even if you paid me a bazillion dollars!"
"Now because we're so close to Christmas, we're going to do something different this morning," Birman continued. "I'm going to hand out some special paper and on it you're going to write nice things about the person sitting beside you. You'll be doing a different person every day and by the time you're finished, you'll have a list of kind comments from everyone in the class. We'll make boxes and then we'll put the comments in them. How does that sound?"
"This sucks," Farfarello immediately said. "I don't want to do a dumb assignment like this."
"Yes, this is rather childish," Bradley chimed in.
"Well if you'd rather do something else." Birman sighed. "I do have a few pages of long division problems."
"No, no, we'll do the compliments things, Miss Birman!" Schulderich shouted. "Anything but long division!" He shuddered. Long division gave him nightmares. He glanced at Farfarello. "It won't be that bad, Farf. You'll see."
Farfarello blinked and shrugged. He went back to playing with his scissors. How he wished he had real scissors and not stupid, plastic Crayola Safety Scissors.
Birman smirked as she handed out bright red paper with the phrase 'What I like best about ____ is...' Threats of math worked every time.
"What if you can't think of nothing nice to write?" Yohji demanded. He sat next to Bradley and he was such a nerd! All Bradley did was complain and call everyone 'ignoramuses'. Yohji didn't even know what an 'ignoramus' was.
"Anything, Yohji, not nothing," Birman corrected as she finished handing out the papers. "Everyone here has something special about them. All you have to do is find that special thing and write about it."
"But what if you can't?" Bradley asked, feeling exactly as Yohji did. He didn't like the blond one bit. Yohji was always snooping about and talking into that absurd tape recorder as though he was a real investigator. Thank God Omi had accidentally stepped on it in gym class.
"Would you rather do long division?" Birman threatened.
Yohji quickly shook his head. "Nuh uh!"
"Then I suggest you get cracking."
The class got cracking.
Nagi tightened his little fingers around his pencil and printed painstakingly. By the time he finished one word, his hand hurt. And by the time he finished one line, he'd forgotten what he'd wanted to write.
Omi was erasing more than printing partially because he was a bad speller and partially because his new eraser was green and the green eraser shavings were really cool. He collected all the green bits of rubber to make a little mountain in the corner of his table.
Ken had his face an inch away from his paper, his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth as he printed with fierce concentration. He printed hard and sloppily with his 'Beast Wars' pencil and so it kept breaking. His side of the desk was littered with pencil-sharpening shaving. He also erased hard, leaving behind holes in his papers and smudged words.
Ran was finished in no time because he was good at printing. His work was neat and he practically had no spelling mistakes. He liked it when Miss Birman made them do printing assignments. And since Ken was his best friend, he had no trouble writing nice things.
Yohji was experiencing great difficulty. He hated printing because he hated leaving two finger-spaces between each word. He also hated printing because he got confused between 'b' and 'd' and he still had trouble making 's' and 'e'. And of course he couldn't think of anything nice to write about Bradley.
Bradley was the only who in the class who wrote, not printed. He was also the only one who used one line, not two. And he write with a mechanical pencil, not a normal pencil. He gazed at his handiwork and gloated. He was just so elegant and classy! He should be in, at least the fifth grade.
Schulderich wanted his paper to be perfect since he knew that the other goofs in the class would write dumb things about Farfarello. As a result, he kept running back and forth to Miss Birman's desk, asking her for spelling help. He also made his paper extra special by making a really cool border design with silver and gold glitter glue.
Farfarello was left handed and to annoy the teacher, he printed from right to left instead of left to right. His work was full of backwards words and upside down letters. There was also a great deal of staples struck randomly throughout the paper since Farfarello liked stapling.
When all the printing was over and all the papers had been collected, Miss Birman announced that it was time for Show and Tell.
Part 3 | Fanfiction