The students in twelve English Advanced watched, stunned as two police officers and one plain dressed woman marched into their room. The teacher stopped talking when he noticed the class go unnaturally silent and turned from the whiteboard to face them. As soon as he caught sight of the unexpected visitors, a small frown crossed his face. Sighing, he quickly finished writing the work on the board. The three new arrivals waited patiently a short distance from the door as he instructed the class to complete the work by the time he got back. He then left, following the guests out of the room.
As soon as he left, excited talking and mummers broke out through the room. Groups of girls pulled their chairs together to discuss the new development in what was no doubtable the most interesting thing in the schooling history. Boys exchanged looks and uneasy glances, unsure what was going on. It might have had something to do with what had been happening the past week, it might not. However, having to officers in the school was going to make large groups of them uneasy. A few students actually went ahead and started the work, oblivious to everything else.
It was only a few minutes before the party of four arrived back and the room fell deathly silent again. Their teacher sat behind his desk while one of the officers followed and began setting up some recording device. The other officer stood a few steps in front of the door, the signal clear. No one leaves. The final member stood in front of the class, hands clasped gently in front of her as she scanned the faces. Some looked confused, others worried, some intrigued. She took note of one boy at the back of the room who looked a mixture of all three and more. The officer finished setting up the recorder and pressed a button. A red light lit up and he gave a nod at the woman.
"Good morning students," she said with a small smile. "My name is Rebecca Oscar and I need to ask you a few questions." Straight to the point. "As you are sure to know, one of your fellow classmates is in hospital in critical condition. We need as much information as possible to help him."
She surveyed the class again and saw them all sit up straighter and a few small nods. Obviously this student was a valued classmate.
"Okay, to start with, could you please tell me a bit about Rielly Maximus. Hands up."
For a few seconds, no one dared raised their hands. A few tentative hands then rose, others quickly following. Soon every member of the class had their hands up. Rebecca allowed herself another small smile. She pointed to a girl in the second row.
"Full name please."
The girl was quiet for a beat before speaking. "Sorry, but does that include my middle name?"
Rebecca sensed that the officer behind her was going to speak so she raised her hand and continued to address the girl. "Yes please."
"Naomi Amber Zimmer," the girl said clearly without the slightest tremble in her voice like Rebecca expected. "And whatever you have heard about Rye doing drugs is a lie." The rest of the students nodded in agreement. Rebecca held up her hand to prevent Naomi from continuing.
"You called Rielly 'Rye'. Why's that?"
"It's his nickname. Almost everyone calls him that. Majority of the teachers don't but a few do. He got it in year four when the only bread he would eat was rye bread. And because his name is Rielly it kind of… fit."
Rebecca smiled. "Impressive. You said Rielly would never be on drugs. Why?"
"He was so against them, he would slap you if you even considered taking them," Naomi said with a small smile. "A few of the guys in here have been on the receiving end of his slaps."
Rebecca nodded, processing the information with a small frown. "If you have been slapped by Rielly, please raise your hand." Ten boys promptly put their hands up with wry grins. Rebecca pointed to the one in front. "Name and what you know of Rielly."
"Ian Braun, no middle name," he answered confidently. "And Rye was the best friend a person could ask for. While he wasn't actually anyone's best friend, he was there for everyone. You could always count on Rye. He's helped so many of us. What's… what's happened has everyone worried," he finished in a low voice.
"Thank you," Rebecca said, giving him a soft smile. She once again processed this information. She crossed out that any of these people would hurt him. They seemed to all care about him. "Could someone please tell me more about his personality?" she pointed to a boy with thin-framed glasses.
"Simon Tanner Bersen and Rye was the biggest flirt you will ever meet. He flirted with every guy."
Rebecca looked at them in surprise. "Rielly is gay?"
"Homosexual," the all correct at once. Simon continued. "Advanced English, he refused to be referred to anything that wasn't the correct name. But yes, he is."
"Hand up if Rielly has 'flirted' with you?" Rebecca wasn't too surprised when every male hand rose. "Would this cause anyone to dislike or hate Rielly?"
"God no!" a girl cried out, standing. "Annabell Maria Turner. Everyone loves Rye. He's an angel. And have you seen him? He's adorable!" Many of the girls nodded in agreement with dreamy looks in their eyes. "He's actually made quite a few guys um… bi-curious I believe."
"Thank you Annabell," Rebecca laughed. "So what was his flirting like?"
"Compliments, touching their arms, hugs," Annabell said, shrugging. "Normal flirting."
"You forgot the serenading," Ian pointed out. "When Rye really like a guy he would sing to them. They all end up on YouTube."
"And how many guys has Rielly serenaded Ian?" Rebecca asked, gesturing to the officer. He nodded and motioned for the laptop on the teacher's desk.
For the first time since the questions started, the class became uneasy. Ian cleared his throat nervously before answering. "Just… just one."
"No!" Ian yelled, shock. "He's only said a few hundred times I'm not his type. Plus I have a girlfriend and Rye didn't flirt with anyone who was in a relationship. Said it was inconsiderate."
"Okay. Could I have the name of who he did serenade please." It wasn't a question, it was a demand.
Once again the class shifted in their chairs and shared uneasy glances. They refused to meet her eyes, staring at their desks, their hands or the floor. Just as she was about to repeat her request, the boy she noticed from before stood up.
The class fell silent as the two stared at each other. Rebecca quickly assessed Richard in her mind. Tall, five feet eleven inches, messy blonde hair, blue-green eyes, definitely an athletic person.
"Rebecca, we have a video," the officer broke the silence.
"Set it up on the projector please," she asked, moving to sit on a desk. She would observe the class and see their reactions to re-watching… whatever this may be.
Ian turned in his seat to look at Ricky. 'You okay?' he mouthed. He got a shaky nod in response as Ricky fixed his eyes on the screen. Sighing, Ian turned to do the same, sharing an uneasy look with Simon. Annabell and Naomi had also shared looks, worried about which video had been showing. However, all students shared excited looks when they saw the title: Nicki Minaj – Super Bass, cover by Rye Maximus. Rebecca noticed that they all wore smiles and kept looking at Richard quickly, smirking before turning to the front. Richard, she noted, had a steady blush rising.
"Pause it please," she asked the officer as he just clicked play. He looked at her in surprise but did as she requested. Rebecca raised an eyebrow at a few sighs that floated through the room. Turning she faced Richard, who was watching her to her surprise.
"When was this?"
"Two weeks ago, Tuesday," he answered straight away, like he was expecting the question. Rebecca nodded and motioned for the officer to press play.
Despite the title, she was still surprised when it was Super Bass playing. Glancing around the room, she saw everyone was watching with large smiles, some of the girls dancing in their seats. She turned her attention back to the screen and took careful note of what was happening. Rielly was good. In fact, he was a great performer. Singing, dancing, rapping, acting. And she finally understood what they meant about the biggest flirt. Because it wasn't just touching and hugs. It might have been to other guys but to Richard it was more. It included songs, winks, sexy smiles and very proactive dancing.
"Not exactly what I had expected," Rebecca said after the video ended and there was silence for a few seconds.
"He might look like an angel but he could be very, very um…" Simon started, trailing off.
"Seductive?" Naomi suggested with a smirk.
"Yeah, when he wanted to."
Rebecca nodded, glancing quickly at Richard who was very red but had a small smile on his face. "Could I know more about his past relationships please." The smile instantly vanished.
"He's never been in a relationship," Ian told her, surprised. "He's never been kissed either as far as we're aware."
"Okay…" Rebecca pondered. "Dates?"
Richard scowled and the whole class became uneasy. Annabell looked at him before answering. "Just… just one. But he… didn't turn up. It… it was the day before 'It' happened."
'It' was what everyone was referring the incident to. Rebecca nodded again and glanced at the clock. Only fifteen more minutes till they had to leave. She turned to Richard. "I'm assuming this was your date?"
He nodded, not looking at her. "Yes."
"And how did you feel?"
"Hurt," he answered instantly as the emotion flashed in his eyes. Everyone in the room was looking at him. "A bit angry. I felt like… it was just a game to him. But… but mostly worried."
"Worried? Why's that?"
Richard turned to look at her. "He was talking about it all week when I said yes. It was all he would talk about. He was acting like a five year old hyped up on sugar. And Rye… despite how much he flirts, he cares about everyone's feelings. He's not the type of person to stand someone up. At least not without a very, very good reason."
"And what did you do?" Rebecca asked softly, noticing tears starting to form in the boy's eyes. "Before and after."
"I waited at the movies for most of the day. I got there at eleven and left at three-thirty because I had cricket training. When… Monday came I went looking for him to ask what the hell was going on. I got Ian to help and… we found him… on the roof… about to…" he looked away, rubbing his hands over his eyes. Quite a few of the girls were also doing the same.
"Do… do you have feelings for Rielly, Richard?" Rebecca asked softly.
It was quiet for a long time. By now no one was hiding their staring, looking between the pair like a tennis match. Richard opened his mouth many times before closing it and frowning. He wasn't bothering hiding his tears anymore. "Probably. Maybe. Yes… I'm not too sure," he finally said, sounding thoroughly confused.
Rebecca watched the class in silence for the last five minutes. Naomi had gotten up and was hugging Richard very tightly as Annabell sat next to him and was talking softly. The police officers were talking quietly by the door, recording device off. They had their information. Well, most of it. Rebecca wandered over to where the teacher sat at his desk, pulling out a smaller recording device.
"I need to ask you a few questions as well sir."
He looked up from his laptop and nodded to the seat next to his desk. "Go ahead. And please, call me Daniel."
"Had Rielly been acting any different the week leading up to the incident?"
"Beside from being overly excited? Not that I'm aware of. He was acting like he normally did."
Rebecca nodded. "How much can you tell me about his family life?"
"He didn't like his father much," Daniel told her, frowning. "He adored his mother and they were very close. No brothers or sisters. And I don't believe he had any other relatives near by."
"Is… is there any chance that his father abused him?"
Daniel hesitated. "There could be. But Rye isn't good at hiding his emotions. He can't lie very well either. And he didn't act like he was being abused. But like I said, there could be a chance."
The bell rang but no one moved. Rebecca nodded at Daniel, turned off the recording device and once again stood in front of the class. She finally locked eyes with Richard.
"You need to come with me."
"You're arresting him?" three voices called out. Simon and Ian were standing up, shocked. Rebecca couldn't help herself. She laughed.
"No, no, of course not," she managed to get out. Simon and Ian slowly sat down again. "No, I need him to come visit Rielly with me."
The effect of the words was shown greatly. Immediately students started digging in their bags, pulling out cards and gifts. They all surged to Richard.
"Give this to him!"
"Tell him get well soon."
"Make sure he knows we miss him."
"And the he has heaps of homework to catch up on!"
Richard took all the cards and gifts and placed them in his bag. He smiled at his classmates before making his way to Rebecca. A few of the girls gave him hugs and whispered words in his ears before giving small smiles.
Finally he reached Rebecca and met her gaze levelly. "Let's go."