Summary: The Ducks wrap up their first school year at Eden Hall with the yearly marriage project. Seven of the players are more on the verge of divorce than others, though, when the whole project starts to get completely out of hand.
Dedication: I was going to say none, but I have to dedicate it to Kristine (nygoldfish54) and Sam (trulyforgotten9) as I wouldn't have become a better writer without their help.
Disclaimer: The Mighty Ducks belong to Disney. I own Fred, Kate and Daniel. Lex belongs to nygoldfish54. (Lex was originally not in this story, but Kristine suggested I'd use her, and I just couldn't pass that up...)
Chapter 3: Dazed And Confused
The weather had changed drastically the next day, as it was pouring down rain early in the morning, and it was still raining heavily at lunch, and after the last lesson of the day. Julie had realized that she didn’t have very many lessons with her new partner, Fred, other than Social Studies and Health, and she had neither of those classes on her schedule on Tuesdays. She was determined to get a good grade on this assignment, though, so at lunch, she tracked down Fred and asked if he had time to meet her later in the afternoon.
Julie wasn’t sure she liked the hand she’d been dealt with. After checking out why Fred didn’t have any other classes with her, she’d found out that he was taking classes that were on far lower levels from her own. It annoyed her that his friend Daniel had been rude enough to insinuate that Connie wouldn’t do as well on the project because she was ‘a jock’, when Fred seemed to be the poster boy for the “lazy jock with bad grades” stereotype. Julie didn’t like to make judgments on anyone she hardly knew, but couldn’t help but feeling that Fred would be just as rude and obnoxious as Daniel – they were, after all, friends.
Her impression of Fred definitely did not improve when it turned out that he wasn’t very good at showing up on time. They were to meet behind the dorms by the southern buildings, close to where the hockey rink was. Ken had accompanied her over there, as they were both in the same Spanish class together, but when Fred became more and more late, Ken had to leave to get to his own study session and Julie grew more impatient by the minute.
When he finally showed up, twenty minutes past their settled time, Julie wasn’t in the best of moods. “So, you decided to honor me with your presence after all?” she asked sarcastically. Even though she’d stayed under the roof, she was still drenched, and afraid to miss him completely, she hadn’t dared to go inside to wait for him there. “Do you know how to tell time?”
Fred blinked to keep the raindrops out of his eyes. “I’m sorry.”
Julie stared at him for a moment, not sure if she was annoyed with him for not showing up on time, or for not bothering to explain why he was so late. Deciding she didn’t particularly care much, and that the answer he’d provide her with would only make her more distressed, she motioned at him to follow her around the side of the building. “You know, it’s polite to call someone when you know you might be late for an appointment.”
“Sorry. My teacher held me back,” he explained sheepishly. “Err, so… Umm, I guess we should… I don’t know, what do you think we should do first?”
“Getting inside would be a start,” she muttered, then softened a bit when she noticed that he was at least showing some interest in a passing grade. “Where do you live?”
“At school,” Fred replied simply, looking around with a confused expression on his face. “Where are we going?”
Julie couldn’t help but stare at him again, wondering if he was trying to mock her, but he seemed to be dead serious. “Which dorm do you live in?” she adjusted the question, hoping for a more giving reply.
“Oh,” he said, and then went quiet for a couple of seconds. “Third floor, main building.” He turned to nod in the direction they came from. “That way.”
Julie had to force herself not to point out that she knew perfectly well where the main buildings were, like every other student at the school did. “Right. It’s closer to my dorm, so maybe we could study there,” she suggested.
“Okay. I’m… I have the papers and stuff Ms. Hudson gave us.”
“Awesome,” Julie said sarcastically, just wanting to get inside from the rain. Fred, however, didn’t seem to detect the sarcasm. “How many kids do we have?”
“What?” Fred asked confusedly, and then looked down at the folder he was carrying, filing through the papers. “Oh, right. Umm… Two, I think.”
Julie stopped and turned to him. They were standing on the path right next to the big lawn, and the rest of the campus was completely deserted. “You think? Fred, you’re supposed to have the eggs.”
Fred chewed on his lip while reading the paper he was holding. “Uh, I never got any eggs.”
“Did you ask Ms. Hudson where they are?” Julie went on, the final bit of patience gone. “Because I asked you if you could get them yesterday, remember, during class?”
“Oh,” Fred mumbled. “I guess I forgot.”
Julie clenched her fists tight, punching the air in frustration. “Right,” she said with forced calm. “Right. We’ll just go and buy some, then. No big deal. Right?”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Fred nodded, quickly tucking away the folder from the rain. “So, should we go that way?”
“Well, do you see a bus stop right here, maybe?” Julie asked sarcastically.
“No, you’re right,” Fred nodded again thoughtfully. Julie decided that he was either too slow for the words to sink in right away, or that he just simply didn’t know what sarcasm was. “We can take my car. The parking lot’s that way.”
“I know where the parking lot is,” Julie pointed out, trying the hardest she could to sound nice. Being offered a car ride instead of having to take the bus was definitely something that would improve her mood. “Two eggs, then.”
“We could buy a whole carton,” Fred suggested. “In case one breaks, I mean.”
“Let’s just try not to break them at all,” Julie said.
“Yeah, of course, I - oops.”
Julie didn’t have to turn around to recognize the sound of paper falling to the ground. Silently wishing she’d been a widow, she rubbed her temples and hoped the papers hadn’t been too destroyed by the rain.
“Man, this is ridiculous,” Luis complained quietly. He was sitting, supposedly hiding, on the damp ground among the school’s many rosebushes, watching Guy peek in through the window right above their heads. “They’re not even there.”
“Look, any minute now they could be back and we need to be prepared-”
“No, you have lost it, and I need to get back to our room. Linda wants to plan our project. And you, Guy, should probably try to figure out who your partner is so you guys can start on the project too.”
“What? What project?” Guy asked absentmindedly, ducking down under the windowsill. “Didn’t I tell you to hide?”
“I think your exact words were ‘get the hell away from the wall and stop giving away our position’, and I’d like to point out again that the only two people stupid enough to be outside right now are you and me.”
“Sshh!” Guy hissed, waving at Luis to be quiet. “Listen, I think they’re… Stop sticking your head up!”
Luis rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. He hadn’t moved an inch in about twenty minutes, and Guy was popping up and down like a yoyo, looking incredibly insane in the process. “I’m not about to bury myself in the dirt just so you can spy on some guy.”
“He’s not some guy. He’s Connie’s guy. What if he makes a move on her and we’re not here to defend her?” Guy explained hurriedly, wiping some water away from his forehead, leaving a trail of mud from his hand over his face.
“The last person who bothered her a bit too much got his ass kicked so hard that he could barely walk the next day. Look, Guy, Julie and Connie can handle themselves. They don’t need us to fend off intrusive guys. If Daniel does anything inappropriate, she’ll handle it. Could we please stop hiding in the rosebushes now?”
“No! They’ll be back soon. I just know it.”
“What if they’re studying at Connie’s place?” Luis pointed out. “Maybe they won’t be back for hours.”
“You think so?” Guy asked worriedly, before looking disturbingly excited. “We’ll have time to sneak into his room, then!”
“No, Guy! That’s not at all a good idea,” Luis whimpered as Guy got up from the ground and ran over to the side entrance of the building five windows away, completely forgetting to be subtle and sneaky.
The Rainbow Café was unusually crowded for a simple Tuesday afternoon, mainly due to the unexpected rainfall. Despite the name, the setup was a diner; commonly know as just “Rainbow” among the Eden Hall students. Located only a few blocks away from the school, it was a popular place to meet at after class.
Unfortunately, Portman wasn’t enjoying the absence of school quite as much as he usually did. “So, I’m thinkin’ that if you don’t really like the name Casper, we could maybe choose another name similar to Casper, or if you wanna have a girl egg or something, we could always call it Casperina, cool, huh? I think I kinda like that name,” Kate McKinley chattered happily, juggling an egg back and forth in her hands. “But still, we could always decide later ‘cause the baby ain’t due yet for another two months, however long that is in fake-marriage time. Hey, Casperina is a pretty nice name, isn’t it?”
Portman, who hadn’t looked up at her at all since she joined the table, continued to stare right into the salt-shaker without paying any attention to what Kate was saying. He’d given up on trying to talk back to her; he’d given up on getting to talk at all, and was now more determined than ever to find a way to get rid of her on.
Kate was grinning brightly at Fulton, who was also sitting with them – Portman had no idea how Fulton was putting up with Kate’s babbling. As to whether he liked the name Casperina, Fulton merely shrugged. “Someone should write this down. It could be crucial for later. Ooh! I’ll go get a pen,” Kate offered, jumping up from her seat and heading towards the counter.
Portman sat up straight. “Let’s leave before she comes back!”
“And how far do you think we’ll get before she tracks us down?”
“Here. Stab me with this fork. We’ll say you hafta take me to the hospital. It’s a good excuse.”
“I’m not going to stab you with a fork,” Fulton said sternly. “Look, just hear her out and then pretend like you know what she’s talking about when you have to finish the report.”
“Man, you have loads more patience than I do. Please, trade with me. No one will notice. Most teachers can’t even tell us apart; they think we come as a unit. You put up with her, and I don’t. I’m sure you’ll do better than me.”
“Yeah, but I’m still not doing it,” Fulton clarified, sounding slightly amused. “Maybe if you get to know her-”
“I don’t want to know her! I want to get rid of her! Kate McKinley is the most annoying person at this school-”
“Second most,” Fulton muttered to himself.
“You know, I’d totally do it for you,” Portman changed strategy. “We’re like brothers, you and I. We have to stick together-”
“It’s just a girl, dude,” Fulton sighed. “You sound like we’re going to war. Shut up, she’s here.”
Kate came skipping back to them. “So, I totally found some very cute pink post-its and the waitress said I could have ‘em. We could write notes on them and put them on the folder, it’ll be awesome! So, let’s write it down, shall we,” she spoke in one breath, leaning over the pink squared pad. “Cas-per. Casp-er-ina. Hey, how do you spell your last name?”
Portman growled with despair, grabbing the salt-shaker and aiming it at Kate’s head, before Fulton grabbed his arm.
The supermarket had for some reason expanded to infinity, Julie noticed, after walking around the same aisle for the tenth time. She hadn’t found any eggs. More importantly, she hadn’t found the shelf with the Tylenol either. She hadn’t found Fred again since they went in different directions to locate the eggs, but she wasn’t really trying as hard to find him.
Fred wasn’t exactly as she’d pictured him to be. He wasn’t like Daniel DeRienzo at all; for having such jerk as a friend he was quite different. He wasn’t cocky or arrogant either; she had to give him that. He was actually very friendly and nice, but he was definitely not brightest guy she’d ever met. In some ways, he reminded her a lot of Portman, though she had to admit that even Portman had some sort of clue regarding most things. Fred wasn’t nearly as loud and energetic as he was either. Julie was actually starting to wish that she had been paired with Portman instead.
They finally met each other by the checkout. “I found the eggs,” Fred told her informatively.
“I can see that. Could we just pay and get out of here?” she asked tiredly. The headache had not subsided at all. “How much do I owe you?”
“Uh, I don’t know. It’s all right, I can pay for them. I was the one who forgot ‘em to begin with, right?”
“Right,” Julie repeated, too beat to argue about it. “I’ll wait outside, if that’s all right.”
“Here, take the keys,” Fred offered, digging the car keys out of his pocket. “You can wait in the car if you want.”
It had stopped raining when she got out in the parking lot. Forcing herself to only focus on Fred’s good qualities, she realized it was kind of hard to keep disliking him. Since it wasn’t raining anymore, she waited for him right outside the exit. It only took a couple of minutes before he showed up. “So, we have the babies…” Julie said slowly, thinking of how to put together all the different aspects of the assignment. “Next week we have the internships, so we should probably try to finish as much of the report as possible this week.”
“All right. I have practice on Thursday, but other than that I’m free all week,” Fred explained while unlocking the car. “I mean, if you need my help.”
Julie frowned, feeling annoyed again as she got into the car. “Why wouldn’t you help?”
“I don’t know. I’m not very good with reports,” he shrugged, placing the carton of eggs in the back seat.
“Well, I’m not writing it all by myself, if that’s what you want,” she muttered. “It’s your project too.”
“I know that-”
“Well, congratulations. At least you know something,” she snapped angrily. “I don’t do other people’s homework for them, you know.”
“That’s not what I meant either,” he said, throwing her an irritated glare before turning to look out the back window while backing out from the parking spot. “I offered to help, didn’t I?”
“Help? We’re supposed to do this together,” she reminded him sourly. “I’m not doing your work too!”
“Did I even say that?” he asked with a frustrated voice. “God, you’re not even listening to me.”
“I am! I think you just don’t want to understand,” Julie snorted.
“What don’t I understand?”
“Oh, never mind!” she sighed forcefully, starting to feel like she was reasoning with a wall. It reminded her of an argument she’d had with Scooter once, and she suddenly remembered that this was just how their relationship had ended a while back. Scooter had been just as impossible to reason with, too.
Fred seemed to share a similar opinion. “You remind me of my ex,” he muttered under his breath.
Julie found that all his good qualities had somehow disappeared.
Charlie paced back and forth in the room he shared with Adam. Never had he felt so miserable before – at least not for a couple of weeks. Fulton, who had finally escaped the Rainbow Café and the fighting couple, was sitting on Adam’s bed, wondering why he’d chosen to visit Charlie of all people.
“I mean, there’s a point to which I’m tolerant,” Charlie explained with exaggerated hand gestures. “And Adam has crossed that line and-”
“Where is he, anyway?” Fulton asked. “You haven’t locked him into the closet again, have you?”
“Look, that was one time, and he was being a righteous pain in the ass!” Charlie growled, stomping over to the desk and going through the piles of paper on it. “He’s off sulking somewhere because I told him how lame his egg basket was.”
Charlie threw his hands into the air, shrugging. “I don’t know, I may or may not have threatened to make a delicious omelet of the little rascal once it’s grown to an eatable size. I mean, he’s just so sensitive sometimes, don’t you think?”
“And he was going on and on about how he’d smash the egg if I didn’t stop annoying him – how is that any nicer?”
“Dude, it’s an egg.”
“Here we are, trying to convince the fake adoption agency to give us a kid, and Adam threatens to smash it? That’s awful!”
“And threatening to eat it is so much better?”
“Well, I wasn’t serious. Plus, it’s an egg. There’s no such thing as an Egg Protective Service, is there, right?”
“You’ve all gone crazy,” Fulton decided, shaking his head. “It hasn’t even been a day yet.”
“How’s your project coming along?” Charlie asked, sitting down on the floor with his back against the wall.
“All there is to do is make sure an egg won’t break and write a report. It’s not that hard, man.”
“Yeah, well, you’re not forced to do all this with someone you can’t stand. Why does this always happen to me?”
“Charlie, you and Adam always fight like this. It doesn’t matter in the slightest that you’re paired for this project, somehow you’d find a way to have this argument anyway.”
“Adam better not smash that egg,” Charlie said through gritted teeth. “I’m looking forward to introducing the little brat to the stove and our new frying-pan.”
Fulton couldn’t help but laugh at Charlie’s determined facial expression. “Come on, man. You can’t torment Adam like that.”
Charlie didn’t bother replying. After a moment of silence, he changed the subject. “How do you think the others are doing?”
“You mean, how do I think Luis and Linda are doing,” Fulton said with a smile. “I saw Guy and Luis a while ago, covered in mud. I’d say it’s not going great.”
Charlie spent another moment looking thoughtful. “You think maybe Linda threw mud at them?” he asked hopefully.
“I kinda doubt that.”
Charlie sighed mournfully, resting his chin against his hand, looking thoroughly discontent with the world.
Fulton rolled his eyes. “You could always ask her to that dance next week.”
“Who?” Charlie muttered. “Linda? Why would I do that? We broke up.”
“Sure. You’re way too interested in what your ex is doing-”
“I was just wondering!” Charlie exclaimed wrongfully, before he looked thoughtful again. “What dance?”
“The girls have been talking about it for weeks,” Fulton explained. Charlie just stared. “The one that all the posters are about? There’s one out in the hallway.”
Charlie quickly got up from the floor and hurried over to the door, disappearing out into the hallway outside. Fulton heard him walk to the end of the corridor, and then he heard a sound of paper ripping, and Charlie swearing, before Charlie came back and slammed the door shut behind him. “Stupid poster,” he muttered, sucking on his finger.
“Did you cut yourself?” Fulton asked amusedly.
“Shut up,” Charlie said quickly, reading the poster he had in his hand. It was blue with white stars, with a text that announced the yearly Spring Fling for the underclassmen. “This is right before school ends.”
“Next Friday, yes. So, you’re gonna go?”
“Nah. It’s stupid, right? Linda doesn’t even like events like these.”
“She’s on the Student Senate,” Fulton pointed out. “Don’t they decorate these things?”
Charlie frowned. “Well, so what? She won’t wanna go.”
“Thought you said you wouldn’t ask her anyway.”
“Could you stop pointing things out?” Charlie muttered, taking his eyes off the poster. “It’s damn annoying and you sound just like Adam.”
“Stop being so stubborn, then. You wanna go with her, so ask her. It’s not that hard.”
Charlie growled inaudibly.
Credits & References
+ Dazed And Confused is a song by Led Zeppelin.
+ The idea and name of the Spring Fling dance comes from Mean Girls.
+ Some of you should be able to figure out the reference to Casper on your own.
+ Someone sent me an E-mail, asking what the pairings in the original story were, so here they are: Scooter/Julie, Fred/Connie, Guy/Sarah, Charlie/Cecilia and Adam/Travis. If you don't understand why I had to re-write it, just look at that list.
+ Kristine was my beta, as usual, for which I'm very grateful. From here on, the story will be updated about every other week.