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 5: Always On My Mind
Cimmy's Notes: Yes, it's update time again. This chapter isn't dedicated to anyone, but Emily did give me a lot of feedback on it when she first read it, so many of the changes I made are thanks to her. That's why it's, you know, longer and also, like, better.
Just as a side note (which this already was, but eh): I wrote chapter one to ten of this story last summer, so any good requests that are made won't make it into the story until at least chapter eleven. I have only decided what should happen to Connie and Guy, and Luis and Mindy, but the outcome of the rest of the plots are still in the air. I can pretty much assure you that Portman and Kate won't end up as a couple, though. Feedback and suggestions are always welcome, I can use some fresh ideas.
Luis managed to escape from Guy’s impending madness on Thursday afternoon. He and Linda had spent little to no time at all on their assignment, so Luis figured it was time to get a grip and let Guy handle his jealousy on his own. After Connie had tracked them down the previous evening, dragging Guy aside to yell at him for trying to ruin her and Daniel’s assignment, Guy seemed to have calmed down a little. Although, Luis knew he was only planning his next move, and also knew it would be best to be far away before it was carried out.
Luis didn’t know Linda too well. Back when Charlie had still dated her, they’d all hung out together from time to time, but that was all. Luis had gotten the impression that Linda hadn’t tried very hard to get to know anyone on the team, aside from Charlie and Adam – Adam was after all, despite much fighting, Charlie’s best friend.
Linda took assignments seriously, Luis knew that much. She was involved in many after school activities and had top grades; Charlie had mentioned that a lot over the past few months. Luis hoped she wouldn’t be too intense. He cared about his grades a good deal, but he wasn’t about to exceedingly obsess over them.
After kissing Mindy goodbye and watching her and the rest of the cheerleading squad troop along towards the gym where they had cheerleading practice, Luis settled down on the stairs outside the classrooms on the third floor, where Linda had told him to meet her. It was cloudy and sunny outside, so the rest of the hallway was completely deserted. The only interruption was when Kate McKinley came bursting up the stairs in a great hurry, almost tripping over him before heading for the gym, obviously late for practice.
Five minutes later, the door to the classroom across the hallway opened and a number of people filed out, carrying papers and piles of books. Linda exchanged a few words with a friend before walking up to Luis. “Sorry, that took longer than I thought it would. We’re still organizing the Spring Fling dance next week and we haven’t sold enough tickets for it yet,” Linda spoke rapidly, looking concerned. “You’re going, right?”
Luis nodded, smiling. “Yeah, you can save me the convincing arguments. Mindy and I already have tickets.”
“Oh, good,” Linda said with a relieved sigh. “I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the seniors to organize their dance, prom and everything. But at least we have something to look forward to, right? I’ve always wanted to visit Minnesota Club – that’s where they're having the prom this year.”
“Oh,” Luis said unenthusiastically, remembering all too well his last visit there. “I’m sure the underclassmen dance will be just as good.”
“It will,” Linda nodded determinedly. “It’s a lot of planning, but it’ll be great. The JV cheerleaders are going to help us decorate the gym next week, so it shouldn’t take long.”
“Yeah, I heard. So, where should we go study?”
“It’s probably too hot in the library,” Linda mumbled thoughtfully. “We could always sit by the pool.”
“Eh, let’s not,” Luis suggested, knowing Guy would be there if Daniel and Connie were. He desperately wanted to avoid a similar situation to yesterday. Having Connie yell at him wasn’t something he was dying to experience again. “We could go to the diner.”
“Rainbow? All right, I guess we could do that,” Linda said, frowning slightly. “I haven’t been there since Cha- I mean, for a while.”
It turned out that Linda had already outlined most of their project – and report – herself. Luis realized that organization wasn’t just a big thing for her when it concerned dances; she’d made long lists and gone crazy with a magic marker on the paper Ms. Hudson had given them. She had also labeled every section in her folder with different colors, to be able to find the sections more easily.
“So, uh, this is all the notes?” Luis asked uncertainly, holding up a notebook that was crammed with loose papers. “Seriously.”
“Well, I did some research yesterday when you didn’t have time to meet up,” Linda explained simply. “We’re supposed to have these marriage problems, so I looked up a few counselors. Maybe if we call, we could set up an interview with one of them? I think we’d get bonus points for that, don’t you?”
“When would we have time for that? You have your meetings with the dance committee and the student body, and next week we have that vocational practice, or whatever it was-”
“Practical vocational training,” Linda said, going through the other notebook she was holding. “Here, I made a schedule. We should have time for everything. We’re only supposed to be at the magazine next week on Tuesday. That leaves plenty of time for other activities.”
Luis didn’t even have to look at the schedule to feel exhausted. “Linda, I’m not sure we’ll have time for all of this-”
“Of course we will, it’ll just take some hard work. You have pretty good grades, don’t you?” she questioned him suspiciously.
“I don’t think that has anything to do with how much time we’ll have for this project,” Luis said, annoyed with her for making rash judgments of his character just because he didn’t want to be buried in schoolwork during his last week of school.
“Well, you gotta work if you want good results,” Linda explained patiently. “We should start working on our budget right away.”
“I actually have to go pick up Mindy in a few minutes,” he said, looking at his watch. “I’ll help you with it tomorrow.”
Linda sighed tiredly, leaning forward across the table. “Look, you have to be committed to this project to keep up; I can’t do it for you. School isn’t just about scholarships and sports, you know.”
“Thanks, I’m well-aware of that,” he muttered, deciding it was time to leave. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“This is so typical,” she complained, sighing heavily again. “All you care about is your athletic feats and how good your reputation is and how good your team will look in front of the school.”
Luis had a distinct feeling she was describing some other hockey player he knew. “Yeah, those are your issues. Don’t be such a snob.”
“I’m not a snob,” she claimed, before looking like she’d been struck by some other familiarity, and fell silent.
“I don’t know you that well, so I won’t pass judgments on you that you don’t deserve. I’d appreciate if you’d show me the same respect. Look, I gotta go,” he said, grabbing his jacket. “We’ll sort out the rest of this tomorrow.”
“Fine, whatever,” she said quietly. “See ya.”
Linda fell back into her seat, clutching her milkshake with a firm grip, watching Luis walk out through the doors. “Jocks,” she muttered, though feeling strangely subdued and glum after her conversation with Luis.
When Guy came back from his quick tour around the school, unable to locate Daniel (and Connie), the door to Charlie and Adam’s room was opened and the entire hallway seemed to be in an uproar. Taking a quick peak into their room, he noticed that they were just having one of their usual arguments. Adam came bursting out, knocked on the door across the hallway and disappeared into the room without paying any attention to Guy. Guy thought it’d be safer to enter their room if only Charlie was there.
Charlie was sitting on the floor, reading a book, having two eggs lie beside him. There was a yellow colored stain on the carpet and egg shelves spread around the stain.
“Manslaughter?” Guy asked when he stepped in.
Charlie looked up in confusion. “Excuse me?”
“The egg. Did you kill the child?”
“Me? Who do you think did it?” Charlie whined. “Man, everybody’s on my case today! First Portman, then Adam, now you. Conspiracy!”
“What’s Portman mad about?”
“Oh, he’s trying to convince anyone who’s willing to listen to trade partners with him. I’d happily oblige, you know, to get rid of that preppy boil in my ass-” Charlie nodded towards Adam’s bed. “-but you know, it’s Kate McKinley.”
“Anyway, Portman was here fifteen minutes ago, bursting in, blaming me for ruining his fake life, yelled a lot and threatened to kill my eggs if I moved, and told me to stay out of his way. Overreaction much, huh?”
Guy just shrugged, not sure who he thought was the biggest baby. “Right.”
“And then Adam comes storming in here, all worked up about hell knows what, yelling at me and accusing me of being a lousy husband, and I mean, come on! I’m a good husband! Look how I’m watching our kids while he’s off being mental!”
“Anyway…” Guy said, trying to help the story along.
“Yeah, so, anyway, Adam had our first fight without letting me chip in at all, then proceeded to smash one of our eggs, got all upset about it and stomped out to go visit Fulton,” Charlie shrugged, glaring at the closed door across the hall. “So, now I’m all tired of being yelled at, so I’ve decided to kick back with some homework and try to look after our other two eggs in case their mother goes crazy again and tries to decapitate or smash them too.”
“Right… Have you seen Connie?”
Charlie sighed. “Guy, man, you have to get over this. Stalking is never the answer.”
“Do you know where she is?” Guy went on, not sure if he’d heard what Charlie just said.
“No, I don’t know where she is,” Charlie said dejectedly. “Did you check Daniel’s room?”
“Only two times.” Or seven, but that was irrelevant.
Charlie glanced at him doubtfully. “Okay then. So, are you getting along with your partner?”
“What?” Guy said, then waving off the question. “Oh, yeah. Sure.” The truth was that he still hadn’t contacted his partner. He wasn’t sure what her name was, either. It was Pixie or something. Or Dixie. Something with an X. “When do you think Connie will be back?”
Charlie opened his mouth to answer, when they were interrupted by Ken. “There you are. Goldberg is looking for you. Apparently Portman locked Kate McKinley into the locker-room after her practice and now they can’t find Portman – he has the key.”
“Meh,” Charlie said disinterestedly. “She’ll get out.”
“Have you seen Connie?” Guy asked Ken.
“No. Look, Charlie, I think we’d better convince Portman to let her out before one of the gym teachers finds out what’s going on,” Ken suggested. “What’s with the egg?”
“It broke. Adam put his foot on it.”
Ken scratched his head, looking confused. “I thought you only had one egg to take care of.”
“Umm, yeah. Good thing Adam smashed one of the backups, huh? We borrowed a few from Julie; she bought a carton with twelve. It’s always good to have backups.”
“Eh, all right.”
Charlie looked up again when Adam and Fulton showed up. “What, since when is my room a damn metropolis?” he asked. Adam went over to his closet, starting to dig out a bunch of clothes and dumping them on the bed, before kneeling down to pull his suitcase out from under it. Charlie quickly gathered the eggs together to keep them from ending up under Adam’s shoes.
“What’s up?” Guy asked. “Leaving?”
Adam glared at Charlie before replying. “Just going home over the weekend.”
“Thank God,” Charlie exclaimed with relief. Adam threw a sock at him.
“Why?” Ken wondered, still shifting nervously over by the door, waiting for Charlie to join him so they could get to the locker-room in time before someone found out about Kate.
Adam threw his things into the suitcase in no specific order. “My grandparents are taking Mom and Dad to New York for a couple of days and I’m supposed to watch their dog while they’re gone.”
Charlie started laughing. “They trust you with a dog? What an honor!”
“Shut up,” Adam hissed, throwing the other sock at him. “Dinky has been in the family longer than I have, and my grandmother loves him more than she loves us.”
“Dinky?” Charlie continued to laugh. “Dinky.”
“It doesn’t sound so bad,” Guy tried to soothe him. “Your grandparents’ house is nearly as big as this school. It must be awesome to have so much money.”
“Is Dinky rich too?” Charlie asked. Adam tried to kick him.
“Oh, I have an idea,” Fulton said, suddenly looking very excited. “If your folks are out of town, we can throw a party!”
Adam’s eyes widened to the size of small saucers. “No way, forget it! You’re not throwing a party at my grandparents’ mansion!”
Portman stuck his head around the doorframe. “We’re having a party?”
“Do you have super-hearing or something?” Charlie asked. “Do you automatically pick up on certain words?”
“Only when they’re important,” Portman grinned. Ken poked at him. “What is it, little bash bro?”
“Can I have the key to the locker-rooms?”
“What? Oh, right. Man, I completely forgot about that,” Portman laughed, handing over the key to Ken, who left in a hurry. “She’ll be fine. So, when’s the party?”
“No, wait-” Adam spoke up.
“Tomorrow, at eight, Adam’s grandparents’ house,” Charlie explained quickly.
“No, wait a minute; I never said you could-”
“Awesome!” Portman exclaimed. “I’ll spread the word. That place is cut out for a huge party.”
“Huge? No! Wait!”
Portman and Fulton departed, ignoring Adam’s pleas. Charlie shot him an innocent look. “So, this should be fun for Dinky, shouldn’t it?”
Adam roared loudly, throwing himself over Charlie to wrestle him down on the floor, smashing the remaining eggs in the process.
Daniel looked up into Kate’s furious face. He was in his usual spot by the pool, stretched out across one of the benches on the bleachers. Fred was sitting one step above him, watching people dive off the diving-board by the pool. Daniel sat up and removed his sunglasses, laughing at how ridiculous Kate looked when she glared at him. She was soaking wet and still wearing her cheerleading outfit.
“What’s happened to you?” he asked amusedly as she sat down next to him. “Fell in?”
“Shut up. It was that goon, Dean Portman! He locked me into the locker-room,” Kate howled with an upset voice, loud enough for everyone around the entire pool area to hear.
“How ironic. And this made you so devastated that you decided to drown yourself?” Daniel continued, grinning.
“No,” she moped. “I had to crawl out through the window. The sprinklers on the lawn went off right after I got out.”
Both Daniel and Fred laughed at this. “Man, wish I’d thought of that first,” Daniel teased, shoving at her with his foot. Kate growled theatrically, sounding like a vicious feline ready to attack. “Those Ducks are quite entertaining, aren’t they?”
“Shut up. They’re annoying, each and every one of them,” Kate whined, tugging at a strand of her hair. “Look! I’ll look like a troll doll!”
Fred shrugged at Daniel’s statement, ignoring Kate raving on about her ruined hair. “They’re all right. I told you guys they’re not that bad. They’re just like us.”
“Only poor, uncivilized and stupid,” Daniel scoffed, looking away from them. “They act like they own the place, when really they’re just like the average snobs, and we damn well have enough of those already.”
Fred turned his head down, unsure why Daniel felt the need to be so harsh. Personally, he’d always liked the team and the individual players on it – even if he wasn’t getting along very well with Julie at the moment. He’d played together with them during plenty of practices and games, and was still friends with some of them, mainly Adam and Guy. Fred didn’t think Daniel had any right to dislike the entire hockey team only because he was against sports in general. Of course, Daniel had always been narrow-minded, and Fred considered himself to be quite the opposite of that; this also explained why Daniel only really had two friends who tolerated him, and Fred was one of the most popular persons at school.
“I like Charlie,” Kate suddenly interrupted the strange, awkward silence.
“Big surprise there,” Daniel snorted. “You like just about anyone.”
“Nuh-uh,” Kate pouted wrongfully. “He’s nice.”
“He’s also a jock and he’s probably only trying to get you into bed,” Daniel muttered angrily, throwing a pebble into the pool despite objections from the people around him. “That’s what I’d do.”
“We went out yesterday, and he was actually pretty nice,” Kate explained with a discouraged tone.
“You mentioned that, Red,” Daniel said bitterly, tensing up. “I can’t stand the lot of them. People around here treat them like celebrities even though all they do is skate and beat people up. I can do all that, too.”
“You can’t skate,” Kate pointed out.
“Well, so what?” Daniel snarled heatedly, snapping his head to the side, scowling at her. “What’s the big deal with it? It’s bullshit, that’s what it is.”
Fred decided to interfere before the two of them got into another argument. “They’re just doing something they’re good at,” he said quietly. “I play hockey too.”
Daniel sent him an uncharacteristically regretful look. “Yeah, man, I know. I’m just saying that they’re… You’re not full of yourself, that’s all. They’re just-”
“They’re good people, and good friends,” Fred finally spoke up, voicing his opinions out loud. He usually didn’t interfere unless Kate and Daniel went much too far with their shallow assumptions, but the hockey team wasn’t most people. He knew what they were like and he knew that Daniel was wrong to call them poor and stupid. “They haven’t done anything to you so if you wanna be mad at someone, be mad at the Varsity or something.”
“Oh, you think so, do you?” Daniel snapped.
“Not really,” Fred shrugged. “Most of the guys on Varsity are decent people too.”
“You really don’t get a vote in this, seeing how you’re friend with just about everyone at this school,” Daniel cut him off, throwing another pebble hard into the concrete below. “Even that jerk Rick Riley-”
“My dad knows his dad,” Fred hurried to say. “I don’t really like him much.”
“That doesn’t seem to stop you from sucking up to him,” Daniel went on angrily. “And he sucks up to you too, and you just let him-”
“I’m not defending Rick Riley,” Fred muttered, losing his patience with Daniel’s pettiness. “I was talking about the Ducks, and they’re good people!”
Kate held up her foot in the air between them as an interjection. “Got water in my new Nikes,” she announced, emptying the drenched shoe and letting it drip down on the bench. “Can we stop fighting now?”
“Yeah,” Fred nodded. He almost never got into disputes with Daniel, as he wasn’t a big fan of arguing, even if he disagreed with practically everything Daniel had opinions about. “Portman’s not treating you badly, right, Katie?”
“Putting me in a dumpster doesn’t qualify as badly?” she wailed loudly.
“I mean, bad badly?”
Kate shrugged discontentedly. “I guess not. Could you beat him up anyway?”
Fred laughed. “Beat him up? You realize he could kill me, right?”
“I’d like to see you go for it,” Daniel added with a grin.
“Oh, I’m sure you would.”
Daniel stretched out on the bench again. “Entertaining, I’m tellin’ ya.” He looked at them with an amused smirk. “That guy on your team, with the French name-”
“Guy,” Fred filled in.
“Yeah, him. He’s been following me around all week. He’s trying to be all stealthy and shit, but he’s more like a bulldozer. And he’s dragging that Hispanic bloke with him, too. I’m surprised they’re not around right now. They put up quite a show. It’s like watching a French farce, with the Moreau girl running after them and yelling at them every five minutes.”
“Guy is Connie’s boyfriend,” Kate pointed out. She had put her shoes next to her on the bench to let them dry, and was now crawled up next to Fred with her toes resting against the edge of the bench in front of her.
“Thanks, Red, I’m aware of that,” Daniel grinned. “I like that girl, if only because she detests me.”
“You shouldn’t hit on her,” Kate suggested perkily. “Guy loves her.”
“I haven’t seen any announcements about that anywhere,” Daniel shrugged, smiling evilly. “She’s effectively denying that he’s stalking her.”
“Kate’s right. You should probably leave Connie alone,” Fred said, knowing full well how much Daniel liked a challenge.
“Hey, I’m not suggesting I’ll make something of it,” Daniel laughed. “I just like to play with the guy for a while. I’m sure they’ll live happily ever after once I’m done with them.”
“Once you lose interest, you mean,” Kate muttered, wagging her toes from side to side.
“That too,” Daniel nodded.
Fred took a quick look at his watch. “Well, I gotta go. I have to meet up with Julie. We’re still working on our budget.”
“Oh!” Kate exclaimed excitedly, jumping up from the bench. Daniel and Fred watched her with surprise. “Before I forget, you guys, we have to go to the big party tomorrow. I heard someone mention it, and it sounds like it’ll be a blast!”
“What party?” Fred and Daniel said together.
“The Ducks are throwing a party at the Banks’ residence. You know that big, fancy mansion in the wealthier part of Edina? That’s where it is.”
“Banks?” Daniel said doubtfully. “The rich one?”
“Stop labeling people!” Kate snarled, and then continued with a cheerful voice, “We’re going, right?”
“Doubt we’re invited,” Daniel grimaced. “Doubt it very much.”
“You can stay at home, then,” Kate suggested, pouting again. “And not ruin our fun.”
“Not sure I wanna go,” Fred shrugged, grabbing his messenger bag and getting up. “You should probably catch a ride with the cheerleaders if you wanna go.”
“Oh, come on!” Kate whined. “I don’t wanna go without you! The cheerleaders suck!”
Fred looked around and noticed that her loud statement had caught a lot of students’ attention, as they were staring at her quite curiously. “Eh, right. I’m sure they’ll love to know you said that. Look, you two can figure something out. I really gotta go now.”
“If we decide to go, does that mean you’re going too?” Kate asked happily.
“I told you I’m not going,” Daniel muttered sourly.
“Don’t be so boring, Danny! You’re such a pain! Fred, how about it?”
“Eh, sure. Bye.” Fred quickly jumped over the benches to get down from the stands, hoping he’d be far gone before Kate and Daniel’s real fight broke out.
Credits & References
+ Always On My Mind was originally recorded by Brenda Lee, but I prefer either the Elvis Presley version or the Pet Shop Boys one.
+ “Look! I’ll look like a troll doll!” Name that episode! Hilary gets all mad at Will because of a mishap with her hair, so she tries to choke him. Okay, I'll name it for you: it's (probably) When You Hit Upon a Star, season four, episode seventeen of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Kate wouldn't miss one episode of that show. Anyone who gets the reference in the reference will be praised.
+ Daniel likes to say 'just about' a lot. Kate says 'the nerve' a lot. That's not a reference to anything in particular. It's just how it is.
+ Coming up next is the chapter where Guy gets so totally busted, the "return" of the mysterious Pixie-Dixie, and, gasp, who exactly has died in Charlie and Adam's room? Another kid? Adam? Stay tuned!