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 7: Don't Fear the Reaper
Cimmy's Notes: Huge thanks to Kristine for having the time to edit this chapter, despite her busy schedule.
A loud crash resounded through the abandoned hallway outside the principal’s office. Dead silence reigned for a couple of seconds, before another sound, a smack, followed the first.
“Ouch! Cut it out!”
“Could you please keep it down?” Luis snarled, cautiously peeking out into the hallway.
“This thing is heavy!” Guy complained.
“Well, hurry up! If someone catches us here, after curfew, we’ll be in so much trouble.”
Guy grabbed the handle of the large toolbox he’d tried to lift onto the secretary’s desk outside the office. “You could help, you know.”
“I’m a lookout,” Luis said nervously, still placed by the door, throwing anxious glances in all directions.
“It’ll go faster if you help!” Guy exclaimed shrilly, tugging at the box’s handle to indicate he needed help with it. Luis sighed, taking one last precautionary look out into hallway before putting the flashlight aside on the bookshelf next to him and grabbing the other handle of the toolbox, helping Guy lift it up on the desk. “Thank you. Do you think I can use a hammer to get it open?”
“Are you insane?” Luis muttered, although already aware of the answer. “Do you wanna wake up the entire school?”
Guy had a worried puppy eyed expression on his face, and Luis decided to help out so they could get out of there as soon as possible. “Give me the screwdriver.”
Guy did happily as he was told and then he went over to fetch the flashlight, jumping up to sit at the edge of the desk. “He’ll never see this coming.”
“Oh, yes he will, if you’re stupid enough to announce it to the entire school,” Luis muttered, crouching down next to the desk, trying to come up with a way to break into the locked drawer without destroying valuable property. “Check so no one’s coming.”
“I’m sure there’s like a whole bunch of dirt in his records. He can’t both be smart and be pulled back a year. Whatever it is, it must be awesome!”
“Could you dampen your enthusiasm just a little? And shut up, too.”
“Connie’ll see what kind of juvenile delinquent he really is,” Guy went on, juggling the flashlight in his hands. “Oh, she’ll see – oh, crap…”
“What?” Luis said without taking his eyes off the desk.
“Oh, man, I promised her I wouldn’t stalk Daniel any more.”
“What?! I’ve risked getting kicked out of school for nothing?! Now you’re telling me this, when we’ve already broken like twenty pretty serious school rules?” Luis hissed as loud as he dared. He hit the palm of his hand against the screwdriver with forceful strength, fuming with repressed anger.
Guy looked worried again, but was quickly distracted. “You got it open, great!”
Luis turned back to the desk and noticed that his last blow had made the drawer slide open. Guy pushed him aside and snatched the bunch of keys at the bottom of the drawer. “You’re welcome,” Luis growled, crawling up from the floor. “And what about Connie?”
“What? Oh…” Guy froze just as he was about to unlock the filing cabinet over by the window. “Uh… You know, she only said she didn’t want me to follow him around. She said nothing about-”
“-stealing school documents?” Luis said, rolling his eyes. “I’m pretty sure she’d have a lot to say if she knew about this.”
“I’m technically not breaking my promise, am I?” Guy asked thoughtfully, chewing on his lip.
“I seriously don’t give a shit,” Luis muttered tiredly. Guy didn’t seem to listen to anything he said anyway.
“So, yeah,” Guy nodded, snapping out of his thoughtful daze and opening the top drawer with the label A-D. “Better grab it now and think about it later, huh?”
“Just do it.”
“All right, all right! Umm… There’s like nothing at all in Adam’s… Oh, here’s Charlie’s folder! Man, it’s more packed than any other folder in the – oh, never mind, Daniel’s is even thicker-”
While listening to Guy’s constant babble, Luis suddenly saw the light switch on somewhere close to the hallway they were in. “Hurry up! Someone’s coming!”
“What?” Guy turned to look at him, and then snapped his head to the door when Luis pointed towards the light. “Damn.”
“Come on, we gotta go,” Luis whispered hurriedly, trying to push the toolbox off the desk by himself. Guy was still holding Daniel’s folder. “Let go of that! We don’t have time, let’s go!”
“Do you wanna get kicked out one week before school ends?” Luis snapped, making one last effort at lifting the toolbox. Guy shook his head. “Well, come on then!”
Guy nodded, but when trying to put all the folders he’d taken out back in the cabinet, he dropped the one he was holding – all the papers and documents in Daniel’s folder slipped down and flew in all directions once they hit the floor. Both Guy and Luis swore. “Damn, damn, damn,” Guy muttered as he bent down to pick everything up.
Luis heard someone approach the office. “Guy, leave it. We gotta go,” he whispered nervously, his heart beating louder than ever. “Help me lift this down.”
Guy quickly stuffed the other folders back in the cabinet and slammed it shut. Taking one last look at the mess on the floor, he grabbed a couple of random papers from the pile and stuffed them into his pocket. Then he went over to the window and pushed it open. With their combined strength, they managed to haul the toolbox out of the window before crawling out themselves. Guy fell headfirst into the dirt, but before he could swear some more, Luis clapped a hand over his mouth. The door to the office had opened.
Lex took another sip from her bottle of Coke, sending Fred an amused smile, with a strange twinkle in her eyes that he couldn’t quite interpret. “That’s funny,” she said. “Of all the schools in the state – in the country, even – they decide to send you to Eden Hall.”
“Maybe not hysterically funny,” he laughed. “I hated it at first, but it’s had its advantages.”
Lex smiled coyly, still with the straw in her mouth. “I didn’t like it at first either, after I got my scholarship. But I had a friend with me from back home, and we stuck together until we found some new friends, and… You know, he’s my best friend.”
For some reason, he loved listening to her talk. “I guess it must be sorta different… I mean, I’ve gone to private schools ever since I was a kid. I never really liked it anywhere, but I like it here. I don’t know, it’s just different, is all.”
“Well, if you can go just about anywhere you want, why’d your parents send you here?” she asked curiously, chewing on a french-fry. “Wouldn’t it be more convenient for them if you went somewhere close to where you live?”
Fred made a grimace. “Eh, I’m sure it would. To be honest, not many schools would want me, no matter how rich my dad is. He had to promise the school board to fund the new library and one of the new dormitories before they would even consider accepting me. I guess I’m a troublemaker.”
Lex started laughing. “You? In that case you’re the worst troublemaker I’ve ever seen.”
Fred grinned. “Managing to get bad grades isn’t really that much trouble at all, that’s true. It’s not that bad here, though. I’m glad they sent me here.”
“Yeah,” she nodded amusedly. “You know, you’re not really how I pictured you at all.”
“You’ve pictured me?” he asked with a smug grin.
Her cheeks turned a bit pink but she didn’t look away. “Yeah, don’t you think everyone does?”
“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said earnestly. “Why would they?”
“Well, you’re rich, and popular, and, umm…” she hesitated for a moment. “You know, generally good-looking.”
“Oh,” he said, feeling himself blush again and had to look down into table. “Well… Most people at the school are.”
She simply shrugged. “Yeah, but you’re richer, and more popular, and more-” she cut herself off and cleared her throat. “What I mean is, you’re like Rick Riley. But nice.”
Fred laughed a little. “Thanks, I guess.”
“Everyone wants to know everything about the richest and most popular – that’s how it works,” Lex explained with another shrug. “And you’re special.”
“I am?” he replied, wishing he could stop blushing for everything she said.
“Yeah,” she said. “You’re not like the others. You’re not stuck-up because you have a lot of money. And you’re definitely not mean to those who don’t have as much money as you. You’re the good kind of celebrity around here.” Fred could only smile self-consciously at this. “You’re nice to everyone you meet, no matter how good, bad, rich – or ugly – they are. That’s why everyone likes you. That’s why everyone around here wants to be your friend.”
“I guess… it’s not the worst thing to be.”
“You don’t think you are special from all the other snobs?” she snorted.
“No. Not really. I think I’m just like them.”
“But nice and non-judgmental,” she added quickly.
“Uh, maybe. I don’t know.”
“Well, it’s the truth,” she stated conclusively. “But I still pictured you to be different from this.”
“How?” he wanted to know.
“You never really say a lot during lessons, and whenever I see you with your friends, you let them talk while you listen. So I kinda assumed you wouldn’t be much fun to talk to. And… well, I know you’re good with sports, so I chalked you up to be-”
“A stupid jock,” he mumbled, knowing far too well that was what most people thought of him.
“But you’re not. You’re actually pretty smart,” she said decisively. “So people are wrong… when they say that.”
Fred didn’t know what to say. “That’s… Thank you.”
“People always talk a lot of bullshit,” she shrugged, leaning back in her seat. “I mean, come on, they think I’m some stoned, poor loser just because I’m in a rock band.”
Fred laughed. “That’s not really true, is it?”
Lex also laughed, wiping the back of her hand at the corner of her mouth. “My parents work on Wall Street and they live on Park Avenue. And last time I smoked anything, I was climbing the walls for hours afterwards, so I don’t see that happening again any time soon. And I’m too cool to be a loser.”
“Yes, you are,” he grinned. “I’m… Do you wanna go to a party with me tomorrow?” Lex looked at him in surprise. Fred wasn’t sure why she was surprised. He’d always been outspoken, saying what he had on his mind without analyzing it to bits like some people tended to do. He hadn’t ever had a problem with telling a girl he liked her, or asking her out if that’s what he wanted. That usually didn’t happen very often, though; that he found someone he wanted to date. He wasn’t sure what he wanted with Lex, but she was nice and he really wanted to get to know her better, even if it would only be as friends.
“A party?” she asked.
“Yeah, the hockey team’s throwing a big bash at Adam Banks’ house tomorrow night. You wanna go?”
She smiled at him, with that same mysterious twinkle in her eyes as earlier. “Sure. Sounds like fun.”
“Don’t get your hopes up,” he suggested. “There’s always something happening that makes it chaotic all around.”
“You’re the party expert,” she smiled, shrugging. “So… Is this like a date or something?”
Fred laughed shortly. “Nah, it’s just a party. You can bring a friend if you want.”
“Oh,” she said, still smiling, but looking slightly disappointed. “Sure, I’ll do that, if that’s all right. I told you about my friend, right?”
“Not really,” he smiled. “But you can tell me about him if you want.”
“Okay,” she replied. “We’re gonna need more snacks.”
“Definitely,” he said, looking at the empty trays on the table. When he turned to have the waitress come over to them, he caught a glimpse of the clock on the wall and noticed that it was almost eleven.
He couldn’t care less, though.
Connie walked into her room, balancing her books and bag on one arm, and carrying a cup of coffee in her other hand. It had taken her hours to understand the basics of how the budget was supposed to be calculated, but she was tired and sick of all things economy. Daniel could say whatever he wanted, at least she had tried to understand it.
She found Julie sprawled on her own bed with one arm covering her face. “Headache?”
Julie threw a quick look at her, scoffing. “Yeah, I wish. I’ve had a migraine ever since Fred left.” She sighed deeply and sat up. “You know, it’s not even that he’s particularly lazy or anything; at least he’s trying to help, but… He just… doesn’t get it! It’s an evil cycle. He doesn’t understand, so I try to explain, and then I get impatient, so that makes him nervous, and that only makes it harder for him to concentrate.”
Connie nodded sympathetically. “I’m sure he’ll understand soon.”
“I don’t know. I’ve given up the hope. We just keep fighting over the most ridiculous things. He reminds me of Scooter, and it’s not really his fault, but he acts just like…” Julie growled with frustration. “You know? Everything he does is annoying because he reminds me of someone else.”
“That’s not his fault, though,” Connie pointed out.
Julie fell back onto the bed. “Yeah, I know. But he’s fighting with me too, so it’s not just me being a bitch. He says I remind him of his ex. Can you believe that?”
“Eh… You just said he reminds you of Scooter…”
Julie covered her face with her hands, moaning loudly. “It’s such a mess! He wasn’t this annoying when he was playing with us, was he?”
“I wish he could try harder, that’s all,” Julie mumbled, her words muffled by her hands. “How’s it going for you?”
“You mean besides Guy and Luis jumping out at me from behind various bushes and furniture? It’s going great,” Connie muttered moodily. “And my partner’s an ass.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Julie mumbled distractedly, still thinking about her own problems. “I guess it could be worse. I mean, Fred might be slow and annoying, but at least he’s not an ass. He’s pretty nice, actually, when we’re not arguing.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Connie said, sitting down on her own bed, kicking off her shoes. “I’d be happy to trade with you.”
“Well, you get along with Fred. I don’t.”
“And I guess nobody gets along with Daniel,” Connie muttered, taking a deep breath. “Party tomorrow?”
“You got it. Should be fun.”
They both started laughing. “Let’s just hope it won’t be a complete disaster,” Connie suggested, giggling.
“Like last time, when Jesse got stuck up that tree?” Julie snickered, sitting up.
“Ooh, we should invite him!” Connie suggested. “I don’t think anyone’s told him about the party yet.”
“Adam’ll pop a blood vessel when he sees how many people will show up at his house tomorrow,” Julie said, sounding a bit sympathetic. “God, my parents would kill me if I threw a huge party while they were out of town.”
“Oh, come on, it’ll be fun!” Connie smiled. “We’ll help him clean up afterwards, put everything back in its place. His grandparents won’t ever find out.”
Julie gave up a short laugh. “He seemed most worried about that dog, though. Binky?”
“Dinky. That dog is vicious. When Jesse and I were at his place once, and Adam’s parents were looking after that dog while his grandparents were on vacation, Dinky almost chewed off Jesse’s leg.” Connie shuddered at the thought. “You definitely don’t wanna know what he did to my leg.”
“We’ll lock him into one of the bedrooms,” Julie suggested with a shrug. “Can’t have him around humping the party guests, can we?”
“Maybe we can train him and set him off on Riley?”
“Hey, that’s an idea,” Julie grinned evilly. “I’ve never been to Adam’s house. Is it big?”
“I’ve never been to his grandparents’ house either,” Connie explained, getting up to walk over to the window. “It looks big from outside. Just think, if they live in such a huge mansion, wouldn’t it be cool to see where Fred and those people live? They’re ten times as much richer. But I guess I’m easily impressed from growing up in the back alleys of the inner-city.”
“Oh, exaggerate some more,” Julie smiled, knowing Connie wasn’t that bad off.
Connie glanced amusedly at her. “I guess you’re used to it. You live in a big house, too.”
“No, actually, I share a dorm room with you, and I’d like it if you could pick up your laundry before Fred shows up next time so he won’t think we’re white trash or anything,” Julie said firmly, kicking one of Connie’s shoes across the floor.
Connie rolled her eyes, leaving her spot by the window. “Yes, Mom.”
Julie grinned. “A bit of cleanliness has never killed anyone.”
“Not yet,” Connie said, while gathering her clothes off the floor. Julie just laughed at this.
Credits & References
+ Don't Fear the Reaper is a song by Blue Oyster Cult. It was Kristine's idea. I claim no responsibility. :P
+ Chapter eight involves My Little Pony, Jello, shopping, tequila and more smashed eggs. Don't miss it!