Road trip to Vegas. Yes, I have a map and we know exactly how far away Vegas is from Minnesota. *sigh* Just go with it.
Category: The Mighty Ducks (Movies)
Characters: Adam Banks, Charlie Conway, Dean Portman, Fulton Reed, Guy Germaine, Jesse Hall, Julie Gaffney
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fluff, Romance – Het, Romance – Slash
Pairing(s): ! Original Character/Canon Character, Fulton/Portman
Dedication: First off, Kara, the both of us want to say thanks. Without you and your pointless, spiteful and prejudice-filled flames, Charisma (sorry, CHAIRsma) and Star wouldn?t have thought about co-writing for quite awhile.
Star would like to give a big shout out to Vic *glares at everyone who pointedly rolled their eyes* Oh, come on, she shares my brain, without Vic, there is no Star. Star also is bouncing off the walls that Charisma agreed to write with her.
Notes: We changed where Eden Hall was. We made it about two hours? drive away from Minneapolis, why? Because it suited our plans, and also, Disney changed the geography of Minnesota, so why can?t we?
Date Published: 21 Jul 2002 • Date Updated: 22 Apr 2003 • Chapters: 20 • Words: 24,550
Are We Nearly There Yet? by Star
“Remind me again why this is a good idea.” I say, hauling a bag onto my shoulder and nearly crumpling under the weight of it. How can it be so heavy? I’ve sent most of my stuff home to my parents, this bag is holding only the essentials.
“Because,” Portman replies with a grin. “We’ve graduated, we’re getting out of here and we’re going to Vegas. What could be better?” He lifts his bag easily onto his shoulder, walks over to me and throws an arm around my shoulders. “And did I mention you have the pleasure of my company the whole time?”
“Yeah, you and that resonant snore of yours.” I grin back at him.
“One of the many reasons why you love me.”
I snort. “Ok. It’s your snoring that I love.” Sometimes I wonder if my boyfriend has taken far too many hits to the head during his hockey career.
He takes my hand and we walk down to the gates of the school. “Our last ever hour on these grounds. You sorry to be leaving?”
I grin at him. “Not really. I can’t wait to get out of here.”
Charlie has been planning this trip since we were sophomores. He decided that when we graduated we should all drive down to Las Vegas and get crazy. At the time it sounded like a great idea, and everyone was all for it.
Unfortunately only nine of the thirteen will be going. Ken, Russ, Goldberg and Dwayne have got other plans. However, we are picking up Peter Marks and Jesse and Terry Hall on the way, so that kinda makes up for it.
“Ready to get crazy?” Adam asks, bouncing idiotically on the balls of his feet and waving madly as we walk towards him.
Portman and I exchange a look. “Ok, who gave Banksie speed?” Portman asks.
Guy rolls his eyes. “He’s been like that all morning. We’ve tried to calm him down, but no luck so far.”
“You want me to knock him out?” I joke.
“Don’t tempt me.” Charlie says, sticking his head out of one of the vans parked outside the gates.
Adam grins again and ruffles Charlie’s hair.
I hide a grin. “Which van should we put our stuff in?” I ask Charlie, hoping that it’s not the same van as Adam.
“That one.” He points to the second van. “It’s gonna be kind of empty until we get to Minneapolis, but the girls wanted to be in the same van. You’ve just got Annie and Luis in your van.”
“Annie?” Portman asks. “What about Averman?”
“He couldn’t make it.” Charlie responds. “He got a job. Luis called and asked if Annie could come, so that’s the arrangement.”
“Cool.” Yet another Duck that couldn’t make it. It’s a shame. Charlie’s probably annoyed about it, like I said, he’s been planning this trip for years.
I walk around to the back of the van and chuck my bag in. There’s an audible crunch as it lands, followed by and even louder crunch as Portman’s bag lands on top of it. I wince, wondering what has just been crushed.
A blonde head appears over the back of the seat. “Keep it down, I’m sleeping!” She grins at us.
“Hey Annie.” I smile at her.
“Hey.” Portman also greets her. “I hope you don’t get travel sick.”
“I’d be a moron to come on a road trip if I did.” She winks, but I’m not sure who it’s directed at.
“Let’s go say hi to the others.” Portman suggests, tugging my hand.
Annie flops back on the seat and I hear a pained “oomph!” as she lands on someone, presumably Luis. Then I hear her mutter, “Gay men are so hot, it’s tragic.”
I’ve got to mention that to Portman later.
We stick our heads inside the other van where we find Julie sitting between Connie and her friend Julia. Julia and Connie are talking over each other trying to talk to Julie. They’re so busy trying to get her attention that they don’t notice us straight away.
We don’t get much time to say hi to them before Charlie ushers us back to our own van muttering about not being late to pick up Peter, Terry and Jesse.
I’m amused to note that Adam bounces over to the other van. Charlie grins at him tolerantly, then whacks him around the head with a map when he starts singing loudly. I have no idea what he’s singing, but he’s murdering it.
“Looks like we got the sanity van.” Portman grins at me, climbing into the driver’s seat as I wander round to the passenger side.
I get in and grin at Luis, who has a dazed ‘Why am I awake so early?’ look on his face. Annie is slumped against him, apparently dead to the world.
What I don’t get is why they’re not a couple. They look like one, they act like one, they’re both straight—despite a few minutes of confusion on Luis’s part when Traci finished with him and he didn’t seem to care. But they’re not together.
“And we’re off.” Portman starts the engine, I slip on a CD and with a burst of Rob Zombie we leave Eden Hall for good.
Annie jumps ten feet in the air as Living Dead Girl starts. She rubs her eyes and looks around wildly.
“Are we nearly there yet?” She asks.
Charisma is still in shock that Star asked if she would like to write with her. Charisma also thinks Star is the coolest! ::grins::
Because I Can by Charisma
“No more Eden Hall!” I whoop next to Charlie. He glances at me, I just grin. I couldn’t blame him. I’ve been really excited about this roadtrip. I had been going on about it for days. He starts the engine.
“And we’re off!” I grin winding down the window. “Whoo-hoo!”
“Adam, if you don’t shut up, I will slug you!” Charlie says turning up the radio. I shrug.
“Whoo-hooo.” I mutter.
“Adam!” Charlie snapped. I wonder how he heard me. “I’m trying to listen to this.”
He’s listening to the weather channel. Bor-ring.
“Bor-ring!” Julia Knight echoes my thoughts. She leans over Charlie’s shoulder and switches the channel over and over until she finds a good station.
“Oooh my favourite song!” Julie grins and starts singing along to a Red Hot Chilli Pepper song. “All around the world, we could make time, Romping’ and stomping…” She starts to nod her head along to the beat. She turns it up. I start singing along with her. Hey, you only live once.
“Cause I’m in my prime!” Julia sits next to Julie, she nudges her. “Sing along!”
Connie gives her a dirty look.
“Born in the north, And sworn to entertain ya, Cause I’m down for, The state of Pennsylvania!” I form my left hand so it looks like I’m singing into a mic.
Julia gives up on Julie and Connie and comes up the front to sing with me.
“I try not to whine, But I must warn ya, Bout the girls, From California!” Julia’s voice gets more off key as she keeps singing.
“You suck!” Charlie yells, changing the station over. I raise my eyebrows at Julia. She leans over and changes it back.
“I know I know it’s you, You say hello and then I say I do!” I imitate a guitar riff. Julia laughs.
“Come back baby, Cause I’d like to say, I’ve been around the world, Back from Bombay…” Julie and Guy joins in. I’m not that big a fan of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but I have to admit that this song isn’t so bad.
“….Fox hole love, Pie in your face, Living in and out, Of a big fat suitcase…” We all get cut off as Charlie switches over the radio. Again.
“What’s your problem?” Julia asks looking insulted. “That was a good song.”
“First of all, that song sucked. Second, you all have terrible singing voices. Third, this is my van!” Charlie glared out of the window. Julia raised her eyebrows at me.
“Typical.” Julia muttered loudly enough for him to hear. He glanced at her.
“My van!” She mimicked him. She tossed her red hair over her shoulder. “We’ve finished high school! Lighten up!”
“Yeah, lighten up.” I punch him lightly on the shoulder. “You planned this!”
“You planned this?” Julia asks him, in surprise, as she knocks on the side of his head. “I didn’t realize there was a brain inside there.”
I crack up laughing. Charlie doesn’t look too impressed.
“Bite me.” He snaps. “That song is so five years ago. Grow up!”
“It’s a classic.” Julia says flicking him on the ear. “Don’t blame me if you have crappy tastes in music.”
“Act your age.” Charlie swats her hand away. She starts to run her hand through his hair.
“You really need to wash your hair.” She comments wrinkling her nose.
“I’m trying to drive!” Charlie yells. “Are you trying to get us killed?”
She shrugs and switches the radio on. Charlie turns it off. She turns it on. He turns it off.
“Charlie, what is your problem?” Julia asks.
“You!” He shots back. “Don’t make me turn you into roadkill.”
“As if you could.” Julia shots back. Charlie swerves sharply, Julia yelps as she topples over. Charlie grins evilly at her. She glares back and gives his ear another flick as she hops, yes hops, over to where Julie, Connie and Guy are sitting.
“Jules!” She throws her arms around her. “Whatcha doin’?”
“Talking.” Connie says pointy. Julia doesn’t notice.
“Oh yeah? About what?” Julia asks. I turn around in my seat to face them.
“Nothing that concerns you.” Connie says. Ouch.
“Cool!” Julia grins her crazy lopsided grin.
Julie sends Connie a warning look. “So how come you’re annoying Charlie?”
“Because I can!” She says loudly. “Right Charlie?”
“What’s up your butt?” I ask. He shrugs.
“Half of the ducks aren’t even coming!” He complains. “Some fun this trip will be.”
“You will have fun.” I jab him in the shoulder.
“Banks, you’re really starting to annoy me.” He says sliding some sunnies on.
“I can’t help it if I’m happy I finished high school.” I shrug my shoulders. “I bet you’ll have fun on this road trip. We are, after all, going to Vegas!”
Julia starts singing a song about Vegas.
“Thanks a lot Banks.” Charlie switches on the radio to drown out her voice.
She Drives Me Crazy by Star and Charisma
Jesse’s POV (by Star)
“They’re here!” Peter yells, smacking me in the stomach with his bag in his excitement.
“Ow.” I push him away from me. “If I wanted to be beaten up, I’d ask. Now back off, dwarf.”
Peter kicks me in the shins. You’d think after over ten years of friendship, I’d learn not to annoy him. And especially not mention his lack of height.
“You bully!” He kicks me again.
“Shut up, Peter.” My brother and I chorus.
The two vans pull over and Adam jumps out of the first one before it’s even stopped.
“Hey Preppy!” I yell cheerfully.
“Cake-Eater!” He responds, bouncing over. I blink. Banksie bounces?
“Don’t pay any attention to him.” Guy advises, getting out of the van in a more sedate fashion. “He’s been hyper all morning.”
Charlie ambles over looking annoyed. The rest follow him, stretching themselves out. Adam stands next to Charlie, bouncing happily.
There are a lot of hugs (and a couple of “Who the hell are you?”‘s from Peter) and we all grin at each other idiotically. Except for Charlie, who’s still sulking.
I know most of them quite well. Every so often Peter, Terry and I used to go over to Eden Hall for a weekend just to hang out. Or the Ducks would come and see us. I’ve heard a lot about Julia, but never met her. Annie I’ve seen a couple of times, but never really talked to.
“No Averman?” Terry asks.
“No, he got a job.” Charlie mutters.
Why is he so down? “Why so glum, Spazway?” I ask. Then I gesture to Adam (who is still bouncing and now singing too). “And what’s up him? I turn my back for two lousy months and the two of you have turned into Jay and Silent Bob.”
He finally cracks a smile. “You try sharing a van with Banks and the Hellcat singing loudly and be cheerful.”
Julia glares but she’s too far away to do any damage to him.
“Ok, let’s go!” I say quickly. “Which van are we in?”
“You’re with the Bashes, Luis and Annie.” Charlie responds. “You can have Banksie as well if you like.”
“No you can’t! He’s the only one that sings with me!” Julia quickly argues.
“Have ‘em both?” Charlie offers hopefully.
“But I want to be with Jules.” Julia grins.
“So do I!” Connie adds quickly.
“And I want to be with Connie.” Guy adds.
“Which is why we came up with this arrangement.” Portman interrupts before anyone else can state their seating preference. “So, Terry, Jesse, Peter, you’re with us and Charlie, you’ve got the same people you’ve had for the past two hours.”
“Who made you the boss?” Peter demands, staring up at Portman.
“Shut up, Peter.” Terry and I say for the hundredth time today. We each take an arm and escort him to the van.
I look around the group, and already people are glaring at each other.
I glance at Terry, who shrugs. I know exactly what he’s thinking:
If people are already getting in moods, what are the next few weeks going to be like?
Julia’s POV by Charisma
I quickly slide next to Jules before Connie can. Score! I grin innocently at Connie who huffs and sits across from us.
“Let’s go Charlie!” I call over my shoulder.
“Since when were you the boss of this van?” He asks, glancing at me in the mirror.
“Oooh, la la.” I grin and shrug. “Just letting ya know, we’re ready to go.”
“We’ll go when I’m good and ready.”
“Charlie…” Jules glances at him. That’s Jules. The peacemaker. The Charlie peacemaker. Whatever. As long as she gets Charlie to stop being so mean.
“Sorry.” He gives her a half grin and starts the engine. Adam waves wildly at Portman’s van. The more hours I spend in this van, the more I like Adam.
We all laugh, well except Charlie, as everyone in Portman’s van gives him an amused look. Fulton, Luis and Annie waves back. Everyone else looks relived that he isn’t in the van with them.
I settle down into my seat, Jules pulls out a book. Connie opens her mouth to say something, but I beat her to it.
“Whatcha readin’?” I ask.
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” She replies. I saw the movie, but didn’t read the book. I don’t have much interest for reading, I’ll start a book, get into the first three chapters of it, then start another one and then I lose interest in that book and go back to the another one, but then I have to read it again so I understand it, so I don’t bother in books. Magazines are easier to read. Plus there’s pictures!
“I saw the movie.”
“You saw it with me.” She glances over at me with mild amusement. Without even realizing it, she just told Connie something we did together. Us. As friends. Friends see movies together.
Sue me, I happen to be competitive when it comes to friends. Plus I feel protective of her, Jules and Connie had this huge falling out a long while ago and I was there, a beautiful friendship started between Jules and I. Then Connie came crawling to her on her knees. Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly what happened. Actually I don’t really know how they made up, Jules said something about them having a good long talk.
“A good long talk can fix things up.’ That’s what she said.
“We should camp out for the night.” Charlie cuts into my thoughts. How dare he! But a good idea.
“Cool!” I call back. “I’m up for it.”
“Aw!” Jules moans. “I rather sleep in a bed.”
“Jules, where’s your sense of fun?” Adam asks, slightly bouncing in his seat. “Pass ‘em!” He points at the rear end of Portman’s van.
“No.” Charlie shots back. “Gimme your phone, I’m going to give Jesse a call, tell him our plans.”
“Excuse me!” Connie exclaims. I almost excuse her. But think better of it. “We haven’t made any plans!”
“Come on, it’ll be fun, Julia’s even up for it!” Guy tries to coax her. Bad mistake Germaine, never bring me into it. I think he realizes.
“I’m up for it, if I’m up for it, then you can be up for it!” He quickly changes the topic to him and Connie. I exchange looks with Adam. He just shrugs, grins brightly at me and starts to pester Charlie to pass Portman’s van.
Vic, cheers for the title of “Bash Lovers”. You rock. *sobs* See you tomorrow!
I Know Him So Well by Star
I stare at Luis’s head and think hard. Turn around and smile at me, I command mentally.
He turns and gives me a big grin. I pat him on the shoulder. Charlie has insisted that we camp out for the first night of the road trip (at the very least). So here we are, tents all pitched, sitting around a campfire.
Charlie has suggested we sing “We Are The Champions” but after Adam cheerfully obliged, Peter threatened to beat him up and the Bash Lovers serenaded him with “Baby, One More Time” he’s given up trying to get anyone to sing.
I lean against Luis and yawn. I have to be the laziest person on the planet. I’ve slept for most of the day and still I’m tired. He slips an arm around me and I snuggle against him. He’s the most comfortable guy I’ve ever been around. He’s just perfect for sleeping on.
I grin at Peter across the campfire. I like him, he’s always smiling. I hate guys who constantly glare. I’m glad I came, I didn’t want to ask if I could come, it seemed like a Duck outing, but the minute after Luis asked me I was already packed and standing by the door impatiently.
I’m practicing ESP more than ever for when we get to Vegas. I figure if Luis and I get good at it, we can cheat when we’re gambling, then we can use the cash for another big holiday. I’ve always fancied Spain, no idea why, and Luis speaks fluent Spanish, so it would work out quite well if he came too.
And besides, we get on so well. Having Luis around saves guys hitting on me. I’m not gay, I figured that much out for myself, but I’ve never met a guy that I want to date. Luis and I went to the Prom together, it was easier than finding dates. He had planned (years ago) to go with Traci, but she dumped him last year when she left for college.
I stifle another yawn. Luis strokes my hair absently, but doesn’t stop his enthusiastic conversation with Adam about how much money they’re going to win in Vegas.
I glance around the campfire. Jesse, Terry and Charlie are having a very aggressive conversation about the finer points of hockey, Peter appears to be listening, and hits Terry on the arm every few minutes for no apparent reason.
Jules is sitting between Julia and Connie, both are vying for her attention. Guy sits next to Connie, looking on tiredly. He occasionally opens his mouth to speak, but then closes it once more, thinking better of it.
Fulton and Portman are sitting as close as is humanly possible, holding hands and talking quietly. They keep glancing around then whispering to each other, I guess they’re talking about how we’ve all paired off into little groups tonight.
“Hey Jules, wanna share a tent with me?” Connie asks loudly, breaking the quiet talking around the fire.
“I thought you were sharing with me!” Guy says looking at Connie, at the exact same time that Julia says the same thing to Jules.
A small argument breaks out, and Fulton and Portman shuffle away from them and closer to Luis and I.
“Aren’t you glad things are more simple for us?” Luis comments.
“Totally.” I agree. It may be kinda sad that Luis is my only close friend, but at least I don’t get jealous of anyone.
“So you two are sharing a tent?” Portman wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.
“Oh please.” I mutter.
“We’re just friends.” Luis adds. “Just because you two have gone from best friends to something so adorable that it makes me want to hurl it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.”
“We’re adorable?” Fulton asks, looking slightly offended.
“I don’t think we are.” Portman replies.
“Sure you are. It’s beyond cute. All the hand holding and the togetherness. Adorable.” I grin at them.
“Well, what about you two? You have the whole ‘we’re so snugly we should get a room’ thing going—not to mention the odd occasions when that ESP thing actually works. You’d make a great couple.” Portman replies.
Luis rolls his eyes. “Here we go again. They’ve been on at me to ask you out ever since Traci left.”
I sigh and shift under his arm until I’m more comfortable. “Oh, give it up. We’re just friends.”
Fulton looks at Portman. “Wasn’t that our theme song for quite a few months before we got together?”
Portman nods. “Yep, I think we said it on an hourly basis.”
“Look! I’ve known Jules longer than you!” Connie yells standing up and glaring at Julia.
“Yeah, but I’m her best friend!” Julia glares right back at Connie.
“No you’re not! I am!”
I wonder if they realise that they sound like five year olds. Jules looks like she’s about to cry, as does Guy. They start yelling at each other Jerry Springer-style.
Luis taps my arm and nods to our tent. I grin back. Perfect distraction.
As the Bashes stand up to separate the fighting girls, Luis and I slip away undetected.
“Hrmm?” I turn to him, half asleep.
“Thought you called me telepathically. Just checking.” He says in a voice as dozy as mine.
“Not this time.” I settle back in his arms once more.
Waving Adam by Charisma and Star
Peter’s POV by Charisma
Trust Luis to get the most gorgeous girl in the world. Of course she’s blonde. He has a thing for blondes. I’m surprised I haven’t heard about this. Annie and Luis. I knew who Annie was of course, but I never really spoke to her much. She’s beautiful. Beautiful girls makes me nervous. I’ll give it a try this time.
“So Annie,” Great start Peter.
“Shush!” She presses her fingers to her temples. Now I notice that Luis is concentrating on something and Annie looks deep into thought.
I exchange a look with Jesse.
“I’m too tired to do this.” Luis complains. Annie drops her hands onto her legs. Mmmm, nice legs.
“Luis!” She sighs, “If we don’t keep practicing, how will we be able to communicate through ESP?”
He shrugs. “I’m going back to sleep.”
“Don’t be surprised if you dream about red monsters chasing you.” She crosses her arms.
“Thanks for the warning.” Luis says, curling up into a ball.
“Man, do you think Annie’s from outer space or something?” Terry whispers to me. I shrug and look back at them. Annie is leaning onto Luis, whispering into his ear.
“Man, when did that happen?” I ask Terry.
“Them?” Terry asks. I roll my eyes.
“No, Portman and Fulton!”
“Man! I was being sarcastic!” I cut him off. “Annie and Luis!”
“What about them?” Terry asks looking at them. I sigh. Terry can be awfully slow sometimes.
“When did they happen?”
“Them? Happen?” Jesse butts in. “They haven’t happened dude!”
“Then what’s up with that?” I jerk a thumb into their direction.
“Oh, they act like that all the time.” Jesse shrugs.
“So, Annie’s single?” I ask. Terry raises his eyebrows at his brother.
“Sounds like somebody got a crush!” Jesse grins.
“Don’t be so childish.” I mumble slouching down into my seat. I dig into my bag for my walkman.
“Is Peter blushing?” Jesse asks Terry. Terry studies me.
“I think he is.”
I pull on my headphones. And switch on my walkman. Eminem’s voice blares into my ears. Ahh, bliss.
Somebody pulls my headphones off. One thing I hate is people pulling off my headphones. What’s wrong with just tapping me on the shoulder? I open my eyes to curse at whoever did this crime.
It’s Annie. I, of course, can’t yell at Annie. Beside she doesn’t know I hate it. So Instead of giving her a dirty look, I smile politely and ask what she wants.
“We’re trying to overtake Charlie’s van.” She informs me, I glance out of the window, sure enough, Adam is waving wildly and Charlie actually has a grin on his face. Maybe the camp out did him some good.
After five minutes of everyone jumping all over me, I’m so small that they don’t even notice that I’m there. I snort and write on a piece of paper.
It reads : Help! I’m being kidnapped by the Mighty Ducks! Call the National Enquirer!
Charlie points at me and says something.
“I’m hungry!” Luis and Annie call out, they both glance at each another.
“This is a breakthrough!” Annie grabs Jesse’s cell phone.
“Okay, we’re stopping for food and new music!” Fulton calls out, sending Portman a quick glare that turns into a cheesy smile. “Pass that on!”
“Will do!” Annie yells back.
We all jump out of the van as soon as Portman stops. We all chatter excitedly as we enter the shop.
I grab a packet of pretzels, a bottle of Pepsi and after deciding which one to choose, I end up buying peanut M and Ms and chocolate M and Ms along with the Pepsi and pretzels. I head out and of course me, being Peter, bumps into Fulton and drop all of my junk. Of course Annie is there to witness my clumsy moment.
“You alright?” Fulton asks. “You look flushed.”
“I’m fine.” I gather all my stuff up and climb inside the van. Lucky I’m so small that I can climb under my seat and die.
Of course that doesn’t happen because Terry has taken it up onto himself to tease me about Annie.
I wonder if it’s possible for somebody my size to climb out of the window. I settle for kicking Terry in the shins.
Charlie’s POV by Star
I wave at Fulton as he overtakes me. He and Portman grin cheerily at us. Then I see the rest of the passengers, they all have their faces pressed up against the window making crazy faces at me.
Despite the fact that they’ve been doing this all day, I laugh.
Adam turns to me looking stunned. “Did you just laugh?”
“I might have done.” I reply, giving him a grin.
“And that was a smile too.” He comments in tones of amazement.
“Bite me, Banksie.” I grin wholeheartedly this time.
“It’s ok, Spazway, I won’t tell anyone you were happy…” he shrugs. “And even if I did, they wouldn’t believe me.”
I glance around the van. It’s not the most happy of places at the moment. Julie, Julia and Connie are all glaring at each other, Guy keeps trying to play peacemaker and they all keep telling him to butt out.
Adam is using this quiet time to send numerous text messages to Jesse’s cell phone. I pity his father, who is footing the bill for that phone.
I overtake the other van once more. This time Peter is waving a sign that reads “Help! I’m being kidnapped by the Mighty Ducks! Call the National Enquirer!”
“Someone reply to that lunatic.” I point at Peter.
Julia snorts. “Did Charlie just make a request for humour?”
“Not your kind.” I say shortly. I don’t know what it is about this girl, but she’s driving me mad. Me. And Connie. And poor old Guy as well. And Jules is caught in the middle of it all. And not only that, she’s winding up Banks and making him act like a toddler with a sugar high.
Guy grabs his bag and searches for a pen while Adam rummages through the glove box for something to write on, but quickly stops when he gets another text message from Jesse.
“What’s happening in the other van?” I ask.
“Annie and Luis have had a telepathic breakthrough—according to them. They both said ‘I’m hungry’ at the same time.” Adam laughs, then resumes his search for something to write on.
His phone goes off once more. He shuts the glove box again. “We’re stopping at the next services to get some food and a new CD. Apparently there’s a big fight over what music to listen to.”
I can relate.
Once more Banksie looks for something to write on. He comes up with a map and a lime green glove.
“Wow.” I comment. “I always thought that glove box was just a clever name.”
Adam laughs. “See, you do have a sense of humour!”
“That’s an objective statement.” Julia comments.
Adam laughs again and I glare at her in the rear-view mirror. I wonder if we can leave her behind.
Guy looks mightily tired and annoyed. “Guy, why don’t you swap with me when we stop, I’m tired of driving.” I suggest. If he’s driving, he won’t feel obligated to sort the girls’ problems out.
He gives me a relieved smile. “Sure thing.”
I’m glad to get out of the van for ten minutes. My tail-section is completely numb. Why don’t movies ever show the downside of roadtrips? Like annoying passengers like Julia.
I wander over to the shop and find Luis and Annie buying CD’s and snacks. She’s busy talking him into buying her Roxette’s greatest hits and Avril Lavigne’s Album. I notice that Peter is staring at her with a look of adoration on his face.
No chance, Annie isn’t aware that anyone but Luis exists.
I spot Adam buying a pack of Fizzballs, the only candy in the world that has over 110% sugar and a Britney Spears album.
I sigh deeply. The next few hours in the van are going to be hell.
Travelling Nightmare by Star and Charisma
Luis’s POV by Star
“Just Jelly Babies and then I’m all set.” Annie pleads with me.
I give her an indulgent smile. I hope all this telepathy practice pays off, this girl is seriously denting my wallet. She slips her hand into mine and we set off towards the counter to pay.
Adam bounces past us, stopping only to grin idiotically. I see Charlie looking horrified. I guess he’s less than pleased that for the last two days Adam has been channelling his inner-Tigger.
“What am I thinking?” Annie asks.
I yawn. “That you’re really tired because it’s impossible to sleep in a tent that is pitched on the sharpest most pointy rocks in the entire state?” I reply.
She grins. “No, but I have been thinking that all day.”
“See, we’re getting better.” I say. Annie and I have been trying this for four years, but to be honest I don’t think we’re getting better, just closer. And I’m sure that’s cheating. It’s not telepathy if you know your friend so well that you can make an educated guess.
We wander outside again and meet up with the others. There’s a fierce debate going on, mainly caused by Connie and Julia’s obsession with staking their claim as Julie’s best friend. Her only best friend.
Charlie looks pissed off, Guy looks exhausted, the rest look amused, except for Julia and Connie who look two seconds away from going Jerry Springer on each other.
“Ok!” Portman bellows loudly. “That’s it. Time for a change!”
“I want to be in a different van to Peter!” Terry pipes up instantly. “He keeps kicking me.”
Jesse turns on Peter. “Stop picking on my brother!” And he promptly slaps him around the head. Jesse turns back to Portman. “Can I be with Peter? I want to keep an eye on him.”
“I don’t need a babysitter, Jesse!” Terry protests.
“He does.” Jesse nods at Peter, who glares back.
I exchange a look with Annie. At least things are simple for us, we’re always together. It’s simple and it’s good…
“I’ll swap vans.” Annie volunteers cheerfully.
My jaw drops. It would have been nice to have ESP at that moment.
“What?” I ask.
“Just think, we can practice ESP.” She smiles. “Being in separate vans will help keep us focused.”
“I think I’ll swap vans too.” Peter says casually. “I’m bored of everyone I’m with at the moment.” He gives Terry a pointed look.
“And I want to keep an eye on Peter.” Jesse says.
“I’m nowhere near your brother!” Peter shouts.
I sigh deeply and head back to the van and leave them to it. If I’m not with Annie there’s no point in listening to them argue.
I slump on a seat and close my eyes. This is going to be a boring couple of hours without her.
“Go! Go! Go!” I hear Guy shout, a female giggle follows it. I open my eyes and see Portman slamming the door and Terry slamming his foot on the gas. I look back towards the other van.
Connie and Julia look mutinous, Annie looks amused and Adam is still bouncing. I wink at Annie as we pull away and she blows me a kiss.
I glance around the van, we have lost Jesse, Peter and Annie, and gained Julie and Guy, who both look simultaneously guiltily and very proud of themselves.
“Hi.” I mutter. “I take it you pulled a switcheroo.”
They nod. “I couldn’t take it anymore. They were driving me crazy.”
No prizes for guessing who the ‘they’ Julie’s talking about are.
The van seems a lot smaller with Portman in the back with us instead of up front driving. Terry keeps looking over his shoulder to talk to us, I think he’s only had his licence a few months. This should be fun.
“I think Charlie needs rescuing next.” Guy comments. “He and Julia just do not mesh well.”
I don’t care how many people we have in this van as long as Annie’s one of them. She’s very comfortable to fall asleep on.
“Isn’t it quiet without Peter’s constant requests for Eminem?” I muse.
“And it’s nice not to have to watch him making puppy dog eyes at Annie.” Terry replies.
I stare at him. “What?”
He turns to face me again, and everyone in the van hurriedly yells at him to keep his eyes on the road.
He meets my eyes in the rear-view mirror. “He’s crushing on Annie. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice!”
“But… but…” I’m not sure why this idea is so objectionable, but it is.
“But Annie’s not a girl!” Fulton suggests helpfully, turning around from the passenger seat.
I glare at him. Of course Annie’s a girl, I am aware of that. Believe me, when you get busted for sleeping in Annie’s dorm as many times as I have, you learn that it’s because she’s the opposite sex. It’s just…
“He’s not her type.” I say finally.
Portman snorts derisively. “How would you know? Annie’s never dated anyone. She’s too busy with you.”
“I’ve never stopped Annie from dating anyone!” I respond.
“And she’s never stopped you. It doesn’t change the fact that the two of you have been turning down offers of dates in favour of sitting in your room and practicing telepathy or whatever it is you do.”
“Well, I…” What am I going to say? He’s got it all wrong. “It’s not our fault that none of those other appealed to us! Annie and I are—”
“JUST GOOD FRIENDS!” Everyone choruses.
I sigh deeply and stare out of the window.
Annie, if you can hear me, van change. NOW.
Portman’s cell phone goes off. He reads the text message quickly, then sighs. “Time for a van change.” He turns to Guy and Julie. “Guess who have just nearly killed each other?”
Connie’s POV by Charisma
Adam lets out another loud laugh, caused by Julia no doubt. I take a peek over my shoulder, sure enough Adam and Julia are on the floor scrabbling around for cards. And Adam’s Fizzballs. Jesse is watching them and trying not to crack up himself.
“Hah!” Julia sits up. “I found one.”
Adam grabs it out of her hand and pops it into his mouth.
“That’s gross Banks.” Jesse pulls a face.
“Shut up cake-eater.” He grins and dives under his seat. Julia dives under with him. The only sound we can hear that is coming from them are really painful sounds. I sigh and twist around so that I face forward.
“Do you really have to do that?” Charlie asks. The thing is, he didn’t snap. Or sneer. Just asked cheerfully with a bit of sternness in his voice.
I take a sip of my diet coke. The kind with lemon. I still can’t believe Julie tricked us into sharing this van together. This is like war. She could have just brought me along with her, she knows Julia and I don’t get along.
“Put this in!” Julia leans over Charlie’s should. In her hand is a Britney Spears CD.
“Are you joking?” I blurt out. “No way in hell!”
She climbs over the middle seat, before she can put it in, Charlie grabs it out of her hand.
“No!” He holds it out of her reach. “I’ve had enough of your crappy tastes in music!”
“For your information, this CD belongs to Adam.” She slouches down and crosses her arms. “I’m not leaving ‘till you put it on.”
“Britney Spears fan?” Charlie asks.
“The biggest.” She snorts. “Put it in and we can make fun of her!”
“Do I have to remind you—”
“My van, my van!” Julia mimics him. She climbs over the seat ‘accidentally’ kicking him in the face.
“God.” Charlie mutters. “That girl…”
“I know.” I stare out of the window.
“First she jeopardizes Jules and your friendship and then—”
“She isn’t doing it on purpose.” I surprise myself as I defend her. Why would I defend somebody who’s trying to steal my best friend? I snort at the thought. Charlie gives me a quizzical look.
“Sure. If you say so.”
“Ok, she is annoying I’m the first to admit—”
“Annoying?” Charlie lets out a short laugh. “No, try a complete and utter travelling nightmare.”
“But she’s not that low. She knows I’m important to Julie, she wouldn’t risk her friendship with her to jeopardize our friendship. She’s just trying to steal—” I cut myself off.
“Exactly what I thought.” He slams on the steering wheel. “She’s causing fights all over the place.”
I glance over my shoulder. “You do have to admit, she’s good for Adam…”
“Hah!” He glances over his shoulder also. “She’s turning him into her. He has no clue what he’s in for.”
I give him an odd look. He’s taking this a bit too far.
“Charlie….are you ok?”
“Peachy.” He scowls.
Just to think, he was actually happy a couple of minutes ago.
Oops by Star and Charisma
Portman’s POV by Star
I hop out of the van and stretch, feeling my back crack.
“Do you have to?” Fulton winces.
“Can’t help it. Those vans aren’t designed for someone as big as me. I’m all scrunched.”
I stop stretching and take his hand as we walk over to the diner for lunch. We’re all heartily sick of eating potato chips instead of meals and it’s only day two.
“I was thinking that we should have Charlie in the van for the next bit of the drive. Just give him a break from Julia for a couple of hours before he flips out and kills her.” Fulton suggests.
“Sounds like a good plan.”
I snort as I see Annie and Luis hurry towards each other, cheerfully ignoring everyone else. “Oh yeah, they’re not in love.”
“Well, they’ve got the whole summer to figure it out.” He says. “Come on, I need real food.”
We catch up with the other, and, as usual, there is another debate about who is in which van.
Annie wants to be back with Luis, since the ESP thing didn’t work out at all. Luis is looking very smug about it. Peter wants to be with Annie, but can’t think of a reason to change vans again without attracting attention.
Guy wants to be back with Connie, who is furious with him for leaving her with Julia. Julia looks like she wants to be annoyed with Jules, but has decided better of it, and is being nice to her.
Charlie looks two seconds away from either breaking down in tears or picking up an axe and slaughtering us all.
The rest look fairly indifferent to which van, although I overheard Annie confide to Luis that she’d rather not be with Julia.
We enter the diner and have to wait several minutes while they find a place where the thirteen of us can sit together. Fulton and I move over to stand near Charlie, making a conscious effort to put ourselves between him and Julia.
“Why don’t you come in our van for a change?” Fulton suggests. “Just a couple of hours away from Julia and Adam?”
He gives us a grateful look, then frowns. “Do you think my van will be ok with the hellcat in there?”
I pat him on the arm. “I’m sure it will be fine. Why don’t you ask Jesse or someone normal to drive it?”
He nods, again looking relieved.
We finally get seated and I’m glad to see that Julia and Charlie are at opposite ends of the table. I don’t fancy being in the middle of a blood bath as I eat, especially since I’ve been vegetarian for the last seven years.
“So, who’s going in each van?” Jesse asks conversationally as we wait for our food. “Just for the record, I don’t care where I go.”
Naturally, his question starts off wails of “I want to be with…” and “I’d rather die than get in a van with…”
I sigh and roll my eyes at Fulton. He bangs his head on the table in response.
I look up and see Terry, looking highly annoyed—but rather proud of himself for yelling at us all.
“There are other people in this diner but us, so how about we all shut up?” He adds.
I can’t help it, I start clapping. “Nice one, Terry.”
“You wanna take over? You’re the biggest, I think they might be scared of you if you glare enough.”
“Ok.” I nod cheerily. “I want to be with Fulton, and Charlie is in our van.” A couple of people open their mouths to say who they want to be with, but I hold up a hand to silence them.
“Jesse, why don’t take Charlie’s van? A bit of sanity in there wouldn’t go amiss.”
Jesse nods, happy with the arrangement. I like Jesse, he’s low-maintenance, and when you’re around psychos like Adam and Julia, it’s nice to have a few people like that.
I turn to Guy who’s on my left. “Who do you want to go with?”
“Connie.” He replies promptly.
Connie opens her mouth, but I beat her to it. “Yes, I know you want to be with Jules, but I think Guy would like some sanity. You two are with us.”
“Luis? What about you?”
“I don’t care which van I’m in, as long as I’m with Annie.” He replies, giving Peter a venomous glare.
Fulton and I exchange a look. It’s so tragic that they just can’t see it. It took Fulton and I months to get together, but these two have been best friends for four years. “Why don’t we take the ESP just-good-friends too?”
“Works for me.”
“Fine, Terry, Adam, Julia, Peter and Jules, you’re with Jesse.”
Connie completely misses the little glower of satisfaction that Julia sends over because she’s busy making up with Guy. Bless, true love conquers all.
Jesse grins at Peter. “If you hit my brother even once while you’re in the van with me I’ll throw you out of the window.”
Deep sigh. Very deep. Everyone, even low-maintenance-Jesse, is a lunatic.
Terry’s POV by Charisma
“Where do you think you’re going?” I ask Peter as we leave the diner.
“With them.” He shots back and shrugs off my arm.
“It wouldn’t be because of Annie would it?” I ask.
“No!” He looks away. “You’ll understand once you get into that van with Adam and Julia.”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” I shrug. “Just remember, it’s not that hard for Portman to squash you with his pinkie finger.”
He glares at me and turns left, towards Charlie’s van. He doesn’t like to admit it, but he find Portman a bit terrifying.
“We’re out of fizzballs!” I hear Adam exclaim he turns to Julia accusing. “You ate them all.”
“Get real. I don’t even like fizzballs!” She jabs him in the shoulder.
“This is what we’re going to put up with.” Peter mutters to me.
“So who’s driving?” I ask, throwing an arm around Peter’s shoulder.
“I am.” Adam holds up the keys. That’d be right. Charlie only trusts Adam with his van.
“No I am!” Julia grins, climbing over Adam. She hands him a bag of m&m’s.
“Good luck.” Charlie grins walking past us. He looks startled as he spots Julia in the front seat. “What the-?”
“It’s okay!” She calls out cheerfully. “I don’t have my driver’s licence, but I’ve only wrecked three cars. I think I’m a good driver!”
“She’s kidding Charlie.” Adam notices Charlie’s dismayed face. “Right?”
Julia just grins.
“We already agreed I would drive!” Jesse gives Charlie a pat on the shoulder.
“Aaaaaaaaaargh!” Peter screams. “I can’t believe I forgot my discman!” He’s mentioned that at least five thousand times. I sigh.
Adam and Julia’s singing voices are terrible. I mean, I already know what Adam sounds like, and he never sings, mainly because of how terrible his voice is. But I have a feeling Julia is doing it on purpose.
“Is Julia really that bad?” I lean into Julie.
“She just gets more off key as she gets louder.” She throws an apple at Julia. “Shut up!”
“I’m supporting Adam!” She throws the apple back. “Be quiet. The next one is a good one.”
“Noooo!” Peter screams covering his ears as Britney Spears sings the starting line of ‘Oops, I did it again!”
“It won’t be bad if you join in.” I suggest. I cover my legs, in case.
Julia has stopped singing and is swaying from left to right, like Jay in Mallrats.
Jesse is the driver and he’s actually playing Britney Spears? As if he reads my mind, he switches it off.
“But—!” Adam starts.
“We’ve been listening to her for half a hour!” Jesse tosses the CD aside, and pops in another one.
“An half of hour that I won’t get back.” Peter glares at Adam. He gives him a wide eyed look and turns to Julie.
“Didn’t you use to like her?”
Before she can answer,
“Don’t play that crap!” Peter calls out. “Play some Eminem.”
“No Eminem!” I cut in.
“Okay!” Jesse stops the CD. “No music. Play a game.”
“Do we look nine?” Peter asks. Jesse grins.
“In your case….”
“Shut up!” He sulks. Julia comes to his defence.
“You shouldn’t pick on people because of their sizes.”
“Thank you!” Peter swings his arms over his head.
“It would be like me picking on you for, uh, being you?” He asks, watching Julia in the mirror.
“Me? Me being me?” Julia demands climbing into the front seat. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, you know…” He trails off, shrugging and keeping his eyes on the road. Something breaks as she sits down.
“Uh-oh.” She picks up the broken Britney Spears CD.
Peter finally grins.
Games by Star and Charisma
Guy’s POV by Star
Connie snuggles deeper into my arms. I stroke her hair and she sighs contentedly.
“Ok,” Annie turns round to face us from her post as navigator. Luis is driving now. “We need music. I’m bored of everyone being all huggy and sweet. I bet Charlie will back me up.”
Poor Charlie, outnumbered by couples. Ok, so Annie and Luis don’t count, but they sure act couply. The Bashes are zonked out on a seat together. They look cute like that, which is a very strange thing to say about a couple of guys who are about seven feet tall and pure muscle, but there it is.
“What have you got?” Connie asks.
Annie flips through the CD collection. “Avril Lavigne, Roxette, Alanis Morrissette—only Jagged Little Pill, the other one sucked, Queen, Bon Jovi—old stuff only, Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie, Less Than Jake, Def Leppard, Metallica, Pantera…”
“Great, I’m in the rocker van.” Connie grins.
“I heard Adam bought Britney, so don’t complain.” Annie shoots back with a friendly grin.
“Am I complaining? This is bliss.” Connie replies.
“Amen.” Charlie agrees.
“I also have a couple of stand-up comedy CD’s somewhere, um, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus and Eddie Izzard…”
“I’m covered in Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!” Luis interjects cheerfully.
“Mark Lamarr, Sean Hughes…” Annie continues.
“That’s a couple?” I ask with a laugh.
“Annie loves stand-up. Brit only though.” Luis replies. “Don’t forget all the soundtracks you brought. The Beach is fairly mellow.”
“Any objections to mellow?” I ask, hoping that Charlie isn’t going to demand we listen to something loud and aggressive to get the Britney/Banks on sugar/Julia being loud etc. out of his system.
There aren’t so Annie puts it on, and once more there’s silence in the van.
… Well, silence apart from Portman’s resonating snore.
Connie moves restlessly in my arms. “I can’t sleep. I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep. I need something to do.”
I wiggle my eyebrows at her and she laughs.
“Not that.” She amends. “It’s too hot, and it’s really unsociable.”
Annie giggles watching our exchange. “I’ve got a book if you want, Cons.”
“What is it?”
“Other Worldly, by Victoria Torrance. Brilliant new writer. However, I’m going to kick her ass if I ever meet her. So completely enthralling that I read it all yesterday.”
“You were awake at some point yesterday?” Luis teases. “I’m sure you spent most of it slumped on my shoulder.”
Annie ignores him and rummages in her bag for the book. “Don’t lose the bookmark, it’s my favourite.” She says as she passes it to Connie.
I notice the bookmark is a photo of her and Luis. Connie and I grin at each other.
Connie moves to an empty seat and becomes quickly engrossed in the book.
“Thanks, Annie, now I’ve lost my girlfriend.” I comment.
“Don’t worry, Guy. I’ll hug you!” Charlie grins at me.
“Thanks, Spazway. I feel special now.”
“We could play twenty questions.” Annie suggests.
“Thanks, but no thanks.” I reply, and Charlie quickly backs me up.
“Ok, are you famous?” I sigh deeply. We’ve been playing for hours now. Not the game, just this round, and it’s been far more than twenty questions. I look at Charlie who shrugs.
Connie is now halfway through her book, she hasn’t looked up once since Annie gave it to her. I’m borrowing that book when Connie’s done with it.
Annie is grinning like there’s no tomorrow. “You’ve asked that before, and no, I’m not, but you do know me.”
Fulton and Portman woke up about twenty minutes ago, and they haven’t got a clue either. Even Luis is stumped.
“Praise the lord, we’ve arrived.” Portman yells loudly as Luis follows the other van into a campsite.
“So you give up?” Annie asks.
“Quick re-hash.” Says Charlie. “You’re not famous, but well-known. Nobody knows you personally, you’re neither ugly nor pretty, you’re not a writer anything to do with movies, you’re not a teacher, none of us will ever meet you but you know for a fact but we are aware of your existence.”
Annie nods. “And just to help Luis out, I’ve been thinking the answer really loud for the past hour.”
“Just tell us the answer!” I beg as Luis parks.
“I’m the call-waiting voice.” Annie replies smugly. “You know, ‘The number you have dialled is busy, please hold… ’ Cool or what?”
I hate her.
“Nice one.” Luis grins at her.
“Thank you very much.” She says in a very bad Elvis voice.
“Ok, let’s go pitch some tents on some really pointy rocks.” Fulton says with a sigh.
Charlie looks irritated by his lack of enthusiasm. “It’ll be fun.”
“Oh, it is fun.” Fulton says hurriedly. “If we tent out, it means every gets kept awake by Portman’s snoring, not just me.”
I grin at Connie and offer her my hand as she gets out of the van. “You’re with me tonight, right?”
She smiles. “Yeah, sorry for being a psycho earlier. It’s just Julia…”
I cut her off with a kiss. “It’s ok.”
“Charlie!” Portman calls loudly. “I’ve found some really nasty looking rocks! Can we camp here?”
“Since when did you need permission to be camp?” Charlie shouts back.
Everyone is mad. And I kind of like it.
Julie’s POV by Charisma
It’s about eleven pm and nobody is tired. Least of all Adam and Julia.
Yes, Adam eventfully forgave Julia for breaking his CD.
“Hey.” Connie nudges me as she sits next to me, she glances around. “I’m sorry for being—”
A bitch? I mentally slap myself. I’m never that mean.
“No, it’s ok.” I cut her off. “You both never really got along from the first day you met, so what’s different about now?”
“Yeah.” She shrugs. “I just wanted to say sorry. Hope I didn’t spoil your vacation.”
Guy comes over as I’m about to answer.
“It’s ok.” I shift over so Guy can fit onto the log. “So I take it that you’re sle-rooming together?”
“Yeah, if that’s ok.” Connie asks. I nod.
“It’s freezing!” Peter complains. I roll my eyes at Connie and Guy. He’s been complaining all night. Adam’s too loud! Hamburgers are black! Bash lovers being too cuddly! Julia’s too hyper! Connie and Guy too mushy! Charlie too… you get the idea.
“Would you quit complaining for at least two seconds?” Charlie snaps. Peter eyes get wide. Charlie rarely snaps at him. At least he’s quiet for two seconds.
“You’re mean!” He yells and storms off into the bushes.
“Someone should go after him.” I comment. Charlie shoves his stick into the ground.
“He can look after himself.” He throws the stick into the fire. I do feel bad for Charlie, but who can blame us for not wanting to spend our nights in the bushes.
I mean, we could at least sleep in the vans.
“Let’s play truth or dare!” Adam yells coming out of nowhere with Julia on his back. Oddly enough I don’t find it strange that they’re both wet.
“We saw Peter on the way back.” Julia climbs down from Adam’s back and cheerfully waves at me. Adam follows suit.
“Yeah, Captain Duck and Midget had a little disagreement.” Portman grins at Charlie who glares at the ground.
“You know what you need?” Adam asks cheerfully. Charlie looks up at him and shrugs irritated. “Fizzballs!”
“What?!” He exclaims as everyone breaks into laughter. “No. God. No I don’t need fizzballs!”
“Yeah, no you don’t. He picked those up from the floor of the van.” Julia glances over his shoulder.
“I’m pretty tired of your so called joke. That one wasn’t even funny.” Charlie grabs the fizzballs out of Adam’s hand and shoves them into his mouth. Julia grin grows wider.
“Actually, he did get them off the floor.” Jesse says with a pained look on his face.
“I brushed the dirt off!” Adam defends. Charlie pauses and then swallows.
“I’m going to get Peter and we’re going to play truth or dare.” He says sending Julia an icy stare and storming off.
“What?” Julia asks. “I tried to warn him!”
“She did.” Adam nods, drags Julia and sits next to Jesse. “She tried.”
“-Yeah well I’m tired of your whining!” We hear Charlie arguing with Peter as they return.
“Then let me go first!” Peter shots back as he drops next to me. “Truth or dare Charlie?”
“Truth, no, dare.” Charlie answers sitting across from him.
“I dare you let us all go back to our vans.” Peter crosses his arms. Great. Now they’re both at war, at least it’s a change from Connie and Julia.
“I’m starting to—” Charlie takes a deep breath. “Why can’t we just have some fun?”
“I’m up for it.” Fulton raises his hand.
“Truth or dare?” Charlie asks. Fulton ponders for a while. He must be pretty comfortable in Portman’s arms because he chooses truth.
“Do you remember that time we all had to take that maths test? And there were odd symbols on your arms?” Fulton slowly nods. “And you said you drew them to impress this girl—”
“You were trying to impress a girl?” Portman snorts, Fulton elbows him.
“Moron.” He grins affectionately.
“Ahem!” Charlie clears his throat. “Were those the answers for the test?”
“You caught me out.” Fulton grins and shrugs.
“Nice going!” Peter grins. “Did you pass?”
“Nah!” Fulton smirks. “Luis! Truth or dare?”
“Dare.” He snuggles closer to Annie.
“I dare you kiss—”
“Truth!” Luis cuts him off. We all know what the next question will be anyway.
“So who do you like?” Fulton asks, mouthing the word ‘spoilsport’ to Portman, he nods in agreement. I hug my knees to my chest as we wait for him to answer.
“Nobody.” Luis shrugs. “Eliza Dushku.”
“Just say you like Annie already and get a room.” Terry sighs.
“Okay. I like Annie.” We all smile knowingly at each another. “But not like that.”
“We may as well give up.” Portman grunts. “They’ll be in their sixties and acting couply like, refusing to admit they like each another.”
“Whatever!” Annie laughs tiredly. She closes her eyes and leans onto Luis. “We’re best friends.”
“Yeah we are.” Luis grins down at her. If somebody doesn’t say something, they’ll go into their world and we won’t be able to get them back.
“Oi!” Adam calls out. “Truth dare someone.”
“Truth or dare Bankise.”
“Dare!” Adam jumps up. “Name it, I’ll do it.”
“Errm.” Luis thinks deeply. “Do three cartwheels in your underwear.”
Annie opens her eyes and grins.
We all hoot and laugh as he strips his clothes off and falls headfirst into the dirt on his first cartwheel.
“Two more!” I call out. He blows me a kiss and does two more. Now he’s covered in dirt, shivering and has the giggles.
“Put on some clothes or you’ll catch a cold.” Charlie grins tossing him his tee-shirt.
“Thanks.” He sneers. He pulls his top over his head and turns to Terry. “Truth or dare Terry?”
“When was your first kiss and what was it like?” Adam asks with a wide grin on his face. It’s probably was the most sexist thing he could think of.
“That’s two.” Terry says in a quiet voice. Adam re-thinks.
“What was your first kiss like then?”
“Well.” He shuffles his feet. “I haven’t… er… quite had my first kiss yet.”
Adam doubles over laughing. Terry glares and stalks off.
“That wasn’t nice.” Jesse snaps standing up.
“I thought he was joking!” Adam tries to contain his laughter.
“Well it wasn’t a joke!” Jesse gives everyone a disgusted look. “Have you forgotten ducks stick together?”
Adam shrugs as Jesse leaves.
“That wasn’t really nice.” Connie frowns at Adam.
“Give me a break. You all had a good laugh at me.” He sits back next to Julia, at least he looks a bit guiltily. Julia gives him a pat on the back.
“I’ll go find him.” Adam jumps up, pulls on his shoes and walks into the bushes.
“You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got lost.” Julia comments. “I better go and make sure they don’t get lost.”
“And I’ll come to make sure they don’t kill you.” I grin at Julia.
“Wait, I’ll come too.” Annie crawls out of Luis’s arms. “If we get lost, I can just use ESP.”
“Smart thinking.” Julia nods and slides her arm through mine. “Let’s go.”
Before we know it, everybody decided they want to come, except Luis who is dead to the world. We all trample through the bushes.
“Should we spilt up?” Guy asks. We all shake our heads.
“Jesse!” Portman bellows. Out all of us, Portman has the most loud and deepest voice.
“Yeah?” Jesse yells from our right. We all turn and there Jesse and Terry are. Adam lunges forward and grabs Terry into a huge bear hug.
“Sorry man. I didn’t mean to laugh.” He says as he releases him. He shrugs and looks away.
“Hey, I’m eighteen and I’m a virgin.” Annie grins.
“And I’ve never kissed a girl either.” Fulton laughs. Portman socks him in the arm.
Pretty soon we’re all swapping our disastrous love lives.
And Jesse says ducks don’t stick together?
I say they do. Even the non-Ducks.
Adam and Fizzballs by Star and Charisma
Adam’s POV by Star
I take up my seat next to Charlie, I’m still bouncing. Those Fizzballs are evil, yet fun.
“When do we stop for breakfast?” I ask eagerly. I’m glad Charlie’s back, he’s not as annoying as Peter, but he’s worse tempered.
Charlie sighs and gives me an indulgent look. “Adam,” he says slowly as if speaking to a small child. “We’ve not even got everyone in the van yet. We are still at the campsite. Can we possibly start before we talk about stopping again?”
I grin big at him. “Whatever works for you champ!” I clap him on the shoulder.
“Thank you, Banksie.”
“Can we play my CD?” I ask.
He sighs deeply.
“Oh, come on!” I beg. “I bet you’ve been listening to boring stuff with the Bashes! I bet it was all Guns ‘n’ Roses and Less Than Jake.”
“Exactly, it was bliss.” He looks at me, and gives me yet another indulgent smile. “What have you got?”
I hold up another CD.
“I thought Britney died. Jesse said that Julia sat on it—which is the only good thing she’s done so far.”
I shrug. “That was ‘Oops!’, this is ‘One More Time’.”
He sighs and mutters, “Only ten minute until we stop, that’s three songs, four max. I can get through this without killing anyone.”
It only takes three attempts to leave the campsite. First off Jesse left his coat on one of the benches, then I realised that Britney’s latest CD was missing. After returning and checking the campsite thoroughly I admitted defeat (I’m not going to tell Charlie that it was in the ‘Oops’ case all along). Then Julie noticed that her copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary was not where she left it, she was convinced that she’d seen it this morning. (That turned up in the other van, Connie had picked it up yesterday).
Charlie is getting progressively more annoyed about this but has only muttered from time to time, “That’s eight Britney songs now…”
I spot some services with a diner. “Can we—”
“YES!!” He responds quickly. “We’re stopping, and when we start again, someone else is driving!”
“I will!” Julia volunteers.
“Adam will.” Charlie decides.
I’m driving? Yay! Maybe Julia can sit up the front with me.
“And I’m navigating.”
Ok, so she won’t. It’s still cool.
“Damn it, Adam you are not buying that!” Charlie snaps at me as we inch towards the counter.
“Yes I am. Julia sat on my last one.” I reply, spotting a pack of Fizzballs and grabbing one. I see Charlie’s stern look and quickly grab another pack. “Fizzball?”
“No.” He replies shortly, getting himself a pack of mints. Boring.
I am buying this CD. The first thing I did when I got out of the van was head toward the shop rather than the diner. I’m still annoyed that my CD got murdered. This will be my third CD. The first was thrown out of the window by my brother Danny.
I reach the counter and give the girl a big smile. Then I blink. She’s got purple hair. What a nutter. Can we take her with us?
“Hey,” she says in a distinct Irish accent.
“Please, Adam. I’ll buy you ten packs of Fizzballs if you don’t buy that Britney album.”
The girl snorts. Her name badge reads Terri. What kind of name is that?
“No deal. I love this album.”
“I don’t blame you,” Terri joins our conversation as she rings up my stuff. “Britney rules. Don’t listen to him, my girlfriend doesn’t like her either. It’s just deep denial.”
I grin at her. “Come to Vegas with us? You obviously have good taste.”
She giggles as she takes my money. “Love to, but unfortunately I’m stuck working here.”
She and Charlie do not engage in conversation as he buys his mints.
Fulton’s POV by Charisma
“Well, let’s hope that we’re sleeping in a motel tonight.” I hold up my crossed fingers. “I think I’m the only one that puts up with your snores.”
“Hey!” Portman growls softly. “Don’t pick on me. Don’t you know what happens to people when they pick on people?”
I raise my eyebrows. “They turn into serial killers?”
“Close.” Portman pulls the passenger door open for me.
“My, my, my.” I step in. “You’re so sweet.”
He shrugs in a modest manner.
“Bad karma.” He grins as he slams the door shut. He opens the sliding door for everyone else.
Nice to know I’m the special one.
“I just realized something.” Portman says as he hops next to me. “We got the lovers van and Charlie got the crazy van.”
“So?” I ask. He shrugged and leans in to give me a kiss on the cheek. He starts the engine.
“I just realized it.” He looks over our seat. “There’s the lover triangle. And there’s Guy and Connie.”
“You know Peter, in a week, he’ll find someone else to obsess over.” I shrug as I tie on my bandanna.
“Yeah, probably Julia.” Portman snorts.
“Hey Bash Lovers!” Annie calls out. We never tire of that nickname, a girl from one of my classes, Vicky, called us that once and it stuck.
“Yeah?” I ask.
“Are we leaving anytime today?” She asks with a cheeky grin.
“Don’t get too smart.” Portman grins back and steps on the gas. He gives me a cool glance and slides on his sunnies. He always thinks he looks really cool when he does that.
If it wasn’t so overtired, it would probably look cool.
“Do you have any more black markers?” Connie asks, I rummage through the glove box. “I already gave you two!”
“And they ran out of ink!” She shots back. I pull out a pink marker.
“Perhaps you should have brought some at the store.” I hand it to her.
“Dude, why is there a pink marker in my glovebox?” Portman asks, giving us both a quizzical look.
“I don’t think I wanna know the answer!” Connie grins. “Anyway, this is good.”
“It was probably Katie.” He frowns, speaking of his cousin. “How do those things end up in a glove box? I heard there was a green glove in Charlie’s one.”
I snort and twist around in my seat to see what everybody is doing.
“Whatcha doing?” I ask, all I can see are papers all over the place.
“We’re trying to make a protest banner.” Annie speaks up, she holds up a piece of paper that says ‘please’.
“Please what?” I ask.
“Please let us stay at a motel tonight!” Luis grins. Annie looks proud of him.
“I was just about to say that.”
“Just friends.” I mutter. “Give me one, I’ll colour it in.”
“No!” Connie, Guy and Peter chorus. I give Portman a wounded look.
“You really do suck at colouring in.” He laments. Then changes the subject, “I see Charlie’s van.”
“Well at least can I help hold them up, I could give him a threatening look.” I glare.
“OK!” Annie scribbles on a piece of paper and hands it to me.
“Or we will bash you up?” I read out loud and raise my eyebrows at her.
“It’s worth a try.” Annie grins.
“There is no way I’m sleeping on rocks again. And I want to have a decent shower.” Peter somehow wedges himself between Annie and Luis.
Portman waves to Charlie as we pass him, he waves back. I lean over Portman and hold up the sign.
He slows down so Charlie can pass us, and we all put our hands together in a praying position. He sighs and nods.
I guess we won’t be camping tonight.
We all cheer.
Motel Madness by Star and Charisma
Luis’s POV by Star
“We’re here!” Fulton announces. Since lunch he’s been driving, if you asked me, I’d have to say that his boyfriend is a better driver. Put a gun to my head and demand the truth and I’d go further and say that Annie and I have spent the past three hours holding hands and praying that he wouldn’t get us killed.
“Showers here I come!” Connie says gleefully, the rest of the van quickly yells an ‘amen’.
I wrap an arm around Annie as we make our way to the motel. I just hope there are enough rooms for us all. I don’t want to share with anyone but Annie, they’ll just constantly insist that Annie and I are in love.
Which we’re not. I love Annie, I just don’t love Annie. And the hand holding and the hugging stuff? We’re just really close, that’s all.
“So, I guess you two are sleeping together?” Portman gives us a sadistic grin as he and Fulton fall in step next to us.
Annie sighs deeply. “Rooming together, yes.”
“One day the two of you will be married and surrounded by kids, and Portman and I will come over for dinner and tell them all about how many years it took for you to get together.” Fulton comments.
“You know, this is getting really old.” I reply tiredly.
“So is waiting for the two of you to get together.”
I glare at Portman. I’m too tired to get into this, and the fact that we have this conversation about five times a day isn’t helping.
I enter the room behind Annie. I’m looking forward to this, beds. Far superior to sleeping bags on the ground.
And I see the bed. Singular. Well, it’s a double bed, but there’s only one. I glance at Annie.
“It’s better than a tent.” She says.
I nod. “You can have the first shower.” I offer.
She grins. “Thanks, but don’t blame me if there’s no hot water left.”
She grabs her bag and wanders off. Only seconds later she pops her head back around the door. “And stay out of my mind while I’m in the shower, I’m always thinking I hate my butt.”
I frown at her. “But you’ve just told me you hate your butt, what difference does it make now? And besides, you’ve got a great butt.”
She rolls her eyes and shuts the door. Sometimes even I think Annie’s a little odd.
By the time I get out of the shower Annie is tucked up in bed. She’s awake but dozy. I feel kind of awkward and I have no idea why. Annie and I share a bed all the time. And we’ve spent the past two nights sharing a tent.
Then I work out what it is. We’ve never chosen to share a bed before. Every time I stayed in her dorm room, or she stayed in mine, it’s because we fell asleep while watching a film or something. And sharing a tent doesn’t count because we were surrounded by the Ducks.
“Are you coming to bed or not?” Annie asks in a dozy voice. “Or are you going to sleep standing up like a horse?”
“Sorry, lost in my thoughts.” I reply.
Annie mutters something that sounds like, “Glad you weren’t lost in mine.”
“Never mind. Sleep. Bed. Comfy.”
I lay down on the bed, and for some reason I’m careful to keep some space between myself and Annie. Usually we’re scrunched together with our arms around each other, but tonight we’re not.
Why is tonight so different from last night in the tents? Maybe it’s because we’re in a double bed and we have the space to sleep apart. Usually we’re in a single and have no choice about how much space we have.
“I can’t sleep.” Annie moans.
I look at the clock and realise that I’ve been noticing the amount of space between us for a couple of hours. Or I fell asleep and Annie woke me up.
“I don’t know, comfy bed, lots of space, nice clean freshly-showered Annie and still…” She tails off with a sigh. “Something’s weird.”
“How do we usually get to sleep together?” I ask.
“Movies or talking.” She replies promptly, getting to her feet. “I’ll put the TV on.”
“Any preference?” She flicks through the channels.
“Ooh! Stop!” I say spotting a flash of animation.
She goes too far and starts flicking backwards. “The Little Mermaid?” She asks incredulously.
“I like it. You know I do.”
“You’re a sappy git, Mendoza.” She comments, climbing back into bed.
“And you’re just as bad.” I pull her into my arms ignoring the weirdness. We always hug when we watch movies.
“I hate this film.” Annie says, her voice already taking a dozy tone.
“He’s a moron. He can’t see what’s right in front of him. She’s obviously in love with him and he doesn’t even notice.” She says, snuggling closer.
“I know, but they get the happy ending eventually.”
“When he pulls his head out of his ass.”
I don’t get a reply, Annie has already zonked out.
Jesse’s POV by Charisma
“Nice room.” Portman comments as he enters his and Fulton’s room. There were only five rooms left, Fulton and Portman got the bigger one and as part of the deal, they’re letting us all hang out in there.
“Mini bar!” Peter exclaims making a beehive for it. “Alright!”
“Any Fizzballs?” Adam asks, Charlie flops next to Portman.
“Why would there be Fizzballs in a mini fridge?” He asks as Fulton pulls him up and flops on Portman. “Plus you have two packets left.”
“You can never have enough Fizzballs.” He grins back, “And Julia said her brothers keeps their Fizzballs in the fridge.”
“I never said that!” Julia glares. “Plus I don’t even have a brother.”
“Lucky.” Terry gives me a look. I guess he’s still sore that I beat him at cards and called him a loser on the way here. I give him a light punch and check out the mini bar with Peter.
“You know what this means?” Peter asks pointing at the little bottles, he has a gleam in his eyes. Before I can object, he’s already told everyone about the alcohol.
“Alright!” Portman cheers, I suppress a snort. It’s Portman and Mini Portman.
“Ever notice that Peter looks like a tiny Portman?” Terry echoes my thoughts. Annie would be proud of us.
“I was just thinking that.” I pick up a bottle and read the label. Bailey’s Irish Cream. “Where is Annie anyway?”
“With Luis.” Connie answers. “They went to their room.”
“Let’s get them.” Peter grins, pulling out a couple of glasses.
“Leave them alone.” Fulton lifts himself up. “They might be getting it on.”
“Hopefully!” Portman grins. “I’m so tired of the ‘We’re Just Friends’ excuse.”
“Hey, there might be more in our rooms.” Terry says, surveying all of the bottles. “I think we have a few cans of cola in Jesse and mine room.”
“I thought we were saving the drinking for when we got to Vegas.” Charlie glares as Julia trips over Adam and onto him.
“Is it me or are you turning into the world biggest spoilsport?” Peter asks.
“I’m tired!” Fulton complains. “I don’t want to party. I want to sleep.”
“We’ll go to Jesse and Terry’s room.” Portman reassures Fulton, who just grunts.
“Yup!” Adam nods and bounces onto Fulton’s bed. “Goodnight Bash Brother.”
“I’m not your Bash Brother.” Fulton murmurs.
“Fellow Duck then.” He bounces off the bed. I think he’s bounced more in a week than he done when he was a kid.
Adam and Julia bounces out of the room together, dragging along a complaining Charlie with them. We all wait.
“Do you mind leaving so I can give him a proper good night kiss?” Portman asks with an amused look. We all trail out.
Charlie and Guy have decided they rather sleep then have a drinking binge, so it’s just, Portman, Peter, Connie, Julie, Adam, Julia, Terry and I. Peter and Portman are getting horribly drunk. Adam and Julia preferred to get drunk on Fizzballs, and they are literally bouncing off the walls.
My stomach gives a low rumble reminding me that I’m hungry.
“You guys, are you hungry?” I ask everybody.
“You’re not drunk unless you can’t hang onto the floor without—” Portman looks confused and tries again. “You’re not drunk if you can hang on the floor lyi—”
“I am!” Adam bounces off the bed.
“Yes! You’re not drunk if you can’t lie on the floor without hanging on!” Portman slaps Peter on the back, he sprawls onto the ground.
“But I’m not drunk.” Julie giggles. She turns to me. “I’m hungry as well.”
Julia bounces over Adam and onto Julie’s back. “Me three.”
“You can’t say that unless somebody’s already said ‘me too’.” Terry points out.
“Jules was the second one to say it. It’s good enough for me.” Julia grins and slides on her boots.
“Let’s get food then.” Terry heads for the door.
“Macca’s!” Julia tramples out the door aside Adam.
“No fast food!” Connie turns to me. “Please.”
“I’ll try what I can.” I turn to Portman and Peter who are still fighting about who is the most drunkest. “You coming?”
They don’t even hear me. It’s hardly surprising since Adam and Julia have started singing ‘Baby, One More Time’.
“What is it with Adam and Britney Spears?” Terry groans and bashes his head onto the wall. I shrug and we all leave the motel.
“And a girl named Leah, ain’t gonna be sayin’ seeya!” Julia sings. “Uh-huh!”
“And ‘cause a horse’s nosin’ through hay, don’t mean it’s gunna say hey!” Adam sings with her.
“What are they singing?” I ask, looking at Julie. If anyone knows about Julia’s odd habits, it’s going to be Jules.
“It’s a long story.” Jules points. “Food.”
It’s a 24/7 diner. Good enough and it’s not McDonald’s.
We all grab a table up the back and order. Connie and Julie goes to the bathroom. A couple of guys sit across from us. The food hasn’t arrived yet.
Julia and Adam are starting to get restless.
“Where’s the food?” Julia asks tapping loudly on the table.
“Yeah, where’s the food?” Terry asks me. I hold up my hands and shrug.
Luckily for me, the food arrives as Connie and Jules return.
“Ew.” Adam complains. “My plate’s dirty!”
“You ate dirty Fizzballs.” Connie laughs. “I think you can handle a dirty plate.”
Before Adam can answer, a guy has approached our table.
“Yeah?” Connie asks.
His question is unrepeated. Before I can defend her, Julia has stood up and dumped the pitcher of coke over his head. She then must have decided that isn’t enough because she chucks her plate of wedges covered in sour cream and chill sauce into his face and knees him where the sun really don’t want to shine.
“That was classic!” Terry laughs after we get kicked out.
“Yeah….thanks.” Connie turns to Julia, who shrugs.
“Yeah, whatever. It’s cool.” She glances up at the sky. “You know Julie’s my friend, friends of Julie’s… It’s no big deal.”
“I think it was cool.” Jules grins slinging an arm each around Julia’s and Connie’s shoulders. “Hopefully that taught him a lesson.”
“Yeah.” Julia tucks her hair behind her ear. “I don’t like sexist jerks. Adam, you got anymore Fizzballs?”
“I thought you didn’t like them.” Adam pockets his Fizzballs.
“I don’t like the cherry ones.” Just like that, Julia has changed the subject. “Hand ‘em over.”
“You’ll have to catch me.”
I admit, when I first saw her, I thought she was attractive. Attractive and a bit too hyper.
And now? I’m kinda seeing her in a different light. A good kind of light thing.
In Julia’s defence, Adam is actually making her more hyper (and annoying) if possible! Hyper people gets her more hyper. But hey, it means she’s not a Mary Sue!!! *bounces* Rock on!*
Breakfast and a Hangover by Charisma and Star
Charlie’s POV by Charisma
I stretch and yawn widely. Last night was not fun. Not after Adam came into my room and woke me up to play poker. Freakin’ poker at freakin’ 4am!
I hurry to the shower before Adam and Julia wakes up. Adam and Julia got their own room, but noooo. They had to camp out in mine room. Guy and Connie ended up sleeping in their room.
I’m hoping with all my heart that they don’t end up as a couple. I snort.
Some roadtrip this is turning out to be. This is a Ducks only roadtrip and Julia and Annie are tagging along.
Annie, I don’t mind much. I hardly speak to her but I like her. It’s just that when Luis is with her, it’s like Luis isn’t there.
And Julia. Don’t even get me started on her. The other day, she called me something along the lines of ‘Adam was right you are a preppy cake-eater.”
Adam just laughed. If I had called her ‘Hellcat’, the nickname I’ve been privately calling her, Adam would have defended her straight away. They’ve only known each another five minutes and are the best of best friends. Literally.
She’s already wrecked Julie and Connie’s friendship. Mine and Adam. Annie and Luis will be next, I bet. I quickly shower and come back to the bed room. It’s seven thirty and Adam and Julia are bouncing around on the beds.
How can anyone be cheerful at seven thirty am in the morning?
I sit next to Connie outside by the vans. I snort for the second time this morning as I see Julia, Jesse, Terry and Banks playing ‘basketball’ with rocks and an old rusty bin.
“Where’s Jules?” I ask as I dig into my scrambled eggs and bacon.
“With—” She swallows. “Guy and the Bashes.”
“Probably didn’t want to stick around and watch Julia bitch at you.” What is wrong with me? I’ve gone into full bitch mode. I’m such a girl.
“She’s not that bad.” Connie shrugs. “And plus it’s not always her who’s bitching at me. Sometimes it’s me bitching at her.”
“This coming from the same girl who used to bitch about Julia every night?”
I ask with raised eyebrows.
“Look Charlie,” She looks up. “Whatever is going on between Jules, Julia and I shouldn’t cloud your judgement about her. It’s between the three of us.”
“Look at what she’s doing to Adam!” I point out, she shrugs.
“He was way hyper before Julia came onto the van.” She point at me with her fork. “If you ask me, I think they’re actually winding each another up. Maybe you could put them in separate vans.”
I sigh. “Connie, do you realize this is the second time you’ve defended her? Julia Knight. The annoying best friend stealing demon. And if I put them in separate vans, Adam will whine about having nobody to play with and I don’t want the Bashes to be charged with murder.”
“Sheesh!” She laughs. “Maybe you should, uh, calm down?”
“Charlie!” She cuts me off. “I don’t know if you have noticed, but Julia and I haven’t fought for two days. That is because I have realized that I’m on a roadtrip with my friends and boyfriend. I’ve finished high school. There are no parents or coaches chaperoning us. This is the time for fun, so if Julia is going to start a fight with me, which I doubt she will, I’ll just ignore her. I’m not gonna fight over Julie’s friendship, that’s just childish. If I can do that, can’t you just lighten up?”
“Yes I know half of the Ducks aren’t on this roadtrip, but there will be more to come. And as for Adam and Julia, well, maybe Adam’s hanging out with her because you haven’t really been that fun to hang out with.” She takes a deep breath and takes a bite out of her toast. “And—”
“I get it.” I snap.
“All I’m saying is, just because this roadtrip isn’t going as you planned doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.”
I muse over this. She could be right. But I’m not going to tell her this.
I’m not ready for a 7th Heaven moment.
Guy’s POV by Star
“In. Van. Now.” Portman instructs tiredly.
Fulton looks at him and grins. “You shouldn’t have got drunk last night.”
“Shhhh.” He presses a finger to his lips. “Very loud.”
Connie and I exchange glances, suppressing a giggle.
“I’ll drive.” Annie offers, bounding up to us. She stares at Portman. “What the hell happened to you? You look like hell on toast.”
“Thank you, Annie.”
“He and Peter got drunk, I suggest you don’t sit near them.” Fulton explains, patting his boyfriend’s back.
“Luis,” she tugs at his hand. “Come sit up front with me.”
I glance at Connie, then the Bashes.
“No, still ‘just good friends’.” Fulton deduces with a sigh.
“Maybe we could get them drunk and handcuff them together or something?” Connie suggests.
“We’ll try it when we get to Vegas.” I agree, hopping in the van and extending my hand to Connie. She smiles and takes it.
Fulton and Portman follow us. Portman flings himself down on a seat quickly winds down the window and sticks his head out of it, moaning loudly. Fulton sits next to him, rubbing his back and looking amused.
“There’s not going to be throwing up in the van, is there?” Annie asks worriedly.
“I hope not.” Fulton replies.
“At least we’re up front.” Luis grins at her.
“Do we have everyone present?”
“We don’t have Peter.” I point out.
“We get two drunks in the van with us?” Connie asks. “That’s just not fair.”
“Would you like to have a hangover and be in a van with Adam and Julia?” I reply.
“When you put it like that…” She smiles at me and settles in my arms. Thank god she finished that book and I can get a decent conversation out of her now.
“Peter!” Annie bellows, leaning out of the window. “Get your ass in the van! Anyone would think you don’t like me the way you’re dawdling.”
Portman moans again, and Fulton hands him a bottle of water.
Peter wanders over, looking worse than Portman. “No more yelling.” He mutters tiredly, climbing in.
I lean over and slam the door, the effort seems too much for him. He winces as the door slams.
Oh this will be fun.
These chapters overlap. Just use common sense when you read them. We couldn’t do in any other way. You’ve stuck with us this far, you should be able to get through this. *grins*
And another thing, Star adores Britney Spears. Hence all the references. You can hate and flame her all you like, but she’s rich, beautiful and successful. And not only that, she uses phrases like “gee whiz” in interviews. I’m (almost) proud of the fact that I have all her albums. And I forgive her for covering/murdering “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
Stranded by Star and Charisma
Connie’s POV by Star
“So, are we there yet?” I ask, leaning forward and resting my chin on Luis’s seat.
“Nearly!” Annie says excitedly.
Luis consults the map. “Well, we’re stopping for lunch in about ten minutes, and after that it will be about three hours. Well, two if Fulton drives.”
“I heard that!” Fulton calls from the back of the van, where he’s nursing the very hungover Peter and Portman.
“You were meant to.” Luis replies cheerfully.
“If I wasn’t surrounded by two guys ready to puke at any second, I’d come over there and beat you up, Mendoza.”
I spot the other van ahead. “Has anyone got anything interesting for me to write on a sign?”
“I’m all out of ideas.” Luis admits.
“How about ‘are we nearly there yet?’?” Annie suggests. “Other than that, I’m all out of ideas.”
“Is this the boring van?” I ask looking around. Guy, Portman and Peter are asleep, Fulton is dozing, occasionally waking up to either comment on what we’re saying, or to pat Portman’s back reassuringly. Only Annie, Luis and I are awake.
“Too late now.” I sigh as we pass the other van. As per usual, all the passengers press their faces against the windows and make freaky faces at us.
Annie grins, waves then points to the sign stating that a rest stop is coming up. Charlie gives her the thumbs up.
After lunch we invade the shop. I’m going to be broke before I get to Vegas. I don’t know how many CD’s I have bought, but I know I’ve not listened to a single one. I’ve also got a huge collection of magazines that have been completely ignored too.
For once Annie is by herself, I look over and see that Guy and Luis are busy talking about whatever it is that guys talk about.
“You buying anything?” I ask walking over.
She shakes her head. “Luis isn’t here to pay, and besides, I have enough candy and CD’s to last a lifetime.”
“Me too. Why don’t we go grab some fresh air instead?”
“Sure.” She links her arm through mine and we wander outside to breathe in the refreshing scent of petrol and exhaust fumes.
“I’m hungry, and I’m sick of being in that damn van.” I say.
“Tell me about it.” She agrees. “Luckily, I’ve managed to sleep through most of it. How’s Julia at the moment?”
I give her a smile. “She’s… ok. Cool, I guess. She beat some guy up that said I was a—well, he wasn’t nice. She’s still Julia, but she’s ok.”
“Glad you guys are getting along.” She says, looking over my shoulder at Luis. Guy says something to make Luis laugh and Annie unconsciously smiles again.
Damn, when are they going to figure it out? “Well, as long as Julia and I keep our distance I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.”
Peter wanders over to us, his eyes never leaving Annie. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Annie replies cheerily, tearing her eyes from Luis.
“Um… what are you looking forward to in Vegas?” Peter asks. The question is most definitely directed at Annie.
“Winning money.” She grins big at him. “Then Luis and I are going to Spain for the rest of the summer.”
“Together?” Peter squeaks out indignantly.
“Why not?” Annie shrugs. “He speaks Spanish fluently, and I’ve always wanted to go there. It seems like a good plan.”
Poor Peter. It’s a shame that nobody in the world exists to Annie except for Luis. It’s a bigger shame that neither she nor Luis have realised this yet.
“Peter! Come here! I think Banks and Charlie are gonna beat each other up!” Terry yells excitedly from by the other van.
Peter gives a pained grin as if he can’t work out which is more appealing, a fight or Annie. In the end testosterone wins out and he tears off at the speed of light.
Luis and Guy wander over, with slight grins on their faces. “What did I miss?” Guy asks, dropping a kiss on my lips.
“Fight, Adam vs Charlie. Could get nasty.” I reply.
That’s when I notice Luis is glaring at Annie. I nudge Guy. This is new. I’ve never seen him look at her with anything other than abject adoration in his eyes.
“What did Peter want?” Luis asks coldly.
Annie looks surprised by his tone. “Nothing really. Just talking.”
“I bet.” He sneers.
“He was hitting on you, Annie.” He snaps.
Annie snorts as Guy and I quickly edge away. Whatever they next say is lost as we make our way back to the vans.
“Jealous much?” I whisper to Guy with a nod back towards them. God knows why I’m whispering, Annie and Luis are lost in their own little world.
“Just a little.” He agrees, also in a hushed tone.
As I hop back into our van I hear Annie yell (all the way across the parking lot) very loudly.
“Well so what if he was? Just because you don’t know I’m a girl, doesn’t mean the rest of the world is clueless!”
Julie’s POV by Charisma
“Adam! Will you just leave me alone?” I hear Charlie yell at Adam. I don’t have to turn around but I can guess he’s giving Charlie that wide eyed look.
“He is so mean!” Julia whispers to me. I laugh. “What?!”
“I think you’re turning into a hyperphobic!” Adam shots back.
“What the hell is a hyperphobic?” Charlie yells, waving his arms around. He is quite a sight, Julia stifles her laughter.
“You!” Adam points at him. “You hate me. You hate Julia! You hated that girl from Luis’s class!”
“Oh! Whatever.” Charlie snaps. “Just go with the Bashes. I’m fed up with you and your Britney music!”
“He hates me?” Julia asks.
“Erm, no!” I grab her arm before she goes after Adam. “Leave Adam alone.”
“You’ve hardly spent any time with me!” I push her slightly towards the diner. “We have only twenty minutes or so to grab lunch!”
I almost feel sorry for Adam sitting by himself, then remember I had to listen to ‘Ooops’ and ‘One More Time!’ Over and over again.
“I’m buying more Fizzballs anyway!” Adam yells. Charlie turns so fast that he almost bumps into Julia.
“It doesn’t matter because you’re not coming with us!” He yells back and storms into the diner.
“Adam’s not coming with us?” Julia asks with a look you would get from someone if you told them the world was going to end.
“Charlie is just pissed off.” I reassure. “After he’s had food, they’ll both be the best of bestest friends.”
After half an hour, Charlie is still not speaking to Adam. Once we’re all settled inside the van, Charlie starts the engine.
“Adam’s not back yet!” Julia leans over the front seat.
“You figured that out genius?” He asks shortly. “He’s going with the bashes. Guess you’ll have to do without your boyfriend for a few hours.”
“Would you shut up and sit down?” He snaps, Julia meekly sits next to me.
“Maybe I should drive…” Jesse suggests.
“I can drive!”
Jesse cell phone rings.
“Charlie, it’s Adam—” Jesse holds the phone out to Charlie.
“I think he would prefer to speak to his goddamn girlfriend instead of his ‘hyperphobic’ best friend.” He snaps.
“Umm… here.” Jesse hands the phone to Julia, who gladly accepts it. The first time I didn’t take any notice, but this is the second time Charlie has referred Julia as Adam’s girlfriend. The second time that Jesse gotten a look of… how do I put it? Crushed?
“D’ya hear that? Charlie thinks I’m your—” She goes silent for a couple of seconds and doubles up laughing.
“Adam’s kinda….stranded.” Julia says after she’s calmed down.
“So?” Charlie asks.
“So we need to go back and pick him up.”
He snorts. “I told him, he was going with the Bashes.”
“He’s stranded Charlie!” Julia wails. “He’s been standing around for hours!”
“Actually five minutes at the most.” Terry cuts in.
“I. Don’t. Care.” He says slowly. “I told him he was going with the Bashes. And that is where he is going.”
To say Charlie is still pissed off with Adam would be a huge understatement.
Star can’t remember the right way to do tequila shots, so she’s just mixing bits of memory in with absolute nonsense. Star now drinks champagne. *snorts* As we all know. (‘meercats’ and ‘berds’ *snorts again*)
Also, long chapter from Star.
Another thing, legal drinking/gambling age? *snorts* I can either plead ‘Creative Licence’ or ‘I’m a Brit, different ages’ or I can just say that everyone does stuff underage. Just because they’re Disney characters doesn’t mean they’re any different.
Do You…? by Star
Annie’s POV by Star
I glare at Luis.
He glares back.
I hope he has a telepathic breakthrough right now. If he could hear what I’m thinking…
Urgh! What the hell was that fight all about? I was there the whole time, but I don’t have a clue. Why doesn’t he like Peter? Why would it matter if Peter was hitting on me or not? It’s not like I’ve ever let a boyfriend screw up my friendship with Luis.
… Ok, so it’s not like I’ve ever had a boyfriend, but that’s not the point. If I had one I wouldn’t let him get between Luis and I. And Peter won’t be that boyfriend, even if Luis is right about him liking me.
I glare at Luis.
He glares back.
This could go on for ages.
“We’re here.” Portman announces, parking the van.
Adam starts bouncing again. I’ll kill him if he keeps it up. Portman and Fulton have found Adam quite amusing. I have found him deeply irritating.
And that’s Luis’s fault. He put me in a bad mood.
“Let’s go.” Fulton prods, and I realise that everyone has left the van but me. “C’mon Annie, let’s go check in.”
I sigh and haul myself to my feet. Fulton throws an arm around me. “We’re getting drunk tonight. Horribly so.”
“Excellent!” I say.
“But you and Luis are not.” He grins.
“What?” I ask.
“Now?” Fulton looks at Portman.
“Now.” He agrees.
Before I know what’s happening, Fulton has tossed me over his shoulder and I’m pretty sure that Portman has just done the same to Luis, and they set off through the hotel lobby.
“Ow!!” I yell indignantly. “Put me down!”
“In time.” He replies, patting my rear end in a reassuring way.
To my right an almost identical exchange is taking place between Luis and Portman.
We ride in an elevator, I attack Fulton, but it has no effect at all. It’s probably more embarrassing for Luis that his punches to Portman aren’t even registering.
A quick walk down the hall and Luis and I are thrown into a room and there is a click as the door locks behind us.
“We’ll let you out in the morning.” They call as they walk away giggling.
I glare at Luis.
He glares back.
Damn it. There’s only one way I’m getting through this night.
“Do you realise this is your fault!” I snap, racking up the glasses.
“Why is it my fault?” He snaps back, slicing limes.
“Because you were a complete and utter pig for no reason.” I reply, keeping an eye on how much tequila I’m pouring.
“That’s only because Peter was ogling you! And that’s a reason.” He searches for the salt.
“He was not ogling me.” I slide his drink over to him.
“He was.” He passes me the salt.
I sprinkle the salt on the back of my hand and set it down. “He was not ogling me. And so what if he was?”
“You’re too good for him.” We lick the salt.
“What?” We neck the shot.
“You heard.” We suck the lime quarters.
I gaze at him stupidly. “I’m too good for him? You act like a psycho because you imagine that some guy is looking at me? What?”
“Peter is crushing on you.” He pours another round.
I shrug. “I don’t think so. And even if he is, so what?” I hand him the salt.
He stares at me open mouthed. “I… don’t know. But this is your fault for yelling at me!” He picks up his glass.
“Oh, bite me. You were being scum.” I lick the salt, down my drink and reach for the lime.
He follows suit quickly. “But you missed me. I heard you thinking!” He grins at me.
And damn it, I’m grinning back. Damn him.
Damn tequila too.
“See, I love you.” Luis grins at me. Or more accurately. To the side of me. “I just don’t…”
I frown. I’m sure there was meant to be more to that sentence.
“What was I saying?” He asks.
I shake my head. “No idea what so ever.” I don’t think I’ll be shaking my head again. Now there are two of him. Three if I blink too fast.
“I hate this room.”
“Me too.” I have to agree. “Green carpet. Yuck. Maybe we could complain, call down to the manager, make him give us a new carpet?” I suggest.
“What did you just say?”
“Call downstairs? New carpet?”
He grins. “If we did, they’d have to come up to us…”
“And open the door…”
I have no idea where I am, but it’s nice. I’m dressed as Britney Spears. I giggle catching a glimpse of Luis. He’s dressed as Elvis.
“Annie, I’ve got the best idea.” Luis slurs.
“What? And how come you get to have all the ideas?” I grin at him, feeling dizzy as he tugs me along by the hand. “You had the cocktails for 99 cents idea.”
“I promise you can have the next idea after this one.” He grins.
“What’s your idea?”
He points at a sign on a nearby building.
My jaw drops. That is a bloody fantastic idea.
Three Feet by Charisma
Julia’s POV by Charisma
“Oooh!” I giggle as I fall over my three feet. Three? “Three feet?”
“What?” Adam yells over the music.
“Be honest!” I yell. “Do I have three feet?”
He looks at my feet.
“No you don’t!” He yells back. “But you’ve got nice shoes!”
“Thanks!” I reward him with a grin and dance through everyone till I reach the bar. “Hi!”
The barman doesn’t reply. It’s probably because of my three feet!
“Hi!” Somebody yells in my ear, I turn around expecting it to be Adam, but it’s Jesse.
“Hey!” I jump down from my stool and give him a huge bear hug. “Look, do I have three feet?”
“No!” He laughs. “What are you doing?”
“Dancing!” I look down at my feet. “With Adam. He’s so much fun than Charlie! Before I was dancing with Connie! Then she went with Guy and then—What are you doing?” I change the subject to him.
“Hanging out with Terry and Peter who are getting drunk!” He calls out and points at Peter and Terry.
“Oh yeah! Drunking is get fun!” I grab a couple packets of M&Ms, a bottle of bourbon and coke, grab Jesse’s arm and led him away from the noise. We head into the Pool Room. There is nobody there which is amazing.
We even get to pick our own Pool table! I scream excitedly and pick the hugest table, I climb onto it.
“Come on!” I grin at Jesse as I toss the balls over the edge. He looks at me as if I’m crazy.
Those damned feet.
“Where’s Adam?” I ask, Jesse shrugs and helps me toss the balls aside. They land with loud thunks.
“You don’t need your boyfriend by your side all the time.”
Why is everyone thinking Adam and I are together? Fulton even said something about us making a cute couple. I rip open all of the M&Ms packets and spill them out onto the Pool table.
Jesse doesn’t even ask what I’m doing and accepts the offer of some B&C.
He sits with his legs crossed across from me and watches as I separate the M&Ms into color categories. I change my mind and start to arrange them into the shape of a guitar.
Something beeps. Then again. I look around, then at Jesse who is also looking around. ‘It’ beeps again, I glance at Jesse.
“You’re beeping.” I back away from him.
“I’m not!” He exclaims, tearing off his jacket and throwing it to the ground. Now his jacket is beeping.
“What do you think it is?” I ask. He shrugs. “Maybe it was an evil jacket…did Charlie give it to you?”
“No.” He screws up his face. “I don’t think so.”
His jacket stops beeping.
I smirk at him, and go back to shaping my M&Ms into a guitar.
“Why guitar?” Jesse asks.
“I play the guitar. Very good at it. Ask Jules.” I reply.
“I believe you.” He hands me back the bottle. I take a long swig out of it.
“I miss it.”
“My guitar.” I say slowly. “Jules wouldn’t let me bring it with me.”
“That’s a bit mean.” He leans in and whispers that part. I make a pffft noise. I pick up a handful of M&Ms and drop it into Jesse’s lap.
“Eat up.” I grin, and heap a handful of M&Ms into my mouth. “Race you!”
We both start to eat as fast as we can.
It’s a bad idea to drink B&C and eat M&Ms at the same time. Especially as fast as I have been eating and drinking.
“I don’t feel so…” I groan.
“What’s wrong?” Jesse asks, as I turn away from him and over the edge of the table in time for everything to come up.
“Ooooh!” I moan and shudder.
“It’s ok.” Jesse soothes, pulling my hair off my neck and kinds of lightly massages my neck with his thumb and forefinger.
“You know…” I start, then start retching again. Really impressive Knight. Jesse rubs my back. I wipe my mouth.
“You know Jesse….you smell really nice.”
“Oh yeah, so do you. Kinda.”
I let out a short laugh.
“That’s a good one.” My stomach starts to churn. “I think I should be getting back to my room.”
“Yeah, we should.” Jesse says, slightly sober.
“Yeah, we will, once this table stops rocking.”
… I Did? by Star
Luis’s POV by Star
Argh. I have no idea who invited those little demons with pickaxes to come party in my head, but I am going to kill whoever it was.
I roll over and move closer to Annie.
A quick glance down shows that she isn’t the only one.
Ok, calm. This is no time to panic. I’m just naked with my best friend. No need to panic. We were probably drunk and thought it would be a good idea.
The nakedness, that is.
We didn’t do anything else. I’m sure of it. I mean, I’d remember if I’d… done naked things with Annie.
Of course I would.
“Urgh, what the…?” Annie moans. “Why am I naked?” She asks calmly. The only problem is I know what upset-Annie sounds like. It sounds exactly like calm-Annie.
“Um… if it makes you feel any better, I’m naked too.”
She snorts and turns to look at me, careful to look only at my face. “No, not in the slightest.”
“Maybe it was just hot in the room.” I suggest.
“Maybe.” She replies hopefully. “Yeah, I’d remember if I… what time is it?” She leans over to check her watch by the side of the bed. “Oh hell, oh f…”
I’ve never heard Annie swear before. Now I’ve heard her use every single cuss under the sun.
I’m afraid to ask. “What?”
She holds up a bit of paper. I shrug, not really understanding. She shoves it under my nose.
Ditto on Annie’s cusses.
It’s a marriage certificate. And it has our names on it. Joanna ‘Annie’ James and Luis Mendoza were married last night. There’s a picture stapled to it. It appears that the minister was Buddy Holly and the witnesses were the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.
I snort. Only in Vegas could you get married by three people who died in the same plane crash.
“You think this is funny?” Annie snaps.
“No.” I reply. And it’s not. “But it’s ok, if we didn’t… uh, you know… then we can just cancel it or annul it or whatever it’s called.”
Annie looks slightly relieved. “Maybe we should just get dressed and not mention this to everyone, I’m sure we can revoke this or something.”
“Yeah.” I reply, pasting a smile on my face.
“Close your eyes I’m getting up.” She says.
I obligingly shut my eyes.
Annie mutters another string of curses.
“Better open those eyes again.”
I do as instructed, wondering what she’s found this time. Annie’s holding an opened condom wrapper.
For the first time since I woke up, something seems right. When you wake up naked next to your best friend-come-wife it’s nice to have that feeling. I just don’t get why it’s happening now. Surely now should be the epitome of ‘offness’.
Then I figure it out, I don’t want to cancel this marriage.
Annie bursts into tears.
“Annie?” I reach out for her.
“You bastard!” She yells angrily, scooting away, then realising that parts of her are on show that I’ve never seen before—scratch that, parts that I don’t remember seeing—so she drags the cover with her.
“Annie, I’m sorry.” I say. I’m not sure exactly what part of this befuzzling morning has upset her the most, but I think an apology is the best way to start.
“I’m mad at me too!” She yells. Way too loud for this morning.
“Don’t be mad, we got drunk, we did stupid things…”
“I’m such an idiot.” She wipes her face on the cover.
“Annie, it’s not so bad.”
“Yes it is!” More tears. “You’re meant to remember your first time, even if it’s bad!”
Something clicks. Annie’s never been with a guy before? “You’re a…”
She snorts again. “Was. Apparently.”
“Annie…” I have no idea what I’m going to say. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
She glares and I know I’ve said the wrong thing. I’m a stupid, hungover moron. Make that a stupid, hungover, married, moron.
“Why should I have told you? And was I just supposed to slip it into conversation? We never talk about stuff like that!” She snaps angrily. “And besides, why didn’t you know? I’ve never spent any time with anyone other than you!”
“I’m really sorry.” I repeat.
“Yeah, I bet you are! Sorry you spent last night with me, sorry that you’re married to me, sorry you’re here!”
“Oh, screw you, Mendoza!” She snaps getting up, her rage so huge that she doesn’t care that she’s naked. “I’m going for a shower, and when I get out I want you to be elsewhere.”
I feel tears sting my eyes as she slams the bathroom door. I didn’t cry when Traci broke up with me, and I’d been with her for three years.
I guess the Bashes were right. Well, half right. While I have been obliviously in love with Annie since I met her, the feeling is obviously not reciprocated.
Star’s Random Notes: Thanks for the heads-up, Dana. But I’m cheerfully ignoring all laws. I went to nightclubs when I was 15, so if I can blag, so can they!
Love Sucks (Except For When It Doesn’t) by Star and Charisma
Portman’s POV by Star
I grin at Fulton. He looks like hell on toast. This time I didn’t drink, I got mildly merry, then stopped so I could watch everyone else get toasted. That and I was worried that one of us would forget we locked Annie and Luis in their room.
“Urgh…” He moans, staggering to the bathroom.
I think now would be a good time to go let Annie and Luis out. I tell Fulton where I’m going and he gives me a feeble grin and a pathetic moan, so I know he hasn’t processed a single word I’ve just said.
I wander down the hall and catch sight of Charlie leaning against a wall looking like hell and Adam trying to convince him to come back in the room where he can easily access a bathroom should he need to hurl.
I come to Annie and Luis’s door and let myself in.
It’s a disaster area. There are empty bottles of tequila all over the place, not to mention there is a big circle of salt on the floor. And why the hell are there lime quarters stuck inside the frames of the pictures on the wall?
Anyone who can face getting drunk on tequila gets my respect.
I look around and see Luis sitting on the bed staring at a piece of paper.
“Hey, Mendoza, how’s the hangover?” I ask.
He quickly pockets the piece of paper and gives me a sickly grin.
“That good, huh?” I say with a hint of smugness in my tone.
At this point Annie comes storming out of the bathroom.
“Which room is Connie in?” She cuts me off.
“Um, 217 I think.” I reply, a little stunned by her attitude.
“Thanks.” She pauses at the door. “By the way, thanks a bunch for locking us in. Remind me to kill you later.” There’s not even a hint of humour in her tone.
“Something I said?” I wince as she slams the door.
“Something I did.” He replies, looking close to tears.
Wait, Mendoza is close to tears? And Annie’s in a worse mood than she was in yesterday. This is not good.
I clear a space on the bed next to him and take a seat. “What happened?”
“We got married and lived happily ever after.” He says bitterly.
I blink. “Ok, once more with a semblance of sense.”
“Put it this way. You were right. I’m in love with her.”
That’s great! But obviously… it’s not. Not from Luis’s tone. “But?”
“She’s not in love with me.”
“How do you know?”
“Did you just miss her storming out of here at the speed of light?” He snaps. “And let’s not forget the mood she was in.”
I ignore his snappish tone. “So you told her last night?”
He sighs. “Not exactly.”
“I can’t tell you.”
This conversation is going nowhere. All I can say is thank god I’m not hungover, or it would be worse. “So, you had a fight last night?”
“This morning.” He corrects. “About ten minutes before you came in.”
I take a look around the room. They chugged their way through more tequila than the human body is supposed to handle and—if the state of the room is anything to go by—they had a good time doing so, but they didn’t fight until this morning. I’m giving ten-to-one odds that they woke up together and were so embarrassed about what happened that they fought instead of staying put for more of the same.
Bless. They’re so in love. And I’m turning into a big queen.
I pat his should reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it, she’ll calm down, you’ll spell it out for her that you love her and you’ll get married and live happily ever after.”
Luis snorts, at first I think it’s laughter, then he gets up and locks himself in the bathroom.
Something I said?
Jesse’s POV by Charisma
“I think we should hang out together, since we both got drunk together, last night.” Julia says sitting next to me, inside the lobby of the motel.
“Is that really the reason?” I ask, glancing over at her.
“We-ell, Julie has gone shopping with Connie, to which I did not want to tag along because I do not like shopping. And Adam has gone to sleep off his hang over.” She grins wider, “And it was tempting to go and tag with Charlie, but he’s also nursing a hangover, and I, being the wonderful person I am, have decided to leave him alone.”
“That’s a good idea.” I nod at her. Charlie is horrible when he’s hungover. He insists on wearing sunnies all day long. Even indoors. “So I was your final choice then?”
“No, if you turned me down, I would have gone to bug Peter to hang out with me.” She stands up, “So are you coming along?”
“Where to?” I ask suspiciously.
She shrugs. “Ice cream? Beach? Doesn’t matter.”
“Alrightly.” I stand up. “But there are no beaches around here!”
We both stop at a rail fence, just right outside the sandwich shop we were just at.
“Those were terrible sandwiches. That’s a few bucks I won’t get back.” Julia says sarcastically, leaning over the rails.
“At least you had my charming company. And I totally share your pain.” I grin as I point that out. She chuckles.
“Charming? You wish.” She starts to notice that I have been staring at her longer than I should be. “What’s wrong? Do I have a sesame seed stuck in my teeth?”
“Oh, no. Nothing like that.” I give her another charming, at least I hope, grin. “It’s nice when you laugh. You have a nice laugh.”
She gives me an odd look and looks away quickly. “Oh yeah.” She looks up at the sky. “Whatever.”
Something hits me as I take this in.
“You really can’t accept a compliment can you?” I ask her.
“What?” She scoffs. “I can. Name one time I didn’t!”
“Yeah… whatever. Julie’s friends… yeah whatever. I don’t like sexist jerks” I mock her.
“That’s different!” She leans over the rails.
“Different how?” I ask. She scoffs again.
“I am not having this conversation!”
“We wouldn’t if you would just accept a compliment.” I point out. She turns around and faces me.
“Can you accept a compliment?” She asks me. I shrug. “Okay here it is then. You’re a spunk. So spunky that—”
“That’s just mean.” I cut her off. That draws a laugh out of her.
“I just called you a spunk Jesse. How is that mean? I see no logic in that.” She climbs the first bar of the fence. Damn, this girl really can’t keep still.
“You’re just joking around. You’re trying to turn this around so it’s about me.”
She laughs again.
“Totally.” She roughly pushes her hair out of her face. “You’re a dag.”
“I can accept that.” I lean against the rails. “Accept this. You are cute. Not just cute, gorgeous as well.”
“I’m not listening to this.” Julia steps off the rails and covers her ears. “La la la la la.”
“Would you stop that?” I ask, trying to remove her hands from her ears. “You’re stunning. You should be a movie star. A model even. You would be much bigger than Kate Moss.”
“La la a la la la.” She pulls away from me and starts to walk away, I chase her and start to walk backwards in front of her and list all the greatest things about her. She turns around and doubles over. “La la la la la la la la.”
I grab her hands and without a moment of hesitation, I lean in and kiss her.
“What are you doing?” She exclaims, yanking her hands out of mine.
“Kissing you.” I answer. She rolls her eyes.
“I got that. But why?”
To shut you up I almost say, then decide that it probably won’t get me anywhere. I turn on the charm. “Because you’re gorgeous.”
Before she can deny it, I quickly kiss her again, which could be a fatal mistake.
But this time, she kisses me back.
I’ve finally done it. I’ve finally got the chance to write Connie as a nice person. *snorts* This is new and exciting for me.
Angst N’ Romance by Star and Charisma
Connie’s POV by Star
Annie sighs for the millionth time today. She arrived at my door first thing this morning, very close to tears, I was out shopping with Julie but a panicked phone call from Guy changed all that. He’s just about learning to deal with me and my various moods throughout the month, he couldn’t face dealing with Annie’s too, so he called me, asked me to come back and left Annie in our room. Whatever happened, it was big because she cried her way through an entire box of tissues before I got back, however since then she’s been pulling herself together.
However, her sighs are getting on my nerves. No, that came out wrong. It’s getting on my nerves that Annie’s upset but won’t tell me what’s wrong. I can only imagine that it’s Luis that has upset her.
Ok, I’ve got to drag it out of her. Somehow. Usually I’d give an anecdote of how Guy has upset me in some way, but to be honest, we’re fine at the moment. We haven’t had a real fight for several months (anything caused by Julia doesn’t count).
“You wanna waste some money?” I offer.
Preoccupied much? “Slot machines. I don’t know how to play, but Guy plays them, so how hard can it be?”
“Ok.” She agrees tonelessly.
I feel like screaming. I like Annie, I do. But this isn’t Annie. This is some depressed boring person who looks like her.
“What’s up?” I ask, slipping my arm through hers as we find some slot machines to waste money in.
“Ooh! Can we play that one?” Annie points to a machine. “It plays Baby One More Time.”
Is it just me, or is the theme of this summer Britney Spears? “Since when were you such a big fan?” I ask with a grin. “And don’t think I didn’t notice the subject change.”
“I’m not a fan per say, I just like the song. It encouraged me to be a cheerleader.”
I snort. Annie isn’t the typical cheerleading type, but a friend of hers, Marie, encouraged her to try out. I get the feeling she only did it because Marie was so insistent and it gave her something to do while Luis was at hockey practice. That and she really likes “Bring It On”.
We reach the slot machine and she drops a load of coins in. “Now what?”
I stare at it. I have no idea. “Maybe we should have a few buttons each?” I suggest.
“Sounds good, I’ll take these three green ones, you can have the reds and the lever.”
“Ooh, lever, too much responsibility. You take it. You’re the psychic.”
She gives me a grin tinged with sadness as we switch places. “I think you mean psycho.”
She hits the start button and the wheels turn. Lights start flashing all over the place. I shrug and start hitting buttons.
“Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” Annie asks, hitting the nudge button repeatedly.
“I already told you, no, but Guy plays them, so how hard can it be?”
I see a pink button with no words explaining what it does. It’s flashing really quickly, so I smack it hard.
And am rewarded with the sound of a huge payout.
I grin at Annie and she grins back.
“That’s it, you chose the machine and we’ll be rich!” I say happily. “And you and Luis can go to Spain just like you planned.”
Her face falls. “You know, I’m rethinking Spain. And I’ve definitely rethought Luis. I’m thinking Alaska, all by myself.”
“Annie, just share whatever’s bothering you. If you don’t, you and Luis will just spend the entire trip hating each other.”
“I’m fine with that.” She shrugs, and starts looking around for another machine that looks gambling-virgin-friendly.
“Well, I’m not.” I grab her arm. “You two are best friends—at the very least, in twenty years’ time when you’re old and married, you two are really going to regret wasting a great holiday in Vegas by hating each other.”
“Why is everyone so convinced that in twenty years Luis and I are going to be married?” She gives a high pitched giggle, then bursts into tears and runs in the direction of our hotel.
I blink. Well, this is new, I’ve never seen Annie cry before. I know she did this morning, but she doesn’t cry in public. This is very disturbing.
After a few seconds I follow her.
Terry’s POV by Charisma
“Cheers.” Peter accepts a huge handful of pennies, which he drops promptly onto the ground. The clerk behind her desk sighs and rolls her eyes. “Sorry.” Peter offers a shrug.
“Any idea where Jesse is?” I ask, after I’ve helped him pick up all his change. He was supposed to meet us here twenty minutes ago.
“With Julia.” Peter answers.
“And where is Julia?” I query.
“With Jesse probably.” He starts to count his change. My scornful look is wasted on him. Peter eyes the clerk. “I swear, she ripped me off a couple dollars.”
“How much did you give her?” I ask, not really wanting to get into this. This always happens. Peter gets a note changed into pennies. He thinks he was ripped off. Then I have to count it all.
“Thirty.” He piles the change into my hands. “Count them. You’re the maths whiz.” I pile them back into Peter’s hands.
“It’s all there.” I tap on my head. He looks unsure. “Maths whiz. Remember.”
“Right. Thanks.” He seems happy with my answer and pockets his change.
“Can we go now?” I ask, impatiently.
“Sheesh.” Peter holds up his hands. “You’ll be thank—” The rest of what he’s about to say is cut off as a distraught Annie runs past us. “Should we go see if she’s OK?”
I spot Connie walking quickly towards us. She has a concerned look on her face. “No, Connie’s coming. She can comfort Annie.” I answer Peter.
“Oh, good.” So much for Peter’s crush on Annie. “Off to win millions of dollars.”
“You seem pretty sure of that.” I raise an eyebrow. He shrugs and gives me a cocky look.
“My uncle is a gambling pro. Everything I needed to know, I learnt from him.” He pulls the heavy doors open and we head outside.
“Are you up to ‘How to lose your home in less than five days’?” I ask, sarcastically. He shrugs.
“No. Up to ‘How to win millions of dollars while you’re on a winning streak.’ Look, wicked car.” He points at a silver Porsche as we cross the street. “One day I’ll own a car like that.”
Our conversation is cut short as we stop before the casino. What luck that our motel is just across the road from the casino. Peter doesn’t seem concerned that a guard will pop out of nowhere and haul us to the police station. That much is apparent when he heads inside. I grab his arm.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I hiss. “Do you want to get caught? You don’t even look seventeen, let alone twenty two.”
“Chill out.” He curses. And delivers a kick to my shin, reminding me of why I don’t pick on him for being short. “Don’t stress. Everything will be so busy that we’ll get past unnoticed. Trust me.”
I remind myself to de-stress and trust Peter. Even if we don’t get in, there’s a bar full of drinks in our motel rooms. Everything’s cool. I don’t care. I’m a rebel.
“Let’s go.” I smack Peter upside on the head, a habit I can’t seem to rid. Used to be smacked on the head, he only nods and leads the way inside.
A couple of minutes later, we’re in the middle of a room full of shiny money-eating machines. Peter is truly a genius. We spot Julie at a slot machine and head over to her.
“Hey Jules,” Peter looks at her quizzically. “You look…”
“Over twenty.” I finish. She beams. Right answer. Yay me.
“The wonders of make-up.” She replies.
“Where is everyone?” I ask.
“The bashes are trying to get Luis out of his room. Adam is trying to cheer Charlie up. I think.” Julie answers. “Not sure. Anyway, how did you guys get in here? Terry, is possible. But you Peter?”
“You’re lucky I don’t hit girls.” Peter growls. Julie smirks. Peter changes the subject. “Know any good machines we can use?”
“Nah. I’ve been using this one the whole time.” Julie answers. “Before that, I was over there playing cards.” She waves her hand in some random direction. “Julia is off with Jesse. Connie is off with Annie. Who would’ve thunk they were fighting for my attention only a couple of days ago.” She snorts.
“We saw Annie crying before.” Peter comments casually. “Should we get her chocolate to cheer her up?”
“You really don’t have a crush on her.” I shoot back. Although I do hope Annie is OK and that she’s crying because she spilt something on her top, not because of something major. “She should be OK.” I say convincing. “Connie’s looking after her.”
“I hope she hasn’t had a falling out with Luis.” Julie adds. “They deny it, but it is obvious that they like each another.”
“Yeah.” Peter says slowly.
More Angst N’ Romance by Star and Charisma
Fulton’s POV by Star
“How are you feeling?” Portman asks as I come out of the shower, fully dressed and feeling slightly more human.
“Better.” I say. “How are the others doing?”
He gives me a huge grin and I realise that my big queen of a boyfriend has got hot gossip that he’s been dying to share all day, but has tactfully waited until my body stopped trying to turn itself inside out.
“Well, Charlie is feeling pretty much the same as you. Adam feels worse and has sworn off the Fizzballs for life. Jesse and Julia have spent the morning sucking face, isn’t love grand?”
“And how about the Just Good Friends?”
“Oooh, much drama. They got very drunk on tequila last night and now they’re not talking.”
“Tequila can do that.” I reply. “Even breathing is too much hassle on a ‘quila hangover.”
He gives me an indulgent smile. “No, they had a fight this morning and now they’re avoiding each other. Annie borrowed Connie and they went out somewhere although Annie came charging back to the hotel in tears and Luis is moping in his room, he’s refused to come out all day. We should probably go see him and make sure he’s ok.”
“Ok.” I take his hand and we walk out of our room towards Luis’ room.
“Mendoza?” Portman knocks on the door.
“I’m fine, thanks for checking, enjoy your holiday, bye.” Comes the stony response, the door doesn’t even open.
“Luis, open the door.” I try. “Come on, this is a vacation, you’re meant to be having fun.”
“I’m having fun.” He replies though the door, in a tone that suggests that he is having about as much fun as a man three seconds away from the gas chamber.
“Just open the door, we’re not going anywhere until you do.” Portman threatens. It’s a good threat, I’m suitably impressed, however, I’m just a little concerned that Luis won’t open the door and we’re stuck in this horrible hallway for the rest of the week. I mean, the walls are zebra print, this is not good.
The latch clicks. Luis doesn’t even open the door for us, we open it and find him sprawled out face-down on the bed. I exchange a look with Portman, this does not look good.
“Luis…” I start, Portman gives me a hopeful look, but I don’t have anything to follow it with.
We sit either side of him. “What happened?” Portman asks.
“Very bad things.” He says, his voice muffled by the pillow.
“Like what?” I glance around the room. “Aside from the décor of this room?”
Portman gives me a look. “I meant the tequila accessories all over the place.” I reply hastily. “Although the carpet is repugnant.”
“Annie said much the same thing.” Luis replies, lifting his face to look at us. His eyes are bloodshot.
“So what happened with you two?” Portman asks gently.
Luis sits up and hands Portman a piece of paper. Portman’s jaw drops so far that it nearly shatters as it hits the floor.
“What?” I ask in interest. Portman hands over the bit of paper and I realise what the big deal is. Annie and Luis got married last night. At least they got a picture. Annie makes a cute Britney Spears, and Luis as Elvis, there’s a picture they should show their children… Except they’re not talking at the moment.
Portman takes a deep breath. “You said this morning that Annie doesn’t love you? What did she say exactly, because in my opinion, the two of you are meant to be together.”
Luis rubs his eyes tiredly. “She just got really mad at me. We can’t have it annulled because… uh…” He blushes.
“We get it.” I tell him.
“And after we realised that she just got mad at me… although it might be because neither of us remembered the night before.”
“So she didn’t actually say that she didn’t love you?” Portman persists. “She just got in a rage and vanished?”
“Yeah. The rage and the vanishing, that was my big clue that she doesn’t love me.”
I grin at my boyfriend and put a reassuring hand on Luis’ shoulder. “Do you remember those two weeks when Portman and I didn’t speak to each other at all?”
Luis nods. “How could I forget, you both kept making me pass messages to each other even though you were only two feet away from each other. You even sent me notes in lessons to pass on.”
“And do you want to know what proceeded that big icy silence?” I ask.
“Yeah, you never did tell me.”
“It was our first kiss.” Portman supplies. “We both freaked out, we didn’t know what to do. It was a huge step from best friends to boyfriends. You and Annie have just hit the same problem, I’m sure of it.”
“But you didn’t start dating for another six months after that.” I point out.
“No, we didn’t come out for another six months.” I tell him. “But look at us now, we’ve been together for years.”
“So how did you get through it?” He asks with interest.
“Well,” Portman grins. “For us, this really annoying git by the name of Mendoza put his foot down and flatly refused to be our go-between, so in the end we had to talk directly to each other.”
“And that worked?” He smiles hopefully.
“What do you think?” I grin back.
“So that’s what you’re going to do.” Portman claps him on the shoulder. “You’re going to get in the shower, sort yourself out and then you’re going to venture out of this room and find your wife. And then you’re going to tell her you’re in love with her. Got it?”
Luis nods nervously. “Got it.”
Peter’s POV by Charisma
About a hour later, it dawns on me that maybe my uncle wasn’t really much of a pro at gambling. He did lose his wife, his car and his house. Gambling was exciting, at first. Put money in the slot, pictures flash. I lose, that’s okay. I’m only a beginner. Put a bit more in, picture flash. Yay, they match. I win a couple of cents. A dollar if I’m lucky.
One problem. I seem to be losing more than winning. I decide to hold onto the last two dollars for a packet of chips or something.
I put Terry and Julie’s debate about… uh, acute triangle’s on pause while I inform them that I’m never gambling again and that I’m going to get something to eat. They nod impatiently and goes back to their debate.
I head off to the lobby where I spotted a vending machine when Terry and I sneaked inside. I spot a blonde curly haired girl with her knees supporting her chin sitting in one of those crazy sofas. I realize that it’s Annie.
“Annie?” I ask, curiously. She raises her dead tiredly.
“Oh hey, Peter.” She says, dully. If Connie’s main point in life was to cheer up Annie, then she failed.
“Are you OK?” Stupid question, but I have to start somewhere. She shrugs and forces a smile on her face.
“Been better.” She puts her feet on the ground. “Having fun?”
“Was. Then I lost too much money. Then it wasn’t fun anymore.” I insert a dollar into the vending machine, choose pretzels and take a seat next to Annie. “You seemed pretty upset before.”
“Probably because I was.” She gives me a wry grin. I offer her a pretzel.
“Anything you want to share?” I ask, not wanting to push. She doesn’t answer. This obviously has something to do with Luis. Even Blind Freddy can see that. I sigh and break the silence. “Where’s Connie?”
“She dragged me back out there, but I think everybody got tired of my moping around. And ta-da. I’m here.” She nabs a pretzel as she answers.
“You wouldn’t be moping around if you make up with Luis.” I point out. Her head snaps around.
“This has nothing to do with Luis. I’m just upset because I tried to ring my cousin, Sharlie, but she wasn’t home.” She glances at wall next to her. Uh-huh. Sure.
“Oh, come on. I saw you avoiding Luis half a hour ago. you’re miserable as hell. You’re calling family. You sure this has nothing to do with Luis?” I prod.
“Would you say Luis is your best friend?” I ask. She nods. “And yet, you’re not upset that you both have had a falling out?”
“It’s a bit more complicated than a,” Annie forms her index and middle fingers into quote signs, “Falling out.”
“How so?” I ask. She sighs.
“Because Luis doesn’t feel the same way as I do for him.” She answers, blinking her eyes quickly. “It’s okay. Maybe we aren’t meant to be.”
“Are you serious?” I ask. “I’ve only known you a few days and I’d have to be blind not to see all the chemistry between you two. You both finish each another’s sentences. You both are so in sync with each another that it’s spooky.”
“It doesn’t matter.” She shrugs, wrapping her arms around her legs. “Luis doesn’t feel anything for me. As far as he’s concerned, we’re both just friends.”
“Oh, please. If he thought of you as a friend, he wouldn’t warn me to stay away from you.” I blurt out. Okay, I wasn’t supposed to share that.
“What?!” She doesn’t look angry. She looks curious. “When?”
“He didn’t say it like that. But I got the message loud and clear.” I grin at her. “You guys have something special between you both. Not many people are that lucky. If you want my advice, I suggest you tell him. Tell him you love him. If you don’t, you’ll just spend the rest of your life wondering what would have been.”
Chilling Out and Catching Up by Star and Charisma
Charlie’s POV by Star
We’re here. We made it. And I didn’t kill a single person. Although there’s still time, I realise, noting that Banksie is bouncing along beside me. We both drank the same amount last night, we went shot-for-shot, I felt like death for most of today and still don’t feel great now, but he’s fine? Life just isn’t fair.
“Cheer up, Charlie.” Adam elbows me. “Honestly, you look as if your dog’s just died.”
“I don’t have a dog.” I mutter disagreeably. “All I have is a killer hangover that just won’t leave.”
Adam sighs and drags me to an empty booth in the bar we’re in. “Have a seat.” He instructs firmly.
I’m so stunned to see that the expression on his face isn’t the usual vacant sugar-highed grin that I comply.
“Right, we’re going to talk and you’re going to cheer up.” He adds.
“I’m fine, Banksie, honestly. Just hungover.”
“No, you’re not fine. And I’ll tell you why, it’s because the rest of the Ducks aren’t here.”
I open my mouth to respond, but he holds up a hand to stop me. “Charlie, I know you’ve been planning this trip forever, your final farewell to the Ducks, but you’re missing the point. Yes, a few couldn’t make it, but look how many did. And maybe you’re having a few problems with certain non-Ducks too, that’s ok, it’s a bad mesh of personalities. Besides, Julia’s got someone else to occupy her time now.”
“Thanks for the pep talk.” I get up to go to the bar, but Adam grabs my wrist.
“I wasn’t finished. Sit down.”
You know, Adam’s quite scary when he puts his mind to it. He must get it from his father.
“Charlie, we’re on holiday. We’re in Vegas. Because of you. You seem annoyed that most of us can’t stop grinning and goofing off and I don’t get it, because you should really be proud of yourself. You organised every part of this trip and everyone’s having a blast…” he pauses. “Well, Luis and Annie are having issues, but aside from that.” He smiles. “And if you managed to process all of that, I bet you’re still missing the point.”
“No, I got it. Holiday, fun, gambling, drinking…”
“No, you still missed it. Charlie, this isn’t the end of the Ducks, this is just the end of school. Ok, so we’re not going to be seeing each other every day, but we’re still going to hang out. I mean, Bombay still sees us and he stopped being our official coach years ago. So, you need to remember how to smile and start having some fun. Ok?”
“Ok.” I grin as I realise that Banksie is exactly right. “Where are those Fizzballs?”
Banksie snorts. “Well, that was easier than I expected.” He says conversationally, as he gets to his feet.
I get up and follow him, and to my surprise he’s not walking towards the bar, we’re going to another part of the bar.
“I thought I was going to have to use my secret weapon to cheer you up.” He adds.
“What’s that? Tequila?”
“If Annie and Luis are anything to go by, no.” We turn a corner and he gestures to the bar. “Actually, this was my secret weapon.”
My jaw drops. It’s the Ducks. All of them. Including Averman, Goldberg, Russ, Ken and Dwayne. I blink a couple of times as I realise that it’s not just the new Ducks, it’s the originals too. Karp and the Duncan siblings are sitting with them too.
I turn to Adam. “You did this?”
He shrugs. “Not me, all of us. We found out that certain people couldn’t leave on the date you said, so we convinced them to surprise you. I’ll take that face splitting grin as an indication of your mood.”
“Banksie, I could kiss you.” I grin, then decide what the hell and plant a big kiss on his cheek.
“You know,” he says thoughtfully as he wipes his face. “I think I liked you better when you were morose.”
I give him another grin then move towards the rest of my friends.
Guy’s POV by Charisma
Charlie still has the same idiotic grin on his face he had on a couple of hours ago. It’s pretty amazing. Of course the alcohol could be helping that, but still. Everybody seems to be having a great time. (Except Luis, but he’s mostly distracted) Connie and Julia are keeping their distance. I thought they resolved their differences. Guess not. But at least when Connie goes to speak to Jules, Julia doesn’t try to beat her to it, seeing as she’s so busy annoying new people. The Bashes are the only ones who pretty much pass for twenty two, so they’re getting the drinks. And paying for them. Bless them. Only Tammy objects to our underage drinking.
She objects to the Bashes being openly affective to each another. To quote her; “You guys will get murdered if you do that in public!” Right. Show me a guy who can get past us Ducks and beat them up, I’ll demand that they put him in the Guinness book of records. She also objects to Julia and Jesse’s relationship progressing too fast. She objects to, well everything. I had forgotten how bossy she could be.
Everybody seems to be getting along fabulously though. Great. I hate fights. When one starts, everybody expects me to be the peace maker. Then they tell me to butt out.
I lean back into my seat and wrap an arm around Connie’s shoulders. Upon doing this, I notice Annie enter the room. She gives Luis a tiny, kind of nervous, smile. He whispers something to the bash brothers and follows Annie. Hopefully they’ll work out their issues. Seems unfair that when one of the Ducks (Read; Charlie) cheers up, one become miserable. Two, if you count Annie.
Julia’s POV by Charisma
I bounce over to Jesse and launch to him from the behind. I cheerfully ignore Blonde’s (what’s her name anyway?) disproving stares. Maybe I should get Jesse to hook her and Terry up. That’s not too bad an idea. Shall do that later. Jesse is far more important. I realized this after two hours of trying to annoy him to the intent of him dumping me. Except he didn’t dump me. Instead he took me aside, told me that what I was doing wouldn’t work because a) he was with me because I was me and b) I was cute. Big smile at memory.
Everybody told me I would eventfully find somebody. It kind of got hard to believe after every guy dumped me after five minutes of dating yours truly. So, no surprise when I was a bit wary (read: annoying more than usual) around Jesse. After convincing me, I decided to let it go and have fun. And enjoy being in love. Hence me getting extra bouncy when I saw Luis and Annie go someplace. Hopefully to patch things up. I’m to the point where I want everybody to be in love and happy.
Somebody taps me on the shoulder, cutting me out of my thoughts. I turn around and see that it’s Terry. I give him a maniacal grin, hoping that it’ll be enough to scare him off. No avail.” Do you mind if I steal Julia away for a bit. I need her help with getting rid of somebody.” Terry asks Jesse.
“Didn’t you try the Bashes?” Jesse asks, dutifully. Terry jerks his thumb at two very heavily making out bash brothers.
“Would you try separating them?” He asks.
“Good point.” He sighs. “Okay. Try not to get her murdered.”
Terry mumbles something, then smiles brightly. “Okay. Come on Julia.” He grabs me around the arm and yanks me off Jesse. Ouch.
“Bye!” I manage to call over my shoulder before Terry drags me out of hearing range. He stops at a bar and I take a second to rub my arm before sitting down. No bruises. Damn. Can’t charge him for assault. “So. Who am I supposed to be getting rid of?”
“Nobody actually.” He sits down. “What I’m about to do, is probably well known as brotherly love.”
Still confused. “Brotherly love?” I question.
“Basically, I’m just going to tell you that if you hurt my brother, I’ll kick your ass. No matter what gender you are.”
“Oh.” I rest an arm on the bar. This should be interesting. “Go ahead.”
“Don’t get me wrong, you seem nice… well, not to beat around the bush or anything, you’re actually quite annoying, but Jesse likes you. For some apparent reason—”
“It’s because I’m a Goddess. He’s under my spell.” I grin, cutting him off. He doesn’t grin, he gives me a look. Hrm. No sense of humour. I raise my hands. “Sorry. Go ahead.”
“As I was saying,” He gives me a pointed look, “Jesse seems to like you and I respect that. But his history of exes are left to be desired—”
“How many exes?” I cut in. His ‘look’ turns into a glare. Sigh. I make a ‘zipping my lip, throw away the key’ sign.
“He’s been hurt in the past. I don’t want that to happen again. So if you hurt him in the slightest, I will personally hunt you down and hurt you.” He finishes. Who knew he could be so scary? I scrape my jaw off the ground and give him a brilliant grin.
“You know, the whole hunting down thing? It’s kind of against the law.” I say. He silently counts to ten. Yikes. Bad sign. Change of subject now. “Tammy likes you!” I blurt out. He gapes at me.
“I heard her. Connie.” I blab. Damn. I’m a bad liar. “I meant, I heard Tammy, that’s her name right?” He nods mutely. “Yeah, I heard her tell Connie that she liked you. A lot. On the verge of being in love with you.”
He’s still silent and I find myself telling him the long list of why Tammy ‘likes’ him. I have alot of damage to fix. I’m a bad horrible evil person.
“Tammy likes me?” He asks, dumbfounded. “How do you know? When?”
“Um. Just then.” I sigh with relief. Maybe he was in too much of a shock to actually register what I was saying before. One can hope. “I’m going to go!” Before I get myself into deep water, I silently add.
Kiss The Girl by Star
Luis’ POV by Star
I sit with the Bash Lovers alternately acting like nothing is wrong and biting my nails down to the quick with worry. I’m surrounded by people that I’ve met and a couple of people that I’ve only seen in photos and I can’t seem to think of anything to say at all. Every so often either Fulton or Portman squeeze my shoulder reassuringly, they’ve given up trying to get me to join in the conversation.
My stomach is tied up in knots, my hands are shaking and I’ve accidentally pulled two buttons off my shirt while trying to keep my hands occupied. I’m now shredding a napkin that Fulton has given me in the hopes of saving my shirt.
Portman digs me in the ribs. “Sorry.” I mutter and put the remains of the napkin on the table. I might have to sit on my hands to stop me fidgeting.
“No.” He says softly. “Look.” He nods over to the entrance, where Annie is standing. Her face is pale and hair is standing on end (I know for a fact that when she’s nervous she runs her hands through it, she resembled a deranged poodle during exam week). Despite this—or maybe because of it—I stare at her and wonder why I’ve never noticed how beautiful she is.
I send a nervous smile in her direction, and to my amazement she returns it. The Bashes wish me luck as I get to my feet and walk over to her.
“Hey.” We both say at the same time. We both smile and I try again.
“Um, can we talk?” I ask at the same time as she says, “Can we go for a walk or something?”
Again we grin at each other awkwardly. In a moment of panic I offer her my arm, I curse myself for such a stupid gesture, but then she smiles again and takes it. Ok, that could have gone worse.
We walk out of the bar and into the night air.
“So, um, how are you?” I ask. Once more I’m kicking myself for my stupidity. How on earth did I manage to steal Traci from under Riley’s nose when I’m completely unable to talk to my very best friend in the whole world?
Annie removes her arm from mine and perches on the back of a bench. “Kinda messed up.” She admits. “I can see that we make a nice couple—”
I wince involuntarily. I don’t want to hear this, it sounds like the beginning of ‘hey, I want a divorce’. I’m going to kill the Bashes, assuming I live through Annie trampling all over my heart.
“—what with me…” She sighs then looks me in the eyes, brushing a stray curl out of her face, “being in love with you.”
I take it back. I love the Bashes. I must buy them something nice.
She sighs again. “But…”
Ok, I will kill them after all.
“I’m sure I was meant to date you before I married you.”
Or maybe I won’t. I suddenly laugh and Annie looks hurt. I take her hand so she doesn’t run off before I can get my laughter under control. “Annie,” I grin. “We’ve been dating for years. Except we didn’t know it. And I have to say that we’re both incredibly stupid, because everyone else here noticed we were dating.”
She giggles shyly.
“And just for the record,” I add. “I’m in love with you too.”
“I know.” She nods seriously. “Peter told me. So did the Bash Lovers. And almost every single Duck.”
“Yeah, they told me too.”
We smile nervously at each other, and I realise this is it. This is the part where I kiss her. I’ve never felt so nervous in my life, and that includes the time Traci dared me to make out with her in Riley’s room. My heart is pounding madly as I move towards Annie, who decides to deal with my nerves in her own way. She puts her hands on my shoulders and kisses me lightly. I wrap my arms around her, pulling her closer and I realise that I should have done this a long time ago.
After several more earth-shattering kisses, we decide that it would be polite to go back to the bar and hang out with the rest of the Ducks. Which we’re doing right now. Honestly. It’s not our fault that we keep having to stop and kiss. We’re making up for lost time here. Ok, so maybe we should walk a bit faster, but nobody will notice we’re gone.
“I should buy you a ring.” Luis says. “Or at least, a nicer one.”
I look down at my finger. Somewhere along the line, we managed to acquire two rings before we got married, they’re plain and simple. “I think we should keep these ones.” I reply, and with a start I realise that I’m no longer Annie Jones, but Annie Mendoza. I’m not too sure it goes, but given enough time I’ll get used to it. “I think you should save your money for gambling, I want to go to Spain.”
“You might want to move there when your mother finds out you got married in Vegas.” He points out as we start walking again, his arm casually slung over my shoulder.
I pause. “Oh dear. She was really counting on one of those silly white weddings where half the city turns up with gifts that have been pre-ordered from Tiffany’s, and my real friends aren’t allowed to come because their dresses are from a shop in the mall instead of being imported one-offs.” For a moment I’m worried, but then I start to laugh.
Luis joins in. “I can’t wait to see her face when we show her our wedding photo.”
“She’ll flip.” I agree cheerfully. I now can’t wait to tell my Mom. We’re still grinning like loons when we enter the bar.
For the first time I notice that Charlie looks happy. Everyone does. I’m going to have to thank him for organising this trip, it’s pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me.
Luis sits down next to the Bash Lovers, and I sit on his knee, my arm around his neck.
“Either it went really well,” Portman says. “Or they’ve gone back to Just Good Friends and they’re even snugglier than before.”
“I’m betting they’re Just Good Friends.” Fulton replies. “Anything else would be a minor miracle.”
Luis and I grin at each other. I suppose we deserve this teasing. “We’re in love.” I confirm. “And we’re still really good friends.”
“And the marriage?” Fulton asks.
“We’re thinking of Spain for the honeymoon.” Luis replies.
Portman goes to the bar to fetch several bottles of champagne and passes it round to everyone. The Fulton shares the news not just with the Ducks, but with everyone in the bar. It gets to the point that he stops passing strangers to tell them the news.
I sit on Luis’ knee, drinking my champagne, giggling, talking, and sometimes kissing my husband (each time, this is accompanied by a sarcastic ‘awwww’ from the group), and I realise that this is what a ‘happily ever after’ feels like.