Category: The Mighty Ducks (Movies)
Series: The Mighty Queertet
Length: 10-20k words
Notes: If you haven’t read “Smoke” followed by “Snow” and also “Breeze” this won’t make sense. Well, it will, but you might as well read the other three.
Dedication: To all of our wonderful reviewers who made it through Breeze with us, and helped it reach the 200 review mark. Sometimes it was hard to keep writing that fic, but your reviews definitely helped us along. Thanks!
Special Dedication: To Stepherz and Joyful, for encouraging us the whole way… and sometimes even threatening to beat us, or in Steph’s case, eat us.
Date Published: 27 May 2002 • Date Updated: 15 May 2003 • Chapters: 12 • Words: 16,991
Chapter 1: Bright Beginning? by Victory Thru Tears
I adjust my bandanna as I hop down the steps of the school. Thank god freshmen year is over. I just finished my last final exam, Math. I think I did well… or at least as well as one can do with Taz behind you, humming some Disney song through the whole hour and a half that we were testing.
Eden Hall has final exams for the last three days of school, all of which are half days and only about four hours long. Today everyone’s packing and getting ready to go home. Taz and I had our Math exam last, everyone else finished this morning. Right now I’m on my way to help Portman finish packing up our room. It kind of sucks, having to basically put our lives in boxes for the summer. But I can’t say that I’m not excited… well, excited and nervous. I’m going to stay with my aunt and uncle, Katie and Jason Keating. Portman’s chaperoning me.
Ok, that was a little mean. In truth, I invited him to come along. Not only do I want to spend the summer with him, but I also want to repay him for all the time I spent at his house in Chicago.
I catch myself whistling as I enter the dorm. What’s with me? Must be the freedom. Hmmm… what’s that old rhyme that we always used to sing when we were in elementary school? Oh, right, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks”. I snort to myself… I remember something that Portman made up after hockey season was over… “No more Orion, no more pucks, no more getting called fags by the Ducks”. It’s nice that he can be funny about it, I guess… maybe it’s because he’s the biggest one of us all, and the one least likely to get beat up.
I enter the room to see that my boyfriend has packed all of the boxes while I was getting tested on my Algebra skills.
“Oh, hey.” He wipes a spot of sweat off his forehead. “Look, I’m done!”
I gape at him. “That’s nice, but what am I supposed to do now?”
He shrugs. “Maya came by for some help earlier, I was going to go down there. Maybe you could check on Charlie and Adam? I’m sure things can’t be pretty in their room.”
I hide my smile. Portman may not be stupid, but it looks like he could do with some brushing up on his observation skills.
Adam and Charlie aren’t fighting anymore. They’re far from back together, but the tense atmosphere between them has been gone for some time. I can’t pinpoint exactly when the change occurred, but I think it had to do with that night earlier this week when they accidentally locked themselves out. I asked Adam they next day if Charlie was annoying when drugged out on painkillers, but he only got a dreamy smile and said he didn’t know. As far as I know they’re still aren’t even speaking, which is why I’m really curious as to what exactly is going on with them.
Listen to me, I sound like a gossiping girl.
But my curiosity is too far piqued to pass up this chance to sneak a look into their private lives. “Yeah, I’ll go check on them.”
After a quick kiss we both start down opposite ends of the hallway. I knock on Charlie and Adam’s door but walk right in without waiting for an answer. Charlie’s on his bed looking quite edgy, and Adam’s in the bathroom putting things into a bag.
I slap on my “helpful and friendly” smile and start to stack some boxes.
“Hey Fulton,” they chorus in unison. They stop to stare at each other, shocked.
It almost hurts trying to suppress my laugh.
“So do either of you have big plans this summer?” I ask a few minutes later, folding Charlie’s clothes and tossing them into his bag.
Adam shakes his head, but Charlie smiles a grin of his that I haven’t seen in a long while. It’s innocent yet somewhat cocky, but it’s also happy… it doesn’t show a trace of the hell that he’s been through this year. I like it.
“I have my mom’s wedding,” he says proudly. “And so do you.”
Oh yeah, Casey’s getting hitched to Bombay. I almost forgot about that.
Bombay invited all of the Ducks to the big day in August. And when I say all of the Ducks, I mean all of the Ducks… this includes Jesse, Terry, Karp, Tammy, Tommy, and Peter. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see all of them, it’s been awhile.
The thought suddenly hits me, I wonder if Adam’s been invited. By the look on his face, it’s undeterminable. I figure that he has, because Averman, Goldberg, Luis, and Connie have been. There were probably some fights over the guest list at the Conway household, but Charlie must have lost.
After some more small talk about the wedding, conversation dies down. Adam starts taking boxes downstairs and Charlie keeps packing.
Adam re-enters the room from a trip to the car, and I hear Charlie mutter to himself.
“I’m not a defenseman, I’m a scorer…”
I look at him, amused. “I’m proud of you, man. After almost five years of playing competitive hockey, you finally know your position.”
Charlie blushes, and my amused look changes to bewilderment. Blushing is not a common Charlie Conway response. I was expecting an indignant remark, maybe a playful smack… but not blushing.
Adam exits the room, giving us both a weird look. I watch as Charlie’s eyes follow him the whole way out.
“Dude, what’s up?” I ask as soon as I think Adam is out of earshot.
“Nothing,” Charlie answers as he starts to pack again.
“Oh come on,” I say playfully, plopping down onto Adam’s bed. “You can tell me… I’m good ol’ Fulton, I’ve known you since fifth grade. Plus, you’re being painfully obvious.”
“Obvious about what?” Charlie asks, not meeting my eyes.
“Your feelings for Adam, of course.”
He blushes for the second time in about three minutes. I grin.
“See? Obvious. So what’s going on?”
He shrugs. But before I can yell at him for being stubborn, he sits down on his bed and faces me.
“It’s just really awkward. A couple days ago I said some stuff that really got things out into the open between us. And I mean for both of us. But he thought I was drugged out on painkillers, so I don’t think he knows I was serious. I want to say something, but I have no idea what I’m supposed to say. After I said that stuff, I fell asleep, of all things to do. Here I am, pouring my heart out, and he’s reciprocating, and I fucking fall asleep!! I don’t know what to do…”
Charlie buries his face in his hands and I stare at him with shock. That was a bigger outburst than I had expected.
“Well the answer’s obvious, Spazway. Go talk to him! Come on, this is your chance. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t he leaving right now?” I ask him, moving to look out the window.
“Yeah…” he responds hesitantly.
“Just talk to him,” I urge gently. “If you get back together now, you have the whole summer to spend together.”
Charlie snorts. “You make it sound like a for sure thing.”
“It is.” I shrug, giving him a lopsided grin. “Three years is a long time.”
He grins back, and I see some of that old glow back in him. Summer is going to be good for all of us. We won’t see enough of each other to get into any fights, there’ll be no schoolwork, and we get to start training for hockey again. That’s a good thing, hockey always keeps us busy. In fact… most of the fights we’ve gotten into have occurred during the off-season. It’s a twisted thing—we need the sport to keep us happy.
I raise myself from Banksie’s bed and head for the open door.
“I’m going to go see if my aunt and uncle are here. How are you getting home?” I ask, pausing in the doorway.
“Mom’s picking me up,” he answers absentmindedly, starting to pack again.
“Ok, well, I’ll see you before I leave. And talk to Adam!” I order, giving him one last smile before walking down the hallway.
As I hop down the steps of the dorm, I see Adam talking to Portman by the Banks’ BMW. I hear the tail end of their conversation as I approach them.
“Yeah, Edina’s pretty close to St. Paul. It shouldn’t be too hard to get together,” Adam says, sticking his hands in his pockets.
“We definitely have to. There’s no way we’re letting you stay stuck in a house with Danny all summer.” Portman responds.
Adam laughs, but I see the dark look behind his smirk. It makes me feel a pang of… something. Anger? Pity? Guilt? Relief? Sadness?
Both Taz and Adam are going home this summer. Maya’s going with Taz for many of the same reasons Portman is going with me—to make sure she’ll be ok, and to make up for the time Taz spent at her house in Milwaukee. I think the girls will be fine. Mr. McDonald won’t try anything. But if he does, Maya’s armed herself with some pepper spray.
But I am kind of concerned about Adam. He’s been home for the weekend a lot since Thanksgiving, but there’s been a change in his mood recently. Back around December and January he had an “I’m the king of the world and nothing can stop me from feeling like this” kind of attitude about going home. He came back with bruises (courtesy of his brother, Daniel), but he was still happy. I would be too, if I had great supportive parents and a loving boyfriend. But Adam’s been in a perpetual funk since his breakup with Charlie and it doubled the amount of bruises he came home with. I don’t get it. Why don’t the Banks’ just throw Daniel out? But of course, it’s none of my business…
In a way I’m glad I’m not going to my parents’… excuse me, the Reeds’ house for the summer. I’ve tried my hardest to renounce them the way they have me, and I think I’ve finally succeeded. But on the other hand, there’s always going to be some emotion for me concerning them. They’re my parents, they raised me and cared for me. I can’t get around that.
“Well!” Adam says, looking in the direction of his car. His dad is in the driver’s seat, looking somewhat impatient. “I should probably go.”
My eyes widen and I look around wildly for Charlie. He has to talk to Adam before he leaves.
“Uh, don’t you have to say bye to the girls?” I ask, thinking quickly.
“Already did,” he answers.
“How about Guy and Julie?” I press.
“Guy’s somewhere with Russ, and Julie left for the airport while you and Taz were taking your final. She said to say bye,” Portman supplies for Adam.
I rack my brain for another excuse to keep him here for a few more minutes, but he gets into the car anyway.
“I’ll call you guys sometime next week, ok?” He asks as he closes the door on the passenger’s side of the car.
“Yeah, we’ll see ya, Banksie.” Portman grins and waves as the car starts to move.
I look around and, much to my dismay, see Charlie standing on the steps of the dorm, helplessly watching them drive away.
I sigh to myself and slowly walk with Portman back into the building. My boyfriend gives Charlie, who looks near tears, a weird look but says nothing. I pat his back sympathetically.
“Call him when you get home.” I suggest.
He shrugs, and I wonder if he’ll talk to Adam at all this summer.
Wow, what a great start to vacation. I can’t wait to see what the next three months will be like.
Vic’s Notes: And by the way, yeah, we know you’re getting sick of Charlie and Adam being broken up. But this is our story, and where would the fun be if they were back together again right away? But believe me, we have plans for all of our characters. I think you’ll be satisfied.
Chapter 2: Not Always Sunshine by Victory Thru Tears
Author’s Note: FAQ: Vic and Star, why can’t you ever just make your characters happy?
Their response: If we did, where would be the plot?
Vic dedicates this chapter to Pancho Villa.
Luis looks up at me and glares. I glare back, grabbing a box and heading for the door. My mom and little sister are going to be waiting outside for me in about an hour, but I’m trying to get all of my stuff out of the room as fast as possible. I don’t want to be stuck with this snake for any longer than possible.
All too late I see Luis’ foot shoot out in front of me. Luckily all I do is launch forward and hit the door. I taste the bitter metallic flavor of blood on my lip, and hold up a finger to check. Yeah, it’s bleeding. I drop the box of clothes in my arms, and it thuds to the ground. Without thinking of the consequences, I lunge at the Hispanic boy in front of me. He steps aside, a smirk on his smarmy face. I catch myself before falling headlong onto the floor. He snickers, so I regain my composure and whirl around to strike him in the face. His nose makes a sickening cracking noise, and blood immediately starts to flow. His dark eyes narrow and he slowly straightens up.
We stalk around the room, glaring at each other.
Suddenly it occurs to me that we’re circling. We’re like two lions in a ring or something.
This thought makes me picture Luis with a mane of golden fur. Then the image of him starts dancing and singing Just Can’t Wait to be King from The Lion King.
It’s all too much. The glare drops from my face as I double over, laughing. What’s with me? Did I accidentally take some of Adam’s painkillers?
Luis looks at me, extremely confused.
I straighten up, still chuckling.
“Forget it,” I say. “I may despise you, but it’s no use fighting. It’s summer break and I don’t even have to see you for another three months. I don’t feel like going home in pieces, and I’m sure you don’t either.”
Luis nods, but the fierce look barely fades from his eyes. I smile at him, though also insincere. He forces a grin onto his face.
I pick up my box from the floor again, and head for the door.
“I’ll see you in August,” I call over my shoulder.
“Yup, see ya.” He closes the door even before I’m fully out of the room.
I whistle as I step down onto the street. All my boxes are in a small cluster, so I set the last one in the middle. I wipe my lip with the hem of my shirt to get the blood off. My mom would freak if she knew I was getting into fights.
I look around, searching the small crowds around the roads for any of my friends. I sit down on the curb, seeing no one. I’m not sure who I’m looking for, anyway. The Queertet’s all gone, so are Taz and Maya. Julie left for Bangor this morning. I sigh wistfully to myself, thinking of my girlfriend. I won’t see her for two months and three weeks, which really sucks. If only she lived in Minnesota. Last summer, Connie and I met almost every day. It was easy, since she’s in Minneapolis and I’m in St. Paul. Man, we have the greatest time just rollerblading around the cities. She loves this one park, we always go there and watch the birds, as dumb as it sounds. She gets the cutest look when—
I look around guiltily. I should not be thinking about Connie, especially not in present tense. It’s a good thing no one can read my mind, really, I—
I jump at the sound of her voice behind me. I turn around slowly, looking up at her.
Connie holds out a plastic bag, looking timid. I don’t think we’ve spoken since our break up, let alone since she found out about Julie and me.
“Hey, what’s up?” I quickly slap on my ‘suave’ persona, and give her a casual grin.
“I, uh, had this stuff lying around my room.” She holds out the bag. I take it from her to look inside. There are at least three of my shirts, a pair of… pants… and some… boxers? They’re definitely mine, too. I’m kind of curious to know how I left my boxers and pants in her room… what did I wear when I left?
“I was going to get Julie to give it to you, but I uh, didn’t think she’d take too kindly to it,” Connie says, somewhat meekly.
I nod, definitely agreeing with her. I can just imagine the look on Julie’s face if she got a bag of my undergarments from Connie.
My ex-girlfriend turns away to leave, and for some reason I call out and tell her to stay.
She looks at me, a million different emotions in her eyes. I pretend not to notice and pat the space next to me on the curb. She reluctantly sits down.
“So what are your plans for the summer?” I really wonder where I’m getting the edge to have a conversation with her.
She shrugs. “Training for hockey. I’m think I’m going out for Varsity next year.”
I nod, staying silent. I never thought I’d see the day that the Ducks voluntarily tried to stay apart. It’s pathetic that this all came from Charlie and Adam’s relationship. People are supposed to be happy when a couple is in love, not try to drive them to insanity.
“Yeah, Varsity. Whoo, Varsity,” I say, clearing my throat. She gives me an odd look. I only “whoo” things when I’m uncomfortable, and she knows it. Connie knows all my secrets.
After a few minutes of silence, Connie speaks again. “So what are you doing this summer?”
I almost say “Sitting and waiting for Julie to come home,” but realize who I’m talking to. Mentioning Julie is not a good idea.
“Uh, nothing that I can think of. Probably the same thing as you,” I answer.
She nods, looking thoughtful. “I… I feel bad about the Ducks.”
I don’t look up at her after she says it. I’m not sure what kind of reaction she’s expecting. So I nod. Nodding is good, a nice neutral response.
“I mean, before we always used to hang out together. I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t get together for a game of pick-up,” she continues.
Now that she mentions it, it’s true. This will be the first summer that we’re actually truly apart. Before we just used to miss pieces here and there: Portman in Chicago, Luis in Miami, Dwayne in Texas, Julie in Maine, Ken and Russ in California… but all of them visited at one time or another. Ken stayed with me for two weeks last summer, actually, and Julie stayed with Connie at the same time. But somehow I doubt that the latter will be happening this year.
Damn it. Every once in a while I realize what I’ve done… I broke up two best friends. Connie and Julie were inseparable until around December, when I happened. After breaking up with Connie, she and Jules grew apart. Then Cat and I started going out, and she and Connie broke off relations entirely. I feel so guilty. I mean, damn it. I know how jealous Connie gets, I’m the same way. I used to steam at the ears when Dwayne even talked to her.
I almost groan out loud when I realize something else… I also lost my own best friend. Connie and I were together for years, everyone knows that… but we were best friends for even longer. I’ll never forget the day I met her, the first day of kindergarten. It was back when I lived in Minneapolis, I moved to St. Paul in early fifth grade, and stopped going to school with her and Charlie. The day I met her, she tried to hit Charlie over the head with her backpack, but missed and hit me. I yelled at her and pushed her down, so she did the same to me. The teacher actually physically sat us in a corner and made us learn to be friends. That day at lunch we shared a sandwich, as mine had gotten smushed in the scuffle.
It’s a cheesy story, really. But it shows you how long Charlie, Connie, and I have known each other, and how much this whole ordeal has been killing the three of us. It’s ridiculous! How can we dissipate nine years of friendship over this? And I don’t just mean Connie and me, I mean her and Charlie too. I’m making it my mission to get us back to being close this summer.
“Connie, you’re not going anywhere this summer or doing anything important?” I ask.
She gives me a funny look. “Didn’t I just say that?”
I blush. “Oh yeah. Anyway, what I was going to say, why don’t you give me a call to hang out sometime?”
“Huh?” She doesn’t even try to mask the shock.
“Or I can call you. Either way, let’s not let our ties sever.” Ties sever? Where did I come up with that?
“I… guess…” She looks uncertain, but the gleam in her eyes shows me that she’s eager to spend time with me. I’m going to disregard it as a look meaning that she wants to get our friendship back.
Right then, I spot my mom driving up. My little sister Genevieve is in the seat next to her, bouncing up and down. I grin. I haven’t seen Ginny since Christmas. They stop, and both hop out of the car at the same time. But to my surprise, Ginny runs towards Connie, who wraps her up into a big hug. After loosening her embrace on me, my mother grins at my ex-girlfriend.
“Hello there, Connie, dear! How are you?”
Connie grins, and the two proceed to make small talk, with my five-year-old sister bouncing up and down, clutching Connie’s hand. Connie knows my family almost as well as I do. Hell, she might even know them better.
After a good ten minutes, their talking winds down.
“Well, we should probably get going,” my mom says, prying Ginny away from Connie. “But please dear, stop by the house sometime this summer.” My eyes widen. It’s not a big deal, because I’ve just invited Connie myself, but what is she doing? She knows we’ve broken up, and she even knows about Julie! Is she trying to sabotage me?
“Ok, Mrs. Germaine.” Connie blushes, and I have to grin.
“Since when did I become Mrs. Germaine? You’ve been calling me Auntie Grace since you were in second grade. Please, don’t stop now.” I think I’m going to hit my mom when we get in the car.
“Ok.” She laughs.
“Bye, Cons.” I grin. She waves, and my family and I pile into the car. My mother rolls down the window as soon as she’s stepped in.
“Your mother is coming, right, dear?”
Connie nods and points in the direction of the school gates. “Yeah, she’s right there.”
“Oh, ok! Well then, please tell her I said hi. Maybe one day if I bring Guy over we can go shopping!” Yes Mom, that’s nice Mom, let’s go Mom!
“Of course. Bye Mrs.… I mean, Auntie Grace.” Connie flashes us one more smile and we slowly start to drive away.
I let out a breath of air. All that conversation succeeded in doing was make me feel even more guilty.
“Connie’s such a nice girl,” my mother comments. Ginny squeals in agreement. She’s like a miniature Taz… or maybe Taz is just really strange, and has the maturity of a five year old.
“Yeah, I know,” I answer. I don’t want to have this conversation with her.
“You shouldn’t have broken up with—”
“Jesus Christ, mom, will you stop it? It’s my life!”
Ginny immediately starts wailing, and I regret raising my voice. My mother looks put off, but doesn’t yell back.
“Comfort your sister,” she says softly from the front seat.
I sigh and reach for Ginny. She pushes me away, still screaming.
“I WANT CONNIE!” she screams.
And I was looking forward to summer vacation?
Chapter 3: Sunshine in a Bag by Star
Author’s Note: Uh oh, Vic and Star have introduced another Original Character! But don’t worry, he’s far from a Mary Sue… or Gary Stu, whichever. Anyway, he’s… interesting. You’ll be seeing more of him soon, since he doesn’t make too much of an appearance in this chapter. By the way, the title sucks, but titles suck in general when you’re doing a themed story. Vic and Star advise that you don’t do it.
I’m rudely awakened by a very loud and highly disgruntled yell from my brother.
Wonderful. I finally escape from the hell that is living with Charlie and putting up with the awkward atmosphere, only to come home for the summer to have to deal with Daniel.
I hear a thump and the pounding of someone stomping downstairs, and yet more indignant hollering. Then the back door slams.
My curiosity is piqued, I have to go and see what Daniel’s yelling about.
I get out of bed and look out of the window overlooking our back garden (or as Taz once called it, a “National Park”) and I’m amused to see my father walking along the path with Daniel slung over his shoulder.
Dad deposits him on the ground. “Just because you’re nineteen, doesn’t mean you’re too old to be told off. Now, for the last time, leave Adam alone.”
I snort. Nice going Dad. This is so entertaining that I’m not even going to worry about Daniel’s imminent revenge the minute Dad turns his back.
“You like him more than me!” Daniel complains, sounding like a petulant kid.
“Right now, yes, I do,” Dad admits. “I love you both equally, but I really don’t like your attitude, either learn to deal with Adam or don’t, but stop the nastiness.”
Oh yes, I’m going to pay for this big time.
I listen to my Dad lecture Daniel on family loyalty for a while longer, then get dressed.
I’m just debating whether to call Maya or not and see if she wants to go to the movies or something later. It might just be my paranoia, but I don’t think she likes me that much anymore, of course, if it is just paranoia and she does want to hang out, she’ll still have to bring Taz, since she’s spending the summer with her.
Unless I suggest that Taz go terrorize the Conway household, then I could teach Maya to play street hockey, it’s about time she learnt to blade. Then again, I can’t imagine Maya would appreciate a call along the lines of, “Hey, how are you doing? Can you ditch your girlfriend because I’m feeling like a friendless loser?”
Or I could call Dean and Fulton, I haven’t spent much time with either of those two recently.
“Adam! Would you come out here a moment?”
I paste a happy smile on my face and wander outside where my Mom is talking to another lady, and a guy about my age with the most amazingly red hair I’ve ever seen.
“Adam, this is Mrs. Calvert and her son, Damien. They’ve just moved in next door.”
“Hi,” I reply with disinterest. I see my Mom’s reproving glance, so feel obligated to add something. “Um, welcome to the neighborhood.” Welcome to the neighborhood? How twee.
“I was just telling Mrs. Calvert that you’d be happy to show Damien around and introduce him to your friends,” Mom says, giving me a huge smile. The smile, to onlookers would look like an isn’t-my-son-wonderful smile, but in fact that’s wrong. It actually translates as show Damien around or I’ll set Daniel on you.
“Sure, I’d be happy to,” I lie.
Oh well, now at least I’ve made my mind up.
I’m calling Maya.
I excuse myself, telling Damien that I have to just make a phone call and that I’ll be right back.
“What?” An irate Irish demands on picking up the phone.
“Hi, Taz.” I pour on the sugar in my voice to make up for my lack of enthusiasm.
“Oh, it’s you.” Her tone takes a down turn. “MAYA!”
I’m left listening to silence for a while, unsure if Taz has hung up on me or has accidentally pressed the wrong button or something.
“Oh, it’s you,” she says.
That’s the second time that someone’s said that to me in less than five minutes. Should I be upset?
“I hadn’t got a clue who was on the phone,” she continues. “Taz just hollered at me and pointed at the phone before stomping off. What did you say to her?”
“All I said was ‘Hi, Taz,’” I reply indignantly.
“Oh, don’t worry, now that I think about it she was probably annoyed because she was drawing. She hates it when she gets distracted.”
It’s an exhaustive phone call for such a simple request. It takes twenty minutes to convince Taz that the landscape she’s drawing will still be there tomorrow, but finally (after Maya employs all of her persuasive talents) she agrees to meet Damien and myself at the mall.
Why can’t I have any sane friends?
Daniel offered to drive us to the mall, Dad nearly burst with pride, but I know Daniel was just having visions of throwing me from a speeding vehicle, and then he’d have to kill Damien to get rid of the witness, so I declined, pointing out that I might as well teach Damien the bus routes around here at the same time.
As we sit on the bus I actually take a look at Damien. His eyes are a deep shade of green and his hair almost glows, it can’t be natural, but then again, his eyebrows are the same color so maybe it is. But Taz dyes her eyebrows purple, so it’s not completely out of the question that he dyes it.
His skin is smooth and pale, but not freckley, so that’s another factor that leads me to believe that his red hair isn’t natural.
Wait, am I having an internal discussion about a guy’s hair?
I haven’t paid this much attention to another person since…
… since Charlie.
Chapter 4: Summer Sun, Something’s Begun by Star
“You’re the one that I want! Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!”
Maya and I sing along with the radio at the top of our lungs. It’s the Less Than Jake version, so it’s doubly annoying for my Dad. He sighs deeply and glares at me. I know I’m getting on his nerves, and I love it. I’ve done my best to annoy him since I got back. Nobody beats me up.
Summer break has been running approximately one and a half days, and already I’m driving him mad. Good. I painted a demon on our living room wall, knowing full-well that one of his business associates is coming over for dinner tonight.
Maya and I have played loud music and danced around the house, we’re eating him out of house and home, and I’m only getting warmed up.
Oh, and I constantly refer to Maya as “lover”, “Minx” or “girlfriend.” Part of me thinks I’m daring him to hit me, god knows why. I don’t enjoy being covered in bruises, and the pain’s not something I like. Maya thinks I’m testing my limits with him, it’s possible. She’s smart, and she knows me better than anyone, so I’ll take her word for it.
I haven’t really talked to my Dad since Thanksgiving. I just called him a few weeks ago and told him that if he laid a finger on me again I was calling Social Services, and not only that, I was bringing Maya home with me to protect me. He’s become positively meek since then. Then again, that might have been something to do with my parting shot, “Gee, Dad. When Mum looks down from heaven, she must be so proud of you.”
“Do you want picking up, or can you get a bus?” Dad asks as he pulls up.
Maya answers before I can. “No thanks, Mr. McDonald, we’ll get a bus.”
Ok, bus it is, but I like having my own chauffeur. Oh well, money would be good. “Daddy…”
He gets his wallet out instantly.
I get the feeling Maya wants to say something about the way I’m behaving around my Dad, but she knows what I’m doing and why… all the same, it’s probably not right.
“So what are the plans for today?” I ask as we walk towards the fountain where we’re meeting Adam.
Maya sighs. “Adam’s stuck babysitting his neighbor, so we’re stuck with Adam.”
I snort. Maya’s sick of Adam! That’s very amusing. “Maybe his neighbor is a hottie and we can pair them off… then again, that won’t work because I think he and Charlie should get back together.”
Minx nods. “Let’s go be friendly,” she says, spotting Adam standing by a guy a little shorter than him with bright fire-engine red hair.
“Ooh, this isn’t going to work,” I say.
“His hair clashes with mine.”
Maya firmly takes my hand and leads me over, muttering curses under her breath.
“Hey guys,” Adam greets us cheerfully. He’s got an odd look on his face, like he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “This is Damien Calvert. Damien, this is Taz and Maya.”
“Howdy,” we reply in unison, he gives us a nervous smile.
I hate meeting new people, this always happens, and I’m not a big fan of silence.
“So what are we doing today?” Maya asks.
Adam shrugs. “Movie maybe?”
“Hey guys!” A cheery voice greets us.
I turn and see it’s none other than Connie “Beelzebub” Moreau. Joy.
Strangely, Adam looks happy to see her. “Hey, Cons. Wanna hang out with us?”
Maya and I exchange a look. Have we stumbled into some bizarre alternate universe? Since when was Connie invited to hang out with us?
“Sure, I’d love to!”
And since when did she want to? Don’t we hate her? Didn’t I glue her to a chair for her bitchy ways? And didn’t Adam laugh so hard that he almost asphyxiated when I did? This is going to be a very peculiar day.
“Hey, do you guys mind if we go to Barnes and Noble? It’s my niece, Karen’s birthday tomorrow and I have to get her something Harry Potter-like.” Connie asks.
“The fixation runs in the family then?” Adam asks.
“Definitely, I borrowed Karen so I could go and see the movie again.” Connie giggles.
“You’re tragically obsessed,” Adam tells her.
Maya and I glance at each other again as we start trekking across the mall. Connie is not a part of our group. Why is she here?
“Since we’re going, you might as well buy a Harry Potter book,” Maya says.
I’ve never read them, they just don’t appeal. Then again, dear old Daddy’s money is burning a hole in my pocket, so I might.
Maya, being the type of person she is, feels obligated to be nice to the new boy. “Are you a Harry Potter fan?”
He shrugs. “Yeah, pretty much obsessed too.”
They quickly start discussing their favorite bits of the books and the film, and Adam and Connie join in. Maya does her best to ignore everything Connie says. Adam and Damien seem to agree on everything about Harry Potter.
My mind turns to mush since I’ve never read the books or seen the film—however, if this is going to be the topic of conversation for the next few months, I’m buying the damn books, reading and enjoying them if it kills me.
I see something that perks up my spirits no end. Casey! And as she turns I realize Charlie’s with her! “Charles!” I bellow at the top of my lungs and take off in a mad sprint across the mall to them.
Ok, so it’s only been a day and a half since I’ve seen him, but that he’s my best friend. Mid-run it occurs to me that people are sick of me jumping on Charlie. Adam especially. So I divert and hug Casey instead. She looks surprised. “Nice to see you too, Taz.”
“Hey Mum!” I say brightly. “Mind if I borrow your demon spawn? We’re shopping and talking Harry Potter—neither interest me.”
She exchanges a look with Charlie. “So he’s demon spawn now? Not a pig-headed twit?”
I nod vigorously. “So, can I steal him or not?”
“Go! Take him! He was driving me mad anyway!”
Charlie sighs. “You people are supposed to love me. See you later, Mom.”
“Bye Mum!” I call over my shoulder.
“Gurrier,” he mutters.
“Phog mo thon,” I reply easily. You don’t want to know what he just called me. Replying ‘kiss my arse’ is totally reasonable.
“You didn’t tell me that Adam was here,” he says as we approach the group.
“You didn’t ask. Why don’t you get your head out of your arse and go talk to him?” I reply. “I’ll even make sure I stay at least ten feet away from you for the entire day.”
He gives me a look. “It wasn’t entirely about you.”
“However, I do hog your company. Go talk! Now!” I bound over to Maya. “Come and show me the wonder of Harry Potter!” I say cheerfully.
She looks at me, looks at Charlie, back at me. She frowns slightly, then smiles. “Ok. Let’s go!”
We all wander over to Barnes and Noble, once through the doors Minx and I exchange a look, and forcefully grab Damien and Connie and frog-march them away from Adam and Charlie.
I force myself to smile at Beelzebub. “Tell me about Harry Potter, which book do I read first? How many are there? Which order do they go in? Why are they so good?”
Maya kicks me lightly to let me know I’m over-doing the niceness, however, Connie doesn’t notice and excitedly finds the books for me.
In the end I buy the whole series because it seemed silly not to. If I like them I’ll only have to come back and get them and if I don’t… well, at least I’ll have all of them around in case I change my mind.
Half an hour later Adam locates us, despite mine and Maya’s attempts to avoid him, Charlie follows him with a hopeless look on his face. “Conas a ta tu, A?” I ask him how it’s going with Adam using Irish.
“Ni maith agam.” He sighs.
Not great. Honestly, he’s just not trying. “Well put some effort into it, moron!” I say. When I notice everyone’s shocked faces I realize that I said that in English, not Irish.
I blink then grin big. I’m Taz, lunacy is standard issue. “Look, Charles, I know you’re not stoned, but you could always fake it.”
Charlie blushes bright red and gives me a hateful look I haven’t seen since the dance, Adam looks somewhere between amusement and abject terror.
“Just take the bull by the horns and ask him…” I’m stopped when Charlie claps a hand over my mouth and threatens to kill me. I wink at Maya.
“Adam, what are you doing tonight?” she continues where I left off.
Charlie kicks her in the shins. “Shut up!”
“Ow!” She boots him back. “I’m helping you.”
“So Adam, what are you doing tonight?” Connie asks.
Maya and I glance at each other. Connie’s helping? Are we in an alternate universe?
“Um, nothing,” he says shyly, blushing so much he could glow in the dark.
I bite Charlie and he curses and removes his hand. “So you’ll see Charlie later?”
“Where though?” Maya asks.
The boys don’t know who to glare at first… except for Damien who’s watching the proceedings with amusement.
“Should be somewhere neutral,” I say.
“How about the pond where we used to practice when we played pee-wees?” Connie suggests.
I raise my eyebrows at Maya, she nods. “Sounds good to me.”
“Adam, Charlie will see you there at around, um, six?”
Connie and Maya nod their agreement. “Sounds good,” Connie says.
“Charlie, don’t be late,” Maya warns him, taking my hand and leading me away from them. Somehow my feet tangle in something and I fall over face first taking Maya with me. She grabs Connie for balance and all three of us hit the floor face first.
I look up and see Charlie looking smug and Adam looking amused.
I guess tripping someone over is gay male speak for “thanks.”
Chapter Five: Subjective Sunshine by Victory Thru Tears*
* By Star and Victory Thru Tears (and by Star I mean she wrote the first two paragraphs. I wrote the first two paragraphs of chapter six… and then we switched because we were stuck. Yeah.)
Notes: Yes, yes, yes; it’s finally here. But in truth, it’s been finished for about a week… I just kept forgetting to ask Star about a title, and the ‘ok’ to go ahead and post. It’s a rule—you don’t post something without your co-writer giving the final word. Anyway, the title wasn’t what was holding us up, it was pure laziness. Honestly, we don’t put *that* much thought into titles…
Dedication: To Regret for lasting through at least one crazy conversation of Vic’n’Star on MSN, it’s quite a feat. *claps* Yay you. Now write the next chapter of firefly, we’ve given you this! That goes for you too, Sy.
I’m trying to work out exactly what the relationship is in this particular group. Well, aside from the obvious, the cute brunette and the Irish lunatic are lesbians, and Adam and Charlie are/were dating.
It’s the other relationships I’m trying to puzzle out. Like why Charlie and Taz speak in Irish, or why Maya seems annoyed with Adam when he talks to her, but doubly annoyed if he leaves her alone. And Connie, what’s her deal? Why do the girls eyeball each other every time she speaks? Why does Charlie keep giving her suspicious looks? And how come Adam acts as if he’s cheerfully oblivious?
Actually, now might be a good time to ask her, the lesbians have ditched us and Adam and Charlie have wandered off into a sports shop, arguing loudly, bless them, they’re trying to act normal after the stunt the girls pulled earlier.
I give Connie a nervous smile, as if I’m trying to think of something interesting to say. People don’t like awkward silences, I don’t mind them. You need to actually care what people think of you to be nervous around them. However, I’m doing a simply marvelous job of seeming a little lost and giving everyone shy smiles.
“Is… uh…” Nice one, using ‘uh’ or ‘um’ is always a sign of nerves. I clear my throat and attempt it again, not forgetting to give another shy smile. “Is every shopping trip this eventful?”
“I wouldn’t know,” she replies, then quickly adds, “Um, I guess so.”
She wouldn’t know? Why? Is she new to the group? No, she mentioned playing in the pee-wees with them. It can only mean one thing, argument. Jackpot. I pretend to have missed the bitterness in her initial reply, and decide to continue on this tangent.
“So have you all known each other for a long time?” I ask somewhat quietly. A lot of a person’s character can be told from the tone of their voice, and I’m going for the ‘shy, quiet, and slightly drab’ kind of guy.
She shrugs. “Yeah, I guess. I’ve known Charlie since we were tiny, and I met Adam when we were eight or something like that. I haven’t known Taz and Maya that long, only since high school.”
I nod. So, she’s known the boys for ages, but not the girls. Maybe she’s jealous of the obvious strong role of the girls in their lives? Or maybe she’s interested in one of the boys, possibly Adam. But she was also trying to get him and Charlie talking again, so that seems out of the question. Hmmm.
Before I can press her any further, she steers the conversation to another topic.
“So, when did you move here?”
Oh come on, I’m not interested in talking about myself. But I swallow my annoyance and paste on a bashful smile.
“Well, I just got here from Buffalo yesterday morning. My mom met Mrs. Banks this morning, and Adam offered to show me around Minneapolis a little bit,” I say, keeping my shy tone a little unsteady, so I appear unsure.
Connie nods, seemingly satisfied with my answer.
“It must be hard to leave your friends,” she continues our conversation.
Well, it might be, if I thought that friends were worthwhile, which I obviously don’t. I believe that a person is much better off on their own, without the complications of a fickle group of little teenagers. It’s nice if you can occasionally find a person you can get along with, but I’m not out searching for that person or anything.
But to answer Connie, I nod sadly. “Yeah, but I guess I’ll have to make some new ones… after all, that’s life.”
Whoops, that came out sounding a bit more cynical than intended. Connie doesn’t seem to notice, however, and continues talking with an interested look on her face.
“Do you know where you’re going to school?”
“Yeah, I think it’s somewhere called Blake?” I say, wracking my brain for the name of the private school I will be attending when the semester started again in September.
“Oooh.” Connie gets a strange grin on her face. “Blake, they’re our rivals!”
“Oh? I thought that Blake was the closest school in the area.” I very nearly tilt my head at her, but quickly refrain. My archenemy back at my old school was constantly tilting his head. It made him look like an idiot, and I’m not going for that impression.
“Well, it is, but Eden Hall isn’t too far away either. That’s where we all go… our entire hockey team got scholarships to go there.” I note the odd look on her face when she mentions this hockey team. And Eden Hall. Hmmm… that’s something to keep in mind.
“You all play hockey? Even the little Irish one?” I ask, not able to hide my incredulity.
She lets out a loud laugh, with a tinge of something that sounds almost like fear. “Yeah right. Giving Taz a hockey stick would be like letting a big purple T-Rex loose in a china shop.”
Amazingly, I had that same analogy in my head. I give Connie a smile that is the closest to sincere I’ve been all day.
“Hey, guys.” We turn to see Adam and Charlie walking out of the sports shop, both looking a little cagey. Hmm. I wonder what happened.
“We should probably get going,” Adam tells me, his hands in his pockets. I nod, putting my shy face back on.
“Where are the girls?” Charlie asks, looking around. “Taz told my mom that she would give me a ride home.”
Connie shrugs, now retreating into a shell of sorts. Adam looks uncomfortable. Probably because the girls aren’t around, Taz seems like the type of person that can never let conversation dwindle.
Right then, the lesbians appear at the entrance of a lingerie shop, both giggling like mad. Adam rolls his eyes, Charlie laughs, and Connie looks horrified. They stop laughing once they reach us, both eyeing Connie.
“Erm, I think Damien and I are going to have to be leaving,” Adam says, trying to break the awkward silence that has built up.
I nod, and after a few goodbyes we move away from the group, heading for the bus stop.
“Don’t forget! The pond at six!” Taz calls after us, and Adam turns a faint shade of red. I successfully hide my grin. He’s easily embarrassed, which makes him easy to manipulate.
Once we’re on the bus, I wait for the chance to ask him a few questions about this little group. The opportunity presents itself when he decides to apologize for “Taz being… well, Taz.”
“The girls are lesbians, then?” I ask, keeping a hushed voice.
He nods, a fond smile playing at his lips. “They’re insane, both of them.”
“And… are you gay?”
The smile disappears from Adam’s face. He recoils slightly, his complexion paling rapidly. He looks scared to death, as if he’s expecting me to lean forward and commit a hate crime or something.
“I’m bisexual,” I confide in him, using the same low tone as before.
The terrified look vanishes, and a grin replaces it.
“Oh. Ok. Good.” He still speaks a bit haltingly, but is obviously relieved. “I thought… well, I don’t know what I thought.”
Ooh, but I do. You thought I would take you to the back of the bus and beat the life out of you. Not a good move, Adam Banks, to let out your fears the first time you meet someone. It makes you appear weak, and lets the person know how to hurt you.
I keep these thoughts safe inside of my head and give him a warm smile. We reach our street again, and walk down to our houses in silence.
I stop in front of my gate and wait expectantly for Adam to say something. I know he will, he’s too polite to just go into his house.
“So… we should hang out again sometime. You wouldn’t be busy later this week, would you?” he asks.
“Well, not with anything besides unpacking,” I answer, a tinge of irritation showing. Of course I’m not doing anything, I just arrived last night.
“Oh, cool. Maybe I could help you.” He shrugs.
I raise an eyebrow. This guy’s really friendly. I wonder what his deal is.
“Well, that might be nice.” I slap a grin onto my face. He returns it, and heads for his own house.
“I’ll see ya.” He calls, before disappearing through the front door.
I enter my own house, and search around for my mother. I find her in the living room, unpacking a box of pictures. The twins, Emma and Eric, are helping her. Why is it that parents always name twins by the same letter? It’s a common practice, and downright annoying if you ask me. But I digress…
“Mom,” I say, grinning at her. “Ever heard of Eden Hall Academy?”
Notes: Sing it with me, guys… *chants* I love Vic’n’Star… I love Vic’n’Star… Ok, so maybe you don’t love us too much after this. But you met Damien, didn’t you? Anyway, feedback is a good friend to writers who are convinced they have writers block…
*Victory Thru Tears*
Chapter 6: Getting Warmer by Star*
*By Star and Victory Thru Tears (like the last chapter, Vic wrote the beginning paragraphs and Star took over)
Notes: This is dedicated to Saturniia, because she took on the rotten cowardly flamer Danielle J. Richards who keeps flaming, but doesn’t seem to have much to say. Thanks Saturniia. Also thanks to Genki, Joyful, Regret, Aqua Lion and Charisma for taking on the other lunatic that’s stalking me. And one last thanks to Vic, for thinking about Rockets.
I eye Fulton as he picks at the bedspread. There’s definitely something irking him, and I want to know what it is. We’ve been at the Keatings’ house for two days, and nothing bad has happened. I mean, nothing bad that would put him in this kind of mood. So I’m figuring it’s me.
I’m not paranoid by nature, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Fulton isn’t—and hasn’t been for some time—happy with me.
I have a few of choices. I could wait for it to blow over, and basically let the whole summer be miserable for both of us. Or I could confront him, and try to make the best summer we’ve ever had.
Hmm… I wonder which I’ll choose.
“Fulton, what’s on your mind?” I ask.
“Huh?” he says, somewhat bewildered. “Oh. Nothing.”
I have to ask myself, why did I start like that? I knew that he would say that…
“You know what?” I snap. “Don’t tell me. Keep it to yourself. Brood on it all summer. Do what you want, but don’t think I never asked.”
I’m so sick of this, I know he’s not happy, but it’s about time he started talking to someone about it. I’ve been there for him the whole time, it’s not like I want a medal for it, but I wish he’d open up a little.
It’s making me crazy. Like that stupid fight we had about Maya. I know she’s not out to take him away, in fact I’m all for him talking to other people. I just got jealous that he might open up to her and not me.
Sometimes I even wonder why we’re still together. If I’m not making him happy any more, why is he still with me? What’s the point?
“What?” I sigh and take a deep breath. I shouldn’t snap at him, this is horribly difficult for him and I should show some compassion. “I’m sorry I snapped.” And maybe if I do, he’ll let me in on what’s bothering him.
“I’m fine, really.” He shakes it off.
“Fine. You’re fine. I’m fine. This whole relationship is fine. Jesus, I’m sick of that word.” And with that I walk out and slam the door behind me.
I don’t know where I’m going, I just know I can’t stay in this room with him. I’ll be too tempted to say something, and I don’t want to mess up this relationship any more than it already it is.
I had no idea I was going to do that. I very rarely lose my temper, I get annoyed, sure, but this was on a different level. Ok, so I didn’t say all that much, but I said enough. And I should feel sorry that I snapped at him, but I don’t. I’ve been thinking that for months now, it’s good to finally let him know.
I look around, I have no idea where I am. That’s the thing with walking off in a blind huff when you don’t know the area. You end up lost. Wonderful.
I try retracing my steps, but to be honest, I wasn’t paying any attention when I left the Keating’s house, so it’s an almost useless plan.
I end up in a park where a bunch of kids are playing street hockey. I take a seat and watch them. For the first time in almost a year, I really want to play. Hockey used to be fun, I used to enjoy it, then all hell broke loose and it just became a way to stay at a school I hated. It was like a double whammy of non-fun.
“For a six foot hulk of muscle, you’re impossible to find, you know that?”
I look up and Fulton’s standing next to me, he looks taller than usual, but then I realize that he’s wearing blades.
“I looked all over for you.” He notices me staring at his feet. “Thought it would be faster, brought yours too.”
I stare at him. Did he even notice that I stormed out mid-fight? Ok, he’s acknowledged I left the house, but he’s acting as if nothing is wrong.
Why am I even surprised?
I sigh deeply.
As does he. Then he takes a seat. “Ok, I can’t gloss over this, can I?”
“I just don’t like you shutting me out,” I say finally.
He runs his fingers through his hair nervously. “Sometimes it’s easier.”
“You’ve never had trouble talking to me before.”
“Yeah, well, it was never about you before,” he snaps.
I flinch back. This is about me? It’s not like I hadn’t guessed, but… I didn’t expect it to hurt so much. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, blinking several times to make sure tears weren’t escaping.
“So why am I here?” I ask in the most neutral tone I can muster.
He gives me a sad smile. “Because you stormed out after a fight.”
“No. Why am I spending the summer with you if we’re breaking up?”
“Breaking up? Who said anything about breaking up?” he asks worriedly. “Unless you’re breaking up with me?”
I take another deep breath, this one to try and calm myself enough to make sense of the conversation. “You did, just now… didn’t you?”
He frowns. “No, I really didn’t. Unless I did by accident.”
“Can we start this again. You’re somehow pissed at me, and have been for a long time, but you’re not breaking up with me?”
“I’m not pissed off with you!” he yells in exasperation, then smiles. “Can you see now why this is difficult for me?”
I grin back at him. It’s the first genuine smile I’ve seen from him in months. Come to think of it, it’s my first genuine smile in months too.
“Ok, I’ll shut up now. Let’s take it from the top.”
He reaches out and takes my hand. I’m a little surprised by the openness, but pleased. It’s been awhile since he reached out for me. “I feel like I owe you,” he says softly.
I open my mouth to respond, but think better of it. How can he open up to me if I don’t shut up? Instead I squeeze his hand encouragingly.
“You’ve been so amazing, you’ve supported me and…” He looks me in the eyes. “You loved me, no matter how horrible I’ve been to you, you loved me, and I just don’t know what I can give back.”
“It’s not because I’m hoping to get something back,” I tell him.
“I know that,” he says. “But knowing something and feeling it are completely different.”
He rests his chin on my shoulder. “I’m really sorry. I’m sorry for how I’ve been acting, I’m sorry for shutting you out, I’m sorry for just about everything.”
“Don’t be.” I smile at him. “Just don’t shut me out again. I’d rather hear what you’re worrying about than have to guess.”
“I just don’t want to burden you with it.”
“It’s not a burden. I love you. I want you to be happy.”
“I love you too.” He grins at me.
I move closer and kiss him, neither of us care that we’re in public and any minute now we might get our queer asses kicked halfway across the park.
We break apart in surprise and turn to the source of the voice. It turns out to be a couple of kids from the street hockey game. They look about twelve years old.
“Are you guys the Bash Brothers from the Junior Goodwill Games?” One of them asks.
I nod and Fulton mutters an affirmative, reluctantly waiting for the torrent of abuse.
The kid turns to his friend. “I told you it was them.” Then he turns back to us, blushing a little. “I don’t suppose you want to…” He tails off and gestures to the game going on behind him.
I grin at Fulton. “What do you think?”
He grins back even bigger. “Hell yeah!”
I pull on my skates and as we move towards the game I distinctly hear the kid say, “Fulton and Portman, it’s just too cool!”
Chapter 7: Here Comes the Sun by Victory Thru Tears
Notes: *breathes big sigh of relief* Now I can stop worrying about those death threats that we were getting…
Dedicated: to all of those Charlie and Adam shippers, especially the ones that claim they sprung up because of the Queertet.
I tap my feet on the ground, searching the area for Adam. I wish I had a watch to check, but I don’t. I’m sure it’s past six, though.
I don’t know what I’m doing here. Well, yeah, I do… I’m here to patch things up with the love of my life.… Love of my life? Where did that come from? Gah, I get so melodramatic when I’m nervous.
No, but what I don’t get is how Taz (and Maya and… Connie…?) managed to get me here. I guess I’m just that desperate to get him back.
I hear the clearing of a throat behind me. My heart actually skips when I whirl around to see Adam, as clichéd as it sounds.
“H-hi…” I stutter, standing to meet him.
“Hey.” He sounds cool and collected, but I can tell he’s nervous. His hands are clenched into tight fists, and his face has a slight tinge of red to it.
“Uh, sit down.” I motion to the bench where I had been waiting for him. He nods awkwardly and moves to sit. I plop down next to him. Silence reigns for a good six minutes.
It’s my move, isn’t it? I mean, I know I basically initiated the contact before, that day I threw my shoulder out. But I was supposed to be stoned out of my mind… Adam was the one with the real courage. I totally respect him for that.
Right. So me. Being Prince Charming and winning my boyfriend back.
I have to suppress my laughter at the thought of calling myself Prince Charming.
“So, how’s your summer going?” I ask, deciding that’s a good start for a conversation.
“Not bad so far, I guess.” He raises a hand to scratch his cheek, and my eyes move across his face. My gaze immediately focuses on a purple bruise surrounding his eye. Alarm rises inside of me. That bruise was not there when I saw him at the mall, only a few hours ago.
“Adam?” I ask tentatively.
“Huh?” He snaps his head towards me, a bit bewildered. He looks like he was lost in thought.
I raise my hand to his face, lightly tracing the mark. I flinch when he does, and for a second it seems just like old times. Not necessarily good old times, but old times nonetheless.
“What happened?” I ask.
He averts his eyes, but I keep my fingers on his cheek.
“Daniel happened,” He replies. “My dad pissed him off this morning, and he took it out on me, like he usually does.”
I sigh, finally moving my hand and leaning back on the bench.
“Bad things just always seem to happen to us, don’t they?” I muse.
He shrugs. “Sometimes we make bad choices, too.”
I look at him. He has that tone. You know, the one where he knows what he’s talking about, and he’s got a specific incident in mind, but he’s discreetly beating around the bush, for unknown reasons.
“Banksie—” I start, but he cuts me off.
“Look, I’m sorry. I made a bad choice, and I’ve been pussyfooting around for two months trying to pretend like I had a legitimate reason for everything I did. Ok, so maybe I did. But maybe I was stupid to take the path that I did. And maybe even though you used to spend a lot of time with Taz or something and generally not with me, maybe I should have been a little more understanding. You know, maybe try to get you to talk about it. Or maybe—”
He stops as he notices that I’m doubled over with laughter.
“What?” He asks indignantly.
“And then I saw you, and I ran. So then I found him and I ran. Then when I saw her, she ran. And then I ran,” I say in a slightly mocking tone, nearly choking through my mirth.
“Huh?” He wrinkles his nose, looking puzzled. I wave my hand and shake my head. I didn’t expect him to remember that moment, but I do. It was pretty funny, how much running Adam did through the first two months of school.
I clear my throat, trying to get my mind back on track. Subtracting the “maybes”, Adam did a lot of sharing in that last mini-speech he made.
I try to choose my words carefully. “I think… that you did a good thing by breaking up with me.”
His head snaps up sharply, and he looks extremely confused.
I smile slightly as I continue. “We needed a break. I needed to remember why I loved you. Not that I ever forgot…” I add quickly. “But taking a break let me understand my mistakes, and figure out ways not to make them again. I’m sorry that I’m not the ideal friend sometimes. I mean, that’s part of the job as your boyfriend, and I kind of skipped out on it sometimes. I know I didn’t really make an effort to talk to you about everything that happened—and I guess is still happening—with the Ducks, or even just the stupid dumb teenage boy stuff. And I’m really sorry for it.”
He smiles slightly. “I’m sorry I’m such an obsessive psycho freak.”
I have to laugh at that. We both pause for a few moments, occasionally looking up at each other and half-smiling.
“So… does this mean that we’re…” I trail off at the sight of Adam’s stern look.
“Always jumping to conclusions, aren’t you Charlie Conway?”
My eyes widen but I relax as he starts to laugh. We’re both so wound up, we’re making weird jokes at even weirder times.
This time I don’t mind the silence after my unanswered question. It’s not a tense stillness, it’s blissful. I don’t need to ask Adam what he’s thinking, because I have a feeling that I already know. I reach over cautiously and take his hand in mine. He responds by lacing our fingers together, and we sit contentedly staring at the pond.
But a funny thought comes into my head, and I clear my throat. I’m definitely taking a risk here… I have no idea how Adam will react.
“So, erm, who’s this Damien guy?” I ask, bracing myself for a possible attack.
“Damien Calvert? Just this guy who moved in next door to me. He’s pretty cool, I think,” Adam answers nonchalantly.
“Why, are you jealous?” Adam smirks.
I blush a bright shade of red and sneer at him. “No…”
“Haha, Charlie’s jealous…” Adam mocks, but I notice that he tightens his grip on my hand.
I shake my head thoughtfully. “No, I was just thinking that he seems a little suspicious. I mean, he just gave me a bad feeling, that’s all.”
“This is coming from the guy who is currently dating his childhood worst enemy.” Adam snickers.
“You weren’t my worst enemy, and—” I cut off, giving him a narrow-eyed look. “Currently dating?”
Adam grins. I grin back. Now this is how it should be—us, joking around and just being together. Sure, we might have to work on a few things this time around, but we’ll be ok, now that we’re in it together.
I lean forward to kiss him, something that I haven’t done in way too long.
Chapter 8: Fun in the Sun by Victory Thru Tears
Notes: It may seem that Vic and Star are tapped out and writing any old durge that comes to mind, but that is not the case. Actually, Sun is the most structured fic that we have ever tried. There are a lot (and I do mean a lot… ) of hints as to what will happen in the next series. So please stick with us. We love you.
I check the mirror one last time, just to make sure my hair looks alright. I hear my mother chuckle from behind me, and I turn around, immediately defensive.
“What?” I ask, crossing my arms over my chest.
She waves her hand at me, an amused expression on her face. “Nothing, sweetie. So, I take it Charlie’s coming today?”
“Yes…” I try to say it indignantly, but it comes out with a slight giggle. Yes, a giggle. Stupid Charlie. Only he could make me giggle.
My mom laughs with me, and finishes with a sigh. She rubs my shoulder affectionately, smiling slightly.
“My little Poppet, growing up so fast…” she murmurs.
“Ok, Mom, if you even think about calling me Poppet in front of my friends, I will… do… something embarrassing,” I say, wriggling out of her grasp. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten Christmas, when you showed Charlie those stupid baby pictures.”
“Oh? You’ll do ‘something embarrassing’? Like what, throw a temper tantrum? I just said you were growing up, that would sort of counter-act the progress, sweetie,” she says with a grin.
Before I can reply, I hear the doorbell downstairs. I nearly jump out of the door, I’m far past simply eager to answer it. My mom laughs, and waves her hand.
“Just go. And don’t forget to put on sunscreen, we don’t want you to be a burned Poppet.”
I shoot her a glare, before running down the stairs. While still in the hall I can see Charlie peeking through the front window, grinning. He waves, and I quickly open the door. He’s standing on the front porch, along with Fulton, Portman, and Guy. The second the door swings open, he flies into my arms.
“Charlie, why do you always do that? Back at Christmas you almost knocked me off my feet, too. You’ve been hanging around Taz too much,” I admonish, though beaming the whole time.
He shrugs, and drops a kiss on my lips. That’s when I notice the glances that Guy, Fulton, and Portman are giving one another.
“What?” I ask, still holding onto Charlie.
“They didn’t believe me when I said that we were back together,” he informs me, glaring at them for good measure. “They just laughed.”
I raise my eyebrows at them, and almost simultaneously their three faces split into grins.
“We just loved seeing how mad Charlie got when we pretended not to believe him. It was quite the show,” Fulton confides in me.
I laugh. “I bet…”
I lead my friends to the backyard, and the pool. Fulton and Charlie immediately start to race each other to the diving board, stripping down to their bathing suits. Guy and Portman follow, but at a much slower pace. I’m about to join them, but I hear a car door slam in what is presumably my driveway. I walk around the side of the house, hoping to catch this person before they ring the doorbell. Halfway there, I hear a loud Irish voice. I’m tempted to turn around and pretend that I didn’t hear her, but I sigh and continue walking.
“Hi, guys,” I call as I step onto the front lawn.
“Hello,” The lesbians chorus, almost in unison. I grin, and motion for them to follow me.
Once back near the pool, Maya holds up a bag. “We’ve got to change,” she says.
I nod, but catch the gleam in Taz’s eye. “Uh, sure. But do me a favor. No soiling my house during kinky adventures, ok?”
“Oh Adam…” Taz grins as she and Maya walk past. “All the fun’s gone if you’re not involved!”
I raise my eyebrows. Did she just insinuate a threesome? Man, she is so weird!
I shake my head, and turn my attention back to the guys. They’re horsing around in the water. From the looks of it, they’re trying to pull down Guy’s shorts. Good thing Luis isn’t here, he’d only think we were trying to turn him.
I turn around to toss my t-shirt onto a pool chair, but catch a flash of red. I look up, shielding my eyes against the sun. Damien stands in the window of his house, looking down at me.
I wave, grinning. It takes him a second, but he does the same back.
“Wanna come over?” I ask loudly. Yeah, it’s sudden. But the guy looks like he could use a friend. And I don’t mind filling the position.
Damien thinks for a second, then nods. I grin.
“See you in a few minutes, then?” I call up.
He nods again, flashing me a quick smile. Then he draws the curtains.
“Hey Cake eater!”
I whirl around, just to get hit in the forehead by a frisbee. I blink a few times, and look around. Charlie stands about fifteen feet away, grinning madly.
“You’re dead, Spazway!” I yell at him.
“Not if you can’t catch me!” he shouts back.
So of course, I start running. I run right into Charlie… who happens to be hiding behind Fulton. I slip on the water by the edge of the pool, and the three of us fall in with a gigantic splash. So that’s why they have signs that say ‘No Running’ by pools…
I sputter to the surface, frantically kicking my legs to stay afloat.
“I thought Ducks could swim.” I hear an amused voice say from above me. My heart nearly stops. I know that voice… and it’s not pleasant to hear…
Fulton, Charlie, and I all stare up at Riley.
“What are you doing here?” Fulton growls.
Riley holds up his hands in mock self-defense. “Hey now, no need to get feisty, little mallard… Daniel just forgot his wallet.”
We all turn to stare at my brother, who has just appeared from inside the house. Danny shoots me a glare, and then nods his head at Riley. They walk around the side of the house together, while we stare silently after them.
“When did Riley become friends with your brother?” Charlie asks me.
“No idea,” I shrug. “But maybe it’s not a bad thing—they’re made for each other.”
Charlie smirks, not quite a smile. I turn around to say something to Fulton, but I spot Connie sitting in a pool chair next to Guy. Good, all of my guests are here, except Damien.
“Hey, Cons!” I call over to her.
She glances in my direction. “Hi Adam!”
“You coming in?” I motion to the water.
She nods and grins. “Yup, in a little while.”
Guy taps her arm excitedly, and she turns to him. He says something, I can’t hear what, and she bursts out laughing, clutching his arm. What is this, now? Since when did Connie and Guy start acting like old friends? Well, they are old friends, but… they never act like it… not since last year happened…
I turn to Charlie, eyebrows raised. “There’s some weird stuff going on…”
He shrugs, somewhat darkly. “Hey, she’s your friend.”
“Charlie…” I start, but am cut off by a large splash. Water sprays into my face, and I let go of the hold I have on the edge of the pool.
I come up, sputtering and wiping water from my face. Portman grins toothily at me.
Before I can retort an answer, I hear my mother’s voice calling my name. I look up to see her hanging out of a window.
“Adam, did you put sunscreen on?”
I exhale in irritation. “No, mom…”
“Well do it. I can already see you turning red from here!”
I sigh, and slowly climb out of the pool. I sit down on the patio, and start putting on the cold lotion. I hear the gate creak open, and look over to see Damien walking into the backyard. I grin at him, and he comes to sit by me.
“Thanks for inviting me.” He says somewhat softly.
I chuckle. This guy’s pretty shy. I continue putting on my sunscreen, and Damien studies my friends. I watch him intently, looking for a reaction. He meets my eyes, looking oddly neutral.
“They’re a great bunch… once you get to know them,” I tell him.
He nods. “I bet.”
I look down, then quickly back up. It occurs to me that I’ve just repeated Bombay’s advice, given to me when I first joined the Ducks.
I smile. Hopefully, Damien will fit in with the Ducks just as well as I have.
Chapter 9: Tell Me More, Tell Me More by Star
Notes: Vic, have you noticed that our lesbians are getting a bit more… um, *thinks* into each other recently?
I glare warningly at Taz. “No.”
She grins back, then leaps forward tugging at my sarong.
“Leave it!” I chide.
She pouts. “I don’t see why you’re being paranoid. It’s not like this lot haven’t seen you in a bikini before. And I’ve seen you in even less…” She gives me a devilish look.
Actually, there are two people here that haven’t seen me in a bikini. Damien and Connie. I have no idea why Adam invited either of them.
Ok, so Connie’s being nice and actually seems genuine, but let’s not forget that she spent a good part of last year trying to destroy the Queertet.
And Damien? A week ago we hadn’t even heard of him, now he’s Adam’s little shadow. I mean, what are they, best friends?
Taz snaps her fingers in front of my face. “Hey, Minx, you were spacing.”
“No I wasn’t,” I reply quickly.
“Yes you were,” she insists. “I just said something so kinky it deserved an NC-17 rating and you didn’t even blush.”
I give her an apologetic smile. “Caught me. I’m sorry.”
We sit down on the loungers around the pool. I make sure that my sarong stays put, despite Taz’s attempts to remove it.
“Nymph!” I grin.
She grins back and starts bouncing excitedly. It’s moments like these that make me miss Julie. Taz is so hyper right now, she’s on overload. Adam’s house scares the life out of her and it didn’t help that Charlie gave her two cans of soda.
If Julie were here I could have a nice calm conversation while Taz worked off her excess energy by tormenting Charlie.
But she isn’t here, and the only other option is Connie, but I’d rather talk to the wall… also, she looks kinda busy cozying up to Guy.
“I need to swim,” Taz says. “I’m far too hyper.”
Taz is growing as a person. She now tries to get rid of her hyper-ness elsewhere before subjecting us all to it.
“Can you help me put this on?” She holds out a swimming cap—naturally, it’s purple. She has to wear it otherwise the chemicals in the water turns her hair green.
She takes a seat between my legs while I start gathering up her hair. She bounces agitatedly so I drop a kiss on the back of her neck and she quiets down and keeps her fidgeting to a minimum.
“Thanks.” She drops a kiss on my lips and playfully pinches my rear end. “I must go torment Charles now.”
“Go forth and torment,” I say with a grin.
“Charles!!” She bellows and takes off at a run at him. Not to him. At him.
He turns and sees her running and quickly pushes Adam and Damien out of the way to safety.
She leaps into his arms, momentarily locking her legs around his waist before they both fall into the pool with a tremendous splash.
I feel my expression flicker from amusement to annoyance. I know Taz is gay, and I know she doesn’t think of Charlie that way, but honestly, how am I supposed to feel when I see my girlfriend—wearing only a bikini—with her legs wrapped around a half-naked guy?
I push my irritation to a side. Adam doesn’t look bothered, he’s busy joking around with Damien. After a few minutes discussion, they jump in the pool and join Charlie in what looks like a rather genuine attempt to drown my girlfriend.
I switch my mind off for a while, watching everyone fool around. Fulton and Portman look happier than I’ve seen them for a very long time. They’re so coupley it goes beyond cute, or nice, and way into the realm of “that’s so adorable I could hurl.”
I take off my sarong and jump in the water. I’d better go save Taz before someone succeeds in killing her.
“Yo! Fulton!” Portman yells on seeing me. “How about a game of Munchkin Deathmatch?”
Fulton grins and stops trying to drown Taz. “Ok.”
Taz spits out a load of water and coughs several times. “I don’t want to play. I can barely breathe.”
“Who cares?” He picks her up and sets her on his shoulders.
I try to escape, but Portman catches me first.
Sigh. Here we go again.
I give ten-to-one odds that Taz doesn’t keep her top on.
I wipe my face on a towel and collapse in an inelegant heap on one of the loungers. Taz plays dirty in Munchkin Deathmatch.
“Hey.” Damien grins at me shyly. “Do you mind if I…?” He gestures to the lounger next to me.
“Oh, sure, have a seat.”
He wrings his hands nervously. I can’t believe how shy this guy is.
“H-having fun?” he squeaks out.
“Tons of. Sick of being drowned though. You?” I reply.
“It’s… uh, nice.” He gives me a sickly grin. We’ve really got to work on his confidence.
Taz hauls herself out of the water and flops down on top of me. “You know, I liked it better when they just ignored me. I think they are genuinely trying to kill me,” she comments.
I push her to the side instead of on top of me. Aside from the fact that I can’t breathe, Damien has gone as red as his hair seeing the two of us so tangled up together. He politely looks away until Taz and I look more respectable.
“So… um, what are you plans for the summer?” he asks, still looking away.
“Well, there’s Casey’s wedding to Gordon.” Taz bounces excitedly. Who’d have thunk you could bounce while horizontal… well… in a non-kinky way?
“Casey is Charlie’s mom,” I explain to Damien. “Gordon is their old hockey coach. It’s gonna be a fun day. Purple here has even talked her way into being a bridesmaid.”
“So you’re an old friend of them?” he asks my still-bouncing girlfriend.
“Not really. Wish I was, Mum’s really cool.” She grins towards the pool. “Charles isn’t bad either.”
I grin at Taz’s obsession with the Conway family. I wonder if she’s noticed the slight resemblance between Charlie’s mother and her own. Taz showed me a picture of her yesterday, they have the same smile.
“And then we have Taz and Charlie’s birthdays, they’re pretty close, so there’s going to be a joint party.” I bite my lip, suddenly wondering if it’s polite to gush about parties that Damien hasn’t been invited to.
“Oh,” Damien blushes again. “Adam mentioned it… he, uh, said I could come.” He seems to go even redder, then hastily adds. “But I don’t know… I mean, I don’t know you that well.”
“Oh come!” Taz grins. “The more the merrier.”
“What about you? Any big plans?” I ask.
“Well, no, not really.” He gives a shy smile. “I don’t really know anyone, and I can’t keep imposing on Adam’s hospitality. I’m sure he has better things to do than baby-sit me.”
I suddenly feel a rush of warmth towards him. It must be rough changing schools during the second year of High School. Imagine it, you’ve just got settled in, made some really good friends, then you have to move miles away. And when you get there everyone has already made their little circle of friends. It must be so hard being on the outside.
“Why don’t you hang out with us?” I offer. “It’s not a chore having you around.”
“Unlike some,” Taz mutters. Her eyes are narrowed and she’s glaring at Connie who is giggling wildly as Guy tickles her. “Bitch!” she spits out. “Guy’s with Julie. Why can’t she go back to hating us all?”
“To be fair,” I say. “Guy’s hardly fighting her off.”
“He’s just missing Julie.”
“Too bad we can’t get her back here,” I comment.
Taz’s eyes light up. “Why can’t we?”
“Where would she stay?”
“I have a guestroom. Daddy won’t mind.”
I sigh. Taz and her parental issues. Loses her own mother and adopts Charlie’s to make up. Loses faith in her father and actively seeks out new ways to torment him.
But it is for a greater good. “Let’s call her when we get back to yours.”
“Good plan.” Taz nods approvingly.
I turn back to Damien, who has been watching our exchange with interest, clouded with bafflement. “Sorry.”
“No we’re not. We’re not letting Connie and Guy get back together,” Taz responds.
“Why not?” Damien asks curiously. “Aside for the fact that what’s-his-name—um… Guy?—has a girlfriend. I mean, they look good together.”
Taz quickly launches into a detailed description of almost all of the events of last year, leaving out the most hurtful and private moments. I’m sure if she had her sketchbook handy she would have drawn descriptions too.
Damien has a dazed look on his face, listening to Taz talk at high speed and gesture wildly when she gets to the exciting parts.
I lean back and grin. Now that I think about it, last year was really hectic for us.
Chapter 10: Sunshine in the Morning by Star
I shouldn’t be here. Surely I should be with my Mom. Shouldn’t I be giving her way instead of Jan? That sounds right, I should be giving my Mom away and Jan should be Coach’s—damn it! Gordon’s—best man. Not the other way around.
“Nervous, Charlie?” Asks Coa—I’m going to have to hit myself every time I think that. His name is Gordon. Or Dad. Maybe I could call him Dad from now on.
I grin at him goofily. I’m sure I’m wearing the same expression I had on my face a couple of days ago when the Queertet decided to play some hockey in Banksie’s yard and I took a shot to the head. Fulton’s slapshot to be exact.
It was fun up until that point. We dragged Jesse and Guy over, even Maya played. Taz just bounced on the sidelines yelling “Go Team!” every couple of seconds.
Mom pitched a fit, she was convinced the swelling wouldn’t go down in time for the wedding. Hence I’ve not been allowed out for a few days and have had permanent brain freeze because Mom insisted I have an ice pack on the bump at all times.
Am I nervous? Hell no. My Mom is finally marrying the only guy that I approve of. The only one that will measure up to this ideal Dad I’ve had in my brain for the last fifteen or so years.
Well, I’m not looking forward to making a speech. That’s going to suck. I had to call Maya and she helped me write it. The girl’s on a writing scholarship, a genius. Actually, I would have said that Scrat from Ice Age was a genius if he’d helped me write the damn speech.
Although I doubt Scrat would have been as much help as Maya.
Damn it! What’s with this internal babble?
“Charlie?” Bombay asks again. (Well done self, if in doubt, use his surname). “Are you ok?”
I grin my patented idiotic grin. “I’m fine. You?”
“I’m great. This is the happiest day of my life.” He gives me a huge grin (which is just as goofy as the one I gave him).
“Not scared you’re going to flub your lines then?” I ask.
He frowns. “Well, I wasn’t…”
I grin at him cheerily. “Just ad-lib if you forget.”
“Thanks, Charlie.” He claps me on the shoulder.
We take our seats at the front of the church. Gordon (well done, self!) is muttering nervously under his breath. I’m running through a mental checklist. The most important one is making sure that everyone (especially Taz and the Ducks) knows that when they get to the “if anyone knows why these two soppy gits can’t get wed…” bit if they jump up and shout “Me!” they will be arrested.
Gordon (again, good self) has drummed it into me that by saying that they have a reason (even when joking) they have started a legal proceeding and the wedding will be held up at the very least, possibly even cancelled.
I have told Taz twice a day. Not only that, I’ve told her she will be barred from the Conway/Bombay household if she even sighs too loudly during that part.
The vicar nods at us and we stand up.
The words are lost on me, but the feeling isn’t. I keep sneaking glances at Adam the whole way through. Maybe one day it will be us…
Chapter 11: Summer Warm and Fuzzies by Victory Thru Tears and Star
Notes: There’s a tiny reference to the Really Long Survey that Vic and I did for the Queertet and the Lesbians. You can find it on our site.
And yes, we’re back.
I’ve been to three weddings in my life. My old, blue-haired aunt Edith’s, she married some guy with dentures at the tender age of 64; my cousin Sasha’s wedding; and some friend of the family’s. And during every single one, at one time I have fallen asleep. Not like snoring sleep, but dozed off.
But during this one, my attention didn’t wander far from the altar at all. Maybe it was because Taz was a bridesmaid, or just because I know (and like) Casey and Gordon. Either way, I hope my wedding is as lovely as this one.
We had been so confused at the beginning of the ceremony… we, as in the Queertet and me. We weren’t exactly sure which side of the aisle to sit on. Obviously, the Ducks were here on Gordon’s invitation, but the Queertet were just as close to Casey. Or, in my case, I didn’t know either of them very well.
In the end, we decided to sit on Casey’s side. Only because Goldberg and Averman were on Bombay’s side with their parents, looking very surly indeed. No one wanted to rub them the wrong way, and start a fight in the middle of the wedding.
So now we’re on our way to the reception, piled into the Banks’ car. It’s really uncomfortable… it’s a nice car, very expensive, but not horribly roomy. Of course, since I’m the smallest one, I’m squashed into the backseat with the Bash Brothers and Jesse. And Adam gets the front seat all to himself while his dad drives.
This sucks. Come on, the Bash Brothers are each the size of two people, and Jesse’s all tall… so I’m basically hanging out of a window. Or, I would be, if the window were open. Since it’s not, I’m smushed up against it. This can’t be good for my dress.
Taz, Charlie, and all of the others in the wedding are still back at the chapel, taking pictures. I think it’s so, so, great that Taz was involved with this wedding, and it’s good that she and Casey have the relationship that they do. And I seriously mean that. Taz misses her mother so much, you can just see it in the way she watches anyone with his or her mother. I’m glad that Casey has given her at least a part of the relationship that she lost.
Argh, ok, enough of the mushy thoughts. Reception hall is in sight!
I wince as Portman shifts, and accidentally sits on my hand. Ooh, yeah, definitely heard a bone crunch.
I try to nudge him lightly with my other elbow, but he’s deep in conversation with Jesse. So instead of moving off my hand, he scoots the opposite way, and my wrist also gets buried under his mass of hulk.
“Portman, get off!!” I squeak out.
He glances at me. “What? Oh, sorry little munchkin.”
Please note that he doesn’t move an inch.
Make that a double, extra large, with whipped cream on top deep sigh.
It’s been about half an hour. Taz and Charlie are still not here. It wouldn’t be so bad, I’ve got other friends here, but they seem to have ditched me for some of their fellow mallards. Adam is trying to catch up a slightly overweight boy, who they keep calling Karp, on the hockey events of last year, strategically leaving out the part about the hate campaign against the Queertet. Fulton and Portman are busy giggling (yes, the big slabs of muscle are giggling) with Jesse and his little brother. And I can’t even talk to Guy—not that he and I are especially close, I only talk to him because of Julie—because he’s too busy flirting with Connie.
Argh! And there’s this creepy little guy sitting at the end of the table, staring at me!
I glare at him. He’s one of the original Ducks, I know that because otherwise he wouldn’t be sitting with us. But I’ve never been introduced to him, and I’ve got no idea who he is.
He smirks at me, and my eyes narrow even further. Ok, time to take some action.
I elbow Adam in the ribs. It takes a few more jabs for him to look at me. Honestly, you’d think that his best friend is more interesting than some ex-hockey player he hasn’t seen in years.
“What’s up?” He asks me, and I swallow my irritation. About him, at least.
I motion discreetly towards the dark-haired boy on the other side of the table.
“He’s staring at me,” I whisper to him.
Adam’s face splits into a grin. “That’s Peter for you.”
I wrinkle my nose. “Peter?”
Adam holds a hand up to Karp and me, and gets up to sit next to this Peter character. They converse quietly for a few minutes, occasionally glancing up at me. I try not to watch with much interest as Peter scoots his chair back and comes to sit next to me, where Adam had been.
I raise my eyebrows and purse my lips at him, as he gives me an appraising look. He glances back at Adam, who gives him the thumbs up sign.
“So, Banks tells me that you’re single…”
Ooh, I am going to kill that little fairy.
“Mum!” I say excitedly. It’s taken all of my powers of restraint to stay quiet and calm as long as I have, but we’re at the reception now. Time to get crazy! “You look fantastic!” It’s probably the hundredth time I’ve told her.
“Thank you, Taz. You look very pretty too.”
“Can I hug you now we’re not too worried about messing up your dress?” I ask nervously. I’ve tried to behave myself all day.
She pulls me into a hug and motions for Charlie to come join us. “You were a great bridesmaid. And do you know something?”
“What?” I ask.
“Traditionally, the bridesmaid and the best man are supposed to get it on at the reception!”
I giggle loudly. “I couldn’t!” I say in tones of shock. “Charles is the devil, and I’m a good catholic girl.”
“She means it the other way round, Mom,” Charlie says, tugging at my arm. “She’s the devil and—”
“You’re a good catholic girl?” I wink at Casey then turn back to Charlie. “So what are we waiting for? Let’s get nake—”
Charlie claps his hand over my mouth and drags me away. I wave at Casey who rejoins her new husband.
“Come dance with me, Purple,” he says. “I don’t want you too close to the rest of my relatives, you’re already stalking my mother, the rest of the Conway clan can’t handle it.”
I open my mouth to protest, but realize he might have a point. “Ok then.”
I almost trip on my dress several times as Charlie pulls me along.
“You are a klutz,” he comments.
“You try walking in a long dress and heels!” I retort.
He bats his lashes at me. “Oooh! Can I? Let’s go to the ‘loos’ and swap clothes!”
I giggle. “Can I at least ditch these heels?” Without waiting for an answer I tear them off and plunk them on the nearest table.
“Oh, Taryn, I can’t believe you just did that.”
“What?” I shrug innocently. “There’s a guy over there without any trousers on.”
He follows my gaze and then rolls his eyes. “That’s my two year old nephew. Kids do that.”
“Owww!” I glare at him as he steps on my foot.
“Taz!” He says in exasperation. “You just took your shoes off, it’s not my fault if your feet get injured.”
I consider this for a few moments, then come to a decision. I place a foot on each of his. “Now dance?”
He laughs and we dance that way for the rest of the song before rejoining the others.
I make a beeline for Adam. “Hey, Ads,” I grin at him cheerfully. “I hope you don’t mind, but Casey says it’s tradition for the best man and the bridesmaid to get it on at the reception.” I pat his arm. “But don’t worry, I’m going to close my eyes and think of Maya.”
Charlie manhandles me out of the seat and deposits me on Maya’s lap, then he turns to his boyfriend. “And don’t worry, because the second she closes her eyes I’m making a swift exit so I can come and find you.”
I grin at Maya. “So, now it’s all over, tell me honestly. How stupid do I look in this dress?”
“You look cute.” She grins at me and runs her hand down my side. “And this dress is very tactile…”
“Stop it!” Portman demands. “I don’t know what’s got into you two lately, but please, get a room!”
We stare at him. “And which one of us here shared just a bit too much information on that survey the other day?” Maya asks with a wink.
Portman blushes, I’ve never seen him blush before, and Fulton laughs. He quickly changes the subject. “So, wedding, pretty. Anybody, chime in. Please.”
I smile at Guy as he recounts the tale of his baby sister’s boyfriend. She met him in the park and she knows it’s love because she hates all boys but he lent her his baseball cap to keep the sun out of her eyes. Ok, so his Mom made him, but as boys go, Ginny decided he’s ok.
“So they kick each other and pick on each other when other people are around so nobody realizes they like each other,” he finishes with a grin.
“Ah, young love.” I smile. “It’s a beautiful thing.” As I say it, I think about myself and Guy. I’m not sure when we became a couple, we were always together since kindergarten. I guess the kiss made it official, when we were ten when the Ducks won the Peewee Hockey finals.
I remember the day after that, he turned up at my house and asked if he could be my boyfriend. I got in a huff and slammed the door in his face, I’d thought he was already my boyfriend.
So he turned up the following day with a twelve red roses for me and begged forgiveness. I later found out from Auntie Grace that he cleaned a lot of attics to pay for them. But ever since then he was mine and I was his.
For four years. Until I made him chose between the bitch that I became and some friends that needed his support.
I see Taz and Maya glaring daggers at me, and my heart gives a painful twist as I remember that Guy isn’t mine any more. And maybe never will be again.
Guy smiles again. “I’m glad we weren’t like that.”
I think back to how we were when we were five. “Guy Germaine, you disappoint me. You don’t remember the lost year.”
“That year you spent beating me up.” I remind him.
“Oh, that.” He grins. “I’d done so well trying to repress that. Charlie told me girls had cooties. Even really cool girls like you. And how come you’re saying I beat you up? We only had one fight and which one of us when home with a black eye and a split lip?”
“Girl power,” I say.
“Well, is it too Neanderthal of me to ask you to dance?”
“Not at all.” I take his hand and he leads me to the dance floor. Once more I catch sight of the girls who are glaring at me. I try to keep my expression neutral. I know that Julie is their friend, and she’s been mine a lot longer, but how would they feel if the person they loved more than anyone else in the world started dating their best friend?
As he takes me in his arms and we sway to a slow song I think back to the events that lost me the boy I love. Have you ever felt like you’re on a rollercoaster that doesn’t have end? That’s what it was like back then. My initial reaction to the Queertet was, admittedly, disgust. I couldn’t help it. It just seemed like something I couldn’t change, like my inherent dislike for the color orange. And it probably would have died down if people hadn’t agreed with me. I take full responsibility for the hate campaign, but if I hadn’t had backing I would have had time to sit down, process everything and come to the conclusion that I have now. Adam, Charlie, Fulton and Portman are the same people they were before I found out they were gay. Charlie is the same guy who told Guy that girls have cooties, Adam is the same guy who could win all of our games single handed and answers to the (now) affectionate name of ‘Cake Eater’. Fulton and Portman are the guys that will take on an entire team if one of our flock is insulted.
I couldn’t see that then. All I could see were four queers. And after Guy broke up with me, all I could see were four queers who had cost me my boyfriend.
I sigh and rest my head on his shoulder, the way I always did when we danced. He lets me until we turn slightly and he’s once more facing the table where the Queertet are sitting.
“Cons, personal space, remember?” he says gently pushing me back a little.
“Sorry,” I say. “I just miss us so much.”
His mouth works silently, the corners twitching, and I know him well enough to know that he’s fighting not to say something. He manages not to say whatever was on the tip of his tongue and we continue dancing.
I’m careful to keep a respectable distance from him, but a spark of hope dances in my heart.
I guess I had kind of forgotten what it feels like to be a Duck. It was actually a big deal last year, getting out of the habit of depending on the Ducks and learning to be independent. But I did it… and now it feels really strange to be around people that, well, can tolerate me.
All of the old Ducks know by now. Either Jesse or one of us has told them. Strangely… not a single one of them seems to care.
Why couldn’t they have stayed on the team?
I hear a loud laugh coming from the end of the table and glance over to see Charlie, Adam, and Jesse avidly whispering. Maya and Taz are on the dance floor, I can’t see them, but I can hear Taz. Guy and Connie are dancing, too…
I seem to be the only even remotely brooding. Everyone’s enjoying the moment. I guess I should have been, too, it’s just that… well, I’d developed a sort of paranoia. Everything’s too good to be true, if you ask me. Something’s always going to mess up.
Portman elbows me. This is one of those times when I think he can read my mind. He narrows his eyes at me, and cups my chin with his hand.
“Cheer up.” He grins, and I slowly return the expression.
He nods towards Adam, Charlie, and Jesse again. Now Peter, Tommy, Karp, and Terry have joined them. Charlie has got that look on his face again… the same one that he had when he suggested we set the ants loose in the Varsity dorm last year…
“What do you think they’re planning?” Portman asks me.
“No clue. Let’s go find out.” We stand from our chairs and move to the other end of the table. I sit down just to hear Terry say, “And Jesse and I can run down and get some balloons right now!”
“Balloons?” Portman repeats. “Why do you need balloons, they’re all over!” He motions to the decorations around him.
Everyone at the table just stares at him. I grin and clap Portman on the shoulder as an indication that I’m very proud of his observation abilities.
“No. See, we decided that maybe we were going to make some water balloons… and throw them at some people…” Jesse glances in Averman and Goldberg’s direction.
I blink. Wasn’t Jesse nearly best friends with Averman back when he was on the team? I’m not so sure if I like this sudden change. Yeah, sure, Goldberg and Averman were on a hate campaign against us… but is that a reason to go on one against them?
Portman, bless him, seems to feel the same way. “Uh, are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Sure it is. It’ll be funny!” Tommy nods importantly. I have to hide a laugh at him. The kid’s grown probably three inches since we last saw him.
“Well… I don’t think they’ll be too happy about that,” Portman says lamely.
Everyone blinks at him like he’s sprouted a second head.
Charlie speaks, slowly. “Of course not. Would you like to be bombarded with water balloons?”
Portman opens his mouth to say something, but I cut him off.
“Well, Gordon and Casey wouldn’t be too happy either. And you don’t want to ruin today for them, do you?” I know that my remark will get Charlie in the right way, and make him not want to do it.
A look of uneasiness comes onto his face. Success!
“But we wanted to cause some kind of chaos…” Karp whines.
“Chaos! Chaos is good.” Portman settles down in a chair. “Well, why don’t we cause some chaos… with some real Duck pride?”
And so disaster is averted… only to be replaced with more disaster.