Category: The Mighty Ducks (Movies)
Series: Duck Romances
Length: 10-20k words
Dedication: Carla – this isn’t really a dedication, more of a plea for fic. Get off your ass and type before I live up to my stalky reputation and come all the way to the USA to tie you to the computer. Love ya!
Also, thanks to the entire MD list for responding to my questions. You rock.
Disclaimer: Disney et all owns ‘em and I’ll have ‘em back before they even notice they’re gone! Taz, aka Purple Girl belongs to me, If you don’t know where she came from, read Limpet. Celine and Aunt Lydia also belong to me. Not that I really want to own them, but hey!
Notes: I know the first part is in present tense and the rest is in past. I couldn’t help it, it didn’t work in past tense. It’s a deliberate mistake. Go with it and forgive me? *pouts adorably*
Flashbacks will be underneath a section break and have a month written somewhere nearby. Anything else is set now. If it’s confusing, please R&R and I’ll try something else.
I’m trying to get the balance right, I don’t want this fic to be all angst. Let me know if it’s not working.
Each chapter is titled with a song name or lyric because I have no imagination.
Date Published: 9 Mar 2003 • Date Updated: 20 Mar 2002 • Chapters: 15 • Words: 15,157
Chapter 1: Some Days Seem To Drag On Forever
He reaches out to touch her and she jumps back as if his fingers would burn her like acid. “Guy, we were kids when we got together, don’t tell me you expected it to last.” She sighs and flips some hair out of her eyes.
“Why are you being like this?” he asks finally.
“Like what?” she snaps.
Like someone stole the real you and left this witch in your place, he thinks. Instead he shrugs. “You’re just so… different. What happened to you over the summer?”
“I grew up. I moved on. I got a life.”
With those three sentences, Guy feels his life begin to crumble.
She was surprised and a little hurt by Connie’s lack of enthusiasm. Connie gave her a perfunctory hug, releasing her almost before they made contact, and said a very surly, “Hi, Jules.”
Julie shrugged it off, moving day always made everyone amazingly hyperactive or insanely moody. “Good summer?” she asked, picking up the stuff she’d dropped.
Connie emptied her bag on her bed and began sorting through it. “Not bad.”
“Oh yeah? What did you do?”
“Like what?” Julie asked, trying to chivvy Connie out of her mood.
“It’s none of your business,” Connie snapped. “What is this, twenty questions? Get your own life and stay out of mine!” She threw down the clothes she was sorting and stormed out of the room.
Julie winced as the door slammed.
What was that all about? She wondered.
Julie continued to sort her stuff, trying to maximise the small space allocated by the dorms. She froze when she heard the door open, she turned, hoping it was Connie coming back to say she was sorry for being so nasty.
“Hey there Cat-Lady.”
She smiled at Goldberg. “Hey Goldie.” She hugged him. “How was your summer?”
“The usual. Seemed too short.”
She nodded. “I know what you mean. Is everyone else here?”
“Almost. Luis’s flight has been delayed, but everyone else has arrived. Actually, I think he’s probably hooked up with some girl in the mile high club, and can’t get away.”
Julie giggled. “So you’re here to remind me that you have a worse gutter mind than Portman?”
“Just thought I’d come over and say howdy to my two favourite ladies.” He looked around the room. “So where’s Connie?”
“You might want to say hi to her later,” Julie advised. “She’s not in a good mood… or maybe it was just me.”
“What happened?” He cleared a space and took a seat on her bed.
“To be honest, I’m not sure. I just asked how her summer was and she totally lost it with me.” She sighed and continued sorting through her books. “It’s probably moving day madness. How’s the madness in the boys dorm?”
“Fulton’s already broken a window practicing his shot indoors.” He told her. “The Dean is deeply unthrilled. Hence I’m here.”
“Ah-ha!” She exclaimed. “So you’re not just being polite. I knew there was an ulterior motive.”
“Well, it didn’t help that I was the one who dared him to get the puck from one end of the corridor to another,” Goldberg said with faux shame.
Julie grinned, it was good to be back.
Connie had almost convinced herself to go back into her dorm room and apologise to Julie. However, being on the other side of the door listening to Goldberg and Julie laugh had made her feel on edge.
They were so comfortable, just sitting there talking.
All she wanted to do was lie on her bed and forget about the summer.
She wondered if it was too late to apply for a single room. She sighed, it probably was. And even if it wasn’t, she didn’t have enough money.
She considered going to the boys’ dorm, but from what she overheard it wasn’t a peaceful place either. And besides, she might run into Guy.
Her heart tugged painfully at the thought of him. She blinked back her tears. Breaking up with him had seemed like a good idea at the time.
She gave herself a mental shake. No, it was still a good idea now.
She had made the right choice.
So why did it hurt so much?
Daddy? Connie rolled her eyes at her mother. How young did they think she was? She blinked back the tears. You’re sending me away so you can fight, she thought resentfully. You want me out of the house so you can say all those things you don’t want me to hear.
“I’ll go stay with Julie then,” she suggested. “I’d love to go to Maine.”
Her mother shook her head. “This is a family time.”
“She is family. She’s a Duck,” Connie protested.
“Real family,” her mother expanded.
Connie bit her lip to keep herself from shouting, If you want me to be with my family why are you sending me away to a bunch of people who haven’t seen me since I was two?
“I don’t want to go!” There was a toddler-style pout in her voice, and she didn’t care.
“Celine is your age, I’m sure you’ll have lots to talk about.”
“Mom, I’ll go to Julie’s. It’s fine, Mr and Mrs Gaffney are always asking me over,” she said frantically.
“No, I’ve already arranged your flights. You’re going to stay with Aunt Lydia and your cousin Celine.”
“Or I could stay here, any of the Ducks would put me up. Really, I could stay a week with each of them!” It was a last ditch effort, and she knew her mother wouldn’t go for it.
“Certainly not! I won’t pass you around your friends like little orphan Annie.”
Connie considered pointing out that little orphan Annie didn’t get passed around by anyone, but settled for storming out of the house and slamming the door so hard that the glass shattered.
As she walked away from her house, she heard the faint sounds of the latest argument in the Moreau household reach boiling point.
By mid-afternoon Connie still hadn’t returned to the dorm and Julie had finished unpacking. She’d also managed to usher Goldberg out of her room and back to his own dorm to face the music.
She decided to leave her room and go look for her friend. Something was obviously bothering Connie. She’d let her cool down for long enough, now it was time for damage control.
She wandered outside and found Fulton skating along picking up rubbish.
She waved and he skated over. “Practicing already?” she teased.
He snorted. “Hardly. I’m on litter duty for the entire term.”
“Goldberg told me.” She hid a grin. “I must say, I’m impressed. School hasn’t even started and you’re in trouble.”
“Someone on this team has to misbehave.” He smiled at her. “We can’t all be straight A students.”
“A-plus on a good day,” she replied. “Have you seen Connie anywhere?”
He shrugged. “Not sure. It looked like Connie, but she didn’t stop when I called her name. Might have been someone else.”
“Reed! I’m not seeing any litter being picked up!”
“Moron,” he muttered under his breath, then called over to the teacher, “Ok!”
“See you later.”
She found Connie sitting on a bench in the ‘Ornamental Garden’ as it was pretentiously called. Essentially it was a sunny courtyard where some pretty expensive flowers grew around the edges. It was very rarely used by anyone. Every student lived in fear that they would somehow destroy one of the rare rose bushes or such like and be forced to pay for it—or worse, nurture it back to health.
“Hey, Cons,” she said softly.
Connie turned to face her. “Hey, Jules.”
“Are you ok?” Julie took a seat next to her.
“I’m fine,” she replied dully.
“Really?” Julie put a hand on Connie’s shoulder. “If you need to talk…”
Connie flinched as if it would burn. “I’m fine,” She insisted. “I just need to be alone, ok?”
Julie was once again hurt by Connie’s slight, but direct rebuff, but decided to leave her alone. She had made an effort to seek her out, she had offered a shoulder to lean—or even cry—on, but Connie had turned her down.
“Ok, I’ll be in our room if you need me.”
If she made any response, Julie didn’t hear it.
Chapter 2: You need all your strength just to keep your head together
“Hey guys!” Julie said cheerfully, taking a seat at their table for dinner. She looked around and noticed that Connie was still not present. She’d been up to their room while Julie was out saying hi to everyone, that much was obvious because her clothes had been hung up.
Guy was also not around. She shrugged off her worry for her friend. Connie and Guy were probably together, talking through whatever problem there was. They were good together. Sometimes so good they forgot the rest of the world existed, she thought wryly.
She listened as the rest of the team traded stories about what they had done over the summer, occasionally chipping in with her own tales, but mainly just listening.
Portman and Fulton had worked for most of the summer, then spent the money on a week snowboarding and were proudly showing off their bruises. Portman had got himself another tattoo and was trying to convince the rest of the team that they should all get one.
Averman and Goldberg had also worked most of the summer, and had blown their money, but neither could remember what on.
Charlie, Adam and Russ had been to a hockey camp, where they picked up extra skills and had spent some time coaching the younger kids. Guy had also gone to the same camp. The others claimed he spent most of his time pining for Connie.
Ken, Dwayne and Luis had spent the summer with their family, and were trying to outdo each other on who had the most boring time… except that every single tale from Luis featured a girl, so Julie decided he couldn’t have been that bored.
“I know darling, but things are difficult here.”
“I want to come home.” Connie turned, unable to look at Celine. She felt her eyes burning into her back.
“Aunt Lydia and I have discussed it, and we both feel it would be best if you stayed there for a few more weeks.”
“Mom, I want to come home. I promise I’ll stay out of the house most of the time. I’ll get a job,” she offered wildly.
“That’s not the point.”
“Well, what is?” Connie asked in frustration.
“Connie, your father and I have talked it over and we don’t think that home is the best place for you. You shouldn’t have your summer vacation ruined by the atmosphere in the house.”
My vacation is already ruined. Let me salvage what’s left of it. “I’ll be fine at home. I’ll go out with the Ducks, we’ll have a great time.”
“I’m sorry, darling, but we’ve thought long and hard about what’s best for you.”
“No you haven’t!” Connie finally lost her temper. “If you’d even considered what was best for me you might have asked me what I wanted!” She slammed down the phone.
She wiped her eyes, hoping to stop the tears before they fell.
She turned around and met Celine’s haughty face.
Wordlessly she handed Connie a tissue, a slight flicker of amusement crossing her perfect features.
“So where’s Connie?” Charlie asked as they walked out of the dining hall. “I’ve not seen her yet, hasn’t she moved in?”
“She’s around,” Julie replied. “I expect she’s with Guy.”
Charlie gave her a look. “Doubtful.”
“What do you mean ‘why’?”
“Why wouldn’t they be together?” she asked in exasperation. Why couldn’t Charlie just get to the point?
“They broke up.”
“Oh.” Well, it would certainly explain Connie’s mood. “Why would Guy break up with her? What’s his problem?”
“Guy doesn’t have a problem. Or a single reason to break up with Connie. She dumped him.”
Julie frowned. Connie had broken up with Guy? Maybe there was a lot more to Connie’s mood than moving day madness.
Connie reached for her book. “No, I’m not.” She wondered idly how many times she’d be able to slap her annoying cousin before her Aunt heard the screams and came to save poor, sweet Celine from the evil, brutal Connie.
Celine held the book out of reach. “Yes, you are.”
Connie rolled her eyes. She couldn’t think of anything more dull than going out with Celine. Celine was the epitome of all that was still right with the youth of today. She was a straight A student, was beautiful and popular but did not date—for fear of distracting herself from her studies. Celine’s friends were much the same, but possibly without the same sparkle that Celine possessed.
“No, Celine, I’m really not.” Connie flopped back on the bed inelegantly. “I’d rather shave my head and slash my wrists.”
“Shaving your head would be a futile gesture, should you continue with the latter,” Celine replied, unfazed by Connie’s lack of manners. “Now move.”
“Celine,” Connie said slowly. “I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say this, but I’m not going anywhere with you. You want me to go somewhere? Fine, I’ll go to the ice rink, but I’m not going out with you.”
Celine’s caring face dropped slightly. “Listen, precious, the reason you’ve been sent here is because your folks are getting divorced—”
“Yes they are,” Celine replied firmly. “Get over it. Move on. Get a life.”
“Shut up!” Connie responded, desperately close to tears.
“Connie, darling. Why do you think they sent you to us?” Celine smiled icily. “Think about it, my parents are divorced. They want us to bond. They want me to help you.”
“I don’t need your help,” Connie replied, wishing desperately that she’d been allowed to stay with Julie.
Celine smiled wider. “Yes, you do. I’m all you’ve got.”
Chapter 3: Lose Your Way
(I’m titling all of the chapters with song titles or lyrics since I have no imagination)
Notes: I’ve put Taz in here, she’s my signature, almost every fic I’ve written has her in it. If you don’t know where she came from, read Limpet.
When Julie got back to the dorm, Connie was lying on her bed facing the wall with her Discman clamped to her ears. Julie sighed, wondering if she should leave Connie alone or try to get her to talk.
The body language screamed at her to leave her be, but if Connie had a problem, surely talking it through would help.
She decided to give it one last try. “Connie?” No response. “Cons?” She tapped her on the shoulder.
Connie ripped off her earphones. “What?”
Julie stepped back, alarmed by the venom in her voice. She shrugged, for the first time in her life she was at a loss for something to say to her best friend.
Connie rolled her eyes. “I’m going to sleep,” she announced. “And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t prod me for no apparent reason this time. Why don’t you go find someone else to annoy?”
Julie felt a lump grow in her throat. Maybe Connie had problems, but there was no excuse for being so rude. She blinked several times, then left the room.
She wandered aimlessly around the campus, occasionally saying hi to people she knew. It got to curfew time but she still didn’t want to go back to her dorm. She wanted to know what was wrong with Connie, but there was only so much verbal abuse a person could take for no apparent reason in one day.
She bumped into Fulton as she walked around the grounds. She smiled at him. “You really like being in trouble,” she commented, forgoing the usual ‘hi’.
“Why’s that?” He asked.
“You’ve already broken a window, and now you’re out past curfew and school hasn’t technically started yet,” she replied.
“Portman was snoring,” he replied. “I couldn’t sleep. Anyway, you’re out past curfew too. What’s your excuse?”
“Same,” she answered carefully. “Roommate.”
“It’s good to be back,” he said sardonically.
“Yeah, but it’s nice to be around the Ducks again.”
“For the last year.” He sat down on a nearby bench.
She followed him. “Last?”
“Well, yeah, we graduate at the end of the year. Then that’s the end of the Ducks.”
“Maybe not. We don’t have to break up just because we leave school.”
“Jules, you’re a straight A student—A-plus on a good day—you can go to any college you want. And you’re not the only one who has choices. Even if we did all decided that hockey was what we wanted for the rest of our lives, do you think we’d manage to get on the same team?” He smiled again. “Much less convince the Coach to change their jerseys to the Ducks logo?”
“You’ve really thought about this,” she commented.
“Well, Taz spent the summer in Ireland, we’ve been emailing each other almost daily,” He sighed. “She’s thinking of going to college—or uni, as she calls it—over there.”
Julie winced, she knew how serious it was between Fulton and Taz. “I’m sorry.”
“No, well…” he took a deep breath. “The thing is, I was thinking of going with her.”
Julie raised her eyebrows. “Wow,” she said finally. “That’s a huge decision.”
He shrugged awkwardly. “Yeah, well, I love her.”
Julie sighed wistfully, wondering if she would ever find someone who loved her enough to move halfway across the world for her.
“We’d better get back to the dorms,” Fulton told her.
She nodded and they walked back in silence. Talking with Fulton had taken her mind off her problem with Connie, however it had opened her mind to a fresh load of confusion. What did she want for her future?
Celine ignored her comment. “You know, Connie, you could actually be pretty if you weren’t so determined to be a tomboy.”
Connie snorted, and despite her better judgement, she found herself responding. “I’m not a tomboy. I have long hair, I wear dresses. I just like to play hockey.”
“I bet all of your friends are guys.” Celine smiled icily.
“My best friend is called Julie,” Connie said with satisfaction. She didn’t know why Celine was getting under her skin so much, but it was nice to prove her wrong.
“And which position does she play on your team?”
Celine smirked. “I thought as much.”
Connie glared at her. “Well, thanks for the chat. Go away.”
Celine took a seat on her bed. “I’m not going anywhere. My mother has asked that I take you out somewhere. She’s worried about you staying in your room all day moping.”
“Well, then our mothers shouldn’t have decided to send me here. I wanted to go to Maine and stay with Julie,” she said frankly.
“You know why you were sent here. You’re parents are splitting up,” Celine smiled again. “How do you think your parents feel every time they talk to my mother and she tells them all you do is mope? I bet that causes some arguments… It was your mother’s idea to send you here, right? I bet your father blames her for your unhappiness.” She laughed slightly. “Just think, you sitting here brooding might actually be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Celine stood up. “I’m going shopping. My cab will be here in ten minutes.”
Ten minutes later both Celine and Connie were in a taxi heading towards the nearest mall.
Chapter 4: Didn’t Think I’m Me
Connie woke up on hearing Julie’s alarm. She pretended to doze a little while Julie got dressed.
“Con? Are you awake?”
Connie bit back a nasty response. She knew she’d been completely unreasonable to Julie, however, it didn’t change the fact that almost everyone and everything was irritating her. “Almost,” she muttered.
“You’re going to miss breakfast if you don’t get up soon.”
Connie was taken aback by Julie’s timid tone. She forced herself to turn over and smile at Julie. “I’ll be down in a second.”
After hearing Julie leave, she got up and began to dress. She was tempted to just pull on the jeans and a sweater she had worn yesterday, but Celine’s diligent tutorage had paid off. You can’t control life, Celine had told her, so focus on what you can control.
It did occur to her that she was beginning to look like the preppy snobs she had despised when she first joined the school, but shook that idea off. She pulled on a skirt and shirt. She smiled when she realised that the skirt was feeling a little loose.
She brushed her hair and applied some make-up. At this rate she would miss breakfast, but that was fine.
She was a mess inside, but Celine said that was ok.
It’s what people see on the outside that counts in times like these.
Julie didn’t see Connie at breakfast, but assumed that she’d show up eventually. She seemed to be in a better mood. Maybe it had been moving day madness getting to her. Although the break up with Guy had been unexpected. Julie decided not to speculate any more until she had spoken to Connie.
She wound up sitting next to Adam, who seemed stressed out too, despite it only being the first day of school. She wondered idly if she was the only one on the team who wasn’t losing her mind.
Portman was in high spirits and Julie would have put money on him getting a detention before lunch for being too rowdy. Fulton also seemed kinda hyped, and Portman was teasing him about Taz. Fulton kept pointing out that he hadn’t seen her for several months, then added that if Portman had a girlfriend he’d know what it was like.
Julie didn’t speak much, but just lost herself in the insanity that she called her friends.
Connie wandered around campus before class. It was beginning to get busy as the day people arrived, people were congregated in the quad, trading stories. She felt a pang of loneliness, but at the same time, was relieved that she wasn’t around her friends.
She had changed over the summer, and they wouldn’t understand her. Things that she had found so important before just didn’t seem relevant.
She allowed herself a small smile as she saw Taz arrive. Taz was obviously having a good day with her hips, because she ran through the school gates at high speed, her brutally purple hair streaming out behind her.
Taz located Fulton, who was anxiously waiting for her, and she zoomed into his arms, neither of them caring in the slightest how sappy they looked.
Connie wondered what Celine would say if she saw that. She’d probably make a barbed comment.
She gazed wistfully at them. She wished that she could have greeted Guy like that after her summer, but instead she’d broken up with him. It made sense, she reminded herself. It was the right thing to do.
Taz caught her eye, did a double take at Connie’s new look, then waved.
She smiled and waved back, relieved that Taz was too busy greeting Fulton to come over to talk to her.
“So, what’s with Connie’s new look?” Taz asked Julie during their first class.
“What do you mean?” Julie asked, taking a book for herself and Taz from the stack being passed around, then passing the stack behind her.
Taz grinned. “Well, last time I saw Connie, she was a casual kinda girl. What’s with the skirt and shirt look? And why is she so skinny? Are you guys on a team diet or something?”
“No, no team diet. And I haven’t seen Connie today,” Julie replied, turning over Taz’s words in her mind.
Taz snorted. “Don’t tell me the star players have finally got their own rooms. Fulton will go mad, Portman’s snoring is driving him up the wall.”
Julie grinned. “Yeah, he’s mentioned it. Connie overslept this morning, and I missed her at breakfast.”
Taz raised her eyebrows. “Well, it’s not a bad look, it just looks kinda scary on her.”
“Did you speak to her?” Julie asked, wondering if Connie bit Taz’s head off too.
“No.” She gave an impish grin. “I was distracted.”
Julie laughed. “So how was Ireland?” she asked, turning the conversation to a more fun place.
“Irish,” Taz replied.
“Thanks, Taz. Very informative.”
Connie sighed. She was getting used to Celine barging into her room, it didn’t mean she liked it. “Where?” she asked with resignation. She had thought about what Celine said, and it did seem to make sense. Maybe if her parents weren’t so worried about how she was doing they might be able to talk through their problems, as opposed to the verbal assaults that seemed to have become their usual form of communication.
“A party. One of my friends is holding it,” Celine told her, opening Connie’s wardrobe, and beginning to rummage.
“Ok,” Connie sighed.
Celine continued to rummage, occasionally muttering, ‘no’ as she encountered Connie’s clothes.
“You have nothing suitable to wear,” she asserted.
Connie shrugged. “I’ll just wear a pair of black trousers and a top or something.”
“No you won’t. Maybe you can get away with that in Minnesota, but not here. Appearance is important. Labels are important.”
“Celine, I hate labels. I don’t own a single designer item.”
Celine snorted contemptuously. “That much is apparent.”
“Who cares what I wear? If they don’t like me, that’s their problem, not mine.”
“Everybody cares what you wear. And if they don’t like you, it’s my problem. I have to see these people every day, sweetie.”
Connie glared. “Fine, wouldn’t want to embarrass you. I’ll stay home.”
“And mope?” Celine enquired, raising one eyebrow. “I’m sure my mother will mention to yours that you’re doing better, you managed to go one whole day without sulking.”
“Fine, we go out,” Connie snapped.
“You still need clothes. I’d lend you something of mine…” She smiled her famous wintry smile. “Except they wouldn’t fit. I think I’m at least two sizes smaller than you.”
Connie took a deep breath to steady her voice and her temper, not wanting Celine to know how hurt she was by her comments. “I guess we’re going shopping again.”
Chapter 5: Doesn’t It Start So Easy?
Notes: This is turning into a Carla-sized epic. It was meant to be short!
Julie had searched almost the entire campus. She wasn’t sure if she was looking for Connie or Guy, but if she found at least one of them it would be a start. Taz’s comment about Connie’s weight had bothered her. She hadn’t seen the new look Connie, but her jeans had looked very baggy on her yesterday.
She saw Fulton and Taz, Fulton was holding Taz’s sketchbook above his head and she was trying gamely to get it back. She wandered over to them, noticing all the new kids staring at them. It wasn’t just Taz’s purple hair that drew attention, it was also that Taz was only five feet tall, and next to Fulton she looked tiny.
“Hey, have you seen Connie or Guy?” she asked.
“Do I sound American to you?” Taz asked in return.
“What? No. You’re Irish through and through,” Julie said, knowing it was easier to answer Taz’s question and get her back on track instead of ignoring it. “So, Connie or Guy?”
“Not in Ireland. They all said I’ve picked up the American accent. And no, haven’t seen them.”
“You don’t sound even slightly American,” Julie told her with a grin.
“Tell that to my family.”
“Stop stressing, Taz. You’re unique,” Fulton told her.
Julie decided to leave the happy couple before she got drawn into the conversation. Taz was lovely, but she very rarely shut up once she had got going. She made her exit unnoticed and continued her search.
She then ran into Adam and Charlie. They hadn’t seen Connie or Guy, but Adam offered to help her look for them.
After saying their goodbyes to Charlie, Adam turned to her. “Thank god you turned up.”
Julie raised her eyebrows. “Problems?” She asked resignedly.
He sighed. “I spent my entire summer at a hockey camp to get away from my Dad constantly pestering me about what I want to do at the end of the year. He still managed to bug me via email and phone.” He grinned. “Good old modern technology. I mentioned it to Charlie, and now I’m having the same conversations with Charlie that I’m having with my Dad.”
Julie smiled weakly. It was her first school day and already things were coming apart. It made her really look forward to graduation. “Well, what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. I’ve got all year to decide.”
“Well, tell them that,” she said with a little less empathy than Adam was probably hoping for. “It’s your life, Adam. Do what you want to do.”
Julie didn’t manage to find Connie or Guy, but she did manage to find a little more compassion and gave Adam some advice. Her afternoon classes passed in a blur and she soon found herself back in her dorm room. Alone. Connie had yet again vanished.
Julie took a book and collapsed on her bed, determined to enjoy the peace and quiet before someone interrupted. It felt like she’d spent her entire day either looking for Connie, or answering questions about her.
There was a knock at the door.
She gazed upwards, “You couldn’t even give me five minutes quiet?” she muttered, then raised her voice. “Who is it?”
She tossed her book down in annoyance. “Come in.”
Portman shuffled in, and the room seemed to shrink slightly. “Nice room,” he commented.
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Thanks.”
“I have something to ask you.”
“If it’s advice you want, I don’t have anything to say. If you want to know where Connie is, I haven’t got a clue. If you want to know what’s with her new look, I don’t know. If you want advice about your accent, it’s fine. If you want money, you’re too late, Goldberg and Averman have already sponged off me.” She sighed. “I think that about covers it. Anything else I can help you with?”
“Should I come back another time?” he asked, edging away.
“No.” She shook her head. “Sorry, I’ve had one of those weird days. I had to offload. I’ll be nice.”
He stopped moving towards the door. “Are you sure you’re done? You’re really back to the Felix I know and… well, tolerate.”
She grinned, he had started calling her Felix after hearing Goldberg refer to her exclusively as Cat-Lady. “I’m back,” she assured him.
“Good,” He took a seat on her bed. “I was wondering if you wanted to go see a movie. Fulton’s blown me off, he’s going out with Taz.”
“Thanks, Portman, it’s nice to know that I wasn’t your first choice,” she teased.
“Oh, you know what I mean. I’ll even pay since Goldie and Averman took your money.”
“That’s very date-like,” she commented. She and Portman had tried dating around the time that Taz and Fulton got together, but somehow it didn’t work out. Neither of them could work out why, especially since their friendship only got stronger after the break up.
“So it is,” he agreed. “We’d better schedule a row. You wanna fight before, during or after the movie?”
“Use your brain, you big goon. All three.”
Connie opened her mouth, then shut it again. She had been leaning towards the lasagne, but Celine’s pointed comments about her weight and her choice of lunch changed her mind.
“The same,” she said meekly. She noticed Celine smiled encouragingly at her, and was glad of her choice. She had found that she didn’t hate Celine. Not really. She just wanted to be left alone, but she didn’t want her parents to think she’d been miserable all summer, so she had to go out with Celine.
After a few days she had found herself, not exactly enjoying her company, but certainly feeling less lonely.
Celine smiled at her. “This isn’t so bad, is it?”
Connie had to admit that it wasn’t. Celine had insisted on paying everywhere they went. And Celine only ever went to the very best places. Admittedly her friends were as dull as dishwater, but on occasion Celine could be quite passable as a human being.
“I’m not evil, Connie,” Celine said. “But you’re parents probably will get divorced.”
Connie winced inwardly. This was one of Celine’s less ‘passable’ traits. She was very blunt. “Maybe not,” she said hopefully.
Celine nodded. “All the same, you should probably start preparing yourself.”
“Preparing myself?” Connie asked.
“You can’t control life, Con. You have to focus on what you can control.”
“Because your parents can make you feel like shit,” she said with venom. A look of pain flickered across her face. It was gone in a heartbeat, but Connie had definitely seen it. It was the first genuine emotion Connie had seen her exhibit. “You have to remind yourself that you’re not like them,” Celine said, to herself as much as Connie.
Chapter 6: I Can Dream I Can Touch You
Notes: I decided to put some non-angst in here, just to lighten things up. It’s a short chapter as fluff isn’t my strongest point.
“We forgot to fight,” Julie commented as she and Portman walked home.
“Guess it wasn’t a date then,” he replied.
“Thanks for taking me, I had a good time.”
“It definitely wasn’t a date then!” He grinned at her.
She laughed and checked her watch. “Well, for two hours and fourteen minutes—including queuing and trailer time—I completely forgot my bad mood.”
“And now it’s back?” He moved away from her. “I think I’ll walk back by myself.”
“Thanks a lot!” She playfully hit him on the arm. “Doesn’t it feel like everyone’s gone a little crazy over the summer?”
He retook his place next to her. “What about you, Jules? Did you go nuts over the summer?”
She gave him a tolerant look. “When have I ever gone nuts?”
“I see your point.”
“And you’ve always been insane, so nothing new there. But Connie…” Julie hesitated, not wanting to badmouth her friend, but needing to share her problems with someone.
“What’s up with her? You seemed stressed when I got to your room.”
“I don’t know. She was kinda grouchy yesterday, and I haven’t seen her at all today.” She shrugged. “Taz said that she looks different, and is kinda thin.”
“You haven’t seen Connie? Don’t you share a room with her?”
She sighed. “Yeah, but she overslept this morning. Taz says she looks really skinny.” She stressed the last point once more.
He shrugged. “But you haven’t seen her?”
“Not really. Just yesterday and she was wearing baggy clothes.”
“Do you think you might be stressing about this too much? You haven’t actually seen her so you don’t know if she’s lost weight. And anyway, even if she has, maybe she was sick recently. Didn’t you lose loads of weight when you had the flu last year?”
Julie nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe, but all the same, she was really grouchy yesterday.”
“Moving day madness. You should have seen Charlie, he was in a terrible mood. And besides, didn’t she and Guy break up?”
“She broke up with him,” Julie corrected.
“Still could put her in a bad mood. I sulked for ages when we broke up.”
“You did?” she asked with a smile. “You never said.”
He shrugged awkwardly. “Yeah, well… It was just annoying. I mean, we’re friends, we liked each other and somehow it still didn’t work.”
She stopped walking and took a deep breath. She found herself asking “Do you ever—”
“Hey guys!” Fulton said cheerfully, running up to join them.
“Hi, Fulton,” Julie said, wondering if she should thank him or throttle him for interrupting. She had almost asked if he regretted breaking up.
“Hey, man. Good time with Taz?” Portman asked.
“Yeah,” He grinned.
“Did she like the necklace?”
“What necklace?” Julie asked.
Portman turned to her. “The necklace. The one that our entire snowboarding trip evolved around. He wanted to get her something, and he saw this silver necklace with a star on it on the first day, and every single day we had to go back and look at it, he finally bought it on the last day.”
“I wasn’t that bad,” Fulton protested as Julie laughed.
“Yes you were! Every single day,” He sighed. “Jules, you wouldn’t believe how bored I was. Every time we went into the shop we had the same conversation about whether she’d like it. By the end of the week the manager knew our names and automatically got out the necklace when he saw us coming. I think he was stunned when Fulton finally bought it.”
Fulton shoved his shoulder playfully. “Maybe you should get a girlfriend, it would stop you teasing me about mine.”
Portman put his arm around Julie’s shoulders. “I don’t need a girlfriend. I have Julie, twice as much fun and only half the hassle.”
“I’m a hassle?” she asked in mock offence.
“Only sometimes,” he told her reassuringly.
After Fulton and Portman said goodbye to Julie they made their way to their own room.
“Thanks for forcing me to buy her that necklace,” Fulton said, moving a pile of junk from his bed onto the floor. “Taz really liked it.”
Portman sighed deeply but said nothing.
“You alright?” Fulton asked.
“Fine,” he replied shortly.
“You don’t sound fine.”
“It’s just this you and Taz thing. It’s wearing kinda thin. I’ve had it all summer while you were apart, and now you can see each other every day and still you’re talking about her,” he told his friend. “Don’t get me wrong, I like the girl. She’s great, but I just don’t need to hear about it all the time.”
Fulton frowned. “I’m sorry, dude. It’s just… didn’t you ever care for someone so much that they’re all you can think about?”
Portman nodded slowly. “Yeah, I did. And now I’m just her best friend.”
“Julie.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah. I think I’m a bit late in realising I’m in love with her.”
Chapter 7: Don’t Show Me Your Weakness
Notes: I’m actually beginning to like Celine, I’m evil. She was going to be really evil (think Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions), but now I feel sorry for her. *sigh*. Why won’t my brain let me type the story I wanted? At least I’m adding Julie/Portman happiness. I’m not entirely happy with this chapter, but I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for it.
“Hey, Connie,” Julie said, entering her room, somewhat surprised that Connie was there, more so that she was awake. She took in Connie’s appearance, Taz was right. She did look thinner.
“Hey, Jules,” she replied in a friendly tone. “Where have you been?”
“Movies with Portman.” Maybe Portman had been right, maybe she had been worrying unnecessarily.
“What did you see?”
Julie shrugged. “Some slasher movie, it wasn’t all that good. We kinda talked all the way through it.” She felt slightly uncomfortable, as if she and Connie were only going through the motions of a conversation, rather than actually talking.
Connie smiled, but it wasn’t her usual smile, it was a cold smile. “I’m going to sleep, I’m really tired,” she said. “I just thought I’d wait up and say sorry, for…” she shrugged, “you know.”
“It’s ok. Moving day madness,” Julie replied with little conviction. “The offer’s still there if you want to talk.”
The both gave out fake smiles at each other.
Connie lay in bed wishing she had been able to talk to Julie, but she doubted she’d understand. And if she didn’t, she’d just hound Connie until she became what she was before the summer.
She sighed. She wished Celine was here. Celine was easier to talk to.
“Really?” Connie stepped off the scales with a smile. Some part of her argued that she didn’t need to lose weight but she shrugged it off. Celine was right, she couldn’t control what her parents did, but she could control other things. Her appearance was one of those things.
And besides, she only wanted to lose a few pounds. Just enough to borrow Celine’s clothes for the summer.
“My turn.” Celine stepped on the scales. She sighed deeply. “Only half a pound. I’ve barely eaten all week and I’ve only lost half a pound.”
Connie looked at Celine, once more seeing real emotion crossing her face. She looked pitiful. Connie reached out and squeezed her cousin’s shoulder. “But you look wonderful.”
“I don’t feel it,” Celine admitted. “But then again, it’s what’s on the outside that people care about.”
Connie frowned at her. “I don’t think so. Isn’t personality supposed to count for something?” She teased gently.
“Connie.” Celine regarded her sadly. “Life isn’t a Disney movie. All that ‘beauty is only skin deep’ crap isn’t real. If it was, actors would be fat and ugly, and super models would be on the unemployment line. Life sucks unless you’re slim and beautiful. Think about it.”
“Seriously, Connie. Three years ago I was overweight and ugly and I was a nobody. Now I’m the most popular girl in the school. Besides, if I wasn’t right, why are you trying to lose weight now?”
“Not eating?” Julie asked Connie at breakfast, as she watched her friend play with a grapefruit.
“Not hungry,” Connie replied shortly.
“You should eat. You look really tired, maybe you’re not getting enough vitamins or something,” Julie told her.
“What are you, my mother?” Connie snapped.
All heads on the table turned towards her, surprised at her outburst. She rolled her eyes and stood up. “Leave me alone,” she muttered before walking out.
Julie met Portman’s eyes, and raised her brows at him. He shrugged back.
“Still think I’m stressing over nothing?” She asked Portman as he walked her to class.
He shrugged. “Jules, I really don’t know. Maybe she’s not feeling well. Then again, maybe she does have a huge problem. I just don’t know. I don’t know her that well,” he replied. “The only people who know her really well are you and Guy. However, I do know that she’s very lucky to have a friend like you looking out for her.” He stroked her shoulder affectionately.
Julie smiled, warmed by the compliment, or perhaps, warmed by his touch. “Thanks.”
“Oh, I had an ulterior motive for being nice,” he said, holding up a book. “Algebra. Be my study buddy?”
“Study buddy does not mean I will do the work for you and you copy it in your own writing,” she said sternly.
He nodded. “Got it.”
“I’m going to see Connie or Guy after class, then we’ll study after dinner, ok?”
“Ok,” He watched her leave, smiling to himself. Ok, they weren’t dating. That didn’t mean he could spend as much time with her as humanly possible.
Chapter 8: Chaos Rules When We’re Apart
Thanks: to aznJEDI13 who had R&R’d almost every chapter, and all the other kind people who’ve also said nice things about this fic. Cheers.
Ok, Julie rationalised, even if the campus was the size and stature of Buckingham Palace, she should have found Guy by now.
She had already seen Connie and had her head bitten off. She hadn’t even managed to speak before drawing Connie’s wrath. She had done some laundry for the both of them and hung it up in their respective closets. Apparently Connie now had a system for filing her clothes and Julie had not abided by it.
Julie sighed. Despite her worry for her friend, she was tired of the mood swings. It had only been three days and she was nearing the end of her tether. She wouldn’t mind so much if she’d done something wrong, or if Connie would just tell her what was bothering her.
She finally spotted Guy and ran across the campus towards him, calling his name. He stopped and waved at her.
“Hey,” she said breathlessly. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“Sorry.” He shrugged. “I haven’t felt like company for the last few days.”
“And I don’t mean to intrude,” she hastily said, not wanting the same reception as she got from Connie. “But I just want a quick word with you.”
He nodded at a nearby bench. “Let’s sit down.”
She followed him, wondering if she should make small talk first, or just jump straight into the conversation.
“It’s about Connie, isn’t it?” he asked.
Well, that solves the first question, she thought. “Yeah. I don’t know what’s gotten into her recently. She seems so different.”
Guy shrugged again. “I wish I could help you, but I don’t know what’s wrong either. She broke up with me the day before moving in day… she was actually really horrible about it.”
“I’m sorry.” She had put up with Connie’s moods, but she couldn’t imagine being on the receiving end of them and dumped at the same time.
“Yeah, me too,” he said. “I love her, she’s my world. Or she was, I don’t know who she is now. She won’t even talk to me.”
“Me either. Not much, she just gets mad every time I try.”
“Well, keep trying, and I will too,” he said, getting to his feet. “I’m going for a walk.”
Which Julie translated as: I’ve had enough of talking about this. And she respected it, she and Guy weren’t really friends. Just two people on the same team with a mutual friend.
“Hey, Felix. How did it go?” Portman asked as she walked into the room without knocking.
She sighed and flopped onto the unoccupied bed next to Portman’s desk.
“That good, huh?”
“Ungf,” she replied, throwing her arm over her eyes so she wasn’t dazzled by the light above her.
“You wanna get out of here?”
“What about algebra?”
“Forget algebra. It’s three days into the school year, I can’t possibly be flunking yet. And besides, you need cheering up,” he replied with a grin.
She peeked at him around her arm. “Where are we going?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. We’ll know when we get there.” He held his hand out to her.
She smiled and took it.
Connie looked in the full-length mirror self-consciously, not at all sure that Celine’s designer dress was exactly her style.
“My friends back home wouldn’t recognise me,” she murmured.
“Exactly.” Celine moved in front of Connie to check her own makeup for the nth time. “You came out here as just as Connie, and now look at you. You look far more adult—and not only that, you’ve dropped a whole dress size. You look amazing.”
Connie smiled, pleased by Celine’s praise. “We look amazing. We’re going to knock ‘em dead at this party tonight.”
Guy stood outside Connie’s door, trying to work up the courage to knock. He took a deep breath. He had been there for several minutes, and he knew if he didn’t knock soon he’d just walk away like he had done yesterday.
He raised his hand and knocked.
Connie opened the door, saw who it was and faked a smile. “Hi.”
“Hey,” he replied, sounding far more calm than he felt. “Can I come in?”
“Isn’t it against the rules for a guy to go in a girls dorm room?”
He shrugged. “It never bothered you before.”
“A lot of things never bothered me before.”
“Ok, so I won’t come in. Do you want to go for a walk?”
She shook her head. “We broke up for a reason, Guy.”
“Which you never told me.” He was hurt by her icy tone.
She rolled her eyes in irritation. “You want a reason? How about I’m sick to death of you? Does that cover it?” She slammed the door.
More Notes: It’s not a great chapter, but it passes the time.
Chapter 9: You Pleased Your Skin and Bruised My Heart
She was also aware that she’d had way too much to drink. Celine kept appearing every time her glass was empty. She had no idea what it was, but Celine insisted that it was very nice. Everyone else was drinking, and Connie hadn’t wanted to stand out in the crowd. Without Celine beside her, she felt awkward, so had drunk her wine fast as a distraction.
She took a seat on a couch and closed her eyes. Things were beginning to get swirly, and she couldn’t work out whether it was better with her eyes closed or open.
She heard the conversations around her without processing a single word. She shut her eyes again and leant back in the chair.
When she opened her eyes again she was in an entirely different room. Her head throbbed painfully, she blinked several times, taking in her surroundings.
She appeared to be in bed in a room she didn’t recognise. On checking further, she wasn’t alone. A blonde head shared the pillow with her.
“Guy?” She asked in confusion.
The head turned. Not Guy. “Who is this Guy you keep talking about? If you weren’t so hot, I’d have left the first time you called his name. I’m Shawn, in case you’d forgotten.”
She took a deep breath. He was going to yell at her for missing a really easy save, she knew it. It was her own fault though, she had been watching Connie and not the puck. They had won the game, but defence was the key. It was the Coach’s proverbial bee in his bonnet.
Portman touched her shoulder and mimed someone cutting his head off. She stuck her tongue out at him.
“Come into the office,” Coach Orion ordered. Despite his fondness for the team, he still hadn’t lost his way of barking orders.
She nervously followed him and took a seat. “I’m sorry about the goal,” she said quickly. “I promise to concentrate more during the next game.”
“That’s good,” he replied distractedly. “But not what I want to talk about.” He took a seat behind his desk.
“Then what?” she asked, mildly alarmed.
“Connie Moreau. She’s not up to her usual standard, although I’m not just worried about her as a Coach. I know I’m probably asking you to break a confidence, and I have no right to ask, but do you know if something’s wrong?”
“You should really ask Connie,” Julie replied.
“I have, and she told me she was fine. I moved her from first to third line and she didn’t care.”
Julie shifted in her chair, feeling awkward.
“I’m not asking you to tell me what’s wrong with Connie.” He looked at her firmly. “But I’ve noticed that you look worried every time she’s on the ice. I was hoping that you’d be able to help her.”
“She won’t tell me what’s wrong,” Julie admitted, feeling even more uncomfortable. She wished Coach wasn’t asking her these questions. “And she doesn’t seem to want anyone’s help. But I’ll keep an eye on her. Can I go now?”
“Ok. Have a good evening.”
Connie lay down on her bed, thankful that Julie was out again. She noticed that Julie was out a lot recently, it would have bothered her, but she was too tired to care.
Recently she had been very drained. It worried her more than she let on. And people were beginning to notice. Julie especially. Julie had also noticed how little Connie ate.
Even Coach Orion had noticed her problem. He had mentioned that she was losing weight and looked tired. He had told her to take some vitamins, and start eating more to build herself up again. She didn’t bother to explain that she was trying to lose weight. She just nodded and smiled like a dutiful student.
Of course, he had then added that she’d been moved back from first line to third. Maybe her skills had gone downhill over the summer, she hadn’t been practicing, but there was plenty of time for her to make it up.
She sighed and reached for the phone. There was only one person who could help her make sense of it all.
“Hey, Aunt Lydia.” She tried to sound perky. “Can I speak with Celine?”
Celine came on the line. “Hello, Connie. How’s it going?”
Connie sighed again. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Celine asked. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. I just keep feeling tired, and people keep saying they’re worried about my weight.”
“Worried?” Celine snorted. She had a variety of disdainful snorts, this was her most vicious. “Jealous more like. I bet you look amazing.”
“I’ve dropped another size,” Connie told her.
“See!” Celine said in excitement. “I’m so jealous. I bet you look fabulous.”
Connie began to feel better about herself. “Maybe. It’s just the tiredness that’s getting me down.”
Celine made a phss sound. “Take vitamins, sweetie. That’s what they’re there for.”
“Did I forget to tell you about that? Yes, vitamins. And about your friends ‘worrying’ about you, don’t let it get to you. Just eat fruit if they want to make sure you’re eating. I do it all the time. You have to be strong like we are to diet this way, other people don’t understand.”
Connie smiled, glad that Celine thought she was strong. “Ok.”
“And besides, whatever you do eat you can work off, I mean, you’re an athlete,” Celine added thoughtfully.
“Thanks, Celine,” Connie said, her mood improved.
“I just wish you weren’t on scholarship. It would have been wonderful if you could have spent your last school year with me.”
“I know. I nearly asked my parents, but…”
“I know,” Celine said, her voice tinted with sympathy.
“Besides, there’s always college. We could be roomies.”
“That would be great,” Connie grinned into the phone.
By the time she hung up felt a lot better.
Chapter 10: You Might Become Something I Need
Again, big thanks to aznJEDI13 for R&R-ing every chapter. You’re a star.
Julie rushed out of her last class of the day at high speed and ran straight into Portman.
“Thought I’d wait for you,” he explained before she asked what he was doing lurking outside her class.
“Good,” she replied.
“Good?” he asked in amusement.
“Uh-huh. Need to talk.”
His face fell slightly. “And here was me thinking you enjoy my company.”
“I do,” she assured him. “Can we go and talk somewhere?”
“As always, my room is empty,” he paused to roll his eyes. “Fulton’s seeing Taz. Again.”
She smiled at him as they started walking. “You’re jealous because he has a honey and you don’t.”
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t need a ‘honey’ when I have you.”
“You know, one day some girl is going to work out that you don’t love me and come chasing after you,” she said, only half teasing.
“Never happen,” he said confidently.
“It probably will,” she said. Not that I want it to.
“Jules, you and I will single together forever,” He grinned as he opened the door and let her in. “We’ll be in the old folks home together, whinging about how we never met anyone.”
“Thanks, Portman. That’s really lifted my spirits,” she said. But in truth, it had. She took a seat on his bed, strangely he was obsessively neat. Fulton’s half of the room was littered with junk and covered in pictures of his friends, Taz was in every single photo.
Portman’s half of the room was well ordered. His books were filed by either subject or author depending on their content. His clothes were never on the floor. There were only three photos on his desk, all in frames. One of his family, one of the Ducks after their triumph over Iceland in the Junior Goodwill Games. The other was a picture of Portman and Julie, taken during the three days that they were actually happy together. They were sitting under the tree in front of school, she was half turned to whisper something to him and he was smiling at her, they were both cheerfully oblivious that Fulton was taking the picture.
She was pleased that he still had the picture, more so that he kept it on his desk.
“So what was it you wanted to talk to me about?” he asked, noticing her staring at the picture.
Julie’s mood turned serious once more. She took a deep breath. “I don’t think Connie’s eating. At all.”
“What?” He asked, clearly shocked.
“I think she’s starving herself.”
“You mean, like… uh, what’s it called? Anorexia, or is it bulimia? I can’t remember which is which.”
“Anorexia,” Julie supplied. “Anorexia is when you starve yourself, bulimia is when you binge then purge.”
Portman was quiet for awhile, processing what Julie had just said. “While I don’t doubt you,” he said carefully. “Are you really sure? I mean, how do you know she’s not eating?”
“I never see her eat.” She sighed. “If she sits with us for a meal she only ever gets a salad, and most of the time she just pushes it around a plate. And she’s so skinny now. She was getting changed yesterday and her clothes were really loose on her.”
“Maybe they’re old clothes,” he suggested.
“No, they were her new clothes. And besides…” She took a deep breath. “I went through her closet while she was out. Her clothes are a size smaller than they were last year. I also found a care package full of food from her parents in the bin.”
“You’ve been quite the detective,” he said. “Have you tried asking her?”
“She got really aggressive when I asked. She nearly bit my head off. I did a bit of reading about it, and mood swings are also a symptom of anorexia. I really want to be wrong, but I don’t think I am.”
Portman sighed and took her hand. “So what do we do?”
She shrugged. “There’s more.”
“Yesterday Coach Orion asked if there was something wrong with Connie. He’s worried about her. I mean, I think I know what’s wrong with her, I’m almost certain. And anorexia isn’t a thing to be taken lightly, it could kill her.”
“It’s just the ‘almost’ bit that’s bothering you,” He deduced, squeezing her hand.
She nodded. “What should I do?”
“I think you should talk to Connie one last time,” He said. “I mean really talk, don’t start a conversation and let her yell her way out of it. Tell her you think she’s anorexic and if she doesn’t talk to you about it you’re going to tell someone who will make her get help.”
“You think that will do it?” She found herself close to tears, thinking about what might happen to Connie if she was right about this.
“I hope so, I really do.”
“What if it doesn’t work?” she asked.
“Then we go to Coach Orion and tell him.” He stroked her face. “We’ll help her.”
More notes: If you think this chapter seems a little rushed, I’ll do a rewrite. I was worried about it, but I thought I’d dropped enough hints in the previous 9 chapters! *grins*. Again, thank you aznJEDI13 for your continued support of this fic.
Chapter 11: Don’t Tell Me ‘Cos It Hurts
Notes: There is a tiny bit of swearing in here. I’ve heard you can use the F word once in a PG-13, so this is where it will be!
Julie took a deep breath and then walked into her room. Surprisingly, Connie was there. She was in her usual position, lying on the bed.
“Connie, we need to talk,” Julie told her firmly.
“What have I done now?” Connie asked sullenly, but turned to face her.
“Nothing,” Julie refused to let herself become intimidated by Connie’s tone. “But we really should talk.”
Connie rolled her eyes and shrugged indifferently. “I’m listening.”
“I’m really worried about you—”
“Oh, not this again. I’ve told you, I’m fine,” Connie snapped.
“Yes, this again. And you’re not fine.” Julie took a deep breath. “Why have you lost so much weight?” she asked bluntly.
“I’ve only lost a few pounds, not that it’s any of your business.”
“A few pounds?” Julie repeated incredulously. “Connie, you’ve dropped two dress sizes.”
Connie’s eyes widened with—was that fear? It was gone all too quickly for Julie to be sure—and hastily replaced with anger.
“You went through my things? How dare you?”
“I only did it because I’m worried about you. I did it because you’re my friend.” Julie found herself dangerously close to tears.
“If you were my friend you wouldn’t be going through my stuff!” Connie yelled. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“I’ve left you alone long enough!” Julie responded, her own voice and temper rising. “I’m really worried about you. I never see you eat and you’re way too thin.”
“I’m fine! You know what your problem is, you’re jealous!”
“Jealous?” Julie repeated. “Of what? Having an eating disorder?”
“I… I…” Connie floundered for words. “I’m fine.”
“You’re fine?” Julie snorted. “That’s becoming your theme song. You are not fine.”
“Yes I am. You’re jealous of the way I look, you always have been,” Connie replied firmly. “I’m not the one with a problem, you are.”
“I’m not the one who looks like a skeleton, Con. I’m really worried—”
“That’s becoming your theme song. Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“Because I’m your friend,” Julie told her, bracing herself for Connie’s temper. “And if you won’t talk to me, I’m going to tell Coach Orion that you’re starving yourself.”
“You bitch! I’m fine.”
“If you were fine, you wouldn’t be so bothered about me telling Coach,” Julie pointed out, trying to stop herself from yelling.
“No, if I had a problem I wouldn’t mind,” Connie retorted. “I don’t want you going to Coach and lying about me.”
“Ok, if you’re not starving yourself, what is wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong with me! Just leave me alone!” Connie swiped at the tears forming. “Go on!” She moved towards Julie and started pushing her out of the door. “Just go! Leave me the fuck alone!”
“Connie, stop!” Julie tried to fend off Connie’s hands.
“Just go!” Connie stopped pushing her and opened the door.
Julie wiped her own tears away. “I’m telling Coach tomorrow,” she said firmly before leaving.
Connie slammed the door and collapsed on her bed, sobs wracking her body.
She was deeply afraid.
Portman looked up on hearing pounding on his door. He got up from his desk muttering, “Fulton, if you’ve forgotten your keys again I will kill you.”
He opened the door and found Julie on the other side, tears streaming down her face.
“Felix? What happened?” he asked, taking her hand and leading her into his room. “How bad was it?” He rephrased his question, knowing that Connie had upset her.
She swiped at her eyes, trying to stop the flow of tears.
“Ok, I’m going to stop asking stupid questions and wait for you to tell me yourself,” he decided. Then he shut the door and held her while she cried.
Connie managed to stop crying and start thinking. She took several deep breaths and reached for the phone. Luckily Celine answered and she didn’t have to pretend she was fine to her Aunt.
“Cons, what’s wrong?”
“Everything,” Connie told her bitterly.
“Everything? Hold on, I’m going to pick up the extension in my room.”
There was a click, and a few moments later Celine picked up again.
“Ok, tell me what’s wrong.”
She listened patiently while Connie told her about her showdown with Julie.
Eventually she spoke. “Things have gone really far,” she sighed. “This is what you’re going to do…”
“She just went completely mad at me,” Julie told Portman. They were sitting on his bed, his arm was still around her offering comfort. “She actually threw me out. She called me a bitch.”
“She was just being defensive,” he reassured her. “You hit the nail on the head and she felt threatened.”
“I know, but… her temper…” Julie tailed off, not entirely sure of the point she was trying to make.
“Jules, you’re not the only one who’s done some reading on this. It’s like an illness, and most illnesses have symptoms and side-effects. She still likes you, you’re still her best friend, she’s just not well at the moment.”
“I know,” she said. “It still hurts though. And she kicked me out of our room, what I am I supposed to do?”
“Stay here until she cools down, then sneak back into your room,” he suggested.
“Thanks. I can’t guarantee I’ll be great company though.”
“I’ve got the perfect way to take your mind off your problems.”
She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Gutter mind!” He replied, noticing the corners of her mouth starting to turn up. “I need you to test me on Shakespeare. I’ve got to memorise a sonnet by tomorrow.”
“You only want me for my brain.” She sighed melodramatically, glad of the distraction.
“I want all of you,” He told her.
“That’s only because if you kept my brain in a jar on your desk people would think you were strange.” She picked up the book he had left on the desk and flicked through to the book-marked page, relieved that they fell so easily into their banter, despite the seriousness of the previous conversation.
“Well, yeah,” He agreed. “But you’re not that bad to look at.”
“Thanks,” she replied distractedly, so used to his offhand compliments that she sometimes forgot to really notice them. She settled against the end of his bed, her back resting against his desk. Portman stretched out opposite her, his head resting on his pillow.
“You found the right page?”
“The let me woo you.”
She raised her eyebrows and gave him an amused smile.
Chapter 12: When I Grow Up I’ll Be Stable
Notes: Guy was meant to be in this fic far more than he had been. Sorry, I forgot about him. I got all distracted with Julie/Portman stuff. I promise he’ll be in the chapters after this one.
Julie woke up to the sound of a very annoying beep. She frowned without opening her eyes, she usually set her alarm to play the radio because the beep was so irritating.
She heard a muttered curse, a thump and then the beeping stopped.
She wriggled uncomfortably wondering if her blanket had twisted underneath her. It suddenly occurred to Julie that Connie—while not totally opposed to cursing at an alarm clock—was female, and the voice that swore was male.
She opened her eyes cautiously and took in her surroundings. She was in Portman’s room. Fulton was dozing in the bed opposite her. She wriggled again and discovered that it wasn’t a twisted blanket beneath her. It was Portman’s arms.
“Ooooh, not good,” she muttered.
Fulton turned towards the sound of her voice and blinked several times. “Morning, Jules,” He said eventually, then flopped face down back on to the pillow.
Portman muttered something in his sleep, and wound his arms tighter around her. If it wasn’t so threatening to her detention-free record she would have found it amusing. She jabbed Portman in the ribs gently. “Let go!”
She squirmed out of his arms and stood up. Portman blinked a few times, rubbed his eyes and frowned. “Ok, I’m awake and you’re still here,” he muttered. “Usually you vanish when I wake up.”
Fulton snorted, and Julie felt flustered. Was he sleep talking or did he mean that? She decided that now was not the time to get into it.
“Yeah, I’m here, and I really shouldn’t be,” she told him. “I was meant to sneak back into my room last night.”
Portman frowned at Fulton, who had decided to watch the proceedings. “Why didn’t you wake us up, man?”
Fulton shrugged. “I didn’t know Julie was here. I didn’t bother turning on the light when I got back. It was after curfew and I didn’t want people to notice I was just getting back.”
“Right, I have to get back to my room,” Julie told them.
“Jules, can I suggest something?” Fulton asked.
“Maybe you should brush your hair before you go. I mean, it looks bad enough you sneaking out of the boys dorms, but with your hair standing on end…” He shrugged. “It just looks incriminating.”
Julie blushed at what he was insinuating. “Thanks,” she muttered, running her hands through her tangled hair.
“If it makes you feel any better, you’re probably not the only girl in the school to have snuck into the boys dorms.”
“Fulton, you’re not helping,” she said. “Do either of you have a hairbrush, or an elastic band?”
Connie waited agitatedly in her room, waiting for Julie to show up. She’d tried to stay awake last night to wait for her, but without success. She’d almost slept through her alarm and she still felt as if she hadn’t rested at all.
She had assumed that Julie would come back before curfew, but she hadn’t, and from the look of her bed she hadn’t come back at all.
She was greatly relieved when Julie opened the door. “Hi.” Her tone was curt.
“Hey,” Connie stood up and moved closer to her. “I need to tell you something. I’m really sorry about yesterday—the entire term actually. I feel really bad about it.”
Julie shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“No, it’s not. And you were kinda right. This diet has gone too far. I scared myself last night.”
Julie looked shocked by her confession, but Connie ploughed on. “I’m really sorry for throwing you out too. I’m gonna start eating properly again. I wasn’t starving myself, but I was on a diet.” Connie reached out and touched her shoulder. “I feel really stupid. I’m not sure why I wanted to lose weight, but I’m stopping now.”
“Do you really mean that?” Julie asked.
Connie nodded. “Absolutely. I’m gonna eat all of my meals with you, so you know that I’m eating. Honestly, I wasn’t starving myself, but I was dieting too much. I’m sorry I’ve been so awful to live with. If you’ve got a spare hour during lunch I’ll tell you about it.”
Julie smiled finally. “I was so worried about you!” She held her arms out for a hug.
Connie wrapped her arms around her friend. “I know you were, and I’m glad.”
Julie was somewhat sceptical about Connie’s new attitude, but during breakfast she found herself beginning to believe her friend. Connie was eating—very slowly—but she was still eating.
She met Portman’s eyes several times, he also looked baffled by the change in Connie. She noticed Guy was watching Connie intently. Maybe they’d get back together, she thought hopefully.
As they filed out of the dining area after breakfast, Connie touched Julie’s arm. “I forgot my homework, I’ve got to go back to the dorm. I’ll see you at lunch.”
“Ok,” she replied distractedly, as she noticed Portman making strange gestures at her. “See you at lunch.”
“Hey, Felix,” He greeted her cheerfully. “I take it you didn’t get caught on the way back to your room.”
“No,” she smiled, then nodded to Connie’s retreating back. “You think she’s ok?”
He shrugged. “Tell me what happened this morning while I walk you to class.”
She filled him in on her conversation with Connie as they walked.
“Well, she admitted that she was dieting and she’s offered to eat with you…” He smiled. “I’d say that she’s going to be ok. The only down side is that I lose the pleasure of your company at lunch today.”
“I’m sure you’ll get over it.” She smiled again. “I’ll stop by after classes.”
“Are we having another slumber party?” He winked at her.
She giggled. “No. You snore too loudly.”
Connie took a bite of her apple and chewed slowly, fighting the urge to gag. She hadn’t eaten properly in such a long time that it was becoming a hard task for her. She noticed Julie looking at her with concern, and bit back a nasty comment that would have sent her reeling.
She chewed until it was mush and swallowed, again fighting her gag reflex. She sipped some water, hoping to calm her stomach for the time being.
She took a deep breath, small talk would only irritate the both of them. It was time to lay her cards on the table… or some of them.
“I had a really bad summer,” she said. “My parents were fighting a lot. They sent me to stay with my Aunt Lydia and cousin Celine.”
“I’m sorry,” Julie said, reaching out to touch Connie’s shoulder.
Connie felt like shaking off Julie’s hand, but forced herself to smile back. “It wasn’t fun. My parents have started divorce proceedings. Celine was very blunt about it, we didn’t get on well.” It wasn’t exactly a lie, she had used past tense while talking about not getting along with Celine.
“I’m here for you if you need to talk about it,” Julie offered.
What do you think we’re doing now? Connie managed to keep that thought inside her head. She shrugged. “I think I’m over it now. I… uh, talked to someone when I stayed with Aunt Lydia.”
Julie bit her lip, as if considering what to say. “Connie, please don’t bite my head off, but why did you start dieting?”
Connie frowned. It was certainly a valid question. “I’m not sure. I guess it was something to take my mind off my problems. But I’m through with that now,” she added brightly. “See?” She took another bite of her apple.
More notes: You don’t think it would end like that do you? There’s more to come.
Chapter 13: You Have a Way of Keeping Control
Notes: I think there’s only one or two chapters to go. I really wish I hadn’t forgotten about Guy so much.
Guy was worried. He had watched Connie over the past few weeks. He watched as she seemed to revert to the same girl they all knew before the summer. He watched as Julie’s worry for her friend began to dwindle, and her interest in Portman took the number one slot on her priority list.
He watched Connie act as if she hadn’t spent the first month of school acting like she despised all of them. As if she hated herself.
They all thought she was back. They all thought she was ok.
Guy did not. Something was still not right with her. Something was missing.
He had known her all his life, and loved her for just as long.
Which was why he was knocking on her door.
She opened the door. “Hey, Guy,” she said, wearing a smile he didn’t recognise.
“Hi, Con.” He took a deep breath. “I was wondering if you wanted to go out somewhere, a movie or something?”
She shrugged awkwardly. “I don’t know, Guy…”
“No strings. No dates. I just feel like some company tonight,” he said gently.
“I don’t know if I’d be much company,” she told him. “Maybe another time.”
“Connie.” He reached out to touch her hand. “I miss you.” That one statement could be taken any number of ways, and she realised that.
Her face fell slightly. “I miss how it was,” she admitted. “I just don’t feel like going out tonight.”
“Promise me that next time I ask you won’t say no,” he implored.
She gave him a faint smile, a ghost of the old Connie he knew and loved. “Ok.”
He smiled back at her. “Night, Connie.”
Connie sat down on her bed and reached for the phone. She was glad that Julie was out tonight. She hadn’t been going out much since their fight, wanting to keep an eye on Connie. It was irritating.
Celine picked up after the first ring. “Hello?”
“Cel? It’s Connie.”
“Hey, Con. How’s it going? Did the plan work?”
“Not really,” For the first time in a long while it occurred to Connie that what she was doing wasn’t right. Normal people didn’t behave like this. Then again, ‘normal’ people didn’t need to, she reminded herself.
“What do you mean, not really? Tell me,” Celine asked in a business-like tone.
“I did what you said, but I’m gaining weight,” Connie told her.
“You’re gaining weight? How can that happen if you’re…?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t.” That wasn’t entirely true. There was just one reason why she might be gaining weight despite not digesting food. She sighed. She thought she could tell Celine everything, she was wrong. “On the plus side, it’s got everyone off my back,” she said brightly, though she didn’t feel happy. “Maybe it will take awhile to drop the weight again.”
“Maybe. Let me know how it goes, Con.”
They spoke awhile longer, Celine filled her in on what was happening in her life. Who was wearing what, who was dating who, all the things that had seemed important towards the end of the summer.
Connie only kept one ear open to the conversation. Her mind was elsewhere. She flipped through her diary, counting the weeks.
Guy managed to catch Julie at her locker during break. “Hey, Jules.”
“Hi. How’s life?” She asked, searching through her locker.
“The usual. You?”
“Be better if I could find my biology folder,” she replied, still fighting with her locker.
“Jules, how’s Connie doing?”
She stopped rummaging and turned to face him. “She’s doing really well. She’s eating and she’s almost back to her old self.”
“So you think she’s ok?” He asked with a frown.
“Why? Don’t you?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I barely ever see her, but I don’t…” He sighed. “If you were that depressed, would just one conversation completely turn you around?”
Julie frowned, turning over his words. “But she seems fine. I caught her weighing herself the other day and she’s gained weight. She seemed fine about it.”
“So, maybe she’s not starving herself now, maybe it’s something else,” He persisted. “You live with her, you know her best.”
The bell rang, cutting their conversation short.
“We’ll talk later,” he said.
“Ok,” Julie sighed and went back to searching for her biology folder, Guy’s words playing heavily on her mind.
“Study jam at Portman’s. We’re gonna do all our homework tonight so we’ve got the entire weekend free,” Julie said, rushing into her room and grinning at Connie. She grabbed some books off her shelf.
“Don’t you usually do that anyway?” Connie asked.
“Yeah, but I’m trying to get Portman to do the same.” She rolled her eyes. “It could be an exercise in futility, but you never know. My model student behaviour might rub off on him. I’ll be back later, but I was thinking, do you want to go shopping or something tomorrow?”
Connie shrugged. “Ok,” she said in a neutral tone. She saw the look on Julie’s face when she mentioned a shopping trip. It meant bonding. It meant treating Connie like glass. It meant lots of talking to make sure Connie was still aboard the sanity bus. “Have fun with your study session,” she added, it’s what the old Connie would have said.
Julie grinned again. “Yeah, right. See you later.”
Connie breathed a sigh of relief when she left. She waited a few minutes to make sure that Julie wouldn’t come bursting back in having forgotten something, then she dragged out the scales tucked underneath her bed.
Another pound heavier. That was four pounds in total that she had gained in only a few weeks.
She felt tears trickling down her face. This was not good. She had barely eaten and yet she still gained weight. She put her hand on her stomach sighing deeply.
She wasn’t an idiot. She was beginning to catch on. She didn’t even need to stick her fingers down her throat to make herself sick now.
She looked down at her diary. Up until July there was a red dot on that appeared at the beginning of every month. It hadn’t appeared since.
Chapter 14: Throw Something Out To Me, Remind Me How To Breathe
“Hey, Cons. Are you ok?” Julie asked upon entering the room.
Connie had to physically bite down on her tongue to stop herself snapping. When she got control of her inner bitch she replied. “Tired.” It wasn’t a lie. “Thought I’d take a leaf out of your book and try and do my homework tonight. My brain is dead. Did you manage to get Portman to do his homework?” She didn’t care in the slightest, but she was trying to be the old Connie to make everyone happy.
“Some of it. We mostly ended up fighting over what CD to listen to. So, shopping tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. I’m really tired, maybe I’m getting ill or something.”
“You’ve gotta come,” Julie replied. “Or have you forgotten it’s Adam’s birthday tomorrow? I still don’t have a gift, and as far as I know, neither do you.”
Connie sighed. Yes, she had completely forgotten about Adam’s birthday. “I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.” She got up from her desk, and lay down on her bed, her movements sluggish.
“Don’t get ill now, he’s having a pool party. Everyone’s going to be there.” Julie looked closely at her. “Although you do look pale. Do you want me to get the nurse or something?”
Connie frowned. Should she ask Julie to get the nurse? She would be able to get out of shopping and Adam’s party. Then again, the nurse would probably have a lot to say about her health. “I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
She sank down, trying to get comfortable on her bed, and was alarmed by the swaying motion inside her head. She lay still, hoping for it to pass. It felt like she was at sea, but gradually the motions tapered off. She took some deep breaths.
“I’m fine,” she forced herself to turn and smile at Julie, bracing herself for more spinning sensations. “It’s all that small print in the text books, it makes my head swimmy.”
Julie nodded reassured. “I know how that is. Do you want me to turn the light out? I can do my reading tomorrow.”
“It’s ok,” Connie told her. “Night, Jules.”
Connie pulled her blanket tighter around her, trying to stop herself from shivering. She wondered if it was cold or if it was just her. Julie was only wearing short sleeves. Maybe it was her.
Her head began to swim again, and she tried to calm herself by taking long deep breaths. Eventually the rocking sensation faded and Connie fell into a deep sleep.
When Connie woke up she felt even more tired than before she’d slept. She rubbed her eyes. “What time is it?” She asked.
Julie grinned at her. “You really need your sleep. I was wondering if you were gonna miss the whole day. It’s almost one o’clock.”
“Uh-huh. Maybe you’re getting the flu. Taz had it a couple of weeks ago, she said she slept for almost a whole week. She occasionally got up to cough, splutter and take some medicine.”
“That’s nice,” Connie muttered, debating whether to get up or stay in bed. She couldn’t believe how tired she felt. Usually she felt slightly drained, but today she felt as if she’d been steamrollered.
“Are you ok?”
Connie shrugged, on the verge of telling Jules exactly what was wrong.
“I could get the nurse if you’re really not feeling well,” Julie added.
That thought stopped her in her tracks. She was not going to talk to the nurse.
“I think I’ll be ok,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m up to shopping though.”
“That’s ok, I figured you might not feel well today—you looked quite ill last night—so I zoomed into town and got something for Adam from the both of us. I left you a note, but you were still asleep when I got back. I hope you don’t mind.”
Connie swung her legs over the edge of the bed, anticipating the same swaying she felt last night. “It’s fine,” she muttered absently. “When does the party start?”
“Around three. Are you sure you’re ok?”
Connie nodded. “I’m probably coming down with a bug or something. I’m gonna have a nice hot shower, see if that clears my head.”
She made her way to the bathroom and locked the door. When she went to turn the taps she noticed her hands were tingling. Must have slept on them, she told herself. It took several attempts to turn on the water, she couldn’t seem to grasp the taps.
She climbed into the shower cubicle, with shaking legs, shivering when the water hit her body. She managed to turn the water up hotter, but still continued to shake.
She noticed bruises on her legs but couldn’t remember how she got them. She’d bumped into her nightstand yesterday, but it hadn’t hurt.
She had a terrifying dizzy spell when she reached for her shampoo. She had to lean against the wall for several minutes to steady herself.
I’m fine. She told herself sternly. Maybe I’m getting the flu.
She wasn’t sure how she managed to wash her hair, or remain standing the entire time, but somehow she did.
She was still shivering after she got dressed. She thought about drying her hair, it would warm her up, but it seemed like too much hassle. The shampoo bottle had felt like an anvil when she picked it up, she didn’t think she could manage a hair dryer.
Just get thought today. I’m sure tomorrow will be easier. She repeated mentally.
There was no logic to her mantra, but it made her feel better.
Julie watched Connie’s movements with concern. “We don’t have to go, if you’re not well you can stay here. I’ll stay with you if you want.”
Connie turned to Julie, half of her wanted desperately to stay at the dorm and tell Julie everything. The other half of her stubbornly wanted to go to the party and pretend that she was fine. “No, really, I’m fine. I think I got too much sleep, left me feeling all muzzy.” The stubborn half was in control of her mouth apparently.
Connie floated in the pool. She hadn’t wanted to go in, but everyone else had, and she didn’t want to sit on the edge. People would ask her if she was feeling ok. People would look at her. People would ask why she’d lost weight.
Coach Bombay was sitting with Adam’s parents, he would be bound to ask her what was wrong.
It was nice to be able to move around without fear of falling over. However, she’d progressed from chilly to freezing. Her teeth were chattering, which nobody had noticed because the others were having an aggressive splashing war.
She made her way over to the edge of the pool, as she got there, Taz whizzed past and hauled herself out. Connie made her way towards the steps, deciding her arms couldn’t take the pressure of boosting herself upwards.
She dragged herself up the steps and over to the loungers where Julie and Taz were sitting. She clenched her jaw to stop her teeth chattering.
She picked up her towel with numb fingers, and dropped it, it took longer than necessary to pick it up again, and she was aware that all eyes were on her. She managed to grasp it and wrap it tightly around herself, trying to stop herself shaking.
“You ok, Cons?”
“Fine,” she nodded. “Just a bit fluey I think. I’ll be ok when I dry off.”
“You sure?” Julie prodded.
“Yeah. So what were you talking about?”
“We were discussing how your old hockey coach looks like Charlie Sheen,” Taz answered.
“No, that was before. Now we’re talking about yearbook photos. The Dean has asked Taz if she can grow out her purple hair before that happens,” Julie supplied.
Taz shook off the swimming cap she’d been wearing. “I was thinking, maybe I shouldn’t have worn this cap, then my hair could turn green. That would be fun.”
“Well, I don’t think you should get rid of your purple hair. It looks good,” Julie told her.
“I won’t. It’s my signature. If I didn’t have purple hair I’d just be another nobody. Fulton wouldn’t have noticed me.”
Connie shook her head, trying to get rid of a sudden rushing sound that filled her ears. “You’re noticeable,” she said, trying to act like the usual Connie. “And don’t be down on yourself. You’re really pretty. You could be a model, if you got some plastic surgery on that scar.”
Connie felt like slapping herself. She hadn’t got a clue why she had said something so mean to Taz. She certainly hadn’t deserved it. Her brain had just run on auto-pilot while the rushing sound in her ears increased. It had been very Celine-like to pick on Taz about it.
Taz had a scar that ran from above her hip to mid-thigh. It was an ugly train-track like scar that Taz had been deeply ashamed of and tried to hide.
“Taz is already perfect, with that scar,” Fulton told her, appearing from behind her.
Connie shook her head again feeling awful.
Taz stood up to face her. “I’ll tell you why I can’t have plastic surgery on that scar, little miss perfect. Because I have to have surgery in a year or two and cutting through scar tissue is dangerous enough, but to cut through scar tissue that’s been improved because some snooty cow can’t bear to look at it…”
Whatever else Taz had to say, Connie missed as the rushing sound in her head overpowered her. She blinked, feeling very dizzy, when she opened her eyes everything was a blur.
She rocked on her feet and fell, letting the rushing noise in her head overcome everything else.
She was dimly aware that someone managed to catch her before she hit the ground.
Then the darkness took over.
Chapter 15: Your Body Is Exhausted, You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Mind
Notes: I know it’s a slow chapter, it fought me every step of the way. I’m hoping the next one will be better.
Julie and Guy paced in the waiting room, anxiously waiting for news on Connie’s condition. They had ridden in the ambulance with her, the other Ducks were all getting lifts from Mr and Mrs Banks and Coach Bombay.
“You were right. I should have noticed,” she said, the guilt weighing heavily on her. “This is all my fault.”
He looked startled as if he had forgotten she was there. “It’s not your fault, Jules,” he told her. “It’s mine. I was so busy being hurt that I wasn’t there for her.”
“I live with her. I should have noticed that something was wrong. I should have paid more attention to her,” she told him, her eyes streaming with tears.
“Felix? Any news?” Portman burst in, the rest of the team and various adults behind him.
She shook her head and let herself be wrapped up in his arms. He held her while she cried.
“Has anyone called her parents?” Coach Bombay asked.
Guy nodded. “I did. They’re on their way. I didn’t know what to tell them, so I said she passed out. Is that ok?”
Coach nodded and squeezed his shoulder. “So what happened?” he asked softly.
“She wasn’t eating,” Julie supplied, her tears running down her face. “I confronted her and then she started eating again—or so I thought. I saw her eat. I thought she was ok. She seemed much better. It’s all my fault.”
Portman stroked her hair and tried to calm her. “It’s not your fault, Jules. We all thought she was better.”
“Hold on one moment. You knew my daughter was starving herself and you didn’t think to tell anyone?”
Everyone turned to the source of the new voice. Mr and Mrs Moreau stood in the doorway. “You let this happen to my daughter?” Mrs Moreau continued.
Julie didn’t know how to defend herself, and was surprised when Portman spoke up. “Julie didn’t know Connie was starving herself. She saw that she had gotten thin over the summer, and that she didn’t eat much. She threatened to tell our Coach about it and Connie admitted that she’d been dieting. Connie then started eating lunch with us. We all saw her eat and we both thought that it had been just a diet. I’m sorry we were wrong.”
“Why didn’t you pay more attention to her?” Mrs Moreau demanded.
“Ok everybody, calm down!” Bombay walked to the centre of the room. “We’re all on edge, but this is nobody’s fault. Let’s all take a seat and calm down.”
Everyone reluctantly took a seat, but very few calmed down.
The first thing Connie was aware of was a regular beep, it was low and almost soothing. The second thing was her perpetual tiredness. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around.
She was in hospital. The beeping sound was coming from a heart monitor that was attached to… her? There was a drip inserted into each arm.
“What’s happening?” she asked, very much alarmed.
“Oh, you’re awake,” a kind voice replied. “Miss Moreau, I’m Dr Martin, no relation to the shoe maker. How are you feeling?”
“Tired,” she answered. “And cold.”
“I should imagine you are. You’ve got pneumonia, amongst other things. Malnutrition is another. You’ve got a lot of people worried.”
She decided she liked him. His tone was kind and understanding, not irritated and judgemental, the way she had imagined it might be.
“Can I see my friends?”
“Not all at once, there’s almost twenty people out there,” He told her with a twinkle in his eye. “And I believe your parents would like to see you first.”
“Who called them?” She asked anxiously. “Are they mad? Are they fighting?” She felt tears start to run down her face. She couldn’t face being the cause of another fight between them.
“Calm down. Both of your parents are here, and they’re worried about you. I think they would like an explanation of why you’re malnourished though.”
“I’m fine,” she said, it was an automatic response to any questions about her weight.
“Miss Moreau, you are not fine. If you were fine, you would not be here,” he told her sternly.
She bit her lip.
“Have you heard of the terms ‘anorexia’ or ‘bulimia’?” He asked.
She nodded. “Yeah. It’s what models get.”
“Not just models, Connie. Anyone is at risk. Yourself included. Your friend, Julie, tells me that you haven’t been eating properly.”
Connie felt a rush of annoyance at Julie, but it was quickly replaced by another emotion. One she couldn’t pinpoint immediately. Then she realised, it was relief.
She was relieved that she was in a position where she had to tell the truth about her eating.
“You don’t have to explain now, I understand that you’re tired,” Dr Martin continued. “Your parents will be in shortly.”
Connie stared at the ceiling after he left wondering how she was going to explain what was wrong, and exactly where she should start.
Her parents walked in and she took a deep breath. She wanted to ask them something before they started fussing.
“Hi,” she said sheepishly, then dove straight in. “Can you call Aunt Lydia and ask Celine to come here to see me?”
“Honey, she’s got school.” Her Mom moved over to stroke her hair soothingly. “I know the two of you got close over the summer, but she can come over another time.”
“No, Mom,” Connie responded, with more conviction than she felt. “I need to see her now. I need her too see me in hospital.”
“Connie.” Her father moved to take her hand. He was an unemotional man, and had nothing to follow her name with.
“Honey, you can’t expect her—”
“Mom, if she doesn’t see what I look like, I’m going to be visiting her in hospital!” Connie explained.
“What are you saying?” Mrs Moreau asked uncertainly.
“Celine’s anorexic too. Or maybe bulimic, I’m not sure.”