Title: Report Cards
Summary: It's report card time in the Tracy home!
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Rating: PG for language
Author's Notes: Okay, I had to go back and tweak some things for number 3, but I did it. Hope you enjoyed these little drabbles!
Report Cards: Part 3
Jeff Tracy found Scott and John sitting in the den, playing each other at a video game. Jeff moved into their line of sight and raised an eyebrow.
Scott paused the game, and the two boys looked up at their father. "Dad? What is it?"
Jeff smiled. "I just finished looking over your report cards . . ." he began.
Scott scowled. "I'll bring that A- up, I swear."
"Don't beat yourself up too much, son," Jeff said lightly. "Your report card overall was very good. Both of yours," he added, including John in his gaze. "Your teachers had good things to say about you. As a reward, I'll be giving you each fifty dollars."
John beamed. "Wow! Thanks, Dad!"
Jeff nodded, then glanced around. "Where are the other three? When the house gets this quiet, I tend to worry."
"Just wait," was Scott's cryptic reply.
Jeff only had to wait for a couple minutes before a wrangled cry echoed from upstairs, almost immediately followed by the sound of feet thundering down the stairway at top speed. Alan and Gordon were racing each other, nearly tripping over each other in their haste. Close behind them was Virgil, a look of rage on his face.
Virgil leaped from the last six steps to the main floor and tackled both of his younger brothers to the ground. One hand caught the scruff of Alan's shirt in a tight grip while the other had hold of Gordon' arm.
"Ow! Virge, get off!"
"Let me go!"
Virgil stood and forcefully hauled his younger brothers to their feet. "I'll give you two choices: one, I pound you into the ground. Two, I force you to change it back, and then I pound you into the ground."
"How about you let us go, and we get on with our lives, no harm done?" Gordon suggested.
Virgil tightened his grip, causing Gordon to cry out.
"What's going on?" Jeff asked.
The three boys looked up at their father. Before Virgil could say a word, Alan spoke up.
"Nothing!" he insisted. "Make Virgil let us go! We're innocent!"
His puppy-dog eyes lost their effect when Scott, John, and Gordon all began to snicker.
"Innocent?" John echoed. "Since when?"
"Nice try, Sprout, but even Gordon isn't buying that one," Scott added.
Alan shot Gordon a dirty look.
"I reiterate," Jeff stated. "What's going on?"
Virgil looked at his father, anger and frustration on his face. "These two little runts somehow changed my ringtone and locked it so it only plays one song, and then they called me all day long on it. I'm lucky I didn't get beaten up, but I don't think they can say the same thing."
"What song?" John asked, curious. Jeff found that he wanted to know the answer to that himself.
Virgil's face turned red, and he mumbled an answer.
"What?" Scott asked.
"He said 'Mmm Bop', by Hanson," Alan supplied helpfully.
John fell off the couch, howling with laughter. Scott tried valiantly not to laugh, but gave in at the enraged look on Virgil's face. Jeff carefully hid a smile, schooling his features in a stern manner.
"Well, they will certainly take care of that for you today," he stated. "I would like to speak to them first."
Alan's and Gordon's eyes grew wide, and Jeff was suddenly struck by a memory from years before, when his two youngest would stare at him in just this way after getting caught misbehaving. Somehow, things never seemed to change . . .
"It's about your report cards," Jeff continued. He looked at Virgil. "Go ahead and let them go. They won't be going anywhere."
Virgil did as he was told and moved over to the couch, where his other two brothers were still laughing. He punched John on the arm, making the older boy stop and glare.
Gordon spoke up before Jeff could speak. "Look, Dad, I can explain."
"I'm sure you can," Jeff replied. "Let's hear it."
Gordon wasted no time. "It wasn't even my fault, really. I mean, it was Bobby who suggested the ink in Mr. Jackson's coffee, I didn't think it would be that bad, really, it's not even my style, and-." He stopped at the look of surprise giving way to anger on his father's face. "It's not about Mr. Jackson, is it?"
"No, although I think I should hear this story, too," Jeff replied. "Try again."
"Erm . . . okay . . ." Gordon frowned, deep in thought. "Is this about that food fight in the cafeteria? Because that wasn't me. That was Alan."
Alan's head whipped around, his face showing shock and outrage. "Gordon!"
"Well, you started it!" Gordon insisted.
"After you stole my tater tots!" Alan argued.
"You said I could have them!" Gordon stated.
"Yeah, like I'd want them after you sneezed on them!"
Jeff rubbed his face wearily. This was more information than he had really wanted. When his sons were involved, ignorance really was bliss.
"We'll discuss all that later," Jeff broke in. "Gordon, your report card was fine, but your principal sent me a note."
Gordon's eyes skittered to the side. "Um . . . okay, so the secretary didn't appreciate the fake vomit on her desk. I thought she wasn't going to do anything about that."
Jeff closed his eyes and said a silent prayer.
"I guess that wasn't it, either," Gordon muttered.
"Hey, Gordon, you want me to get you a shovel?" John asked, amusement coloring his tone.
"Hey, I know!" Alan cried suddenly.
Jeff opened his eyes in time to see Gordon lunge at Alan, clapping a hand over the younger boy's mouth. Alan tried to pull away, but Gordon was too strong and too quick.
"So, Dad, what did the note say?" Gordon asked, trying to save face.
Jeff fixed Gordon with a stare. "It has to do with the mascot outside the office door."
Almost instantly, Alan and Virgil began snickering. Scott and John, who went to a different building altogether for school, looked puzzled. To their credit, they didn't ask the question that was burning on their tongues.
Understanding dawned on Gordon's face, and he grinned cheekily. "I thought our mascot needed a new look, is all. It was totally harmless."
"Do I want to know where you got its . . . new look?" Jeff asked with some trepidation.
"Um . . . probably not," Gordon admitted.
Alan pulled Gordon's hand away. "It was so funny! It stayed like that for a whole day before the office staff even noticed and took it down! The teachers even thought it was funny! I saw some of them laughing! No one would have even known it was Gordon if it hadn't been for Mark Florence. He told the secretary."
"It was Mark who gave me up, was it?" Gordon asked, thoughtful. "I'll have to thank him personally for that."
Jeff had no doubt what Gordon had meant by that, but he decided to focus on the more pressing matter. "Is this the kind of example you're setting for Alan?"
Gordon shrugged. "Better than being a stiff like Scott."
"Hey!" Scott exclaimed.
"That remains to be seen," Jeff replied. "I've been called into another conference with your principal, which means that you are grounded until we come up with a better way for you to express your creativity. No music, no TV, you come home straight from school. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Gordon answered sullenly.
Jeff's gaze shifted to Alan. "Okay, Alan. Your turn."
Alan scowled. "That C wasn't my fault! Well, not entirely. My science teacher has it in for me!"
"As well he should," Virgil muttered to Scott and John. "Alan's probably the first student ever to set the lab on fire."
"Or to permanently dye two of the lab tables orange," Gordon chimed in.
"That's enough," Jeff told them. "Actually, don't you boys have chores to do?"
Scott took the hint and stood. Grasping John's arm, he said, "C'mon. Let's go get some fresh air."
Virgil grabbed Gordon before Gordon could escape. "Oh no you don't. You're changing my ringtone back now, while I have you. Let's go."
"Okay, okay," Gordon relented as Virgil pulled him back upstairs. "You don't have to squeeze so hard. In fact, you could just let me go."
Silence, ensued, then an indignant, "Ow!"
Alan scowled down at his feet as the room cleared, unwilling to meet his father's gaze. Jeff took the opportunity to simply observe his youngest child.
Where had the time gone? It seemed like almost yesterday when Alan was born, so small and innocent. Jeff had often thought of Alan as a baby; to him, he always would be, but standing before him was a boy trying to grow into his own person. And under the shadow of five brothers, it couldn't be easy.
"Let's go for a walk," Jeff suggested suddenly.
Alan's head snapped up, confusion causing his eyebrows to draw together. "A walk?"
"Yeah, a walk," Jeff replied easily. "Come on."
Feeling a little out of his element, Alan dutifully followed his father out of the house and into the backyard. The air was beginning to cool, give the evening a nice, crisp feel. Jeff struck a slow and leisurely pace, content for the moment to simply share in his son's company.
A few minutes passed before Alan felt compelled to break the silence between them. "I really tried, Dad, I did, but-."
"What's your favorite subject?" Jeff asked abruptly.
Alan stopped, still stunned by his father's strange behavior. "Uh . . . I don't know. PE, I guess."
Jeff smiled. "I suppose that makes sense. Of all you boys, you're probably the most physically active."
Alan grinned. "It helps to have four older brothers always chasing you."
They chuckled softly together. Jeff decided to broach the subject of music. "Your music teacher says you're disruptive in her class."
The smile on Alan's face fell, but the scowl did not return.
Jeff, encouraged, pressed onward. "Music was never one of my strong points, either. Your mother, now she was a truly gifted musician. Me, I can't carry a tune in a bucket. And forget about playing anything."
Alan grinned slightly, too. "It's all right, but because Mrs. Preston had John and Virgil, she thinks I'm just like them."
Jeff cocked an eyebrow. "Doesn't she teach Gordon, too?"
"Yeah," Alan replied.
"Then maybe she sees something in you that she wants to bring out," Jeff pointed out. "Sure, nothing like Virgil, or even John, but wouldn't you like to find that out?"
"I think I already did," Alan said, clearly remembering his disastrous lesson with his older brothers.
"You can't go by your brothers all the time," Jeff told him. "Tell you what; I'll talk to Mrs. Preston about maybe backing off on the comparisons to Virgil and John, but you have to try harder for her. Who knows? Maybe you'll be surprised."
Alan thought for a moment, then nodded.
Jeff guided Alan around the garden for a second lap. He nodded to his two eldest sons, who were relaxing on the lounge chairs not too far away.
"You're a good student, Alan," Jeff stated, once they were out of earshot again. "You have the ability to be a straight A student, or at least honor roll. But you tend to get discouraged easily, and that causes your grades to slip a little."
Alan's eyes were on his shoes, but Jeff knew he was listening.
"If you'd like, I could arrange some outside help for science tutoring for you," Jeff continued. "You can also find someone at school, but I want you to know that you have other options. I think you can do better in science, and I think you know that, too."
Alan sighed. "Can I think about it, first?"
"Of course," Jeff agreed. "But I do want a solution by next Monday. Deal?"
Alan nodded. "Deal."
Jeff walked beside Alan through the garden for several more laps, then led his son back into the house once the temperature slipped below comfort levels. Once in the kitchen, Alan went over to Jeff and hugged him.
"Thanks, Dad," Alan said quietly.
Jeff returned the hug tightly, then patted Alan on the back before releasing him. "Anytime, Sprout. Now go help Gordon and Virgil. If I know your brothers-."
A loud crash echoed through the house, followed by a deafening, "GORDON!"
The brother in question shot past Jeff and Alan, darting out the door and into the backyard. Virgil was close behind, slowing just long enough to shove his cell phone into Alan's hands before taking off into the garden.
Jeff took the phone from Alan and quickly pulled up Virgil's ringtone. The song title was unfamiliar to him, so he played it, hoping that hearing it would clear his confusion.
As the song played, a wide grin spread across Alan's face, and he burst into laughter.
"I think you'd better fix this before Virgil comes back," Jeff told Alan, handing the phone back to his son. "Something tells me that 'I'm a Barbie Girl' isn't much better than 'Mmm, Bop'."
Alan continued to laugh, but accepted the phone from Jeff and set to work. Jeff patted Alan on the shoulder and left the room.
Yes, report card day was definitely an interesting day in the Tracy home.