Chapter 1: Teenage Wasteland
Summary: The Ducks wrap up their first school year at Eden Hall with the yearly marriage project. Seven of the players are more on the verge of divorce than others, though, when the whole project starts to get completely out of hand.
Rating: T (look how well I'm adjusting...)
Timeline: The Ducks' freshman year in high school, two weeks before Summer Break.
Dedication: I was going to say none, but I have to dedicate it to Kristine (NYgoldfish54) and Sam (trulyforgotten9) as I wouldn't have become a better writer without their help.
Thanks To: Myself. Thank you for learning to write like a normal person.
Cimmy's Notes: This is a complete re-write of the fanfic I originally wrote back in 2002. New (hopefully not as annoying) characters, new pairings, better plot - the concept is still the same, though. I haven't really written a fanfic since 2003, but it should be better than some of the crap I used to write.
Disclaimer: The Mighty Ducks belong to Disney. I own Fred, Kate and Daniel. Lex belongs to NYgoldfish54. (Lex was originally not in this story, but Kristine suggested I'd use her, and I just couldn't pass that up...)
Charlie sighed deeply. The weather outside was radiant; the sun was shining and the lawn was occupied by students who had finished their last lesson of the day – and was that girl eating an ice-cream? Charlie continued to stare out the closed window, clearly sulking over the unfair misery that had been inflicted upon him. He didn't particularly care that there were twenty-four other people in the class that were as stuck there as he was – it simply had to be twice as horrible for him, as he really wanted to be out in the sun, right?
The hour never seemed to want to end. If it hadn't been for the unbearable heat, Charlie was quite sure everyone would be on edge, as today was the day where they would get their partners for the marriage project that would last for the remaining two weeks of the school year. Charlie wiped some sweat out of his face, averting his eyes from the window for the first time since the lesson began.
Connie was to his right, her elbow resting against the table, while she was trying to cool herself off by waving her notepad in front of her face. Right behind her, Adam was doing his best trying to pay attention to what Ms. Hudson had to say, from time to time dutifully scribbling down a couple of words on his paper. Charlie had no idea how Adam was able to concentrate in the heat. It was quite annoying to have to watch.
Goldberg and Averman had completely abandoned the very thought of concentrating. They were sitting in the corner, stacking their – and Ken's – books and notepads into an impressively tall tower. Every time the tower collapsed, exasperated groans could be heard from the back of the classroom, along with the distracting sound of the books hitting the table. Ms. Hudson looked up, but never commented on it. Charlie had a feeling she wanted to leave as much as they did.
He turned to the front of the class, observing how Portman and Fulton kept throwing small fragments from an eraser at Julie any time Ms. Hudson turned to write something on the blackboard. Julie did her best with ignoring them, absently wiping the bits out of her hair while she kept writing, muttering quietly under her breath.
Charlie figured being paired with Julie would definitely improve his grade in this class, so he silently hoped that would happen. Glancing at Connie, he decided that being paired with her wouldn't be too bad either; Connie took her schoolwork seriously enough to not want to screw up the assignment.
With a quick look to the front of the class, he was quite sure of who he definitely did not want as his short-term spouse. Linda had her back to him, but he could still picture how her face would be scrunched up with concentration while she listened to their teacher. Her brown hair fell into her face every time she turned her head down to take notes. Charlie couldn't picture anything worse than having to spend two excruciating weeks with his ex-girlfriend, even if Linda would earn them an A+ in the process.
Ms. Hudson seemed to have run out of things to say, finally, and looked out over the class. "Now, if you could all-" she said, slowly, going through her stack of papers that she had on the desk. "Oh, I seem to have forgotten the list of pairings in my office. I'll be right back; there's no need to leave your seats."
Charlie watched as she grabbed her keys and disappeared out the door. A handful of people immediately departed once she was seen turning the corner out in the hallway. "She can't blame us for wanting to purchase some water in this heat," Portman explained hurriedly, moving faster than he ever had during any practice.
"Yeah. Water," Julie said, rolling her eyes. "How much do you wanna bet that he's going straight outside, then conveniently 'forgets' to come back in?"
"What're the odds?" Averman asked instantly, leaning forward over the table. He had a tendency to make wagers over anything; the worse the odds were, the more of a challenge he considered it. He was never one to turn down a bet – as Charlie had experienced hands-on after losing nearly $35 when betting on how many times Luis would knock himself unconscious during practices and games over the hockey season. To Charlie's disappointment, Luis seemed to have gotten better with learning how to stop.
Julie rolled her eyes again. "It's not something I'd be prepared to lose money over."
"Oh, come on, it wouldn't kill you to take a few risks," Averman prodded.
Julie threw a quick look at the pile of books, pens, notepads and various other items that briefly had been part of the tower. "Know what? I bet that Portman will be back within ten seconds, about three or so seconds before Ms. Hudson is back – and if I win, I get your candy bar," she grinned.
"You're on," Averman said with a nod, at the same time as Portman came bursting through the door, panting heavily. Julie quickly grabbed the candy bar and turned back in her seat, as Ms. Hudson entered the classroom again, right after Portman managed to jump over the table and sit down on his chair.
Charlie snickered amusedly at Averman's dumfounded expression. Julie winked at Charlie. "I saw his reflection in the window," she whispered with a smile.
"I'm glad to see that everyone's accounted for – even Mr. Portman, for once," Ms. Hudson said distinctly while surveying the class. A soft sniggering spread around the room.
"I don't see what this has to do with health," Goldberg complained quietly as papers with their assignments were passed around.
Russ simply shrugged. "What? It's a marriage. Knowing how to keep your wife from killing you isn't healthy no more?"
"Just seem like a waste of time," Goldberg muttered, staring down at the paper. "Look at this! You don't take care of eggs, you eat them!"
"It would do you good," Julie said, reading the rest of the list.
"Oh yeah? If I get paired with you-"
"You'd be sure to get an A," Adam pointed out absently. "Shut up now."
Goldberg seemed to take these facts under careful consideration and didn't object again.
"I don't have any problems with this project at all," Portman grinned contently. "Get paired with the right chick and you won't have to do a damn thing. They take this seriously, you know. Consummating the marriage shouldn't be too bad either."
"You're such a pig," Connie declared simply. Portman laughed, nudging at her a little too forcefully, shoving her off the chair in the process.
"Has everyone gotten a handout?" Ms. Hudson requested, looking around at them, and then frowning when she got to the empty seat right in front of Charlie. With a dejected sigh, she went over to the door, opening it and gazing out into the hallway. "Has anyone seen Ms. McKinley?"
Charlie hadn't even noticed her absence, which was remarkable, as Kate McKinley was by far the loudest person in the class – Portman notwithstanding. Charlie didn't know too much about Kate, other than that she was a member of the cheerleading squad, almost always wearing the red, white and black outfit to all their lessons. Luis was probably the one who knew her best, as she was friends with his girlfriend. Kate was perky, friendly, loud – and most of all, Kate was intense.
As if to demonstrate this, Kate suddenly appeared in the doorway, disgracefully stumbling right into the door Ms. Hudson was holding open for her, losing her balance and almost toppling over, all the time grinning. "I'm sorry, Ms. Hudson! There was a crisis. A cheerleading crisis," she spoke rapidly, panting slightly, her cheeks glowing almost as red as her hair with something that could be mistaken for excitement.
"Did someone get stuck at the top of the pyramid again?" Portman asked with fake concern.
"No, man, one of them got lost in the gym, so the rest had to go on an organized search for her," Averman laughed.
Kate opened her mouth to object – loudly, most certainly – but Ms. Hudson averted the argument. "Take your seat, Ms. McKinley. Next time there is a crisis of any sort regarding the cheerleading squad, I expect a note from Ms. Sawyer telling me so." Ms. Sawyer was the cheerleading coach.
Kate nodded happily, bounding over to other side of the room, swatting Portman over the head when she passed him by. Charlie followed her with his eyes. She was of course wearing the cheerleading outfit, as was the norm; and her curly long hair seemed to be messier than usual. Kate took her place next to her clique of friends – though her friends didn't comprise of twelve fellow giggling cheerleaders, which had always surprised Charlie. She was friends with Fred, a guy Charlie knew quite well, as he'd played on the team as a reserve a few weeks after the JV/Varsity showdown while Guy was recovering from his injury. Fred was one of the more popular guys in school; he was good at most sports, he had plenty of girls swooning over him even though he didn't seem to realize it himself, and his family was one of the wealthiest in the country. He wasn't very good in school, though, and he wasn't nearly as outgoing as Kate was – not many were, of course.
The other friend Kate was mostly seen with was Daniel DeRienzo – though Charlie had the impression that Kate and Daniel weren't very good friends, as they mostly fought. Charlie didn't care much for him. Daniel was obnoxious, arrogant and self-absorbed – Adam had once told Charlie that the reason Charlie couldn't stand Daniel was because he saw too much of himself in him. Charlie had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but had successfully ignored Adam for the remainder of that day. Daniel was, opposed to Fred, quite brilliant in school, but didn't seem to care much at all about anything other than getting laid – which wasn't too hard of a task for him, with his bad guy image and (as Julie had once pointed out) 'quite good looks'.
Charlie didn't really care much about either of them, actually. Kate was far too cheerful, Daniel was too obnoxious, and sure, Charlie couldn't think of anything that was particularly wrong with Fred, but with those friends, there had to be something wrong with him, right?
"Wouldn't it be a complete and utter joy to be paired with her?" Charlie snorted sarcastically.
Luis, who sat right behind him, turned his head up. "She's not too bad. She's pretty cool, actually."
"Please. Anything in a skirt gets your approval," Goldberg said harshly, obviously still in a bad mood regarding the assignment.
Luis shrugged without replying. "I'm just saying that she's not that bad," he explained to Charlie after a moment of silence. "Better than most people on that damn squad." Charlie didn't say anything. Luis had been given a hard time by most of the cheerleaders after he started dating Mindy Keller, as most of them thought she was better off with Rick Riley, the captain of the Varsity team. The Varsity team hadn't been easy on him either, of course.
"She's in my math class," Julie suddenly said. "She's actually pretty smart." Charlie watched as Kate waved her hand in the air, asking Ms. Hudson if she would deduct points from their final grades if they boiled their 'child' so it wouldn't break if it was dropped.
Charlie immediately reconsidered his decision of who the worst partner would be.
Credits & References
-- Firstly: Sarah (StalkyStar) and Kristine (NYgoldfish54) both beta'd this chapter for me and they did a wonderful job. Thank you!
-- Emily (Emily Henson) was the first one to read the story and give me feedback, so she also deserves a big thank you.
-- Teenage Wasteland is a song by The Who.
-- Daniel DeRienzo is based on Daniel Desario (James Franco) from Freaks and Geeks (except that he's smart and rich, of course). The last name is an unfortunate co-incidence, as I thought of it before I knew that Desario was the 'real' name.
-- In other stories, Kate McKinley's trademark is to make references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other movies/TV shows pretty much all the time. The line above about boiling the egg is from the episode Bad Eggs of Buffy, but as that episode hadn't aired yet back in early 1997 it's just a reference and not a direct quote.
-- Mindy's last name is based on the actress who played Cindy in the movie. Guess what Cindy's last name is.
-- The full list of references, complete with links that actually work, can be found with the story either over on Live Journal at my account (campciabatta) or on the site (cimmyscorner/dot/com).