So. This is a Cartman/Wendy fic, because they are awesome and I wish more people wrote for the pairing. There will, however, be a Kyle/Stan subplot. (I mean, "Smug Alert!"? So effing gay.)
This story also heavily features minor characters.
Wendy Testaburger had wanted to be the editor of the school newspaper for nearly six years. She'd wanted to every since she saw the first newspaper published in her middle school. That prestige, that authority of having her named stamped under the title had called to her.
Unfortunately, she'd already committed herself to volleyball, the debate team, and sign language, and her parents had flat-out refused to let her take on a fourth extracurricular activity. She'd been initially furious, but had eventually relented and decided she would just wait until high school.
When she entered high school, however, she'd never considered the fact that the upperclassmen would have seniority. But they did, and the junior Scott Tenorman was the editor without contest. Scott was a nice guy, despite having an exaggerated startle response and being a tad paranoid. He was nice to everyone, even the underclassmen, almost as if he were afraid of the consequences if he wasn't. Still, despite the fact he tried to placate her by appointing her the fact checker, Wendy found she just couldn't like someone who had the position she so coveted.
But this year Scott had graduated, and she was a junior, and there was nothing standing between her and being the editor of the school newspaper.
"Hello, hello!" their teacher trilled, sweeping into the classroom a second before the bell rang. "Hello and welcome to journalism! The press is one of our nation's greatest, most vital resources, and I'm so thrilled that you've decided to immerse yourself in it!"
Wendy rolled her eyes good-naturedly and grinned, slumping forward in her seat and propping her chin up in her hand. This was the third time she'd heard this speech. Ms. Dieterle was a hippie, hemp clothing and long hair and all, and she always encouraged her students to report on how evil the government was.
"Now I know some of you only signed up for this class because you thought it would be an 'easy A.' Well, I assure you, that is not the case! There will be a job for each of you!" A few freshmen in the back corner groaned. Ms. Dieterle ignored them.
"Our class will be publishing the bimonthly school newspaper. It is our responsibility - nay, our privilege to supply the student body with their school and local news! The entirety of the work will be done by you, our journalism team! I will be an objector only, merely approving the paper every two weeks before you send it to the photocopier. It will be written, put together, and edited by you, the class! Now, before I can hand the reigns over, we'll have to pick the editor to replace Scott. Do we have any volunteer-"
Wendy shoot up straight in her chair and thrust her hand into the air. She looked around the room, daring anyone else to try and take the position from her.
"Wonderful!" Ms. Dieterle cried, clapping her hands. Wendy beamed. She'd worked hard for the position of teacher's pet. "Well then, Wendy will be our new editor-"
Wendy twisted around in her seat, feeling ready to wring the neck of the person who'd objected. It was the only senior in the room, who'd been daydreaming during Ms. Dieterle's speech, but had snapped to attention when Wendy's name was mentioned.
Ms. Dieterle blinked, and Wendy scowled. "Yes, Cassidy?"
Cassidy was the sort of person that would have made a very attractive boy, but had ended up a very unattractive girl. She'd had an embarrassingly obvious crush on Scott, and had harassed every girl he'd been friendly towards - which was every girl in the class. It would be safe to say Cassidy loathed Wendy.
"You're going to let little Miss Britannica be the editor of the paper?" she said incredulously.
"And what's wrong with that?" Ms. Dieterle asked gently.
"She can't even get her facts straight!"
"Now, Cassidy, Wendy's always been a reliable fact checker."
Cassidy snorted. "She had everyone thinking Andrew was riding Lexus last year, instead of his new car!"
Now that wasn't fair, Wendy thought, glaring at her. She really had thought Andrew's stupid new car was a lexus. And considering how often Lexus got around, it probably was true, anyway. And it had been a stupid article to begin with.
"You're one to talk," Wendy snarled. "You print nothing but gossip."
Cassidy looked outraged. "I bring people together!"
"Girls, girls!" Ms. Dieterle cried dramatically. "I can feel your negative energy all the way up here at the front of the room!"
Wendy and Cassidy grumbled.
"Is there anyone else that wants to be the editor?" Cassidy looked around the room a little desperately. No one answered. "I'm afraid, Cassidy, that you have been overruled."
Cassidy slumped down in her seat, glaring at Wendy. Wendy gave a wide, triumphant smirk and turned back around in her seat. "Yes," she cheered under her breath. At last, at long last she was the editor. There was absolutely nothing in the world that could ruin this moment for her.
The door to the classroom burst open, making everyone sit up and take notice as a boy stumbled in. He'd obviously been hurrying to get there, and was a little winded. He gripped the edge of the Ms. Dieterle's desk and took a few deep breaths.
"Oh God no. No, please," Wendy whimpered under her breath, and hoped for a moment that she'd mistaken him for someone else. But there really was no one in South Park that could be mistaken for Eric Cartman. Wendy was torn between two very pressing concerns: why would he even want to take journalism, and why did God hate her so much? Journalism class was her retreat. The balm for her soul. What sort of God let Cartman invade her sanctuary?
Cartman's breathing finally returned to normal, and then he glanced over at Ms. Dieterle. His face twisted up and he said, clearly enough for Wendy, who was sitting in the front row, to hear, "Oh, God, a hippie." He leapt off her desk as if he feared it might infect him.
Ms. Dieterle frowned at him. "And you are...?"
"Eric Cartman," he grumbled. "I've got this class."
Ms. Dieterle continued to frown as she flipped open her roster and ran her finger down the list of names. "I don't have you on here."
"I just got transferred," he said, and Wendy noticed for the first time that he was carrying a slip of paper, which he waved in Ms. Dieterle's face. She took it from him, smoothed it out, and read it.
"You're transferring out of shop class?" she asked, looking over the paper at him.
He scowled at her. "That's what it says, doesn't it? Fucking moron," he added under his breath. Wendy's hands tightened into fists.
"On the first day?" Mr. Dieterle pressed.
"Um, yeah," Cartman said, and switched tactics. "Because, you see... journalism... it just calls to me..."
All of Ms. Dieterle's doubt vanished at once when he said that. "Oh, wonderful, wonderful! Hurry, take a seat. I'm afraid you've missed my introduction speech-"
"And it just tears me up inside," he said snidely. Ms. Dieterle seemed to miss his sarcastic tone of voice.
"We've just assigned Wendy as our editor, and I'm sure she'll find a place for you," she went on brightly. At the mention of her name, Wendy sat up a little straighter; Cartman looked around and finally seemed to notice her.
"Oh, wonderful," he said, mimicking Ms. Dieterle, the distaste evident on his face. He was ushered toward a seat, and when he'd finally sat down, Ms. Dieterle smiled brightly at Wendy.
"They're all yours, dear."
This moment was supposed to fill her with relish. But between Cassidy challenging her position and the prospect of working all year with Cartman, Wendy could only manage a wane smile. She gathered the rest of the class around herself (the freshmen groaned and scraped themselves out of their desks), cleared her throat, and began.
"All right, let's start with assigning positions. Brandon-"
"Let's get one thing straight," Cassidy interrupted, encroaching on Wendy's personal space. "The shout-outs are mine."
The Shout-out Section, as it was so named, had been under Cassidy's control since before Wendy had been a freshman. People submitted small notes to their friends, whoever they were dating, or whoever they wanted to be dating. It was, in Wendy's opinion, an utter waste of space. The only people who used it were freshmen who hadn't realized how incredibly lame it was yet.
"If you want to be in charge of that stupid section, be my guest," she said. Cassidy's nostrils flared.
"Whatever, Brittany," Cassidy said flippantly, turning away. "You won't do half the job Scott did as editor, anyway."
Maybe it was because she'd insulted Wendy's competence as an editor, maybe it was simply because she'd used the pet name she'd made up for Wendy when she'd been appointed fact checker and taken to digging through the Encyclopedia Britannica, but Cassidy's comment made her seethe. She twisted around, her teeth and fists clenched, ready to follow her and chew her out, but Cartman got in her way.
"Is that your sex face?"
Wendy gaped at him. Then she said, "What?"
"Being editor is a wet dream of yours, right?"
"Ugh!" she said, groaning and burying her face in her hands. "I can not believe I'm going to have to put up with you all year."
"Hey, I'm the one who should be complaining. It's not like I want to take orders from a couple of hippies."
"I'm an environmentalist, not a hippie, Cartman!"
Cartman snorted. "Whatever. An environmentalist is just a hippie with less weed and more rage."
"Ugh!" she said again, because it was pretty much the only thing she could think of to say to Cartman. "Why'd you even transfer into the class if you hate it so much?"
"None of your business, ho," he said. She sucked in a breath and glared at him.
"God, I detest you."
"Then give me my assignment, bitch."
"You can be the pencil sharpener," she snarled.
"Fuck that shit!"
"Brandon," she said, turning her back on Cartman, "I want you to-"
"Ey, I was still talking to you!" Cartman snapped, tugging on her elbow. Wendy wrenched it out of his grip and scowled at him.
"Well, I'm done listening to you!"
"Look, Wendy..." he said in what he clearly thought was a persuasive tone. "Let me write an article on something."
She eyed him suspiciously. "Why?"
"Because I have a deep, boundless love for journalism. Why do you think?"
Wendy sighed. Cartman always managed to get his way, either by extortion, trickery, getting pissed off and going home, or simply tiring his opponent out. "Fine. Report on the football team."
"They haven't even started playing yet."
Wendy threw up her hands in exasperation. "Then report on the condition of the players! Do you want to write an article or not?"
"Fine. Thank you," he said, injecting as much sarcasm into his voice as possible. Wendy glared at him as he waddled off.
She'd, clearly, committed some sort of horrendous sin in a past life.
Wendy went back into the class after school, her backpack stuffed with back-to-school reminders, classroom rules, and various forms for her parents to sign. Ms. Dieterle was waiting for her, typing up something on her computer. When Wendy entered she looked up, smiled brilliantly, and stood.
"Wendy, there you are! Just a moment, dear, I'll get all the necessary papers for you."
She swept over to a tall file cabinet, pulled out a drawer, and began leafing through it. Wendy clutched her brand-new, just-issued books to her chest and inhaled that new-book scent, smiling a little. She'd finally managed to get over the funk Cartman and Cassidy had put her in that morning and was excited about the newspaper all over again. Cassidy was a bitch, but she'd gotten her section so she'd stay out of her hair from now on. As for Cartman... well, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. He'd probably just drop out soon, anyway.
Wendy looked around the room, feeling exhilarated. She was finally the editor. This was her time. And she wasn't going to let a couple of assholes ruin it.
"Wendy?" Ms. Dieterle said, and she snapped to attention. Ms. Dieterle had unearthed the papers she had been looking for and held them out toward her, smiling benignly.
Wendy took them from her and laid them on the books she was carrying, flipping through them with polite curiosity. She already knew what they said by heart, however, because she'd taken (some might say "stolen") them from Scott and read them thoroughly in both her freshman and sophomore years. It merely went over all the positions that needed to be filled, how they had to make sure they had an unbiased view and presented all sides of a conflict, cited sources, respect an interviewee's right - should they invoke it - to remain anonymous, and so on.
"I can't tell you how glad I am you're going to be picking up where Scott left off," Ms. Dieterle gushed and Wendy looked up, grinning at her praise. "I just know you'll do a great job, Wendy - you're reliable and more than willing to put in the extra time after school to make sure we get the public its paper-"
The phone rang. Ms. Dieterle frowned at it, and flashed Wendy a quick, apologetic smile.
"Excuse me, dear."
She picked it up on the third ring and answered with a brisk, professional "Hello." She listened for several moments, her lips pursed, and then she nodded (though, of course, the person on the other end couldn't see that) and said goodbye.
"I'm afraid I have to run to the office, dear," she said. "Some problem with Eric's schedule needs to be ironed out. You let me know tomorrow if you have any questions, all right?"
Wendy nodded and then Ms. Dieterle flew out the door without further preamble. She rested her backpack on a desk and, with an effort, managed to shove all her things into it without splitting it. She made a quick mental note to ask for a larger backpack for her next birthday as she slipped it back on her shoulders and decided to walk around the room once before leaving. She started at a leisurely stroll.
The class was more or less split in half. The front half looked like every other classroom in the school, complete with uncomfortable wooden desks arranged in rows, facing the teacher's desk. The back half, however, had a few old-fashioned desks, complete with drawers, in-and-out baskets, and table top desks. A few cheap, low tables had been shoved up against the wall, and several computers were mounted on top of them, standard-issue plastic student chairs set out in front of them. It was on these desks and computers they would be organizing and eventually putting together their articles into the newspaper.
Once everything was edited, typed, and formatted, all under the supervision of the editor, the teacher checked over it quickly to make sure it was up to the school's standards of decency. Then, with a simple click of the mouse it was sent to the printer, then the copier, then folded by the journalism class and delivered to each classroom for students to pick up.
There wasn't much to look at. Cassidy and Cartman had managed to suck up most of the class's time, and so all they'd been able to get sorted out were positions. Brandon had started a rough outline for the front page, however, and she glanced over it as she passed the computer he'd been fooling around on.
Just standing there gave her a sense of authority. Wendy smiled and soaked in it for a moment, and then she caught sight of the clock and realized she had to hurry if she wanted to catch the bus home. She'd been starting for the door when she noticed a hastily torn out piece of binder paper laying in Cassidy's In Box. She frowned - school had only been in session for one day, they hadn't announced over the intercom where students could submit their shout-outs to, so who could have turned it in? - and made her way over, picking it up.
Wendy read the hastily scrawled message, and then her breath caught and she felt her fingertips tingle. She reread it several times, but the letters did not rearrange themselves:
You're beautiful when you're angry.