"One Way or Another"

By Donny's Boy

Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the plot of Rugrats and/or All Grown Up, nor the lyrics or music of Blondie's "One Way or Another," and I am making no money from this story. I mean no harm.

Warnings: Some mature language, alcohol use, cigarette use, possibly discussion/references to sexual situations.

Chapter 1: Bad Ideas

"This is a bad idea."

If Thomas Pickles had a dollar for every time he'd heard that, he'd be a very rich man by now. And he was only eighteen. Tom groaned. "Chuck," he said patiently, "you always say that."

Charles Finster sat back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "I always say it because it's always a bad idea."

"Wait, wait, wait," Philip DeVille interrupted, shaking his head. He looked back and forth between his two friends with a serious expression. Then he motioned for them both to continue. "Sorry," he explained, grinning. "I was just having a flashback to when we were six."

Tom shot Phil a withering look, but Phil only grinned wider.

Chuck glanced around the dining hall. It was mid-afternoon, so there weren't as many students as usual. He glanced down at his tray, where a bruised wormy apple sat in all its unappealing glory. He really hated college food. But maybe if he kept staring at the table, they'd forget he was there. They'd forget what they'd been talking about.

"So, Chuck … "

Maybe not.

Chuck sighed. It was the deep sigh of the eternally tormented. "Bad idea," he repeated.

Tom pouted a little, while Phil rolled his eyes. "C'mon, man," Phil wheedled, "this is an unparalleled opportunity. I don't think you understand. Let me set the scene." He pointed at Chuck. "You: Wise, experienced older guy. Guy whose freshman year roommate is now a brother in the biggest party frat on campus."

"Don't remind me," Chuck interjected sourly.

Phil ignored him. Once he had some momentum going, nothing could bring him down. "Us," he continued, gesturing to himself and Tom. "Young, inexperienced freshman. No social networking in place, no chance in hell of getting onto a frat party's guest list."

"Which we very much want to do," interjected Tom.

"Which we very much want to do." Phil smiled, triumphant. "It's just a small favor, Chuck. Just ask your old roomie—what's his face, Mark?—if he'll put us on the list."

Chuck glared, bright green eyes flashing behind black-rimmed glasses. He pushed away his lunch tray. "All right," he said grudgingly, "but let me point out the problems in this perfect plan. Me? I never got along with my roomie—his name is Matt—and have no desire to reestablish contact. I moved to an off-campus apartment for a reason, guys. Meanwhile, Matt? Has no reason to do me any favors. He never liked me much either. And you two? Are too young to drink anyways. So there."

"Thanks, Mom," Phil said and grabbed the apple off Chuck's tray. Chuck frowned in disgust as Phil took a bite.

Meanwhile, Tom smiled what he hoped was an encouraging smile. "But Lillian will be there to keep us out of trouble. She's a girl, which must make her at least twenty-three or twenty-four in guy years."

Chuck snorted.

"And as for Matt … well, we'll give him a reason to do us a favor. A little tit-for-tat."

"Oh?" Chuck's eyes narrowed to little slits. He didn't like where this was going. He didn't like it at all. "What reason could you possibly have, Tom?"

Tom's clear blue eyes sparkled, like they always did when he felt he was going to win. "You forget," he said calmly, almost casually, "who I'm related to."

Chuck frowned in confusion. Dil was still just a high school senior. What could he do? It just didn't make any—oh. Oh, no. Chuck's eyes went wide in sudden panic. Tom meant her.