Yay! First try at a multi chapter fic. The first chapter is mostly written from an objective point of view I think, with a bit of insight to Dorothy Ann's thoughts a bit later on. I'll go deeper into more of the characters minds in later chapters.

The story starts off with no established pairings. They will come in due time, don't worry ;)

Enjoy!


The third week of March was as dull and lifeless as usual to the students of Walkerville Secondary School. Not much had happened in the past few weeks unless you counted Mr. Brunes, the chemistry teacher, finally losing it and throwing a large hunk of chalk at Ralphie Tenelli the fifth time in a row he didn't hand in his homework, or Arnold breaking his brand new pair of glasses after tripping down the school stairs into his cousins locker.

The old gang was starting to get rather restless at the seemingly endless string of boredom, and appeared to be willing to do anything to at least get a little excitement. The constant downpour of rain didn't help their moods either. Although, to be honest, not one of the eight students could say they ever had an exciting day since their graduation from the third grade.

Their prayers for the mindless boredom to end were eventually answered though, one Wednesday afternoon while three of the girls were relaxing in the local hangout, Lat Cafe. A promise of excitement given, as it usually was, by one of their best friends, Wanda Li.

"Hey! You weasly wimps doing anything this long weekend?!"

The three girls addressed looked up from their shakes with mild puzzlement. Whenever Wanda looked this exited about something, the rest of the gang knew they were in for some sort of adventure. As long as they were willing of course.

"No… What have you got planned for us exactly…" Keesha, the most sensible of the group asked with mild interest. She was leaning back casually in her chair from Lat Cafe and lazily swirling her straw inside her shake.

"You guys remember my Aunt Mandy?" Wanda asked, taking a seat next to Phoebe.

"No."

"No…"

"Aunt Mandy…" Dorothy Ann thought for a moment, sipping lightly on her strawberry shake. "You mother's older sister? Married to that rich lawyer you hated… then divorced… Owns that bed and breakfast somewhere in the Granger Mountains…?"

"Couldn't have learned that out of a book, could ya?"

"No!" Dorothy Ann defended. "I just remembered Wanda mentioning it last year at the school picnic!" She huffed and slid her drink away from his eager hands.

"Awwn, come on DA, lighten up," Carlos said, collapsing in the seat next to her.

"Carlos," Keesha wrinkled her nose in disgust. "You're covered in mud and rain. It's dripping from your jacket onto the floor!"

"What did you expect coming inside from weather like that?" Carlos said, folding his arms over his chest.

"I thought your soccer practice didn't end until five anyways. Why are you so early?" DA asked.

"Tim sprained his wrist pretty bad," Carlos answered. He turned to the sound of the bells above the door of the café tinkling and they all saw Ralphie come in with Arnold. "Plus half the team didn't show up because of the weather."

"Oh, is Tim okay?!" Phoebe asked worriedly while Arnold struggled behind them trying to get his umbrella to close. Ralphie joined the rest of the group at the table.

"Yeah, he's fine, he's just upset that it was his drawing hand – "

"Ahem," Wanda cleared her throat. "Anyways, Carlos, before you interrupted I was about to tell these guys – "

"Right, so what about your Aunt Mandy?" Keesha asked.

Wanda took a deep breath, apparently satisfied she now had the groups full attention. "Well, you know that bed and breakfast Dorothy Ann mentioned?"

"Now we do." Keesha said.

"Well, my aunt's not going to be there this weekend..." Wanda paused, excitement gleaming in her eyes. "And you know what that means?" She grinned and her brown eyes flickered back and forth between the group. They all looked warily back at her, apparently too tired to play her little game.

"You're going to that bed and breakfast for the long weekend?" Ralphie asked.

"Yes..." Wanda said, clearly disappointed by their lack of enthusiasm. "And you're all coming with me you idiots!"

"To the Granger Mountains?" Arnold asked. He had finally managed to close his umbrella and, after getting a disapproving look from an employer behind the cash register, quickly took a seat next to Wanda.

"Yeah, the best part is, my aunt won't be there until Saturday, so we get two days completely undisturbed by adult supervision!"

There was a quick pause while the group thought it over - but there wasn't much they had to think over - there was really nothing to object to.

"I love you Wanda," Ralphie answered before stealing a slip of Keesha's banana smoothie. She slapped his hand back and Arnold looked up at Ralphie with a very pink face.

"Er - thanks Ralphie," Wanda rolled her eyes. "Anyways, are the rest of you in?!"

"Is a school bus yellow?!" Carlos asked, banging his hand on the table and upsetting Phoebe's drink. "Of course! Oops.. Sorry Pheebs... Here I'll get you another one..."

"I don't know..." Keesha mused. "I'd love to go of course. But I just have to ask my grandmother first.."

"Same," Phoebe said. "I'm sure it'll be fine though."

"Great," Wanda said, standing up. "Let me know by tomorrow and then if the answer's still yes, I'll see you all Friday morning." And she left without another word; an excited atmosphere stayed behind in her wake.

"No parents for two days! Alone in the mountains for two days! I heard her aunt's place is really nice too!" Keesha said breathlessly.

"I just hope the weather's going to be better than this..." Arnold said, looking at the rain splattered windows.

"I'm surprised Arnold," Keesha said, resting her head on her hands which were balled into fists and resting on her elbows. "I didn't expect you would want to go."

"Are you kidding?! The Granger Mountains have some of the rarest rocks out there!" Arnold said keenly. "I've been wanting to go for ages."

"But don't be surprised if half his backpack is filled with emergency supplies," Carlos said, returning from the cashier with another shake for Phoebe.

"Think your parents will let you go though?" Keesha asked Dorothy Ann.

"I'm not sure..." Dorothy Ann said. "I hope so... They might be a little iffy on the idea though. I'd have to absolutely guarantee my safety to them before they let me..."

"You're coming even if we have to dress Mikey up as you to fool your parents into thinking you're home," Carlos said.

"I'll think of something a little more realistic if worse comes to worse," Dorothy Ann sighed and shook her head at Carlos.

xxx

Dorothy Ann chose to ask her parents about it when the whole family was seated around the dinner table. The dinner table was where every family matter was discussed: whether it was what the weather would be like the next day, or where they were going on their next family vacation. Dorothy Ann's father especially, was a pretty lenient person when running on a full stomach. She knew she wouldn't have too much trouble convincing him, not unless he had changed his mind about her spending too much time studying or reading and finally getting some fresh air and exercise - now that she thought of it, sometimes her father reminded her a lot of Carlos.

Her mother on the other hand, would be the one hardest to convince, and unfortunately, the one who would make the final decision. Sure enough, the conversation started just how Dorothy Ann had expected it to.

"Hiking in the Granger Mountains alone Dorothy Ann? I don't know..."

"Mom, I won't be alone," Dorothy Ann protested. She had been planning on how exactly to explain the situation ever since she got back from Lat Cafe. "Everyone's coming."

"Including four boys," her father added, pointing his fork at her. "I don't like the idea Dorothy Ann."

"Yeah dad, Carlos is going," DA younger sister Evan teased. She stuffed a bite of chicken in her mouth and smirked at her sibling.

"I am not going out with Carlos!" DA almost shouted, exasperated. "How many times have I told you Evan, I don't even have a crush on him!"

"Okay..."

"I don't!"

"Dorothy Ann," her mother interrupted. "It's not just that - "

"That's all I'm against," their father said.

"John, they'll be hiking alone in the mountains! Alone in the mountains! What if they get lost?"

"Margret, it's a great experience when you're that age," her husband said, finally siding with Dorothy Ann. "I went there myself when I was a teenager. Couple of friends came with me - no girls with us - " he added meaningfully to his eldest daughter. "And nothing happened. There were plenty of other hikers around and the trail's marked well enough."

"We won't get lost!" Dorothy Ann insisted. "I even have a guide book. And besides, Wanda's aunt will be there too!"

"She will?" her mother looked skeptical.

"Well yeah," DA said. It was the truth after all. Ms. Li was supposed to be arriving at the bed and breakfast Sunday afternoon. She wouldn't be on the hike, but at long as Dorothy Ann could keep her mother convinced she would be, her mother had to let her go.

"Margaret, I've been asking Dorothy Ann to get out of the house, away from the books, and get some fresh air and exercise for ages. You're not going to make me a hyprocrite when she finally asks to go? I think this will be good for her."

Dorothy Ann waited nervously for her mother's verdict as she looked back and forth from her daughter to her husband.

"Fine!" she finally shouted, defeated. "You can go!"

"Yes!" DA jumped up from the dinner table and hugged her mother tightly. "I love you!"

"Just be careful."

"Yeah, yeah..."

"And if even one of those boys tries anything funny- "

"I'll be fine dad..."

xxx

Dorothy Ann wasn't the only one who had to convince parents it would be a good idea: Arnold's parents had to make sure first that he was going there out of free will to examine some interesting rock samples the mountain had to offer, not leaving because the girl he couldn't quite hide his crush on had asked him to come with her. Keesha's grandmother only let her go on the grounds that she would carry every necessary first aid supply to the cabin with her and Phoebe's mother almost had a heart attack when her daughter mentioned the trip.

However, surprisingly, and with a great amount of luck and begging, all eight friends managed to be able to make it in the end; all of them were more than eager and ready to go early Friday morning.

"Wow! Huge van Wanda! It's like a bus!" Ralphie exclaimed loudly with awe. "I call front seat!"

"Thanks," Wanda said, climbing into the drivers seat. "My aunt let us borrow it for the trip."

"You sure you can drive us all there Wanda?" Arnold asked nervously as the others piled into the van. "I mean, you only got your license a little over a month ago..."

"Arnold," Wanda sighed. She drummed her fingers impatiently on the sterring wheel. "Quit being such a worry wart and get in. I know what I'm doing."

"Have you ever driven this thing before?" Carlos asked from the very back row.

"I drove it here in one piece," Wanda reassured. "Everyone buckled up? Besides Arnold," she added as an afterthought, "this can't be any harder than piloting the bus through the outer planets."

Phoebe giggled and Arnold, who did not look any more at ease, buckled himself up in the seat next to her.

"Hey, how long does it take to get there anyway?" Keesha asked from the seat directly behind Wanda.

Wanda readjusted the drivers seat before answering. "Two hours to the parking lot, and then a five hour hike afterwards."

"Five hours?!" Ralphie choked. "You never mentioned that before! Are you kidding me?"

Wanda rolled her eyes. "Actually, the hike should technically take us three, I only said five because you're with us."

Ralphie glared at her and Tim, Carlos, and Keesha laughed in the back.

"That's why we had to get up at such an ungodly hour, Ralphie," Carlos said, resting his head on the headrest in front of him. "So we'd be at the cabin before nightfall. DA, put the book away, we're on vacation."

"For your information Carlos, it's a guide on hiking in the Granger Mountains," Dorothy Ann said, turning around to look at him. "So we don't get lost."

Carlos rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right. Who needs a book. I have a good sense of direction."

"I'll be waiting for you to eat those words when you end up at the bottom of some bat cave Carlos," Dorothy Ann said, turning away from him back to her book. "And would you stop fiddling with my hair!"

"It's hanging over onto my seat!"

Dorothy Ann moved forward slightly and pulled her hair back.

There was a groan from the font seat. "Five hours..."

"Ah Ralphie, you'll be fine," Tim assured. "You're the athlete remember?"

"Yeah, but - who has a bed and breakfast in the middle of the mountains anyways? Who comes for just a night?"

"It's not in the middle of nowhere," Wanda said. "There's a town nearby, but to drive there takes several extra hours because you have to go around."

"Ralphie, it's why we had to bring those packs specially designed for backpacking," Phoebe said.

"I... I brought a duffle bag..."

"You'll be fine," Wanda said quickly. "Everyone ready?"

Answered with hearty cheers, Wanda started up the van without further ado. They were off.


Next chapter coming ASAP.

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