The beginning of this is rather lame. I do apologize for that. I haven't watched As Told By Ginger in quite a while so please forgive any out of characterness though some of it would be due to the age difference. No one's immune from hormones. Not even Carl. o.O Anyways, Blake/Carl was always the only slash pairing I could see in that show so for some reason I decided to see if I could find any fics and after reading four or five I decided I wanted to write my own. So here it is. This was something quick to get me started so it's not the best. But tell me what you think. I'm more prone to continue a story I get reviews on. Otherwise I figure it's a piece of crap and there's no use in continuing.

-------------

Was it Carl's fault that he could never break the old habit of scheming? Was it Carl's fault that his schemes showed less and less originality every passing year? Was it his fault that as they grew older his and Hoodsey's little pranks and get-rich-quick schemes were less and less tolerated by teachers and other varying authority figures? Of course not. So was it his fault that today - on the day he would be leaving for his first spring break as a high schooler - the principal caught him running a mouse circus behind the dumpster outside the cafeteria? Perhaps it was the fact that he was using what was considered school property -the mice - for profit or maybe the teacher was merely appalled at the fact that he'd actually managed to get three or four people to pay for such a show. Either way he had found himself in the hot seat once again.

The mice had been very well-trained and were performing expertly thanks in most part to his best friend Hoodsey who still seemed to have a way with animals. It was the animal-lover's great fortune to not be there on his furry little friends' debut performance due to some incident with his mother and a treadmill stuck on the high level. How the gum had gotten stuck in the controls in the first place Carl would never guess. Or at least that's the act he would put on later when Hoodsey told him this was the cause. And later would not come soon enough. Listening to Hoodsey talk about his mother's injury and confounded facial expressions would be far more entertaining than his current company.

Principal Morse sighed as he looked over a thick file at the Foutley boy. He had just started his job here when Carl began high school and the boy seemed set on destroying his career before he could even get it off the ground. He had done nothing but cause trouble since day one - since grade one even. His permanent record astounded him with the variety of mischief he'd managed to get into over the years. Surprisingly he had just found that this was by no means his first attempt at a circus using lower species of animals and several types of insects - including lice of all things. He shuddered at the thought. This made Carl grin and Principal Morse cleared his throat.

"Well, Mr. Foutley, I've been reading over your file lately and it doesn't seem that the normal punishments will suffice for someone of your ... experience. I have read that several alternative punishments have been tried - "

"And failed might I add." he stated proudly.

"Be that as it may I think I'll take a shot at this alternative punishment idea myself."

"Shoot away Petey."

"That's Mr. Morse." he nearly shouted.

Carl never grew tired of this little game. Petey was by far the easiest employee of the education system to annoy. He tried so hard to keep his temper in check so as to create a good image for himself at Lucky High but Carl could see the anger seething beneath his very skin like some sort of alien parasite laying eggs in his flesh. It often tempted him to snicker at his reddened cheeks and grinding teeth. He managed to contain himself this time however and watched as Principal Morse put away his permanent record, replacing the thick folder with a small brochure. He pushed the thin slip of paper towards Carl's fingers and he took it skeptically. The very first thing he read was -

"PHONE BUDDIES : Be a friend, gain a friend."

He couldn't manage to get through this slogan for a few moments. He couldn't quite imagine how talking on the phone would be a punishment but the look of glee in Petey's eyes urged him to read on.

"Be a Phone Buddies volunteer and help out a peer." He rolled his eyes at the corny rhyme, already dreading the rest. "As a Phone Buddies volunteer you'll come to your high school at 6:30 AM everyday. You'll be seated at a comfortable desk where you will await the ring-a-ting-ting of your individual phone. The person on the other end of this phone needs someone to talk to and you're that someone. You will stay at your station until 4:30 PM with a lunch break. Lunches are provided by your school so be a buddy to someone who needs it and become a Phone Buddy today."

Carl stared at the very obnoxious picture of some strange kid smiling as he gave the camera a thumbs up and pretended to chat away to some needy individual with no life. He couldn't believe he was about to be stuck with this but he decided not to get worried until he found out when he would start and how long he would be forced to participate. After all he'd have all of Spring Break to go before he had to worry about this.

"You will begin this program tomorrow, Mr. Foutely." Morse smirked. "And you will remain in the program for one week. That sounds a solid enough punishment, don't you think?"

"But that's all of Spring Break!"

"Yes, I know."

Carl couldn't stand the evil grin on his face and just grunted in a semi-agreeable way before storming out of his office, obnoxious brochure clenched in his fist. He kicked at rocks and cans as he walked along, taking his anger out on any inanimate object he could. He couldn't believe the nerve of that ...that weasel. It had taken him all this time but he'd finally managed to outsmart him. He'd been planning to spend that week goofing off with Hoodsey and annoying Ginger but now he'd barely have enough time to do the latter. He'd manage to fit it in though, he thought with a smile. He couldn't let Ginger think he'd forgotten about her after all. Firstly he would find out when she was planning on going swimming next and that's when he'd get his hands on her sun tan lotion. Now, what to replace it with...?

Carl wandered along the road silently plotting the torture of his sister since it would be all he could do with his little free time. The setting sun silhouetted his tall form against the trees that lined the other side of the road. He'd gotten rather tall since those days of yore when he'd sit in his doghouse and guard his precious eyeball from Gripling. He could barely even fit in that thing now however the eyeball still remained there like a lost treasure alongside Maude's gallstone. He smiled slightly at the thought and carried on this way for a while. He wished the high school was as close as the elementary school had been but he could manage the walk. He didn't want to have to bother his Mom or Dave for a ride. They were probably busy anyways.

As he was scowling at this thought he suddenly felt the presence of a car riding up beside him slowly. For a moment it made him suspicious but as the front pulled by him he recognized the white limo and it's driver - Winston. He knew what was coming before the window rolled down but he sighed none the less. The tinted glass slowly lowered to reveal a head full of perfect blonde hair and pristine white skin. Gripling still felt the need to tease him every now and then but he supposed that was the only way he could make himself feel better about being an outcast.

"Walking home Foutley?" came his sharp, British accent.

His voice had gotten a tad bit more masculine since puberty but it still held a childish tone. Carl doubted it would ever go away. He sometimes thought this was more psychological than biological since Blake had never really had to grow up. But then Carl did have to remind himself that he was two - or was it two and a half? - years younger than him. Sometimes he forgot due to the rich kid's fairly decent intellect and manner of speech. He'd toned his formal style down since middle school however and he could almost pass for a normal kid on some days though he did have the most expensive, name brand articles of clothing.

"Yep. Got caught with the mouse circus." he admitted. "But I made a few bucks off it first. Enough to buy a drink on the way home. Maybe a snack. Why?"

"It amazes me that such shenanigans still amuse you." he scoffed. "I suppose you even keep that eyeball of yours under your pillow - afraid someone may steal it someday. As though it were valuable."

"Well," Carl began, not letting Blake's insulting tone bother him anymore than usual. "I don't keep it under my pillow but it is safely guarded. You know, one man's trash is another man's treasure."

Blake made a somewhat amused sound in the back of his throat but the look in his eye was a little strange. It was a little sad and longing. Maybe he missed the good ol' days sometimes too. They certainly had fun competing against one another all those years ago. It had taken a while but eventually they're rivalry began to peter out until they barely ever said anything to one another at all - hostile or not. Carl believed that to be somewhere around seventh grade or perhaps the summer after sixth. Either way it was only when Blake felt the need to make himself known as the superior that they really spoke despite their sisters having become such good friends.

"We could give you a ride if you'd like. It's on the way." he added hesitantly.

"Nah. I need the exercise anyways. I'm starting to lose my girlish figure."

He looked over at Blake and flashed him a grin. The younger boy still looked a little sad but he smiled again and shook his head at Carl's lame joke. He didn't bother insisting and the window had rolled back up before Carl could consider changing his mind. Then they had sped off. When they got to the end of the road the limo turned left. As Carl reached the stop sign he turned right. On the way, he thought, right. He could tell at times that Gripling might still want to be friends with he and Hoodsey but rekindling such a delicate friendship as the one they had once possessed - if one could even call it that - wasn't something a person just did on the spur of the moment.

He put Gripling out of his mind for the time being. If they were meant to become friends or playful rivals again it would just happen on its own. There was nothing one could do to stop it or force it along. Instead he focused on his walk. He did indeed need the exercise as he'd somehow managed to let himself get flabby over the past summer. It had to be the first summer he'd spent almost entirely indoors. Mostly playing video games or watching TV with Hoodsey though they had occasionally gone swimming or hung out in front of the dog house. He'd been thinking of getting out more over Spring Break but obviously that wouldn't be an option now. Thanks to his wonderful friend, Petey.

He kicked the door open as he entered his lovely little home to the sound of an instant scolding. Lois had known he would kick the door in as he usually did. It was for this very reason that the door came open so easily now. He'd started doing it somewhere in middle school for no reason in particular - maybe it had been hormones - but now it was merely a habit he didn't want to bother trying to break. Ginger was sitting on the coach, talking to Courtney most likely or maybe Dodie. He hadn't seen her talking to Macie in god only knew how long. For some reason she'd drifted away from the rest over the years.

He didn't stick around to find out. Her social life didn't really interest him and the gossip that spewed from her mouth was nearly unbearable. She'd managed to get as bad about that as Dodie. He took the stairs two at a time as he ascended to his room which was still as dirty as ever. He dropped his bag to the floor and closed the door behind him, flipping on the radio. It was too loud as always and there were a few bangs on his floor to bring this to his attention. He pretended not to hear them and Dave gave up after a while. Carl didn't much care for Dave anymore. He'd never been big buddies with the man but at first he hadn't minded him so much. Now he just got on his nerves. Like every other adult in his life.

It was funny to know that these were the reactions of his teenaged hormones but to be unable to do anything about them. He just decided to let them ride their course until he outgrew it. He dealt with most things in life in a rather strange laid-back manner that sometimes confused those around him. He sighed as he put his pillow over his head and felt that no one understood him as he was sure plenty of other kids his age all over the world were feeling as well. He let the hard rock music surround him in a sort of chaotic womb that eased his mind. Another thing other people couldn't understand about him.

He laid this way for quite some time before there was a knock on his door and Dave announced that supper was finished. He yelled back that he wasn't hungry and just decided to lay in his chaotic refuge, letting himself fall into a soothing sleep. He didn't want to have to think about the horrible day he would have tomorrow. He so wished not to think of it that he hadn't bothered telling anyone downstairs anything about it. He would have to hope that his concerned principal would give his mother a call to make sure he got there on time. He was fairly sure the sadistic man would see to that.

And indeed he did for at the crack of dawn his mother invaded his room, shouting loudly in her rough voice. She jerked at his covers, pulled his blinds up to let the sun fall into his eyes and fought with him over the pillow he tried to use as a shield. After this normal routine he final groaned and slipped out of bed. He had to endure his mother's questions as she followed him around. Why hadn't he told her about this? Why had he even tried to pull off such a ridiculous thing? Why couldn't he just grow up? He just ignored her and grabbed a muffin on the way out the door. He absentmindedly wondered if perhaps he should have asked for a ride but that thought was immediately followed with a familiar question. Why hadn't anyone bothered to offer him one?

He didn't dwell on the thought for too long and just took in the sights of the morning streets as the sun poured it's orange-red light over the world. He didn't usually pay much attention to the scenery but since he didn't want to start thinking about things that would cause him to become bitter towards his "phone buddies" he decided to make an exception. The road he walked along was bright and the trees lining the sidewalks were covered in blossoms. They fell down on his head softly and he made a conscious effort to brush them all away the minute they landed. He didn't want to show up to something that would already make him feel ridiculous with flowers in his hair.

When he reached the door of the school it opened before he could place a hand on the handle. A strict looking woman stared out at him grimly. She was slightly frightening at first glance but then Carl noticed that the look was not strict or grim. It seemed to be amused. She wasn't a very old lady but she certainly wasn't young. She might have been around his mother's age. She was dressed in a plain gray skirt suit but that seemed to be the only stiff or strict thing about her. She was smiling suddenly at the sight of his face but he wasn't sure why.

"So you're our involuntary volunteer, huh?" she laughed. "I might have known you'd be late Foutley."

He just shrugged his shoulders slightly and let her lead him to his desk. The desks were lined up in the auditorium in long lines with partitions between each so as to give the speaker some bit of privacy with his phone buddy. She nudged him into his seat and tapped a ruler she'd snatched from somewhere along the way against his partition. Everyone looked up and peeked around the thin pieces of wood that separated them from each other to see what was going on. She stepped back some so the students further down the line could see her better and cleared her throat.

"Ahem. I'm Mrs. Dennison." she announced, pushing a small strand of black hair away from her glittering green eyes. "I'm running this phone buddy session here. Before we open our lines there are some things you need to know. Most of you have already heard this but for those of you who haven't I'll go over the rules again. First of all you can not tell your phone buddy how to solve their problem. You are only allowed to talk them through it. You are not trained professionals you 're just a listening ear - is that understood?"

Everyone nodded but Carl who shrugged. She just smiled at his dismissive behavior and put a hand on his shoulder softly.

"I'll be acting as the operator over here by Carl. Carl is here against his will so I've decided to keep my eye on him for a few days to make sure he doesn't try to convince someone to commit suicide."

This made Carl laugh though no one aside from Mrs. Dennison and himself seemed to find it funny. She was only kidding of course. She was sitting close to him because that was where the central line was located. Carl was curious as to why it mattered who got which call but Dennison explained that she wanted to make sure people got the appropriate phone buddies. She also informed him that sometimes people would prefer a certain phone buddy. Another rule, he found, was that he could not give out his real name. Instead Dennison gave him an alias to go by which he didn't really care for much to her amusement. He didn't think he wanted to be Nathaniel Everwood for even a few hours. He pitied the poor man who actually had to bear such a name.

He spent the rest of the day listening to sob stories and nodding his head accompanied by "I'm listening" noises. He didn't need to be told twice not to give advice because he didn't much care to. He didn't think he'd be good at it for one thing and he didn't want to make the effort either. It was a pretty simple thing to just sit at a desk and listen to stupid problems like love or family troubles. Simple but boring and he was betting that was where the punishment came into the picture. He could stand the boredom though. Half the time he just tuned the people out and several times he had his phone buddy hang up on him. He was wishing he'd never started training those mice by the end of the day.

"Here ya go Foutley. Try not to make this one cry." Dennison called down the line.

"I won't promise you anything." he muttered, smirking at the thought of his last caller getting so upset about his silence that she sobbed and hung up on him.

He picked up his phone the moment it rang and sighed as he answered with his usual greeting. This time he tried a British accent however. He'd been doing that for the past few hours. Answering in different voices to kill the boredom. Some of the responses he got actually pleased Dennison though that didn't seem hard for Carl to do. If he didn't know better he'd think she'd taken a liking to him.

"This is Nathanial, your personal phone buddy. What's your name?"

"A-Andrew ... Wellington." a small voice answered in a similar accent.

Carl nearly dropped the phone when he recognized the slightly feminine voice. There was no way in the world he could be that lucky. To have Blake Gripling just hand him his troubles and fears on a silver platter to be used as ammo whenever he needed it. Maybe fate really did have a playful rivalry in store for them once again and Carl would still have the upper hand. He grinned as he continued to recite the same beginnings of conversations he had been having all night. But this time he'd be taking notes.