Yay! ...author's notes.
Since nobody I talk to seems to know what study hall is, it basically translates
to 'free period where people are supposed to do homework but usually just
goof off and ignore when the teacher yells at them.' And, while this is
not my first MD fic attempt, it was the first that was even halfway decent
enough for me to admit I wrote it, so please don't flame me. Extreme Banksie-angst
ahead. You have been warned...
Disclaimer: Disney owns the Ducks, you know the drill.
Charlie stalked out of study hall, highly annoyed. Varsity just didn't know when to quit, and sitting in the front of the room with Riley and Cole both close behind him always made for a very unpleasant class period. And beating them last Friday had not improved matters. Today they'd 'accidentally' spilled Coke on his finished math homework, then Adam had flatly refused to let him copy. Then again, Adam was acting very cold to him lately. He should've expected as much.
He was so annoyed that he almost didn't notice the black notebook lying on one of the desks. Adam's desk. "Hey Banksie, you left—" No good, he was well out of earshot. "I'll give it to him tomorrow," Charlie decided, and shrugged.
Adam was about ready to kill the two lead Varsity goons. Where did they get off, anyway? He'd managed to get into a fierce paper-wad-war with the two on Charlie's behalf which, while it did nothing for his maturity, he was pretty sure he'd won.
It wasn't until he got to biology and dropped into his seat next to Kenny that he realized just how distracted he'd been. "I left my sketchbook!"
"Ask if you can go get it," Kenny suggested.
"Yeah, right. It's Wednesday, we've got a quiz, remember?" He sighed. There wasn't a study hall this period, he'd drop by the room after class and pray it was still there. Stupid, stupid, stupid! He should've known not to bring it with him. The last thing he needed was somebody reading that book.
By the time he got back to his dorm that night, Charlie's curiosity had gotten the better of him. "This thing looks ancient. I bet he's had it since he was a Hawk. Can't hurt to have a peek..." It was a harmless impulse, after all, he'd probably just find a few years worth of English notes.
The first page shot and buried that belief. It was an unlined notebook, more like a drawing book. And the front held a drawing of a hawk. A real hawk. Swooping down on something that wasn't shown in the picture.
It was captioned. "I did it! I made the team!"
He hadn't been serious when he'd thought about the Hawks when wondering how old the book was. "He was a pretty good artist for a ten-year-old," he mused, unable to think of anything else to say. He wasn't quite sure he should turn the page, but...
The next few pages held drawings of Hawk players. Many of them were captioned—McGill with the words "Tries to make us think he's tough. Just a chickenhawk." Charlie laughed. Such wonderful Hawk loyalty...
After that there were more pictures of the Hawks, mostly during games. By the captions, which were getting longer and more detailed, it was clear that this wasn't just a sketchbook—it was a diary. The thought made him uncomfortable, but also very curious. He flipped through a few more pages (one with Coach Reilly in army fatigues, "Yes sir, drill sergeant, sir!") and suddenly...
A hawk. A real hawk again this time, and a duck. A real duck. They looked like they were fighting, but there was no way to tell which was winning, if either of them. "I found out today that I'm supposed to be playing for the Ducks. Dad and Coach Reilly are fighting it. Dad said I'd rather not play than be a Duck. Doesn't he think I can make up my own mind? Maybe I'd rather be a Hawk, but how bad can the Ducks be?"
The next page told a different story. It was the first picture Adam had drawn of himself—he was wearing his Ducks jersey, and looking in what was apparently a mirror, at a figure in a Hawks jersey. The thing only vaguely resembled him, and was drawn very dark and shadowy. It made Charlie think of some sort of demon. "First game with the Ducks today. It's not so bad being a Duck, except they all hate me. Big surprise. Never realized what a jerk I was..."
Charlie paused a moment. That was interesting.
He'd skipped a bit after that, apparently, because now there were pictures of the Ducks, similar to the pictures of the Hawks at the beginning of the book. Jesse was the first. "Overdoes the team loyalty a little. Not sure I can blame him though."
Now he was getting to what he wanted to see. He was on the next page, wearing his Duck jersey and smiling. None of the Hawks had been smiling—and Jesse certainly hadn't. "I don't get this guy. He's too nice."
"You've got to be kidding." Charlie was learning a lot he'd never even suspected. It was fascinating... yet he felt a pang of guilt. Some of this stuff was awfully personal. He really should stop looking, but...
The page after the Duck players had Fulton, standing in front of a goal with a hole in the net. "Forgot to mention we won the game."
That was typical. A Hawk taking a win for granted, and certainly he was still more or less a Hawk at that time. There was a picture of McGill and Larson on the next page, looking very cruel. "Coach took us to a North Stars game for a playoffs present. Saw Pete and Billy. They have decided I'm 100% Duck. Might as well oblige." There was a drawing of the semifinals game against the Cardinals ("We have to play the Hawks now. I wonder how many seconds I'll last"), and Charlie couldn't help wondering if Banks had been expecting that injury.
He had. The next page showed a hawk swooping on a duck—real birds, except that they were wearing hockey jerseys. "I was right, Reilly wanted me out. McGill did it. Of course. I just got out of the hospital yesterday. It doesn't hurt too badly anymore, but I'd like to get at him..." Opposite that was a picture of Jesse, asleep in what looked like a hospital waiting room. "He was there almost the entire time. I think he finally trusts me."
Next was the most detailed picture yet. It was Adam, in his Ducks jersey again, skating. Drawn over that was a real duck in flight. "How did I ever handle the Hawks?"
"That's a good question," Charlie muttered to the phantom presence of the ten-year-old. "But you sure seemed to love it."
There were few pictures from the off-season. Most of them involved Adam's father, in various degrees of fury. One had him in the picture as well, and he appeared to be yelling back. "Dad still doesn't want me to be a Duck. He just doesn't get it."
There were pictures of the new team USA players next. He didn't seem too fond of any of them. (Dwayne was labeled something that Charlie couldn't imagine Banks, of all people, ever saying.) Then there was a picture of Guy and Jesse, in what seemed to be the team dorms in LA. "I don't get much drawing time here. Too many practices. Coach Bombay's starting to get pretty strict."
After that, there was an obviously post-Iceland drawing. It was Adam, wearing his Hawks jersey (but carrying a Team USA bag) and looking annoyed. "It's a good thing I don't have my old jersey or I'd start wearing it to practice. Almost slipped up and called Bombay Coach Reilly today. We lost a game! Big deal. Okay, so losing by 11 is pretty bad. It's still just a game. I've never lost a real game before, only a few scrimmages. It's actually kind of... interesting... and it's not the end of the world. We can afford to lose one. But I think there's something really wrong with my wrist. It hurts to write."
The next two pictures showed Julie catching a puck, and Adam handing an American flag to Charlie. "I haven't been able to draw. Sprained my wrist. But we won! We actually won the Junior Goodwill Games!"
The next picture was of Russ. "This is going to be interesting."
Off-season pictures were again very few. There was a boy in one of them who Charlie assumed was his brother, but otherwise they were mostly his dad again. Saying the two didn't get along seemed the understatement of the century.
Around then was when the thought hit him. There would certainly be pictures from his time with the Varsity...
Absorbing as the reading was, Charlie had an overwhelming urge to see what those were like. He flipped through very quickly, and finally found the first. He noticed with interest that there were no individual sketches of Varsity players, as there had been for the Hawks and the Ducks.
The drawing style had changed, and improved, since the pictures from the Games. This one showed the locker room, with the Varsity team standing in it. Everything looked to be covered in some sort of fog... "Everything in the locker room was frozen when we got in from our game. Score one for the Ducks. Whom I guess I am not one of, anymore. They sure dropped me quick. Just like the Hawks did..."
There were a couple more pictures of the Varsity vs. Duck war, with entries along similar lines, and another mirror picture. This was Adam in his Varsity jersey, and a ten-year-old in a Hawks jersey looking back at him. "Today's been horrible. And it's not even 8 in the morning yet." Right around then Charlie knew what was coming next. He didn't want to turn the page. He didn't want to see what Banks had to say about that morning showdown.
It was not quite what he'd expected, but close enough. This picture had been drawn in red colored pencil, and was a little shakier than the others, a little lighter. Charlie in his Duck jersey and Adam in his Varsity practice gear, facing each other, each looking ready to kill the other player. "I didn't give up on you, Charlie. Why did you give up on me?" Charlie couldn't stand looking at the picture for another second, knowing what it meant. He glanced at the opposite page.
It was the same color, just as uncertain, and made him feel no better. This one was of several ducks, and several people looking like the traditional warriors that symbolized Eden Hall. They were fighting. One of the ducks was different. Another duck was attacking it, and a warrior was trying to pull it away from the rest of the flock, though it seemed to be resisting. The symbolism was so perfect... and nothing could've prepared him for what was written under it. It was the longest entry Adam had made yet.
"What do they want from me? I'm being torn apart and I've got nobody to go to. I thought the Ducks would understand. But I'm just another enemy to them too. Why does it have to be this way! I can't take it much longer!" The writing was getting messier now, more frantic. "Somebody make it stop, just make it stop... please... somebody catch me, I'm falling too fast, and nobody cares... it's cold now. It's always cold, no matter what I do. And I'm still falling, faster, colder, it's like I'll be falling forever... and there's nothing I can do about it. Damn Coach Orion for sticking me on the wrong team. Damn Varsity for trying to make me take their side. Damn the Ducks for abandoning me. Damn me for being me, and not fighting it..."
It wasn't just an interesting story anymore. Now it was a brutal account of exactly the sort of hell he'd been through. Turning the page didn't stop the words from echoing in Charlie's mind. He couldn't quite figure out what the next picture was supposed to be, but it was again red. And dark, very dark. Angry. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be anything.
"How could I have been so stupid? I'm not that desperate, am I? It took almost an hour to clean up all the blood. I'm in no shape to play now either. I'm too tired to even write much. Why did I even try? And when I did, why didn't I finish it?"
Charlie slammed the book shut. "Banksie!" he yelped, unconsciously. He was sure he knew what that entry had meant, and he'd never wished he was wrong so strongly before, but...
It was past. Far past. But it had never occurred to him to apologize to Adam after he'd rejoined the JV team. He had no idea why, and he could've kicked himself. He didn't, though, he had other things to do. More important things. He grabbed the notebook and tore out of his room.
Adam couldn't believe it. The one day he'd taken his sketchbook to school, and he'd succeeded in losing it. It wasn't even so much losing it that bothered him—he could find something else to draw in. But if somebody read it...
Especially somebody he knew...
Someone was pounding on the door. He figured it would just be Kenny, who had the unfortunate habit of pissing the Varsity off every time he left the room, usually without even trying. Instead he found himself face to face with Charlie. Who was carrying—
"You left this on your desk in study hall." He was panting. Had he been running? He looked shaken.
Realization hit. "You read it." It wasn't an accusation. There was no point in that. Just a simple statement of the fact.
"I skipped a little bit to get to the recent part. Then got up to the entry after the Fight." The Fight was what the Ducks called the first JV-Varsity match. No other name seemed appropriate. "Did you really try to—"
"Yes," Adam replied shortly, self-consciously tracing the scar on his wrist. He was in no mood for suicide counseling. "Whatever you've got to say about that, save it. It was impulsive. And stupid. And I didn't really mean it. Before you decide I'm the innocent victim there's something you should see." Privately he felt like this was very stupid, but it wouldn't be fair not to tell the whole story.
He flipped through, to just before the varsity-era pictures. It looked like a practice picture. Charlie was arguing with Coach Orion. "Did you see this one?"
"No..." He accepted the book and looked at it, seeming not to notice how nervous Adam had become.
"I watched the Ducks practice today. I don't know what's gotten into Charlie, but it just keeps looking less like a hockey team and more like a dictatorship. It's almost enough to make me glad I'm not on the team. Almost."
Charlie was frozen. "You're right," he muttered, quietly.
Adam almost fainted, but thought better of it. "What?"
"You're right. I acted like—"
"Stop." He couldn't take this. The conversation had bothered him enough already. Charlie admitting he was wrong? "Don't tell me that, Charlie. Tell me how wrong I was. That I'm wrong and I'm horrible and I have no idea what I'm talking about. Go on."
Charlie found his voice, barely. "Banksie?"
"Come on, captain. You don't have to take that from a teammate. You're the leader..."
He had no idea what he was doing. But if Captain Duck was going to present himself for punishment so willingly, so be it. He'd get his.
"I'm sorry, Adam..."
"I don't want to hear about it. Get out."
"No." Adam had to admit he was impressed. Charlie hadn't lost his temper yet. "I'm not leaving. I was horrible to you before but I'm not giving up on you now. I don't want to make you go through this anymore."
Adam stared at him for a long moment. And he nodded. "Sorry..."
"I'm the one who needs to be sorry."
"We're both sorry then." They both laughed, a little shyly. "So... can you forgive me?"
"Let me work on that..." Adam watched him leave, then opened the book again. The picture he'd been working on in study hall was complete—just a picture of a normal practice. "The way they act, it's like nothing ever happened. I'm not sure... is that a good thing? I don't want them to bring up anything that happened but my heart's just not in the game right now. I feel like someone tore me apart and put me back together all wrong, and all they have to say to me is keep chasing the puck... I've got the strangest feeling that something's going to happen today, though."
"I was right," he mused. Smiling slightly, he turned the page, and wrote a quick entry at the bottom. "Disaster averted. Left this book in study hall, Charlie found it. He read it... and he came to apologize. I might forgive him. I might even forgive myself. We're still Ducks. Maybe things haven't changed so much after all."
He started to draw.