A.C. Slater, Bayside high's resident jock, paced the hallway outside Mr. Belding's office nervously. He always dreaded the rare occasions when his father showed up at school. He was known around the halls as an adrenaline junkie, high on life, and who never let a high-pressure situation get to him. But this... well Major Slater had 'major'ly disrupted his life on both previous visits: first, wanting to drag him to Hawaii and second, trying to get him to forego college to enroll in a military academy and continue the Slater family name.
If you add Slater's other problem to the mix, then things would really be a mess, but more on that later. What really confused him was the second man he'd seen walk into principal Belding's office with him. Red-haired, pale-skinned, athletic build, he looked like a military man, even though he was not in uniform like his father.
"Still in there?" Zack Morris, the source of Slater's other problem, entered the picture. Leaning against Slater, they both listened to the murmurs from inside the Principal's office, even though neither boy could make out individual words.
"Yeah. I wish they'd hurry it up, Preppie." Slater replied
"You think your Dad is gonna try to take you away again?" Zack asked
"I dunno." Slater seemed crestfallen at the thought of leaving, even more than the last time. "I've only got a couple months before grad, you think he'd really do that?"
"Hey, he's your Dad, remember?" Zack joked
"Thanks a lot, Preppie." Slater mumbled
"Slater, you can come in now."
"Time to face the music..." Zack smiled, motioning to where Belding was holding the door to his office open.
"I wish you could come in with me. I'd rather be outnumbered three to two than three to one." Slater looked to his top rival, and best friend, for support.
"Worst-case scenario you can hide out at my place." Zack offered
"Won't your folks get..."
"Slater, now!" Belding repeated, more forcefully this time.
"Get it over with... we'll talk later." Zack pushed Slater toward the door before their Principal had to drag Slater inside.
"I have seen Slater face down the toughest competition Valley has and not flinch, but there is something about his father that just scares the crap out of him. I wish I knew what it was he wanted, so I could find a way to help him. I just hope it's not too late." Zack said.
"Who you talking to Morris?" Belding stuck his head out the door. Apparently sound carries a lot better in one direction at Bayside.
"No one, sir." Zack answered
"Good... shouldn't you be in class right now?"
"I just stopped by my locker to get something I forgot." Would Mr. Belding wonder why, if that was the case, Zack was nowhere near his locker, or let it go?
"Hurry it up, then." Belding seemed to accept his explanation.
The first thing he noticed was the positioning of his father and the other man. His Dad was standing upright, as he usually did, but the younger of the two was seated. If he was military, he was sure in breach of protocol.
"Would you gentlemen like me to leave so you can discuss this privately?" Mr. Belding offered
"We appreciate the offer..."
"Then I'll be down the hall in the teachers' lounge if you need anything." Belding did leave, but not before he patted Slater on the shoulder as he passed, giving him a wistful smile.
"Son, please be seated." The Major gestured to the other empty chair.
"Sir, if this is about you being transferred again..."
"Sit." The Major repeated in the same even tone. "All will be explained."
Slater sat down and faced his father. Stone-faced, the Major continued.
"Son, I have been keeping a secret from you, your sister, and your mother for many years and it is to the point where not knowing could seriously jeopardize everything our family stands for. I will be telling JB and your mom exactly what I am about to tell you, but for now what you need to know is that this man... is your older brother."
Slater was too shocked to reply right away, which the Major took to mean his son's acceptance.
"I was young, it was my first tour overseas, and like many young men of my generation, I had some dalliances with a member of the fairer sex that I served with. But she recently passed away, leaving me with more than just the son I never knew I had..."
"You cheated on mom?" Slater asked "How could..."
"It was before I married your mother." Major Slater replied "We came to an amicable agreement regarding the infant..."
Slater couldn't help notice how uncomfortable his older brother looked whenever he was mentioned. He knew the feeling real well. Being talked about as if you weren't in the room always annoyed Slater to no end, and when it was your own father that did it made it ten times worse.
"But circumstances have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities. That is all I have to say on the matter for right now, but once I have explained things to your mother and sister, there will be time for questions. For now, I will leave the two of you to get acquainted, while I talk to your principal."
"You're aren't trying to take me away again, are you Sir?"
"After what your friend Morris was willing to do to keep you around, I dare not. No, you will be missing a day or two of school. I will need your help getting him settled in and acquainted with the daily routine."
"He's moving in with us?" The revelations, one on top of the other, were starting to overwhelm him.
"As I said, this will all be discussed in full at a later date. Excuse me." Martin Slater double-timed it out of Belding's office.
"Well..." A.C. stared
"Yeah..." The newest addition to the family seemed as uneasy as he was.
"In all that long-windedness, my Dad never even told me your name."
"Heath Slater, huh? Your mom didn't like initials?"
"Actually, it's Miller. Your Dad didn't want anything to tie him to us, so I kept my mom's name, but I do use it professionally."
"What do you mean?" The name Heath Slater triggered something in the back of his mind, but he couldn't quite recall.
"It's my ring name." Heath answered "I work for World Wrestling Entertainment, nah mean?"
Once Heath had mentioned WWE, it clicked. Slater wasn't a fan, but many of the guys he played football with were. He'd probably heard the name in passing, but that was it.
"I hear you're quite the wrestler yourself." Heath kept the conversation going when it became quite obvious that Slater was still in shock.
"Undefeated this season." A.C. had a quick remark about his wrestling was legit, but bit his tongue. Heath did not look like the kind of guy who took criticism well, especially from someone he'd just met. "So, did Dad tell you about me... well, my family?"
"I found out about two days ago." Heath answered "Believe me, I reacted almost exactly the same way you did. I've just had a bit more time to sort the shit out."
"Yeah. Since The Major wants me to acquaint you with the daily routine, first word of advice is: the old man hates swearing..."
"Oh... well, fuck that. I'll just make sure he ain't around."
Slater chuckled. He was starting to loosen up to the idea of having an older brother.
"I guess you'll find out anyway, but I'm starting at Bayside tomorrow." Heath stood and stretched.
"Here? But I thought you worked for WWE?"
"Long story. Let's just say that I'm an army brat just like you and I never graduated high school. I only need half a year and Vince McMahon isn't too crazy about high-school dropouts. Like I said, long story... I'll tell you all of it some other time. Which way is the teachers' lounge?"
"Down the hall." Slater pointed
"Cool. I'll see you at home. Later, Slater."
The final bell rang just as they parted. He watched his brother head for the teachers' lounge, wondering if this was some sort of test by his father or if he really did have a longed for older brother.
At the door, Heath waved. A.C. waved back, but then realized that he wasn't alone. He quickly folded his arms, trying to look carefree.
"Who was that?"
It took Slater a few seconds to process that the comment was directed at him.
"Who was that?" Zack was back.
"Just someone from the past. Nothing to worry about, Preppie." Slater replied
"Okay. We're goin' to the Max. You in?" In the intervening seconds, Kelly, Lisa, Jessie, and unfortunately Screech had joined the circle.
"Not this time. I got a family commitment."
"Slater turning down food? Are you feeling alright?" Screech grabbed his arm and starting groping for a pulse.
"I'm fine Screech." Slater yanked his arm away. "I just have something to do, okay. I'll explain it later." He left before his friends were able to press him for any more details.
"Zack, what's going on?" Jessie asked
"Beats me. All I know is it has something to do with his father."
"His father?" Lisa repeated "As in Major Slater?"
"Yeah, he, Slater, and Belding had a meeting earlier..."
"You don't think his dad is taking him away again?" Jessie seemed horrified at the thought. "I mean, he said no once, right?"
"I'm sure if that was it, Slater would've told us... right?" Kelly interjected "Right?"
"Just give him his space. He said he'd explain later." Zack added, shaking his head. His friends did tend to blow things out of context. "Let's just go to the Max and chill out, okay."
Zack knew that chilling out wasn't going to happen and he was right. The entire time they were there, the only topic of conversation was Slater's as yet unknown problem. For at least one of them, 'later' wouldn't come quickly enough.
That night's dinner was one of the most tense situations Slater had ever witnessed. No sooner had the dishes been cleared than his dad, in true Major fashion, had called the entire family together in the living room, and explained the situation again. It made A.C. wonder why he'd been told earlier. It would've made at least part of his day a lot less stressful, not that this was a picnic.
His mom had run up the stairs and her loud sobbing had echoed back down to the main floor. His sister had glared at his father, then run up afterward. Finally, the Major had left to do damage control, leaving A.C. and Heath alone, staring at each other.
"Damn." Heath looked really uncomfortable.
Even Slater had to admit feeling a little sorry for the other man. "Don't sweat it. They'll work things out. They always do."
"You think I made a mistake?"
"If anything, the Major made the mistake." Slater answered
"A major mistake, huh?" Heath finally cracked a smile. Despite the seriousness of the situation, they both started to laugh and continued to until a thunderous bang startled both of them.
"What was that?" Heath had nearly jumped out of the chair, his skin, and everything else.
"Thunder." Slater pointed outside where a heavy curtain of rain was falling.
"But it was sunny ten minutes ago." Heath stated
"The weather around here can be a real pain." A.C. answered "Storms are sudden, severe, and can last a long time."
That's when with an even louder bang, followed by a sizzle, lightning struck a transformer on the end of the block, plunging the entire neighborhood into darkness.
"Son, get the candles and flashlights." The Major's voice drifted down the eerily-silent stairs.
"Yes, sir." Heath remained in his chair while Slater got a pair of flashlights and candles. "I hope you brought extra clothes to sleep in. It's gonna be a freezing night."
"Freezing? Here?" Heath couldn't believe his ears. This was Cali, after all, right?
"We're so close to the water, it gets pretty darn cold at night." A.C. explained
"I guess that's why they call it Bayside, right?" Heath answered, accepting this as he had everything else that had happened that day. "The Major tell you I'm sharing your room tonight?"
Slater groaned. Sharing space in the bedroom was not something he was real good at and the partial reason he and Jessie were on-again, off-again so often. When Jessie seemed to give off the vibe that she was ready to take that 'step', Slater always found himself saying or doing something to cause a temporary split. Their friends thought it was Slater's male-dominance fighting with Jessie's liberal spirit and even after the cut-day incident, everyone expected them to get back together romantically. The reason why this hasn't happened is known only to one person.
Since the break-up, Slater had been fighting with his own self. He knew Jessie wanted him back, but he couldn't string her along. A.C. Slater may be seen as a lot of thing, male chauvinist pig amongst them, but he couldn't hurt Jessie by making her think there was a chance for reconciliation, when there wasn't.
You see, A.C. Slater had a crush on someone else and that someone was Zack Morris.