(Overly Long) Author's Notes: Happy birthday to me, and that means it's time for my birthday resolution—the start of this fanfic, an idea that struck me way back in November and has been strong in my mind ever since. It is a rewrite of about half of TDWT, starting with "The Ex-Files" and going all the way past the finale. The main pairing is Cody/Courtney, which at this moment is honestly one of my favorite couples, much to my own surprise. (Blame for that goes to all the great CoCo fanfics out there; seriously, look them up, either through the filters or in my favorites.) The story will also naturally have bits of one-sided Cody/Gwen, Sierra/Cody and Courtney/Duncan early on; the "official" side pairings are Duncan/Gwen, Alejandro/Heather and probably Sierra/somebody to remain nameless for now.
It's been a long time since a fanfic made me feel both this excited and nervous; this is the biggest project I've started in years, and even though I have way too many other stories in progress I really wanted to get this one out there. The entire first challenge has already been written (three chapters not counting this one), and I hope to be able to update once a week, probably on either Friday or Saturday; whether or not I can keep up with that goal remains to be seen. Please feel free to review and critique this story; outside of fandom I'm also trying to become a professional writer, so any help I can get improving will be greatly appreciated.
This story is obviously AU. The new pairing itself will affect the events of this hypothetical season, and I've also tried to tweak a few other things to either make the plot less repetitive or to "fix" things that I felt needed improvement. However, I am also determined NOT to just change everything about the show that I didn't like for the sake of my own opinions; any "fixes" I make I will try to develop organically, and some aspects I dislike will remain as per canon. If at any point my writing seems to suffer due to personal opinions I ask you to please tell me.
This chapter serves as a prologue; the beginning of the story proper will hopefully be up soon. I sincerely hope you enjoy this story.
(TDA Resort, just after the taping of "The Aftermath: II")
"Come on, Courtney—don't you think you're being just a tad bit unreasonable here?"
"Oh, of course you would defend her!"
"I don't have time for this—"
Gwen turned and stormed out of the room; Noah calmly moved aside to allow her while Ezekiel jumped back, startled. She slammed the door as she left, making Cody wince. For a moment all he could do was stare at the door after her until his thoughts were interrupted by Courtney scoffing as she turned her nose up in the air.
"Sneaky, nasty little—"
"Courtney, she didn't do anything!" Cody said exasperatedly.
"Didn't do any—did you see that tape? !"
"Yeah, okay, so she and Duncan tripped over each other once. Big deal." He spread his arms as Courtney half-turned to give him one of her usual glares. "Gwen keeps telling you they're just friends, why don't you believe her?"
"The better question is, why do you? ! Or are you still deluding yourself into thinking that now she'll finally be interested in you?" she asked scornfully.
Ezekiel blinked. "But, Coody dawg, didn't you say that you were hoping that Gwen—"
Cody gave a panicked look as Noah rolled his eyes and elbowed Ezekiel in the arm ("Ow, eh!") Cody turned back to Courtney, looking sheepish.
"Look, my particular—feelings about Gwen don't make any difference. Guys are girls can be just friends—"
"The kind of friends who kept each other's underwear in their pockets?"
Cody's hand reflectively flinched toward the pocket holding Gwen's bra; he closed his eyes and sighed. "All I'm just saying is that you're acting like you're sure Gwen and Duncan are having some big affair behind your back or something, but there really isn't any proof of that. Gwen wouldn't do that—"
"Oh, please, like—"
"—and Duncan wouldn't do it either. I mean, the guy's totally in love with you!"
Courtney froze in min-rant, blinking at Cody a few times. For a moment she didn't speak, just stared at him. "You…really think so?" she said finally.
Cody rolled his eyes. "Well, duh. Did you miss the whole goofy 'staring at the stars' part of that video? It's sort of obvious he's got it bad for you, Courtney."
"Ya got that right," Noah muttered.
Courtney looked away, biting her lip. Her haughty, angry demeanor had vanished; now she looked thoughtful, even wistful, fingering her hair in an absentminded sort of way. She looked so normal now, Cody wondered to himself, just like any other girl who found out her crush liked her too. He had to chuckle at the thought.
"…Well, it's not like it matters, anyway," Courtney muttered. She was speaking to herself, and frankly Cody wasn't sure she even remembered that anyone else was in the room. "Even if he did. I couldn't date anybody that undependable. Or crude. Or with that kind of haircut…"
Cody turned and gave a sly look to the others. Noah rolled his eyes; Ezekiel just seemed curious to find out where this was going.
"…I mean, I won't deny that he has a certain…coarse charm about him that's sort of…attractive, in a way. But pffft, he probably wasn't serious about any of that anyway. Flirt me with, flirt with Gwen, he definitely seems like the type…and even if he did really like me…I'm not the sort of girl to settle, you know. I want a respectable boyfriend. He would have to change that outfit. And that hair. And no flirting with mangy goth chicks, and he would need to learn proper manners, how to be a good boyfriend instead of just acting like such a pig all the time—"
Suddenly her PDA rang, startling Courtney out of her thoughts. For a moment she looked around as if surprised to find herself still at the resort, then recovered and answered the call, casting a look at Cody and the others and turning away for a semblance of privacy.
"Hello? Oh, yes, Michael, I—what? She did? ! And all of the conditions? You're joking! When, when do I leave? …For real? ! OH—finally, I have been WAITING for this! This couldn't have come at a better time—yes! Ha-ha!"
She hung up and spun around, and suddenly she looked fierce and triumphant—Cody and Ezekiel both drew back in nervous surprise as she grinned, somehow managing to look nasty and euphoric and downright crazy all at the same time.
"I KNEW IT! I KNEW justice would prevail eventually! Do you know who that was? That was one of my lawyers, and he said that the company's legal director just authorized me back onto the game!"
"Huh? !" Cody said, dumbfounded.
"Seriously?" Noah said, quirking an eyebrow in mild surprise.
"Aww! For reals?" Ezekiel groaned; after Courtney, he was probably the ex-camper most desperate to get back onto the show.
Courtney threw back her head and stepped forward. "That's right," she sneered, as if her sudden victory were a well-justified blow against each of the three boys. "I'll finally get the second chance that was stolen from me, not to mention a chance to repair whatever damage it is your little weirdo girlfriend did to me and Duncan's rela—er, thing. Now if you'll excuse me, they want me back on the set by the next challenge, so I have to go and pack. Goodbye."
And with that she strutted out of the room, any trace of her previous pensiveness totally destroyed.
Noah rolled his eyes. "Well, it's nice to see the opportunity go to someone so deserving," he said icily.
Cody shrugged. "Well, I can see her point…she did get cheated off last season."
Cody stared after Courtney the same way he had stared after Gwen, thinking. That girl honestly confused him sometimes. She had spent most of the time at Playa des Losers complaining and throwing fits, yet when you watched some of the episodes from TDI she seemed so…calm, tame and, when Duncan was involved, even sweet. And even though he didn't know her very well—and his most vibrant memory of her involved him hanging to his near-death from a hot-air balloon—the fact was he did feel a bit sorry for her. He would be lying if he said his own vote-off hadn't stung pretty badly (even aside from the literal stinging of his wounds), and at least that one had been technically fair—it seemed like Courtney did deserve a second chance, since she'd only been eliminated so that Harold could spite Duncan.
But man, Duncan…he made Courtney act sweet sometimes, but man could she be crazy the rest of the time! Like this whole thing with him and Gwen. Cody just couldn't understand what the big deal was. He had plenty of female friends—or "let's-just-be-friends," as he called them, since that was the phrase said relationships usually began with. And it was obvious that Gwen and Duncan were only friends. There was no reason to think anything else, even if she was technically single now.
A fact that Cody had obviously been giving a lot of thought to himself.
He shook his head. Whatever. He shouldn't be worrying about Courtney right now—she'll be back on the show now, he thought, and soon she and Duncan would go back to their violent/sickeningly sweet romance and the producer's whole plan to shake up new drama would blow over. He'd leave Duncan and Courtney to worry about their own weird relationship.
He had his own love life to worry about, after all.
(Total Drama Jumbo Jet, several months later, just after the taping of "Greece's Pieces")
Courtney didn't think she had ever felt worse than she did right now.
She let out another wail, hands covering her face, rocking back and forth on her knees on the bathroom floor; the confession cam could only make out the top of her head, a fact that would irk Chris when he replayed the tape later. Not that Courtney was doing much that would have made for good viewing anyway; she was mostly just crying, crying like she had done everywhere else on the plane, merely using the confessional as a place to get a little privacy from her teammates.
"Oh, D-Duncan—h-how c-could you?"
Outside the door Cody shifted nervously from one foot to the other, biting his lip before timidly knocking on the door.
Another wail was all that came in response, and Cody groaned, crossing his knees together and looking around desperately. Sierra was going to come looking for him soon (because, he thought bitterly, her "permission" to use the bathroom was apparently attached to some sort of arbitrary time limit), and since he was about to wet himself Cody cautiously pushed open the door (the lock still being broken), slowly poking his head in and taking in the sight of his sobbing, miserable teammate.
"Um…C-Courtney?" he said, and the girl's head snapped away from her hands as if she hadn't heard his entrance, "I know you're, um, still feeling lousy about Duncan and everything, but, uh—I sort of need to use the bathroom, so is it okay if—"
Cody's head quickly vanished and the door snapped shut again, leaving Courtney to bury her face in her hands and blubber once more. It only lasted for a moment, though, as her pain over Duncan and Gwen was invaded by new thoughts—anger at Cody for interrupting her, and how pathetic she must have looked to him, down here on the floor, how pathetic she was now, moping and sobbing over some—some stupid, miserable excuse for a man—
Courtney grabbed the rim of the sink and hoisted herself to her feet, her body shaking slightly. She blinked and wiped her eyes with a piece of toilet paper, looking at herself in the mirror behind the camera—she looked horrible, her hair a mess, her makeup running, her eyes blotchy and red and swollen…she straightened herself out as best she could, running her fingers through her hair and wiping her mascara, giving herself a halfway-decent appearance. Then she threw her head back, biting her lip to keep it from quivering.
"L-Look at yourself right n-now. No! I am not going to fall apart over this!" She wiped another splotch of mascara as it began to dissolve and forced a fierce look into her eyes. "I have a competition to win, and nobody's going to stop me! But first—first I'm going to get even with those—those two, if it's the last thing I do! Nobody treats Courtney Vencedor like that and gets away with it!"
She paused, staring down at the sink. Now what could she do? …Well, there wasn't much she could do about Duncan, except hope that Team Chris would vote him off at their first opportunity. But no, she wasn't just going to sit and wait around for that! And besides, it was Gwen that she wanted gone most…at least she could pummel Duncan in a few challenges while he was around, but she was supposed to compete alongside Gwen, live alongside Gwen, and there was no way she was going to tolerate that! She would be going next.
Hmph. She would already have been gone if Cody hadn't gone and played the hero for that lost cause. But if Courtney could just make sure that the team did lose next time…
Courtney set her jaw, standing as tall as she could, willing all of her sadness and misery back behind a dam of angry, vengeful strength.
It worked for about ten seconds before her face began to tremble again, and then she covered her face and sobbed for another half of a minute.
Outside the door Cody shifted in his stance every few seconds. Finally the door opened; Courtney emerged, half-sobbing, and ran past without noticing him, making her way back into first class.
Cody paused for a moment, watching her go; he felt a stab of sympathy, or empathy, really, allowing the crumminess of the last day to wash over the defenses he had set up to try to keep it out of his thoughts. Courtney was really bummed out about this. And no wonder—as much as they always fought, as full as the tabloids always were with their break-ups and their make-ups, Cody had always sensed that the two really cared about each other, or at least had a lot of really potent UST. And now, Duncan had just gone right off and cheated with somebody else—
—his somebody else, actually, that stab of sympathy aiming right for Cody's heart. Gwen. It was something he had been trying very hard not to think about for the last couple of hours—she wasn't even really his girlfriend or anything (unfortunately), but just thinking the words "Gwen likes Duncan" made Cody feel like someone had punched him right in the gut. No wonder Courtney felt so dismal—just imagine if he and Gwen had been dating. She must feel just like he did, but a thousand times worse…
He watched her disappear into the winner's section, letting his loss and sympathy swirl around in his stomach. After a moment he remembered the other, more literal pain going on in his lower abdomen, and slowly turned around, disappearing into the bathroom and shutting the door behind him.