The Bruno and Boots books were my favourites in middle school and also made me an eternal fan of Gordon Korman, and I'd always thought it would be fun to get a look at an older Bruno, Boots, Cathy and Diane, and maybe get a bit of romance in there too. :P That said, I have no idea why I suddenly decided to write fanfiction for the Macdonald Hall/Miss Scrimmage's gang. Especially as it's been at least four years since I last read any of the books cover to cover. That's probably why these characters all seem a bit strange, but hey, chalk it up to the changes that can occur between the end of middle school and the beginning of university and we're good. Anyway, I hope this provides some amusement for fans of The Fish and his boys.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything out of the Macdonald Hall books.
Some Growing Up Left to Do
Diane Grant stepped over the gigantic duffel bag on the floor, tugging at the window for a few seconds before managing to slide it stiffly upwards. She rested her elbows on the ledge and leaned her head out into the sun, breathing in humid yet pleasant late-summer air. If there had been any doubt that she'd been dropped right in the middle of a big city, the view from her room erased it: a more than half-full parking lot lay directly below her, and beyond that buildings and busy streets stretched as far as her eye could see.
She was taking a moment to appreciate the sights when suddenly one in particular caught her attention: a dark green car had just pulled into a space almost right under her window, and two young men were getting out, sounds of laughter and unintelligible chatter emerging with them. She supposed there must be lots of students arriving at the dormitory today, just as she had half an hour ago with her roommate and long-time friend Cathy Burton, but something about these two seemed somehow…familiar. That slightly messy dark hair on one of them, that slow, sincere smile she could just barely make out on the other – there was something there, but what was it?
"Hey, Diane. There's still stuff left in the car, you know!" Cathy Burton called as she kicked the door open and dumped a box on one of the beds, breaking off Diane's thought process.
"Oh, right – sorry," Diane apologized, just about to turn away when the voice of one of the boys below rose suddenly and she heard the fateful word:
She spun back to the window so fast she almost gave herself whiplash. She craned her neck so far out over the parking lot that Cathy reached forward, hooking a finger through her belt and yanking her back to keep her from falling.
"Whoa, whoa, watch it! Unless you're looking to start your first year of university with a concussion?" Ignoring her friend's warning, Diane kept right on staring as the two boys of whose familiarity she was now certain began to lug suitcases away from the car.
"Cathy, it's…I think it's…Bruno and Boots," she whispered finally, as if the characters in question were likely to hear her.
Cathy's reaction was immediate. "What?" she demanded. "Walton and O'Neal? Here? No way!"
Her roguish hazel eyes glimmering with excitement, she shoved her head in beside Diane's, huffing in disappointment when she saw that the boys were out of sight.
"You're sure, Diane?"
Diane nodded vehemently, although she began to doubt herself instantly. They could have been talking about actual boots, after all…but no, they looked right too. At least, the way she imagined Macdonald Hall's most notorious troublemakers Bruno Walton and Melvin "Boots" O'Neal might look four years from when she'd last seen them.
"This is awesome," Cathy exclaimed. "I knew I had a good feeling about this place."
"But, Cathy," Diane began awkwardly, not quite knowing how to put it, "I mean, it's been four years. What if they've, you know, changed?"
Cathy threw her head back and laughed, a lusty belly laugh. Diane remembered a young Bruno Walton once telling Cathy she laughed like a guy. Cathy had threatened to punch him at the time, but Diane couldn't help thinking she had secretly been pleased. (Nevertheless, Bruno had never undermined Cathy Burton's femininity again. Probably because he had quickly discovered that she also punched like a guy.)
"Please, Diane," Cathy stated with the typical confidence that Diane alternately envied and feared, "those two will never change. Trust me."
Despite years of experience that might advise otherwise, Diane did trust Cathy. But she still couldn't help feeling a bit nervous when she thought about confronting Macdonald Hall's two living legends again…particularly the patient, conscientious one with the nice smile and natural athleticism, who had looked so lean and fit in the sunlight a few seconds ago.
"Well, we sure have come a long way since our Macdonald Hall days," Bruno Walton announced, shading his eyes and looking around in a satisfied sort of way as the pair made a second trip to their car.
Boots O'Neal just quirked an eyebrow and smiled in response. In some ways, yes, they had; they were no longer the kids who lined up in front of their old headmaster The Fish with guilty faces. But in other ways, he often felt they were just the same as always; overgrown troublemakers who knew just a tiny bit more about the world, with Bruno simply having developed a new and improved version of his I'm-oh-so-innocent expression.
Bruno had just opened his mouth to add something more when he was hit with a blast of water straight to the face. Spluttering, he put up his hands to shield himself, while Boots, who had no small amount of experience with situations like these, ducked immediately behind the trunk of the car, although not fast enough to avoid getting a splash on his shirt. Bruno hastened to join him, and they crouched together in safety, damp and bewildered.
"What the -!" Bruno yelped, frantically blinking water out of his eyes. "What was that?"
Boots tried to squint up through the back windshield – there seemed to be an open window right above them on the third storey of the dormitory building, but no one was visible there.
"Maybe it's one of those university traditions where the upperclassmen prank the freshmen," he suggested.
Bruno blew soggy bangs out of his face. "Well, they picked the wrong freshmen to prank!" he growled, although his outrage was already morphing to excitement as he no doubt began to scroll through his mental list of possible payback schemes. Boots could only sigh; they hadn't even moved in yet, and already Bruno had some new mischief in the works. Then again, Bruno wasn't Bruno when he wasn't rocking the boat, so this was probably just the inevitable coming to pass.
And it only took a little common sense to know that you didn't volunteer to room with Bruno Walton if you were looking for a year of relaxation.
That gleam in Cathy's eye was more than recognizable to Diane by now, but she was still shocked and appalled when, upon spotting Bruno and Boots returning to their vehicle, Cathy handily whipped a water gun out of her duffel, set her aim straight and true and smoked Bruno in the face.
"Cathy!" Diane had time to squeal before the grinning shooter yanked her down under the window sill.
"What?" Cathy asked, as if what she'd just done was completely normal.
"Wh – Ca – we, we haven't seen them in four years!" Diane hissed. "We're not on speaking terms! You can't just…just…"
"Whatever," Cathy said dismissively. "Come on, if it was Bruno who'd seen us first, you can bet he'd have done exactly the same thing. We just got lucky."
Diane shook her head in disbelief. "And why did you even bring a water gun here at all?"
"I told you, I had a good feeling about this place," said Cathy.
Now seized with a horror of what her best friend might do the next time they saw Bruno and Boots, Diane sought for a way to distract her. "We should probably finish unpacking," she said quickly.
"Fine, fine," Cathy agreed, giving in reluctantly. She set the water gun down and, with a brief glance over the window ledge to make sure the boys were gone, the girls rose.
Relieved for the moment at least, Diane opened the door, stepped out into the hallway and froze. Right across from her, Boots did the same.
On cue, Cathy and Bruno barrelled out of their rooms, behind Diane and Boots respectively. And just like that, the Miss Scrimmage girls were face-to-face with the Macdonald Hall boys again. Except that now they didn't belong to either of those schools; they were just Cathy Burton and Diane Grant, and Bruno Walton and Boots O'Neal.
For a moment, all four merely stared at one another in silence. And then Bruno's expression turned accusing, and he pointed at Cathy and declared thunderously, "It was you!"
Cathy grinned and crossed her arms over her chest. "It was me," she confirmed with a smirk.
As Burton and Walton stepped towards each other, Diane and Boots exchanged helpless glances behind their backs, and it was like they'd never lost touch.
The front of Bruno's hair was still sopping wet, Cathy noted with amusement, and she reached out and flicked one of his bangs playfully. "Long time no see, Bruno."
He had an annoyed face on, but she could see the trademark grin threatening to emerge. "Yeah, well, there are dryer ways to say hi, you know!"
"You're right," she admitted readily. "Flour would have worked too." The grin broke free in full force.
Her smirk turned into a real smile – Cathy had quite the sweet side to her if only one had the opportunity to glimpse it. "A grown-up Bruno Walton – I don't believe it."
"I don't see how it's any crazier than a grown-up Cathy Burton," he retorted.
Boots leaned in toward Diane and muttered quietly, "I'd say they both still have some growing up left to do."
Diane giggled in soft agreement, not entirely able to keep the blush from her cheeks. Up close, Boots was even leaner and fitter than she'd imagined – he must have continued his swimming. He was also significantly taller, even more so than Bruno, close to a head taller than she was. He still had that neat brown hair, faintly streaked with blond from the sun, and even the wet stain on his T-shirt only served to make him look cuter. Yikes, she was going insane.
"What are the odds, though?" Cathy was saying. "The four of us not only ending up at the same university, but living across from each other in the same dorm."
"It's divine intervention," Bruno affirmed with certainty. "We've been equipped with all the materials necessary to have the best four years of our lives here: each other!" He paused, then added pompously, "And there's the fact that great minds think alike."
"Uh-huh," Boots spoke up sceptically. "And now all that's left is for Elmer Drimsdale to show up out of nowhere."
Then, unbelievably, the third-floor elevator opened with a little ding and out stumbled an unmistakable figure with skinny limbs and obnoxious horn-rimmed glasses, dragging a trolley piled with suitcases twice his size and what appeared to be a cage full of rodents with admirably silky fur. And thus the most famous alumni of Macdonald Hall and Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School for Young Ladies were all simultaneously struck speechless for the second time.
Judging from the way this year was shaping up, it wouldn't be the last.