Horshack appeared greatly engulfed by something that hung on the inside of his locker. As he focused on, what turned out to be the latest magazine centerfold, he completely ignored everything else around him. Epstein smirked, while watching Horshack so enthralled by the image in front of him. Looking towards Freddie and Vinnie, he quietly motioned towards Horshack. Then, still with his smirk, he strolled over to the lockers. Once he stood next to Horshack's locker, clearly not gaining the other boy's attention, he slammed the locker closed. As Horshack jumped back, startled, Epstein and the other two boys started laughing.
As they laughed at Horshack's expense, two other boys from class strolled over to them. While inquiring what had caused the laughter, the new boys looked over at Epstein with the same knowing smirk on their faces. Everyone else noticed this shared expression right away, drawing all attention from the boys to Epstein.
In confusion, Epstein looked behind him, trying to see what they could have been looking at. He then looked back at the other boys just as puzzled. "What? What's going on?"
"Hey, Epstein." One of the smirking boys said. "We heard you had a wild time with a girl in your room after school. All night long."
"Yeah," The other boy smirked as he slapped Epstein on the arm. "Tell us, Juan, who was it?"
Stepping in before Epstein could reply, Vinnie took charge of the conversation. "What's going on, Epstein? You mean you had a girl at your house all last night and you ain't bragged about it, yet? I thought we was friends!"
"We are, we are, Vinnie."
"So why didn't you tell us if you had a girl in your bed with you all night? You always tell us when you score with chicks!" Vinnie finished with a smile. "Hey, no wonder you never showed up at Coney Island with us. C'mon, Juan, give us the juicy details."
"There ain't no juicy details to tell 'cause I ain't hand nobody in my bed last night. If I did I'd tell ya."
One of the other boys grinned slyly while folding his arms coolly, across his chest. "Well that ain't the story goin' 'round the locker room today. Word has it that, not only did this chick follow you home from school yesterday, she followed you straight into your bedroom where she stayed all night."
The second guy chimed in with the same grin. "And she was able to do that because of no interruptions since none of your family was home."
All the other boys chorused with hoots and rambunctious calls. While this occurred, Epstein stood back, clearly un-amused. He quickly put an end to this, holding a serious, almost upset tone to him.
"Alright, alright! Yeah, ok, a girl did come home with me last night. But it ain't like what you think."
Freddie smiled "You mean you and some girl from school had yo' whole house to yo'selves last night and you ain't done nothin' with her?" He finished with a laugh. "I might believe that it you was Horshack."
"Hey!" Epstein exclaimed, growing more upset. "I said it ain't like that!" He looked down the hall and saw Cutie Pie approach them. As she came near, giving him a small smile, he motioned for the others to be quiet.
Cutie Pie walked past all the boys with them watching every move she made. She stopped by her locker before turning back to look at Epstein. Then, after putting her books into the locker and closing the door, she walked over to Epstein.
"By the way, Juan thanks for last night." She kissed him on the cheek.
This was immediately followed by hoots and hollers that were louder and raunchier than the previous ones. Cutie Pie, stunned, stood and looked at the boys wide-eyed. She then timidly turned her attention to Epstein. Stepping forward, Epstein put an end to the taunts.
"Hey, hey, hey! Knock it off! All of you! I already said it ain't like that!"
Cutie Pie looked at Epstein, narrowing her eyes in offence. "Like what, Juan? What's going on here?"
He looked at her then back at the other boys. "Yeah she was at my house last night." He looked mainly at his friends. "But we weren't alone at all. You should know, in my house, ain't nobody ever been alone. Not even in the bathroom. Cutie Pie spent the entire night hangin' with my sisters doing girl stuff. I spent the whole night keepin' my brothers away from her. After knowing what she's been going through at home, I thought it'd be nice for her to spend some time at a home, surrounded by people who are actually nice to each other and take care of one another."
Taking in Epstein's words, Vinnie nodded his head. "Alright, Juan. Don't get upset. We was just jivin' you. We didn't know what you was doin' last night."
"Hey if you let us know you was helpin' Cutie Pie out, we would have understood." Freddie added.
"Yeah." Horshack chimed in. "We're all tryin' to help her. But none of us thought to have her at any of our houses like that."
"Yeah, well," Epstein shrugged. "I just did what I thought she needed." He looked at her with a subtle grin as he finished.
"Thanks, again, Juan. I really appreciate it."
"C'mon, Cutie Pie. I'll walk you to your class." He held out an arm, offering it to her.
Cutie Pie took Epstein's arm with a smile. Before they walked away, Epstein nodded his head with a small smirk towards the other boys. While watching the two of them walk down the hall together, the other boys shared an impressed feeling towards their friend. The bell rang, turning the remaining boys to the classroom. As they did this, they faced their equally impressed teacher grinning back at them from the doorway.
"Mr. Kah-tare, how long have you been standing there?"
Gabe grinned "Long enough to notice that you boys should learn something from Epstein thee. Who knew that one of my students could be such a gentleman like that?" His smile grew.
"Yeah, especially Epstein." Horshack replied, entering a small laugh.
"I've known Epstein a long time, Mr. Kotter." Vinnie looked down the hall where the other two students went. "And I never knew he had it in him. Not like that anyway."
Gabe pointed in the same direction. "Just think, not only was he caring enough to invite her home with him to spend time with his family, and, according to him, did not lay a single finger on her, but he made sure that none of his brothers did either."
"And you bought that, Mr. Kotter?"
"Vinnie, you of all people would know that, just like any other time with any other girl, Epstein would be bragging all about his big score, first thing in the morning."
Vinnie nodded "Yeah he would."
"But he didn't do it. Not only that, but he defended her honor when you all were saying those things about them being together. That's why I believed what he said."
"Very impressive Mr. Kotter." Horshack slowly nodded his head as he spoke.
"Ok, ok, you're right and we're wrong." Freddie replied. "We should have believed him."
Gabe nodded with a grin. "That's right, Now get to class."
Without arguments, all the boys entered the classroom. Gabe hesitated before entering the room, and looked down the hallway.
"Hey Epstein! When you get to class, forget the note!" He chuckled. "I know your mother's not in that classroom to sign her name to it this time!" Shaking his head, he then turned and entered the room.
Epstein entered the classroom with a prideful grin on his face. As he strolled over to his desk he then pushed another desk in front of it. Then, sitting down, he rested his legs on the chair connected to the second desk. Even though he had eyes from all around the room on him, he did not pay attention to any of it. Verajean leaned forward, slyly grinning and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Now, Juan," She said through her grin. "What's the scoop on you and Cutie Pie?"
"What scoop? I already explained that. My whole family was there so nothing happened. Besides I just asked her to come over as a friend and nothing more."
"No." She grinned, with a slight shake of the head. "I meant just now as you walked her to class."
"I walked her to class. What's the big deal?"
Rosalie, who sat next to Vernajean, smiled as she too leaned closer to Epstein. "Let's see…" She listed things on her fingers as she mentioned them. "First you carried her down the hall when she was hurt, you're the one who got her to talk to us about her problems, it was actually your idea to talk to Mr. Kotter about it… Then last night you brought her home with you, you defended her honor in front of the other guys, and now you walked her to her class."
"So? What's your point?"
Vernajean looked at Rosalie, and the two of them smiled with a small laugh. Then, looking at Epstein, Vernajean placed a hand on his shoulder, still smiling.
"Sounds like Juan Epstein has a bit of a crush on Cutie Pie."
"A crush? Aw come on! She's just a friend, a friend y'know?"
Rosalie laughed. "Epstein it's written all over your face. You can't deny it; you like her."
Epstein looked away, trying not to blush. The rest of the class erupted in collective laughter and taunts. This immediately was brought to an end as Epstein stood up to provide some of his typical threats. Gabe had also ended the taunts and made Epstein sit back down. It did not take long after that for the class to settle down and get their minds off the subject of whether or not Epstein had feelings for a certain Miss Cutie Pie.
The class had ended without any major or even minor incidents. Nobody had even mentioned anything else about the hot topic of the class session. The students filled out of Gabe's class, entering the hallways to loiter before their next class. Gathering around the lockers, the small group of straggling students found themselves in a conversation with their teacher. The conversation, as usual, consisted mainly of exchanged barbs with one minor Marx Brother's routine, but it was a conversation nonetheless.
Part way through one of Gabe's impressions, their attention turned away, as Cutie Pie approached them with a smile. She tossed her Farrah-flipped locks over her shoulder as she neared the group. All talking and kidding around stopped as soon as she stood near the other students. One of the other girls pushed Epstein closer to Cutie Pie, and Vinnie slapped him on the back. At first, a look of surprised confusion washed over him before he relaxed and accepted his new spot next to the girl.
"Hey guys. Hi Mr. Kotter." She waved at the teacher. "I just wanted to stop by to say, well, thank you. For everything." She turned to Epstein with a small grin. "Especially you, Juan. That was very sweet of you. I mean, even if it was just one night, you allowed me to have a normal family."
"You're welcome, honey. And y'know, any time at all you feel you need an escape, you're more than welcome to come over. I'm sure ma won't mind setting out an extra plate at dinner." He finished with a grin.
"Again, thanks, Juan. Oh and that reminds me, tell your sister I said thanks for letting me borrow that Elvis Costello record."
He smiled with a small nod of his head. "Will do. I'll let her know."
Cutie Pie then looked at Gabe with a small grin. "Oh, Mr. Kotter… Even though it wasn't your idea, I still appreciate the fact that you tried talking to me about… everything. It's really nice to know that there's so many people around here who care enough about me and my situation."
"Certainly." Gabe replied, sincerely "Um, Q, I really did mean what I said to you. I know none of us can truly help, other than provide our support. Like I said, any time at all you feel you need to talk to somebody we're always here for you." He motioned towards his classroom. "My door's always open."
"I'll be sure to stop by whenever I need it." She looked at the other students. "Probably a lot more often, since I have such great friends in this class." She snickered before continuing. "Never thought I'd say something like this, but coming to school seems actually worthwhile because of you Sweathogs."
The other students replied by showing their gratitude towards her. However, much to everyone's disappointment, the next class's starting bell rang. Then, after a brief goodbye, the group dispersed, taking to their separate ways down the hall. Cutie Pie, who was last to leave the area, was stopped by Gabe before she could go anywhere. She turned to the teacher to question this and she saw a look of confused curiosity written on his face.
"Something wrong, Mr. Kotter?"
"Q… sorry to make you late but, there's something that I've been wondering ever since my students first mentioned you in my class."
She nodded her head with a sure understanding. "It's my name isn't it?"
"Yes. If you don't mind me asking… how did you get the name Cutie Pie any way?"
Cutie Pie looked around the hallway to make sure no other students were in the area to overhear their conversation. "Ok Mr. Kotter, you're the only one who's going to get to hear this story, so that means, don't tell anyone." She snickered, although she was serious.
"Alright Q." He grinned, holding his hand up in a promise. "Go ahead. How did you get your nickname?"
"Actually, Mr. Kotter, my nickname is sort of a play on my last name. See my real name is Susie Quentenpyre."
The teacher entered his Groucho impression "With a name like that, no wonder you go by a nickname."
She laughed. "Yeah and at my old school people started calling me Susie Q, because of the CCR song. It got so annoying having everyone call me Susie Q all the time. People would even sing the song to me as they passed me in the hallways. Every single day, Mr. Kotter, I'd have to hear that! Do you have any idea how painfully annoying that became?"
"I can only imagine."
"So when I found out my family was moving here I decided, in order to escape that nickname, I should come up with a new one before coming to the new school."
"Wait. You made up your own nickname?"
"Yeah. I had to otherwise the name Susie Q would have followed me here. So anyway, while I was thinking of a new nickname for myself I realized something. If you remove the letters U E N and R from my last name, what do you have left? Q T PY. So naturally, that became Cutie Pie. And there you go."
"There you go."Gabe laughed.
Cutie Pie laughed as well before heading down the hallway. "Catch you later, Mr. Kotter!"
Gabe could not help laughing to himself over the student as she left. Then, with a smile on his face, and a shake of his head, he walked back to his classroom. By his experience with his students, he knew things with Cutie Pie were far from over for him and the Sweathogs. He knew, though, this was not necessarily a bad thing. After dealing with her personal issues during this particular week, he felt glad to know Cutie Pie.