Notes:  I've made Connie a bit of a… *thinks of polite way to say it*… um, hussy.  If you read D2 (the book that Dana has very kindly typed up and put in the files section) she acts like it too.  It's not just because I don't like her.

Part 9

      Yet another fun-filled practice with the Ducks.  Orion's mad as hell with me for going out drinking.  Despite protests that I wasn't drinking, he's still mad.  However, he's twice as mad with the school and its politics.  He thinks I should have been benched for a week at least.  He doesn't believe in rule bending, I should be punished, not rewarded for sneaking out.

      He made this abundantly clear by yelling it loudly as we were all getting changed.  Nice.  Everyone stares at me for a few minutes making me feel worse.  I try to ignore them as I get changed.

      All of this is made worse by Charlie throwing glares and patronising advice in my direction.  I can't stand the guy.  I know some people (especially the giggling girls who work on the school paper) think he's the heart of the team, but he's not.  What Charlie really is, is a spoilt baby.  I remember when we joined this school, and he and Orion didn't get on.  He pouted his way through a few months of school until Bombay came back and made things all better for him.  Minutes later he's Orion's favourite player.

      Then we moved up to Varsity and he went through the same thing with Coach Wilson.  Except that Bombay was too busy to come and fix Charlie again, so he went pouting to the school board and Orion and they managed to switch Coaches.  Now Orion coaches us and Wilson deals with JV.

      I'm so sick of him.  I'm sick of everything.  I used to be able to ignore feelings like this, but Traci has just pushed me over the edge.  I just can't stand it any more.

      Part of me wants to pack this all in, go back home and start playing baseball again.  I hate this school, I'm no longer playing hockey because it's fun, I'm playing because I have to.  I'm playing because if I don't I'll get kicked out.

      "Keep smiling, Mendoza."

      I look up and see that the locker room is almost empty save the Bash Brothers.

      Portman grins at me.  "This place sucks."

      "Why don't you sit with us at dinner if you can't face the rest of them?"  Fulton offers, slipping his hand into Portman's.

      I have a double-whammy of realisations.  First off, they're a couple.  How on earth did I miss that?  And secondly, I realise that I'm not the only one on the outside of the group.  Fulton and Portman rarely get involved in anything Duck-oriented except for hockey nowadays.

      "I think I promised Annie I'd…"  I tail off.  I do want to sit with them, and this might be a one-time offer.  "I'm sure she'll understand."

      "Bring her too."  Portman says.

      "Yeah, we've got nothing against girls… couldn't date one, of course."  Fulton laughs a little.

      "Especially not this one."  I tell them.  "She prefers women."

      "Well, finish changing up and we'll save you a seat."


      I take a seat with the Bashes, keeping an eye out for Annie.  She's not usually late – unless, of course, she's changed her plans and is once more communicating only by ESP.

      I voice this to Fulton and Portman who look amused.

      "Maybe she's been abducted by aliens and replaced with a look-alike."  Portman suggests.

      I give him an astounded look.  "O-kaaay."

      "It's what's happened with Connie."  Fulton explains.  "Or, that's what we think at least, we can't come up with any other reason."

      "For what?"  What have I missed today while being yelled at?

      "She was being nice."  Portman replies shortly.

      "She's always nice."  I reply.  "Well, to most people."

      "Yes, and the three of us at this table are not most people."  Fulton points out.  "Julie started on about your little weekend excursion, and Connie stood up for you."

      I snort, knowing what brought on Connie's sudden fit of 'niceness'.  "Yeah, well, that's not aliens, that's being at the right place at the right time."

      They exchange a baffled look.

      "I happened to see Connie and Averman swapping spit during my 'weekend excursion'."  I tell them.

      "No way!"  Portman exclaims loudly, drawing stares from several tables.  "Details now!"

      Fulton prods him in the ribs.  "Stop beings such a queen."

      I'm just about to respond when I see Annie walk into the dining hall.

      She's wearing a cheerleader's uniform complete with pom-poms and sparkly hairbands.

      My jaw drops.

      "On second thoughts, tell me more about this alien theory."  I finally say.

      Annie dances over, shaking her pom-poms.

      "Annie, it's not Halloween."  I tell her.

      "I know."

      She strikes a pose, then starts cheering – in the centre of the dining hall, no less.

"I'm sexy, I'm cute

I'm so chipper you could puke

I giggle, I grin

I vomit 'til I'm thin

I'm blonde, with tits,

My IQ's less than shit!

I bounce, I twirl,

I'm the new rah-rah girl!"

      The three of us crack up, while the rest of the school stare at her in bewilderment, trying to work out if it's a prank.  I notice the Varsity Cheerleaders are glaring daggers at her.

      Annie calmly takes a seat.  "So, what did you do today?"  She asks brightly.

      "Please don't tell me you're a cheerleader.  This is a joke, right?"  I respond in confusion.

      "No such luck."  She grins at me.  "It's about time I stopped fighting it.  I mean, I'm blonde and have big tits, cheerleading is my destiny."

      She turns to Fulton and Portman and extends her hand across the table.  "Hi, I'm Annie."

      They shake hands with her, looking amused.

      "I didn't realise that Luis had friends on the team."  She comments, then slaps her hand over her mouth.  "I didn't mean that the way it sounded."  She turns to me.  "I'm really sorry, it's just your team seem such idiots."  She turns back to them.  "Ooh, sorry!  No offence."

      She takes a deep breath to regain composure.  "I'm really sorry.  I think it's the uniform.  You have to be either bitchy or ditzy to cheer.  I'm not, I think they've bewitched my uniform."

      "Since your apology was so amusing and unique, we accept it."  Fulton says with a grin.

      Annie looks relieved.

      "So why are you wearing that?"  I ask.

      "I'm a cheerleader."  She replies.

      I shake my head tiredly.  "Why?  How?  When?"

      "Why?  Because there was a spot open since Traci's out, and I thought it would be a good idea to keep an eye on her.  How?  I've been doing gymnastics since I could stand.  When?  There were tryouts at lunch, only a few people turned up.  I was the only one who could do the splits and all those hand springs."  Annie replies matter-of-factly.  "Also, I thought you could do with a laugh, and what's funnier than me being all 'Go team!'?"

      I smile at her.  "Only a Kevin Smith movie is funnier than that."

      Annie grins approvingly.  She's the one who got me into Kevin Smith in the first place.  "So, what have I missed today?"

      "Connie was nice."  I say.

      "Yep, very complimentary about Luis."  Portman adds.  "She couldn't say enough about how we all stereotyped him and his character was badly maligned."

      "Was she nice about you?"  I ask.  It's common knowledge that Connie likes to gossip about anyone, and usually I'm the target.  I'm just wondering if she says much about the Bashes.

      "No, not really.  She shut up as soon as she realised we were in the room."  Fulton says.  "It's not that she has a problem with us as a couple, she just doesn't like us."

      "Any reason why?"

      "Remember when she cheated on Guy with Adam in that very Friends-like way?"  Fulton asks.

      "We were on a break!"  Portman adds in an uncannily good David Schwimmer voice.

      "We were the ones who told Guy."  Fulton shrugs.  "It's not like it was any of our business, but he didn't know and the rest of the team did, it just wasn't fair."

      "It pretty much finished us with the group."  Portman continues.  "They all thought it wasn't any of our business.  Guy's ok with us, but he hangs around Connie too much to really be a person in his own right."

      "God, I hate this place."  I mutter.

      "Not long 'til we graduate though."  Annie says comfortingly.

      I still can't take it in that she's wearing a cheerleading uniform.  It just looks so wrong on her.  I mean, she looks great, but all the same… Annie, a cheerleader?