The obligatory first fic of almost every Duck fan: New girl at Eden Hall finds it hard to fit in.

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Chapters: 9 | Status: Complete


  • Taz had her name changed to Terri, then back again in 2018. There was talk of someone publishing a book using a character of that name, but it never happened.
  • This isn’t really set in any timeline from the film. I guess it’s after D3
  • I’m a Brit, so anything that doesn’t seem right, please point it out to me!
  • CHD exists. If you want to point out any inconsistencies I will laugh at you. I’ve had 21 years of living with it. *grins* (38 year old me would like you to read the below note.)
  • Taz has purple hair. It’s her trademark, without it she’d just be another character to forget about. So we’re just going to have to overlook the fact that she’s in school and probably wouldn’t be allowed purple hair.

I did a quick edit of this in 2015, which is about 15 years after I wrote it, and realised the Unfortunate Implications of it.

The story was never meant to say “Ha, my disability is less impactful than someone else’s disability, lolz”. The moral of the story was the Taz ought to woman up and stop being a reclusive dick, because she’s not a special little snowflake, and if a kid half her age can face difficulty with grace, she ought to be able to as well. My younger self did not have the deftness to pull that off, and my older self wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole (not for a story she wrote years ago and isn’t all that fussed about now). Anyway, I apologise to anyone who read it that way. You’re right to be upset, because I was clumsy in my execution of this story, but I honestly never meant to be offensive.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 1: First Day aka Hell”]

Taz pushed her purple hair out of her eyes and sighed. They should give out campus videos before enrolling, she decided. Not so she could check what the ‘beautiful people’ were wearing and then copy, but just so she could get an idea of how acutely out of place she would feel on her first day.

Not that she usually cared, but her dad had promised that this would be the last move before graduation. This final year at school would actually count.

He’d even asked her to try to make friends this time.

She glanced around the quad. Fat chance. Everyone looked so preppy here. Even the losers had laughed their asses off at her.

Of course, the purple hair was did make her a walking target. The purple contact lenses had nearly made the headmaster’s head spin.

What she was wearing didn’t really matter. No-one’s eyes ever made it past her hair.

And her bizarre Irish accent didn’t help at all. She had spent the first nine years of her life in Ireland, then moved to the USA.

A bunch of cheerleaders walked past her, all bubbly and perfectly groomed, and so all-American that Taz wanted to hurl. A smiley blonde glanced at Taz, then whispered something. The rest of the group all looked pointedly at her, then laughed loudly.

Taz blushed, and rummaged around in her bag for her walkman. She clipped the earphones on and tuned out the world.

“What are you staring at, dude?” Portman asked.

Fulton blinked, coming out of his daze. “Nothing.” He and a few of the other Ducks were sitting under a tree, enjoying a few minutes of sun during lunch.

Portman followed his friend’s line of vision. “Cheerleaders? You’re staring at cheerleaders?”

“No I wasn’t,” he protested.

“Which one?” Charlie joined the conversation, his interest piqued.

“None of them.”

“We’re not complaining, man. We just want to know which one caught your eye,” Portman told him.

“I bet it was Natalie,” Adam said with a rueful smile. “Everyone in the school wants Natalie.” Adam had been turned down by Natalie only a few days ago.

“Natalie doesn’t want anyone that’s in school though.” Charlie patted Adam on the arm. “She wants a guy with a car who can get her a fake ID.”

“What about Bethany?” Adam turned to Portman. “Is she Fulton’s type?”

“Are we talking cheerleaders again?” Connie asked as she approached with Julie in tow. When she reached the tree they were congregated beneath she dropped her books to the ground and took a seat next to Guy. “When are you guys gonna admit defeat? They like football players.”

“Not for us. Fulton’s gawping at some chick,” Portman explained.

“Really?” Julie asked, looking around. “That’s the lamest excuse ever, because he’s not even here.”

The rest of the Ducks looked around. Fulton was nowhere to be seen.

Taz frowned at the wall of lockers, very close to tears. She had remembered that her locker was in the third bank of lockers, and that it had the words “Lucy + Nick 4Eva” scrawled on it.

Unfortunately, Lucy—whoever she was—loved Nick so much that she had written it several times.

She was almost convinced she had found the right locker by now, and she put down her bag to rummage around for the code she had written down.

Someone bumped into her as she fiddled with the dial. She turned just in time to see her bag being kicked down the hall. She watched in dismay as her bag burst open, scattering pens, papers, folders and text books along the corridor.

The guys who were kicking it quickly lost interest after that happened. Taz bit her lip and started to pick up her stuff, acting as if she didn’t hear people whispering about her and staring at her.

She had been here for little over two hours, she already knew she hated it.

She knelt down and began to pick up her pens. Lord knew there had only been about three in there before her bag burst open, now it appeared she was housing Bic’s head office in there.

“Here you go.”

Taz didn’t even look up. No one had spoken to her so far, the voice couldn’t be aimed at her. When a hand tentatively touched her shoulder she nearly launched into outer space.

She looked up and met a pair of hazel eyes and a smiling face framed with brown hair. He was holding out her folder.

“Thanks,” she muttered, shoving it in her bag, and getting to her feet in order to make a quick exit before he managed to make a cutting comment in front of everyone. “Hey—”

“I have to go,” she cut him off and walked away without looking back.

Taz groaned. This was deeply unfair. After the hell that had been this morning, did she really deserve double Phys ed?

Naturally she was surrounded by cheerleaders and athletes that moved with ease and grace. Phys ed was the only time in the world when she wished her hair was a mousy brown so she could slink away into the corners and be invisible.

“Right girls!” The teacher, who had introduced herself as Ms Joy to Taz, bounded in exuberantly. “Today we’re doing cross country running. I hope you’re feeling perky!”

Taz’s jaw dropped. Cross country? She felt like bursting into tears. She couldn’t do it. It was plain and simple.

She reluctantly raised her hand.

“Yes, Taryn?”

She considered correcting Ms Joy about her name, but decided to get straight to the point. “I can’t do…”

“Just do your best,” Ms Joy cut her off.

“But my doc—”

“Come on girls. Anyone who takes longer than five minutes through the woods is on detention!”


“You too, Taryn.” Ms Joy glared.

Taz reluctantly followed.

But my doctor told me not to, is what she was going to say.

Taz changed from her gym clothes as quickly as she could, trying to ignore the cat-calls.

“Hey, hop-a-long!”

“How’s the carousel working out for you?”

“Limpet, you should try out for cheerleading, we could use a laugh.”

“Purple, you really are lame at sport!”

She bit back the tears and finished getting changed. She tried to keep her head high as she left the changing room.

Of course, her proud exit was somewhat diminished by her prominent limp.

Taz was on the verge of tears for the nth time that day. She had “accidentally” got lost on the way to class, unfortunately because it was her first day at school, she’d become genuinely lost.

She wasn’t upset because she was lost, in fact, knowing that she was where she shouldn’t be made her feel a bit better about herself.

It was where she was that was making her want to cry. She was stuck in athletic hell. The hall she was in was a shrine to those with perfectly able bodies. She felt slightly sick at her pathetic self. She could walk, there were people that couldn’t.

Naturally, none of them were actually at this school.

She ran her hands through her hair, trying to calm herself.

She was in trophy hell. One for every year since the school was established. All of them were First Place. Hockey, Baseball, Track, even cheerleading. She blinked. Cheerleading was a sport?

Sure enough, there were trophies to prove how perfect the cheerleaders were.

She suddenly realised why she didn’t fit in with anyone at this school.

Eden Hall didn’t allow losers.

“Why me?” Fulton asked the teacher.

“Because I asked you. Now run to the office for me and collect my lesson plan book.”

Fulton rolled his eyes as he got up, Portman gave him a smile. Usually any reason to get out of a lesson was a good thing. However, there were exceptions, and going to the office was the said exception.

He would be lucky if he managed to get out of the office unscathed. There was always something that he had done wrong. His hair was too long. He looked too messy. Someone had seen him roller-blading in the halls.

He wandered along the halls, lost in his thoughts. Mainly about the girl with purple hair he had seen in the quad this morning. She was new, that was for certain. You couldn’t overlook a girl with purple hair for long.

She’d looked unhappy, he could empathise. Before the Ducks people had made assumptions about him without taking the time to talk to him. And that scene in the hallways earlier probably hadn’t given her a lot of faith in the student body of Eden Hall.

She was definitely cute.

And she was standing right in front of him. He blinked several times just to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating.


She turned to look at him, shook her head sadly then turned back to the wall of trophies. Her purple hair fell around her face, hiding from him, but not before he noticed the unshed tears in her eyes.

“Are you ok?”

“Five by five,” she responded woodenly in a faintly Irish accent.

He frowned, obviously she didn’t want to talk about what was wrong, so he tried another tactic. “You a hockey fan?”

She whirled around on him, taking in his Ducks jersey. “Yeah!” she snapped abruptly. “Oh yeah, I’m a big sports fan. Why don’t you just get to the point?”

“What?” he asked, confused.

“The punchline. You know, the bit where you laugh your ass off at me because I limp. You know!” She laughed sharply. “When you say how lame I am at sports! Or when you call me hop-a-long, or Limpet, or ask about the carousel. You guys think you’re so god-damned original. I’ve been hearing those taunts all my life.” She bit her lip. “The sad thing is, they still make me cry.”

She picked up her bag and walked away quickly.

For the first time, Fulton noticed that she limped.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 2: A Friend”]

“What was school like, pumpkin?”

Taz forced a big smile at her father. “Oh you know, big red and grey building. Hardwood flooring. Classes. Teachers. Students. That sort of thing.”

“I didn’t ask what school was, Taryn.”

“Well technically you did,” she responded, edging hopefully towards the stairs.

“Ok, I’ll rephrase. How did you get on? How did you fit in?”

“How did I get on?” She sighed. She couldn’t lie to her Dad. “I got on like Posh Spice at a United Nations Convention.”

He frowned at her. “Who’s Posh Spice?”

“I got on like a drunk at an AA meeting.” She added. Still no sign of comprehension. “I got on like a cripple at the Olympics for normal people!” She spat out.

“Taryn, I don’t—”

“It’s Taz, Dad. Taz.”

“Taz, then,” he conceded. “You’re not a cripple—and I don’t like that word. You’re perfectly normal.” He reached for her hand.

“No I’m not,” she protested. “They all laughed at me.”

“You are perfectly normal,” he reiterated. “Although you will insist on dying your hair. The average sixteen year old does not have purple hair, let alone purple eyes.”

“Dad, don’t you get it?” She let the tears fall again, sick of the lump in her throat and the pain in her head from fighting them. “If I dye my hair they should pick on that and not my limp.”

He pulled her onto his lap for a hug, despite the fact that she was too old and too big to be hugged like that now.

“Kids are cruel, Taz. Just don’t sink to their level.”

“But why don’t they laugh at my hair instead of my limp?” she asked. “I can’t help my limp, so why don’t they pick on something I chose to do?”

He stroked her hair and let her cry, not knowing how to answer the question.

Taz squared her shoulders and held her head high as she entered the school building. It was going to be hell, sure, but she wasn’t going to slip up this time. No-one else was going to see her cry.

If all they cared about was perfection and trophies then she was too good for this school.

She marched up to her locker and began sorting through her books, searching for her Math text book.

“Um, hi.”

She looked up and saw the boy from yesterday. She sighed in exasperation. “I’m not going to cry again, so you might as well go away and save your breath.”

“Believe it or not, I don’t want to see you cry,” he replied with a half smile.

“You’re a jock, I can’t even run, hell, some days I can barely walk. So, we have nothing in common. Thanks for the chat.” She turned her attention back to her locker.

“Are you always this aggressive?” he asked.

I’m aggressive? Can you blame me?”

He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Ok, you make a fair point. What say we start this conversation again? I’m Fulton Reed, and you are?”

“Taryn McDonald, Taz.”

“See, that wasn’t so bad was it?” He smiled at her.

“Could have been worse,” she admitted.

“I was wondering if you wanted to have lunch with me and my friends today.” He offered.

“I don’t get it.” She said. “Why? What’s the point? You’re a jock and—”

“You’re not,” he replied gently. “So what? My team might kill me for saying this, but there’s more to life than hockey. You can’t do some sport, that’s ok. I like a load of other stuff besides hockey, like trashy horror movies, and loud music and a million other things.”

She finally smiled at him. “Ok, you win. Lunch.”

“I’ll meet you in the quad.”

Fulton smiled at Taz as she approached. She tentatively smiled back at him.

“How was class?” He asked.

“The usual. Mind numbingly boring,” she replied, with a slight edge to her voice. “You?”

He wondered if she’d ever relax at school. “The same. Of course, there’s also the abject terror that I’ll flunk a class and be suspended from the team.”

“Then you’d be a loser like me.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Why do you do that?” He asked.

“Do what?”

“Assume that people will think you’re lower than dirt because you can’t play sport.”

“I don’t,” she replied quickly. He raised his eyebrows at her pointedly. She rolled her eyes. “Ok, maybe I do a little. But it’s only so I can beat you to the punchline.”

“Give it up,” he said. “I’m not going to laugh at you.”

“Wait ‘til you see me in gym,” she replied.

He rolled his eyes at her. “There you go again. Like I said before, there’s more to life than hockey.”

She smiled reluctantly. “Sorry.”

“So what do you like? I take it that you’re not a big hockey fan.” He led her over to a bench and sat down.

She took a seat. “I like art, I also love trashy horror movies. Horse riding is also fun.”

He stared at her. “Horse riding?”

She almost got up and walked away again, but decided that he might have a point about her aggressive nature. “Yeah, when my hip’s not playing up I can do it. It’s mainly a summer thing for me.”

“You hip? Is that…”

“Yeah. CHD. Big fun.”

“What’s CHD?” He asked.

“CHD stands for Congenital Hip Dysplasia. I was born with deformed hips, they were dislocated.” She flipped some hair out of her eyes. “You know the hip bone is a ball and socket joint?” She made her right hand into a fist and then cupped it with her left hand to demonstrate. “This is what a normal hip looks like, kinda, and this—” She smiled at him, then straightened her left hand and moved her right hand, still balled up in a fist, down to about wrist level. “—this is what my hip looks like.”

“So is that why you limp?” he ventured, knowing this was an iffy subject for her.

“Yeah, because of my dodgy hips one of my legs is about an inch or two shorter than the other.”

“Does it hurt?”

She shrugged. “Yes and no. Yes if I’m made to do cross country running, or spend too much time horse riding or walking. But a lot of the time it doesn’t bother me. It seems to bother plenty of other people though.” The last statement was offhand, as if it didn’t matter to her, but they both knew otherwise.

“This school doesn’t like what’s different,” he told her. “The first year my team came here we didn’t get on with anyone.”

That caught her attention. “Yeah? You didn’t like it here?”

“Yeah, the school thought we were here on a free ride and didn’t like it much.”


“After the Junior Goodwill Games we got awarded scholarships—”

“Wait a minute!” she interrupted. “The Junior Goodwill Games? As in the teenage Olympics?”

“Um, yeah.” He expected her to get up and walk away, so he was pleasantly surprised to see her laugh. More so that she laughed so hard that tears started leaking from her eyes.

“What?” He asked, slightly bemused.

She just laughed harder. When she finally calmed herself she managed to answer him. “It’s just that I was so worried about fitting in.” She started laughing again.

“That’s it?”

“And Eden Hall turned its nose up at a team that played at Olympic level.” She laughed so hard that she almost turned the same colour as her hair.

Fulton smiled at her, noticing how pretty she looked when she laughed.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 3: Confidence is a Plus”]

Notes: Right, I know Taz’s attitude is a little whiny, that’s ok, that’s the point at the moment. Also, I’m going to try and incorporate some more ducks into it. I meant to, but got sidetracked.

“Dude, where have you been, we haven’t seen you at lunch for the past couple of days,” Portman complained, catching up with his friend as they left the school.

“Sorry,” Fulton replied. “Met this girl, I was gonna bring her over, but she’s shy.”

“Oh yeah? Was it one of the cheerleaders?” he asked with interest.

Fulton grinned. “Hardly. She’s got a personality.”

“Yeah, well she’d better be something special, you missed a great lunch yesterday.”

“What happened?”

“Connie and Guy broke up, and Linda flounced up to Charlie hurled some abuse and then stomped off. Oh, and Julie broke up with Scott.” Portman added the last one as if it didn’t matter when, in fact, Fulton knew it was the entire point of the exchange.

“Portman, that’s great! This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.”

Dean shrugged. “Yeah well…”

“You know she likes you.”

“Goldberg saw her talking to Banks yesterday.”

Fulton rolled his eyes. “So what? We’re a team, of course she’s gonna talk to him. Just ask her out.”

Portman brightened a little. “Hey, why don’t you and I casually ask her if she wants to go into town and then if it goes well you can subtly leave.”

“Can’t. Sorry, man. I’ve got something to do after school.”

“You meeting your girl?” He asked.

“No. And she’s not my girl yet.” He replied, smiling at the thought of being Taz’s boyfriend. “Just go and ask Julie out, three’s a crowd anyway.”

“If she says no I will blame you,” Dean promised.

“Fine.” Fulton smiled, catching a glimpse of purple hair in the crowd. He caught Taz’s eye and waved.

“That her?” Portman asked.

“Yeah, she’s called Taz, and she’s shy, so be nice,” he cautioned.

“Be nice? I’m always nice.”

“Well, put it this way, Connie and Julie might tolerate your unique charm, but Taz won’t,” he said, moving towards the purple haired girl.

“Hey,” Taz smiled shyly at him and flashed a quick grin at Portman.

“Taz, this is Dean Portman, my team mate and Bash Brother. Dean, this is Taz.”

“Hey Taz, great hair.” Portman smiled, then looked at Fulton to ascertain he’d said the right thing. Fulton smiled and nodded.

“Thanks. Hi. What’s a Bash Brother?” she asked quietly.

Portman opened his mouth, then quickly shut it again after seeing Fulton’s warning look.

“On the ice hockey team, we’re enforcers. It can get kinda rough out there.” Fulton explained quickly.

“Why don’t you come and see us play some time?” Portman offered. “See me and Fulton demolish an entire team.”

She glanced at Fulton to make sure the offer was genuine. “Ok,” she said hesitantly.

Fulton elbowed his friend in the ribs. “There goes Julie.”

“Wish me luck.”

“Good luck,” Taz said quickly. “Not sure what for, but good luck anyway.”

Fulton smiled at her, liking the new, more confident, Taz.


“Go get her, man,” Fulton added as Portman vanished across the campus.

Fulton turned to Taz. “Where were you at lunch, I was looking for you.”

“Oh, my doctor’s note appeared saying that I don’t have to do any form of running, so I spent the entire lunch hour in the office trying to work out what classes I could take while that was happening. Apparently I can’t just use it as a study period.”

“Oh right. There was something I need to ask you, but you have to promise not to get upset,” he said. “So do you promise?”

She frowned slightly. “I guess.”

“Ok, I was just wondering how much difference there is in the length of your legs, and which one is shorter,” he said hesitantly, ready to grab her arm at the slightest hint of her taking off.

She glanced around her, as if checking who was listening. “Why?”

“Can you just trust me that it’s nothing bad? I just want to know.”

She sighed. “Why does it matter?”

“It doesn’t. Really. I’m not asking because it matters. I can’t really explain why, but just trust me.”

She shrugged awkwardly. “If this is a big joke or something…”

“It’s not.”

“My right leg is an inch and three quarters shorter than my left.”

“Thanks. I promise you won’t regret telling me.” He touched her arm. “You wanna go get something to eat?”

She smiled. “I can’t. I have to get home. My dad freaks if I’m not back on time.”

“Ok, well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Ok.” She smiled, and turned as if to go, then stopped. “Thanks for being nice to me.”

Fulton laughed. “Believe me, it’s not a chore.”

He got a final smile before she disappeared into the crowd.

He checked his watch. He had plenty of time to get to Jan’s before curfew.

Julie sat opposite Portman in a booth at McD’s. She had been a little shocked at his invitation, but pleased nonetheless. However, it wasn’t going to plan.

She couldn’t seem to think of anything to say that wasn’t hockey related. Which wasn’t a bad thing—provided she wanted Portman to think she was so one-dimensional that her life was hockey, and she sat at home, knitting as she waited for practice.

“So…” She wracked her brains for something intelligent to say. “Who’d have thought Connie and Guy would break up. I thought they were lifers.”

“Yeah.” He agreed. “They seemed good together.”

“I mean, Guy was always so nice to her. Do you remember when he had a dozen red roses delivered to her in class for her birthday. I’d love a guy to do something like that for me.” Way to go, Jules. Sound desperate. She couldn’t help but picture Dean doing something equally romantic for her.

“You like that sappy stuff?” he asked.

“From the right person,” she said. “Yeah. I am a girl, you know. Girls like stuff like that.” Maybe it was time to shut up.

“From the right person,” he repeated thoughtfully.

Hrmm. Maybe it wasn’t quitting time just yet.

“Hey Taz, what are you doing?” Peter McDonald asked, not quite believing his eyes.

She tore her eyes from the TV screen long enough to smile at him. “Watching ice hockey, Dad,” she replied.

He watched his daughter a few minutes longer before moving towards the kitchen, muttering, “It looks like Taz, it sounds like Taz, but that can’t be Taz.”

Taz was thoroughly engrossed in the game. She had managed to convince the school librarian to lend her the tapes from the Junior Goodwill Games. It had taken nearly her entire lunch hour and all of her powers of persuasion to get her the rigid librarian to bend the rules.

She now understood what Fulton had meant by Bash Brother. Every time he and Dean appeared on the screen she watched a little more closely. She didn’t understand the rules, but she was loving every minute of it.

“Thanks, Jan. You’re sure they’ll be ready for Saturday?” Fulton asked. His wallet was seriously dented—despite Jan’s very generous discount—but he was sure it would be worth it.

“I am sure,” Jan replied. “I will call you when they are ready.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate this,” he called over his shoulder as he left.

On his way back to the dorms he bumped into Portman.

“Hey man,” he said cheerfully. “How did it go?”

“How did it go?” He repeated sarcastically. “Put it this way, it would have gone a lot better if I was Guy.”


“She spent the entire time talking about Guy and all the romantic stuff he did for Connie.”

“Maybe she was hinting,” Fulton suggested.

“No. You didn’t see the sappy look in her eyes while she was talking about him.”

“Don’t give up just yet.” Fulton said encouragingly, but knew it was moot. Portman had worked himself into a mood about it and was unlikely to snap out of it. Not tonight at least.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 4: A Date?”]

Notes: Thanks for the reviews! Again, I’m trying to work the other ducks in there but I keep getting sidetracked.

“Taz!” Fulton pushed through the crowd, muttering apologies as he tried to catch up with her. “Taz!” He put his hand on her shoulder.

She turned towards him with a faint smile. “Hey.”

“Are you alright?” he asked.

She shrugged. “Thank god it’s Friday.”

“Bad day?” He fell in step beside her.

“Tennis. Muchas catcalling.”

“I thought you didn’t have to do phys ed,” he said.

“No, I just get out of the stuff that’s hard on my hip. Tennis doesn’t count. It doesn’t help that I have no co-ordination. Naturally they started picking on me. I think you’re the only person who doesn’t call me Limpet.” She shrugged again. “It could be worse.”

“Not everyone in this school is that horrible,” he told her.

“I know.” She smiled. “This girl called Julie stood up for me. She seemed nice.”

“Julie Gaffney?”

“Yeah, do you know her?”

“She’s a Duck.” He led her out of the crowd that was pushing to get out of the gates over to a bench. “Anyway, I was wondering if you had plans for tomorrow.”

“Just a busy weekend of logging on to the net and emailing my friends in Ireland. Not much really.” She smiled self-deprecatingly.

“Ireland? Is that where you’re from originally?”

“Kinda, my Dad’s American and my Mum was Irish. We lived in Ireland until I was nine. When my Mum died we moved back to the US to be closer to his family. Most of the people I email haven’t seen me since I was nine.”

“Sorry about your Mom,” he said, not quite knowing if it was the right thing to say.

“It’s ok, long time ago. Anyway, before that delve into my past, what were we talking about?”

“I was asking if you had plans for tomorrow.”

She shook her head. “Not really. I was maybe going to go into town and get some more folders and stuff. Pretty thrilling. If I can take the excitement, I may clean my room.”

“Well, I guess you don’t want to meet me tomorrow then.” He smiled at her. “I know it won’t be as much fun as cleaning your room, but I’d really like it if you could tear yourself away from the vacuum cleaner to keep me company.”

“I can probably handle it,” she said. “Where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Will I like it?” she asked suspiciously.

“I hope so.”

Taz was rushing around her room, trying to work out what to wear. Last night when she had told her Dad that she was meeting a guy from school he had asked her if it was a date. She had replied instantly that it wasn’t.

However, now she was beginning to panic. Was it a date? She wasn’t sure. She was pretty sure that she wanted it to be a date. Well, she probably did.

But if it wasn’t a date she didn’t want to dress up too much and embarrass herself.

She finally decided on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. It really wasn’t much of a choice to make, most of her stuff was in boxes in the attic thanks to a mix-up with the removal men. She still hadn’t gotten around to getting them back down to her room.

Add to that her Dad’s paranoia that she would fall off the ladder and break her hip… she doubted she’d get the clothes down any time soon.

She heard the doorbell and hurried downstairs to try to get there before her father.

She failed.

“Hi, Mr McDonald, I’m Fulton Reed. Is Taz around?”

She smiled in amusement as Fulton shook hands with her father. He seemed to be making a good impression.

“Fulton Reed?” Her father repeated. “Aren’t you the kid from the Junior Goodwill Games?”

Fulton smiled nervously. “Yeah. Are you a hockey fan?”

“Not really, but Taryn was watching the tape so intently last night—”

“Hi!” Taz interrupted quickly. “I’m ready. Shall we go?” She decided to leave before her Dad gave one of those talks that all Dads—or at least, the Dads on TV—seemed to give young men taking out their daughters.

“It was nice to meet you, Mr McDonald,” Fulton said politely as they walked away.

“Your Dad seems cool,” he commented.

“He is,” she agreed. “Well, most of the time. So where are we going?”

“You’ll see when we get there. C’mon.”

“The ice rink,” she said dubiously as he led her to a seat. “Have I mentioned the difference in the length of my legs?”

He reached into his bag and brought out a pair of skates. “These are for you.” He handed them to her.

On closer inspection she saw that the right skate was a lot higher than the left. She crinkled her brow at him, a slow smile creeping over her face. “You got me built-up skates?”

“Well, yeah. I wanted you to try skating. I talked to Dwayne and he said that horse riding is all about balance and I figured that if you could balance on a horse maybe you—”

He stopped abruptly when she flung her arms around him. “Thank you.”

He was quite stunned, but very happy at her sudden show of warmth.

She disentangled herself from him, somewhat embarrassed, and refocused on the skates.

“Jan made it an inch and a half higher, he said something about leaving a certain amount of difference.” He shrugged. “Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, when I get my shoes built up by the doctors they leave a gap too. I don’t really get why, but they have letters after they name and I don’t, so I trust them.”

Fulton sat down and started pulling on his own skates. He looked at her. “I have a question.”


“Are you going to put those on, or are you just going to stare at them?”

She grinned and pulled off her shoes.

“Make sure the laces are tight,” he advised.

“This is really nice of you. Thanks.” She smiled at him.

“C’mon.” He offered his hand and she took it, wobbling to her feet.

She glanced at the few kids already on the rink zooming around. “This isn’t going to be as easy as it looks, is it?”

He smiled and pulled her on to the ice.

She was surprised that she didn’t fall over straight away. Fulton very patiently taught her how to move, and gently pulled her along, his eyes never leaving hers.

“You’re skating, Taz,” he said encouragingly.

“No, I’m not skating. I’m being pulled along by an ice hockey player without falling over.” She grinned. “Not that I’m not enjoying it.”

“Good. You should come and watch one of our games. We’re playing on Monday.” He moved from in front of her to her side.

“Really? You’d want me to come?”

“I asked didn’t I?” He squeezed her hand. “When are you going to learn that I’m not out to upset you. I like being around you.”

She gave him what she was sure was a very goofy smile. In fact she was so busy smiling at him she didn’t see the young boy zip between them. He knocked into her skates, stumbled then regained his balance and carried on skating.

Taz wasn’t so lucky, she lost her balance and nearly hit the ice before Fulton grabbed her. His arms went around her waist as he helped her stand again.

“You ok?” he asked.

She nodded shyly, aware of his arms around her, and his hand absently stroking her back.

“Thanks for catching me,” she said inching closer to him.

“You’re welcome.” He leant forward and kissed her.

Taz almost fell over again from the shock, but gave into the kiss.

When they separated she was aware that a large group of kids her age were staring at catcalling.

On closer inspection she realised that they were Fulton’s team.

She smiled shyly at them.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 5: Meet The Team”]

Notes: Thanks for the reviews guys, it keeps me writing. This isn’t a brilliant chapter, but it’ll do for now. I may come back to it and improve it later.

Note from 12 years later: Yeah, I didn’t ever come back to it.

Fulton smiled. “I didn’t realise it had gotten so late,” he told her. “It’s time for the team to practice.”

“Oh,” she said. “Do you want me to go?”

“No, come and meet my friends.” He took her hand and let her across the ice.

She followed him slightly reluctantly, worried the team wouldn’t be as friendly to her as Fulton had been.

She noticed Dean smiling at her and felt better, then noticed Julie from her phys ed class and relaxed a little more.

Fulton led her over and introduced her. She forgot almost all of the names instantly. He then left her so he could get suited up for practice.

“Taz, why don’t you sit with me through practice?” Julie offered, seeing the girl’s nervous face.

“Aren’t you playing?” Taz asked, skating off the rink inelegantly but without Fulton’s assistance.

Julie smiled ruefully. “No, I fell down the steps this morning and landed on my knee. I’m fine, but coach has benched me until the game to make sure I rest it properly.”

Julie led Taz up to the stands and took a seat, explaining it was best to be away from the coach if they wanted to talk through the practice.

“Are you ok?” Julie asked. “You’re limping.”

Fulton came out of the changing room at that point, and froze on hearing Julie’s question. He was pleasantly surprised to hear Taz respond easily, “I’m fine. I always limp. You’re probably in worse shape than me.”

He smiled and skated on to the rink.

“That’s Charlie, he’s the captain.” Julie said, pointing.

Taz smiled hesitantly. Julie had been explaining the finer points of the game, who played which position. Mostly it was over her head, but she tried to retain the details.

“And that’s Portman. He’s one of the Bash Brothers.”

“Yeah, I met him on Wednesday. He seems nice, looks scary, but seems nice.” Taz was beginning to relax around Julie. It had been a long time since she was able to sit down and talk and not wait for the punchline.

“Yeah, he is nice.” Julie smiled, her eyes not leaving Portman’s hulking form. “And he’s a good player. A lot of people think he’s just a big goon, but he’s a really nice guy, and he’s loyal to the team.”

Taz grinned, noticing the look on Julie’s face. “He could probably win the game single-handedly,” she said teasingly.

“Yeah,” Julie sighed. “Hold on, what?”

“You’ve got it bad,” Taz told her.

Julie frowned. “For Portman? No way. I wouldn’t. I mean, why would I? He’s a brainless idiot.”

“But you just said—”

“I’ve dropped every hint on the planet, I’ve dropped anvils and still nothing. All year, and even more so this past week.”

Taz hid a smile.

“We went out—which I thought was a good sign, and when we got talking he started backing off. He’s barely spoken to me since Wednesday.” She sighed. “You’re Fulton’s girlfriend, has he said anything?” Julie asked in frustration.

“Fulton’s girlfriend?” Taz repeated. Was she? She turned the concept over in her head and decided she liked it.

“Well, of course you are. So, has he?”

“No.” On catching Julie’s downcast expression, she hastily added. “But we haven’t really talked about it. I’ll see what I can find out.”

“So tell me honestly, were you bored out of your mind?” Fulton asked as he walked Taz home.

“Honestly?” She scrunched up her face, then smiled. “Not at all. Julie was telling me about the team and then we got talking about school too, so it was cool. I can’t wait to see you play though.”


“Yes. Really,” she responded, still partially unable to believe that she was walking down the road holding hands with him. “I wish I’d seen the Junior Goodwill Games in person. I bet it was much more fun than just watching it on TV.”

He stopped walking and turned to look at her. “I thought you weren’t a hockey fan.”

She blushed a little. “I wasn’t. I kinda borrowed the tapes from the school library after you told me that you played in them. Is that shallow of me?”

He smiled at her. “Not at all. I think it’s nice that you wanted to know more about hockey.”

They slowed down as they approached her door. She shrugged awkwardly, not sure what was supposed to happen next.

“Am I your girl now?” she blurted out, then blushed furiously. She opened her mouth to somehow cover for her stupid question, but was stopped by Fulton leaning down to kiss her again.

“Yes,” he said when they broke apart.

It was only after he left she realised she’d forgotten to dig around for information on Portman.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 6: Hospitals & Jerseys I”]

Fulton stood at the gates waiting for Taz to arrive, absently wondering if she could play go between with Portman and Julie. She seemed to have gotten on quite well with Jules during practice.

And Portman had not shut up about Julie since she broke up with Scooter.

He grinned seeing Taz appear, but the grin faded. She was walking slowly, looking far more lame than he’d ever seen her, and she was white as a sheet.

He rushed over to her. “Are you ok?”

She pursed her lips. “Been better,” she admitted. “Bad day.”

“Maybe you should be at home. I can borrow Adam’s car if you want me to drive you,” he offered.

“No, it’ll wear off soon. It usually does.”

He didn’t believe it, and by the look in her eyes, she didn’t believe it either. “What happened? Did you fall?”

“No, it just came on. It does that sometimes, usually it’s the cold weather.” She shrugged it off.

A thought hit him. “Was it the skating?”

“No,” she said quickly. “It just happens sometimes for no reason.”

“Are you sure?”

She looked him in the eyes. “I’m sure. If anything it was Ms Joy making me do cross country running. The skating was fun. Perhaps the cold of being on the rink didn’t help, but it’s nobody’s fault.” She began walking again then winced, and rolled her eyes. “I should have brought my walking stick, but I was scared that people would laugh.”

“I can still take you home if you want.”

She shook her head. “If it doesn’t wear off I’ll call my dad.” She gave him a smile. “Can’t have you missing class, or you won’t get to play tonight.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” She nodded. “But I wouldn’t object if I could lean on you as we walk.”

Taz sat in class trying to ignore the aches in her body. It had started on Sunday morning, just a small twinge in her hip when she moved awkwardly, but now the pain was full-time whether she was moving or not. It had also worked its way up her back and over to her other hip.

She hadn’t told her Dad how bad the pain was because she really wanted to see Fulton play tonight. She had told him that it was hurting, but by the look in his eyes, he had noticed how bad it was.

Which was probably why he’d called her doctor and set up an appointment to see her specialist tomorrow morning.

In fact, she mused, he had to know. It was near impossible to get a last-minute appointment with Mr Lambert, it was hard enough to book them a month in advance.

There was one small bonus to her situation. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t focus on what people were saying about her.

She had to admit, it was pretty ironic.

Fulton met her at her locker during break. “How are you feeling?”

“A bit better.” She wasn’t lying. Much. She was only doing it so that he wouldn’t feel guilty about the skating. “Oh, I won’t be in school tomorrow. I have to see my specialist about my hip.”

“Because of the pain?”

“Just a check-up.” Another tiny lie. “I have to go every six months. I hate it.”


She smiled at him. “Do you promise not to laugh?”

“When are you going to stop asking that? I—”

She held a hand up to stop him. “I know you’re a good guy, but this is really silly.”

He raised his eyebrows at her. “Ok.”

She lowered her voice. “I’m scared of the X-ray machine.” She fought the blush creeping into her cheeks. “Pretty pathetic, huh?”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “I’m not laughing,” he told her. “Why does it scare you?”

“I don’t know, I just get in there and I can’t stop shaking. And the creaking noises it makes… I don’t know. It’s just not my favourite thing to do.”

“Well,” he said finally. “At least it’s an interesting fear. Most people are scared of spiders and creepy crawlies. Are you still coming to the game tonight?”

“Sure, why wouldn’t I?” she replied.

“I thought that, well, if you’re not feeling great.”

“I’ll be there.” She rummaged in her locker. “See, I’ve got my pain killers and my water. I’m good,” she said, holding up the items.

“Your Dad doesn’t mind?”

She shrugged. “Dad knows the drill. It’ll hurt wherever I am, so I might as well be somewhere I want to be. Besides, I get grumpy when it hurts, poor old Dad gets it in the neck a lot. Anyway, I feel a bit better.” She smiled at him, realising that she did, in fact, feel better.

“Hey!” Portman greeted her cheerfully.

“Hey, yourself,” she responded, negotiating the busy hallways.

“Fulton told me to find you,” he told her. “He had to get something from the dorms.”

“Oh, right,” she replied. She wasn’t sure what to say, she’d only spoken to Dean once. Then inspiration struck. “Julie was telling me what a great player you are.” She made sure she emphasised Julie’s name.

“Yeah?” His eyes lit up, then dimmed somewhat. “She was probably just being kind. I bet she said that Guy was the best on the team.”

Taz frowned, trying to remember who Guy was. “Connie’s boyfriend?” she asked. “She didn’t really mention him. She mentioned you a lot.”

“She did?” he asked. “Really?”

“Yes, really. By the way she was talking you’d have thought that you could win a game single-handedly.” She smiled innocently. “I think she might have a crush on you.”

“Hey, guys.” Fulton appeared at her side, he turned to Taz. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m not going to break,” she told him. “Don’t worry so much.”

“I’m going to find Julie,” Portman said. “See you later.”

“Something I said?” Fulton asked, noting the rapid exit.

“Something I said,” she replied. “So where did you vanish to?” They began walking outside.

“I had to get something.” He led her to a bench and they sat down. He opened his bag and started rummaging around.

Taz leant forward interested in what it might be.

He brought out a green jersey with a duck on the front. “This is my first Ducks jersey. I thought you could wear it to the hospital tomorrow, for luck or something.”

She was touched by his kindness, and couldn’t seem to make an intelligent response.

He misinterpreted her silence. “Sorry, it didn’t seem such a stupid idea in my head.” He started to shove the jersey back into his bag.

She quickly reached for his hand. “It wasn’t a stupid idea.” She smiled. “It’s a really nice idea. Thank you.”

“Really? You’re not just saying that?”

“No.” She leant forward and kissed him. “Meeting you is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.” She winced at how trite that sounded, but smiled when she saw that Fulton didn’t seem to mind.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 7: The Game”]

Notes: I would have written the game in detail if I knew a thing about hockey, sadly, I know nothing!

They ended up joining the rest of the Ducks under the tree for lunch. Fulton reminded her of everyone’s names, and she managed to retain a few more. She was pleased to see Portman and Julie sitting together, slightly away from the rest of the group.

She was introduced to Linda, Charlie’s girlfriend, who asked her to sit with her during the game.

She ended up spending most of the lunch trying to lie flat, to the amusement of the others. Mr Lambert had often told her that lying flat would help ease any pain she was having.

Connie and Linda joined her, noticing how foolish she felt, and they spend the lunch hour staring at the clouds and pointing out what shapes they looked like to each other.

“Taz! Over here!”

Taz looked over the stands and saw Linda waving at her. She made her way over as quickly as possible, trying to minimise her inelegant movements.

“It’s a good thing you’ve got purple hair or I’d have never seen you,” Linda said.

“Is it usually this packed?” Taz asked.

“Pretty much, everyone wants to see the Ducks play, especially since they’ve played in the Junior Goodwill Games.”

“Have you always been a hockey fan?”

Linda brushed some hair out of her eyes. “No, not until Charlie started at the school. He kinda convinced me to come to a game.”

“And here was me thinking I was the only non-sports nut in the school.” Taz grinned.

However, having said that, she quickly got into the game, joining Linda in cheering for the Ducks and occasionally hurling abuse at the other team.

When Fulton scored a goal she went wild, bouncing excitedly, ignoring the pain in her hip. His eyes sought her out in the crowd, he pointed at her and smiled.

“He just dedicated the goal to you,” Linda said.

Taz grinned so much it began to ache. “I’m really liking this game.”

Taz and Linda made their way out of the rink to wait for the team, Taz leant heavily on Linda’s arm. “Sorry for being so pathetic,” she said. She’d only known the girl a couple of hours, and now she was relying on her.

“It’s fine,” Linda assured her. “You’re not pathetic. It’s just a good thing you’re so little, I’m a big wimp.”

“I shouldn’t have bounced so much,” Taz commented.

“Sometimes you just can’t help it. It was a good game.”

“So what do we do now? Fulton said to meet him here, but he didn’t say where we’re going.” Taz found a bench and sank down on it thankfully.

“We all go to the diner down the road and get something to eat. Don’t expect intelligent conversation though, there’s constant interruptions from well-wishers. It’s fun though,” Linda replied, taking a seat next to her.

Taz smiled, suddenly realising that she hadn’t spent the evening terrified that Linda was about to make fun of her. Not only that, she had asked her for help. She had a lot to thank Fulton for.

She felt arms slide around her waist, she looked over her shoulder at Fulton’s smiling face. “Hi.”

“Did you have a good time?” he asked.

“Yeah! It was great.” she replied excitedly. “I have to admit, I liked the violence.”

“Glad about that, it’s one of my specialities. C’mon, let’s go.” He offered his hand and helped her to her feet. “Are you ok?”

“Too much bouncing,” she told him as the others began to walk away. “I should have stayed put. I’ll be fine.”

“You don’t look fine,” he said bluntly. “You’ve gone really pale again.”

“Pain killers are wearing off, that’s all.”

“Hey Portman!” Fulton yelled suddenly. “Come here.”

“What’s up, dude?” he asked, walking over, with Julie in tow.

Fulton leant over and muttered something in his ear. Portman nodded and stood on the other side of Taz. Without warning they picked her up, making a seat with their arms for her.

She shrieked and put an arm around each of them. “Put me down!”

“No. You were yelling for the team, now we’re saying thanks.” Portman told her.

“You can’t carry me to the diner,” she said.

“It’s not that far, and you don’t weigh anything.” Fulton said.

“Put me down, I feel like an idiot!” She giggled.

But they didn’t put her down.

And she didn’t feel like an idiot.

In fact, she felt rather amazing.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 8: Hospitals & Jerseys II”]

Taz sighed and turned the page in her book. She was well used to this. The appointment was at ten-thirty, but in the grand tradition of Mr Lambert, he was running approximately forty-five minutes late—well, that’s what the whiteboard proclaimed in the waiting room. It was already eleven-thirty and she still hadn’t been seen.

She shifted in her seat, trying to get more comfortable. Naturally the pain had stopped this morning, but the aches were still there. It always happened this way, she’d be in agony the few days before seeing the doctor, and then magically it would vanish the day of the appointment.

She was glad of her book, it distracted her from the bubble of anxiety building in her stomach. She wondered why there were only ever copies of Good Housekeeping in waiting rooms. Surely they knew that it wasn’t only middle-aged middle-class housewives that had to see bone specialists.

“Taryn McDonald?”

Taz and her father stood up. “That’s me,” she said.

“Mr Lambert will see you now.”

They followed the nurse. Out of all of her doctors, Taz liked Mr Lambert the most, he was actually the first doctor her parents had ever seen about her condition in America. There were two or three others that she saw when Mr Lambert was working in other hospitals. Her Dad said that Mr Lambert was one of the best.

She didn’t know if he was or not, but he always remembered her and asked questions about her life before getting down to business—not all of the doctors bothered to put her at ease before starting.

“Hello, Taz,” he greeted her, then shook her father’s hand. That was another thing, he always remembered that she was Taz, not Taryn.

He noticed her jersey. “Good heavens! Don’t tell me you’ve joined the hockey team!”

Taz grinned, feeling better. “No, it’s my boyfriend’s jersey. He played in the Junior Goodwill Games for Team USA.” She told him proudly.

“Really?” he replied with genuine interest. “My kids watched that religiously. My eldest even saved up the money to go to LA and watch it live. Which one is your boyfriend?”

Taz grinned, this was the quickest time ever she’d relaxed at the hospital. She wasn’t sure what she was so scared of—she already knew what was wrong with her, and what would happen as it progressed, but it didn’t stop the fear building.

“Fulton Reed. The one with the killer slapshot.”

“My kids will be interested, they loved him.” He smiled. “Now, hop up on the table and we’ll see how your hips are.”

Taz got up and allowed the doctor to move her legs around, wincing in pain when he pushed her too far. He frowned every time she winced, and she began to worry.

He decided to send her for X-rays, and her heart sank.

Her Dad squeezed her shoulder supportively as they walked over to the other side of the building where the X-rays were done.

“I hate X-rays.” She muttered.

“I know,” he replied. “Believe me I do. I remember the fuss you used to kick up when you were a kid. I’m glad you’ve grown out of that now.”

Taz smiled. “You think I’d get away with throwing a tantrum?” she asked hopefully.

“I don’t think so. And besides, when you were little all we had to do was bribe you with sweets. I don’t know what would work now.”

“Money is always good,” she said.

He smiled at her. “If you don’t throw a tantrum I’ll buy you the DVD of your choice. And I won’t even criticise it.”


She gave her name to the nurse at reception, and sat down. She had barely got comfortable before someone called her name. It always went this way, in Mr Lambert’s surgery there was always an hour or so delay, at X-rays they were calling your name out before you’d even given it over.

A few minutes later, Taz was laid flat on the X-ray table, trying not to shake. It didn’t help that she was only wearing her underwear. Here she was facing her biggest fear, and she was half-naked. It wasn’t fair.

She looked longingly at Fulton’s jersey.

“Eyes straight ahead, Taryn.”

She complied, hoping this would be quick. Sometimes they just did the obligatory two X-rays not really focusing on whether Taz was lying straight or not. And sometimes it took ages, arranging her so she was lying straight, and taking many X-rays from various angles.

“Ok, Taryn. Hold your breath and look straight ahead.”

She almost smiled. This was going to be quick.

She got back to Dr Lambert’s office, brandishing her new X-rays.

“You wanna take a look at my holiday snaps?” she asked, holding out the folder.

He smiled at her and took it. He slipped the X-rays into their holders and flipped on the light behind it.

Taz’s face fell.

“Taz, you wanna go get that DVD?” Her father offered, as they were driving home.

She shook her head, her mind elsewhere.

“Do you want to get something to eat?”

She shook her head again.

“Do you want anything?”

Again she shook her head.

[nextpage title=”Chapter 9: Pretty Damn Good”]

“Have any of you guys seen Taz?” Fulton asked the group at lunch the next day.

He had waited by the gates for her before school but she either hadn’t turned up, or was running late.

“Missing her already?” Charlie teased.

“Like you weren’t glued to Linda’s side when she finally admitted defeat and started dating you, Spazway,” Goldberg pointed out.

“Wasn’t she off yesterday?” Julie asked. “Maybe she’s still ill.”

Fulton nodded, but kept quiet, knowing Taz wouldn’t want them to know she was at the hospital.

“Looking for your girlfriend?” Portman asked, walking over.

“Yeah, you seen her?”

“Yeah, she was heading towards the rink, I shouted to her but I don’t think she heard me.”

“Thanks.” Fulton started to leave, ignoring the catcalls from his team.

“You’ve got it bad, Fulton!” Charlie yelled.

He decided that Charlie might have a point.

He found Taz sitting in the stands, with her face in her hands, crying.

He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her. He rocked her as she cried. “What’s wrong?”

She wiped her face with her sleeve. “I’ve got to have a hip replacement. On both hips.”

Fulton didn’t know what to say, so he stayed quiet and stroked her back.

“I don’t know why I’m so upset,” she continued. “It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming. I just didn’t realise it would be so soon.”

“The shock, I guess.”

“Yeah.” She sighed and wiped her eyes again. “They don’t want to have to operate on me before I graduate. These things don’t last forever and I can’t have an unlimited amount.”

“So what else did your doctor say?”

“No more phys ed for me again, unless I want to do it. I’ve got to have physiotherapy and hydrotherapy by trained professionals. I’ve got to build up the muscles around my hip to support the bone better. Hopefully that will delay the need for the operation.”

“Are you scared about the operation?” he asked, pulling her closer to him.

She shrugged. “Yes and no. I mean, there’s a ninety-five percent chance of it going perfectly and my limp being barely noticeable.”

“So that’s the ‘no’ part,” he said gently. “I’m guessing it’s the five percent that scares you.”

“Well, there’s a one percent chance I’ll never walk again, a two percent chance the operation will make it worse and a two percent chance there won’t be any difference.”

“Did he say what made you hip worse?” Fulton asked, feeling very guilty for taking her skating.

“General wear and tear.” She shrugged.

“Was he sure it wasn’t one thing that’s made it worse?” he pressed.

It suddenly clicked in her mind what he was driving at. She turned to look him in the eye. “Fulton, I was born with deformed hips. Remember what I showed you, what my hip looked like? Imagine sixteen years of the bone sitting in the wrong place, wearing away at the socket.” She smiled at him. “Add the fact that they didn’t notice what was wrong with me until I was eighteen months old—this was bound to happen.”

She settled in his arms. “Thanks for listening to me. I feel better now.” Strangely she did. Mr Lambert had suggested telling people what was wrong with her, but she had dismissed that suggestion.

“I’ve told you before, Taz. It’s not a chore.”

She grinned, and decided to lighten the mood. “You should have seen Mr Lambert’s face when I walked in wearing a hockey jersey. Then when I mentioned you, he got all star struck. His kids are big fans.”

He laughed. “I think kids like me because I smash things.”

“Yeah. That’s the only reason I like you too,” she replied with a grin.

Whatever response he was going to make was cut off by the sound of classical music filling the air.

“What’s going on?” She asked. He shrugged in return, then pointed.

She followed his gaze and a man glide out onto the ice, pushing a young girl in a wheelchair. The girl laughed opening her arms wide as the man twirled her around.

“Is that your coach?” she whispered.

“Yeah, and that’s his daughter, Emily. She was a figure skater before the accident,” he replied.

“God, I’m a loser,” she muttered.


“Here’s me crying my eyes out because I’ve got to have an operation and…” She tailed off, her eyes following Coach Orion and his daughter. “My life is pretty damn good. I can walk, I have a great boyfriend, I’m making friends, who cares if people make fun of my limp?”

He smiled at her. “Let’s get out of here and leave them to it.”

She took one more look at Emily’s laughing face then took his hand.

—The End—


  • I’m assuming the rink belonged to the school. If I’m wrong, I’ll just use the phrase ‘creative licence’. *grins*
  • As far as I know, we didn’t find out Coach Orion’s daughter’s name, so I made it up. She just looks like an Emily to me.
  • The stats I’ve quoted are not the stats for all hip replacements, nor are they carved in stone for all people with CHD having hip replacements. They are simply the stats I was given by my doctor, based on the state of my hips and case history.
  • Oh, and yay me. I got through a fic without cursing even once! Usually my gutter mouth fights me every step of the way!
  • I’m going to write a fic about Julie and Portman separately, since this fic did not follow the plan at all. I’ve already started it, and it’s called Dropping Anvils.