Luis’s feelings are badly hurting

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Dedication: Vix, because she kicks ass, and Aqua Lion because she gave me the idea, she probably didn’t mean to but she did!


  • Originally his girlfriend was referred to as Traci Michaels in this story, I now know she’s called Mindy Pinkerton and have updated accordingly.
  • This used to be longer, but it works better as a one shot, so I’ve deleted all the other chapters.
    • Edit: and now I’ve put them back because I heard that ff.net is about to be shut down. I would still say only read the first chapter as a one-shot, but the rest are here for posterity.
  • Lyrics are from Even Angels Fall by Jessica Riddle.
  • No real timeline, but to avoid squick, let’s just assume everyone’s over the age of consent.

Chapter 1: Misconception

“Mendoza! What’s wrong?” Charlie asks as we change after the game.

Wonderful. Captain Duck to the rescue. I paste a smile on my face. “Why would anything be wrong?”

“You don’t seem yourself today,” he comments.

I have to fight a laugh. I don’t seem myself? How would he know? Nobody knows me. I thought Mindy did, but I was obviously deluded. I almost snap There’s only two girls on the team, I’m bored of hitting on both of them, but the sarcasm would be lost on him. He’d probably just give me an indulgent nod and walk away thinking he’d successfully got to the bottom of my lack of enthusiasm today.

Instead I bump up the smile another few notches and tell him I’m fine.

I head to the showers before he can say anything else.

It’s entertaining (in a deeply unfunny way) that I’m labelled the flirt of the team. I’ve dated exactly one person since the Ducks have known me.

I didn’t date anyone during the Goodwill Games. I’ve never seriously flirted with either Connie or Julie—except for complimented them when they both needed cheering up. Connie likes to flirt with me to get Guy riled up when he’s not paying enough attention to her, but I rarely reciprocate.

It took me a long time to get Mindy’s attention, I wasn’t about to blow it to bolster Connie’s ego. And besides, Guy’s a friend.

But where’s Mindy now?

Well, that’s a funny story.

Please note my use of irony there.

You found hope, you found faith.

Found how fast she could take it away.

Found true love, but lost your heart.

Now you don’t know who you are.

“You’re what?” I ask in shock.

“Pregnant,” she states in a low voice, her gaze fixed on the floor.

A million thoughts rush through my mind. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised, but that doesn’t mean I’m not pleased.

“You’re having our baby?” I move to touch her stomach but she lifts a hand up to stop me.

She made it easy, made it free.

Made you hurt till you couldn’t see.

Sometimes it stops, sometimes it flows.

But baby, that is how love goes.

“Not ours,” she says softly. “Or, I don’t think so.”

I feel my heart stop. I couldn’t have heard that right. I open my mouth, then realise that I have nothing to say, so I shut it again.

I take a deep breath and think it over. “So whose…?”

“Does it matter?”

I take a seat and rest my head in my hands. Does it matter? Of course it matters, to you, to me, to him, to the baby—there’s nobody it shouldn’t matter to.

It’s a secret, that no one tells.

One day it’s heaven one day it’s hell.

And it’s no fairy tale, take it from me.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“Will he take care of you?” I ask. I wonder how I can calmly deal with this, my world is shattering around me and somehow I’m talking and listening as if we’re discussing which movie to rent.

She shrugs. “I don’t know. He might, if he doesn’t think that it’s yours.”

“Do you know for sure?”

She shakes her head.

“Then don’t tell him,” I implore. “Break up with him, I’ll take care of you. We talked about getting married before, why not now? I love you, Mindy.”

You laugh, you cry, no one knows why,

But oh, the thrill of it all.

You’re on the ride,

You might as well, open your eyes.

She shrugs awkwardly. “I don’t know…”

“Please.” I stand up and touch her arm. “We can make this work. I love you. It doesn’t matter if the baby might not be mine, it’s a part of you, and I love you both.”

She lets out a strangled chuckle. “Listen to yourself.”

“I am!” I reply defensively. “I’m listening to you too. That other guy might not want anything to do with you, I know I do.”

“I’ll take my chances,” she mutters, moving towards the door.

“Why?” I don’t get it, I thought we were in love.

She takes a deep breath and looks me in the eye. “I don’t feel that way about you,” she tells me in a gentle voice. It feels like she’s tearing me apart.

“What changed?” I choke out.

“Nothing.” She whispers. “I’ve never…”

She runs out of the room and I’m left alone.

Except according to Mindy, I’ve always been alone, she just was sharing the same space as me for awhile.

You will fly and you will crawl.

God knows even angels fall.

No such thing as you’ve lost it all.

God knows even angels fall.

As I walk across the campus I see Mindy with her new guy. They look happy. I feel sick as he strokes her stomach and whispers in her ear.

She catches my eye for a brief moment, then purposefully turns her back.

I stick my hands in my pockets and continue walking, which is when I realise that my keys aren’t in there.

Why can’t even the simplest things work out for me?

I turn on my heel and head back to the locker room.

I pause outside the door before I go in. I don’t know why, but I do, and what I overhear make me wish I hadn’t.

“You know what I heard?” Connie says in a cheerful tone. I should have known she and Julie would still be there, they always stop to have a gossip before they leave.

“What?” Julie asks, sensing a good story.

“Mindy, Luis’s ex-girlfriend’s pregnant,” she says.

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Yeah, but did you hear that it’s his and Luis wouldn’t have anything to do with her when he found out?”

“No way!” Julie isn’t defending me, she’s expressing disgust that men can be so awful.

“Yes way. Luis found out and ditched her, apparently he said some really nasty things to her.”

“God! No wonder she’s with that Mick guy.” Julie sounds horrified. “I bet this isn’t his first brush with fatherhood!”

Connie giggles and they trade a few more insults about me.

Ducks fly together? These people are supposed to be my friends, I’ve never felt so betrayed.

Forget the key, I’ll just go wait outside my door until my roommate gets back.

You will fly and you will crawl.

God knows even angels fall.

No such thing as you’ve lost it all.

God knows even angels fall.

Even angels fall.

Even angels fall.

Chapter 2: ESP

Notes: Annie belongs to me. The first chapter was going to be a one-off, but I watched The Sandlot Kids the other day and Mike Vitar was so blessed in that. (Before anyone points it out, the British title is Sandlot Kids and I’m British, hence I said it that way!)

Dedication: Stepherz for being a kick-ass chica, Joyful for not pounding me into the ground last night, (or maybe the night before) when I probably deserved it, and Vix just for being.

I sit outside my door feeling like a fool. Since it’s Friday night, the halls are almost empty, everyone’s watched the game and are now out on dates.

Which means that I could be sitting out here for a very long time.

“Luis, hey,” a soft voice says.

“Hey, Annie,” I reply, with a close approximation of happiness.

She takes a seat next to me against my door. “You stood me up.”

“We had plans?” I ask. I don’t remember making any, but it’s possible, my mind’s been on other things recently.

“Yeah, we did.” She takes my hand. “At lunch today I randomly decided to come watch your game. After making one decision, I thought I was up to making a second one. We were meant get something to eat or something afterwards.”

“But you didn’t actually tell me?” I ask. Annie likes to try out ESP, you have to be on the ball with her.

“No,” she admits. “I guess you’re not up to mind reading today?”

“Not really.” I rest my head on her shoulder. “Did you see them together?”

She nods and strokes my hair. “Hence I’m here… aside from you standing me up.”

Annie’s been wonderful over the past few weeks. She’s my best friend, at one point she was my best friend outside the Ducks, but now she owns that title full-stop. Some people don’t like her because of her abrasive nature. She’s—and this is in her own words—the most honest person you’ll ever meet. Sometimes she just forgets to be tactful too.

And before it gets assumed, no, I don’t have any romantic interest in her. I never have, and she has none in me. I can state that for a fact because she’s a lesbian.

“So why are we sitting outside your room?” she asks.

“Left my key in the locker room,” I reply.

“Ok. You wanna go to my room? I can probably pay Kelsey to go out.”

I shrug. I don’t really want to do anything recently.

“Do you want to talk about it?” she offers.

I’ve done nothing but share my betrayed feelings with Annie. She must be sick of hearing about it. I know I’m sick of thinking about it. “Tell me what’s new with you?”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, let’s hear about you for a change.”

“Ok! Well, where to start? Um, right, remember Donna the bush-pig?”

I nod. That’s Annie’s first ever girlfriend. Not a great learning experience by all accounts. She lied, cheated, she even stole from her. All this was a year ago, and Annie’s not even close to forgiving her.

“Well, she has called every single day, luckily I’ve been with you most of the time, but Kelsey’s getting really sick of taking messages. So I called her, just to say ‘leave me alone you psychopathic wench!’ and when she picked up she started bawling her eyes out, apologising for being such a nut bag!” Annie snorts is disgust. “She’s a lunatic. Then, ooh, this makes me so mad! You know what she said? I swear I’m going to kill her for this one, I really am…”

I love hearing Annie talk, she gets so riled up. “What did she say?”

“Ooh! I’m so mad I can barely say it! It’s sick and twisted. I’m going to kill her, I really am!”

“What did she say to you?” I repeat. If that wench hurt Annie I’m going to kill her.

“You won’t believe this.”

Sometimes Annie overcompensates a point. “Share.”

“Oooh!” Annie hits her head against the door for punctuation, it swings open and we both tumble in.

“You didn’t think to check if the door was locked?” she asks in amusement.

“Oops,” I reply, getting to my feet, a smile on my face. My first smile in quite awhile. “How’s your head?”

“My head?” She takes my hand and hauls herself to her feet.

“From where you hit it against the door?” I remind her. “Maybe you have a concussion, since you don’t even remember.”

She sticks her tongue out at me and closes the door behind us. “My head’s fine. So where was I?”

“You were taking forty-five minutes to remind me that we hate Donna, then you were going to give a new example of why we’re so proud of this decision,” I reply taking a seat on my bed.

She rummages through my CD’s trying to find something to listen to. Annie has to have mood music when telling a secret. She chooses “Caught Out There” by Kelis. As Kelis starts screaming about how much she hates her ex, I’m amazed by Annie’s subtlety.

It’s a good indication that Donna has really pulled out all the stops to get Annie back.

“Ooh! I hate her!” she rages. “And I’ve never hated anyone. Never. I really wanted to get through life without hating anyone. It was going to be my answer when I got to the Pearly Gates. God or one of the Saints can ask, ‘Hey, Joanna,’—because they would call me Joanna, as opposed to Annie—‘Hey Joanna, what are you proud of in this life?’ And then I’d say, ‘Well, gosh, I’ve never hated anybody’ and in I’d go.”

I hide a grin. Only Annie would start thinking of answers to questions like that now. “If it makes you feel any better, you’re going to get in.”

“Yeah, but now my answer is blown. I need a new one.”

I jab her in the ribs gently. “We were ranting about Donna, not the meaning of life,” I remind her.

“Oh yeah. Well… I don’t want to say it, it’s just so creepy.”

“You don’t have to.” But I’d really appreciate it if she did. After all this build-up, I really want to know what Donna’s said this time.

She curses a couple of times and hurls a few more insults Donna’s way. “She gave me the ‘I’m dying’ line. And I fell for it!”

“She what!” God. How low can humans stoop?

“Yeah.” Annie nods, deeply annoyed. “And I kinda believed it, I mean, she was weepy and pathetic and saying sorry. But part of me didn’t, and I felt really guilty about it.”

“So how did you find out that she was lying?” I know her well enough to know that she wouldn’t get this pissed off without being certain it was a lie.

“I called her Mom and told her that I was praying for them. She asked what the devil I was talking about, so I told her—part of me knew what her reaction was about, the other half was worried that maybe Donna was being honourable and protecting her Mom from the truth. Her Mom said that she went to see a doctor with Donna a week or so ago, aside from a nasty bout of food poisoning, Donna’s in tip-top health.”

She sighs deeply and flops back on my bed. “All women are insane.”

“I’ll second that.” I lean down and join her and we stare at the lightbulb until we see purple dots in front of our eyes.

“Why can’t I just be straight?” she moans. “I don’t really want to be, but if I was I could date you and life would be so much easier.”

“Grass is always greener.”

“I hate green.”

I give her a look. “What kind of comment was that while I’m trying to be philosophical?”

“Bite me, Mendoza. I was just trying to get the last word in.”

“Well, you failed.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.”

“Did not”

“Did too!”

“Did not”

“Did too!”

And on it goes for quite awhile. Halfway through the evening I realise that she’s really cheered me up.

Chapter 3: Night Brooding

Notes 1: Sandlot Kids reference in here. Can’t help it, was off work ill, wanted cheering up, and now I’m obsessed.

Notes 2: Um, sorry about the flashback, it bites. I hate it. I suck at them. Hence I work with Vic so often, so she can deal with them!

Disclaimer 2: Sandlot Kids doesn’t belong to me either. All I own is Annie.

Annie takes up way too much room when she’s sleeping. I really should wake her up and send her back to her room, but she’s an insomniac, so when she does finally sleep it’s best not to wake her.

That much I’ve learnt since I met her.

The reason we’re friends is because I once had a normal life.

From the time I could hold a bat I played baseball, all day, all night, rain, shine, tidal wave, whatever, I played. And I was good at it, but then my parents convinced me to at least try another sport. I knew a few people on the hockey team, so I gave it a shot.

Once they realised how fast I could move I was changed from third line to first, then the scouts appeared, and all of a sudden I was representing America in the Goodwill Games.

Somewhere along the line I stopped playing baseball and became Luis Mendoza, the (literally) unstoppable speedster.

My baseball ‘friends’ weren’t overjoyed that I was ditching them for another sport. Banksie isn’t the only one who’s lost friends because of hockey, but only he gets the pity parties about it.

However, one guy, Scott, kept in touch, he even came to LA to see the final game, us verses Iceland.

Then there were those two years of almost normalcy when… well actually, they didn’t seem normal… I felt out of place on the baseball team, the hockey team resented me for being picked to represent the country when I was considered a rookie to the sport.

So I was almost relieved to pack up all my junk and head to Minnesota again.

Don’t ask what happened in those two years for the other Ducks, I just don’t know. The obvious is that, judging from his ego, Charlie thinks he inherited Wayne Gretzky’s skills, that Dwayne decided that acting dumb would be an interesting way to get Connie’s attention, and that Fulton suddenly deserted his surname.

So when we got back, I decided I’d be someone else too. I decided I’d have a lot more confidence than I did back home. And it was this newfound confidence that led me to Annie.

Scott, my only friend from back home, told me that he had a cousin called Melissa that went to Eden Hall. After a few months, I finally worked out who she was and during a Mindy-less lunch wandered over to introduce myself.

No offence to Scott, but his cousin resembles Beelzebub. She’s not a nice person at all, she was completely offensive, so I walked away and found somewhere to sit by myself.

Which is when Annie appeared. She walked over, carrying her tray and plunked it down. “Melissa really hates you,” she commented, taking a seat. “I don’t know what you did to annoy her but I have to congratulate you.”

I remember glaring at her and thinking she was the most annoying person on the planet.

“Anyone that Melissa hates is a friend of mine,” she said cheerfully. “So, what are your thoughts on ESP?”

That was how our friendship started, although I thought she was a lunatic, so I didn’t go out of my way to befriend her. Luckily she sought me out. Mindy was often busy with her cheerleader friends during lunch so it was nice to have a friend to sit with to escape from the endless hockey talk, and Charlie’s almost unlimited ego.

Come to think of it, Mindy probably wasn’t busy with cheerleading, she was probably busy with Mike or Mick or whatever he’s called.

I know Mindy didn’t really approve of Annie, she thinks lesbians ‘aren’t right’ somehow. It caused quite a few arguments. Maybe Annie’s right, maybe I am better off without her. In fact, I must be. Mindy never loved me, and she was sleeping with someone else behind my back, so it’s not as if she was the best girlfriend in the world.

But I love her.

And I miss her.

And given even the slightest chance, I’d take her back in a heartbeat.

My mind turns back to the first time she met me after school.

I’m walking along the halls, wondering where to go. We have practice in an hour, but until then I’m at a loose end. I wander around the campus, slightly amazed at how this place looks more like a manor house than a school.

“Hey.” A female voice startles me out of my daze.

I turn to see Mindy standing there, she looks so beautiful.

“I hear you want to die a happy man. Varsity’s going to crush you, so you may as well get your wish!” She teases, a smile playing on her lips.

I’m pretty sure I’m grinning like a maniac. “Don’t be so sure they’ll kill us,” I reply, it’s the only thing I can think of.

“Still, it would be tragic if they did.” She winks at me and begins to walk away. She pauses and looks back at me over her shoulder. “Are you coming or not?”

“Where are we going?” I ask, catching up with her.

She smiles but just continues walking so I follow her. It does cross my mind that this might be a set up and she’s leading me to get pounded by her boyfriend, but I ignore it.

And I’m glad I did, because she leads me to a wooded part of the grounds and pushes me against a tree and presses her lips to mine.

For a moment I’m to startled to do anything, then my arms wind around her and I deepen the kiss.

I really miss her.

“You’re pathetic,” Annie murmurs sleepily. “Stop brooding.”

And now I’m worried that Annie really can read my mind.

Chapter 4: Time To Worry

Notes: Brand new OC, Sharlie. She’s mine too.

I get rudely awakened by a surprise dorm inspection. Annie and I are in deep trouble since she forgot to go home last night. To be honest, almost nobody stays in the right dorm, and mostly it gets overlooked, but since Annie’s a girl it’s a little harder to ignore.

She’s mentioned that she’s gay several times now, but to no avail, they’re ignoring that.

As punishment we have to be checked into our rooms every night for a week. It could have been worse, we could have been ‘grounded’, which would really suck, because Annie told me that she has great plans for this weekend.

A down point is that Russ saw me and Annie get hauled out of my room and frog-marched to the office for a lecture. Great. You can just picture tomorrow’s locker room scene can’t you? They already think I’m nothing more than a flirt, can you imagine the teasing that will ensue now that I got caught with a girl in my room?

Connie and Julie already think I’m lower than dirt, and they don’t know that Annie’s gay, so I know exactly what will be going through their minds when they hear about this.

She tucks her arm through mine as we walk out. “So, you wanna come back to my room? If we hurry we can make it before the inspections reach there. Twice in this office in one morning, c’mon Mendoza!”

“That’s really tempting, but no,” I reply. “There’s only so much trouble I can be in before I get benched from the team.”

“It must be nice to have an excuse to hide behind,” she teases.

“The only reason you’re friends with me is so that I can stop you from being a lunatic, while still letting you feel like a rebel.”

She crinkles her nose at me. “That’s ridiculous logic.”

I hear a carefree laugh and see Mindy fooling around with her new guy, and all my good feelings go away again. I don’t even know how far along she is with the baby. Will it show soon? Is she going to keep it? Why did she have to end it like that?

Oh yeah, because she doesn’t love me. And never has.

Annie taps me on the shoulder and we continue along the hall. “I’m so glad you’re a jock.”

I give her an enquiring look.

“That would have been a grounding for sure if you’d been anyone else,” she adds. “And I have plans for this weekend.”

“So you keep saying, so what are you doing?”

“Not me. We. What are we doing?”

Uh-oh. Annie’s plans usually involve breaking a few rules—which I’m not adverse to—but the real fun (or so she says) is when we get caught. “So what are we doing?” I ask reluctantly.

“We’re going to visit Charlotte.”

“Who’s Charlotte?”

“My cousin, I told you about her,” she says in exasperation.

“Annie, you weren’t perchance using ESP when we had this conversation, were you?”

Her face lights up like a beacon. “See? You can do it!”

I guess now’s not a good time to point out I was being sarcastic.

“So where are we going now?” I ask as we traipse down the hall. I’m guessing we’re looking for more trouble, that telling off a few hours ago barely even rated on the Annie-o-meter.

She sighs. “We’re going to give Mr Wallace our notes so he knows that we’re not going to be coming back to the dorms tonight.”

I stop dead. “What?”

“Our notes, from our Moms that give us permission to stay overnight.”

I don’t have one. Simple as. “Was this another telepathic instruction?”

She nods. “Yes, and if you’d been listening you would have heard that I’ve already written you one. ‘Dear Mr Wallace, please let my son, Luis, visit with some friends overnight, blah, blah, blah’. Ok?” She hands me an envelope from out of her bag.

Why do I get the feeling this is a really bad idea?

“Sharlie!” Annie’s yells almost deafen me.


I turn and see a remarkable likeness to little Orphan Annie, red curly hair, big toothy grin, all she’s lacking is a flea-ridden dog. She’s waving at us like a lunatic, so I’m guessing this is Charlotte.

Annie hugs Charlotte, then remembers me. “Sharlie, this is Luis. Luis, this is my cousin Charlotte.”

Got it, only Annie calls her Sharlie. Annie’s funny with names, only people she likes are allowed to call her Annie, and she ignores anyone who calls her Joanna. “Hey.” I give her a smile.

She grins back at me. “Looking forward to dancing tonight?” she asks.

“Dancing?” I turn to Annie. “For the love of God, start explaining your plans aloud!”

She gives me an innocent look. “We’re going out to a club tonight.”

“I don’t have ID,” I reply.

Charlotte does an admirable snort of indifference and digs something out of her pocket. It’s an ID with my picture on it, showing me to be twenty-one. “Now you do.”


“I ‘liberated’ a photo of you.” Annie grins. “And sent it to Sharlie, who just happens to be a whiz on the computer, and she made it.”

I think now’s a good a time as any to start worrying.

Chapter 5: The Story of the Bush-Pig

I’m now seated on the floor in Sharlie’s room. The girls are comparing notes on how much trouble they’ve been in at school over the past few weeks. One day when I’ve known Annie long enough—like three or four-hundred years—I’m going to ask her why she’s so hell-bent on self-destruction.

But for now, I’m going to brood. I can’t help it, I just don’t know how she could pretend to love me for two years. She must have loved me at some point, or why did she stay so long?

The simple argument is that she was seeing someone behind my back. But I like to convince myself that I haven’t wasted two years loving someone who obviously doesn’t care about me.

“Mendoza! Stop moping!” Annie instructs.

I want to stop moping, but I can’t. I’ve had my heart trampled on and a bit of sympathy wouldn’t go amiss.

“I’m not saying that you have to get over it.” Annie gets up and drags me to my feet and pulls me over to the bed where she and Sharlie are sitting. “But I’m trying to cheer you up here, and your lack of participation is making it hard for me.”

“Sorry,” I mutter. She wants me to talk? How can I join in this conversation? I’m never in trouble, except for when Annie gets me in trouble. Maybe I’ll grab all my courage in a big bundle and ask Annie why she likes trouble so much. Since I’m still moping she might be compassionate and not kill me. “So why are you always looking for trouble then?”

Annie exchanges a look with Sharlie. Sharlie shrugs and Annie sighs. “Oh, I might as well tell you, it might cheer you up.”

An Annie story, this could be interesting.

“It basically annoys my parents, and that’s a good thing. Now the reason I like to annoy them is because it’s the only time I get their attention. Now, I’m not throwing myself a pity-party here, but I’m only sixteen, they should show at least some casual interest in my well-being.”

“You might as well tell the whole tale.” Sharlie says. “He is your best friend.”

Annie rolls her eyes. “Ok, remember Donna the Bush-Pig? Like you could forget her. Well, a year ago I was just a day-student at Eden Hall, and one weekend Donna stayed over my house. Let’s just say my parents walked in at a very inopportune moment…” Annie cracks a smile.

Sharlie and I snigger. Typical Annie.

“I got kicked out on my ass. Literally, I was standing on my front lawn at six am in nothing but my panties and a Mickey Mouse bra while my Mom hurled clothing and stuff at me. Donna grabbed her stuff and scarpered, leaving me to deal with the parental units. Typical of her. Anyway, I packed up as much as I could in a bag and went down to the bus stop to wait for a couple of hours and finally got a bus to here. I stayed for a few weeks, then my Dad called and told me that he’d managed to wrangle a dorm room at the school. That’s the last time he spoke to me, he sends his secretary and her husband to Parent-Teacher nights to take notes.”

I’m speechless. No wonder Annie’s such a lunatic.

She shrugs. “They send me money and stuff, so I’m not completely on my own. They’re just using the ‘head in the sand’ method to deal with this. If I’m not around they forget I’m gay. And I don’t have to answer to anyone, so it’s not a bad deal.”

Yeah, right Annie.

“You forgot to add the punchline,” Sharlie reminds her.

“Oh yeah, my Dad’s a political hag, so he doesn’t want to be seen as a bad guy. So that’s a plus, every time he gets mad with me, I threaten to tell everyone that he kicked me out when I was fifteen.” She grins big, it looks genuine.

I put my hand on her shoulder and squeeze.

“Hey! No feeling sorry for me!” She says. “I’m fine. I dealt, I’m far too well-adjusted to throw myself pity-parties about it.” She grins at me, then Sharlie. “Hon, I’m raiding your wardrobe, I need something to wear tonight.”

Sharlie and I exchange a look as she bounds off the bed into Sharlie’s walk-in wardrobe.

“Is she ok?” I ask Sharlie in a low voice.

She shrugs. “As ok as Annie gets since then.”

“Holy mother of god! Your stalker’s here!” Sharlie mutters looking worried.

“What? Where?” Annie asks.

“Bush Pig at twelve o’clock. Don’t make eye contact.”

I look across the crowded bar and see an average looking girl with brown hair, she’s got a scowl on her face, it has to be Donna because her scowl gets larger as she spies Annie. She starts walking towards us.

“Dance with me!” Annie grabs my hand and leads me to the dance floor, as we make our hasty exit I hear Sharlie wail pitifully, “What about me?”

I echo Sharlie’s question.

“Don’t worry about her, she’s usually fighting guys off with a stick, and besides, Donna doesn’t talk to her. Sharlie really laid into her about leaving me to deal with the parentals, since then Donna steers clear of her,” Annie replies in my ear.

I look back to Sharlie and see that there are already two guys talking to her.

I then notice that Donna’s on her way over to us.

“Incoming nutcase,” I tell her.

Annie curses several times. “Don’t take this personally.”

I don’t get it, then she wraps her arms around me and dances extremely close to me.

Donna glares and takes off in the opposite direction.

Chapter 6: Replacement?

Notes: Thanks for the reviews, Steph, Vic, Moth, Christina Miller and loads of other people. You all rock! Sorry this is a short chapter, I have much more to write about this night out, but don’t want to break what’s coming next in half, hence the short chapter!

We manage to snag a booth near the dance floor, from here we can see almost everyone in here.

Sharlie and Annie are doing their best to find a girl for me.

“How about her?” Sharlie points to a random girl wearing an almost non-existent skirt dancing with a few friends.

“Doesn’t she go to our school?” Annie asks.

“Yeah, she’s nasty,” I agree.

“But do you fancy her?” Annie persists. “I’m not talking ‘til death do you part’, would you at least go dance with her?”


“Why not? She’s pretty, I’d dance with her… and more!” Annie giggles, she and Sharlie are downing vodka like it’s going out of fashion. “She’s pretty, right?”

“Only from the neck down, she’s Beelzebub in human form.” I shrug. “It’s not enough for me.”

“Oh, please! You dated Mindy for two years!” Annie retorts, getting to her feet and stumbling towards the bar.

Although her insult was fairly mild, by her standards, it’s the first one that’s ever been directed at me. I give Sharlie a look. “What was that about? Something I said?”

Sharlie rolls her eyes. “Don’t take it personally. It’s the Bush-Pig. There will be tears before dawn, mark my words.”

I glance around and am surprised to see so many students from Eden Hall here. I guess we’re not the only ones with fake IDs who can forge our parents’ signatures. I see a group of girls that look familiar, on closer inspection I realise that they are Mindy’s crowd… and Mindy’s right in the middle of them.

“Someone caught your eye?” Sharlie asks, she follows my eye-line. “Urgh, she looks like a cheerleader.”

I sigh. “Head cheerleader, actually.”

Sharlie gives me a disbelieving look. “That’s your type? You really like that ‘I’m sexy, I’m cute, and a total whore to boot’ thing?”

I grin at her mini-cheer. “I like her. That’s Mindy.”

“Ah, the evil ex,” she deduces. “You can do better than her. She’s not that great.”

“Yes she is!” I reply defensively. “You don’t even know her.”

“Ok, let’s ignore the fact that she’s not been the best girlfriend in the world, what’s so great about her—aside from the way she looks?”

I glare at her. Sharlie may be Annie’s cousin, but she doesn’t know me, or Mindy. “It’s not about looks, there’s more to it than that! I’m sick of everyone assuming I’m shallow!” I snap.

She holds her hands up in a surrender gesture. “Did I ever say you were shallow? All I meant was that she’s obviously a hottie, even a straight girl like me can see that, so list her other pluses.”

“Fine.” I admit defeat, mainly to shut Sharlie up. “She’s funny—”

“I bet Annie’s funnier.”

“Annie’s gay, and besides, I don’t think of her like that.” I’ve got to find myself some sane friends.

“Not the point. I’m merely trying to find a replacement, not for Mindy, but for each of her attributes, then maybe you won’t be so lonely.” She gives me a smile, and I realise that she’s not being bitchy or just talking for the sake of it, she’s trying to help.

“She’s smart.”

Sharlie hides a snort of disbelief, then adds, “Most of the population are.”

“She laughs at my jokes.”

“Ok, that one we’ll have trouble replacing,” she teases.

“Ha ha.”

“What else?”

I shrug awkwardly. Have you ever tried listing the reasons why you love someone? It’s impossible. Doubly so when you’re listing them to someone you’ve only known a couple of hours.

And besides, all that’s left to list is the sappy stuff. Like I love the way she always smells of vanilla. I love the way she smiles. I love the way she fits into my arms. I love the way she used to make eyes at me right under Riley’s nose when they were still together. I love everything about her.

“Uh-oh.” Sharlie nods across the bar.

I look up and see that Annie is returning, she’s got a mutinous expression on her face, she’s carrying three glasses and I can clearly see that she’s got something white and blood-stained wrapped around her right hand.

Annie sets the drinks down on the table and then takes a seat next to me. She gives us a big grin, clears a space on the table in front of her, then bangs her head against it.

“What happened?” I ask, at exactly the same time as Sharlie says, “What’s she done now?”

Annie downs her drink in one big gulp then holds up her bandaged hand. “Argument. Clenched fists. Holding glass. Blood. Pain. Ouch. Hellbitch.”

Sharlie stands up and climbs over the table. “Gonna bag me a Bush-Pig,” she mutters before leaving.

“Are you really ok?” I ask Annie.

She nods. “I’m fine. I’d be more worried for Donna if I was you, Sharlie’s going to kill her.” She sighs. “God knows why I let her get to me, I’m not dating her any more. Urgh!”

All of a sudden she starts laughing.

I look at her nervously, has the alcohol finally hit her system?


She points. “Isn’t that the girl from your team, the one that was bitching about you with the blonde?”

I look over and see Connie in deep lip-lock with Lester Averman.

Ooh, this is too good to be true.

Chapter 7: Caught

“Let’s go over there and tease her,” Sharlie suggests. She’s back from ‘talking’ to the Bush-Pig and Annie has just filled her in. She rubs her grazed knuckles. Apparently she ‘caught them on something’. From Donna’s wounded look and swelling eye, I’m guessing it was the Bush-Pig’s face.

“Luis, it’s your call. Revenge, or the mature, responsible thing?” Annie says.

“Bit of both. Let’s go over there and say hi,” I reply with a grin. “Let’s not quite sink to her level… but almost.”

“Nice one.” Annie nods approvingly and stumbles forward.

I wrap an arm around her, she’s had way too much to drink, she drank both mine and Sharlie’s drinks while Sharlie was ‘talking’ to Donna.

“I’m fine,” she says.

I exchange a look with Sharlie who shakes her head almost imperceptibly.

I tap Connie on the shoulder while she’s still mid-kiss with Averman. I want her to know that she’s been caught. “Hi Connie!”

She and Averman break apart and give me identical deer-in-headlights looks. I fight the smirk threatening to take over my face.

“Luis!” Connie recovers first. “Um, hi! What are you doing here?”

“These two are cheering me up.” I indicate Annie and Sharlie who are either side of me.

Connie smiles slightly. “Oh, and are you going to introduce us to your girlfriends?”

The music is loud, but I’m almost certain she said girlfriends. As in plural. I’ll ignore it. “I don’t have a girlfriend, this is Annie, my best friend, and her cousin, Charlotte.” They fake friendly ‘hi’s at Connie. “So what about your boyfriends?” See, plural. I can do it too. “Where’s Guy tonight?”

Connie and Averman wince. “He’s not here,” Averman supplies.

I’m sure Connie’s about to give me the speech. The oh please don’t tell Guy, this is a one-off, I’m just really drunk and blah, blah, blah…

However, she doesn’t get to it because someone stumbles into the middle of our group and lands face-first on the ground.

“Ouch. That had to hurt,” Sharlie says.

Being the gentleman that I am I let go of Annie and help the person in question to her feet. It’s none other than Mindy.

Or to be more accurate, a completely wasted Mindy.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yell at her as she sways drunkenly. “You’re pregnant, you can’t get drunk!”

I’m completely insanely mad at her. It goes beyond that, there aren’t words to describe how enraged I am that she’s endangering her baby in the name of a good time.

“Oh goody.” Mindy looks around. “It’s Luis. Woo-hoo! Ooh, and the lesbian.” She gives Annie a disgusted look. “And some Ducky losers.” She frowns at Sharlie. “Who the hell are you?”

She sways again and I put my hands on her waist to steady her. “Why are you drinking?” I ask again. “It’s not good for the baby!”

“Screw the baby!” she says venomously. “I don’t want it!”

I’m dumbstruck. How can she not want it? Time for an ad-lib, I’m too pissed off to talk about this now. “I think you should go back to the dorms. You’re drunk.”

“I’m fine.” She pushes me away. “I don’t need you! When are you going to understand that? God, no wonder I broke up with you!”

Annie puts her hand on my shoulder reassuringly. “I’ll be right back.”

“Mindy, I’m going to take you back to the dorms, you’re really drunk. You should sleep this off.” And tomorrow we’re going to talk about this. That could be my kid she’s drinking to death in there.

I’ve got no idea how I’m managing to stay so calm. I’m about ready to punch something or cry. Neither option seems appropriate in this setting.

“I wanna go home.” Mindy decides.

I nod. “We’re going to take you back to the dorms.”

“Not school. Home!

No way. I know her parents. They have this illusion that Mindy is perfect, if I send her home in this state they’ll lose that. Although it would be a nice form of revenge, I can’t do it to either Mindy or her parents.

“Her friends are gone,” Annie reports, she seems remarkably sober. She’s also holding two pint glasses of water. “Get her to drink this, not too fast, we don’t want her to puke.” She hands me a glass, and starts sipping from the other.

I look up and see that Connie and Averman are still here, and watching the scene with avid interest.

“I’m going to find a cab,” Sharlie decides. “Let’s take her outside, some fresh air might help.”

“I doan feel so good…” Mindy moans.

“Some fresh air will definitely help,” Sharlie confirms.

I look at Connie and Averman. “See you.”

Connie looks disappointed that she’s going to miss whatever will happen next, but Averman looks relieved that we’re going.

I loop an arm around Mindy, and Annie takes the other side and we help her out. Sharlie walks in front carrying the water. The bouncers on the door just let us leave, indifferent to the fact that we’re taking two of the bar’s glasses with us.

We prop Mindy up against a wall, she sags pathetically and moans, holding her head. “I feel bad.”

“Well, you deserve it,” Annie says heartlessly. “But the baby doesn’t.”

“Doan wan’ it,” Mindy slurs back.

“Drink some water.” I push a glass under her nose. I’m ignoring anything she has to say, it’s the only thing I can do.

“So what are we doing now?” Sharlie asks.

“I’d better get Mindy back to the dorms,” I say. “Sorry for spoiling the night.”

“It wasn’t you, it was the drunken rah-rah girl over there,” Sharlie says, “and besides, the night isn’t spoilt, just prematurely ending. Annie, what are your plans, home with me, or back to the dorms?”

“I’ll go with Luis, he’ll probably need help with the psycho,” she replies.

“I’ll go call a cab while you two try to sober her up,” Sharlie offers.

Sharlie comes back to us moments later. “Only one cab, it’ll be here in about ten minutes.”

Mindy takes a sip of the water, then drops the glass, it shatters and water goes all over mine and Annie’s feet. “Oops!” Mindy giggles and I know it wasn’t an accident.

Annie sighs and bites her lip, I know she’s dying to say something but is holding it back.

“You know we could just leave you here, Mindy,” I say. I have no intention of leaving Mindy anywhere but her own dorm room in this state, but she doesn’t know that. “Or better yet, I could call the school or your parents and have them come get you.”

“Fine! Do that! I don’t want your help!” she snaps. “I don’t want you.”

This is a side of her I’ve never seen. I don’t like it. I didn’t know she could be so vicious.

“I hate you,” Mindy tells me conversationally. “All the time I spent with you I was thinking up reasons I could leave. God knows why I stayed so long with you!”

“Oh for god’s sake! Sober up!” Sharlie snaps and throws her glass of water in Mindy’s face.

Annie laughs, Mindy screams and Sharlie looks smug.

Mindy starts ranting and moves forward, arms flailing, to—presumably—hit me, but falls over her own feet. I catch her quickly, if she had fallen she would have landed on the broken glass.

“Are we a mecca for insane women tonight?” Annie asks.

It certainly feels that way for me.

Luckily the cab arrives and I’m saved from further insanity.

The cab ride is uneventful, thank the lord, Mindy passes out leaning against me, and her wet hair drips all over my shoulder. Annie and Sharlie decide to count up how many of tonight’s events count as disasters. I stare out of the window and wonder when my life turned into a circus.

We drop Sharlie off first. “It’s been a blast! Same time next week?” she shouts over her shoulder as she gets out of the cab.

I hope she’s joking.

“Considering the fact that this girl gets tossed in the air by her fellow rah-rah girls she’s really heavy.” Annie complains, lugging the comatose Mindy along the hall with me.

“We’re almost there,” I reply.

“You should have just left her there, you don’t owe her anything.”

“She’s pregnant,” I say softly. “Couldn’t just leave her there.”

Annie doesn’t know that it might be my kid. I don’t know why I never told her. Maybe it’s because I had this dumb idea that Mindy would come back to me and I didn’t want Annie making snide comments to her about not knowing who got her pregnant.

“Why don’t we just leave her here?” Annie suggests. “Let her sleep it off in the halls?”

It’s tempting, but for some reason I just can’t be as mean to Mindy as she’s been to me.

“And just what is going on here?”

Annie and I look up to see the source of the new voice.

As I feared, it’s Ms Ellsworth, the supervisor of this dorm.

Chapter 8: Cheering & Cover-ups

Annie and I are ‘grounded’. We’re not allowed to leave the school grounds for a month. Mindy is in far more trouble because she got drunk and she got taken to the nurse’s office to sleep it off.

I’m not benched, we have a big game on Friday, but if I put a foot wrong between now and then I will be. Our parents have also been notified that we snuck out, I can’t wait for the phone call from my mom. She’ll probably yell for about half an hour, then hang up on me before I can reply.

Mindy got taken to hospital during the early hours after telling the nurse she was pregnant, they decided since she’d had so much to drink it would be best to get her checked out.

Annie called the hospital pretending to be Mindy’s cousin and found out that she was ok and as far as they could tell no damage had been done to the baby.

I’ve been in a state of panic all morning. Maybe that kid isn’t mine, but Mindy’s new boyfriend sure as hell isn’t showing any interest in her or the kid’s welfare.

I take a deep breath and knock on her door. Missy, her roommate and co-captain of the cheerleading squad, opens the door. She gives me a surprised look.

“Is she sober yet?” I ask coldly.

Missy looks surprised, it’s the first time she’s ever heard me say anything even remotely derogatory about Mindy. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever said anything derogatory about her.

“Sure, but, like, I don’t think, like, she wants to see you.”

Missy is a cheering cliché. Completely brain dead.

I sigh. “Well, like, I, like, wanna see her!” I push past her and walk into their room.

Their room is hard on the eyes. Missy’s half is pink and covered with pictures of Britney Spears and is over-populated by stuffed toys, Mindy’s half is red and there are cheering trophies all over the place.

I thought girls knew that red and pink don’t work well together. Even Annie knows that and she hates being a girly-girl.

Mindy is lying on her bed with an arm thrown over her eyes.

I glare at Missy, who’s still standing in the doorway, staring at me in surprise. “This is private.”

She nods understandingly, but doesn’t move.

“Go away.” I spell it out for her.

“She doesn’t have to. In fact, she can stay and you can go,” Mindy says, moving her arm momentarily so she can flash a glare in my direction.

I push Missy out of the door and close it in her face. “Hi, Mindy,” I say.

“Go away.” She puts her arm over her eyes again.

“What, no thanks for getting you back to the dorm last night?” I ask.

She sits up and glares at me. “Thank you?” she repeats incredulously. “Should I thank you for getting me into trouble? Should I thank you that I’m benched from cheering? Should I thank you that my parents now know I’m pregnant?”

I feel my anger rising. How can she be mad at me? I should be mad, not her. “No, you should thank me for caring about you when all your friends ran off and left you.”

“Go to hell, Luis!” she snaps, standing up to face me. “I don’t know how many times I have to tell you, but I don’t need you.”

“Yes you do,” I tell her firmly. “Or at least you did last night. You were the biggest bitch last night, and still Annie and I took care of you and tried to get you home without getting into trouble. Just for the record, Annie and I have been grounded for a month. That’s because of you. We were going to stay out overnight, but then you appeared and we had to get you back here and we got caught. We’re in trouble because of you.”

“You and the lesbian!” she spits out. “Like that matters. My parents are going crazy because I’m pregnant.”

I take a deep calming breath. “They were going to find out eventually.”

“No they weren’t!” she snaps. “I was going to have an abortion, ok? Mick won’t help me and I don’t want you, so the only option was an abortion, but now everyone knows and my parents think abortion is murder. Thanks, Luis. Thanks a lot.”

I bite down on my lip hard. What happened to the sweet girl I fell in love with? Why does she have to be so rotten?

“Get out and leave me alone. I don’t want you around.” She crosses her arms across her chest and glares at me.

I’m too stunned to do anything but comply.

“She said that?” Annie asks gently.

I sigh and lean against her. I wasn’t in the mood for company after talking to Mindy so I came straight back to my dorm room. Jay, my roommate, took one look at me and went running to get Annie.

As it turns out, he did the right thing. I love having Annie around. At times like this, she switches off the crazy personality and knows exactly what to say. And a nice bonus of her being a lesbian is that I get lots of hugs without having to worry if one of us is hitting on the other.

“Do you think I’d make a good gay man?” I ask, lifting my head to look at her.


“All women are insane,” I reply.

“Amen to that.” She chuckles. “Sure you would, I mean look at you. You dress well, you always smell nice, and you have good hair. I’d say you’d make a great gay man.”

I rest my head on her chest once more.

“Or I could be straight and date you,” she suggests. “Would I be your type?”

I shrug, which is hard to do when you’re lying down with your arms around your best friend. “I don’t know what my type is.”

“Me neither. Lunacy seems to be a big theme.”

“I guess we’re both stuck dating girls then,” I sigh.

“Guess so.” She strokes my hair again.

The door bursts open and Connie flies in. She sees me and Annie lying on the bed and asks, “Have I interrupted something.”

“Only in the literal sense,” Annie replies coolly.

I glance at Connie, she’s been trying to get hold of me all day, but I kept asking Jay to get rid of her. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell Guy about you and Averman. If you want to cheat on him, fine. Whatever. I’ve got bigger problems right now.”

“Oh, right.” She looks uncomfortable. “Um, are you ok?”

Annie snorts.

“Fine. But I’d appreciate it if you didn’t go running off to Julie to tell her that you’ve just seen me with my arms around a girl. It’s hardly exciting gossip, and I’m sick of being your main topic of conversation,” I say.

“I… uh…”

“What Luis is saying,” Annie explains patiently. “Is that he doesn’t want you in his room right now, neither does he like your gossipy attitude to him, so how about you stop talking about him and he won’t say a word about you slagging around.” She gives Connie a thousand-watt smile.

“And just for the record, I’m 100% dykedelic. If Luis was a girl, you’d have just walked in on something exceptionally kinky right now, but he’s not. I’m gay, he’s straight, and we don’t have the impulse to get in each other’s pants.” She grins even bigger. “But if you need a gossip topic, that can be it. Annie, the big lesbo. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you leave.”

I laugh as Connie processes what Annie just said, then leaves quickly and quietly.

Chapter 9: Go Team!

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 because I don’t like her.

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 Mindy has just pushed me over the edge. I just can’t stand it anymore.

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 Mindy’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?