Series: Duck Romances
Length: 1-5k words
Disclaimer: Disney et all owns ‘em and I’ll have ‘em back before they even notice they’re gone! Taz, aka Purple Girl belongs to me, but I think everyone knows that by now!
Notes: This isn’t actually a fic, but a series of vignettes that should have been part of Limpet. Also, this fic has been missing for a very long time, I found it by accident on one of my back-up discs a few days ago.
Notes 2: Did you know the word cooties is actually in the Microsoft dictionary?
“I’m sorry, Scott,” Julie stated. “But we both know it’s not working.”
He pursed his lips and nodded in agreement. “You’re right.” He smiled at her. “Oh well, it couldn’t last forever. I’ll see you around.”
Julie watched him leave, and sighed with relief. She’d been dreading breaking up with him, but that had gone quite smoothly. It made her wonder if he had his eye on someone else too.
She decided to sit with the rest of the Ducks for lunch, and began to make her way over to their usual spot.
She met Connie on the way over, and they traded horror stories on how their day had been so far, although she didn’t mention her break up with Scott.
Connie would inevitably ask if someone else was on the horizon, and then Julie would be unable to lie, and then Connie might mention in to Guy, who in turn might mention it to anyone else, and then it might get back to Portman.
Julie sighed. Yes, it might get back to Portman that she was head over feet in love with him. And then the teasing would ensue.
As they approached the rest of the team, she saw that Charlie, Adam and Portman were fixated on the cheerleaders, and quite involved in a discussion about them.
Julie’s heart sank, Portman liked cheerleaders? Ok, so there probably wasn’t a single guy in school that didn’t want to date Natalie and her crew, but she didn’t think that they were really his type.
“Are we talking cheerleaders again?” Connie asked, dropping her books to the ground and taking 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, smiling at Julie.
“Really?” Julie asked with irritation. “That’s the lamest excuse ever, because he’s not even here.”
“He was here,” Portman replied, looking around. “Did anyone see him go?”
“Maybe didn’t want to listen to you guys tease him,” Connie offered. “You know what it’s like around here, one of you gets caught making eyes at someone and the rest of you don’t shut up about it for weeks.”
“Yeah,” Julie added. “I’m sure some of you still have the ‘girls have cooties’ mentality.” Connie had just summed up exactly why she didn’t want to share her crush on Dean with anyone.
“Hey!” Averman interjected. “I know girls don’t have cooties… they have the lurgi, right guys?”
Julie rolled her eyes. Yes, she was sitting with the epitome of all that was suave and sophisticated at Eden Hall.
The next day
Portman stared around the campus. He couldn’t seem to find Fulton, which was annoying. He’d heard a rumour from the Varsity guys that Julie and Scott had broken up. It was pretty much the best news he’d heard all week, but all the same, he wanted to talk to his friend about it.
He finally stopped looking and decided that eventually Fulton would show up under the tree, which was the unofficial meeting place for the ducks.
He joined the group, greeting them all cheerfully and sat down as close to Julie as was possible without looking too obvious.
“Anyone seen Fulton?” he asked.
“I saw him talking to a girl with purple hair earlier,” Julie supplied absently.
“You alright, Jules?” he asked casually.
She nodded. “Sure, why wouldn’t I be?”
He shrugged. Tact wasn’t his strong point, but he knew that she would go into defensive mode if he mentioned that Varsity were talking about her break up with Scott.
The gods seemed to be smiling upon him though, because Connie decided to join the conversation.
“Jules, how come you’re not sitting with Scott?”
Julie shrugged and lowered her voice. “We broke up.”
Connie put her hand on Julie’s shoulder. “Are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” Julie smiled. “It just wasn’t working for either of us.”
Portman grinned. The news had come straight from the horse’s mouth.
Now the question was, what should he do about it?
The next day
“Is it just me, or has Fulton abandoned us?” Goldberg asked as he, Portman and Averman walked to class. “Of course, we’ve now got Julie back, but why is one of our team always vanishing?”
“It’s true, we keep losing our team mates to lurve,” Averman agreed, pretending to wipe away a tear. “It’s a terrible thing.”
“Well, we can rest assured we won’t be losing you two,” Portman muttered.
“At least Charlie makes the effort to make sure we don’t feel rejected, he brings Linda over to sit with us occasionally,” Goldberg said, ignoring Portman’s comment.
“Just wait until Julie finds a new squeeze and then we’ve lost her again,” Averman commented.
“Nah, I don’t think so.”
“What makes you say that?” Portman asked, with the first sign of interest so far in the conversation.
“I saw her and Banksie talking,” Goldberg replied, in a tone that insinuated this was big news.
“So what?” Averman asked. “She talks to lots of guys, namely us.”
“Yeah, but they were leaning.”
“Leaning?” Portman and Averman asked in bewilderment.
“Yeah, leaning. Haven’t you ever watched ‘While You Were Sleeping’?”
“Is this some bizarre code for copping a feel?” Portman enquired, still not clear.
“No, you moron. They were just leaning.”
“Yeah, you moron, they were leaning,” Averman agreed, although he still wasn’t sure about the leaning thing either.
Goldberg sighed and rolled his eyes at the both of them. “It’s all about the body language.”
“Alright, gents, quit gabbing and take a seat.” Their teacher frowned at them.
Portman couldn’t believe it, he was actually disappointed that the conversation with Goldberg and Averman had ended.
“C’mon guys, it’s a good idea. I saw them with my own eyes checking out the engagement ring section,” Averman pleaded. “Guy definitely bought her something yesterday.”
“You want me to put money on when they announce their engagement?” Portman asked. “Why would I do that?”
“Look, it’s very simple.” Averman dug a list out of his pocket. “Everyone pays five bucks to sign up for a day and whoever guesses the right day gets the pool minus ten percent.”
“I’m in,” Goldberg announced, pulling out his wallet. “I’m going with the twenty-third, it’s my lucky number.”
Portman rolled his eyes. It was only because Fulton wasn’t here that he was getting involved with one of Averman’s insane ideas. “Fine. I’ll have the twenty-ninth.”
“Hey!” A new female voice said. “You’re Les Averman, right?”
Averman turned towards the source of the voice. “Yeah.”
“I’m Jen.” She smiled. “I heard that you’re taking bets on when Connie and Guy announce their engagement.”
“That’s right. Wanna place a bet?”
“I was just wondering if you knew something I don’t. I don’t think they’re gonna make it to the end of the year.” She smiled. “Probably not even until the end of the week.”
“Oh yeah?” Goldberg asked, “Well, Averman saw –” He shut up as Averman gave him a sharp jab in the ribs.
“What a devoted couple they are,” Averman covered smoothly. “Of course, if you want to put your money where your mouth is…”
Julie looked around the campus for a friendly face. She had to go into town for a new folder and it was always more fun to go with someone else. Her science folder had exploded in the hall, and her notes were held together with about fourteen paperclips.
She spotted Portman. He was talking to Fulton and the girl with purple hair that she’d seen him with yesterday. She grinned at how close they were standing. If that wasn’t Fulton’s girlfriend, she would be soon.
She saw Fulton elbow Portman in the ribs and look in Julie’s direction. She blushed, hoping they weren’t talking about her. She waved and Portman said his goodbyes and made his way over to her.
“Hey!” he said. “What are you up to?”
“I was about to go into town. Pretty dull stuff,” she replied casually, wondering if asking him along would seem obvious.
“Really? I was planning on going into town too,” he told her.
She smiled. “Well, I guess I can tolerate your company. What do you need to get?”
He looked momentarily startled. “Oh, a CD. Fulton and I have played it to death and it skips.”
She nodded back to where Fulton was standing. “Is that his girlfriend?”
“Taz?” He shrugged as they began walking. “In his words ‘not yet’. She seems nice though.”
“They cute nice together. I mean, she’s so tiny and he’s…” she grinned, “not. Opposites make a good combination.”
Portman smiled hopefully at Julie. Somehow they’d run out of things to say. He could only think of hockey related stuff. They’d had a good conversation while walking down to town, but after he offered to buy her a McD’s things seemed to go downhill.
Maybe she was used to better, she used to date Scott and he had money coming out of his ears. Portman sighed. A McD’s was as far as his budget would stretch.
“So,” she said at length. “Who’d have thought Connie and Guy would break up. I thought they were lifers.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “They seemed good together.” And that was all he could think of to say.
“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.”
“You like that sappy stuff?” he asked, noticing the love-struck look on her face when she was talking about Guy.
“From the right person,” she said. “Yeah. I am a girl, you know. Girls like stuff like that.”
“From the right person,” he repeated thoughtfully, was that her way of telling him to forget it?
“Well, yeah,” she replied. “I mean, I’m sure that Connie wouldn’t have been quite so thrilled with those roses if they’d have come from anyone but Guy. It’s who sends them that counts.”
“Oh right,” he said discouraged.
Julie sighed and tossed her pen across the room, making Connie look up and smile quizzically at her.
“You ok, Jules?”
“Fine.” She sighed again, but didn’t want to get into it. She decided to change the conversation. “What about you? Are you ok, you know, with the break up of you and Guy?”
“The break up?” Connie frowned, then smiled. “Oh yeah, that was staged. Averman was taking bets on when we were getting engaged, so we decided to break up in front of him. I got one of the girls from my English class to put money on us breaking up.”
Julie laughed. “How much money did you make?”
“Enough to buy a stunningly gorgeous dress to wear for when Guy and I formally announce our engagement.” Connie grinned at her.
Julie laughed. She had to hand it to Connie, it was a great plan. “Congratulations – not just for the success of the plan.”
“Thanks.” Connie grinned. “Now, let’s talk about what has you sighing and throwing your pen across the room.”
Julie sighed again, then smiled as Connie raised her eyebrows at her. “I’ve just had a weird day.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
Julie shrugged. “Would you mind if I said no?”
Connie made a face, as if weighing it up in her mind. “Ok,” she said finally, “But if you haven’t snapped out of it by this time tomorrow you have to talk about it.”
Julie sighed and swung her tennis racquet absently as she walked to the courts, her mind elsewhere. Portman had ignored her throughout the day and it was getting on her nerves. She wasn’t sure if she’d somehow offended him yesterday, or if she’d acted too obvious and he wasn’t interested. Or perhaps both.
“Julie! Be my partner?” Rebecca Harrington-Johnstone called to her.
Julie sighed, pasted a big fake smile on her face and nodded. She hated Rebecca, Rebecca hated her, it was a known fact. It was also a known fact that the two of them were the best tennis players in their year. Rebecca liked to win, so was happy to ignore her hatred for Julie during phys ed.
“Julie, Rebecca, you’re sharing a court with Taryn and Jessie.” Ms Joy informed them.
Julie shrugged indifferently and walked towards an empty court.
“Why do we have to share with Hop-A-Long?” She heard Rebecca whine to Jessie, one of her crowd. “It’s unfair to put a talented athlete with a freak of nature. She can’t even walk properly, you think she can play tennis!”
“I know!” Jessie agreed emphatically. “I can’t believe Ms Joy partnered me with Limpet.”
Julie turned around to face them, sick of their nastiness. “How about the both of you shut up?”
Rebecca laughed. “Oh sweetie, you can’t possibly be standing up for that freak.”
Julie looked around, wondering who she was defending. “Yes I am. Tell you what, since it’s such a problem for you to play with someone less gifted than yourself, you partner Jessie, I’ll play with Taryn.”
She looked for the person in question, and met a pair of purple eyes framed by a pretty face and purple hair. She smiled at her. It was Fulton’s girlfriend.
“Julie, you said you’d be my partner.” Rebecca reminded her.
She shrugged. “Play with Jessie, she’s your best friend.”
“But Jessie’s no good!”
Julie hid a smile as Jessie began to retaliate. The two of them would happily fight for the rest of the class.
She walked over to the upset looking girl. “Hey, Taryn. I’m Julie.”
“Ow. Ow! Double ow!”
“Jules, just slow down.” Connie advised, trying to get Julie to lean on her more.
“I’m fine.” She took another step. “Ow!”
“You’re not fine.” Connie told her firmly. “Let’s get you back to the dorm.”
“No, really I’m fine. I wanna watch the practice.” Julie insisted.
Connie rolled her eyes at her friend. “Fine. Lord only knows why you decided to run down those steps.”
“If you tell me I’ve only got myself to blame I’ll beat you to death with your own hockey stick.” Julie responded, avoiding the subject.
“Hello Ladies.” Portman grinned, then noticed Julie leaning heavily on her friend. “What happened to you?”
Julie blushed. She had been on her way into town again, and had seen Portman across the campus. Since he’d been avoiding her since Wednesday she’d decided to catch up to him and see if he would talk to her. Which is when she’d tripped on her laces and fallen head first down the steps in front of the school.
“I fell,” she replied shortly.
“Are you ok?” he asked with what sounded like genuine concern.
“Can you walk?”
“Yes,” she answered the same time as Connie said, “No.”
“Why are you going to practice? Coach won’t let you play.”
Because I haven’t seen you for days. She replied mentally. “I’m showing support for my team.”
He laughed at her determined tone. “Ok, Jules. For that you deserve a piggy-back. I’ll carry you to practice.”
“Not necessary,” she replied.
“Um, hello! Whose shoulder are you dislocating as we walk?” Connie interjected. “I think you should let Portman carry you.”
Which is how Julie ended up being carried to practice by Portman.
“I’m not squashing you, am I?” She asked as he walked towards the rink, Connie had spotted Guy and run on ahead.
“Please!” he snorted contemptuously. “There’s nothing more boring than a beautiful girl moaning about her weight.”
“Beautiful?” She repeated before she could stop herself.
“Skinny,” he amended.
“So, how’s it going with Julie?” Fulton asked as they did laps, occasionally looking up to the stands to smile at Taz who was sitting with Julie.
Portman shrugged. Or at least, Fulton assumed he shrugged. It was hard to tell with all the padding they had to wear.
“I carried her to practice,” he replied. “I don’t have to ask how it’s going for you and Taz.”
“No you really don’t.” Fulton grinned. “You carried her?”
“She couldn’t walk,” he replied shortly.
“So, are you seeing her or not?”
“Not. I still think she’s crushing on Guy.”
“He’s back with Connie though.” Fulton pointed out. “And besides, I’ve not seen Julie with him at all. She’s always with the group or you.”
“Or Banks. Apparently she was leaning. Any idea what that means?”
“I asked Taz about it after you asked last time. She said something about ‘While You Were Sleeping’.”
Portman rolled his eyes. “If I have to watch that sappy movie just to understand what leaning is I might kill someone.”
“This is a hockey practice, not a coffee morning!” Coach Orion barked at them, thus ending the conversation. “Quit gabbing and start scrimmaging.”
Julie sighed and looked around the campus. She hadn’t seen Portman since practice on Saturday, it was now Monday lunchtime. He’d carried her to practice, surely that was a good sign. Of course, he’d magically vanished since and not spoken to her at all during the one class they shared.
She turned around and there stood Portman.
“Oh, you’re talking to me now?” She muttered.
“Huh? Of course I’m talking to you,” he replied. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
She blushed, he wasn’t meant to have heard that. She rolled her eyes at him. “I don’t know. You weren’t talking to me during science.”
“Oh that, I was talking to Fulton about his girlfriend,” he smiled winningly. “I have to show an interest in my best friend’s love life, otherwise he won’t listen to me when I have one.”
“You have a love life?” She asked with equal parts irritation and disappointment.
“I’m working on it,” he told her.
“Who is she?” She asked as they began to walk over to the rest of the Ducks.
Portman gaped at her, then smiled slightly. “She’s blonde. Very pretty. She’s an A-student, I haven’t got a clue if she likes me.”
Julie smiled, she filled all of the above. Well, the very pretty bit didn’t always work out for her, but Portman had let it slip that he thought she was beautiful.
“I’m sure she does like you. What else?”
“She’s a great athlete. Um, have I said she was pretty?”
“Can’t we talk about your love life?” he asked.
“What’s to tell?”
“Anyone caught your eye?”
She smiled. “Maybe.”
He grinned. “So?”
“Ok, he’s tall and strong. He’s got dark hair and a reputation for being a big goon, but there’s more to him than that.”
“Hate to break it to you, but Fulton’s taken,” he teased. “I think Taz would fight you for him.”
She mock punched him and laughed. He caught her hand, but didn’t let go.
“What else?” he asked softly, turning to face her.
“I don’t know if he likes me,” she told him. “He keeps backing off.”
He moved closer to her. “Is he backing off now?”
She smiled and shook her head. “Not this time.” Then she stepped back, removing her hand from his. “But what’s to say that he won’t again?”
“He won’t.” Portman assured her.
She suddenly lost her temper with the games they seemed to be playing. “How do I know you won’t? Do you like me or not?”
He grinned at her. “Yes! Why do you think I don’t?”
“You keep backing off,” she told him.
“That’s because you were talking about Guy, and… and…” He seemed to run out of reasons very quickly. “You were leaning when you were talking to Banks.”
“Leaning? Like in ‘While You Were Sleeping’?” She asked, then shook her head again. “And Guy? He’s my best friend’s boyfriend.”
“And if you think all that’s true, why are you even trying?” She continued.
“Well, Taz said…”
“Taz?” Julie repeated. She was either going to thank her or kill her later.
“Look, Jules,” he took her hand again. “I’ve always liked you. When we were playing for Team USA you really got to me. I pretty much fell in love with you when you got kicked out of our first game against Iceland, but I didn’t want to say anything. Then I didn’t come to Eden Hall straight away, by the time you and I were friends again you were with Scott. Now I’ve finally got the nerve to tell you how I feel, are you really gonna turn me down because it’s taken so long?”
She grinned at his sudden outburst and squeezed his hand. “I guess not. Especially considering that’s the nicest thing someone’s said to me in a long time.”
“It was?” he asked. “I had a really nice speech inside my head but it didn’t quite pan out.”
“Why don’t you take me to dinner? You can try your speech again then.” She grinned.
“I can live with that.”