A/N: I actually wrote most of this chapter ages ago, but there was always one scene that bugged me and I was never happy with it…
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing related to the Total Drama series.
CHAPTER 5: Close Occurrences
When I opened my eyes the next morning, the first thing I noticed was that I didn't have a pounding headache or the urge to sneeze. I was relieved since I would be able to look and feel decent at school tomorrow. Now that it was currently Sunday, everything was fine until I looked through my backpack. It turns out I forgot to study for tomorrow's English quiz. All I could really do was groan at this because I didn't study at all yesterday, and today was my last chance.
The best (and only) option I had was to find a study partner. The smartest person I could think of was Courtney because she was always occupied with schoolwork. There was also the fact that she always strived for perfection, so she would definitely be a major help. After unplugging my phone from the charger, I dialled her number and patiently waited for her to answer. As usual, it didn't take long to hear her voice.
"Hello, Gwen. This is Courtney speaking."
I chuckled at her usual greeting. "I know it's you, Courtney."
"I'm just being professional," Courtney defended. "What's going on?"
"I was wondering if you wanted to come over. Maybe we can study for the English quiz?"
It took a while for her to respond. "Courtney? Are you there?"
"Oh, I don't know how to say this, Gwen..." she started.
"Well... I already made plans to hang out with Duncan today."
Although I understood, I sighed. I definitely should've planned this with Courtney instead of asking her on the spot. The sad thing is I actually forgot for a moment that she had a boyfriend, and now my mood had sunk again.
"I'm so sorry, Gwen."
"It's fine," I reassured her. "You deserve a break from studying anyway. I'll see you at school tomorrow."
"Alright. Make sure you study hard."
I slammed my pencil down on the study desk in triumph. Sure, the whole study session was tiring, but now I felt great. Looking at the time on my phone, I noticed that a few hours had passed and my mother most likely left for her afternoon shift already. With nothing else to do, I headed out of my room and made a beeline towards Jake's room. He looked up from his video game console in confusion as I opened his door and sat across from him on his bed.
"Are you up for some fun?"
"Yeah, that's why I'm playing video games."
"No, not that," I snatched the handheld system from him. "I mean something... rebellious."
As soon as I uttered that word, Jake's smile darkened and I knew he was up for a good time.
"Can we prank that rude girl with the black hair?"
"Heather?" I asked, instantly knowing who he was referring to. "Are you sure?"
His mischievous grin grew wider. "Let's do it."
It didn't take long to set everything up. Jake and I decided to move over to the living room and use the phone there. After blocking the caller ID, Jake dialled the number and we waited with patience. Heather seemed to be in a neutral mood when she answered the phone.
I looked at Jake and he immediately answered with a fart. I tried not to laugh as I heard Heather's disgusted reaction.
"Eugh! Now I have some fart in my ear! Who is this?!"
Jake didn't know how to react so he just blew a raspberry into the speaker.
"You are disgusting! Is this Ezekiel?! Go milk the cows or whatever the hell it is you do!"
"Wait, I must have the wrong person," Jake replied, now imitating a deep voice. "I'm looking for Heather."
"Yes, this is Heather."
"Well, I have important news for you, Heather."
"Well, what is it?! I don't have all day!"
Jake rolled his eyes. "I'm going to be an apprentice for a hair salon that's opening soon and we're giving out free coupons to people who deserve it."
"Oh," Heather's tone suddenly changed. "That's so nice and I really need a reward. What's the coupon for?"
"The coupon is to get your moustache trimmed for free. It's usually for men, but we saved one for you because the world needs to be a beautiful place and you're holding us back."
I had to cover my mouth because I didn't want our cover to be blown. Unfortunately, Jake ruined it instead when he accidentally let go of his deep voice and snickered. Heather gasped at this.
"You're not an apprentice! You're just a little twerp! I'm giving you the chance to hang up before I find you and kick your ass—"
"BYE!" Jake shouted, just before hanging up on her. "She seems to be angry..."
"... Wanna do it again?" he smirked darkly and I mirrored his expression.
The rest of the night turned out to be a blast. Jake and I ended up pranking Heather one more time, and then we watched an action movie. After settling Jake into bed, I headed over to my own room and plummeted on the bed. Grabbing my phone, I decided to call Trent to see what he was up to. When he answered, I informed him about yesterday's events and how I was forced to hang out with Duncan and Courtney. Trent even told me how much he hated Duncan. At least I wasn't the only person who disliked him.
"Anyway, I don't want to talk about Duncan anymore. He really irks me," Trent said. "So, what are you up to?"
"I'm just lying in bed. How about you?"
"I'm also lying in bed," he confirmed.
I laughed at this and I didn't even know why. I was clearly tired and we both needed to go to school tomorrow, but Trent was so easy to talk to. That being said, I couldn't help but smile to myself as I heard him laugh on the other end of the line. I had a feeling that I wasn't going to regret this call whatsoever.
... Okay, I pretty much regret the call. Trent and I both ended up talking until four in the morning and I felt completely drained. I don't even remember how I drove to school. Hell, I don't even know where I parked my car. All I know right now is that my brain felt numb and my eyes were incredibly heavy. The only thing I could manage to do right now was stare at the row of lockers in front of me. I didn't even know which hallway I was currently standing in.
I desperately needed some sleep. I probably looked more depressed than usual today.
"Gwen! Are you even listening to a word I'm saying?" Courtney's high-pitched voice rang through my ears. I covered them in pain and focused my attention on the concerned CIT in front of me.
"S-sorry," I said with a yawn. "What were you saying?"
"I was just apologising about yesterday," Courtney frowned. "You were there for me on Saturday and I couldn't even return the favour. I'm such a terrible friend."
"Hey, don't sweat it," I told her. "I ended up having a good day yesterday so we're cool."
Courtney sighed in relief. "I'm glad... Also, you look terrible."
"Gee, thanks," I scoffed. "I know I've looked better but I spent the whole night talking to Trent. I wonder if he's as tired as I am."
"I'm glad that you're both bonding, but you should sleep early tonight. You need to take a break from guys."
"You should do the same," I offered.
"Don't be ridiculous, Gwen. I'm in a relationship now and have certain priorities to fulfil."
"Yeah, okay. Do any of those priorities include giving his personality a makeover?"
"Sorry, sorry..." But I wasn't, really. And I knew Courtney could tell, too, so I gave it a rest.
It was only third period and I felt like I was going to collapse at any second. Only the world's biggest distraction could help me right now. I was currently in biology, and the only people I knew well enough to share this class with were Bridgette and Geoff. This class also had assigned seats, and luckily we managed to score a group table together. I respected the fact that Geoff and Bridgette wanted to sit together at first... but now I realised that was a huge mistake. At our table of four, I always had to endure the pain of watching them sneak a million kisses. I don't even know how they got away with it, if I'm being honest.
And yes, I said a table of four. The remaining member of our table was Izzy, and she was seated next to me but she never minded the kissing. I remember the time when she randomly threw an eraser at them. They just stared at her weirdly but resumed kissing afterward like nothing had happened. But yeah, today she wasn't in her seat, so it looks like I had to face the torment on my own today.
Soon enough, Mr. Hatchet stormed inside the classroom and sat down on his usual chair. He was an odd man. He looked like he could be in the army due to his muscular physique. When he wasn't teaching, he usually told us his boring war stories which were probably fake. And when he wasn't doing that, he would complain about his pay cheque. I swear, he should've been a history teacher instead. 
"Listen up, maggots," he began the class. This was his usual greeting and I don't even know if it was an attempt to be funny or insulting. The class remained quiet, so he continued. "As you know, one crazy red-headed weasel isn't here. In fact, I've banned her from this classroom."
"What was the reason?" Geoff asked.
"She... uh..." It was rare for anyone to see Mr. Hatchet so... embarrassed? I don't even know what he was feeling right now because he looked like he wanted to punch someone... You know what? I suddenly feel like having Heather in this class.
"This morning she... slapped my buttocks... multiple times."
As I expected, the class immediately erupted into laughter and I couldn't help but join. While the students were asking Mr. Hatchet random questions about the incident, Bridgette and Geoff decided to use this time to talk about the upcoming party this weekend.
"If everything goes well, this party should be a success," Geoff told Bridgette.
"That's still happening?" I couldn't help but ask.
"Yes, Gwen," Bridgette chuckled. "Geoff's parents are going out of town for the weekend and he offered to housesit."
Geoff has always been known for his infamous parties. I guess he made so many new friends over the years while we grew apart. We were complete opposites. Geoff loved to party, and while I secretly wanted to be invited, I knew it would end in some kind of disaster. Even so, Geoff's party attitude comes straight from his Bohemian parents. They were just like him: so full of life and always eager to make new friends.
It took a moment for the students to settle down from Mr. Hatchet's incident with Izzy. Some of my classmates thought Izzy was innocent but I personally believed Mr. Hatchet. After a short while, we were instructed to copy notes from the chalkboard. Everything was fine, but my concentration soon diminished when I heard a familiar voice.
No. No. No. No. No.
I looked up and I could swear my eyes almost popped out of their sockets. It was too good to be true. Standing there in front of the class was Duncan. Mr. Hatchet didn't seem too pleased to see the delinquent entering his classroom as well.
"What do you want, boy?!"
"I dunno. My teacher said I had to go to your class since Izzy is in mine now, and she can't deal with me anymore or some shit," he shrugged.
"No foul language in my classroom!"
I could see a small glint of success in Duncan's eyes as Mr. Hatchet's face was slowly reddening from anger. This was unbelievable. So Izzy had to leave and now Duncan was in my class. Is this supposed to be some sort of joke? What did I even do to deserve thi—
Memories of last night suddenly flashed in my mind. Jake and I had prank-called Heather a few times. If this was Karma's punishment for me, then I guess it was well deserved. But still, this really sucks and I just want to go home and sleep.
"There's only one seat left and that's Izzy's, so it looks like you'll be sitting in her spot for the rest of the year," Mr. Hatchet told Duncan. Instantly realising what this meant, I just wanted to end my life.
Duncan looked for the empty seat and groaned as he realised that he had to sit next to me. I glared at him in return and he seemed to notice this and smirked. As he sat down, I even noticed that Bridgette was glaring at the punk. It was clear she didn't like the idea of him in our class as well. However, Geoff seemed to be excited. After greeting the party boy, Duncan focused on Bridgette's sour expression.
"What's up with you, Malibu?"
"Don't talk to me," Bridgette turned her head away from him and focused on the chalkboard.
"Psh, whatever. Oh yeah, Geoff, how many cases of beer should I bring to the par—"
Duncan was quickly cut off by the party boy himself as he cleared his throat loudly. He quickly glanced at me and then at the floor. "I-I... don't know what you're... talking about, Dunca—"
"Oh, drop the act," I cut him off this time and he let out a laugh.
"Sorry, brah. I still want you to come to my party, though. We can take pictures and maybe make a scrapbook!" 
I didn't know how to react to his suggestion because making a scrapbook was a really weird idea. From Duncan's facial expression, he seemed to agree with me.
"Dude, that's lame."
"What do you mean, 'why'? This isn't some kids party, so stop being weird."
"Geoff can do whatever he wants," Bridgette glared at the punk and he just glared at her in return. Geoff decided to intervene.
"Nah, it's okay, Bridge. He's just telling me the truth. Will Courtney be there?"
Duncan shrugged. "I don't know but I hope so. I'll try to convince her today—"
"Shut up, fools, and get back to writing the shit I'm writing to you!" Mr Hatchet interrupted.
Duncan looked up with a dull expression on his face. "No foul language in my classroom," he repeated. "I think you're forgetting your own rules, Sir."
Mr. Hatchet bellowed a loud, inhumane roar and I didn't know whether to be scared or not.
"Only I can use foul language in this classroom! Now shut your ass up and copy the board!"
I smirked since Duncan was clearly intimidated. He gave up and began copying the notes from the board. I'm pretty sure Mr. Hatchet could be fired on the spot for yelling at a student like that, but he totally just became my favourite teacher. The fact that Duncan was irritated was all it took for my day to go well.
"Stop smiling," he grumbled at me as he continued jotting down notes. However, that certainly didn't stop me from doing so and my smile just grew wider.
My mood was better now that I had access to some iced coffee. Half of lunch had flown by and I was currently listening to Bridgette and Leshawna talk about their history homework. I'll admit I was finding it hard to pay attention since I wasn't in their class. In fact, the only class I shared with them was English, which happened to be the next (and final) period of the day. Now thinking about the English quiz I studied for yesterday, I remembered there was still someplace I had to visit.
I stood up from my seat, which immediately caught Leshawna's attention. "Where are you going, girl?"
"The library. I'm going to try and find that book we need for our English class."
"Romeo and Juliet?" she questioned. "Good luck. That book's always being borrowed."
"We'll see you in class!" Bridgette waved.
Normally, libraries were supposed to be quiet, but that seemed to be impossible at my hellhole of a school. As soon as I entered the building, my eardrums were met with clamorous chatter. At the corner of my eye, I could see Noah a.k.a the school's stereotypical bookworm, sitting alone at a table. His apathetic face was always hidden behind a book, and to be honest, I felt envious of him. He somehow makes me look like an extrovert.
With nothing but Romeo and Juliet on my tired mind, I walked over to the fictional section of the library and scanned through one of the shelves. After having no success, I attempted to look for the book in the adjacent aisle, but something peculiar caught my eye. Something green...
"Duncan?" I subconsciously called. He, too, seemed to be confused as to why I called his name. I decided to approach him. "Wow. Out of all people to find in the library..."
"Shhh! I'm hiding from Courtney."
I crooked an eyebrow at him before sighing. Honestly? I could understand why he would hide from the CIT. However, my confusion quickly came back as he suddenly ducked behind a shelf. I sighed at his childish actions.
"What are you doi— Woah!" he roughly tugged on my arm and I ended up crashing down next to him. "What the hell was that for?!"
"Your hair is really emo and also a distraction, so you're obviously going to lead her to me. Also, I think I just saw her over there," he pointed between the books on the shelf.
I groaned. "For the fiftieth time, I'm not an emo." Then I looked through the books to see where Duncan was pointing. From behind, the person's hair seemed to match Courtney's, but when they turned around, it was revealed to be Tyler. I looked back at Duncan. "That's Tyler, you dumbass."
Duncan quickly peeped through the books again and cringed. "Well, the dude needs a haircut."
I quickly stood up and dusted myself. Duncan did the same and I couldn't help but ask a question that came to mind.
"How did you meet Courtney, anyway?"
"We met in our biology class this year, but now Izzy took my place, so I guess that's the only class I have with her gone," Duncan frowned. It seemed genuine.
"There's always lunch breaks and weekends to hang out. It's not the end of the world."
"You don't get it," Duncan said, now walking over to a nearby bookshelf. I couldn't help but follow him... And then it clicked for me.
"Wow. You've got it bad for her, don't you?"
Duncan's back straightened immediately and he turned around to face me. His expression was all it took to confirm it.
"Well, yeah, I guess... She drives me crazy most of the time, but she also drives me crazy," he smiled dreamily. I didn't even know he felt this way.
"That's actually... really nice," I admitted. There was no point denying it. "Courtney's always putting her schoolwork first, so I think she needs this relationship to balance things out. But if you hurt her in any way, there will be severe consequences."
Duncan rolled his eyes at me. "Calm down, will you? Besides, you've seen how she is. I think she'll be doing all the 'hurting'."
I'm not gonna lie, but once again I could understand where Duncan was coming from. Courtney and I were friends way before I knew Trent. In fact, I knew her first crush was on Justin when we were in second grade. I'll never forget the day when he refused to let Courtney borrow his baby blue crayon and she tackled him to the floor. He cried loudly about his cheekbones being ruined, and I don't even think I knew what a cheekbone was back then.
"... I guess you have a point."
"Eh, enough about me," he shrugged. "Why are you here?"
"We're going to watch Romeo and Juliet in class next week, so I thought I should read the play," I answered.
"I don't really care what you think," I sneered at the punk. "I'd rather watch Alien Chunks but it's not like our school would teach us about sci-fi films..."
Duncan's eyes popped open and I looked at him weirdly. "What?"
"You like Alien Chunks?" he asked. I nodded and he grinned. "Dude, that's my favourite movie!"
"No way, me too," I replied in amazement. "I've seen the movie 27 times!"
"53," Duncan responded. "The ending was the best."
"Agreed. If they made a second movie, I'd totally watch it."
"Same here," Duncan agreed and I smiled genuinely at him for the first time. Seriously, no one other than my brother has seen Alien Chunks, so it feels good to talk about it with someone else.
Sadly, it wasn't much of a surprise when Duncan tugged on my wrist and led me over to the other side of the library. It was kind of annoying, though, since I needed to find my book but he was dragging me away from it.
"So, what else do you like about the movie?"
"That's impossible to answer. The whole movie is great," I said and Duncan nodded in approval.
"True, but... I really like the part where that guy's hand gets blended."
My eyes widened at this. I swear, it's like our brains were twins separated at birth, or something. "I have a blender necklace because of that scene! My brother, Jake, totally hates that scene but I guess I can't blame him since he's twelve and all."
"At least you have someone to watch it with. My family isn't into the whole sci-fi thing."
"There you are, Dunkie!" a cheerful voice interrupted, and I turned around to see Courtney holding a pile of books. "Hi, Gwen! I'm... surprised you two are actually talking."
I tried to keep my laugh in. "Dunkie?" I asked. I swear I could see the tiniest hint of a blush on his face.
"Don't call me that!"
Courtney rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me what to do." She then looked at me. "Why are you here anyway?"
"I'm looking for the Romeo and Juliet book," I sighed. Courtney then retrieved a book from her pile. She handed it over to me and I noticed that it was a copy of the play.
"You can have this one. I just returned it after reading it last week," she said with a smile.
"You just saved me from a world of pain," I told her. "Also, I heard your boyfriend's family doesn't like sci-fi films. You guys should watch Alien Chunks sometime."
Duncan nodded in agreement but Courtney had a pure look of disgust on her face. "Sci-fi? Are you serious?"
I looked over at Duncan and he looked like he was trying not to roll his eyes. It was a funny sight, really.
"Well, I think sci-fi is great. Anyway, I'd better loan this book and get a move on, so I'll see you guys later."
"Bye! Now, Dunkie, help me with these books—"
"I said don't call me that!"
I couldn't help but smirk at the situation. Duncan quietly looked over at me and I silently wished him good luck. After all, I knew what a handful Courtney could be, and for once, Duncan seemed to be appreciative of my presence. It was an odd feeling, but I guess I don't really hate him as much as I did before.
It was weird, but I found myself bumping into Duncan even more that week. We occasionally passed each other in the hallway, the school parking lot, and even outside the art building. It was as if the fates were trying to push us both together, and to be honest, I didn't hate the idea. It would've pained me to say this a week ago, but Duncan seems to be a decent person.
But more importantly, it was now Saturday. After a four-way telephone call with Courtney, Bridgette, and Leshawna, I was finally convinced to check out Geoff's party. Even Courtney decided to go, which was cool. It looks like we were going to experience our first party together.
I stared nervously into the mirror as I placed a choker around my neck. Everything suddenly felt like too much for me. The faces of Bridgette, Leshawna, Courtney, Trent, and Duncan were imprinted in my mind and I felt more nervous than ever.
A/N: And that's it for now. The party will be next chapter, so stay tuned.
I dunno if you could tell, but the scene I had trouble writing was the prank call. It just never seemed right to me, so it took a lot of altering.
. . .
 - Chef Hatchet was originally going to be a history teacher, but then I thought he would work best as the biology teacher.
 - A Total Drama Island reference. Gweoff is one of my BROTPs.