Authors Notes: Howdy all! I said this would come out soon-ish, didn't I?
You already all see the word count, so I'm not going to waste a lot of time until the end-notes. I do highly recommend to not read this all in one sitting, as it is quite beefy. Also, stuff gets really heavy in this chapter. Not a lot of comedy at all I'm afraid. Angsty teens being angsty teens and all of that.
[Somewhere in Ontario, One Month Prior to the Gemmi Awards.]
"I can't believe you actually wanted to see that lame movie," Gwen shimmied to the side and pushed the door out of their theater room with her elbow, sporting a smirk directed at her companion.
"And I told you that I don't see Paranormal Activities to actually watch that crud," Duncan smirked back, following his movie-going partner out into the hallway. The scent of popcorn and overcooked hotdogs wafted through the air as he continued, "It's to check out the dorks who are actually scared of it." He began to mimic a small child, "Mommy, mommy!" He barked out a laugh, "What a riot!"
"Doesn't it get old, though?" Gwen deadpanned, maneuvering over a mustard stain on the carpet, "This is the third movie I've seen with you and the audience always reacts the same."
The punk put his hands behind his back and clicked his tongue, "Not how I see things, sweetheart." He pulled his right hand out and began to count on his fingers, "You got the guys try to impress their girls but are actually scared themselves, dweeb kids that snuck into their first R-rated movie and people that just wandered into the wrong theater."
Gwen chuckled, "Okay, okay, you're right. They're totally different," She chuckled through the sarcasm as they both arrived to the main lobby area of the Cineplex. Eyeing an open bench, they both sat down, "Don't you have other friends for you to take to these things though? This is like the third weekend in a row you drove out here to see me."
"Aw, is someone getting sick of me?" Duncan chuckled.
Gwen looked at him dead in the eyes, "God no. With Leshawna competing on all those reality competitions and Bridgette living on the other side of the country, you're like the only person from the show I've seen since the finale."
Duncan nodded his head along before he replied through a yawn, "Same with Geoff; he moved out there with his dad just to be with Malibu-Barbie."
The goth rolled her eyes, "And you wonder why Bridgette doesn't like you…"
The punk shrugged his shoulders, "Meh, I could care less. But back to your question, I only ask you cuz you're the only one from Total Drama that's man enough to handle this crap."
"I… can actually see that, at least out of your friends" Gwen nodded, "Owen, no. DJ definitely no." She gave him a mischievous grin, "And Beth…"
Duncan hung his head and groaned, "Awww…"
"Out for lunch with my Action finale bestie, Duncan!" Gwen mimicked Beth's higher pitched voice before pulling out her phone. On it was a photo uploaded to Beth's MyFace account of her and Duncan at a café. Under it was the caption Gwen just said, along with a bunch of heart emoji's around the border.
The punk rubbed the back of his neck with a grimace, "I told her not to post that…"
The goth finished off her giggles and stood back up, "As fun as sitting here and teasing you about this is, we should probably get going. My mom will kill me if I'm not at home by midnight." Gwen pivoted around and turned to walk towards the door.
She walked out the door, the entranceway out from artificial buttery popcorn land and into the real dreary world she herself lived in that held a slight drizzle of rain. Turning back as she walked, she was greeted with Duncan's wolfish grin, "Your mommy still thinks that we're dating?"
Gwen zipped up her jacket as high as she could in order to hide the blush on her face, "Knock it off." After a few seconds she lowered the hood of her jacket and smirked, "You give yourself way too much credit." She turned her head back, her face faltering in the veil of the rain, "Besides, my mom has seen the show. She knows about you and Courtney being together."
Gwen saw Duncan go silent for a moment before they got to his car, a sleek black Toyota solara. As she got into shotgun, Gwen could hear Duncan mumble under his breath, "Not for long…"
The loner couldn't help but instinctively narrow her eyes and mutter, "Yeah, right…"
Duncan sat on the drivers' seat. Putting the key in the ignition and awakening the engine to a pleasant rumbling, he grunted, "What does that mean?"
The goth rolled her eyes, "I've heard this every time you've come to see me, Duncan. You say you're going to breakup with her but you'll either chicken out or just get back together in a week." The darkness shielded his visage from the hurt on her face. "It's annoying."
The punk pulled the car out of the parking lot of the Cineplex and drove onto the highway. Gwen couldn't make out the expression on his face for a whole minute amongst the shadows, so all she could do was gaze at him in thought.
Then, causing Gwen's heart to leap into her throat, he quickly turned his head towards her and in a monotone voice said, "Wake up."
"Duncan, look at the road. This isn't funny."
But he didn't stop, now yelling. "Gwen, wake up!"
Then the whole world exploded into a brilliant, blinding white light.
And she finally did.
Gwen's eyes fluttered open for a moment before shutting them again with a groan, with it growing louder as she felt a tremendous pain in her head. Trying to sooth the feeling, she clasped her hands on the spot of agony but yelped as it only seemed to multiply her suffering. On top of all of it, she felt incredibly dizzy, and it took nearly all her willpower to not vomit.
Once what felt like an eternity passed the voice from her dream spoke, "Gwen?"
This time, her eyes managed to stay open long enough for her to take in her surroundings. Leaning against the wall she glanced to her sides, all she could see was a sterile looking white coat of paint, and looking up she could see a muddy light blue color for the ceiling. Looking downward, her fuzzy gaze was now fixated at the center where she made out a vaguely familiar figure that was also on the ground, leaning against the bottom half of a chair that reminded Gwen of the dentist.
She squinted her eyes, "Noah?"
He smirked at her, but she could tell with his gritted teeth that it was through pain, "And I thought the winner of the Wake-A-Thon would have an easier time coming to her senses."
"Where are we?" Gwen ignored his snark and closed her eyes, trying to remember what exactly happened. They had just made it out of the landmines… she was talking to Cody… then the pipe-
"No idea, horror show." Noah grunted. He clutched his torso with his hand as he pushed off from the bottom of the chair to sit upright, "Somewhere in the compound?"
"Gee, really? What makes you say that?" Gwen couldn't help but smile through her sarcasm.
Noah smiled back at her. The amicable feelings were cut short though, as the bookworm began to grimace and clutch his torso even harder.
The goths eyes' widened before scooting over next to him, "Oh my gosh, you're really hurt."
"Gee, really? What makes you say that?" Noah repeated with a groan.
Gwen rolled her eyes, putting her hand on his arm and gingerly moving it aside so she could examine the damage. A slight gasp escaped her lips; it wasn't good. A section of his vest that the injury partially resided on was ripped, revealing a bloody mark on his skin.
Wincing, the goth peered around the room for anything she could use to help with the wound. Looking up, she could see that the chair she and Noah were kneeling next to had a small tray attached. Standing upright, she saw a small first-aid kit amongst an ocean of what looked to her be like surgical equipment. Bending back down with the first-aid kit now in her hand she said, "Take your shirt off." Instead of complying, Noah gave the goth a wary look, "I want to help Noah. Just… please?"
The bookworm eventually nodded his head through a grimace and removed his sweater vest, placing it onto the chair they were both in front of. While Noah was doing this, Gwen rummaged through the first-aid kit, "This might sting," She held up a small spray-bottle.
"Might?" Noah said before biting back a curse once Gwen eventually pulled the trigger.
The goth smirked, "Alright, will sting."
Noah closed his eyes, letting the pain dissipate over the area. In that moment, Gwen couldn't help but size him up. And… she was pretty surprised.
Outside of the past few days, Gwen never gave Noah a passing glance, due to his early elimination in Total Drama Island and him not competing in the season after. But her memory did recall how he looked during the cliff-diving challenge in their first challenge as the Screaming Gophers, and how it didn't really match to what he looked like now. He was… not bulkier, and didn't come close to Trent or Duncan, but she was surprised to see a few well defined muscles here and there on his chest and forearms.
Once Noah opened his eyes, he glanced to the half-opened kit and spotted some wipes, "I can wipe up myself,"
"You sound like my little brother when he was potty-training." Gwen joked, handing the bookworm the wipes. "But, how did you get hurt like this anyway? It wasn't from the fall with those pipes that placed us here, right?" The full memory finally came back to her. She was running with Cody, got hit by a stray laser which lifted her in the air over the fence, where a pipe emerged from the ground and sucked her down to this mysterious room with Noah.
Noah winced as he dabbed the wipe delicately around his wound to pick up droplets of the spray, "I got a rock thrown at me."
Gwen whistled, "Wow. I thought the United States government would be a bit more sophisticated than that for their defense."
"You'd be right, because it was friendly fire." Noah reached over and put the wipes back in the kit.
"Friendly fire?" Gwen's eyes widened. Her thoughts immediately went to his teams' chaotic elimination ceremony last night. "Tyler didn't try to hurt you, did he?"
Noah's head immediately jerked to the left with a face of unexpected anger, "Where did that come from! He may be angry at me but he isn't a psychopath."
The goth's rage was sparked anew as well. She put her hand on her chest, "And how the hell was I supposed to know that Noah? You were the one that blanked me after I had asked you what was going on! For all I know from what I saw last night Tyler could have just gone crazy from Lindsay getting eliminated!"
To this, Noah froze. Eventually he lowered his head and reached for his shirt, "You're right, I'm sorry for snapping at you… and blanking you after the ceremony." Noah, now with his shirt on, blinked before face-palming, "Especially since now I'm remembering that I told you I'd be gunning for Tyler and not Duncan."
"Honestly, that did cross my mind." Gwen's flash of anger morphed back into the exhaustion she felt from before. The change of emotions she felt startled her, "But it's whatever…"
"Really?" Noah snorted, more out of shock than snark, "You didn't think I had lied to you?"
Gwen shrugged her shoulders, her eyes wandering to the side, "My mind was too worried about other stuff to even consider it."
Noah's eyes widened, "Are you talking about what you were about to tell me in the hallway?"
"Not that. That happened this morning. Or, well, it happened last night but I heard about it this morning. I was just worried about you and whatever you did that got Tyler to act like a maniac. And if Duncan was going to tell Courtney…" She sighed, her head collapsing to her knees, "So much shit has happened. I don't even know where to begin to process or explain any of it."
"It probably didn't help that I didn't tell you what went down with Tyler after the ceremony." Noah admitted with a grunt.
Noah pursed his lips, and for a few minutes the two just sat in silence. Then, he stood up and offered her his hand, "You deserve to know the full picture, and despite me wanting to know what the hell you were about to tell me in the hallway, I should go first in explaining myself since I blanked you earlier."
Gwen gave him a wary look but took his hand, pulling herself to her feet, "Alright."
He directed her to sit on the weird pseudo-dentist chair as he walked to the front of the small room, "This might be long and kind of complicated but I need you to understand my thought process with everything," He lowered his gaze to the floor, "Just know that I was in an extremely desperate situation…"
Gwen felt unease, but tried to break through those feelings with a smirk, "More desperate than blackmailing me?" She chuckled, "Let's just take things slow, then. First off: who threw that rock at you?" She smirked again, "And did you deserve it?"
Noah let out a humorless chuckle, "Probably…"
Tense music played over the scene as the camera was centered on an exterior shot of the compound. It subsided a fair amount once it went inside, showing a nervous Owen next to a concerned Sierra.
"They stole Noah! He must be in here somewhere!" The big blonde yelled in fright, holding his arms outward towards the immense interior of the compound.
Sierra pivoted towards him with a seductive look, "Aw, poor Owen… Want to go somewhere quiet and talk about it?" Her eyes drifted to Cody, trying to get his attention but frowned when he was frantically grasping his hair and blabbering towards the others.
"I don't know what happened! We were just talking and then Gwen got hit by a laser and then some pipe came to suck her in and now she's gone!" Cody explained nervously to the now conjoined group of teens.
Duncan gasped, "Gwen's gone!?" Tyler shot his alliance-mate a worried look.
"Yes," Courtney looked quite a bit worried, though much less so than Cody. "She's usually a lot more attentive… I'm shocked she tripped."
Heather shrugged, "Weird Goth Girl just got distracted talking to the nerdling over here," she gestured to the geek.
Courtney turned and narrowed her eyes towards a now guilt-stricken Cody, "Interesting…"
The C.I.T is standing upright with an annoyed look, "Cody has developed an annoying habit of taking people's attention away from the game. First it was Sierra in Greece and now with Gwen." She tapped her finger on her chin, "I know she's mad at Duncan right now, but Cody sticking his nerdy nose into things cannot be helpful towards her headspace in the game."
End Confessional: Courtney
The camera returned to a panning shot on stacks of crates in the background as Chef Hatchet's voice dully rang out on the intercom:
"Welcome to the black-box alien warehouse. The United States army carelessly let you dummies in here in order to find some freaky space stuff. It might not be as hard as ya' think, as these American cream-puffs ain't nothing like true Canadian patriots. So just grab your functioning alien thingamajig and head back to the plane before the other team to nab immunity."
As Chef was explaining the challenge, Tyler turned and whispered to Cody, "Where's Chris? Shouldn't he be doing this part?"
"He got a call from the producers and said he had to monitor some situation back on the plane," Cody shrugged. "But, uh, are you okay dude? I heard things got super intense at the ceremony last night."
Tyler smiled weakly, "I totally blew my top, bro. It was super messed up." He shook his head with a sigh, "I'll tell you after the challenge if you want to know more, but all I want to say is stay away from Noah. The guy is totally bad news."
Cody's eyes widened and whispered loudly, "Noah!?"
Heather, overhearing the conversation and liking what she heard, strolled over to the two, "I agree." She narrowed her eyes, "He's hiding something."
Tyler narrowed her eyes right back at her, "Shouldn't you be talking with Owen?"
Heather blinked, "Excuse me?"
But instead of an answer, Tyler turned around and stomped off. A baffled Heather could only turn to Cody who shrugged in return, equally lost as she was.
"Um, what was that?" Heather had her hands on her hips with a scowl, "I was like actually nice to that moron yesterday so why does he suddenly hate my guts." She grit her teeth, "I know that Duncan probably got Tyler on his side due to the tie last night, but he shouldn't have caused him to completely flip on me like that. Noah must be behind this somehow." She crossed her arms and sat down, "Unfortunately the twerp got captured so I can't wring what went down out of him but…" She paused, "Wait, Tyler told me to talk to Owen… He could be useful. And since I have Sierra currently simping for him, it might not be so hard to do…"
"Honestly, that was pretty harsh of me." Tyler sighed, "I mean, Noah could have been lying about the whole Owen and Heather working together thing in France. But I just don't know!" He crossed his arms.
End Confessional: Tyler
He looked quite a bit worried, "Aw man, what did Tyler mean to not trust Noah? If it got him to be that angry last night, it can't be good!" He paused for a moment before looking down to the floor, "Darn, I really want to warn Gwen about this, but at the same time I don't want to look like some pathetic loser gunning for her new boyfriend just because I'm jealous. I gotta try to find Tyler or someone else to give me the rundown of what happened during the challenge."
End Confessional: Cody
Both teams were slow on starting the challenge as due to Gwen and Noah having gone missing as the teens were in a confused frenzy over deciding if their objective should be continuing on with the challenge or trying to locate them.
Courtney was rather adamant about her desired course of action, "Gwen is tough. She can take care of herself and I'm more than confident she can escape."
"You don't know that for sure!" Cody countered, "Besides, she looked really hurt getting hit by that laser!"
Heather rolled her eyes, "For once, I agree with Courtney. Remember how many times I tried to take down Gwen on the Island? She took everything I threw at her in stride. Believe me, she doesn't need us to rescue her."
Sierra smiled weakly, "Y-yeah, come on Cody! We can just do this together!"
Cody shook his head, "Sorry girls, you can do this challenge but I'm going to find Gwen." He turned around and started to walk slowly in the opposite direction.
The C.I.T narrowed her eyes at him, muttering under her breath, "It's your funeral..." She turned to her remaining female teammates, "Let's just let Cody find Gwen, I guess. Heather, you search with Sierra and make sure she doesn't try to follow him. We're down a player so we need everyone to be focused to win this."
Sierra was busy looking at Cody trotting off before swinging her head back to the group, "But-
Heather silenced her by putting a hand on her shoulder, "We're on it." She tilted her head closer to the fan-girl and whispered, "If you follow him he'll think you're clingy." Sierra gulped.
Courtney squinted back at the two, "Right…"
The shot panned to the left from the Amazons over to Team Chris, where Owen was nervously chattering on about Noah not unlike how Cody was about Gwen moments ago, "I-I know we have to find the artifact thingy for the challenge, but I think we should find Noah first!"
Tyler tried to maintain his frown but sighed, "I hate to say it, but I think you're right." He crossed his arms, "He's a jerk with a capital G, but he doesn't deserve to get probed and stuff," The jocks' eyes shifted towards Duncan, who was watching Cody walking away from the main group of Amazons, "Duncan, what do you think?"
Instead of getting an immediate answer, the punk cupped his hands together and called out, "Yo, Cody! Hold up a second!" As the tech geek turned with a questioning glance, Duncan turned back towards his teammates, holding his thumb to his chest, "I overheard from the girls that Cody is going to find Gwen. I figure booknerd is probably hold up with her somewhere so I'll head with him to help while you two find the artifact," Duncan tried to pivot around and jog towards Cody but was stopped by a hand clutching his wrist.
"Uh, dude?" Tyler said, "Can I talk with you," his eyes shifted to an awkward looking Owen, "privately?" Duncan masked his annoyance with a curt nod and the two went a few feet so where Owen was out of earshot before Tyler continued, "It's not like I don't want to leave Noah behind or anything, but shouldn't we let Owen go with Cody to find him? He seems to really want to go…"
Duncan bit his lip, eyes glancing to a perplexed Cody before returning to his alliance-mate, "Dude, just admit that you're still held up on Noah's stupid lie about him."
"You still haven't found out if it was a lie or not," Tyler crossed his arms. His expression softened though, "I, uh, saw you kind of clamp up when Cody said that Gwen got caught. Are you okay, bro?"
Duncan closed his eyes, cursing himself. Normally he would have brushed the jock off with a lie, but exhaustion betrayed him. He leaned in and whispered, "Tell no one this, but I screwed up big time with her." Tyler's eyes widened, "She's probably with Noah and I have to find her to make things right. It can't wait and I can't tell you because it's personal." Despite his deathly serious tone, Duncan couldn't believe he was saying this. Dancing around the truth like he was Heather. But he needed to go find Gwen.
At first Tyler looked at Duncan as if he was insane, but a cautious smile eventually emerged, "Sure, man. I know from watching last season that you two are pretty close friends." His eyes shifted back towards Owen, "I won't tell him anything…"
To this, the punk was positively floored. If Tyler or anything else tried to pull what he just did, Duncan would have told them to suck it up, deal with it later and get on with the game…
No time to think about it though. With a curt nod in thanks, Duncan rushed pack Tyler to finally catch up with Cody, skidding to a stop as he did so, "I'll help you find Gwen, let's go."
The geek blinked, "Uh, alright… thanks?" He shrugged his shoulders and broke out into a jog as Duncan followed.
Tyler saw the delinquent's green mohawk shrink into near nothingness before turning back to Owen. He immediately met the big guys nervous smile with a frown and started to jog passed him muttering, "let's go," under his breath.
Owen blanked at the tone, but eventually followed with a sigh.
What none of Team Chris saw was Courtney, arms crossed, staring at Duncan running along with Cody in the search for the goth. Her gaze narrowed, "What in the world are you up to Duncan…"
The camera flashed to show off a new part of the compound where Tyler and Owen were currently searching in. It mostly looked like the previous area the teens gathered in, but instead of near the front the jock led them too an area more on the side of the compound. On their left was a gray wall, while scattered around them were various opened and semi-opened boxes the two teens could look in for any remotely working alien tech.
Tyler sighed, wiping sweat off his brow at another box he checked turned up with nothing of value. Instinctively he was about to turn around and ask Owen if he had come up with anything yet, but he quickly shut his trap. He would have probably done it before he knew that Owen may or may not have helped Lindsay get eliminated…
Unfortunately, he would have to interact with him anyway.
"Uh, Tyler, any luck finding anything?" Owen walked to the jock sheepishly, wringing his hands together as he did so.
Tyler shook his head and turned to him, too disappointed to be angry, "No… this sucks." He hung his head, imagining the girls throttle his team yet again. He hoped Lindsay didn't think he was a loser…
"Yeah," Owen scratched the back of his neck nervously, "D-do you think Duncan needs help finding Noah?"
Tyler shook his head, brushing past Owen, "Noah will be fine." He stalked over to the area Owen was looking at to do a double check until-
"I know your mad at him for some reason," Owen clasped his shoulder.
The jock rounded on him, shaking off his grip in the process, "Some reason?"
"Yes!" Owen held up his hands in the air in exasperation. "But he's still our friend!"
Tyler glared, arms crossed, "Yeah, well, friends don't tell about other friends betraying them by working with their girlfriends' ex bestfriend in a tiebreaker and then lying to other friends about voting for the friend that betrayed them!" The jock blinked. What the hell was he saying?
Owen scratched his head with a puzzled look, "Uh, are we still talking about Noah?"
"Of course we are!" Tyler exploded, causing Owen to wince and take a few steps back, "And I can't believe that you're pretending that you don't know what you and Noah did to me!"
The big guy fell down on one knee and clasped his palms, "But I don't, Tyler! Duncan was about to tell me what happened but then you came and - "
"Um, what are you two doing?"
Tyler and Owen whipped their heads to see Heather emerging from a narrow path of discarded boxes with a noticeably distracted Sierra behind her. The Queen Bee looked down to Owen on one knee towards Tyler and couldn't help but scoff, "Seems like Lindsay has some competition…"
Tyler turned beat red in a mixture of embarrassment and anger, "Come here to team up with Owen again?"
Heather narrowed her eyes, but decided to not to take the bait. At least not just yet. She turned to the blonde on the ground and put on an uncharacteristic comforting smile, "Owen, I believe Sierra needs help with something… can you help her privately for a moment."
Owen jumped to his feet and shook his head rapidly up and down, eager to get away from this awkward situation, "S-sure!" He jogged towards Sierra and clasped her hand and dragged her away down the path Heather and her just took. Sierra looked back nervously to Heather as she was pulled away until she was but a blip in the distance.
Once they were out of sight, Heather turned back to Tyler, "So, are you just going to keep acting like an ass or just tell me what's up?"
Tyler tightened his fists and turned away, "Like you don't know…"
"Actually, I don't." Heather crossed her arms, looking at him now with a bored stare. "But you are right on one thing. Originally I came here to get some info out of Owen, but with your snide little comment…" She paused, "I think you might have more valuable information…"
Tyler waited a few moments before replying, his back still towards Heather, "What do you want?"
"I want to know what exactly happened between the end of the challenge yesterday and today." Heather glared at the back of his head, "What did Noah tell you?"
Tyler twirled back towards her, "How did you know Noah told me!?"
Heather smirked, "Call it a hunch." She narrowed her eyes again, taking a few paces towards him, "If you're so angry at him then why do you believe whatever lie he fed you about Owen and I?"
The jock tried to frown before casting a defeated look towards the floor, "He lied to me about who he was going to vote for… which is why I was angry with him…" Heather raised an eyebrow as Tyler continued, "Noah wanted me to vote for Owen because he told me that in France that you and him made a deal to get Lindsay eliminated in the tiebreaker!"
Heather couldn't help but gasp at that revelation, taking a step back, but Tyler continued, "But he lied about voting for him in the end and voted for Duncan, leading to a tie,"
"Because you didn't vote for Owen." Heather quickly found her composure and finished for him. Everything seemed to all be coming together now, "Duncan roped you into an alliance, didn't he?" She sighed in annoyance, "Why would you align with someone who helped eliminate Alejandro?"
Tyler's face flushed, "I never said I wasn't angry at him about it! He even lied to Al and I about voting for Noah in London! But…" He turned his head and sighed, "I didn't have many other options. Besides, Duncan and I aren't that close. Him lying to us was just all strategic and stuff. But with Noah I thought we were friends…"
Heather couldn't help but roll her eyes at Tyler's melancholy. She couldn't imagine being this heartbroken over a twerp like Noah. Especially when he seemed all gung-ho with allying with Duncan despite him taking out Alejandro and her own warning about him yesterday at the hurdles. But she couldn't chew Tyler out for that stuff now. It was time to circle back to that bomb he revealed,
"So you honestly think that Owen would team up with me to get rid of Lindsay?" Heather held her hands up to look at her nails and scoffed, "Tub of lard doesn't have a mean bone in his body."
"See, you and Duncan both say that but it isn't true!" Tyler yelled exasperatedly. He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath before he continued, "You guys both competed last season; don't you remember him working with Chris? You can't expect me to not feel a little sus' at him."
"I got eliminated before he returned," Heather spoke quickly, crossing her arms tightly. She'd rather not reminisce on the season where she hadn't made the merge, "But didn't Owen's parents blow all their savings on cheese or whatever? That was why he took Chris's deal."
"See, I thought that too until Alejandro told me that during the Amazon challenge he talked to Owen. He said that his parents made the whole thing up so he could get back on the show." The jock gritted his teeth, his frown deepening, "It's so messed up."
Heather's brow rose. She could read from a mile away that what Alejandro told Tyler was a lie, but she couldn't help but feel a little impressed. He was good…
She shook her head, "Be that as that may, this still doesn't make sense. Why I would team up with Owen?"
Tyler directed his frown towards the Queen Bee, "You always had beef with my Lindsay. And once she was gone you tried to make an alliance with DJ. Why wouldn't you team up with him to get rid of her? And Owen turned on friends before; remember when he went along with Justin's blackmail last season on Gwen?"
Heather opened her mouth for a quick retort but nothing came out at first. Those were some compelling reasons, and it was honestly surprising Tyler had the strategic chops to deduce them. Perhaps hanging out with Alejandro led to some things rubbing off on him…
She changed tact, "Okay, that's fair. But what would Owenhave to gain by getting rid of Lindsay?" Tyler opened his mouth but Heather cut him off, "And yes, you already brought up the Gwen-Justin-blackmail thing, but that doesn't justify anything."
"Owen went along with Justin's plan because he was mad that Gwen was supposedly lying to everyone and controlling the game. If we're going on the assumption that Owen is an evil manipulator or whatever like Alejandro and Noah said then it makes sense that he'd go along with Justin because than his team would keep winning challenges if Weird Goth Girl kept helping them. But with getting rid of Lindsay," she shook her head, "Even if I offered him a deal to get rid of her, it wouldn't make sense for him to go along with it. It wouldn't benefit him directly, and besides, DJ is way betterat challenges than Lindsay. Wouldn't Owen want Lindsay around as a safety cushion to make sure your team at least gets second and doesn't have to vote someone out?"
Tyler's nostrils flared, "Lindsay is great at challenges!"
Heather felt like she wanted to shoot herself, "Alright, fine. But you have to admit that those other reasons I offered made sense, right? And besides," Heather paused. She couldn't help but have a subtle smirk form on her lips, "Owen wasn't the only one who went with Justin's blackmail, Lindsay went along with it too." Tyler gasped, "And I suppose you don't think of her as someone deceitful…"
Heather paused once more, letting Tyler try to process all the information she had just thrown at him.
And process he did. Tyler put his hand to his face and rubbed his eyes, taking in it all. As much as he resented Heather for what she had done to Lindsay (and for chucking that canoe on him in Total Drama Island) what she said seemed to make sense. Noah was also pushed up against a wall and probably just made up the lie to save himself, like Duncan told him repeatedly before. And even if Duncan couldn't get a chance to ask him about it yet, he did know Owen a lot longer than he and Noah combined. He should just trust the punks word.
Tyler tightened his fists, "I don't know what's wrong with me," Shaking his head, he took a few steps back and sat on a stray box that Owen hadn't rummaged through yet, "You and Duncan…" He looked up towards Heather, "What you guys are saying about him makes sense in my head… but – "
"You're still angry towards him anyway." The Queen Bee finished.
Tyler groaned in agreement, "I don't know why I am, though. Sure, what Alejandro told me about what happened in the Amazon made me a little on edge but it shouldn't make sense as to why I'm so angry." He let out a whimper in spite of himself before pounding his fist on the side of the box.
Heather looked at the now seated jock with confusion, not knowing how to continue. Or if she even should continue. She completed her mission; she got Tyler to not be angry at her anymore and found some juicy details regarding Noah and Duncan. Plus, she didn't want to leave all her eggs with Sierra when it came to finding an artifact. Regardless of whatever was going on between Gwen, Noah and Duncan, the goth girl and Courtney would be gunning for her come the next elimination. Leaving Tyler in his stupor to try to find a working device to bring back to Chris (or Chef now, she guessed) would guarantee her advancement in the game.
Which is why it surprised her that she took a seat on the box next to Tyler anyway, "Because it doesn't matter if it was planned or not."
Tyler lifted his head before leaning back quickly, not expecting Heather to sit next to him, "Huh?"
"You were probably always angry at him over what happened in France," Heather explained, "Noah's lie just gave you a justifiable excuse to show it." She paused, "Or you were subconsciously angry at him and what that twerp told you let it bubble to the surface." She shrugged her shoulders, turning her gaze from Tyler to the myriad of boxes scattered on the floor, "Owen was your friend, and you probably thought he'd be more considerate of your feelings when choosing either to get rid of DJ or Lindsay. It didn't matter if it was from some bullshit plan Noah told you to save his ass or if he didn't give it a second thought and just picked without thinking, which is what actually happened. At the end of the day, he got rid of your girlfriend…"
Tyler felt himself crossing his arms as she was explaining all this to him. He tightened his grip, "But why am I not as angry at you as I am towards Owen?"
"Because you already hate me." Heather instinctively frowned, "We aren't friends." She turned back towards him, "You said yourself that you weren't that mad at Duncan voting for Alejandro. He may have lied about it, but you two aren't friends either. You had no expectation that he'd consider your feelings at all. But you were friends with Noah, so when he betrayed you in the end it stung a lot more. My vote for DJ to stay over Lindsay is like Duncan voting for Alejandro. But Owen was yourfriend and he..."
"He knew how much Lindsay meant to me," Tyler glared at the boxes in front of them, "Him and Al even kept encouraging me to keep trying to win her back. He looked so happy when we got back together in Germany. But he chose DJ in France for like… no reason." He blinked, realization starting to dawn on him and repeated, "For no reason…"
"And that's why you're mad," Heather quickly stood back up, dusting herself off, "So confront him about it or don't, I guess, just don't keep believing Noah's lie about some grand plan to get her out between Owen and I."
"Tch'yeah," Tyler stood up as well, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly, "Uh, thanks for helping me see things straight Heather. I never knew you were so good with… feelings and junk." He looked over to the side, "I think partly why I was so mad at him too was Alejandro," He couldn't see the blush on her cheeks as he continued, "He talked to me about standing up for myself…" He shook his head and chuckled, "I guess I took what he said too far when I tried to drag you into it."
"My mother enrolled me in an online Psychology course for extra credit between seasons. Sometimes it pays off…" Heather bit her lip, trying to let her face remain neutral. She couldn't help but have an itch to tell him what she suspected about Alejandro's whereabouts (or lack of knowledge whereof) but dropped it. In fact, why did she even help this nitwit in the first place? "We should go back to Sierra and Owen before any of those Area Fifty-whatever creeps catch us," Heather pivoted and walked down the path she came from.
Though she couldn't see him, she heard Tyler jog behind her, "Good call. Hopefully Owen found something."
"Hopefully he got distracted by a cookie or whatever and Sierra has found something," Heather corrected smugly. She then got an idea and spoke quietly "Both so I don't have to risk getting voted off by Weird Goth Girl and so you can try to vote Noah off…"
Tyler chuckled, "Nah. I'd never want to lose a challenge just to get rid of someone I'm peeved at. That's like sucking on purpose to get a lower seed in a hockey tournament."
The two continued through the path for a few more moments in silence before they came across another section of boxes and crates where Sierra and Heather were searching at before. Once they saw no one there, the Queen Bee narrowed her eyes, "I told her to bring him here, where did they go…?"
"I think I found something," Tyler bent down and picked up a stray post-it stuck on the top of one of the unopened crates.
Heather walked over and swiped it from his hands before reading it aloud.
Owen and I went to help Cody.
P.S. I knew you were playing me from the start, lol.
She growled and crumpled the paper in her hands, "I knew I couldn't trust her!"
"Then why did you?" Tyler blinked.
Heather threw the note at his head and stomped off.
Sounds of pounding boots on metal echoed through the air as a group of Black-Ops soldiers jogged through a section of the compound interior. The group consisted of a triangle formation, not unlike a flock of Canada geese when flew, with a lead at the tip of the shape. As they approached their destination, the soldier at the tip held up his hand, and in a few moments the group gradually slowed down until they were standing right in front of it.
The it was a small rectangular miniature building, which looked out of place in the behemoth that was the already indoors compound. As the soldiers fanned out to become a line with the tip soldier pivoting around to face them, they could see that a metal door stretched out all the way to the top of the building. Beside it jutted out a keypad, with several multi-colored squares on it that if one knew the passcode, (or deduced it) the door would open. Above the keypad lay a small screen, but as of now it lay dormant with only a black sheen.
The soldiers couldn't look at this long though, as almost immediately as they assumed formation the soldier at the tip began to bark orders.
But they weren't the only ones looking.
Unbeknownst to them, two others were kneeling behind a rather large crate in the distance, peeking out.
"That's must be where their holding Gwen…" Cody whispered, head peeking out the side of the crate.
Duncan gave a curt nod, "Yep." He poked his head out the other side and muttered to himself, "Always follow the cops to find the prison…" The two boys continued to watch the tip soldier deliver orders that they themselves couldn't make out until they saw the rest of the Black-Ops slowly morph back into their triangle position. After a few seconds they finished assuming it with the tip soldier back into the front, they jogged away from the mini-building, save for one who still stood by it.
The delinquent narrowed his eyes, "Damn, they left someone to stand guard."
Cody sighed, "Guess we should stay put until we can figure out a way to distract him,"
Duncan grunted in agreement and both boys put their heads back behind their box, not really sure what to do with themselves. Cody nervously fiddled with his thumbs while Duncan kept drumming his fingers on the crate. Eventually, one of them broke the silence.
"So," As Cody started to speak, Duncan stopped drumming his fingers and looked towards him, "Thanks for helping me find Gwen again. But, uh," he pursed his lips, struggling to find the right words, "won't your team get mad at you for helping?"
Duncan raised his brow but ultimately shrugged with his arms crossed, "I'm also helping because If Noah got sucked up by those tube things like Gwen did, then they're probably holed up together."
Cody's eyes widened upon the punks mention of Noah. Remembering Tyler's warning he asked, "Speaking of him, and if it isn't a secret or whatever, could you tell me what exactly went down last night at your guys' ceremony?"
Duncan narrowed his eyes back at him, "Depends. How close are you with booknerd?"
The tech geek blinked before holding his hands up in defense, "Not very. I mean, we were somewhat friends when we both got eliminated back on the Island, but since Action ended I haven't spoken to him until this season began." Despite Duncan being the only person conceivable in earshot, he lowered his voice, "The only reason I'm asking is because Tyler warned me about him before the teams split up to find artifacts."
The punk took a few moments to take what Cody said in before nodding his head, "After the challenge it was Owen and Noah vs. Tyler and I for votes. Sometime before the ceremony, Noah pulled Tyler aside and started spewing some bullshit about Heather and Owen making a deal in France to take out Lindsay."
Cody's jaw nearly dropped to the floor, "What!?"
Duncan quickly leaned forward and cupped his mouth, snarling in a whisper, "Dude, cram it!" He leaned back to look from the side of the box. Luckily the guard hadn't heard them, and he took his hand off of Cody.
"Sorry but that," Cody stammered, "that doesn't make any sense." He always knew Noah wasn't the nicest guy around, but to stoop to this.
"You're telling me," Duncan grumbled, "If only jock-squawk would believe me."
"I mean, they were both judges along with Chris for the tiebreaker, but Owen would never-" Cody shook his head before stopping, "Wait, did you say that Tyler actually believes Owen and Heather cut a deal?"
"He's torn," The punk spoke quickly, frustration bubbling in his voice, "Noah tried to convince Tyler to vote for Owen so he could split the votes and screw me." He jerked his thumb to his chest, "That he believes, and is definitely pissed about. But he honestly thinks that what Noah told him about Owen might be true; that the only lie Noah told was who he was planning to vote for." His expression darkened, "Idiot."
Cody stared, still not fully believing it, "Has Owen even talked to Tyler about this?"
The punk shook his head bristly, "I tried talking to him about it before we breached the compound. Tyler hasn't confronted him about it yet and Noah has apparently not told him because dude had no clue what was going on." His eyes narrowed, "Twerp can't even own up to his own bullshit."
As Duncan brooded to himself (that was a kind way of putting that he was mumbling swears about Noah to himself) Cody simply stared off into the distance. He hadn't interacted with them much due to dealing with Sierra, but he quickly saw that Owen and Noah were becoming fast friends; he had always saw them together. For Noah to potentially throw away a friendship by making some egregious lie just to save his skin was low. And if he did that to his so called 'friends' then what else would he do to people who he was close to just to get ahead.
What could he do to Gwen?
Cody, immediately getting hit with a rush of adrenaline, turned to Duncan in a frantic whisper "This is bad; Noah's probably planning to betray Gwen in there right now!"
Duncan froze, "Betray?" He soon put two and two together and leaned over, "How much do you know?"
"Enough," Cody gulped, "I overheard Courtney talking to Gwen up in First Class about you seeing her and Noah kiss in London." Duncan swore under his breath as the geek continued, "Gwen said that things were really messy between you three; I just don't want him to screw with her head!" The geek sighed, looking down and to the side, "She deserves better than that…"
As Cody was talking, Duncan's mind raced with what he just discovered. Cody knew a lot, but he didn't know everything. He was lucky that even after their fight before the challenge, Gwen didn't rat him out and tell Cody what was really going on. As of now he only knew about the lie he told Courtney at the last second when he originally went to her to fess up about him and Gwen. And as Cody kept going on about Noah possibly tricking Gwen, Duncan felt something he hadn't felt in a long time: fear.
He wouldn't put it past the bookworm to try to screw with her head. If he could make up some lie about Owen, then who's to say that he couldn't make up some lie about Duncan he could feed her. He had already screwed up by not telling Courtney the truth, that he could admit to himself, but he couldn't just stand by and let Gwen hate him over whatever bullshit Noah came up with!
"Look, I know you might not like this and we're both not really close but," Cody spoke with a newfound determination that caught Duncan off guard, "We're both friends with Gwen," hearing that word to describe each of their relationships towards her caused both boys to inwardly wince, "And from what I'm hearing about Noah I don't want her anywhere near him." He swallowed, a bit of nervousness returning to him, "She's gonna hate me when she finds out I'm trying to cut a deal like this, but I really think you should help have your team lose this challenge. Just so you have another chance to vote him off." Duncan opened his mouth to reply, but Cody was quick to cut him off, holding up his hands in defense, "I know you just said you almost got booted in a tie, but if this time one of us manages to tell Owen what Noah lied about him and convinces Tyler that he's innocent, I think it can work."
"I was never scared of a tiebreaker," Duncan replied quickly, frowning. "Believe me, I'd be more than happy to throw that twerp out of the plane myself." He dropped his frown, replacing it with a smirk to mask his anxiety, "But I like your plan. I can't seem to get through jock-squack that Owen didn't do anything wrong." He jerked his thumb towards Cody's chest, "If you can try to get through to Tyler after the challenge, I'll hit up Owen to reveal Noah's lie."
It took Cody a couple more seconds than usual to respond, perhaps due to him not expecting for Duncan to agree so quickly, "Sure, and, uh, you're okay with tanking your team's chances though? This doesn't really work if my team loses."
Duncan let out a humorless chuckle, "Why did you think I let Tyler and Owen hunt for the artifact? I was already gunning for us to lose so I could get rid of him."
Relief flushed onto Cody's face, "Oh cool, glad to see that we're on the same page." He prepared to pivot around to take another glance at the guard again, but he stopped and turned back, "And thanks for doing this, again, I guess. I know you just got back and are probably itching to finally get up to First Class."
Duncan shrugged, "Yeah, it'll bite. But I'm used to roughing it with worse at this point." Trying to get whatever Gwen and Noah were doing out of his mind, he eyed Cody with a half-grin, "I see you've got a lot going on up there, though. That tall chick on your team can't keep her hands off you."
"Sierra?" Cody looked like he was about to vomit, but he composed himself and coughed out, "Er, not really." The punk gave the geek a weird look as the latter let out a sigh, looking off into the distance, "I've been trying to get rid of her all season. She's completely insane!"
"Really?" Duncan let out a chuckle. "That didn't stop Owen from hooking up with Izzy."
Cody seemed to flinch back in horror, "She's so much worse. Violating my personal space, never leaving me alone, not letting me-" he froze, "talk to Gwen…" Duncan's eyes widened and he looked off to the side, but he continued, "Sierra always stopped me. Or Courtney-"he paused, remembering who he was talking to and looked up at the punk sheepishly, "Er, sorry."
"None taken. I know how she can get."
"Yeah, well, it's mostly Sierra anyway." Cody tightened his fists as he continued, "And that's kind of why I'm so worried about Gwen. For some reason, Sierra finally gave me some space today in order to talk to her and she seemed so… sad." Duncan felt a stab of guilt and looked towards the ground, "I know she's angry at you for telling Courtney about her and Noah but I can't help think that he's just using her. I mean, if he could do that to Owen…"
Duncan couldn't help but grit his teeth, "He is. He must be…"
"I just got to help her," Cody finished, "Even though we'll probably never get together…"
The two sat in a long string of silence after that. Duncan knew that there was more to the story. He had hurt Gwen by making up the lie to Courtney instead of owning up to them like they promised. But as soon as guilt steeped into his skull it was replaced by a fiery rage that soon evaporated it. He wouldn't have to lie if it wasn't for Noah; he blackmailed them! He had no choice but to delay in telling Courtney about them until Noah was gone…
Upon the sudden shout, Duncan and Cody both leapt to their feet on reflex, despite their intention on hiding. As they turned around, the geek let out an agonizing groan as they both saw who was barreling towards them.
Sierra rocketed towards them both with a wide-grin from the right side of the box, with a beleaguered looking Owen far behind, "Cody! I knew I'd find you! Now we can –"
All four pairs of eyes turned to the left to see the guard of the prison bellow out towards them. Duncan immediately readied his stance for a fight while the other two froze. He ran from the cops enough times to know what was about to happen. As the guard began to sprint towards him, the delinquent grabbed Cody by the wrist and yanked him to the left of the box before pivoting around to run towards the building. Duncan whipped his head around and saw that the guard had his attention at the moment on apprehending Sierra, who was still frozen standing behind the box. This was there chance.
"Figure out how to open it!" Duncan pushed Cody towards the building and he almost collided with it.
Cody pivoted back around, "What!?"
"You said we needed to find a way to distract him?" Duncan said, pointing over to where their box hiding spot was. Sierra was running away from it on the right with the guard in hot pursuit, "She's been screwing with you the whole season, don't you think it's about time she helps you out?"
Cody stared dumbfounded. His eyes looked over towards Sierra running off from the guard until looking back towards where he saw Owen with his hands on the box, huffing and puffing like he was about to pass out. He had no time to wonder why on earth Owen would be here with Sierra, and just pointed out in shock, "Owen!"
Duncan turned around and saw the blonde too. His jaw dropped, "Why the hell?" He shook his head, "I'll grab him, just try to break the code!"
As the punk sprinted off back towards the box to grab Owen, Cody looked back to see Sierra and the guard now far off in the distance. He felt a stab of guilt leaving her –
No, Gwen needed him now.
Turning back to the building, he frantically looked at the door until his eyes settled on the multi-colored keypad he and Duncan had spotted earlier when they had first hidden behind the box. Ducking down, he noticed a stray screwdriver and a little metal plate. "That guard must have dropped this when he started to chase us…"
"Can you open it?" Duncan had skidded back to a stop with an exhausted Owen in tow.
"So… much… running…" The big guy groaned, collapsing on his back.
"I think I can," Cody replied, already using his screwdriver to take off the metal plate, "If I can reroute the wires I might be able to bypass the security code and open the door…" He turned to Owen, still floundering on the ground, "Are you okay? Did Sierra do anything to you?"
"N…Nah…" Owen huffed again before sitting up, his breath finally returning to him. "W-we first met up when her and Heather came to Tyler and I trying to find an artifact. S-she wanted to talk to Tyler alone so she told Sierra and I to wait somewhere else. They were taking a long time so we went off to find Noah and you," He gave a little chuckle, "Y'know, she's actually not that bad…"
Cody nearly slammed in his head on the bottom of the keypad, "What!?"
"Dude," Duncan gave the geek a death glare, "Focus on the door." He glanced back towards direction where Sierra was running from the guard, "We don't have a lot of time; she could lead him back to us soon…"
Owen wrung his hands together, continuing his tale, "We were talking and stuff; she said that Heather told her to pretend she liked me in order to make you jealous, hehe… but then Sierra saw you and ran so fast and…" The big guy blinked, finally staring at the small building they were in front of, "Uh, what's that?"
"Where Gwen and Noah are," Duncan replied, his gaze firmly on where the guard chased Sierra.
Owen's expression brightened, "R-really!" he jumped up on his feet with a second bout of adrenaline, "That's great! I get to see my little buddy again!"
"He isn't your buddy, Owen." Cody managed to remove the metal plate, revealing inside a several multi-colored wires all in sockets.
"He's right," Duncan narrowed his eyes, "If jock-squawk hadn't interrupted before I would've already told you how much of an underhanded twerp he is."
Owen's eyes widened, "Wha-
"I think I got it!" Cody yanked a red wire out of its socket and jammed a blue one in its place. Both Owen and Duncan whipped their heads towards the door with bated breath… but it ultimately didn't budge.
But something did blink.
The screen above the keypad that was on the side of the door glowed to life. It first started to cut to hazy static, not unlike what the camera would due from cutting from confessionals, before finally settling on what it looked like a small room. Inside it, the screen showed a pale blue haired girl seated on some sort of weird dentist looking chair while a tan skinned boy looked to be explaining something to her. Duncan and Owen's eyes widened.
"Did it not work?" Cody whined with disappointment, still under the keypad.
"You gave us video!" Owen smiled, "Noah and Gwen look like they're okay!"
"Can't hear anything though…" Duncan narrowed his eyes towards the tan boy on the screen,
Cody poked his head back out to take a look at the screen before ducking back under the keypad, "I might be able to fix that…" He pulled a yellow and a pink wire out and then switched their sockets and –
"You deserve to know the full picture, and despite me wanting to know what the hell you were about to tell me in the hallway, I should go first in explaining myself since I blanked you earlier."
Duncan and Owen whipped their heads towards the screen as Noah's voice came out through the small speaker attached to it. Cody popped back out from underneath the keypad and stared too, "Huh, I'm actually surprised that worked…"
"Can we talk with them?" Owen asked.
Cody shook his head before ducking back down, "From what I'm finding here, the microphone in that room only receives sound. We can't communicate with them." He gulped, "I normally wouldn't want to spy on them, but if she's with Noah… I just need to make sure he's not going to mess with her head."
Owen gasped, "Noah wouldn't do that!"
"You don't know what Duncan and I know, Owen. He basically manipulated Tyler into hating you for no reason just to save his butt," he turned to the punk, "Tell him!"
But Duncan was frozen in place, staring at the screen. If Noah and Gwen had no idea they were being heard by them, and if they were speaking freely…
His eyes widened just as Cody figured it out as well, "Wait, this might work out for the best. Listen." As the tech geek pointed to the screen, Gwen from the screen uttered out:
Cody still pointed to the screen as the Gwen on the screen looked to be walking over to sit on the pseudo-dentist chair, "Noah might admit what he did to you himself if they keep talking…" he bent down again under the keypad, "I'll still try to open the door, though."
"Stop." Duncan closed his eyes, the entire realization dawning on him. If they continued to listen in on Gwen and Noah, then one of them would be bound to bring up the real nature of their arrangement. That it was Duncan who kissed Gwen in London, that Noah saw them together and blackmailed him into voting for Alejandro, that Duncan only told Courtney that he saw Gwen kissing Noah in London as a last minute lie to stave off the inevitable.
Courtney and him would be done.
There would be no turning back.
Cody stood up from under the keypad and gave Duncan a flabbergasted look, "What?"
"Turn off the sound." Duncan couldn't help but have his fear seep into his voice, "Now."
"Why!? Owen will finally hear about what Noah did to him! Why would you –"And just like that, the same realization dawned on Cody's face. "You don't want us to hear something that they might talk about."
"Uh, guys-" Owen raised his hand with a near-petrified expression, "W-what's going on?"
"Something that Duncan doesn't want us to know about…" Cody glared at the delinquent, "You can beat me up or whatever but I'm not turning off the sound. I'm getting to the bottom of this right here and now." Cody turned about face to a shell-shocked Duncan before ducking down once again under the keypad.
As the tech-geek went back to work on the door, it all finally hit the delinquent. He couldn't run and quit the show, he couldn't make a promise that he thought he could keep but couldn't, he couldn't try to vote the one person who could expose him off.
And he was too goddamn exhausted to even try.
Owen approached Duncan from his side and shot him a concerned glance before both boys stared at the screen as Cody worked.
"This might be long and kind of complicated but I need you to understand my thought process with everything. Just know that I was in an extremely desperate situation…"
"More desperate than blackmailing me? Let's just take things slow, then. First off: who threw that rock at you? And did you deserve it?"
Duncan and Owen, with Cody overhearing, watched with bated breath as everything would finally be out in the open.
It was remarkable actually. Even with a probable concussion and running on three hours of sleep, she could fully grasp what Noah was explaining.
Apparently, the whole chain of events that resulted in the cluster-fuck (Yes, Gwen was too tired to censor her mind) that was his team's elimination ceremony stemmed from Gwen revealing to him Duncan's promise about him telling Courtney the truth during their adventure in the Odeon. That caused Noah to change from targeting Tyler to targeting Duncan himself, as he thought he would be too much of a wild-card to keep around. This was due to Noah believing he had less leverage than he originally thought on Duncan, and rendering the promise he made to Gwen in the cargo hold about not revealing her kiss to Duncan useless. He managed to convince a reluctant Owen to get on board with voting for Duncan, and then waited to find a time to get alone with Tyler to gain his vote to send him packing.
But he waited too long.
On the heels of the ceremony, Tyler had gone to Noah and asked him for forgiveness for acting so weird around him. And this is when Gwen truly understood why Alejandro was such an anathema for Noah. The Spaniard had lied to Tyler about Owen, saying that his parents faked being bankrupt over the cheese-cellar in order to strong-arm their son back into the competition in Total Drama Action. With this little nugget of information Tyler revealed, as well as knowing his back was against the wall as the jock also told him of his alliance with Duncan, Noah decided to play hardball.
Despite it being only a week ago, Gwen had nearly forgotten about the tiebreaker between DJ and Lindsay that sent the blonde bombshell packing in France. But Tyler didn't. And Noah knew it.
By a stroke of luck, Alejandro's lie about Owen's parents faking bankruptcy and the fact that Owen was one of the judges for the tiebreaker had aligned. That's when Noah revealed to her that he told Tyler that Owen and Heather had made a pact to oust Lindsay. It was his last recourse, he reasoned, as he knew that he would have to face Duncan in a head to head tiebreaker otherwise.
Luckily, he failed. Despite his anger towards Owen, Tyler was a man of his word and didn't flip on Duncan, voting for Noah in the end which led to the tie.
And now, finally, after all those hours spent on the cargo hold last night waiting for either him or Duncan to explain it to her, everything was crystal clear.
Well, almost everything.
"Does-" Gwen gulped from her chair, "does Owen know?"
Noah stared back at her with a face of pained neutrality. He closed his eyes, "No. But considering that I'm stuck in here, I wouldn't be surprised if he found out from Duncan or Tyler."
Gwen nodded her head slowly, not sure where to go from there. Her mind was like a storm of emotions. Anger at Noah for hurting Owen, hurt over him waiting until now to tell her, and fear over what they would all have to deal with on the plane once this whole challenge was over.
She posed another question, "Is Tyler angry at you because he believes you lied to him about the vote or about how you lied to him about Owen?"
Noah's face collapsed into his palm, "I tried to come clean to Tyler that I made the whole thing up, but he doesn't believe me." He raised his head to face her, "He believes I lied to him about the vote, but not about Owen making a deal with Heather."
"But why –"
"I have no idea." Noah sighed, "My hunch is that he was always angry at Owen over Lindsay getting kicked off, and is just now using this as an excuse to express it, but your guess is as good as mine…" He cast a dark glare down towards the floor before muttering, "Idiot…"
The tone of his voice caused Gwen to frown at him, "Tyler's not an idiot, Noah. And he isn't the idiot who lied about his friend being a monster just so he could survive another day."
Noah looked at her with bewilderment, "I was talking about myself." He narrowed his eyes towards her and Gwen couldn't help but gasp, "But thanks for being forthright."
Her face flushed red and she nearly leapt at the chance to scream all of her frustration out on him but she stopped. After taking a deep breath, she replied, "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for…" She gave the bookworm a long stare, "But you still own what you did, Noah. You hurt Owen and probably messed up his relationship with Tyler for a long time…"
Noah closed his eyes with a resigning sigh, "I know…" he shook his head before opening them again, "And I also know that I probably won't be here much longer…"
Despite all the anxiety she was feeling, Gwen found a new stab of fear pierce her abdomen, "What do you mean?"
The bookworm raised an eyebrow, "Duncan and Tyler will get Owen on their side and vote for me? With how things are going, I can't envision a scenario where this won't happen."
"But what if your team doesn't lose?"
Noah gave Gwen a dry look, "Thanks to yours truly, Owen's going to be too nervous to help with anything while Tyler's going to be too angry at him to focus." He snorted with contempt, "And it's not like I'm going to pin all my hopes of survival on Duncan."
Gwen squinted in confusion, "Can't you just threaten Duncan to vote off Tyler or you'll tell Courtney about…" as she tried to say the words, her throat clamped up.
Noah shook his head, "My reputation is so far down the preverbal gutter that even McLean's agent couldn't make me look good. And Duncan knows that; he'd call my bluff before I'd even get a chance to…"
Another spell of silence landed between the two teens. Noah dropped his head, with a look of defeat that Gwen never saw from him before. Her chest tightened, and she covered her head with her hands as she sank deeper into the chair. As her eyes were closed, she couldn't help but re-live the events of last night's ceremony Noah just explained. Her getting singled out by Chris behind her tiki and Tyler's explosion of rage towards Noah and Owen. And as the ceremony ended with the jock stomping off, one small yet key interaction was deeply imprinted in her mind. Duncan had passed by her and Noah, quipping this to the bookworm:
"Don't know what you did to piss him off man, but thanks for making this game a whole 'lot easier…"
Gwen brought her hands away from her face and tightened them. He saw her at the ceremony. All those hours she spent after the ceremony waiting for him… and he knew she was there. Gwen might've cared about if Noah would be voted out or not, but she also cared about Duncan. Why else would she have hidden behind the tiki-statue to watch the ceremony? But despite him knowing she was there, he hadn't even given her a second thought. She waited for so long in the cargo hold for him to come, just to explain himself. And after all of it, she only found out from Courtney what he had really been up to before the ceremony…
Did he even care about her?
Gwen stood up from the chair, "You should call his bluff."
Noah looked back up at her with a questioning glance, "Huh?"
"Tell Duncan that you'll tell Courtney about the kiss."
Noah's brow raised, "Didn't we just have a conversation as to why that wouldn't work?"
The goths determined visage didn't break, "Not if we threaten him to tell Courtney together."
It gave Gwen a rare sense of accomplishment amidst her sea of anxiety to see Noah's jaw nearly drop to the ground, "What?"
"You might be having a reputation of a liar, but I don't." Gwen crossed her arms and shrugged, "And I'm sick of Duncan's bullshit. Like what you said yesterday in Greece, there's no way he can stand up against her…"
After Noah took a good minute to process what she was proposing, he took another one to consider it, biting his lip in thought, "No."
Gwen put her hands on her hips, "Do you not think it would work?"
"I know what happened before the challenge, Gwen. You and Duncan were both at the dining area before walking out of the room. Next you come back and stalk over to opposite ends of the room looking as angry as Tyler was last night."
Gwen frowned in confusion, "What does that have to do with –
The bookworm pointed at himself, "Just because you and Duncan are in a fight over him being a goddamn coward doesn't mean you should throw everything you have with him away just to save me. Like you said before, I own Tyler and Owen's messed up relationship. I don't want to own whatever you have with Duncan ending too."
Gwen narrowed her eyes, "How can you say that I have anything with Duncan?"
Noah threw up his arms, "I don't know, Gwen! Maybe it's because I saw you kissing him two days ago?" He paused, "Duncan is a pompous, self-centered, douchebag, but you even know better than me that he's not a monster. Just because he's scared about ending things with Courtney doesn't mean he doesn't care about you." He took a step forward, putting his hands on his chest, "Don't throw the game, Duncan, and sanity out the window just to save the person who's caused your life hell for the past two days!"
Gwen stomped forward as well, tears welling in her eyes, "And isn't that so convenient to put all this bullshit we've been through on yourself like a martyr! I was still the one who kissed Duncan when he was with Courtney. Blackmail from you or not, I'd still have to deal with the fallout!" Her eyes widened, not realizing until now how worked up she was getting. She continued softly, "You saved me from going crazy with myself when you walked in on me in the cargo hold when I was waiting for Duncan…" Noah's eyes widened as Gwen pressed on, "And you promised me that you wouldn't tell Courtney… you're not the villain you think you are." She breathed in quickly, "And Duncan is more of a coward then you think…"
Noah staggered back, his eyes as wide as plates. "What?"
"I wasn't just waiting for you in the cargo hold last night," Gwen crossed her arms in a sigh, "I was waiting for Duncan, and he didn't show." She tightened her grip, "He blanked me like you did even after what he told Courtney about us."
"What?" Noah croaked out again.
"Before the ceremony last night, after he got Tyler on his side to try to vote you off, Duncan went to talk to Courtney…" her voice was shaky, "He was about to apologize to Courtney and to tell her that we had kissed. It was what he promised me, and he seemed so insistent on doing it himself…" she shook her head, "But instead of telling her, he lied just to get out of the situation; he said that he saw us kissing in London."
Noah nearly choked on his own saliva, "That's insane!"
"And I only heard about it from Courtney the next morning." Gwen narrowed her eyes to the floor, "He told her that we begged him not to tell anyone about it." She sniffed, "Courtney didn't say it, but I knew from how she talked to me about it that Duncan told her that I begged him to vote off Alejandro just to save you." Gwen let out a sigh, "He may care about me, Noah. But he doesn't care about me nearly enough to let go of his fear of her…"
Noah felt like his mind was about to explode. He thought he had accepted leaving the game as he began to explain to Gwen what happened between him and Tyler, he was certain of it. He would have just quietly apologized to Tyler and Owen before getting flung off the plane, like he probably deserved. He'd leave Gwen behind, but that would be for the best. Without him as a distraction or interference, her and Duncan would probably be able to sort whatever they had out.
But now. With what Duncan had pulled? With Gwen actually wanting him to stay, despite everything he did to not only herself but to Tyler and Owen?
He was about to open his mouth to reply, but the floor seemed to shift under their feet, leading both Noah and Gwen to stumble a few paces. Still standing up, they glanced towards one of the walls to see it moving downwards. As the wall did this, it gradually and gradually showed to the two that this room they were dwarfed in size to the massive scale of the compound interior that they assumed they were always in.
Once the wall finally vanished in the floor, both teens stood face to face with three equally shell-shocked competitors.
The largest one was the first to break the silence, "Noah?"
The bookworm hung his head in shame, "Hello, Owen."
As they were indoors, not even a stray gust of wind could break the eerie silence that fell onto the five teens. Even after Owen broke the ice with saying Noah's name, with the bookworm responding in kind, no one wanted to be the first one to try to sort everything hear and saw out.
Eventually Cody closed his slack-jaw and swallowed, "Gwen?"
The goth breathed in deeply, "Hi Cody…" she closed her eyes as she felt dread knowing the answer to the question she was about to ask, "Did you guys… hear what we were saying in there?"
Cody blinked before nodding his head slowly. He gestured to the monitor above the keypad with his screwdriver, "Y-yeah, I managed to hack the system when I was trying to get you free…" seeing Noah out of the corner of his eye, he swallowed again, "Was… was it all true?"
Gwen nodded her head, "Yes… it is." Her gaze traveled from Cody and settled on Duncan, still looking completely shocked, "Now five of us know everything."
The tech geek followed her gaze and looked at the delinquent, "So that means… Gwen and Noah never kissed. It was you two."
Duncan eventually snapped out of his trance, "Yeah. It was us." He looked at Gwen with face flushed with fear, "Gwen, I –"
"Why did you lie to her, Duncan?" Gwen took a few paces forward so she was now outside of her metallic prison, "Was it because you were afraid what Noah might do or because you didn't want to lose her?"
That question humbled the group. Owen looked down at his shoes while Cody looked at Gwen with all the concern in the world. Duncan opened his mouth to speak, but something tugged at his throat. The answer was so clear, of course it was because of Noah. That's what he tried to explain to her before this whole challenge began. All he had to say was he was worried that Noah might try to pull Tyler or Owen on his side if it was found out he had cheated. It wasn't that he didn't like Gwen. That's all he had to say.
But the tug in his throat caused him to hesitate.
And that's all what Gwen needed to see, "Okay."
"Gwen." Duncan ripped his hesitation away, "I screwedup. But it was only because of-"
"Noah." Cody couldn't help but finish for the punk, his eyes now narrowing at the only person left standing in the metallic prison, "You-you blackmailed them?" he threw the screwdriver he was holding to the ground, sounding off a loud echo, "After acting so above everyone? After all those things you said about Justin when he did it? You blackmailed them?"
The mention of Justin caused Noah's head to throb with anger, "That was different. Justin's back wasn't pushed up against the wall when he –"
"You still hurt Gwen!" Cody stomped over towards him.
Gwen was quick to side-step in between the two, "Cody, stop."
The tech geek froze and blinked, "Gwen, he – hurt you."
The goth breathed in, "Yes, initially. But it's complicated."
Cody's face had a perfect balance of concern and bewilderment. Eventually he staggered back, "I just think," he gave a cautious look towards the delinquent, "Duncan might have a point."
Duncan and Gwen both turned to him and spluttered out, "What!?"
"He shouldn't have tried to kiss you while he was with Courtney," Cody seemed to wince as he said the sentence, "But –"
"He stood me up, Cody." Gwen was now the one glaring daggers. "And told Courtney that lie about Noah and I."
"And that was totally dumb and selfish, I agree!" Cody threw up his hands, not in anger but in a panic to calm her down, "And I know your guilty, but this is Courtney we're talking about! The girl who kicked Duncan in the crotch nearly every episode last season when they were in a relationship! Duncan realizing that he doesn't want to tell Courtney is because he wants to protect you. I know I would!"
The delinquent nodded his head, "Yeah." He stepped forward, "Gwen, I stood you up when you were worried and didn't let you in on what I was thinking." He gulped, "And I'm shitty coward when it comes to telling Courtney about us. That's on me." He gestured to the geek to his side, "But Cody's right. Noah's playing you just like pretty boy. All I want is to make sure he goes before we face Courtney together."
"I honestly wouldn't tell her until she's eliminated," Cody muttered under his breath.
Upon hearing his name, Noah walked out of his metallic prison with his arms crossed, "If I'm playing her just like," he held up air quotes "pretty boy, then why did I tell her I'd be more than happy to concede defeat and get off of this show?"
Cody glared, "Because you're just manipulating her into not being angry with you. Which is worse than what Justin ever did. It's like something Heather or Courtney would do."
Gwen grit her teeth, "I am still right here…"
The tech geek changed his posture of anger towards Noah to one of nervousness towards Gwen, "I mean, I've been manipulated before too, it doesn't mean that –"
Gwen held up her hands, "Just stop Cody, okay…" She slowly breathed in and out deeply, "I know you're trying to help, and I'm so thankful that you're still in my corner after all of this…" she paused, remembering their conversation outside the compound, "But I still need some time to sort things out with Duncan… and Noah. Can you please just respect that?"
Feeling newfound shame, the tech geek hunched his shoulders, "I'm sorry. It's just…" he sighed, "I care about you."
He was shocked when Gwen came over and gave him a strong hug, "I know, and that's why I never wanted you to be brought into any of this. I never wanted to hurt you, ever."
As Gwen and Cody embraced for a solid minute, the three standing around them all stood still reeling about what had just happened. Their thoughts were all caught up in emotion that they had all but forgotten that they were still on a reality television show with a challenge. Everyone more or less found their emotional bearings once Cody and Gwen broke their hug.
"So…" Cody rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, his cheeks still tinged with pink from his hug with Gwen. "Time to get back to the challenge? But before that I guess we all keep this information to ourselves until whenever Gwen or Duncan want to reveal it?" He added quietly under his breath, "Which should be until after Courtney goes…"
"That shouldn't be such a long time," Gwen pursed her lips. Her gaze settled on Duncan once again, "After tonight's ceremony I plan on telling her."
Noah and Owen's eyes both widened while Cody inwardly grimaced. Duncan wasn't as quiet with his protest, "Gwen, you can't just –" But her hardened stare evaporated the words just as they were about to come out of his mouth. He whipped his head towards Cody, "I know she's pissed at me right now but you've got to agree this is a dumb move."
Cody shook his head, "After you went back on your promise, it's her decision Duncan. I don't like it at all, but it's her decision…" his gaze shifted from the punk over towards Noah. He frowned, "I trust Gwen to make the right decision for herself."
Gwen smiled, "Thank you, Cody." She looked back over towards Duncan with a softened expression, "I still like you Duncan, a lot. And I'll let you tell Courtney yourself if– "she paused, "If you're still in love with her."
"I'm not!" Despite nearly half of himself screaming at him not too, the punk immediately shouted it out. His gaze whipped from Gwen's to Noah's and his eyes hardened. Courtney didn't mean anything to him, she couldn't mean anything to him after all the shit she had put him through. And he wasn't going to make a goddamn fool of himself by admitting that he did in front of Noah.
Noah himself couldn't frown in spite of himself when Duncan shouted his denial, and turned away as Gwen continued, "Then I trust you can handle us dealing with Courtney… Because no matter how she's going to react she still deserves the truth." As Duncan gave a curt nod in defeat, the goth turned back to Noah and walked towards him. She leaned in and whispered, "So… that was something."
"Are you sure about telling Courtney?" Noah spoke, utterly amazed at how Gwen was taking charge of the situation.
Gwen closed her eyes, "She needs to know." She opened them, eyes drifting to the side, "And it's the only way if I'll know for sure if Duncan –"
"I understand," Noah let out a slight smile, "That, and what you said back there when we were locked up. I don't know how I'll do it, but I'll try whatever I can to stay in the game… ethically."
Gwen smiled back at him. Yet only for a moment, as the two pairs of eyes looked over to see the silent member of their five-some. Owen's eyes were as wide as plates, staring at everyone in total shock. Seeing Noah and Gwen look at him, the big guy couldn't help it. Tears welled up into his eyes and soon he was crying softly to himself. Both teens shred of respite had vanished in an instant.
"Talk to him," Gwen whispered to Noah before pivoting around and walking towards Owen. The bookworm closed his eyes as Gwen initiated the conversation.
"Owen, I'm so sorry that this happened."
"I-it's fine, Gwen."
"If ever you need to talk, find me okay?"
Noah opened his eyes to see Gwen pat her fellow finalist friend on the back before turning around. "Let's get back to the game, Cody."
Cody blinked, "Oh, yeah, right." He seemed to freeze up before giving Duncan a pointed look that Gwen didn't notice.
The delinquent saw it and shook his head, remembering his deal with the tech-geek. He wasn't sure how much he could help Cody win with Gwen around, but he still wanted a chance to get rid of Noah. "Let's do it."
Noah couldn't help but turn to Owen as the three of them walked off. The big guy met his gaze, still tears in his eyes. The bookworm sucked in his gut, "Owen…"
But before he could say anything more, the blonde darted off. Noah's eyes widened, and he was about to take off after him but froze. Even with his less than average athleticism, Noah knew he could catch up to him easily. Apologizing now to stave off his guilt would be selfish. Owen needed space to process everything, including Noah's betrayal…
Turning another direction, Noah swore silently to himself as he started his trudge through the compound for the very first time. He had promised Gwen he'd do his best to stick around, but with no clue where anyone had already looked he had no idea where to begin.
"Let's get this over with…"
Fortunately for Noah, it didn't take a long time for him to get over it. While himself, Gwen, Cody, Owen and Duncan were having the emotional conversation of the lifetime in the interior of the compound, Tyler and Heather had already escaped the exterior and were on a mad-dash back to the Jumbo Jet.
Heather had escaped the compound before him, he picked up after, but Tyler was steadily gaining on her. Despite his hand-eye coordination being on par with Bridgette's, when it came to raw strength and speed the jock was no slouch. And with no hurdles in his way like last time, Tyler looked like he would surely sprint past Heather for an easy win. This kind of happened. It was Tyler's un-coordination now coming in clutch, tripping over a rock which caused his alien cube device to fly through the air right into… Chef's arms?
That was the one thing Noah didn't get. Chris was apparently holed up in his quarters on the plane with some urgent business and delegated hosting duties to Chef for the time being. He had overheard Tyler start to talk to Duncan about it, but once the jock saw him he clamped up and gave him a glare.
So now Noah sat in First Class, resting his head against the window. He saw Tyler sitting by himself farther up, with the jock basking in his newfound glory of handing his team victory. Turning around, he also saw Owen seated at a table in the back, nearly motionless, with only a slice of strawberry cheesecake to accompany him. Noah grasped the arm of the chair, about to walk over until Duncan passed by him, already en route to him. He stared as the delinquent sat down beside him and handing him a soda. As he saw them begin to talk, Noah's stomach felt like a canyon and he closed his eyes.
He felt paralyzed. He couldn't talk to Owen yet and Gwen's team was in economy class, no doubt about to go to the ceremony. While he had a hunch (and hope) that they'd ditch Heather, he couldn't be one-hundred percent certain…
Then in an instant, nearly three days of stress, fatigue and exhaustion all caught up to him, and he was out like a light.
"Finally, we won one!" Tyler whooped in the confessional, punching his fist in the air. He brought it back down and jerked his thumb to his chest, "Thanks to me!" He paused for a moment and looked down. "Still… things kind of suck." He sighed, "I can't help but think that something major happened when I was talking with Heather today." He smiled, "Speaking of which, was pleasantly… good." He shook his head, "Anyway, Duncan told me before we split up that he needed to talk to Gwen, which I don't think went all too great cuz he seemed pretty down once the challenge ended." His expression turned to a frown, "He also said he talked to Owen about Noah tried to pull, which I guess is why they both are kind of bummed out now." He shrugged his shoulders, "I guess I'll tell Duncan tomorrow that I know now that Owen and Heather never had a deal and that I'm still peeved with him regardless…"
Tyler massaged his chin, "Huh, I'm still super surprised Heather helped me out a bunch in the end. Maybe she's sad about Alejandro leaving too and decided to be… nice?" He shook his head, "Anyway, love you Linds, Tyler's going to ride this new win all the way to the top!"
End Confessional: Tyler
He stared at the camera for a few moments, "Today was like the worst day of the show by far. I'd take getting mauled by a bear, heck, I'd take getting dragged around by Sierra then going through today." He sighed, "I know I'm supposed to give Gwen space, but I do not trust Noah. He's a total snake! And worst of all is that Team Chris won the challenge, so now Duncan can't even try to vote him off…" He shook his head. "There's also this other thing. Gwen is adamant on voting for Heather; she told me that Courtney is a solid vote for her and wants me to vote with them. But I really want to vote for Courtney just to save Gwen from her craziness if she does reveal what she has with Duncan…" He pauses for a moment as if starting to stumble on an idea.
He snapped his fingers, "That's it!"
End Confessional: Cody.
The camera flashed to outside of the confessional, where Cody jumped out and darted his head to the left and right of the hallway. Satisfied that there was no Sierra to be found, he jogged started jogging across the hall. He needed to find the person he wanted to talk to quick before the ceremony if he wanted his plan to work.
As he approached the curtains of economy class, his hopes were answered. Heather walked through the divider with a scowl on her face, "Stupid Sierra… that double crosser…"
The tech geek skidded to a stop in front of her, "Heather! Uh, do you got a second?"
Heather blinked; why on earth did Cody want to talk to her? After a few moments of thinking, a small smirk escaped her lips, "Sure, what is it?"
Courtney crossed her arms with a scowl, "Today was a complete disaster…"
She and Gwen were seated on east bench of economy class, licking their wounds over their teams lost.
"Uh-huh…" Gwen rubbed her eyes and blinked, fatigue finally getting to her.
Courtney turned to her friend and grimaced, "Are you feeling okay?"
The goths' eyes widened, "Uh, never better! Why?" she said with a twinge of nervousness Courtney couldn't help but notice.
"No reason," Courtney bit her lip in frustration. At this stage of the game, Courtney needed her friend more than ever, but due to her new relationship Gwen's gameplay has gotten sloppier and sloppier. Worst of all is that she couldn't eliminate the problem in Noah because she couldn't just vote him off; he wasn't on her team. She had hoped Duncan and his band of misfits would have another loss so his lazy butt would be finally kicked off, but it was her team that sucked today.
"Eek, I'm so glad you're back safe and sound on my plane, Cody-kins!" Sierra squealed from the other bench, breaking the C.I.T's thoughts.
"Hooray…" Cody, who was currently in a tight hug from Sierra, groaned.
Courtney narrowed her eyes at him. He was another distraction, as Sierra was a half-way decent competitor with Cody out of the picture; Courtney remembered her basking weaving skills when she was still on Team Chris in Egypt. Plus, Cody had distracted Gwen today…
"I guess I'll go cast my vote early." Gwen shrugged, standing herself up. She turned to Courtney and bent down to whisper, "You still good on voting for Heather?"
"Yes," Courtney couldn't help but break into an annoyed tone. Gwen luckily was too tired to catch it and sauntered off with a nod. As the goth exited the compartment, Courtney sighed in thought. While Heather was completely annoying, she at least washalf-way decent at challenges. Unlike a certain chestnut haired geek on their team…
The C.I.T grabbed the edge of the bench and grimaced. What if this was a start of a losing streak for them? If they boot Heather now, they'd essentially be down to two players. Cody was worthless, and as long as he was around Sierra would be worthless. That would just open up more of an opportunity for Noah to stay around and get in her way. And mess with Gwen's head.
Wait, what if –
Courtney looked to see Heather walk through the curtains back to economy. She started to sit down on the far side of Courtney's bench, but the C.I.T scooted over and grabbed her by the shoulder, "We need to talk."
She sits on the toilet with her arms and legs crossed, looking extremely smug, "I've just gone from last on the totem pole to Queenmaker. All I need to decide is which loser I want to align with to dump the other loser." She couldn't help but grin, "See Alejandro, I don't know where you are but that's how to play the game…" she paused, a saddened look growing on her face, "You better be okay wherever you are… jerk."
End Confessional: Heather
The camera cut to the elimination ceremony area as tense music began to play. Chef Hatchet was standing in the center of the room while the Amazons sat on the bleachers. There was no Chris in sight.
Chef Hatchet put his fist to his mouth and cleared his throat. He dove into his pocket and brought out a small cue card which he had to bring extremely close to his face in order to read, "Team Chris is Really, Really, Really, Really, ah!" He crumpled up the cue card and threw it behind him, "I ain't reading pretty boys notes. We're doing this the old fashioned way." Chef walked back towards the tiki near the hatch and reached in behind it. All the Amazons shared awkward glances before he emerged with whatever was looking for... four yucky brown barf bags. "You ladies don't know it, cuz y'all did so well, but early on this season we used to give y'all who were safe one of these bad boys. Chris just forgot about it I guess." He shrugged, "Alright, first up is tall girl!" He tossed a bag Sierra's way.
"Yes!" Sierra caught it and squealed. Cody couldn't help but roll his eyes.
"Next up, creepy girl!" Chef lightly tossed a brown bag Gwen's way with a slight grimace, "You look like you need a nap, soldier."
"Aye-aye, captain…" Gwen yawned, catching her bag.
"Hm…" Chef grinned, "Now where things get a little spicy… Mean girl!" He chucked a bag at Heather which she barely caught.
Even though Gwen was nearly asleep, seeing Heather catch the bag was like a shot of adrenaline. She quickly widened her eyes and whipped her head at Cody. The tech geek winced and gave her a sheepish smile. She whipped it back around at Courtney only for her to look away. Gwen blinked, "What, what's going on?" She caught a glimpse of Heather smirking and her heart dropped.
Chef bounced the bag in his hand as he narrowed his eyes, "And the person who's leaving the platoon is…
Scrawny kid!" Chef chucked his last bag towards Courtney, "You've just got court-martialed!"
Cody, Gwen and Sierra all jumped to their feet and cried in unison. The tan girl jumped off the bleachers and ran towards Chef with tears in her eyes, "This can't be happening!" She grabbed his apron and collapsed to her knees, "Not! Happening!"
"Get your hands off of me, girl!" Chef grunted, trying to pry Sierra off of him.
Cody collapsed his face into his hands, "Literally would rather be mauled by a bear…"
Gwen pivoted around back towards Courtney, an awkward look of admission plastered on her face. She tightened her fists, "I thought you agreed on voting for Heather! Why on earth would you vote for Cody!? Who else could you have even got to-"Gwen spotted from the corner of her eye the Queen Bee smiling at her coyly from the side, "Oh you've got to be kidding me."
Courtney crossed her arms, "I'm sorry Gwen, but temporary arrangements needed to be made for the sake of the team. Cody's performance has been too poor to ignore, and well," she paused, "He's proven to be a bit of a distraction…"
"The one time I actually get noticed by girls…" Cody groaned from the side.
"Sierra in Greece, you today," Courtney tutted as she listed them off, "I know this might be hard for you to hear Gwen, but –"
"Hard for me to hear!?" Gwen shouted, "You lied to me, Courtney!"
Courtney breathed in deeply before exhaling, "I understand that you're angry. When you are less… emotional I'm sure you'll understand what I had to do…"
Gwen didn't know where to even begin in order to respond to that so she turned back around, "This still doesn't make sense. I know for a fact Cody and I voted for Heather."
"Uh, about that…" Cody laughed meekly, "I might've gotten a little too cocky…"
"Cody…" Gwen looked at him in horror, "Not you too."
"At least I want to vote for Heather now… hehe…" Cody shrugged his shoulders and groaned, "I'm so sorry, Gwen. It's just with everything that happened with Noah today I-" he froze, immediately realizing he spoke too much as Courtney and Heather widened their eyes.
"With Noah?" Courtney mouthed to herself with a frown. That's certainly a nugget of information to track down later. Heather saw this out of the corner of her eyes and smirked.
"Uh," Cody tried to regain his footing, "I mean…" he eventually lied with a sigh, "I'm a simp who was jealous that you were spending time with Courtney so I tried to get Heather to vote for her with me…"
"Sorry Cody," Heather shrugged, "You probably would be a pretty good ally in the future and I would've kept you if it wasn't for someone deserting me in an alien warehouse…" She pointed to a blubbering Sierra, now clinging onto Chef's ankles as the cook desperately tried to swat her off.
Cody looked at the direction Heather was pointing at and blinked, "I kind of deserve it, so no hard feelings." He sighed, turning back to Gwen. "I'm so sorry Gwen. I thought me doing this would help you out the most. But now I'm out and can't help you out at all…"
Gwen put her hand on his shoulder and sighed, "I'm still mad at you, but today was crazy." She quickly glanced over to Courtney, remembering how she had no excuse for lying to her. She smiled at him weakly and whispered, "At least you can still be in my corner on the Aftermaths. You do know more than anyone how crazy Total Drama fans can be."
Cody gave a weak smile back, "Y-yeah. I guess so…"
The two seemed like they were about to hug until Sierra glomped onto him from out of frame, "Cody, please don't leave! C-Chris isn't here, this isn't an official ceremony!"
Chef walked over to the two and flung the rabid fangirl off of him, "Hey! When Chris isn't here I can do anything I damn well want." He pulled up the tech-geek by his right arm and shoved a parachute into his hands on his right, "Time to go!" He shoved the geek forward causing him to trip over himself before ultimately tumbling down the hatch and out of the plane.
"NO!" Sierra let out a blood-curdling shriek and tried to dive in after him. Fortunately for Cody the hatch slammed back shut automatically and led Sierra to collide with it in a thud, knocking her out cold.
Chef Hatchet turned about face to the now all female Amazon team left conscious on the bleachers, "Y'all are dismissed." He jerked his thumb to the hatch where the now knocked out Sierra laid, "Someone bring tall girl out of here and get to Economy. I need to film the outro." Courtney, Gwen and Heather all looked at each other for a moment before one of them shrugged their shoulders and stood up, "I'll do it." Courtney sighed.
It took a few minutes, but once all the Amazons were out of the area and out of earshot, Chef Hatchet turned to the camera, "So, scrawny kid got duped by Heather. And tubby found out how the other scrawny one screwed him over by telling the jock a lie. What'll happen? Will creepy girl tell preppy girl that she macked on greaser boy? Or is she too mad cuz she helped bring down scrawny kid? All this and more on Total!" The screen panned back to show Chef standing in the entirety of the elimination area. "Drama!" It panned back farther to show the Jumbo Jet flying in the sky, "World Tour!" It went the farthest back to show that dawn had now came, with the aircraft venturing forth into a new day.
Authors Notes: *shrugs shoulders* I hope you like it cuz I'm... kind of mixed on it, to be quite honest. I hope everything doesn't seem to all over the place, but believe me that every thread introduced here will make sense eventually, including the Gwen flashback at the beginning. Characters inner thoughts also are probably a bit repetitive but I just want to make sure that everyone follows which lies people think are real and which real things people think are lies, e.t.c.
But yeah, Courtney is starting to get suspicious about Noah and Gwen, Tyler and Heather have made amends, and Duncan, Cody, Owen, Noah and Gwen had just had the most emotional convo of a lifetime in a United States government facility. Amongst (haha, sus) a lot of other things (like Cody being gonzo)
Before I go, the next two chapters will not be a competition chapters. The first will be a lot like the second chapter of this story "Sirens of Guilt" where it'll mostly be Noah/Gwen romance character development and less on the game. The second, well, I won't spoil.
But what did you think! Is this chapter the greatest, most stupendous work of the written work you've ever seen or the bottom of the barrel tier garbage that you want to see burned by a thousand suns?
'Til next time!