A/N: Everything is canon up to the end of World Tour. Enjoy.
you feel like home to me
If in January, you had asked Courtney Taylor how she felt about being quarantined for three months in her best friends' apartment with her ex-boyfriend from six years ago she wouldn't have laughed. She would have found it to be a very odd yet specific question and assumed the person asking it was some rabid Total Drama fan obsessed with a Duncney reunion. She had unfortunately encountered on many more than occasion one such fan and she was starting to get tired.
Courtney couldn't say Total Drama had ruined her life because, if anything, it started it. While several other "campers" had faded out of the limelight, and a few others were trying too desperately to stay in it, Courtney had somehow found the balance between reaching for her dreams while also maintaining a healthy online following. Her regular updates on college and activism were met with 88% praise, 7% slaughter, and 5% when are you getting back together with Duncan?
It was tiring work, but she felt more accomplished than she had thought possible coming off that island.
Her name was household amongst her own age group, and Courtney was regularly turning down emails from other reality shows, but she wasn't sixteen anymore. She wasn't young and dumb and reckless.
That's how she ended up in LA in the first place. She had been blinded by Teen Weekly magazine into giving an interview post-Total Drama, only for them to flip the switch and hound her about her upcoming projects. She had no upcoming projects. She had just graduated high school and had her heart set on attending the University of Toronto as a political science major, but that was boring news in the world of showbiz.
It was there, walking the streets of sunny Los Angeles, that Courtney found herself at home. She found a café to sit and sip her morning coffee and a boardwalk on the beach she loved to sit at and breathe in the ocean air. There was no ocean in Toronto, and once she found it, Courtney didn't think she could give it up.
UCLA was not the school of Courtney's original dream, but once she enrolled for their spring semester it quickly became the real reality she had craved coming off a backwards television show.
She was stopped several times in the first few weeks on campus, asked questions she was happy to answer, as well as catching not-so-sneaky peers lifting their camera phones ever so slightly in her direction. She smiled graciously and was polite, even on the tough questions that she wanted to avoid, yet they sometimes haunted her.
As perfect as she felt in the daytime, Courtney found herself laying in her dorm room most nights (grateful to have snagged a single room to not have to deal with a snoring roommate) unable to close her eyes. The ceiling above made for better staring space than the back of her eyelids where countless memories replayed in ways she couldn't tell if they had happened like that or not. Her mind was twisting what she wanted; what she had wanted. Past tense. She shook her mind free of such ridiculous notions that she was still sixteen and naive, and that is how Courtney ended up on the party scene.
Disco lights and thumping music became the backdrop of Courtney's night-time routine. She'd finish classes, get dressed up in her dorm room, and then spend hours through the night dancing and drinking and saying no-thank-you to the white powder passed between her friends.
They weren't really friends, as such, just drinking buddies who happened to live in her building. It was comfortable but there was no love shared or lost between her and them, though she watched through beer-stained eyes as they shared a lot of lust between each other. And she pretended to join in for a time, letting the boys kiss and grope, and the occasionally shared bed for the night didn't hurt her ego, but it didn't make her feel anything. So, she tried the girls too, who at the tender age of college years old were more than happy to oblige her. It helped her sleep, but it didn't heal her heart.
Courtney didn't refer to herself famous mostly because she didn't believe she was. While the stares on campus had dimmed down, and she couldn't remember the last time someone in her class had stopped her before a lecture to ask for some juicy gossip, her social media presence grew exponentially. Every day she woke up to new followers and new likes and new comments all because of a few aesthetically pleasing pictures of herself at UCLA's inverted fountain.
And then just before Christmas of her junior year, the inevitable happened.
She always guessed she couldn't be the only former Total Drama cast member to grace the hills of Los Angeles, but running into Geoff in a club she couldn't remember the name of while unable to see straight was not how she thought it would happen. Better yet, she didn't think that after exchanging numbers and sharing an uber she would end up at his apartment, passed out on his couch for six hours before being awoken by a very surprised Bridgette who only had two take-out coffee cups in her hand.
While Courtney was grateful to have friends in her life again, people who at least understood the Big Experience that changed her life, they were both too very much in love to fully see her. And that was the beginning of the end for Courtney.
If in January, you had asked Duncan Evans how he felt about being quarantined for three months in his best friends' apartment with his ex-girlfriend from six years ago he wouldn't have laughed. He would have questioned which one in his head, but out loud he would have flipped the person off.
If there was one thing Duncan hated more than Total Drama, it was people who wanted to talk to him about Total Drama. Everything from the Island to the plains of Africa, people just thought they were entitled to it all. It drove him crazy when he found recognition on the streets, to the point where, after his final stint in juvie (though he didn't know it was the final one at the time) he shaved his head and grew out his stubble just in time to turn eighteen and not head off to college like everyone else his age seemed to be doing.
He was stuck at home, being hounded by the press who seemed to somehow find his phone number regardless of how many times he changed it. He didn't feel like a failure in the way he had expected to. He didn't feel defeated or rundown. He just felt tired. Not winning a million dollars, he guessed, did that to a person.
For him, it was hard to believe that Total Drama had been such a short amount of time in his life. One summer of crazy, followed by one year of crazier, followed by a final summer of what-in-the-fuck. It was only a year of his life in the grand scheme of things, though Duncan had no grand scheme to be seen.
His father yelled and his mother cried and eventually, he got the job at the bar just to be out of the house. He had learnt to "pull pints" in England because he couldn't afford to pay to use the tight-packed club's tiny stage to practice playing his guitar, and he didn't think the skill would come in handy once he got home. Though mostly because at the time he didn't think he was ever going to go home.
While Duncan could hate Total Drama in a myriad of ways, he couldn't deny the freedom it had given him. Stuck at home in middle-of-no-where Canada had done him no good. When faced with what to do on a Saturday night, burning tyres and spray-painting walls was the extent of his excitement. He never pictured leaving his small town. He never pictured being on such a huge plane, travelling to countries and cities he was sure hadn't existed before he heard of them. And so what if it was all televised. So what if a couple of million viewers watched him make a fool of himself. He was free.
The group chat died a quiet death. After spending two summers forced together, it was clear very few Total Drama cast members wanted to see each other in their own time. There were no public arguments, no slander as one would have expected, there was very little of anything. A meme. A reaction gif. Silence for two weeks. No one dredged up the painful memories. No one wanted to talk about the time they shared.
Courtney left first. And Duncan couldn't say he didn't notice. It was the longest he had looked at the group chat text screen because her name had flashed up in a notification and his breath held itself tight in his chest.
Several others followed suit, but Duncan paid less attention to them.
In the end, Geoff created a second group chat, escaping the pillars of those who remained in the first one that no one really wanted to interact with and had only been added out of politeness. The second chat was the guys that Duncan guessed redefined his life.
When Duncan returned home after the end of the second summer, his former friends had laughed at him, and while he tried to laugh along, he didn't feel the same way anymore. So he stopped speaking to them all together and instead focused on the guys in the chat that, while he was sure he would never have been friends with under normal circumstances, at least shared the Big Experience that had changed his life.
Support didn't quite cover what happened in that group chat. Trent sent selfies from the recording studio every other week, though never said anything more than I'm-Working-On-Things. DJ went off to veterinary college, close to his home so he could stay with his mama. Owen was eating his way across the country and didn't hold back with his mouth-watering pictures. Noah said nothing but sent eye-roll reaction gifs of himself from the Island.
Visits were rare, being spread so over the country, and became even rarer once Geoff announced he and Bridgette were going to be shipping it to LA.
Duncan had been invited before to the city of Los Angeles on more than one occasion. It was the hub of reality television, actually most television, and Duncan wanted to be as far away from that life as he possibly could get.
Somehow in February, he found himself watching a rerun of Where Are They Now?: Total Drama Edition. He cringed when he heard his name, showing the viewers how little he had achieved in his near four years off the show. He went to switch the television off, not wanting to hear a word more, but her name came after him, and his finger hovered over the off button a little too long.
The show pushed him to take the step. Tired of living his life in the one-bedroom he rented, earning money he didn't spend, being alone and tired all the time. He called Geoff first and then booked the plane ticket. He didn't know how long he was going to crash on their couch for. He didn't know how long he was going to be in Los Angeles for. All Duncan knew was a change of scenery was what he needed when he stepped off the plane and into the LA sun. And that was the beginning of the end for Duncan.
March 19th 2020
The lockdown didn't exactly come out of nowhere. Courtney had been monitoring the news for hours a day, waiting for someone to do something.
It was just typical of her luck that this would happen when her lease was about to expire, and she didn't have many plans to extend her contract. She had already packed up what she could of her belongings in her tiny apartment, most of it in storage for the time being, until she could find another place of her own. In the meantime, Bridgette had agreed to let her stay at hers, just without her.
Bridgette and Geoff had hauled themselves onto one of the last flights in Canada, wanting to spend time with their family since no one knew how long this was going to go on for. Courtney didn't feel the same sentiment.
She hadn't been to Bridgette and Geoff's in a few months, not for any particular avoidance reasons, just Bridgette had started to come to her for their post-work girly evenings, claiming to need some space from her boyfriend. If Courtney didn't know any better, she would have read that as a red flag, but she did know Bridgette and Geoff, or more so, BridgetteandGeoff because one didn't exist without the other.
Unlocking the front door to their apartment, Courtney was greeted with the warmth of their place. It was homey and quaint in a way that Courtney had never quite mastered at her own place. Their home looked lived in, loved in, while Courtney's apartment always looked like a show-room model.
She loved the familiar worn-out couch that had made the move from the two previous apartments in one piece, she loved the memories of the movie nights and the drunk nights and the crying nights. She loved the way it always smelled like cookies, even when Bridgette wasn't baking, and she loved the way the light shone through the all the open windows, giving the apartment a glow that Courtney could only place as home.
What she didn't love was as she wheeled her suitcase over to the coffee table, her ex-boyfriend walked out of the bathroom dressed only in a towel around his waist.
AN: Ah yes, the cute Duncney quarantine AU no one asked for. You're welcome.
This was largely inspired by me reading some post-show fics followed by me crying over The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and feeling like I'll never know true love. And, the fact we're all in quarantine yay! I know this is coming very late into the lockdown but better late than never, right?
Also, March 19th is my birthday and as a present the world went to shit.
This is going to be anywhere between 2 – 4 chapters long. I have no idea when I'll update. Stay tuned.