In "Rock and Rule," Duncan and Courtney were the first two across the red carpet. Which, you know, means trouble…

Disclaimer: The Total Drama franchise is not mine.

"Cool. Whatever!"

Just two words. Two simple, succinct words, yet they somehow contained a saturation of boredom and indifference which, up until that point, hadn't been achieved by any other member of the human species. It was all enough to make Courtney shudder where she sat, swallowed up by the plushy rockstar chair in the far corner of the set. Then again, she thought, maybe that saturation still hadn't been achieved by a member of the human species, seeing as Duncan was hardly what she would classify as human. Ever since she'd arrived at the film lot, he'd been acting more like a primate. Or some other primitive species.

Chris blabbered on for a couple more moments about how Duncan had put himself in line for some 'serious lawsuit action'—duh—but scribbling his number on the groupie's stomach had been a nice touch! Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Chris then made a hasty exit, shouting out something to the effect of, "Chef! Where do we keep the duct tape?", and left Duncan and Courtney alone in the makeshift room, tension between them increasing by the millisecond.

Courtney quickly pulled out her swag, Chris's autobiography, and pretended to immerse herself in Chapter One: A Star Is Born, but she ended up eyeing Duncan from over the tops of the pages. She liked to think she was being sly (though deep in heart she knew she was no secret agent), and watched the delinquent as he plopped down in the chair next to her and spread out, obviously pleased with himself for his performance on the red carpet. He didn't speak, though, so Courtney continued 'ignoring' him.

For both Duncan and Courtney, being alone together, especially in such proximity, had become somewhat difficult. Truth be told, on a scale of one to ten (where one was "Well, this isn't awkward at all," and ten was "I'm going to frigging die, I swear!") the situation rung in at about an eight. Maybe a high seven or a low nine, depending on a number of variables that neither teen really wanted to think about.

Courtney credited only one thing to the current state of affairs—she'd arrived on the film lot with just a single thing in mind: winning. She would NOT be booted off the season because some pathetic ginger dweeb had a grudge against her 'boyfriend'! Not this time! After having discovered Harold's motives back at the TDI resort, she'd promised herself that, even though Duncan was included in the season, he was coming second to everything else. She would make it clear to the rest of the contenders that not only was he not her boyfriend—she hated him! Her brain, though, always seemed to get caught on that sort of sentence, like it just wouldn't allow her to believe it was true—not without a fight, anyway. No matter. That was unimportant, she decided, diving deeper into Chris's autobiography. Duncan was dead to her!

Duncan, on the other hand, was just trying to figure out where he stood. Where did he rank in the world the way Courtney saw it through her "I guarantee it, I am going to obliterate you!"-colored glasses? Or maybe they were bitch-colored. At any rate, they definitely weren't rose-colored; not even close. Ever since she'd arrived on the film lot, she'd been putting some serious effort into pushing him and his romantic efforts away. Duncan had been slow to catch on, he had to admit (because, come on, Courtney had always acted like a bipolar psycho, even when she was desperately in love with him), but after a while, he'd become wise to what was happening. She was seriously demonstrating less bipolarity and showing more…polarity. Specifically, polarity to the "I hate your guts!" end of the spectrum, not the "I secretly love you but will never admit it," side. Was that how polarity worked? Duncan wasn't sure; he'd flunked out of chemistry with a glorious final grade of 47%. That had been a proud day for his mother. Anyway, as much as he liked his Princess, her polarity was putting a serious cramp in his style. He wasn't into uber-bitches. Most of the time.

These were the things that plagued the pair's minds as they settled in to wait for the other four contestants to make their way across the red carpet and into the little room. Chris had, predictably, squished all the chairs into the single corner, so they wouldn't be caught by the cameras, and Duncan had, predictably, sat in the chair directly beside Courtney. Not predictably, however, neither spoke, too busy attempting to ignore each other and that stupid close proximity.

Those who have experienced these conditions themselves, whether on Duncan's end or Courtney's, should be familiar with what is going on. However, for those without either personality type A or B, there is a simple explanation: Courtney and Duncan were plainly stuck. They were precariously balanced on a highly-tippable surface, like a ship marooned on a rock with just two passengers on opposite ends. If Passenger One made a move towards the other, the boat would tip in that direction. If Passenger Two moved, the boat would tip in the opposite direction. So, the two just stand there, waiting for the other person to send them to their imminent doom.

Of course, Duncan and Courtney weren't passengers on a boat, they weren't marooned on a rock, they weren't strangers who had never met before, and death wasn't a factor—at least not yet. Still, the situation remained. If Duncan vocalized the witty comment he was planning, he could tip the boat in the direction of a who-can-cause-more -damage-to-the-other-fastest? type contest. If Courtney articulated her thoughts on Duncan's behavior, she could tip the boat in the direction of an I-can't-believe-you-just-spat-on-that-cardboard-girl's-foot! type argument. And finally, if neither spoke, they could sit there in silence until the next contestant walked in, and they would later lie awake in bed, wondering if they'd missed out on an amusing argument because of their unwillingness to speak. It wouldn't have been the first time; overall, it was an entirely unfortunate situation.

Courtney, quickly becoming sickened by Chris's life story transferred to paper, decided to play a quick game of What's Duncan Thinking Right Now? He was waiting for her to say something, clearly. Well, she thought, that isn't going to happen! She would be strong and say nothing, no matter how much her only distraction made her want to curl up and die. She turned back to said distraction and flipped the page over on words she hadn't bothered to read. Silence. Sweet silence. Wonderful silence.

Two minutes later, she spoke.

Over those two minutes, in which Chef had exited and returned with a massive roll of duct-tape, Courtney had felt her resolve cracking, partially due to Chris's autobiography, partially because Duncan's unwavering stare was making her uncomfortable. He was probably enjoying it, too! Courtney threw her swag to the ground, fixed a stony glare on him, and said the first thing that came to mind. "You know, what you did out there was completely inappropriate."

Duncan smirked. He'd been sure that she would crack first and chose to find satisfaction in that little thing—Lord knew he wasn't getting satisfaction anywhere else. "Oh, please, Princess," he retorted with an amused snort. "What have I ever done that hasn't been inappropriate?"

Courtney's lips pursed of their own accord. He had a point there, but she pressed on, seeing as it was too late to turn back—the boat had been tipped. "Okay, yes, I see your point. But spitting on the photographer's foot?" she asked, turning her rejected swag over so Chris's face wasn't staring at her quite so prominently. "Was that really necessary?"

"Nope." Duncan deepened his smirk, leaning in closer to Courtney. Teasing her was still too easy. He could see her getting more and more jittery in direct proportion to how close his face was to hers. "Was it really necessary," he began softly, "For you to take five minutes to get up the courage to talk to me?"

Any warm feelings Courtney had felt rushed away in an instant. She pushed him away by eyebrow ring, declaring, "I'll have you know, it doesn't take any amount of courage to talk to you. I merely didn't have anything to say." God, why was she being such a weakling? Courtney decided she would take some time later that night to cultivate her I hate you with my entire being face. She'd thought she had it down pat, but perhaps not…

"Sure, sure," Duncan replied sarcastically; he wouldn't let her go so easily. "What're you thinking about, then?"

Courtney smiled deviously, narrowing her eyes. "I was just wondering why you weren't freaked out by those standees out there," she said slowly, gesturing to the red carpet. "I mean, Celine scared you so badly, I just figured, you know…What do you say to taking chances?" she sang, smiling sweetly.

Duncan slapped his hands to his ears, glaring at her. "Shut up!" Courtney shut up. "Now that was a low blow, and you know it," he said, stabbing a finger at her chest.

"It was, wasn't it?" she asked haughtily, flipping her hair. She turned back to Duncan, awaiting whatever his defense would be.

(Duncan, however, had never been one to play defense.)

"Oh, yeah? Well, why didn't you take one of those snobby, high-society finger sandwiches? They remind you too much of green Jell-O?" he asked, picturing Courtney quaking at the top of the diving board, the tub of green slime below.

"No!" Courtney yelled, picturing the exact same thing. The horror. "I'm just not hungry!" She propelled herself out of the chair and began pacing, careful to keep her back to Duncan.

He waited for her stomach to growl loudly and conveniently give away her lie, but unfortunately, life wasn't a cartoon, so her stomach stayed silent. God, things could never just be easy, could they? Duncan moved on to his back-up plan, getting out of his chair and sneaking up on the brunette, catching her around the waist. "I don't know," he said playfully, squeezing her between the ribs and hip. "It doesn't feel like there's much here. I'd say you're in desperate need of some finger sandwiches."

Was that a complement? Courtney wasn't sure, but she felt herself blushing anyway, held in Duncan's grip as she was. That was stupid. What kind of involuntary response was blushing supposed to be, anyway? It was so useless. In any case, the insult sort of sounded like a complement, but it probably wasn't supposed to be. She was probably reading too far into it; she found herself doing that a lot. Duncan didn't give out complements. Sigh. It seemed the only option remaining was to continue the fight.

"Duncan," she said evenly, twisting around to look at him.


"Don't make me break my record for how many times I kick you in one day," she said, purposefully shifting her gaze to his package.

Shoot. He let go of her like she was on fire as soon as the threat sunk in, but not before saying, "Actually, your record is three times in one day." God, that was a great day. "And also, I think we both know you're just dying to have me!" he added as an afterthought, wiggling his eyebrows at her as he had so many times before. Its effect hadn't lessened at all, not since the first time he'd made the moves on her and had been surprisingly unsuccessful. The effect? Instantaneous frenzy, oftentimes resulting in the princess saying something she hadn't necessarily planned on.

"Wha?—but—not in—never!—" she spluttered, jumping away from Duncan and his grin. Response, response, response, come on, Courtney! God, she needed to get better at that whole thinking-on-the-ball thing."Well, at least I'm not so desperate for some action that I'll write my number on the stomach of a girl who isn't real!" she finally managed, jerking her head in the direction of the cardboard jungle.

Ooh. Nice one. "Correction," Duncan said, holding up a finger. "That girl was completely real. She just wasn't alive."

Courtney gaped at him. "Same difference!"

Duncan shrugged once, acknowledging her statement, and turned to face her. "Yeah. Pretty much."

"What th—?" Duncan wasn't supposed to agree with her. That most certainly wasn't how their relationship worked! "Then why'd you give her your number?"

"That groupie?" he started. Courtney nodded once, raising her eyebrows expectantly. "She's special." What did he mean by special? Duncan wasn't really sure, but it seemed fitting.

"Special?" Courtney repeated. "She's special?!" What the heck did he mean by special? He must have meant something. He always meant something. "…More special than ME?!" Courtney didn't have his number, she realized sourly. Not that she wanted his number (because she didn't!)—it was just the principle of the thing. She should have gotten it before some not-real, flat, mid-drift showing, slutty cardboard cut-out. That was what made sense, right?

Duncan smirked at her, a pleased twinkle in his eye. "What?" she asked, aggravated.

He tipped his head towards her, watching her slyly. "You know you said that last part out loud, don't you?"

Courtney pulled her eyebrows together, momentarily deterred from her jealous rampage. "Said what out loud?" Special?...She's special?!... What came next?

Duncan laughed and repeated, in an unflattering and girly falsetto, "More special than ME?"

Shoot. Courtney huffed, searching through her brain for a way out of the hole she'd dug herself and finding no escape. She had said that out loud. Honestly? Was she starting to lose her grip on her carefully refined I-don't-like-you! façade? That would be a complete tragedy. She would never be able to make it through the rest of the competition at the rate she was going! "All I meant was oh my GOD!"

No, Courtney had not experienced some sort of mental epiphany (unfortunately). No, she would not wake up the next morning with the immense realization that she had been acting like a straight-up bee-otch for the entirety of the season. No, she had not realized that of which the rest of us have already been aware of for some time now: she was meant to be with Duncan, and fighting it was like trying to destroy the universe; it was probably possible to do in some way, shape, or form, but wouldn't it be easier to just say, "Okay. I accept that I cannot defeat this force within me," and concede? It would be easier, but no. Just no.

Courtney had been saved—or perhaps had her life put in jeopardy, because it all depended on how you looked at it—by none other than Owen, barreling through the door with a remarkable semblance to a bowling ball, especially since Courtney and Duncan were feeling like pins.

Duncan looked up just in time for his reflexes to kick in, telling him to push Courtney to the floor and to dive on top of her a second later. He proceeded to do so without considering any of the possible, immediate outcomes, and no one could blame him, really—that was the definition of reflexes, right? And hey, at least the pair was still alive! Had they not ducked, Owen's massive form would have steam-rolled right over the pair and they'd be dead. Unfortunately, half of that pair would probably be dead soon anyway. Namely, the Duncan half.

Courtney, smothered under him as she was, wasn't pleased with the arrangement. She would have rather been crushed by Owen than crushed by Duncan!—or so she told herself. Angrily pushing him to the ground and kicking him in the side once for good measure, she stood, brushed herself off, and stalked over to her old chair, collapsing into it and snatching up Chris's autobiography once more. Or possibly twice more. Thrice? She'd lost count.

Duncan pulled himself up as well, angrily rubbing where her foot had connected with his flesh, watching her quizzically for an explanation for her ingratitude. Subsequently, not receiving any acknowledgement of his existence, he returned to his chair beside hers.

"Good book?" Chris asked, skipping over to where Courtney sat. Where did he come from? She glared intensely. The two people she hated most, in one room, surrounding her! What were the odds? "All righty, then…" Chris said in his trademark snarky demeanor, turning to Duncan. "Duncan, my man, gotten a call from your lady yet?" he asked, referring to the groupie of the previous quarrel.

"Yeah," he sneered in response. "She wanted me to tell you she had a fun time with your mom last night."

"Dude. You just crossed a line," Chris announced, holding up his arms in warning. "BUT, because I'm such a good host, I'll leave you three alone. Jeez. Yo, Chef!" he called, squatting down to look through the Owen-shaped hole in the side of the set. "You better get on top of this hole, stat. This cardboard's not going to duct tape itself, you know!" He jumped through the hole in the wall and scampered away.

Chef grunted something in response which caused Chris to wince and back away slowly.

Peeling himself off the floor of the set, Owen called "Hey, guys!" and walked over to where the two sat. "That was some challenge, huh?" The other teens steadfastly ignored him, as well as each other. "Yeah. Pretty kooky…" No response. "Well, I guess I'll just go and sit over… here." He took a seat. "Yup. Now, I'm sitting. Right here! Next to you guys…"

His thumbs began twiddling faster than any Courtney had ever seen, and she briefly wondered how many calories he was burning by doing so. Not enough, obviously, she thought wryly, sizing up his fat rolls. It was critical of her, yes, but how hard was it to get on a diet? She felt a heart attack coming on just from looking at him.

Beth walked into the room next, followed by Lindsay, and then Harold. Neither Duncan nor Courtney spoke for the remainder of the time in that room, not even to greet the new arrivals. They weren't friends with any of them anyway.

This silent treatment, of course, excluded the time when Duncan called out, "Get on with it, Doris!" and caused Harold to break into tears and karate chop the remaining standees. It also excluded the time after that when Courtney called him an "Idiotic, pathetic low-life! I bet even the cockroaches hate you," in response.

And, it excluded when he shot back, "I'm sure you would know, Darling."

But, excluding those times, they said nothing. It would appear that their ship had sunk.

Any guesses as to my thoughts on last season? Anyway, I hope you liked it, regardless of whether or not you feel the same way as I do (aka: Why did the creators make D and C act so EVIL towards each other this time around? Not cool.)

And guess what? This is going to be a real story! With multiple chapters! How long it lasts, I'm not sure. More reviews equals longer story, I suppose...

Thanks for reading, and please review or send me a PM! :)