Summary: A group of students from McKinley High visit the Chalet School as part of an exchange programme. How will they cope in this new environment?
Categories: St Scholastika's House Characters: Len Maynard
School Period: Switzerland
School Name: Chalet School
Chapters: 15 Completed: No
Word count: 10987 Read: 34704
Published: 10 Apr 2012 Updated: 24 Jun 2012
1. Chapter 1: Newcomers by whitequeen
2. Chapter 2: Settling In by whitequeen
3. Chapter 3: Jack vs Jock by whitequeen
4. Chapter 4: Dress Drama by whitequeen
5. Chapter 5: The Play by whitequeen
6. Chapter 6: Singing by whitequeen
7. Chapter 7 - Taking Risks by whitequeen
8. Chapter 8 - Confusion by whitequeen
9. Chapter 9: Glee Plus One by whitequeen
10. Chapter 10 - Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch by whitequeen
11. Chapter 11 by whitequeen
12. Chapter 12 - Hard Work by whitequeen
13. Chapter 13 - Plotting by whitequeen
14. Chapter 14 - The Show Must Go On by whitequeen
15. Chapter 15 - Game On by whitequeen
Chapter 1: Newcomers by whitequeen
I'm copying this over at last, and may actually finish it this time...
When it was all over, Hilda – relaxing in the privacy of her study with a hot coffee in her hand and a cold cloth on her forehead – swore that the Chalet School would never again take part in an exchange programme. She still wasn’t sure how the principal of McKinley High had managed to talk her into it. Still, it was over now, and once the repairs were done, they could forget it had ever happened...
They heard the coach before they saw it. Len Maynard, in her capacity as Head Girl, was at the front door to welcome the new arrivals. It wasn’t the rumble of wheels that announced it, but a heavy thumping beat on the radio, and voices lifted in a harmony totally different from anything the Chalet School had heard before. Len wondered at it, but the sound was shut off as the coach stopped and the door swung open. Before anyone disembarked, a mechanism lowered a boy in a wheelchair to the ground.
Boys! Len hadn’t been told anything about this. Where on earth were they going to sleep, and how was this boy going to navigate the stairs of the School?
She had little time to consider it further, as the coach disgorged the remainder of its passengers: eleven more teenagers (boys and girls) and one teacher.
“Welcome to the Chalet School,” began Len. “I’m Len Maynard, the Head Girl. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay with us.”
“Yeah, whatever,” was the reply she got from one hulking and mostly bald boy.
Her mouth hung open as the luggage compartment opened and a couple of the girls withdrew perfectly matching suitcases bearing designer logos.
The teacher turned from harrying the grumbling students, and shook Len’s hand. “Sorry about that. Very nice to meet you, I’m Will Schuester, and this is the exchange group. Maybe you can show us where to go?”
Len found her voice. “...Of course, this way,” she said faintly. She led the way to the office. Miss Annersley would know what to do. The group trailed behind her, dragging luggage (did those girls realise they were only going to be here for a couple of weeks?) and complaining. Such parts of their conversation as Len could understand involved the total drag of a coach trip from the airport, how they needed to find a Starbucks, like now, and how the uniform Len was wearing was so last century. She felt slightly indignant on this last point, it having been considerably less than a century since the uniform had been changed.
She left them in the charge of Miss Dene, and retreated rather thankfully to attend to her other duties.
Chapter 2: Settling In by whitequeen
Fruhstuck, the first meal the newcomers joined, proved chaotic, and began with certain members of the group refusing to pronounce the name of the meal in any way that didn’t sound shockingly rude.
A separate table had been set out for the boys. When the rest of the school sat down to begin their meal, and grew quieter, only chatting in low tones and politely passing things to each other, the boys did not. They continued to insult and whack each other. Sam tried to find out how many boiled eggs he could fit in his mouth in one go. Puck started throwing the contents of his plate at him. Kurt opined loudly and ineffectually that they were disgusting specimens of humanity. Mr Schuester, from the staff table, made meaningful faces at them, was ignored, and gave Hilda an apologetic grimace.
She was about to call them to order, confident that her voice would have the same effect on the unruly boys as it had on certain Middles, when she was distracted – as Finn was – by Rachel leaning into the buttery hatch and demanding the attention of whoever was inside.
“This is unacceptable!” she was shouting. “I am a vegan, and this coffee has more cream in it than a dairy farm. My dads will sue!”
Several heads swivelled at the unexpected plural.
At another table, Santana was scraping all the butter off her thickly-buttered roll.
“If Coach Sylvester saw me eating this crap she’d freak.”
Quinn followed suit. “I don’t want people thinking I’m pregnant again.”
More heads swivelled at that. Hilda was going to have to have a talk with the visitors. There were certain topics that just wouldn’t do in a school like this one.
Chapter 3: Jack vs Jock by whitequeen
Meanwhile, at McKinley High, all normal activity had been suspended while everybody thronged the corridor, watching the latest.
Jack Lambert had been walking to class, striding slightly ahead of her companions, when a large boy in a football jacket had barged right past her, knocking her aside. Furious, Jack yelled after him that he ought to watch where he was going and mind his manners.
The jock turned back, laughing, and said, “You talking to me?”
“What do you think?” retorted Jack.
What he thought proved unrepeatable, and to Jack, at least half of it was incomprehensible. He took a threatening step towards her. She slapped him across the face. The corridor exploded into the deafening sound of teenagers yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
The battle of Jack versus jock was short-lived, and had barely had the chance to get off the ground when a woman in a red track-suit waded in and shoved them apart. Jack had been told to stay clear of the fearsome Coach Sylvester, who terrorised the school. She saw the other Chalet girls wide-eyed, watching the scene from a safe distance.
“That is enough,” the Coach bellowed through the megaphone, and then lowered it and regarded Jack with a look of disgust. “For this they cut my budget – to fly over a bunch of hooligans in uniforms?”
“I...” Jack began, indignant.
“Not interested,” Coach Sylvester interrupted.
Much to Jack’s outrage, she found herself led to the office of something called a guidance counsellor. A petite red-haired woman was behind the desk.
“Well. Jack. That’s an interesting name,” she observed. “I don’t know how it is at your school, Jack, but here at McKinley high, we frown on brawling in the corridors.” She neglected to mention, of course, that outside the building, brawling was perfectly commonplace.
“We never fight at the Chalet School,” Jack protested. “And that boy started it.”
“I’d like you to read these,” said the counsellor, passing Jack a sheaf of colourful leaflets. Jack flicked through them. They had titles in large, bright lettering such as Managing Your Anger Issues, Don’t Pass The Blame! (featuring a circle of guilty-looking cartoon teenagers passing a bomb between them), Why Bullies Bully, and Help! I Can’t Control My Temper.
Jack just about managed not to growl as she left the office.
Chapter 4: Dress Drama by whitequeen
Back at the Chalet School, a buzz of excitement was making its way from pupil to pupil. Everyone was to assemble in Hall immediately after the last lesson of the day.
The exchange students tried to find out what was so special about an assembly, but it did no good because the only response anyone gave them was that they shouldn’t be talking in the corridor. Usually, they’d be talking to each other on their mobile phones even though they were scant metres from each other. There’d be banter and flirting, not to mention the odd fight. Here, everyone walked sedately, in silence except for illicit whispers that were instantly shushed.
There was only one point where there was anything close to the kind of everyday trouble that happened at McKinley. Santana was summoned out of class by a stern-looking woman in a crisp white uniform and berated for the shortness of her uniform. Perfectly normal when it had been given to her, somehow it had lost several inches and the hemline now hovered perilously close to an area no Chalet School girl had ever displayed, and it also seemed suspiciously tight around the bust.
“You’ve only been here for a couple of days. I can’t believe you’ve grown already!” was Matron’s opinion as she ordered her to change.
“Listen, you old bat, if I have to wear this piece of...” Santana’s next word made everyone who overheard it gasp, and she continued, “then I’m going to improve it. Not that...”
Matron cut her off. “While you’re at this school, miss, you’ll follow the rules and dress decently. If I see you again in a frock that wouldn’t fit a toddler, there’ll be trouble, mark my words!”
Santana initially stood firm, but found the girls in her class were not on her side.
“Go and change!” everyone hissed at her.
“We’ll all be in trouble if you don’t.”
“You don’t want to cross Matey. Believe me.”
“Do you want to be put out of the Play, and lose all the fun?”
“Oh, like I care,” Santana retorted.
“Well, we do!” was the response she got, and she found that the girls were ready to force her to do Matron’s bidding if she held out.
“It’s only a damn dress,” was all the help she got from an eye-rolling Mercedes.
Eventually they all made it to Hall, Santana now skirted and sulking. She sat with her arms folded and her lower lip protruding as Miss Annersley welcomed them.
“You will all be pleased to know that we have received the Play this morning, and it has once again been written by Mrs Maynard,” she told them, holding up a sheaf of papers.
The School went mad with cheers – except for the bemused exchange students.
Chapter 5: The Play by whitequeen
As the mistresses read the various parts of the play, pausing occasionally for Miss Annersley to explain the setting, the Chalet girls were too engrossed to notice that the Head Girl was missing. When she sidled in late, halfway through the reading, she was able to take a seat at the back without anyone seeing her.
Earlier, a very bored Puck had approached Len; she was slim and pretty and had hair just like a Cheerio, plus she was the Head Girl, and he appreciated prestige as much as looks. But it wasn’t easy. Didn’t she realise he was interested? His best chat-up lines had elicited nothing more from Len than a comment that if he didn’t try to improve his grammar, he’d have the Headmistress down on him (a comment that made him pause for a while until he figured out that Len did not mean what he thought she meant). When he attempted to impress her with his muscles, she recommended putting on a blazer before he caught his death of cold. And then Matey would be down on him as well (another, shuddering, pause).
He had to rethink his tactics. Clearly his usual ones weren’t going to get him anywhere. So he turned on the full force of his brown eyes.
“Actually I wanted to ask for your help. You see, I’m no good at languages. Is there any way you could...”
“Oh, don’t be silly,” said Len. “You’ll be speaking French and German fluently in no time. You won’t be able to help it when you hear nothing else all day. I’d be happy to give you some vocabulary, and if you study ten words every day, you’ll find it will really help.”
“Oh yes,” said Puck, “I’d really like you to give me some.... vocabulary.”
“Come along,” said the oblivious Len, and with a smirk, Puck followed.
He had to pretend to study the lists she gave him for a moment, but when she offered him lemonade, he added his own special ingredient to both glasses when she wasn’t looking, and from then on he found things went much more easily for him.
When they left the Head Girl’s study, Len’s jaunty ponytail was looking decidedly dishevelled, and Puck had to hold on to her to stop her from weaving all over the corridor. He was feeling rather pleased with himself when a voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Len? Are you feeling all right?”
A doctor was approaching them.
“I just popped over to bring Matron some supplies,” he went on. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Who’s this dude?” asked Puck.
“That’s Reg,” Len giggled. “He knows what he wants, apparently.”
“I know what he wants – a knuckle sandwich.”
Reg made the mistake of demanding that Puck step away from Len, which he did, only to stride towards the doctor with his fists up. Len almost fell over, and leaned against the wall while she waited for the floor to stop moving. Reg put up his own fists, which shook, and squared up to the interloper.
Len decided to escape to Hall.
Reg ended up out cold on the floor and having to be dragged to San.
Puck ended up in Miss Annersley’s office, waiting under Miss Dene’s supervision for her to return. He wasn’t too worried. They might be old ladies, but they weren’t bad looking.
Len found it hard to sit upright, but luckily nobody was looking at her. They were all watching Rachel, who stood up and cleared her throat, much to the astonishment of the reading Staff.
Chapter 6: Singing by whitequeen
“Miss Annersley, if I may,” said Rachel, in a loud, clear voice. Without waiting for a reply, she stepped up to the platform. “I realise, of course, that we’re only staying for a short time, but I really feel I have a duty to share with you all the benefit of my considerable stage experience. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say...”
“That will do, Rachel!” Miss Annersley finally found her voice. “Please sit down.” She turned the full force of her icy glare on the girl, until she subsided with a sigh of frustration. Later, she resolved, she’d be having a serious conversation with Rachel, and with any other exchange student who needed it, on the subject of fitting in at the Chalet School. For now, she turned to the next page of her script and addressed the school again.
“Now, following this scene, we will all sing White Roses.” She nodded to the mistress at the piano, and as the opening notes rang out, the Chalet girls, who all knew the song, began singing with every sign of enjoyment.
The Glee clubbers looked at each other; several of them looked as if they were about to pass out from boredom. They heard out the first verse and chorus, not greatly impressed by the melody, but as the chorus came around for the second time, Sam leaned forward, resting his elbow on his knee, and started to hum a counter to the song. Some of the girls around him turned their heads to look at him in surprise, but they kept singing. Finn grinned and followed his lead, and soon the whole club was providing backup for the song – even Rachel and Santana, who had started off in almost identical arms-folded, sulking poses.
It made something completely different of the song. The Chalet girls started to tap their toes in time to the beat that was being woven through it, and singing with more gusto than before. Even a few of the staff were toe-tapping and nodding their heads, although looking quite perturbed by the development; Mr Shuester, who had taken on one of the reading parts, was smiling widely.
Suddenly, Brittany jumped to her feet and started dancing, and that set off a tidal wave of rising students.
Len was quite pleased, as it made doubly sure that nobody was looking at her, but on the other hand, she was starting to suffer from a headache.
They were all strangely disappointed when the song came to an end. There was cheering and laughing and people clapping each other’s shoulders and hands – even McKinley students to Chalet students, in a moment of unity – and as they took their seats again, more than one girl was wondering what exactly had just happened.
Chapter 7 - Taking Risks by whitequeen
“You do know we’re only going to be here for a short stay, right?”
Will Shuester leaned against the table and frowned.
Kathie Ferrars smiled at him. “Oh, believe me, I know. Hilda counts down the days every evening.”
“Not till you’ve left the staff room. The point is,” Kathie continued, ignoring his perturbed expression, “you have a talented group, and I think the Play could do with some of that talent. And to be honest, some of them could do with using their talent for something constructive.”
“Are they really that bad?” said Will, half to himself, still thinking of the counting-down.
She stared at him. “You do see the difference between them and the Chalet girls, don’t you? And don’t lean on that table. Matey will be on the warpath if she sees you.”
Will sprang off the table guiltily. “Things certainly are different here. They’re good kids, you know. They’re just...”
“...not used to the ways of this school,” finished Kathie. “I know. But to get back to the Play.”
“We’d love to help you out, but we’re just not going to be here when you put on the Play, so I don’t see how we can.”
Kathie produced a calendar on which the date of the performance had been marked with a bright red P. Another square, some days before the P, boasted a star drawn in green ink.
“I propose we move this forward by a few days,” she jabbed at the star, “and this back... and you help me direct the Play.”
Will grinned. “And what will Miss Annersley say about that? She’ll have to postpone her celebration.”
“I think I can be quite persuasive when I need to be. Of course, I might not tell her the extent of your involvement in the Play... until we’ve impressed her with the final performance, that is.”
Kathie extended her hand, fixing him with an expectant gaze. He hesitated only a moment before he shook it.
“So,” said Will, “when do we start the auditions?”
“Auditions?” Kathie repeated, looking puzzled.
“Oh, I can see we have a lot to talk about. Coffee?”
He held the door for her, wondering what he’d just got himself and the Glee clubbers into – and how he was going to tell Emma that he was staying longer than planned.
Preceding him out onto the corridor, Kathie’s thoughts were going along similar lines. This could be fantastic, but it had potential to go really wrong, from Hilda’s reaction, to Joey’s when she realised her work had been altered, and not to mention asking Nancy to stay at McKinley High with her girls for a few extra days. She sighed. It would all be worth it if the Play was a success...
Chapter 8 - Confusion by whitequeen
Len was walking down the corridor, for some reason not feeling like the prefects’ meeting she was supposed to be on her way to, and dragging her feet over getting there. She couldn’t explain this lack of enthusiasm, but it had been growing in her mind, and she could no longer ignore it. As she walked, she found herself checking around corners in case Reg should appear on another errand. The prospect of meeting him was unappealing in a way it had never been before. Was it the American boy – Noah Puckerman? But she didn’t really feel like bumping into him either, not until she’d sorted out what was going on in her head. It was confusing.
There was music coming from somewhere, and Len stopped. She listened for a while, and peered into a few doors, looking for the source. She was getting closer – the faint sound resolved itself into a male voice singing, and some kind of clicking, tapping noise alongside it. Len pushed open the door of an empty classroom, and saw where it was coming from.
Artie, the boy in the wheelchair, was singing, swaying with enough force to bounce the chair. It was a song Len had never heard before. The very tall boy, Finn, was sitting with his back to her, drumming a pair of rulers on the back of an empty seat, as a third boy, Mike, whirled and spun in a dizzying display of a type of dancing that was quite alien to Len. She stood there and watched them for a while. None of them noticed her, until Artie belted out the final chorus, and the three of them wound down, cheering and laughing breathlessly. Then, as Mike straightened up, he spotted her at the door and froze. Finn turned to see what he was looking at.
“Sorry,” he stammered. “Are we breaking some kind of rule by being in here?”
Len shook her head wordlessly, although she knew they probably were, and if she could just think straight she’d be able to remember which one.
“We had to blow off some steam,” Finn offered by way of explanation.
“Does it help?” asked Len.
“Totally. You should try it.”
“Oh, I don’t... I mean, I can sing and dance, but... not like that.”
“We can teach you... if you want,” said Mike.
Len entered the room, but for the moment she didn’t reply to Mike’s offer. Instead she sat down on one of the empty chairs, not too close to the boys.
“So is this what you people do in America?” she asked.
“Not everyone,” Finn answered. “Just us Glee kids. The rest of the school generally just uses us as target practice for Slushees.”
Len didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded unpleasant. “Then why...”
“Because it’s the best part of the day,” said Finn simply, and the others nodded in agreement. “I mean, when I broke up with Rachel, it sucked, but singing about it really helped.”
"Which time?" Mike muttered in an aside, and was hit lightly with one of the rulers.
Artie, seeing Len’s hesitation, reached for a bag of sheet music and passed her a sheaf of pages. “There’s gotta be something in there that’ll suit you, but if you want show tunes you’ll have to ask Kurt.”
Len riffled through the pages. Most of the songs she’d never even heard of, and some of them had peculiar names. She passed over the odder ones completely, investigating others more closely. As she was reading, Tina entered the room, went straight to Mike, and unashamedly kissed him for a long moment. Startled, Len looked for longer than she’d intended, and felt herself going red as she dragged her gaze away from the couple.
“Sorry,” Tina stammered, noticing Len for the first time as she pulled away. “I know Mr Shue told us not to do that in front of you guys.”
“It’s all right,” Len murmured, not quite able to look back yet. She wondered just how often these people were hiding in empty classrooms, doing things that were never done in the Chalet School. Singing and dancing for no reason... and other things, such as she’d been doing with Puck. She blushed again and wondered if Reg knew how to kiss like that.
“You all right?” Finn asked. “You look kinda... red.”
“I’m fine,” said Len automatically, and then, “It’s just...” Out of nowhere, she found herself starting to talk about Reg. She barely mentioned his name to her own sisters – why was it easier to talk to these strangers?
Chapter 9: Glee Plus One by whitequeen
I have taken liberties with "Scream", originally sung by Zac Efron in High School Musical 3. Thought it might suit Len - minus the flying basketballs, of course!
Len felt nervous, and she couldn’t shake the feeling. An ordinary classroom door had turned into a horror, and she hung back, unwilling to enter.
“I can’t,” she said, shaking her head.
Performing incredible manoeuvres in the small space available, Artie pivoted back to her, stopping just short of her toes. “Yes, you can,” he told her sternly, and grabbed her hand. He towed her towards the door, and she automatically opened it for him – and then couldn’t get out of the way and was ushered inside.
Finn, Mike and Tina all gave her friendly grins, which helped a little.
“You guys, this is Len,” Artie announced. “We’ve been working on a little something. Mr Shue?”
The teacher gestured towards the open space that had been cleared at the front of the classroom, and folded his arms expectantly. Artie slipped a cassette into the player on the table and hit a button. Music started to seep out, filling the room.
Len froze, paralysed with fear, but a small part of her mind was counting the beats, and she opened her mouth... And then she was singing, moving as Artie had taught her, and when she dared to look at the Glee Clubbers, they were smiling and tapping their feet. Her nerves disappeared. Artie gave her two enthusiastic thumbs up.
The day a door is closed
The echoes fill your soul
They won't say which way to go
Just trust your heart
To find what you're here for
Open another door
But I’m not sure anymore
It's just so hard
Voices in my head
Tell me they know best
Got me on the edge
they're pushin', pushin',
I know they've got a plan
But the ball’s in my hands
This time its man-to-man,
I'm driving, fighting inside
A world that's upside down
What do I do now? Without you
I don't know where to go, what's the right team?
I want my own thing so bad I'm gonna scream!
I can't choose, so confused! What's it all mean?
I want my own dream so bad I'm gonna scream!
I'm kickin' down the walls
I gotta make 'em fall
Just break through them all
I'm punchin', crashin', I'm gonna
Fight to find myself
Me and no one else
Which way? I can't tell,
I'm searchin', searchin', can't find the
Road that I should take
I should turn right or left
It's like nothing works without you
I don't know, where to go, what's the right team?
I want my own thing so bad I'm gonna scream!
I can't choose, so confused! What's it all mean?
I want my own dream so bad I'm gonna scream!
Yeah, the clock's running down,
hear the crowd gettin' loud!
I'm consumed by the sound!
Is it him? Is it love?
Can the music ever be enough?
Gotta work it out, gotta work it out!
You can do it, you can do it!
I don't know where to go, what's the right team?
I want my own thing. So bad I'm gonna scream!
I can't choose, so confused! What's it all mean?
I want my own dream. So bad I'm gonna scream!
When she’d finished, Len was out of breath, waiting anxiously for a reaction. She was bowled over when it came – the others clapped, cheered and laughed, and Mr Shuester looked thrilled. He came forward to shake her hand.
“Welcome to Glee club!” he said.
“What I want to know,” said Finn, “is did it help?”
Len took a deep breath. She was elated, on top of the world. “Yes,” she said, nodding. “I think it did.”
As the noise ebbed, Rachel stood up. “Now, about these auditions...”
Mr Shuester sighed. “Rachel, you can’t expect to hog the limelight here. It’s their school and their play. We’re here to help, that’s all.”
“Uh-huh,” said Rachel brightly, not having listened at all. “I intend to audition for the part of Lucia. I already know the solo off by heart.”
As Mr Shuester covered his eyes briefly with one hand, Len spoke up. “I don’t see any reason why Rachel shouldn’t audition,” she said. “Didn’t Miss Ferrars say that was the whole point of holding auditions – so that everyone can see that the best person gets the part, and it’s fair? This way we won’t have any trouble like the term Yseult tried to sabotage Mary-Lou.” She stopped, realising the others hadn’t been here when that had happened. It was odd – she’d got used to their presence. But they looked interested and quizzical, so she explained as quickly as possible.
“And it was all because Yseult was a new girl, so nobody would give her an important part. They couldn’t know what she was capable of, of course.”
“How do you know that about anybody if you don’t audition?” asked Rachel.
“Well...” Len considered. “You would show how well you could do in a small, non-speaking part, and if you did well and proved you could be trusted with it, you might get a bigger role next time.”
Rachel looked horrified.
Len continued, “But... I can see how your way might be better. In fact, I might audition for Lucia too.”
Now Rachel looked seriously worried, but Len went over to her with a smile and put out her hand. “Good luck!”
Rachel took it tentatively. “Aren’t you going to warn me off and threaten to curse me for all eternity if I get the part?”
“Of course not,” said Len, shocked. “Why would I do such a thing? The best person will be chosen, and that’s what will be best for the Play, and for the School!”
Her heartfelt speech should have moved some of the visitors to ridicule and laughter, but strangely, it didn’t, although Mr Shuester did fix certain amongst them with a warning glare.
Rachel smiled sincerely and said, “Good luck to you, too, Len. May the best woman win.”
Chapter 10 - Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch by whitequeen
“You did what?” Jack demanded, taking in Janice’s indecently short white and red dress. Janice’s hair was gathered in a ponytail, just like Len’s, Jack thought.
“I tried out for the Cheerios and I got in,” Janice repeated, unperturbed. “Cheerleading rocks!”
“You’d better not talk like that when we get home. And anyway, why? We’ll have left before you can really do anything with them.”
Janice grinned. “That’s where your toes turn in. We’re staying longer – Willie said so, and she told me to tell everyone. It means I’ll be on the squad for sectionals, so there!”
Jack was about to respond when Wanda came into the room, dripping wet, shivering, and with some kind of purple-coloured concoction pouring down her face and hair.
“Wanda!” exclaimed Jack. “What on earth happened?”
“It w-was the boys from – from the football team!” Wanda was close to tears. “They called me a loser and threw this at me.”
“Did they indeed?” Jack, raging, made to leave the room, but Janice caught hold of her.
“No, Jack! You’ve already been in trouble for fighting. Just tell Willie and the Head.”
“I’m not going to fight them,” said Jack, scornful. “I’m just going to tell them exactly what I think of them.”
She shook free of Janice’s hand. “Or are you on their side now that you’ve decided to stand beside the football pitch dancing in – in that?”
“It’s a lot more than dancing!” Janice retorted. “I suppose you’re just upset that I didn’t ask your permission first – you can’t lead all of us all our lives, you know!”
“I’m not...” Jack began, but at that point Wanda really did start to cry, overcome by the shock and the cold crushed ice. There was no Matey here to send her to bed, and in any case bed was in a rented apartment that Miss Wilmot had to drive them to and from every day in a minibus. With a final glare at Jack, Janice put her arm around Wanda and led her to the bathroom, where she and the other Chalet girls did their best to remove the dye and clean Wanda up.
Jack followed through on her threat and stormed off to the gym, thinking it was the likeliest place to find the footballers – in particular the one she already suspected was the ringleader of the attack on Wanda. The same one she’d scuffled with on the corridor, and who had continued to bump into her every time he had passed her.
As she had expected, the entire team was there, some working out, and others just laughing and joking around. And there he was – Jack’s nemesis, possibly the largest boy she had ever encountered, at this moment wielding a sizeable metal weight with ease. She watched his muscles bulge with each lift for a moment, and then stomped towards him.
“I want a word with you,” she shouted.
The boy, whose name was KeShawn, looked up in surprise, as his teammates laughed and hooted behind him.
Jack ignored them all. “I know it was you who chucked that stuff at Wanda. What d’you mean by it?” she demanded.
KeShawn let the weight fall to the floor and stood up slowly. He took a couple of lazy steps towards Jack, running his dark eyes over every inch of her. Although he towered over her, Jack stood her ground. It simply never entered her head that he would do anything other than defend his actions verbally.
“I asked you a question,” she reminded him, tilting her head to meet his eyes.
“Thought Miss Pillsbury hit you with a restraining order or something,” he remarked. “You better watch out, girl, coming in here.”
“I’ll go where I please,” Jack retorted. “You stay away from Wanda in future, you and your gang of pigs.”
There was an uproar of hilarity from the team, all of whom had fallen silent to listen to the exchange. Some of them repeated Jack’s words in high-pitched tones.
“What if I don’t?” KeShawn asked, a contemptuous smile on his lips.
“Try it and find out, you... beast!”
“Someone call me?” The football coach, a massive woman in a t-shirt and shorts, strode into the room. When she saw the boys grouped around Jack, she stopped and her eyes narrowed. “What’s going on here?”
“Nothing, Coach Bieste,” KeShawn answered without taking his eyes off Jack.
“Young lady, you can talk to your boyfriend after practice,” the coach told Jack.
“He’s not my-" Jack started, outraged.
Coach Bieste didn’t listen, and escorted Jack out of the gym, before turning back to her team. Jack could hear her screaming at them as she made her way, unsatisfied, back down the corridor.
She cursed the extension to their exchange. Now the list of questions she had to ask Len was growing and was sure to take at least a day to get through. How did a woman grow to that size? Why would a girl want to put on a teeny-tiny cheerleading uniform just so that boys would watch her? Why would boys want to watch her anyway? And why did she want so badly to start a feud with KeShawn and his pals now?
Jack, Wanda and Janice leaned against the wall of the corridor, listening to KeShawn talking to a couple of his teammates.
“That ain’t up to you, man,” one of them was saying. “That’s Coach Bieste’s decision, and she likes the Glee losers.”
“She likes winners more,” KeShawn replied. “So if Hudson thinks he can just go to Switzerland and then drop back in and get his place back, he’s gonna be disappointed. I’m the quarterback now, and I ain’t moving.”
Their voices receded as they moved off in the opposite direction, and Wanda breathed a sigh of relief, not having believed Jack’s assurance that they’d be perfectly safe from the boys. Jack looked at them both.
“We have to do something,” she declared.
Janice rolled her eyes. She was chewing gum, looking more and more at home in McKinley every day. “What do you have in mind?” she said. “You don’t even know Finn Hudson.”
“I know he’s at the Chalet School,” Jack said, somewhat confusedly, “so he’s practically one of us.”
“Oh, do what you like,” said Janice. “I have a practice. Later!”
At the Chalet School, blissfully unaware of KeShawn’s conspiring against him and the other football players on the exchange, Finn was coaching a group of girls as they sang. This group had no particular aspirations to audition for main parts; they were happy to be part of the chorus and sing together. So once they had learned the songs from the singing master – who didn’t want to know about the “improvements”, and wasn’t involved in them – the Glee clubbers took over. Since Finn wasn’t a great dancer, he worked on injecting some energy into the songs that had been provided.
He found himself enjoying these sessions. It was certainly better than doing Prep. As they came to the end of the song, he told the group to take a rest. All of them were out of breath, having put everything they could into the singing, and they were only too happy to sit down on the benches and relax for a few minutes. Finn picked out a few girls and gave them individual pointers, praising some who had made a more noticeable effort.
From a room to the side, he heard an off-tune shrieking – auditions, he surmised, were proceeding as planned. He’d heard strains of the same song repeated several times throughout his session, as well as lines being declaimed in various intonations and manners. A while ago, Mr Shue had come out of the room and gone to fetch a tray of coffee; shortly after that, Miss Ferrars had also left the room, her hair less neat than usual, carrying the empty cups. Finn had actually thought there were maids to bring coffee and collect cups, but perhaps he’d been mistaken.
The singing – if it could be called that – rose in pitch, and some of the girls in the chorus winced and looked around. Hastily, Finn clapped his hands.
“Once more from the top, ladies!” he called out.
In that side room, Mr Shuester plastered a smile on his face and politely thanked the girl who had just – thank the Lord! – finished singing. Kathie Ferrars was frozen in place beside her, having never heard anything like it in her life before. It was certainly easier having the director choose each part without going through all of this, but the process had been started now and he wasn’t going to back out. The girl left the room, beaming, and as soon as the door was closed, Mr Shuester drew a line through her name at the end of the list.
“That was the last one for this afternoon,” he said, sighing and stretching.
“At last!” Kathie responded with a groan.
“Let’s take a break – we can get together later and decide who we want to cast.”
“Good idea,” she said. “I’d suggest getting some coffee, but I think we’ve both had enough to keep the whole school awake for a week.”
He laughed. “Yeah, you’re right. Well, this was your idea, remember.”
“Don’t remind me!” said Kathie, waving at him as she left the room.
Chapter 12 - Hard Work by whitequeen
The list was up.
The main part had gone to Len Maynard, with Rachel Berry as understudy. To everyone’s surprise, Rachel accepted this without comment, gracefully congratulating Len. Of course, some girls were disappointed, but they had no cause for complaint. They had, after all, had their chance.
So now the hard work began. Every spare minute was suddenly given over to Play rehearsal. Scenes were repeated until everyone was reciting them in their sleep. Artie had appointed himself assistant to the two directors, and was constantly suggesting tweaks and improvements, some of which were implemented, others not. His suggestion that Lucia ought to appear in a flimsy nightdress, for example, was shot down by both teachers.
The Glee clubbers found themselves working every bit as hard as before Nationals, and they weren’t even going to appear onstage and share in the glory.
And they were still expected to attend class, participate fully, complete every scrap of prep, mend clothes (something none of them had ever done before, with interesting results), and occasionally go on long walks in the mountains, which wasn’t as bad as some had expected. When they were shown the Echoes for the first time, they stood there for some time singing Bohemian Rhapsody into the Auberge.
“We should have the Play up here,” said Tina, getting carried away, but nobody supported her; for one thing, it had been impossible for Artie to join the ramble.
Brittany was singing something to do with kings of England as they made their way back, and when Santana asked her what it was, she replied that it was a magic song taught to her by an elf.
“Elf?” several voices repeated curiously.
Brittany explained how, due to her extremely low performance in classes, she had to spend one period a day with “the elf” – a beautiful lady with a soft Irish brogue who had helped Brittany to understand something about history for the first time in her life. Brittany was therefore convinced, and nothing could dissuade her, that the mistress was a magical creature. The songs she made up in the sessions made it possible for Brittany to remember information – facts that she had already related to the girl in simple but compelling terms. Not only history, but other subjects as well were covered, and Brittany was well on her way to scraping her first ever pass.
“If I keep singing these magic songs, the elf says I’ll be brainy. Then I can graduate.”
“That’s Miss O’Ryan, you goop,” someone said, laughing. “There’s no such thing as elves!”
“You can say what you want.” Brittany walked on serenely. “I know what’s true.”
Santana whispered, “Britt, you thought the toilet on the second floor was telling you to drink vodka.”
“OK, so I admit I was wrong about that. But now I know that no school toilet would advocate teen drinking. It was obviously saying drink orange juice.”
Santana just rolled her eyes and said no more.
Chapter 13 - Plotting by whitequeen
Jack was deep in thought. She had been so for some time now, and still no solution had presented itself to the KeShawn problem. The Gang was no help, she found – they were less willing to follow her lead here. Janice spent every spare minute training with the Cheerios, Wanda was afraid to go near the boys after the Slushee incident, and it was hard to persuade any of them that a campaign against the football team was a good idea.
Eventually, Jane talked her into watching Janice at practice. “You know,” she coaxed, “we ought to support each other, don’t you think?”
Jack did, but muttered sullenly that she would have appreciated some support from Janice too.
“Darling, why do you hate him so?” asked Jane.
“Because he’s hateful!” Jack exploded. “He never misses an opportunity to shove me, or say something horrid – that’s when I can understand half what he says, of course – and I haven’t done anything to him, other than that first day, and that was his fault too.” She stopped, and thought about what she’d said. “I did that to you too, didn’t I?” she said softly.
Jane flushed and looked away. They never discussed that first term of Jane’s, how Jack had campaigned against her. “You didn’t use the language he does,” she said at last, trying to make a joke of it.
“I did enough,” Jack insisted.
“It’s in the past,” said Jane.
A blast of rock music stopped their conversation, and Coach Sylvester strode out into the centre of the room, closely followed by her small assistant, Becky. Her expression was forbidding. She raised her megaphone and shouted, “One, two, three!” and the show began.
Jack had to remind herself that they were watching a practice, not a stage show performance. Some boys came out first, flipping and twisting in the air, and all without missing a beat of the music. Then the girls charged on. Jane elbowed Jack, pointing Janice out in the group; Janice was leaping and waving her pom-poms along with the rest, beaming. She was, to Jack’s surprise, every bit as good as the others. She had never noticed that Janice had this kind of talent. The Cheerios circled the room and slid into a tableau to finish, but just when Jack thought it was over, fireworks erupted from their pom-poms. Jane shrieked and clapped her hands over her ears. The fire alarm went off, but Becky was already standing precariously on a step-ladder with a broom in her hand to stab it into silence.
The music died, the last spark fell, and the Cheerios waited, panting for breath, for the verdict from their coach.
Sue Sylvester lifted the megaphone. The group trembled.
“Slightly less boring than yesterday,” she boomed. “I expect more tomorrow! Dismissed!”
From Coach Sylvester, this was actually praise, Jack had learned. The group smiled and relaxed, and congratulated each other as they left the room. Janice waved towards her audience.
“Good job, Becky,” said the coach, as the girl jumped heavily down from the ladder.
Becky threw the broom into the corner. “Thanks, Coach.”
“That was smashing,” said Jack, “but I still don’t know what to do about KeShawn.”
“What would you do if it happened at home?” Jane queried.
“It would never happen at home,” scoffed Jack. “But if it did, I suppose I’d ask Len what she thought first.”
“What do you think she’d say?”
“I don’t know, do I?” Jack snapped. “I mean, if I knew that, there’d be no point in asking her.”
“All right, but she isn’t here, so what then?”
Jack thought. “The thing is, everything’s different here. What works at home doesn’t work here. I mean, maybe we should just throw some cold drinks over them.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” said Jane slowly. She had some idea of how things worked at McKinley. “Remember what they called Wanda when they did it to her?”
“Loser,” Jack answered. “But what...”
“I don’t know why they called Wanda that, but you see if people perceive someone as a loser, then they throw drinks at that person.”
“So...” Jack was beginning to follow.
“You don’t need to do the throwing, my dear. Just make sure KeShawn and his friends...”
“Lose at something?”
“Lose to you. To a girl. If that happens, then I think there’ll be enough people more than willing to throw – what is that thing called? – at them.”
“Slushee,” Jack filled in automatically. “Doesn’t anyone actually drink them?”
“Why would they?” Jane gave an expressive shudder. “They’re nothing but ice and dye and artificial behavioural problems. No thank you.”
Jack shoved her and giggled. “But what can we beat them at?”
Chapter 14 - The Show Must Go On by whitequeen
“I can’t,” Len gasped. She was pacing up and down behind the great curtain. “I just can’t do it.”
“Yes, you can,” said Artie patiently, for the tenth time.
“You don’t understand! My whole family is out there – my mother wrote this play, and we still haven’t told her we changed it!”
“She’s going to find that out, whether or not you do it,” Quinn pointed out reasonably.
“I know, but... To sing those songs, and dance like – like you do – in front of them? Rachel,” she twirled, searching. “Rachel, you’ve got to go on instead of me. You know the part. You take it.”
Rachel stepped up to her and took her hands, looking her in the eye.
“I’m not going on,” she said firmly. “You are. You’ve worked hard for this. Every minute of every day. You’re not going to let your mom put you off. Don’t even think about her. Nothing – exists – but the play.”
“The Play,” Len repeated in a daze.
“This is your moment,” said Rachel. “Now take it.”
She released Len’s hands and pushed her towards the entrance.
“You are a star!” she called after her in an undertone.
Len made her entrance. She could make out the audience, but not clearly. She knew her parents would likely be in the front row, but she didn’t search for them. She was Lucia now, and Lucia’s words came easily to her lips. The audience was hushed as she spoke.
When it was time for the first musical number, Len took her position next to the chorus and slightly in front. The instrumental began, and now she had time to scan the faces below for her mother, whose expression grew puzzled at the unexpectedly fast beat. Len could look no longer – she had to give all her attention to singing and remembering the dance steps.
There was a shocked pause when the song finished, but after a couple of seconds, they received loud applause. It buoyed Len’s spirits.
The rest of the Play seemed to pass in a blur. Len’s solo went off perfectly, and she was cheered heartily. The Chorus danced all their dances with no mistakes or accidents. When Margot forgot one of her lines, Tina threw it to her from the wings, and Margot recovered so quickly that nobody noticed.
Before they knew it they were onstage for the last time, performing the final scene and the last song, which involved everyone. Each girl now had to dance up to the front of the stage and take her bow. Len was the last to do so, and when she had, the whole cast danced to the chorus. She could see Finn in the wings, mouthing the words, and Mike doing the steps along with them. It told her what she needed to do.
The audience was on its feet, clapping, cheering and stamping. The girls filed offstage, every one of them on a high. Len stayed. She approached the front of the stage again and waited for silence.
“Thank you very much,” she began. “We hope you’ve all enjoyed our Play.” Fresh applause assured her that they had. Laughing, she held up her hand. “Thank you,” she said again. “I’d like to thank my mother, Mrs Maynard, for writing the play, and Miss Ferrars for directing it.”
More applause, which a slightly stunned Joey accepted with a smile and a nod all around. Miss Ferrars made a brief appearance onstage to acknowledge Len’s words.
“However,” said Len, noticing Miss Annersley in the audience, and cringing internally, “we couldn’t have done it without our special guests, who are here visiting us from McKinley High School in Ohio. So I’d like to invite them onstage to give us a song, because it’s their talent that made all of this possible. Mr Shuester?”
Mr Shuester came out, smiling, to more applause, and he waved. “Thanks, Len, but it wasn’t just us. The Chalet School already had amazing talent – as you’ve seen. We just helped you to display it a little differently. So this song is from us to you – thanks for a fantastic time here in Switzerland.”
He motioned to the Glee clubbers, who came out together – Len was amazed to see all of them in matching red outfits. She hadn’t noticed them changing. She retreated backstage, clapping along with the audience.
They began with a medley from “The Sound of Music”, which made everyone chuckle, and then broke effortlessly into “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life”; as they reached the line “I owe it all to you,” Mr Shuester pointed at Miss Ferrars, who laughed.
Nobody noticed that Miss Annersley was no longer in her seat in the audience, but when the Glee clubbers left the stage, Miss Ferrars intercepted Will Shuester , grimacing in a silent attempt to convey a message. He frowned, unable to interpret, and then saw the headmistress waiting for them both, eyebrows raised.
“Miss Annersley,” Kathie began, “I can explain.”
“We’re sorry we didn’t consult you,” said Will, “but please don’t be mad at Miss Ferrars. She put together an amazing show-“
Kathie spoke over him. “Even if it wasn’t exactly what was written, I think-“
Miss Annersley held up her hand to silence them both. “My dear,” she said, “do you honestly think you could prepare, audition, rehearse and put on a show like this without my knowledge?”
Will and Kathie looked at each other. “You knew?” said Kathie.
“Of course I knew. I made the decision to let you get on with it and see how it worked out. It was certainly an interesting experiment.”
“And... you’re not angry?” Kathie ventured.
Miss Annersley shook her head. “It was unusual, that’s for sure – but you’re right, Mr Shuester, it was an excellent Play. However, you may explain to Joey exactly what your thinking was.”
Chapter 15 - Game On by whitequeen
To begin with, Jack had taken the unprecedented step of consulting Coach Bieste. She had been unwilling, arguing with Jane that they should sort things out for themselves, that they were not incompetent Juniors and had no wish to be thought so. Jane had responded that Coach Bieste had nothing to do with them, so it didn’t exactly count. Besides, they needed someone to help them to organise what they had in mind, and she was the most logical choice – not to mention the unlikelihood of Miss Wilmot’s agreeing to it.
So Jack had approached the coach. Unlike slender Coach Sylvester, Coach Bieste was tall, broad and muscular. Jack had never come across a woman like her before, but that was no longer unusual on this exchange trip. At first she had felt disdainful of the woman because of her appearance, but then she stopped herself, realising that she really needed to be less judgemental. In truth, she knew nothing about Coach Bieste, and she should wait to find out before deciding based on looks. Jack hesitated – this was one more thing she’d have to discuss with Len when she got home.
Not wanting the coach to think she was running to Teacher with tales of bullying, Jack sped through that part as hastily as possible before outlining the plan and asking for support.
Coach Bieste had considered it, and finally, to Jack’s surprise, pronounced her approval.
There had followed discussions and plans: what was the Chalet School good at? What could they take on the boys at? It wouldn’t count, asserted Coach Bieste, if they chose only activities that girls traditionally excelled at. They wanted, and needed, to issue a real challenge. Notes were scribbled and scratched out, edited and agreed upon, and at the end of it all, Jack approached KeShawn with their proposal.
He read it. Jack forbore to comment that she was surprised he could, Neanderthal as he was. When he’d finished, he laughed, and looked at her with disbelief written on his face.
“Why should we?” he demanded.
“Why wouldn’t you?” Jack countered. “Scared?”
KeShawn laughed again, derisively. “Scared of a bunch of chicks? Right.”
Jack kept her composure, although it was difficult. “You’ve got nothing to lose, then. Besides, if you don’t do it, the entire school will find out what a chicken you are. Can’t even attempt to take on a few girls? Not really what the school wants in its football team, is it?” She smiled.
Anger spread across KeShawn’s expression. He clenched his fists, crumpling the contest invitation in one of them, and took a single step towards Jack. Then he stopped, uncertain, and looked around. Coach Bieste was nowhere visible, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t around.
“All right, damn it,” he snarled. “We’ll do it. But you better prepare for a whupping like you’ve never had before. We’re gonna wipe the floor with you ladies.” He sneered the last word. “That’s if you got the guts to even show up. I don’t see any of your little friends here.”
“They’re busy,” said Jack, “getting ready to win. See you in the garage.” She walked away, congratulating herself on not having insulted or attempted to hit KeShawn. It had gone well, she thought.
Nancy Wilmot was in the staff room, calculating just how many days were left of this exchange now that Kathie had extended it. She reflected on the differences in her classes. They were certainly noisier and harder to control than at the Chalet School; at first she had been somewhat overwhelmed, but had risen to the challenge, learning not to expect absolute silence, when to clamp donw, and when it was better just to let something go. Her classes had settled down a little now that the students knew her more.
On the plus side, the staff room was certainly interesting, used as it was as a forum to air grievances, argue, and discuss personal matters to a breathtaking extent. Nancy now knew the finer details of one woman’s recreational habits, had heard all about the state of a man’s marriage, and had witnessed another staff member reduced to quivering tears by the fearsome Coach Sylvester. This tracksuit-clad dragon had also attempted to goad Nancy with constant remarks about her weight, accent, and pupils, but Nancy continued to ignore the barbs with her usual placidity.
The woman herself came into the room then, finishing off a cup of coffee. “I didn’t get you one,” she told Nancy. “Didn’t want to disrupt your diet, although I do have to say it doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe I should get you the number of Overeaters Anonymous. Oh, and by the way, what are your little Swiss clog-wearers doing in the garage? If their English isn’t good enough to understand school rules, then maybe you should translate them into Swiss or whatever it is you people speak.”
Nancy took a deep breath. She dismissed the insults and inaccuracies – deliberate, she was sure; nobody’s ignorance could truly be that astounding – and focused on the garage issue. Only one name came to mind there. “Thank you for bringing that to my attention,” she said out loud with a smile calculated to infuriate Sue Sylvester. “I’ll take care of it.”
Sue watched her leave the room, and after a minute, followed.
When Nancy reached the garage, she had to shoulder her way through a throng of students who were watching something and shouting deafening words of encouragement. Finally gaining the clear space at the centre of the madness, she saw two cars, each scattered about with pieces, and a student’s rear end sticking out of each bonnet. As she watched, Jack emerged from the depths, her face liberally smeared with oil, grabbed something from the ground beside her, and plunged back in.
“Come on, Jack!” screamed Janice, before catching sight of Miss Wilmot and going bright red.
“Go, KeShawn!” someone else roared from the other side of the spectators; the second rear end turned out to belong to a young man, who likewise took up a piece and fitted it into the car he was working on.
Nancy seized Janice by the arm. “What is going on here?” She had to shout to be heard above the cries of support.
“It’s a competition, Miss Wilmot! Us Chalet girls against the football team.”
“And it involves fixing cars?”
“This is only the first part! We’re going to do other stuff as well. It was Jane’s idea!”
Nancy was about to say something about the rules, but Coach Bieste appeared through the throng, parting the students like the Red Sea. She had no trouble making herself audible over the racket.
“It’s OK,” she said. “I cleared it with Principal Figgins. Why don’t you come outside with me and I’ll tell you all about it?”
Nancy was only too glad to acquiesce. Outside, her ears ringing in the contrasting silence, she heard the extent of the Gang’s plan.
“Why didn’t they consult me?” she demanded.
Coach Bieste shrugged. “I guess they didn’t think you’d approve.”
“And you do?”
“I want a winning team, and I don’t get that if my guys are busy picking on your girls. Plus, you want your girls to get this thing they got going with my team out of their systems, right? Seems to me we win either way, and I’m just glad they came up with it themselves before someone got suspended.”
Put like that, Nancy agreed, with some trepidation. What would Miss Annersley say?
“You know,” said Coach Bieste, “this exchange is damned inconvenient. Will Shuester doesn’t think these things out before he races in with his big ideas. Taking my quarterback halfway across the world before a game, causing all this? Even Sue has to go to Sectionals with one of your girls instead of her regular Cheerios. It’s not your group’s problem, I know, but at least they’re doing something about it.”
“I’m sorry, Coach,” said Nancy. “I had no idea...”
She dismissed it with a wave. “Like I said, not your problem. And call me Shannon.”
“Shannon,” Nancy smiled. “So, what’s next in the competition?”
As she spoke, a triumphant roar went up from inside the garage, and the young man who had been racing Jack stormed out, kicked a piece of metal so hard that it ricocheted off the side of a nearby Dumpster, and walked off. The cheers from within were far louder than a small group of Chalet girls could muster. It seemed Jack had acquired some local supporters.
The contest continued after school, involving both sports and other skills, team and individual, and to Miss Wilmot, the two factions seemed equally matched. The boys won easily at the football-based challenge, while Jane left her opponent standing in the dust at a memory test. Others drew equally, and while KeShawn gloated in his victories and glowered at his losses, some of the other boys were beginning to chat the the girls and congratulate them sincerely enough when they won.
The last match turned out to be a basketball game. Coach Bieste whispered to Nancy that everything hung on this, since the scores were now so close. She wondered what had made them pick on this sport – surely the boys would beat them without much effort? But it turned out that, like the Chalet girls, the footballers hadn’t played much, and although they were mainly bigger and stronger, the girls surprised them by using their smaller sizes to whizz between them and snatch the ball from under their noses on more than one occasion.
Coach Bieste was right in the thick of things, making sure nothing went too far, but she needn’t have worried. A party had already been arranged, regardless of the outcome. Most of the participants were having fun; only Jack and KeShawn still gave each other dagger glares and treated the game like war.
The scores raced across the electronic board, and Nancy found herself on the edge of her seat. Time was running out and the boys were in the lead. Wanda, looking tiny from where Nancy sat, was racing toward the hoop. Enormous Shane stepped in to tackle her, and accidentally knocked her over instead. Coach Bieste’s whistle shrilled.
“My bad,” Shane apologised. “Forgot how small you are. You okay?”
Wanda nodded cheerfully as he gave her a hand up, and reassured the coach that she was ready to continue. She was handed the ball in recompense for the foul. She took the shot – and scored, bringing the two teams even yet again. And the timer ticked inexorably on. Nancy realised that she’d stopped breathing. As soon as the ball dropped out of the net, KeShawn was off with it, charging back down the court. He passed, and Janice, executing a Cheerio-style leap, snagged the ball in midair.
She pivoted and shoved it towards Jack, who caught it and made for the hoop. Nancy was on her feet, along with the handful of students still watching. Jack shot. The clang of the ball on the hoop coincided with the timer’s buzz. Nancy held her breath again. Was it in? Had they won? Coach Bieste roared the name of Team Chalet, and the girls were screaming, and so was Nancy. She abandoned her seat and ran down to the court to congratulate them.
They were grinning and jumping up and down and clapping each other on the back, and some of them hugged Nancy. She was pleased to see them also shake hands with the boys.
“C’mon,” someone shouted. “Let’s change and hit Breadstix. I’m starving!”
“Me too!” Janice laughed.
Shane turned to the two staff members. “You coming, Coach, Miss Wilmot?”
Coach Bieste looked at Nancy and smiled. “Sure, why not?”
“I’d be honoured,” said Nancy with a grin all around.
Jack went up to KeShawn, holding out her hand. He stared at it for a moment, and turned away. She waited for a minute longer, but he didn’t turn back, and as the teams dispersed to the locker rooms, he walked off alone.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.