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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?”


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