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07:56 pm: The Courtship of Juan part two
Title: The Courtship of Juan
Fandom: Welcome Back, Kotter
Summary: Epstein starts dating Cutie Pie, but not without surprising results.

Chapter two

As Gabe handed out the test papers, the students chorused with groans and verbalized complaints. Gabe ignored the complaints and continued passing out the tests. When he came to an empty desk, he paused before looking towards the rest of the students. Before he could inquire about the missing student, Epstein strolled in through the door, grinning from ear to ear. He then nonchalantly approached his desk and sat down, as Gabe handed him the test paper before going over to his own desk.

“Now, before you begin the test,” Gabe looked over at Epstein and held out a waiting hand. “Hand it over.”

Epstein grinned innocently. “What? Hand over what?”

“You know what. Your latest excuse to keep you from taking the test.”

Standing up with a grin, Epstein walked over to the teacher. “Right. Got a note right here.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. As he handed the paper to the teacher, he prepared himself to mouth the words as Gabe read them from the note.

Gabe cleared his throat and looked at the note in his hand. He could not help but snicker a little before reading the note aloud. “Dear Juan. I just wanted to thank you for last night…”

Epstein, who was habitually mouthing along to the note, only managed to get as far as “Dear Mr. Kotter. Please excuse Juan…” before he realized his mistake. He then snatched the note from the teacher’s hand before any more of it could be read. “Hey gimmie that!” He folded the paper and stuffed it into his pocket. “That’s the wrong note. That one’s from Cutie Pie.” He then reached into his other pocket and produced a second piece of paper. “Here, Mr. Kotter. That’s the right note. I’m sure this time.”

Gabe chuckled as he unfolded the new note.”You positive this isn’t another note from your girlfriend?”

With a small scowl, Epstein waved the teacher forward with his hand. “Yeah, yeah. Just read the note, Mr. Kotter.”

Looking at Epstein to be sure he was ready for the new note, Gabe then started to read. “Dear Mr. Kotter, please excuse Juan from taking today’s test. He was up late last night performing complicated emergency brain surgery and his hands are still sore from using the surgical tools.” He paused only to laugh. “Signed Epstein’s mother. So you’re a brain surgeon now?” He handed him the note. “Go sit down, Epstein.”

Folding the note and stuffing it back into his pocket, Epstein turned and walked back to his desk. As soon as he sat down, Freddie leaned in and, looked at him strangely.

“Hey Epstein. Why do you smell so pretty? Kinda like a chick.”

“Oh that?” Epstein grasped the collar of his sleeveless jean jacket and sniffed it. “Yeah, yeah it’s this. I left it behind at Cutie Pie’s last week and I just now got it back. She musta worn it ‘cause it smells just like her.” He grinned and sniffed the jacket again. “A mixture of… Charlie…” Another sniff and his grin brightened. “And Aquanet.”

“Hey.” Vinnie laughed. “Anything of Epstein’s smelling like a chick is way better than it smelling like his gym locker.”

“Even Mr. Woodman’s cologne smells better than Epstein’s gym locker. And that cologne could choke the dead.” Gabe finished with a snicker. “Now everybody, pick up your tests and get started.”

With a small collective groan, the students did as instructed, completely moving past the previous interactions regarding Epstein.

~~~~~~

When lunchtime rolled along, the Sweathogs opted to spend their time hanging around their lockers rather than in the noisy cafeteria. Epstein approached his friends who were seated on the bench and looked at them with quiet authority. Horshack, who sat mid-bite into a sandwich, got the brunt of Epstein’s expression. He turned his eyes toward Epstein and froze before grinning nervously while offering him his sandwich. Waving away the sandwich, Epstein then looked at the bench and the lack of empty space.

“Hey Arnold.” Epstein finally spoke. “My girlfriend is coming and she will need a place to sit down.” He placed his foot on the very end of the bench and leaned in with an intimidating grin. “And she ain’t gonna want to sit on your lap.”

“Oh?” Horshack questioned. “How about Vinnie’s lap?”

“Move it, Horshack!”

Horshack immediately left his spot on the bench, and moved to the other side of the hall. It was then when Cutie Pie came over to the group of guys. Epstein smiled at her before using his bandana to dust off the empty space on the bench for her. With a slight blush, she grinned and took a seat next to Vinnie. She then looked around at all four of them with a bright smile.

“Hi, boys. So. What’s for lunch?” She giggled

“I don’t know about lunch, but I’d sure like a slice of Cutie Pie for desert.” Vinnie said with a laugh. This resulted in matching “Are you kissing?” looks from Cutie Pie and Epstein.

Shaking his head in disapproval, Freddie then decided the best way to move on from the rude comment was to change the subject. He leaned against the nearest wall as he looked at Epstein and Cutie Pie.

“There’s something I’ve been wondering. How did the two of you crazy lovebirds get together?”

With a small grin, Epstein looked from Freddie to his girlfriend. “Hey, you don’t mind me telling the story, don’t you honey?”

“Go ahead, Juan.”

“Yeah, Juan.” Vinnie smiled “Go ahead.”

Cutie Pie looked at him and patted him on the head. “Now aren’t you cute.” She grinned and tapped him on the chin with her fist before looking at Epstein.“Go ahead, Juan.”

“Well you see, I was hangin’ on the boardwalk at Coney Island. Actually I was waitin’ for Vinnie to show up. Which reminds me, you still ain’t shown up yet, Vinnie.”

“Sorry ‘bout that, Epstein. I had some last minute business to take care of. Behind the billboard on 84th street with Bambi.”

Ignoring Vinnie’s bragging statement, Epstein went on with his story. “Any way. I was talking to somebody while I was waitin’ for Vinnie. Then somebody else grabs me from behind. I was about to turn around and start swingin’ then I saw it was Cutie Pie. Next thing I know, she’s pulling me down the boardwalk and she takes me into one of those photo booths, y’know. We start taking pictures in there and she gives me a kiss. The rest of the pictures are of us making out.”

“Yeah. I was there with my sister and I saw Juan. She knew I liked him so she dared me to kiss him in the photo booth. So I did. Best thing I ever did on a dare.”

Epstein smiled at his friends, motioning towards Cutie Pie. “How could I resist that?”

Vinnie nodded. “Hey, what guy could?” He looked at Cutie Pie sincerely. “Hey, sorry ‘bout what I said before.”

“No problem, Vinnie. I know you mean well. You’re just stupid.”

The other boys started laughing. When the laughter quieted down, Horshack kept it going by himself, causing Vinnie to glare at him.

“Horshack, cut it!”

This caused Horshack to stop abruptly, ending with a short cough.

Freddie grinned “Hey man, sorry fo’ laughin’. But she’s right. You’ve been lettin’ the stupid fall out yo’ mouth today.”

Horshack stood behind the bench, near Cutie Pie and Epstein. He turned to Epstein with a smile that made him uncomfortable.

“What is it, Horshack?” Epstein asked

“Can I see those pictures?”

“What? Of us making out?” Horshack only smiled at him in reply, causing Epstein to shove him away. “Get outta here.”

Cutie Pie looked at Horshack with a disapproving expression. “You’re a little pervert, Arnold.” She opened her binder and reached inside a small pocket. “I do happen to have some of them with me.”

“You ain’t gonna show him those, are you?”

“Relax, Juan.” She handed the pictures to the closest boy.“These are the ones from before we started making out.”

Vinnie held the pictures and snickered as he studied them. “Hey these pictures are pretty good. It’s cool how the two of you managed to smash both of your hair together in the photo booth like that.”

Freddie took the pictures and looked at them. “Yeah check this out.” He grinned. “Epstein is looking down Cutie Pie’s shirt. Real smooth, Epstein.” He laughed, handing the pictures to Horshack.

“Well you woulda looked too if they were starin’ right at ya like that.” Epstein said

Horshack stared at the pictures and then let out a short laugh before turning his attention to Epstein and Cutie Pie. “Well. Now ain’t you two cute. And Cutie Pie, if you don’t mind me sayin’, I can see why Juan was starin’ like that.”

Epstein snatched the pictures and hit Horshack over the head with them. He then handed the pictures back to Cutie Pie.

Brushing the pictures aside, the students then entered a different topic as they continued eating their lunch. It was not long before the bell rang, ending the lunch hour. Upon hearing the bell, the students took their time leaving the area to get ready for their next class.



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