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07:41 pm: The Courtship of Juan part three
Title: The Courtship of Juan
Fandom: Welcome Back, Kotter
Summary: Epstein starts dating Cutie Pie, but not without surprising results.


Chapter three

The couple lay across the bed, emerged deep within a kiss. Suddenly, breaking the kiss, Cutie Pie pushed Epstein away from her with a small grin.

“This is fun and all, Juan, but we really should be studying.”

Epstein smiled “Who needs to study?” He moved into a kiss.

Again, she pushed him away. “Apparently you do, Juan. Since Mr. Kotter agreed to give you a makeup test.”

She grinned in such as way that he could not resist the sweet, feminine charm. He gave her one more kiss before sitting up.

“Alright, honey. You win.” He moved off her so she could sit up too. “But when word of this gets to the guys, there was no studyin’ in here.”

“Well, now, aren’t you sweet.” She said sarcastically

“Hey, what can I say?” He shrugged with a grin. “I got a reputation y’know.”

“Yeah, yeah whatever. Just get your books and get crackin’, Juan.”

“Right away, boss.” He laughed and then got off the bed.

Epstein walked to the other side of the room and picked up his schoolbooks from the floor. He then looked into the nearby cages, checking on his pets. Taking a moment to make faces at the white mice and his hamsters, he then turned away from his pets and walked back over to the bed. When he sat down, placing his books in front of him, he noticed the smile on Cutie Pie’s face.

“What? What are you smiling about?”

“Nothing.” She said, “I just think it’s so cute how you are with your animals.”

“Aw come on. I ain’t cute.”

“Yes you are.” She kissed him. “OK so which subject should we start with?”

He picked up a book at random. “How ‘bout algebra?”

“Are you kidding me? I can’t help you with that.”

“Why not?”

“It’s my worst subject. I’d need a tutor for it just to be able to understand it enough to help you.”

He laughed and sat the book aside. “Alright. Well, since I’m taking the re-test for Mr. Kotter, we probably should just dive right into social studies.” He suggested, while holding up the book.

“Now you’re thinking, Juan.”

They laughed and then entered their schoolwork together. At first, things went well as Cutie Pie helped Epstein with his studying. There were a few moments, however, when she had to remind him that she was not the subject. To this, he would sheepishly return his attention to the book, without complaints.

With his attention back where it belonged, he soon realized that his concentration on the work was waning. It was at this point when his frustration towards the subject started to show. Cutie Pie saw this and set the book aside.

“What’s going on, Juan?”

“I just can’t get this. None of it is making sense.”

“Juan, it’s social studies. It should not be this difficult.”

“Well maybe not for you, because you’re smart.” He shook his head. “I just ain’t good at this stuff.”

Cutie Pie stared at him and then rolled her eyes. “Oh come on. Don’t bring yourself down like that. You and I both know you are smarter than you let on. Somewhere along the line, you allowed yourself to get lazy.” She picked up the book and the notes they wrote, and moved them in front of Epstein. “You know you can do this, so do I. You just have to apply yourself. There’s no reason why you can’t pass this test.”

He looked at the open book that sat between them, and then at her. “Nobody’s ever encouraged me like this before.”

“What about Mr. Kotter?”

“Well, yeah, but I meant nobody as cute as you.” He smiled and gave her a kiss. With the smile still on his face, he picked up the notes. “Alright, Cutie Pie, I think I can handle this now.”

“Great.” She patted him on the leg. “I think if you keep this up, you just might be able to be a vet like you want.”

“Yeah, you think so?”

“Of course you can. I believe in you.”

“Thanks.” He gave her a kiss. Before he could do anything else, the sound of the squeaking hamster wheel caught his attention. “Hold on, Cutie Pie.” He stood up and walked across the room over to the cages. “Gotta take care of Florence real quick, then we can get back to work.”

“Go ahead.” She smiled as she watched him.

He started talking to the hamster as he scooped some food pellets into the small bowl inside the cage. Then, picking the hamster up, he allowed her to crawl in his hand for a moment.

“There you go, Florence.” He held her up closer to his face to get a better look at her. “Hey, now you ain’t been messin’ around with John Boy again, have you? I don’t think there’s room in that cage for no more hamsters.” He laughed and then gently placed Florence back into her cage. Then, turning back towards his girlfriend, he saw the same smile that she had before. “So, where were we?”

“I believe it was somewhere on page 36.” She watched as he came back to the bed. “Watching you with Florence just now, makes me really believe you could be a great veterinarian.”

“What can I say? I love my animals.”

“Yeah, so I suggest you get back to studying. Dr. Epstein.” She giggled and then gave him a kiss before sliding the book closer to him.

Smiling, Epstein then returned the kiss. He then wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer as their eyes turned to the book. As they resumed studying, Epstein glanced from the book and over at his pets. His attention then returned to his girlfriend and he smiled. It was then when it occurred to him that, thanks to the encouraging words from Cutie Pie, he actually enjoyed the few moments he spent studying for the first time in his school career. Also, for the first time since Gabe helped him realize his goal of becoming a veterinarian, he felt as though he could actually achieve this for himself. Having a cute girl helping him study right then was only a bonus.

~~~~~~

Epstein sat at his desk, staring at the nearly finished test paper in front of him. He raised his hand up to his neck and felt for his good luck charm. Remembering the absence of the necklace, he frowned. At first, he missed the necklace being there, since he had worn it every day for the majority of his young life. Then, his frown transformed into a small smile once he pictured it in its new place around the neck of his girlfriend.

Taking his mind off Cutie Pie and his good luck charm, he then returned his focus to the test. He knew he had to finish this makeup exam while there was still time left in the lunch hour, and he was concentrating on getting the best grade he possibly could receive on it. Otherwise, he knew he would let down his teacher, his mother and his girlfriend. Most importantly, he would let himself down. This was something he was determined that he would not do. The current makeup exam, made possible by his girlfriend, was the most important thing in his life at this moment. Thinking about that, he nearly laughed and yelled at the same time, because he never thought he would care so much about something such as this. That was before Cutie Pie came into his life to give him the push he needed.

Looking up at the clock, he nearly panicked once he saw it was just ten minutes before the end of lunch. Before returning his attention to the test paper, he glanced around the nearly empty room. With Gabe as the only other person in the classroom, Epstein knew he had no one there to help him cheat through the final questions. With this thought of cheating also came images of Cutie Pie and her disapproving face. Knowing that the opportunity to cheat was not only unavailable, but would disappoint many people had they found out, he sighed and then put all his concentration on the rest of the test.

~~~~~~

Just as the bell finished ringing, Vinnie turned the corner, strutting towards his locker. Not too far behind, with his arm around Vernajean’s shoulders, Freddie strolled with a cool grin. The three of them met up by their lockers, picking up a conversation they had during lunch. As they talked, Horshack walked over to them with his head buried in a magazine-shaped brown paper bag. Seeing this, Vinnie immediately stepped over to him and snatched away the bag.

“Hey, Horshack, what’s this?” He laughed, pulling the magazine out of the bag.

Horshack tried protesting Vinnie, trying to get him to return the magazine, but this only caused Vinnie to tease him with it more. Freddie laughed and stepped over to them, taking the magazine from Vinnie.

“Come on now, man.” He looked at the magazine, flipping the pages right to the centerfold. “Arnold, don’t you know that lookin’ at these magazines is a filthy habit? I mean,” He unfolded the centerfold and put it on display in his hands. “What could you possibly do while this is starin’ at you? You could hurt yo’self if you ain’t careful.” Laughing, he handed the magazine back to Vinnie.

Vinnie examined the centerfold and smiled. “Washington, it ain’t lookin’ at the magazine that’s the filthy habit. It’s what he does while lookin’ at it that’s the filthy habit.”

Vernajean gave the boys a disgusted look. “Whatever it is, just put that thing away. Ain’t nobody needs to see that.”

Vinnie closed the magazine and handed it back to Horshack. Right as Horshack was busy putting the magazine back into the bag, Epstein left Gabe’s classroom.

“Hey, what’s goin’ on? I feel like I’m missin’ something out here.”

“Epstein!” Vinnie walked over to him with a smile. “Where’ve you been? How come you weren’t at lunch with us?”

“Listen, Barbarino, I was in Mr. Kotter’s room. There was some business I needed to take care of.”

“What kind of business?” Vinnie smirked and looked toward the classroom. “Hey you weren’t paintin’ another mural on the wall, were you? ‘Cause we was supposed to do that together.”

“Nah, Barbarino, it wasn’t nothin’ like that. Listen, I,” The rest of his sentence was cut off when he saw Cutie Pie approaching him. He smiled at her when she reached his side. “Hi honey.”

“Juan.” She returned the smile and then they came together for a kiss. “So tell me, how did it go?”

“In there? Mr. Kotter’s gradin’ it right now. But I think it went pretty good.”

This caught the attention of their friends, bringing them around Epstein with curiosity.

“Hold up, Epstein.” Freddie said. “You mean that, instead of going to lunch, you were in Mr. Kah-tare’s room, doing schoolwork?”

“Oh Little Juan, are you feeling ok? That ain’t like you to skip lunch for a school assignment.” Horshack stated.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m alright. I was just retaking a test.”

A look of disbelief fell upon the faces of his four friends. “A test?!” They exclaimed together.

“Come on, Juan. You ain’t ever taken no re-tests on your own before.” Said Vernajean, skeptically.

Epstein motioned toward Cutie Pie. “Hey it was her idea! I wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’ta had me study for it last night.”

“Study?” Vinnie asked, shocked. “Taking re-tests? Epstein, I hate to say this, but, your chick is a bad influence on you. No offence, Cutie Pie.” He looked at her.

“None taken. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Juan trying to achieve something for himself. I’m just giving him the motivation he needed.” She turned to Epstein. “Listen, babe, I gotta go. Let me know what grade you got on that test.”

Epstein grinned. “I will.”

She gave him a kiss and started to walk away. “Bye, Juan. Later on, guys!”

The boys all watched as she left. Vernajean, as she started to walk by, glared at Freddie.

“You know, Boom Boom. It might be alright by Juan if you stare at his girlfriend like that. But uh, ain’t it gonna be hard to stare with your eyes swollen shut?”

“Hey baby my eyes ain’t-“ He realized the meaning behind her threatening words. “Oh alright. Right.”

She smiled then patted the bottom of his chin. “See you in class, Freddie.”

After Vernajean entered the classroom, the boys turned their attention to Epstein. With a slight grin, Vinnie placed a hand on Epstein’s shoulder.

“Juan, now that the girls are gone, there’s just one thing I hafta say to you.”

“What’s that?”

Vinnie laughed. “You’re whipped.”

Epstein stepped away from him, visibly upset. “I am not!” He looked at his disbelieving friends. “Well I ain’t!”

“Did you or did you not study with Cutie Pie last night?”

Epstein looked at Freddie. “Well yeah I studied with her. What’s the big deal? Besides, what about you?”

“What about me?” Freddie grinned

“What was that with you and Vernajean? What do you call that?”

“We ain’t talking about me and Vernajean. We’re talking about you. Like how you were just taking a re-test.” Freddie smiled “Which you said was her idea.”

“Yeah, yeah she encouraged me to take the test again. But that don’t make me whipped.” He finished with a grin.

Freddie, also grinning, held his hands up in front of him. “Ok, Epstein. You say you ain’t whipped, then you ain’t whipped.” He lowered his hands. “But one thing’s fo’ sure. Yo’ girlfriend’s changin’ you.”

“How? How is she changing me?”

“Well for starters, you’ve been with her a couple weeks and she already has you whipped.” Vinnie laughed, cuing Horshack to laugh as well.

Epstein glared at them, ending Horshack’s laughter. “I’ve had enough standin’ here listening to you turkeys talk about me and my girlfriend.” He started to walk into the classroom then he turned and scowled at them. “I Ain’t whipped and she ain’t changin’ me. You all just need to quit being jealous of our relationship.”

Epstein turned around and entered the classroom. The other three boys stood silently and looked at each other. Vinnie looked at his friends while motioning toward Epstein in the classroom.

“That ain’t right.”

“Right you are Vinnie!” Horshack replied

“We all know that.” Freddie said. “But for now, let’s just leave him be.”

In their silent agreement, all three of them then turned and headed into the classroom together. Neither of them liked seeing the changes they noticed in Epstein, but they knew that as long as he was with Cutie Pie, they were going to have to accept it. For the time being, they all took their places in the classroom, right on time for the bell to ring.

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