The Middle Child by Becca

Challenger: Ashley
Rating(s) of the fic you want: T (Teen 13+)
Which brother do you want your story to be about?: Zac
Genre you want your story to be: Comedy or Drama

Three specific things you want your fic to include:

  • a shy, bookish girl who, when around friends, is vivacious and a smartass
  • “You’re so smart, yet you can’t figure out why people don’t like you.”
  • standing up to a bully

Three things you do not want your fic to include:

  • Catfights
  • Erotica
  • Hanson as the band Hanson

Zac Hanson stopped and peered around the corner. He could see Ashley Wilson standing in a circle with her three best friends Molly, Danielle and Courtney. He glanced around looking for a teacher, when he spotted none, he rounded the corner and slowly walked towards the girls. Trying to remain unspotted, he fell behind to guys who were walking down the hall. He waited until he had almost passed the girls before he reached out and yanked Ashley’s hair.

“ZAC HANSON!” She screamed and he took off running.

“I wish he would grow up,” Molly sighed as she closed her locker. “He’s a senior yet he acts like he’s in second grade.”

“Try being his next door neighbor,” Ashley retorted. “Believe me; it’s not fun at all.”

“I feel you’re pain,” Danielle said, putting her hand on Ashley’s shoulder. “But just think, you get to look at his beautiful older brother Taylor mow the lawn without his shirt on.” She sighed dreamily as her eyes glazed over.

“True,” Ashley laughed. “Too bad he’s only home on weekends now.”

“Remember that sleepover we had in 9th grade and we watched him lift weights in his bedroom?” Danielle said. “And the way his pecks -” She stopped when she saw her boyfriend Dale walking towards them.

“Hey,” Dale greeted them. “You ready to go, Dani?”

“Uh huh,” Danielle nodded. She sent a wink in Ashley’s direction before locking her arm in Dale’s and walking away with him.

“I should be going too,” Ashley said. “I’m babysitting the Hanson girls tonight.”

“Avery and Zoë are the cutest girls on the planet,” Molly commented.

“Yes they are,” Ashley grinned. “I’ll see you guys later.”

Ashley walked down the hall and out to the parking lot where she got into her baby blue VW bug. It took her five minutes to get home and she glanced across the street to the Hansons’ house.

Her parents and the Hansons’ had moved into the neighborhood on the same day, August 4, 1984, and had become fast friends. Her mom and Diana Hanson had both gotten pregnant within four months of each other, Zac being born in October of ’85 and Ashley coming along in March of ’86. While Ashley’s mother only had one child after Ashley, a boy named Henry in ‘89, Diana had gone on to have two more children, both girls, Avery in ’91 and Zoë in ’98, making the Hansons’ a family of 7, with their two oldest boys Isaac and Taylor.

The only member of the Hanson family that Ashley couldn’t stand was Zac, the middle child. He was always picking on her and her friends and playing practical jokes on her, ones that only he found amusing. He was always pulling her hair, tripping her in school and lately had been throwing water balloons at her.

And the thing that pissed her off the most was that he always got away with everything. Every time she mentioned anything to her parents, they would look at her with their eyes full on condemning and say, “Ashley, you know that Zac has some issues and we don’t need to stress Walker and Diana out even more.”

But the truth was that Ashley knew that Zac’s “issues” were nothing more than wanting to be the center of attention. Back before his sister Avery had been born Zac had been normal and had no “issues.” But the second Avery was born Zac started acting up, especially in school.

Everybody, including Zac, knew he was smart, but that didn’t stop him from acting like an eight-year-old. He would goof off in class then piss everybody off when he got the highest score on a test, a feet that kept the teachers off his back when he didn’t turn in his homework. Something that pissed Ashley, who always turned her homework in, off.

So when Zac walked into his parents’ house that evening and started to tease Ashley about her grade, she blew her fuse. She jumped off the couch and marched right up to him, sticking her finger in his chest and looking up at him.

“You’re so smart, yet you can’t figure out why people don’t like you,” she snapped.

Zac looked taken aback and his sisters, who had been playing with their Barbies, turned their attention to Ashley.

“I don’t know what the hell your problem is, Zac, but you act like a second grader!” Ashley exclaimed. “And don’t even try to blame it on your “issues,” because you and I both know this is all about getting attention from your parents! So just grow up!!”

Zac’s eyes widened as he stared back at her speechless.

Ashley rolled her eyes and looked at his sisters. “Time for bed,” she told them. They collected their Barbie’s and ran up the stairs. Ashley followed them upstairs and as she was reading them a story, she heard a car start and peel out of the drive way.

When Walker and Diana got back around 11:30 and Zac hadn’t returned, Ashley felt so guilty she spilled her guts.

Diana sighed and looked at Walker, who nodded and went into the kitchen.

“I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with Zac,” Diana told her as she walked Ashley home. “But you can’t blame yourself. Zac needed to hear the truth and I thank you for your courage.”

“But I shouldn’t have said it like I did,” Ashley sighed. “I was just so mad at him.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Diana said, giving Ashley a hug. “He’ll be okay.”

Monday morning, Ashley glanced nervously at the Hanson house as she walked out to her car. Zac had never returned home and Ashley wasn’t sure what to think. Her mother, after learning of what Ashley had said to Zac, grounded her, saying that when Zac returned home, Ashley’s grounding would end.

Ashley parked her car and entered the school, offering a small wave to Danielle as she headed to the library, where she was a student aid during first period. She was putting books away when somebody cleared his or her throat. She turned and saw Zac standing behind her.

“Hey,” he said, softly.

“Zac, I’m so so-” he held up his hand to stop her.

“You were right, I was only acting up to get attention,” he said. “After I left the house I went to Isaac’s and talked to him. I told him what you said and he said that he agreed and it hurt. I mean talk about hitting a guy below the belt.”

“Zac, I shouldn’t have said it the way I did, but I -”

He cut her off again and said, “I didn’t really leave you a choice.” He smiled. “But you really caught me off guard, I mean you’re like 4′ 8″-” She glared at him. “Okay, so maybe you’re 5′ 2″, but still, I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Well little things can surprise you,” Ashley shrugged.

“So are we okay, I mean, will you be my friend?” Zac asked.

“Only if you promise to start acting your age,” Ashley said.

“Scouts honor,” Zac said, holding up three fingers.

Ashley rolled her eyes and smiled. “You were never a Boy Scout.”

“Yeah, well, Isaac was,” Zac shrugged.

“Shouldn’t you be getting back to class?” Ashley asked him.

“Oh right, later Smashley,” he grinned before walking away.

Ashley rolled her eyes and sighed. With Zac Hanson as a friend, life would never be dull.

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