It's A Most Excellent Life

Written by:
Linda Kay


BILL & TED characters are trademarks of Nelson 1991 Inc. The motion picture BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE & © 1989 Nelson Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. The motion picture BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY © 1991 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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"I am Bill S. Preston, Esquire!"

"And I'm Ted 'Theodore' Logan!"

"Together we are......Wyld Stallyns!!!"

Those rather loud exclamations were followed by three minutes of excruciating guitar twangs and incredibly unstable, out of focus visuals that flashed across the screen at a dizzying pace. Deacon sat, mesmerized at the sight, and remained seated, staring, even after the screen had gone to snow.

"So, most opinionated brother o' mine," started Ted, pressing the eject button on the VCR. "What do you think of our most outstanding first video?"

"It's....." The right word...what was the right word? ".....different."

"Excellent!" came the stereo reply.

"But, I wouldn't count on MTV airing it any time in the near future."

"Oh, no problem!" stated Bill. "We fully realize our music is likely to be looked upon as far too sophisticated for such a mainstream market."

"I think my eyes have melted!" Deacon commented further, rubbing them painfully. "Who did the post-production, anyway? Freddy Krueger?"

"Aw, Bill!" Ted sighed. "As I feared, the editing does not match the beat!"

Deacon turned the television back to his Nintendo game, then threw his older brother a glance. "What beat?"

"Obnoxious youth! What do you know?" Ted rebutted sharply, placing the videotape back in the box marked brightly with the Wyld Stallyns logo.

"I know Dad's going to be pretty cheesed off when he gets home and finds out you haven't mown the lawn yet!"

"Not to be concerned. The situation is under control! Dad should be getting home around six." He consulted his watch. "And it is now four-thirty-five. Plenty of time to get it done."

"Great figuring, dipstick, except that it's five-forty-five!"

Bill noted the time in blue, digital numbers on the VCR that confirmed Deacon's statement, then reached down and grabbed Ted's wrist to inspect his timepiece.

"Ted, don't you ever remember to wind your watch?" Bill asked in exasperation.

"I remind myself to rewind it at a certain time, but then my watch runs down and I don't know when that time is!"

Bill shuffled Ted toward the front yard, leaving Deacon to roll his eyes up into his head before resuming his spaceship blasting.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"I do not know that this is such a good idea, dude."

"Au contraire!" replied Ted, adjusting the wiring on the lawn mower. "Attaching Deacon's remote car controls to the lawn mower will save maximum mowing time!"

"It'd better. I do not think you want to face another one of your father's tirades."

"Most definitely not!" Ted confirmed. "My father does have a tendency to burst his blood vessels on more than his share of numerous occasions."

"It's inconceivable to think your mother could cohabit with such a power-crazed maniac."

"Despite all appearances, my parents were quite compatible." Ted paused to reflect. "Mom was working at the Marines' recruiting office when Dad joined up, and they got married while he was still based at Twenty-Nine Palms. He took twenty-four hours leave and they honeymooned in Palm Springs."

Bill shook his head. "Twenty-four hours? Your father is most unromantic! When my Dad married Missy, I didn't see them for three days! They still refer to it as 'The Lust Weekend'."

"My Dad's always been way no-nonsense. One night honeymoon...nine months later, I was born. Right down to business."

Ted picked up the remote control box before turning on the electric mower, then stepped aside. "Ready for a test run!"

"Let 'er rip, dude!"

Ted flipped a switch and the mower slowly wheeled forward. Bill watched in amazement as Ted steered it successfully around the yard a few times, leaving neatly mown strips behind it.

"All right!" Bill cheered. "Most outstanding!"

"I told you it would work!" Ted boasted, just before the mower started running out of control. "Not!"

"Ted, watch out for the flowers!"

Too late. The mower raced through a bed of brightly blooming pansies before swerving to head back toward them at full speed.

"Bail!" they both screamed as they leaped out of the mower's path. It made a sharp turn near the front walk, catching the evening paper in its sharp blades and scattering shreds everywhere.

"Oh, my father will be most displeased about the crime watch section!"

The mower veered back around with a vengeance. Bill jumped up and threw his back against the front of the house as the roaring machine bore down on him.

"Stop it, Ted!"

Ted fumbled with the remote as the mower inched closer and closer to Bill. Just as the front lip of the machine advanced over Bill's toes, Ted managed to throw it into reverse. It backed away, revealing the tattered remains of what were Bill's sneakers.

Forgetting the lawn mower, Ted walked to Bill and eyed the ruined shoes. "Hey, don't worry," he offered, hopefully. "I've always heard that footwear should be allowed to breathe."

"These shoes will not be breathing again any too soon," sighed Bill. "They've been killed most heinously!"

"Drag," sighed Ted.

The sound of an approaching car caught Bill's ear, and he glanced around Ted in time to see the patrol car approaching. In the foreground of the scene was the out of control lawn mower, racing backwards off the lawn toward the driveway.

"Whoa, Ted! Look out!"

There wasn't enough time to react. Ted could only turn and watch as his father sped into the driveway just in time to collide with the speeding lawn mower. The patrol car came to a crunching halt on top of the mower, which soon died a sputtering, coughing death.

"Oh wow, Ted. You did it this time!"

"Yeah. I hope my dad had a good day at work!"

They watched as Detective Logan jumped out of the car and stooped to look underneath. Unable to make anything out clearly, he ran to the front bumper and once again leaned to look. He didn't seem quite sure of what was lodged beneath the wheels, but one thing was obvious.....it was something to get furious about.

Coming to this conclusion, Ted's father turned toward the two boys standing on the disaster-struck lawn. He lunged forward, his anger quickly boiling over.

"Theodore Logan! I want to see you inside, NOW!"

Not waiting for Ted to follow, his father roughly grabbed him by the back of the shirt and pushed him ahead.

"Catch you later, dude...I hope," was all Ted could offer Bill before being shoved inside.

"Yeah...later."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"I don't know what else I'm supposed to do! Do you have any idea what my days at the station are like? Do you have any concept of the incredible responsibility I shoulder down there? I should be able to come home without worrying about running over the lawn mower!"

"Sorry, Dad."

"Sorry isn't good enough! There's probably serious damage to the patrol car!" Detective Logan paced a moment, gathering his thoughts. Ted slouched on the couch, waiting for the next bombardment. He'd been through this before, more frequently all the time.

"You're completely hopeless, you realize that? You don't apply yourself in school, you don't shoulder responsibility at home! The only thing you spend any time at all with is that stupid band!"

Ted sighed and crossed his arms defiantly. He knew his father would get around to putting down the band sooner or later. He remained silent, however. Arguing would only make it worse. He knew the entire speech by heart, anyway. It was just a matter of waiting it out until the punishment part.

"If you and Bill would spend half the time on schoolwork as you do on that band, you might have some kind of future ahead of you! You're completely useless! You never do anything right!" He paused, thinking. "I'm not even sure the military academy could do anything with you!"

Ted paid more attention now. His father was diverting from his usual speech. He'd never before suggested the idea that Ted wasn't good enough for the academy.

Detective Logan sighed angrily. "I don't know...your mother seemed to know how to deal with you better than I do." He leaned to Ted earnestly. "Do you think it's easy raising two boys on my own? I'd at least expect you to do your part to help out! Instead, you're slouching off, causing trouble and flunking school. That's some example to set for your little brother!"

Ted couldn't hold his tongue any longer. His father was delving into areas never before touched upon. "But Dad...!"

"I don't want to hear it, Ted! I'm just about at the end of my rope! You'd better shape up, or you'll be out on your ear!"

"Dad!"

"You heard me! I won't put up with it any longer! You're going to bring your grades up and do your part around the house, or you can find somewhere else to live!"

His father walked to the other side of the room and exhaled deeply, leaning with all his weight on the back of a chair as if exhausted.

Ted couldn't believe what his father had said. His dad had been mad at him many times before, but this time he truly believed the man hated him. He couldn't stand that idea. He knew his father had a very difficult job, and felt terrible about the trouble he'd caused. The man looked so tired. He stood and walked toward him cautiously.

"Um...Dad...I, uh..."

"Ted, just shut up." He wiped a hand across his face. "Go to your room. Stay there."

Ted slowly walked around his father to his room. His dad didn't even look up at him as he passed.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The fact that the chicken was now stone cold didn't matter; it hadn't been appetizing even when it was warm. Bill poked at it for the hundredth time, turning it over and over, trying desperately to find one uncharred spot. But the latest inspection came to the same conclusion...this shriveled piece of dried meat was inedible.

Bill gave up and placed his fork down again. He glanced across the table to his dad, who gave him a look that asked him not to say anything. Missy reappeared from the kitchen carrying several small dessert dishes.

"Here you go," she offered Bill tauntingly. It wasn't on purpose. Everything she did was sexy. Bill couldn't help but notice her shapely figure as she placed one of the dishes in front of him. She similarly placed a second one in front of his dad, only this time the sexiness didn't seem quite so unintentional.

"Eat up, guys!" That was the icing on the cake.

Bill shuddered, trying to shake off his pubescent excitement, and turned his attention to the dessert. He was so hungry he'd have eaten anything...except what he found in the dish. It was a semi-liquid mass of what was supposed to be jello.

"This isn't even cold!" Bill complained, scooping up a spoonful and letting it run back into the cup to prove his point. No one was listening to him. His father had inched his chair closer to his wife, pulling the dessert dish with him.

"I like it this way," he said softly, his eyes firmly on Missy. "Warm...and wet..."

Bill turned his head away, disgusted by the meal and his father's lack of self control. It wouldn't have been so bad if Missy wasn't so desirable. He prayed for any kind of distraction, and it came when the doorbell rang.

Quickly leaving the room, Bill answered the door and was surprised to see Ted.

"Whoa, Ted! What're you doin' here? I didn't think your dad would be letting you out of the house for years!"

"I sneaked out," sighed Ted, then shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Hey...do you think, maybe, we could jam for a while?"

Bill looked back at the kitchen. His parents, preoccupied, had forgotten both him and the dessert. Disgusted, he stepped out onto the porch, closing the front door behind him.

"Yah, come on. Let's go."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The jam session was going nowhere fast. Far from being energetic, which is necessary for playing heavy metal music, Ted sat on the edge of the stage, plucking the strings of his dilapidated guitar out of habit. Bill was concerned about his friend's state of mind, but decided to try a diversion first.

"Y'know what's wrong? There is no atmosphere in here!" He walked to the back of the make-shift stage and plugged in the white, miniature lights that hung like stars around the garage. "There! This is most excellent!"

Ted didn't even notice. He was miles away.

Bill placed his own guitar around his neck and walked in front of Ted, plucking a few notes. By this time, Ted wasn't even going through the motions of playing. He was just sitting; staring.

"Ted? What did your dad do to you?"

Ted snapped out of his thoughts. "Huh?"

Bill sat next to his friend on the stage and balanced the guitar across his lap. "You in big trouble?"

Ted thought about it. His father had only sent him to his room. There had been no mention of punishment. "I dunno. He was so mad he forgot to ground me."

Bill strummed once, running his left hand up the neck of the guitar to produce an ever-changing squeal. "Don't worry 'bout it. He'll forget soon enough. He always does."

"That's not the problem," sighed Ted, letting his arms dangle between his legs. "It's not my dad. It's me. Everything I do comes out wrong."

"Aw, dude..."

"I can't even mow a lawn without causing a major disaster."

"That was just a stupid accident, Ted."

"Yeah, but...I mean, I don't do good in school, even when I try! My dad says I have no future. What if he's right? What if the band never happens?"

"Ted, you and I both know what our future is. The band is going to happen! Hey...haven't we learned two chords so far?"

Ted considered this. "Yeah, that's true. But anything can change the future, Bill." He sighed deeply, then muttered under his breath. "I'll probably find some way to screw it up."

"No way, dude!" Bill jumped to his feet, straddling his guitar. "Wyld Stallyns is destined for greatness!"

Ted seemed unconvinced. "My dad doesn't yell at Deacon all the time. Aw man, I dunno. He says I'm setting a bad example for my brother."

Bill realized Ted was much more depressed than he'd suspected. He sat on the corner of one of the amplifiers, listening as Ted rambled on to himself.

"I'm flunking school, I mess up at home......I ruined your sneakers." Ted dropped his head slightly, lowering his voice to where it was almost inaudible. "Even my mom left me."

Bill gave Ted a startled look. "Your mom died, dude."

"Yeah," Ted sighed, hesitating. After a moment he looked up at his best friend. He seemed to want to say something, but he didn't need to. Bill knew exactly what he was thinking.

"Ted, your mom got killed in a car accident. It wasn't your fault! It was that stupid drunk driver."

Thinking this over a moment, Ted finally nodded his head out of polite agreement. Bill didn't feel like pressing it further. He walked over to the stage as Ted stood up.

"Feel like playing?" Bill asked, patting Ted's shoulder.

Ted smiled. "Yah. Let's do it!"

Simultaneously they threw themselves into a wild frenzy of abandonded guitar screaming.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The schoolyard of San Dimas High was empty when they walked out of the building. Bill paused to hold the door open for Ted, who was burdened down with a large, cardboard box full of brightly capped cans.

"It was most excellent of Ms. McFadden to let us work on our own art project for class," Ted commented, setting the box down on a nearby bench.

"Yeah. At least someone still believes in artistic freedom in this country!"

"She did ask us not to use any profanity, though," Ted reminded Bill.

Bill reached inside the box and pulled out an old, worn bedsheet. "Some musicians may confuse the use of profanity with artistic freedom. As triumphant as this banner is going to turn out, we will not have to rely on foul language to sell our band!" Bill unfolded the sheet and studied it. "How're we gonna do this?"

Ted looked around, then motioned toward the brick wall which made up the side of the gymnasium. "Let's put it up against this wall. We could work on it like a mural."

"Good idea, dude!"

Together, they managed to fasten the top corners of the sheet to the wall so it was hanging fairly straight without wrinkles. Each took a can of spray paint from the box, shook them vigorously until they rattled, and proceeded to paint the Wyld Stallyns logo in huge letters across the sheet. After thirty-five minutes of work, they had produced a very colorful sign, complete with both a stallion's and a dragon's head. They stepped back to admire their creation.

"An A plus work of art, if I may comment personally," stated Bill proudly. "It is..."

"Most excellent!" they exclaimed together, followed by a high-five and a few seconds of heartfelt air guitar.

"We'd better get everything back in the supply closet before the bell rings, or we will be egregiously late for fourth period," suggested Bill. "I think it's dry enough to take down now."

They each pulled an attached corner free from the wall.

"This has been a most successful art project," Ted commented, as they lowered the banner to reveal the same logo and artwork spray-painted onto the brick wall.

"Not!" they simultaneously stated in afterthought.

"Uh oh, Bill. We've defaced public property!"

"Ted, this is indeed a most heinous turn of events."

Ted turned and quickly fumbled around in the box. "Did we bring any turpentine from the classroom?"

"I don't think so. But there must be some kind of spray-on paint remover that takes this stuff right off."

"We're going to get in big trouble for this, Bill," Ted sighed worriedly.

Bill threw Ted a concerned look. It had been three days since the lawnmower incident, and Ted had been troubled ever since. He certainly didn't need another disaster added to his problems. "Don't worry. How will anyone know we did it?"

They looked up at the Wyld Stallyns logo, then at each other in defeat.

"Alaska's starting to look good, dude," sighed Ted.

In desperation, Bill grabbed a can of spray paint out of the box and started reading the label. "There has to be some way of getting this stuff off!"

Ted, likewise, grabbed a can and quickly began reading. At that moment, Vice Principal Ryan approached, returning from a meeting at another school. He couldn't help but notice the two boys standing under the brightly decorated wall.

"Preston! Logan! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Startled, they turned to face Mr. Ryan, unsuccessfully hiding the cans behind their backs. "Mr. Ryan!" Bill exclaimed. "Outstanding day, isn't it?"

Mr. Ryan stared up at the wall, then at them. He felt sorely disappointed in the two. They'd always been disciplinary problems; disrupting class, not paying attention. But he'd basically considered them decent kids...just a little misguided and unmotivated. The thought of them turning to outright delinquent behavior was disconcerting, and made him very angry.

"Into my office...now!" he ordered.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

There was an uneasy moment of silence as he waited for their answer.

"It's the truth, sir," Ted offered, aware of Mr. Ryan's disapproving reaction to the statement.

The Vice Principal walked to the front of his desk, sitting on its edge over the two students. "Look, guys. You were caught red-handed defacing the school. Do you honestly expect me to believe Ms. McFadden told you to do it as an art assignment?"

The look on their faces told him they weren't going to change their story. He knew he would have to be strict with them this time if they were to be deterred from future trouble-making.

"I'm afraid this is very serious. Defacement of public property goes way beyond the disciplinary boundaries of this school." He waited to see what kind of impact that statement had on them. It produced the desired expressions of fear. "I'm going to have to call the police."

That did it. Ted was on the edge of his seat immediately, begging and protesting.

"But sir! We didn't do it on purpose! Please, don't call the police!"

Mr. Ryan stood, looming over them. "You boys wait in here." He turned and left the room, closing the door behind him.

Ted collapsed back into the couch in despair. Bill nudged his friend's arm sharply. "Hey, c'mon! You and I both know we didn't do anything wrong!"

"But he's going to call the police! What'll my dad say when he finds out?"

"Your dad is a detective, Ted. I doubt very much he will be informed of a vandalism case!"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It was twenty-three minutes before the officer arrived. Mr. Ryan had been waiting patiently, letting Preston and Logan stew by themselves while he worked with the secretary in the main office. As the officer approached, Mr. Ryan got up to meet him, and his heart sank with recognition.

"Detective Logan! I didn't expect you to come down here!" He shot a look at the secretary, who was equally concerned.

"I heard about your phone call and decided to come myself," Detective Logan explained, shaking the Vice Principal's hand. "It's my belief that juvenile delinquents must be firmly dealt with before they turn into hardcore criminals!"

"Yes, well, I didn't really want any action taken against them. It is their first offense of this nature. I just wanted to throw a bit of a scare into them. I thought by having the police show up they might not..."

"Don't you worry, Mr. Ryan! I know how to deal with these kids! A trip down to the station should straighten them out once and for all! So, where are they?"

"Um, in my office." He was startled when Detective Logan lunged for the office, and hurried after him. "But, really, maybe this isn't the right way to approach..."

It was too late. Detective Logan stormed into the office, startling Bill and Ted terribly. He stopped short, unable to believe what he was seeing. Mr. Ryan was right behind him, but there was nothing he could do at this point.

"Hi, Dad!" Ted offered cheerfully, unable to think of anything else to say.

Detective Logan looked as if he would explode.

Bill and Ted eyed each other nervously. "Bogus," they sighed, realizing what they were in for.

Ted's father stood, shaking furiously. Finally he spoke, sharply, under his breath. "Both of you...get outside and into the patrol car this minute!"

Obediently, they marched in front of the detective as he herded them out of the office without another word to Mr. Ryan, who was watching with the secretary as they left.

Mr. Ryan sighed. "That is not what I wanted to happen," he stated, then turned to the secretary as an afterthought. "Do me a favor. Look in the computer files. What class do Preston and Logan have third period?"

After a few minutes of keyboard punching, the secretary turned with the information. "Art with Ms. McFadden. Why?"

Mr. Ryan rubbed a worried hand over his brow. "Hoo boy."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The silence in the patrol car was far worse than any screaming Ted could have imagined. He was seated next to his silent father. Poor Bill was sitting in the back like a criminal; the wire mesh separating them. He didn't dare turn to look at him, as much as he wanted to. He wished his dad had at least let them sit together. It was always easier to face death row with a friend.

They weren't exactly sure where Detective Logan intended to take them, but after a while Bill began to realize they were going toward his house. Sure enough, that's where the patrol car came to a stop.

"Wait here, Ted," his father ordered, and climbed out of the driver's seat. He walked around to the back door and opened it, motioning for Bill to get out. As Bill stepped onto the curb, Detective Logan slammed the car door violently shut behind him. Meekly, Bill turned to face the police officer.

The detective stepped close to him and spoke menacingly. "Don't think this is over by a longshot, mister! I'm going to be having one hell of a talk with your parents about this!"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Logan."

"Let me just say this for now...I don't want you hanging around my son any more. You understand me?"

Bill looked the man in the eye, not answering. Detective Logan walked back to the car and climbed behind the wheel. Ted was now looking out of the window at his friend, almost apologetically. Bill could only stand and watch helplessly as the patrol car sped away from the curb and turned the corner.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It was only a block later when his dad finally spoke. "You know, Ted, I should have taken you and Bill down to the station. I'm just too embarrassed to charge my own son with vandalism in front of my co-workers."

"Dad, listen...it was all a mistake! Me and Bill..."

"Save it, Ted!" Detective Logan was silent a moment, then angrily slammed his fists against the steering wheel. "Damn it! Why do you do this to me?"

Ted turned away from his father, not wanting to let him see the hurt. He'd gone over that same question again and again the last three days. He'd even contemplated running away. If he left, he wouldn't cause any more trouble. But he'd dismissed the notion, realizing it would only leave his family and friends to worry about where he'd gone. If only there were some way to just disappear...everyone would be better off. But still, there was the future. He had to believe in that.

"I've given you plenty of chances," his father continued, pausing before the next statement. "No more band!"

Ted spun to face his father in disbelief. "No way!"

"I mean it! You can forget the band! And furthermore, I don't want you hanging around Bill any more. In fact, I forbid you to see him again!"

Ted shook his head slowly in protest. "Dad, you can't mean that!"

"You heard me!"

Ted slouched in the seat. That was it. No more band. He'd managed to screw up their futures after all. He knew his Dad would make good on his threats, too. He'd ship him away to military school and keep him there as long as possible. Without Bill or the band, there was nothing. He might just as well not exist.

The patrol car slowed to a stop at an intersection. Ted sat up, then looked over at his father, who was staring straight ahead, clutching the wheel tightly.

"I'm sorry, Dad," he offered, then unbuckled as he opened the car door and jumped out, running down the street as fast as he could.

Detective Logan threw on the emergency brake and jumped out of the car. Ted was already too far away to chase. "Ted! You get back here right now!" he screamed, letting the car stopped behind him wait.

Ted was almost to the middle of the block and showed no sign of stopping.

"If you run away now, you can just forget about coming home!" his father screamed after him, so angry now that he was shaking. As Ted disappeared from sight, his father climbed back into the patrol car. He reached over to close the passenger side door with a groan of exasperation before releasing the brake and heading for home.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It had seemed like a long walk up the front path after Detective Logan had dropped him off. As he approached the porch, he saw Missy standing in the doorway, watching him.

"Hi, Bill," she said cheerfully.

"Oh, hi Missy." Then, after her disapproving smirk, "I mean Mom."

"Why did Ted's dad bring you home from school so early?"

Bill sat on the steps of the porch sadly. "Ted and I accidentally spray-painted the wall of the gym, so Vice Principal Ryan called the police. Ted's dad would be the one to show up!"

"Oh, that's terrible," sighed Missy, sitting next to him. "But you said it was an accident."

"It was!" Bill insisted.

"I believe you, Bill! Look, Vice Principal Ryan isn't that bad. I'm sure he'll realize his mistake."

"Thanks, Mis.....Mom. I just hope it isn't too late for Ted. His dad's gonna kill him!"

Missy stood up and walked to the front door. "It'll all work out, you'll see. I've got to take the turkey out of the freezer for dinner tonight."

Bill remained seated on the front step after his stepmom went inside. He couldn't think of anyplace else to be at the moment. All he could think about was poor Ted. His dad probably would keep them apart. There had to be some way to get through to him. The man couldn't be completely heartless...or could he?

The sound of footsteps quickly approaching made him look up. Ted ran onto the lawn and came to a panting stop in front of him.

"Ted! What's going on?"

Ted sputtered between breaths. "I ditched my dad! I.....I had to!"

"Your dad's only gonna get madder, dude! You shouldn't have run out on him!"

"He doesn't care what happens to me! I can't even go home! He said no more band! He said we can't be friends any more!"

"Ted, your father cannot keep us from being friends!"

"Bill, I know what I have to do!" He looked downward, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "I just came to say goodbye."

Bill stood up quickly. "Where ya going?"

"Bill, do me a favor, okay? Like, no questions."

"Hey, running away is no answer!"

"I know," sighed Ted. "I'm not running away, really. I just have to do something and then everything will be okay."

"Ted, don't do anything stupid."

Ted looked at Bill in earnest. Bill didn't want to give his consent, but he also didn't want to tell Ted what to do. "You coming back?"

Ted sighed sadly. "I dunno. It won't matter anyway."

Bill was about to start another round of protest when Ted surprised him by stepping forward and hugging him briefly. "Bye, Bill," he sighed, then turned and ran.

Too stunned to do anything at first, Bill watched as Ted ran toward the side of the garage. It took him a moment, then all at once he realized where his friend was going.

"The time machine!" he gasped, taking off after Ted.

The phone booth was already aglow when he rounded the corner of the garage.

"Ted, wait! Don't!!!" Bill ran forward, but the booth disappeared quickly, leaving behind only a traveling, orange light which traced the square where the time machine had been standing moments before.

Bill stood, dumbfounded, unable to believe what just happened. Ted was gone, he had no idea where. And with no way to follow him there was absolutely nothing he could do.

"Aw, geez, Ted! What've you done?"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Whooooaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!"

Although he'd traveled through the circuits of time often enough, it was seldom done in silence. The speed at which the phone booth zipped along made screaming a very instinctive thing to do. And it was even scarier being alone.

He wasn't sure where the number he'd dialed hurriedly outside Bill's garage had deposited him...he hadn't risked getting out of the booth when it made that stop. He only took advantage of the inertia long enough to look up the exact date and place he wanted in the directory. A good thing, too. The burly man in Roman gladiator uniform didn't seem too polite while pounding on the glass. Some people certainly were impatient to use a telephone!

The booth was thrown free of the tunnel and dropped to earth, landing roughly. Ted stumbled out of the time machine, a bit shaken. It took him a minute to collect himself enough to take in his surroundings.

He'd apparently arrived unnoticed. The air was warm and dry, pushed against his body by a fairly strong wind. He was standing outside a gas station. Across the brightly colored street was an ornate building, fashioned in a somewhat French style. The sign out front read "Springs Oasis Hotel".

Ted turned to study the booth's location. He couldn't let it be discovered. Luck was with him, however. It had landed in perfect position at the end of a row of phone booths outside the station. An "out of order" sign was attached to one of the permanent booths. Ted borrowed it, placing it on the time machine. Knowing how infrequently gas station telephones were repaired, he knew it would be safe.

The hotel lobby was overly decorated; typical of a trendy, vacation getaway. He took in the fancy carpet, the bright wall hangings and plush furniture as he crossed to the front desk. "Guess I'd better find out if they've checked in," was his thought as he reached the reception area.

There were voices coming from a room behind the front desk. They were clearly arguing, rising and falling in volume. Ted waited, not wanting to ring the service bell and disturb whatever was going on. A middle-aged gentleman crossed to a position where Ted could see him, and he likewise noted Ted. "Hush," he quickly warned the other person. "We have a guest."

"I don't care!" the younger, male voice came.

The middle-aged man looked to Ted apologetically. "I'll be with you in just a second."

Ted nodded. It didn't seem there would be much of a wait, however, when the younger man stormed out of the room in a huff. "It doesn't matter one way or the other to me! I'm outta here!"

The middle-aged man quickly followed, but stopped at the desk, calling after the kid as he walked out the front door. "Yeah, well, just don't expect any recommendations from me!"

The man, whose nametag read "Bob Haskell - Manager", leaned across the counter with a sigh. He looked up at Ted. "Sorry about that. Kid quit without giving any notice, and at the start of a weekend, no less!"

"Bogus," Ted sympathized.

The manager straightened, composing himself. "You didn't happen to come in here looking for a job, did you?"

"Huh?"

The manager waved his hands in a gesture to forget it. "I'm sorry, never mind. What can I do for you, son?"

Ted had been thinking about the question, and realized it just might be the answer he needed. "A job?"

The manager looked hopeful. "You do need a job? Can you bellhop?"

With a confused look, Ted motioned to the service bell. "You want me to jump over this?"

"Cute. Look, can you haul suitcases? Push carts? Carry trays?"

"Oh, sure!" Then he remembered how angry the man had gotten at the last employee for leaving so suddenly. "Oh, but.....I don't think I'm gonna be around very long."

The manager was undaunted. "If you could fill in over the weekend, it'd sure help me out! I'll pay you overtime, then get someone permanent next week. What do you say?"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Deacon fully expected his father to be home. After all, the patrol car was parked in the driveway. But he was surprised to see him sitting on the couch in the living room, apparently not doing anything.

"Hi," he said cautiously, testing his father's mood. "What're you doing home so early?"

"Never mind." The man was obviously very upset about something. "You haven't seen your brother anywhere, have you?"

Deacon could have guessed it had something to do with Ted. "Not since this morning." His father went back to staring straight ahead. "What did he do this time?"

His father's glance came back up, angry this time. "That's none of your business, young man!" He stopped himself, taking a breath. "You have homework?"

"Just a little."

"Why don't you get to work on it, then?"

Deacon nodded and went to his room. He had the feeling it would be a long night around the house, and his bedroom offered sanctuary.

Detective Logan twisted his body around to look out the window. He was torn apart with worry and anger, trying to decide what to do when Ted came home. He knew he'd most likely end up yelling again. He couldn't help it. Lately he'd been unable to do anything but yell at Ted. Just the sight of his son brought out anger more often than not. He didn't really understand why. It just happened.

He shifted back again so he was leaning forward, eyes to the floor. It had crossed his mind.....what if Ted didn't come home? He couldn't really believe Ted wouldn't. Where else would a kid like that go? His son wasn't the most resourceful person in the world. Ted had to know he didn't mean it when he'd yelled after him about not coming home.

A knock on the door made his heart jump. Ted? No, Ted wouldn't have knocked. He got up and opened the front door to find Vice Principal Ryan and a woman he didn't recognize.

"Oh, I didn't expect....."

"I hope we're not intruding, Detective Logan," Mr. Ryan offered, "But we felt it was important to see you. May we....?"

"Of course." Detective Logan stepped aside, allowing them to enter.

"This is Ms. McFadden, Ted's art teacher. Ms. McFadden.....Detective Logan."

"Very nice to meet you, sir," she offered, shaking his hand. "Look, I'm afraid there's been a terrible misunderstanding."

"What kind of misunderstanding?"

"It's mostly my fault," sighed Mr. Ryan, embarrassed. "I should have checked all the facts before calling you down to the school. It turns out Bill and Ted were telling the truth.....the graffiti was just an accident. They were working on a banner for art class."

"I should have supervised them, I suppose," Ms. McFadden added.

This news clearly affected Detective Logan, and Mr. Ryan was quick to add. "I would have just called, but I felt I owed you a personal apology for taking up your time today."

"Well.....I appreciate your stopping by....."

"Is Ted home? I think we owe him an apology as well."

"He's, uh.....not here right now."

"Oh. Well, that's all right, I guess. Um, could you have him come by my office first thing Monday morning? I called the Prestons already and Bill's going to stop by as well."

"I will tell him," Detective Logan promised, following them to the door. "I'm glad you told me about this right away."

"I just wish it had never happened," sighed Mr. Ryan. "Ted's not academically inclined, but I guess we should just consider ourselves lucky he has interests other than drugs and crime."

"Yes.....of course. Good night."

Closing the door after them, Detective Logan leaned his back against it. What they said had hit home. In many ways, he should count himself lucky that Ted wasn't as far gone as some of the kids he'd seen hauled into the station. But one thing stood out in his mind above everything else.....he'd threatened to take away the few things Ted really cared about over something he didn't do. Somehow he knew Ted wouldn't be coming home on his own.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Mr. Haskell was reorganizing the hotel reservations when the elevator doors in the lobby opened and the Oasis' lone luggage cart reappeared, followed, and halfway being ridden upon, by his temporary bellboy. The sight was not exactly the kind he wanted to greet his guests.

"Um, Logan.....you're paid to push it, not skateboard with it."

"Oh, sorry, sir," Ted replied as he passed the desk, immediately jumping off the cart.

"Thank you. It's bad enough you don't have any long pants to wear. We must maintain at least a modicum of dignity."

"Really, sir? I thought this most supreme bellhop jacket complimented my shorts quite well."

Mr. Haskell gave him a good-humored shake of the head before walking back into the office. As soon as he was out of sight, Ted walked to the counter and glanced at the open page of the registration book, but didn't see the name he was looking for.

Turning the book back toward the office, he sighed. They hadn't checked in yet. He couldn't let them sign in without his knowing it. Being the bellboy, that wouldn't be too hard, he figured.

With nothing to do at the moment, Ted walked over to the cart to sit down. At that moment he heard a commotion from the front of the hotel. A man entered, carrying a woman through the doorway. Giggles and squeals of delight accompanied them. Ted strained to see. The bright sunlight backlit the newlywed couple, but their giddiness made him drop his hopes. Couldn't possibly be his parents. He stood and moved the cart out of the way.

The man managed to carry the woman to the middle of the lobby before setting her down with a laugh. She reached up and kissed his lips sweetly. Hating to interrupt, he motioned to the front desk. "I'll sign us in."

Ted turned to see the groom, in full military uniform, at the front desk, anxiously ringing the service bell. The bride was standing nearby, so he stepped forward to greet her.

Before Ted could say anything, the woman turned to face him, and he froze. The familiar dark eyes twinkled at him from beneath her flowing, black hair, much the same way they had whenever he'd done something to please her. He realized he wasn't at all prepared to see her again for the first time in over two years, and certainly not looking so young and vibrant.

"Mom?" he gasped softly, in awe.

Her overjoyed expression changed to one of confusion. "I beg your pardon?"

Catching himself, Ted remembered where he was. "Um.....I mean, ma'am?"

"Yes?"

He couldn't help but speak softly. "May I take your bags for you?"

She giggled at him. "Well, sure, but we have to get a room first, I think."

Embarrassed, Ted nodded. His father turned from the front desk, displaying the key. "We're set!" he announced, cuddling next to his new wife. Ted couldn't believe how affectionate they were being. He never suspected his father could be so gentle and loving. The whole scene was so unreal...like he was looking at one of their old wedding photos on the fireplace mantle.

Sgt. Logan noticed Ted standing nearby, watching them in amazement, and particularly eyed the shorts with some distaste. "Front and center, young man!"

Obediently, and with familiarity, Ted stepped forward and came to attention.

"The bags are out front."

"Yes, sir," Ted replied with a salute, and executed a perfect about face, marching outside.

A chauffeur in Marine uniform stood next to the camoflauge-colored jeep, which was oddly decorated with crepe paper flowers and messages of well wishes scrawled in soap. The driver reached inside the back of the jeep and handed Ted a new, bright red leather suitcase and a duffel bag. Ted thanked the man and carried the luggage inside. His parents were waiting for the elevator, which came as he approached them.

"Just think," sighed his mother, stepping into the elevator. "An entire evening to ourselves!"

"That's what you think," Ted thought silently, following them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Seeing through the darkness was no problem. He was, of course, totally familiar with every item in his room. Light wasn't necessary, and for some reason he always felt more comfortable thinking in the dark. Considering what was on his mind, it seemed appropriate.

He let his focus fade into the ceiling as his mind drifted back to the subject at hand. Once again he tried to follow Ted's line of reasoning. Again it led nowhere. He couldn't begin to imagine where Ted could have gone. There had to be a logical explanation. It was so unlike Ted to just take off like that. Ted would realize that everyone would worry about him. He wouldn't do that to his dad and brother....."to me!" But what did he mean by "it won't matter, anyway"?

Being stretched out on his back, it was somewhat difficult to turn his head to look at the bedside stand. The vague light from the digital numbers offered enough illumination to outline the alarm clock there. It wasn't as late as he'd thought, but time was still moving too quickly for his liking. The anxiousness he felt inside grew, yet he was aware of how futile it would be to follow his emotions and run helter skelter, trying to find Ted. But just knowing that couldn't keep his body from wanting to get up and bolt; to do something.....anything!

A gentle tapping on the door diverted his attention. "Come in," he called.

Missy's form appeared in the doorway, framed by the hall light. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Bill lied.

She entered, and he could now see she was holding a plate out to him. "Sorry about dinner. I guess the turkey wasn't quite thawed. I made some sandwiches."

"Thanks, I'm not hungry." It was a good excuse even though it was true. He wished he could say it more often. Even her sandwiches left much to be desired.

Missy set the plate down on the dresser and leaned over the foot of the bed. "You're worried about Ted, huh?"

"Yeah," Bill sighed. In a way, it was nice having someone as young as Missy for a mother. She really understood sometimes.

"Yeah," she agreed. "Um.....Mr. Logan is downstairs. He wants to talk to you. You don't have to if you don't want to."

Bill considered this, and found he needed to know what Ted's father wanted. "No, I'll see him."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sitting impatiently on the edge of the bed, the bride swung her high-heeled feet restlessly as she watched her compulsive husband neatly lay out his Sunday clothes and arrange the items from his duffel bag on the bedside stand.

"Come on, honey. Can't that wait?"

"You know I like my sleeping quarters neatly organized!"

She let out a heartfelt laugh and wrapped her legs around one of his, pulling him off balance. "What do you mean, "sleeping"?"

Sgt. Logan kept from falling by propping himself against the bed. He was now leaning over her, about to protest, but she was so playful that he had to smile. "You're suggesting.....?"

She smiled at him, refusing to release his leg, and sputtered out the call to charge through teasing lips.

Taking up the mood, Sgt. Logan softly exclaimed, "Charge!", allowing himself to fall across her. He gathered her into his arms, enjoying the smooth silk of her dress against her slender torso. They had soon lost themselves in a mass of passionate kisses, allowing their bodies to rub together tauntingly.

The sound of heavy breathing interspersed with soft laughter caught Ted's ear as he approached the honeymoon suite. His last few steps were hurried as he reached the door, pressing his ear against it to confirm the noises were indeed coming from his parents' room. He knew it would do no good to knock. They'd simply ignore him at that point.

Setting aside the ice bucket and stand while carefully balancing the tray on one hand, Ted fished into his back pocket for the passkey to their room, which he'd taken from behind the front desk, suspecting it might eventually come in handy. He quietly placed the key in the lock and turned it, then pushed against the door, acting as if he'd accidentally leaned against it.

The noise of Ted stumbling into the room made his parents jump. They were both somewhat disheveled, but tried to put themselves together.

"What do you mean by barging in here?" Sgt. Logan demanded.

Ted managed to conceal the key in his pocket before facing them. "Oh, um.....sorry, sir. You must have left the door sorta open. I leaned against it before knocking and fell in."

"Yes, well, what exactly do you want?"

Ted offered the tray he was holding. "Complimentary champagne for the newlyweds!" he announced, then set the tray with the bottle on the dresser before reaching outside the door to bring in the stand and ice bucket.

"Oh, isn't that nice?" Ted's mother stated, inconspicuously running her now stockinged foot up the back of her husband's leg, which he did not appreciate while trying to deal with unruly hotel staff.

"Yes, it's very nice. Just leave it there, we'll drink it later."

Ted knew he didn't dare leave them. He set up the stand, unsuccessfully trying to look like he knew exactly what he was doing. "Oh, sorry, sir, but I'm supposed to open the champagne for you. Hotel rules."

"Yes, well, I'm sure no one will mind if you don't open one bottle." Sgt. Logan stepped forward and slyly offered Ted a ten dollar bill. Ted eyed it in amazement.

"Whoa! You never even gave me that much at one time for my allowance!"

"What?"

Ted backed away from the money, covering for the slip. "Sir, am I to understand that you are trying to bribe me not to do my job? I am appalled that you would think I could be so easily swayed from my appointed duties!"

"All right, all right," Sgt. Logan grumbled, digging in his pocket. "Twenty dollars."

Ted laughed aloud. "No, thank you! A bellhop's gotta do what a bellhop's gotta do! Now then, it'll just take me a second to get this champagne open, then I will be on my way and you can go back to your.....honeymooning."

Sgt. Logan capitulated and sat on the edge of the bed with his wife to watch Ted open the champagne.

Ted examined the wired cork with interest. Finally, he looked to them. "Anyone got a pair of wire cutters?"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

As Bill walked down the stairs, he could see his father and Detective Logan standing in the entryway. The tone of their voices told him they were arguing. It didn't surprise him. He was well aware that their parents had never seen eye to eye on the subject of child-rearing. They stopped talking when he approached.

"You wanted to see me, Mr. Logan?"

"Could I talk to you..." He shot Bill's father a look. "....alone?"

Bill noticed his Dad was about to protest, and interrupted. "It's okay," he assured.

"If you say so," Mr. Preston sighed with reservation before turning to meet Missy at the foot of the stairs. They went into the kitchen.

Once Bill's parents were out of earshot, Detective Logan spoke. "Bill, I want to talk to Ted."

"I don't know where he is."

"Look, I don't want to get you in trouble with your folks. I know you're covering for Ted, but I need to talk to him."

"I'm really sorry, Mr. Logan. Ted ran away. I don't know where he went."

Detective Logan could see the worry in Bill's eyes and, much to his own surprise, believed him. "You must have some idea where he'd go."

Bill shook his head. "He wouldn't tell me." After a pause he added, "I don't think he plans on coming back."

Ted's father reacted to this statement by turning his head away and stomping at the floor. "I don't understand it. Why does he do these stupid things?"

"Ted was really upset when I saw him. He thinks you don't care about him. He said he couldn't go home."

Hearing his own statement thrown back at him further aggrivated Ted's dad. "I'm not a bad father! Ted has a roof over his head, food on the table.....I work damn hard! Ted's just a sloucher! He doesn't care at all about his future!"

"That's not true! Ted does care about his future! But his idea of the future is different than yours. That doesn't make him a delinquent!"

Detective Logan didn't say anything right away. Bill knew he had to tell the man what he thought. "Do you ever just sit and talk to Ted?"

"I'm constantly talking to him!" Detective Logan rebutted sharply. "The problem is he doesn't listen!"

"Maybe you don't listen, either. It's gotta work both ways, y'know."

"Listen, I don't need some smart-mouthed kid telling me how to raise my son!"

There wasn't anything to lose at this point. "I'm not trying to! All I know is Ted's really been hurting and I haven't been able to get through to him. He needs somebody!" He studied the man's face. "Damn it, he needs you! And all you do is yell at him! Maybe Ted doesn't listen, but he can only stand to hear his own father call him 'hopeless' so many times." As an afterthought he added, "Sir."

Bill expected Ted's father to go through the roof. Instead, the man stood indignantly. "Young man, you don't have any idea what it's like to be a father." He turned, opening the front door. "When you see Ted, tell him to come right home." The door was slammed, not so politely, behind him.

After a moment, Bill's stepmom and dad reappeared. "Don't let it get to you," sighed his dad. "Detective Logan is just set in his ways."

"Yeah," replied Bill softly, realizing that nothing had been accomplished. "Um....I'll be in the garage, okay?"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Haven't you gotten it open yet?"

"Any minute now, sir," Ted groaned, struggling with the bottle.

Sgt. Logan paced the length of the room again, stopping near his wife, who was sitting at the small table by the window. "He's been at it forty minutes!"

"Sssh, dear. Be patient with him. He's trying his best."

Unconvinced, Sgt. Logan turned to face the incompetent bellboy, who was now holding the bottle between his legs and pulling with all his might on the cork.

"His best isn't cutting it."

Ted stopped struggling and held the bottle up to the light, examining it for the fourteenth time. "I don't understand what the problem is. I guess I could just break the neck off the bottle, if you're really thirsty."

"The novelty of this has somehow worn off," sighed Sgt. Logan. He casually walked to Ted, then made a drastic grab for the bottle. "Give me that!"

Ted held onto the cork tightly. "No, really! I've almost got it!"

"You don't have any idea what you're doing!"

"Yes, I do! It's almost loose! I just need a little more...."

Suddenly, the cork burst from the bottle, sending the surprised sergeant sprawling backwards across the bed; champagne spurting and bubbling out all over.

"....leverage," Ted finished.

Sgt. Logan slowly sat up, then realized the contents of the tipped bottle were spilling all over the now soaked bed. He quickly uprighted it, saving what little was still inside.

"Oh wow!" gasped Ted. "I am most supremely sorry! Here.....maybe we can ring out the sheets and save some of it."

"Forget it!" Sgt. Logan struggled to get up, swinging the bottle roughly into Ted's hands. "We are going for a walk. I want this room cleaned up by the time we get back! Come on, dear."

Ted did his best to look chastised until his parents had left, then let out a sigh, lifting the bottle in a toast to himself before taking a swig.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The garage was painfully silent as he sat, alone, on the edge of the stage. He didn't even have the heart to pick up his guitar, which leaned forlornly against Ted's. Bill set his elbows on his knees and fiddled with a loose amplifier cord, dragging it along the ground at his feet. If only there were something he could do.

A familiar, crackling sound caught his ear and he looked up to see a bright light flashing through the cracks of the garage door, accompanied by a strong gust of wind which whipped dust from crevices long undisturbed. It took his mind a second to realize what was happening, then he hopefully jumped to his feet. "Ted! You came back!"

Before he could make a move to the button on the wall, the garage door slowly began to rise. Bill watched with some astonishment, not yet sure what was going on.

Standing amidst a cloud of smoke and dust, Bill could vaguely see the outline of a phone booth. The door opened and a figure, wearing a long coat and dark glasses, emerged.

"Rufus!" Bill exclaimed.

"Greetings, William," Rufus offered, stepping forward.

"Whoa! What're you doin' here?"

"I have come on most urgent business," Rufus explained.

"You mean Ted? You came to help get Ted back?"

"I'm certainly going to try."

"But how? Do you know where he went?"

Rufus walked past Bill and stopped at the stage, turning dramatically. "This is a most egregious emergency. Ted has gone back in time to try to prevent his own birth."

Bill stood, unsure he'd heard correctly. "What d'ya mean, prevent his own birth?"

"Ted is very distraught. He thinks it would have been better if he'd never been born. He wouldn't think to kill himself or run away.....that would leave too many hurt people behind. However, if he'd never been born at all, no one would be the wiser."

"So, that's what he meant by "it won't matter". But, that's crazy! Ted can't do it!"

"Indeed. It would be most heinous should he succeed. That's why I'm here."

"Oh, right," sighed Bill, somewhat disappointed. "If you don't get me and Ted back together, then there won't be any Wyld Stallyns, and the basis of your entire way of life in the 27th century would be non-existent."

Rufus walked to Bill. "This is true. But don't sell me short. Ted's a good kid. I don't want to see anything happen to him."

Bill nodded with a smile, reassured of Rufus' good intentions. "Thanks, dude. Whatta we do?"

"I need you to come with me. Ted may not be willing to come back so easily, but he might listen to you."

"What if he doesn't?"

"We must stop Ted from interfering with his parents' honeymoon. If he succeeds in keeping them apart until his dad goes back on duty at six a.m., then he'll cease to exist. And if he doesn't exist, our future won't exist as we know it. There will be no way to rectify it once it's done. Ted won't even exist in our memories."

Bill hurried to the booth. "Then let's go!"

"Very well." Rufus pulled open the door of the phone booth. "After you."

"Where are we going?" Bill asked, stepping inside.

"Palm Springs, 1971."

"Wow! How do you know where Ted went?"

"That was relatively easy," replied Rufus, dialing a number as Bill closed the door. "The Circuits of Time friendly operator traced his call."

"Outstanding work, dude!"

The booth became aglow and they were soon on their way.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Yes, I am sorry, sir. I'll definitely have a word with him."

"Well, I sure as hell hope you do! It's bad enough he spilled an entire bottle of champagne on our bed, but to take the entire bed apart....!"

"I will talk to him, Sergeant. I'm so sorry about the trouble. I'd offer you another room, but we're completely booked this weekend."

"You do realize this is our honeymoon! At the very least I think we could expect a reduced rate on the room!"

Mr. Haskell shuddered at the thought. "Tell you what....while your bed is being reassembled, why don't you enjoy a quiet dinner in our restaurant and lounge? On the house, of course."

"Oh, that sounds wonderful," Mrs. Logan replied eagerly. "What do you say? I'm starving!"

Sgt. Logan could see his wife was happy with the idea, and decided to let any further complaining go for the time being. Maybe they could still salvage something of the evening. "All right."

Relieved to be rid of the aggravated Sergeant, Mr. Haskell went back to straightening the front desk. He looked up when he heard the elevator doors open and was surprised to see Ted run out, looking about anxiously.

Seeing Ted was about to bolt, he called out. "Logan! Get over here, now!"

Reluctantly, Ted walked to the front desk. "Yes, Mr. Haskell?"

"Did you take apart the bed in the honeymoon suite?"

"Um....well, yeah. See, some champagne got spilled on it, so I thought it would dry out better if I....."

"Logan.....please.....don't explain it. I've got a bad enough headache as it is. Next time something like that happens, just call maid service!"

"Yes, sir."

"Now, please, go upstairs and put the bed back together, and make sure there are fresh sheets put on it! The sergeant and his wife have been down here complaining."

"Really? Where are they now?"

"Having dinner in the lounge."

"Great! I mean, that's nice. I'll go fix the bed."

Mr. Haskell watched Ted quickly disappear up the stairs. He didn't know what to make of this strange, young man, but shrugged it off, walking back into his office.

Ted peered around the corner of the stairway from the first landing and saw Mr. Haskell leave the front desk. Quietly, he sneaked down and made his way to the restaurant. On the way, he removed the bellhop jacket and ditched it on the floor behind some potted plants.

The dining area was a combination bar and restaurant. Dimmed lights and a band playing soft music provided a relaxing atmosphere. Several young Marines on leave sat drinking at the smoke-clouded bar.

Ted could see his parents sitting at an isolated table in a quiet corner. They'd apparently just ordered drinks from a cocktail waitress who was walking away from their table.

The ambience was perfect for romance, disturbed only by an occasional outburst of laughter or loud talking from the servicemen. Their pre-partying was beginning to peak with the help of a few drinks, and this gave Ted an idea.

The band members looked to be in their mid-to-late twenties; a typical part-time, struggling group taking jobs wherever they could. They had finished their song and were setting up for the next number when Ted approached.

"Hey, dudes! How's it goin'?"

Scattered positive and friendly replies came in answer.

"Could you guys play something a little more.....y'know? Something most outstanding?"

"Are we talking Mantovani or Liberace?"

"I do not know what you are talking about. I was talking Van Halen, Iron Maiden....."

"Are those local bands?"

Remembering it was 1971, Ted readjusted his thinking. "Ooh, right.....sorry. Hendrix, Stones.....something from the 'Good Morning, Vietnam' soundtrack?"

"Oh, sure. But, it's not really the type of music we're supposed to play here."

Ted motioned toward the bar. "You see those brave, young men over there? They're on call, day and night, to fight for our country! I'm sure they'd like to let loose while on their painfully short leave."

"I dunno, man," whispered the drummer, leaning over his kit. "Actually play something the servicemen would like?"

"Why not?"

The base player leaned over to Ted's ear. "We're C.O."

"Oh," Ted sighed, thinking. "Is that like 4-F?"

"No, man!" the lead guitarist moaned. "We're conscientious objectors!"

"Okay, so these poor souls were sucked into the system! Who cares? This place is as dead as a Wayne Newton concert! Time to rip it up, dudes!"

The band members looked at one another questioningly before the lead guitarist turned back and smiled. "Well, okay. I guess the guys deserve some good music for a change."

"Excellent!" Ted walked to the bar and leaned back to see what would happen.

"Good evening, everyone. We'd like to play a little something now for all the servicemen out there....who like to fight hard....." He turned to adjust the knobs on his amplifier.

"Well, now isn't that nice?" Sgt. Logan commented to his wife.

The guitarist turned back to the mike. "....and like to party harder!"

The volume much louder than before, the band broke into a raucous opening guitar riff with the drums joining in shortly afterward, pounding a rhythm which could be felt through the floorboards. The servicemen were already shouting cheers of encouragement. Ted could see the shocked look on his father's face from across the room.

By the second chorus of 'Satisfaction', one table of eager Marines were singing along wholeheartedly in pretty decent voice, adding some harmony. The entire room had changed in a matter of two minutes, and not to the liking of Ted's mom and dad.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The time machine landed with a bump, and Bill hurriedly opened the door of the booth and stepped out, looking around.

"It's a gas station," he announced, turning back as Rufus stepped out after him, pulling off his sunglasses.

"There's a hotel over there," Rufus pointed out.

"Yeah! And here's our phone booth!" Bill exclaimed, circling the "out of order" booth standing nearby. "Ted must be here!"

"It would seem so," sighed Rufus, examining the area. "Okay. Go to the hotel and find Ted. Try talking it over with him."

"Where are you going, Rufus?"

"I'm going to do some research on your lives. Maybe I can find something in his past that will convince Ted to come back."

"Thanks, Rufus. As always, your assistance in matters of great emergency is greatly appreciated."

Rufus stepped into the booth, then peered out again, glancing about. "Am I clear for take off?"

Bill looked around quickly. "No one's watching."

"Good luck." Rufus replaced his glasses before closing the door to the booth.

Bill walked to the sidewalk, pausing to watch as Rufus disappeared in a flash of light. Once the ground grew dark again, Bill proceeded across the street.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The restaurant was not at all the same place Ted had walked into an hour ago. There was now a distinct party atmosphere with the young Marines having the time of their lives along with the band; all rocking their hearts out on the twelfth chorus of 'Why Don't We Do It In the Road?'.

Sgt. Logan was brooding over his half eaten dessert. His wife eyed him with concern, then tenderly placed her hand over his. "Please, honey. Don't let it upset you so."

"I can't believe this place has gotten so noisy!"

"Oh, it's not too bad. The kids just want to have some fun."

"But, I wanted our one night together to be perfect. To be something special."

"I know. And it is special! I'm here with you. It couldn't be any better."

Sgt. Logan looked into her eyes and smiled. "Did I ever tell you that you are the most gorgeous woman in the world?"

"You've mentioned it once or twice. But I don't mind the repetition."

He moved his chair closer and leaned over to kiss her.

Ted was swinging his head with the music when the sight of his parents kissing startled him. He had to do something, and fast! At that moment, a busboy passed by and stopped at the bar, filling a pitcher of ice with water. Ted crossed to the small man, passing a table which had just been abandoned, and purposely knocked one of the nearly empty glasses onto the floor.

Hearing the glass fall, the busboy looked up as Ted approached.

"Go pick that up and clear the table right away," Ted ordered. "I'll get the water."

Seeing no reason to argue, the busboy did what he was told. Ted picked up the pitcher and, as an afterthought, grabbed a menu before walking to his parent's table.

They were still kissing when he reached them. He held the menu up to cover his face as he refilled his mother's glass. They paid no attention to him.

"More water, senior?" Ted asked in his best Mexican accent, keeping the menu in front of his face. His father didn't even regard the question.

Ted had no other choice. Grimacing, he leaned to refill the glass, then pulled the pitcher back so the water and ice poured straight into his father's lap. Sgt. Logan leaped up, screaming in agony and bumping into the table, causing glasses to topple.

"So sorry, sir.....I shall bring a towel most promptly," Ted offered facetiously, ducking behind the menu and scurrying away before his father could turn on him.

"Augh!! I don't believe this!"

"Oh, honey! Here, let me..." Mrs. Logan grabbed her napkin and tried to dab away the wetness.

Sgt. Logan was quick to push her hand away. "Stop it! Must you embarrass me in front of everyone?" He glanced around, making sure no one saw.

Lowering the napkin back to her lap, she tried to cover the hurt that statement had caused.

"I'm gonna kill that waiter!" he yelled.

"It was just an accident. Please, sit down."

"I can't sit down like this! I'm going to the latrine."

In his hasty retreat to the men's room, Sgt. Logan came across the small busboy, who eyed the wet pants with surprise before looking up into the face of the angry sergeant.

"You have accident?" he asked curiously.

Losing all control, Sgt. Logan grabbed the confused man menacingly by the shirt. "You clumsy, little oaf!"

"What? I do nothing!"

"Whoa, way to go, Sarge!" one young Marine called out. "Roughing up the minority staff, are you?"

Sgt. Logan froze. The music had stopped, and he could feel every eye in the place upon him.

"Tsk tsk tsk," clicked another Marine under his breath. "Not setting a very good example for us impressionable, green recruits!"

"Yeah.....pretty tough for a guy that can't even 'hold his water'!" The young men burst into laughter.

Standing at the bar with his back to the room, Ted risked a quick look over his shoulder and saw that his father was about to explode. With a frustrated shudder, Sgt. Logan released the helpless busboy and aimed an angry finger at the Marines. "Disrepectful little assholes!" he yelled, then stormed off to the men's room.

"Oooooooh!" swooned the group, laughing after him.

Ted sighed with relief. That would pretty much do it. His father had been humiliated, something the man was never able to overcome very easily. He turned to face the restaurant, happy that his mission seemed to be going so well........until he saw his mother sitting alone at the table, trying her best to hide the tears. His heart dropped to see her crying. He wanted more than anything to go to her, comfort her......explain that it was all for the best. He knew he couldn't. Head dropped, he left the restaurant.

Two people left the lobby empty until Bill entered. He looked around, wondering where he should start looking. Then, before he'd even reached the front desk, Ted walked in from the restaurant, pausing to retrieve a red dress jacket from the floor.

Seeing his friend was in some distress, Bill spoke softly. "Ted?"

Ted looked up quickly, tilting his head. "Bill!" There was definitely surprise in his voice, but not much energy, and the next sentence came out even less enthusiastically. "What're you doin' here?"

Bill stepped forward slowly, trying to act non-threatening. "I was worried about ya, dude. Why'd you run off like that?"

Ted didn't answer verbally. He pulled the jacket on, then shook his head in reply.

"Ted, we have to talk."

Ted buttoned up the jacket, then callously walked past Bill. "There's nothin' to talk about."

"Come on! You run out on me and then expect me to sit back and let you "erase" yourself from existence? It's not that easy, pal!"

Ted stopped, then turned back to Bill. "You don't understand!" He was about to continue when Mr. Haskell emerged from his office.

"Logan! There you are!" He stopped suddenly, as the loud music in the bar started up again. "What is that?"

"I think it's the band, sir," Ted announced.

"Doesn't sound like easy listening to me."

"On the contrary," Ted corrected. "I find I can take in large quantities of music such as this with the greatest of ease!"

Mr. Haskell stared at Ted in disbelief, then shook it off. "Get up to room 203. Mrs. Babbot needs some help with her heavy luggage."

"Yes, sir." Ted walked to the elevator with Bill following close behind as Mr. Haskell left the front desk and disappeared down the hallway.

"What don't I understand?" Bill asked, trying to restart the conversation.

"Dude, I have to go upstairs."

"When are we going to talk, Ted?"

Ted exhaled, thinking it over. "Okay, look. Wait here. This shouldn't take too long."

The elevator doors opened and Ted stepped inside. Bill caught the doors before they could close. "You aren't going to run out on me again, are ya?"

Ted gave Bill a sincere look. "I'll be right back. Promise."

Bill let the doors close, then walked from the elevator to the waiting area where he took a seat. He was anxious, but relaxed when he thought about Ted's promise. Ted had never gone back on a promise before.

A woman entered from the restaurant, clutching a handkerchief to her nose as she sniffed loudly. She crossed to the elevator and pressed the button. Bill looked up at her and recognized Ted's mother. It startled him, but he tried not to stare. She stepped into the elevator when it came and had soon disappeared.

Bill waited patiently, and pretty soon Ted reappeared, walking down the stairs. He sat next to Bill on the couch but didn't say anything.

After a minute of silence, Bill spoke. "Come on, Ted. What's goin' on?"

Ted moaned softly, fidgeting. "Everyone would be better off if I wasn't around."

"How can you say that? It's most untrue."

"It is so! And I don't know what else I can do!"

"Ted, this isn't the answer. You can't let everyone down by running out on your own life."

"My own life.....not with my dad around. He's gonna take everything away from me! He doesn't care."

Bill reached over to pat Ted's knee, then hesitated, drawing his hand back. "Dude, your dad does care. He came to my house looking for you. He was really concerned."

Ted shook his head. "He probably just wanted to know where I was so he could keep me under control."

"I do not think so. Ted, your dad isn't some red-eyed, evil monster!"

Ted shot him a look.

Bill shrugged. "Okay, okay.....so sometimes he is a red-eyed, evil monster. But, he's also a human being. He can't be totally unreasonable."

Ted stood up to pace. "It's not just that, Bill." He stopped at the end of the couch and turned, eyes downward. "I can't think of one thing I've accomplished that could possibly mean anything to anyone. Dad's right.....I'm hopeless."

Bill leaned toward Ted earnestly. "Ted, you're taking to heart words your father has spoken out of anger. You are not hopeless! If you aren't born, who's gonna play air guitar with me? Who's gonna cover for me in class when I'm wadding spitballs?" He dropped his head, slightly embarrassed. "Who's gonna be my best friend?"

Ted eyed Bill sympathetically. "You'll find another best friend."

Bill sighed sadly. Ted's mind was apparently made up, but there had to be some way to change it. "Please, Ted. Come back and try dealing with your dad."

Ted shifted his weight, dropping his shoulders. "Yeah, well.....at least your parents let you do what you want."

Bill laughed under his breath. "Yeah, right. They hardly know I exist half the time." He thought about this and shook his head. "Boy, I tell ya, Ted....it's either too much or too little. Parents aren't perfect."

Ted nodded in agreement. It was then that Rufus entered the hotel lobby and walked to them.

"Rufus!" Ted exclaimed.

"Gentlemen. What's the decision?"

Realizing he had to give an answer, Ted rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "Oh, I dunno what to do."

Rufus nodded, approaching Ted slowly. "The choice is up to you. But there's something I think you should know."

"What's that, Rufus?"

"If you do decide to stay and keep your parents from conceiving, Bill won't be going back, either."

Ted gave Rufus a startled look. "How d'ya mean?"

"I took the liberty of going through your histories. Perhaps you recall a certain skateboarding incident when you were ten years old?"

Ted thought a moment. "Not really."

"Of course, Ted! He means the first day I got my skateboard and you insisted on riding down Gorman's Hill on it with me."

"That's right," Ted recalled. "You let me sit on the back!"

"And we cracked up halfway down the hill because you kept dragging your feet," Bill reminded Ted.

"I was not dragging my feet!" Ted whined.

"You were, too! Your legs always were too long! I ended up with two broken fingers."

"Great," Ted sighed. "Another thing I managed to screw up!"

"I wouldn't say that," Rufus interrupted. "See, when we developed time travel in the future, we had to thoroughly test the possible changes in history that could occur, so we developed a system called 'Alternate Universe' in which the outcome of any change in history can be observed beforehand."

"And in English?" Bill asked.

"Ted, if you hadn't been born, you wouldn't have been there that day, and Bill would have gone down that hill alone."

"So?"

"So, you realize Gorman's Hill dead ends at a busy intersection."

Bill's eyes opened wide. "Are you saying...?"

Rufus nodded. "Bill, you wouldn't have been able to stop. If Ted hadn't been there, you would have died that day."

Bill and Ted eyed each other with concern. "Most non-triumphant!" they sighed together.

"You see, Ted, it may not seem like your life has had any signifigance, when in reality it has!"

"Whoa!" Ted gasped. "I feel just like Jimmy Stewart in that holiday movie... ...um......what's it called?"

"You mean 'Harvey'?" Bill offered.

"Yah, that's the one!"

"Now, don't let me sway your decision!" Rufus insisted.

"Oh, of course not," Ted stated, confused.

"See Ted? If you weren't my best friend, I'd have ended up as road pizza!"

"Yeah," Ted thought aloud. "Gee, Bill. I don't want anything to happen to you."

"Then, you'll come back?" Bill asked hopefully.

Ted looked from Bill to Rufus and shrugged. "Well, seeing the two of you came all the way back in time for me, I guess the least I can do is go back and try to deal with stuff."

"Excellent!" Bill smiled. "And don't worry, Ted. I'm certain we will have plenty of good times ahead of us! Don't we, Rufus?"

Rufus smiled to himself. "I think that's a given."

Ted seemed unimpressed, which worried Bill somewhat, but getting Ted back to San Dimas was the important thing. They could deal with the rest later.

"So, are we ready to go?" Bill asked.

"Not yet," Rufus stated. "First we must scope out the present parent situation."

"Oh, that's no problem," Ted assured them. "I didn't interfere with their honeymoon too much! My folks are probably intimately entwined in each others' arms again by now!"

Sgt. Logan stormed into the hotel lobby from the restaurant, the ring from a large, water stain standing out blatantly on the crotch of his pants. He spotted Ted and marched over.

"You! Have you seen my wife?"

Bill and Rufus did their best to disappear where they stood as Ted faced his father. "Um.....no, sir."

Sgt. Logan eyed Ted in frustration, then ran to the elevator and pushed the button. The doors immediately opened and Ted's mother hurried out, carrying her suitcase.

"Wait! Where are you going?"

"I'm leaving. I can't stay here any longer! It's just not working!"

"You can't run out on me!"

She stopped at the front desk, setting her suitcase down to ring the bell. "I can't believe you'd cause such a scene on our honeymoon! You and your temper...!"

"It isn't my fault! All the crazy things that keep happening around here....! It's this stupid hotel!"

"Oh, it is not! You always have to blame everything else. If you'd just calm down and not get crazy....."

"I am calm! And who's the one that's getting crazy now?"

Mr. Haskell hurried from the hallway. "Yes, ma'am?"

"I'd like a cab, please," she sobbed.

With a startled look, Mr. Haskell leaned forward. "Oh, but surely....."

"A cab, please!" she insisted.

"Yes ma'am," he assured her, though stunned. "I'll have one out front for you in a few minutes."

"Thank you." She picked up her suitcase and headed to the front door with her husband following.

"Wait! You can't leave! We have the room for the entire night!"

"It just isn't right....not this weekend. Oh, honey, I love you, but...." She turned back to face him. "Not tonight."

Sgt. Logan placed his arms on his hips, looking very militaristic. "Well, that's just fine! I'll be going back on duty in less than seven hours! If you should happen to come to your senses before then, you know where you can find me!"

Collectively, Bill, Ted and Rufus watched as Sgt. Logan stormed through the lobby and into the bar and Ted's mother hurried out the front door. Ted turned to the others, worriedly.

"Uh oh, dude," Bill said to Ted. "Looks like you did a more than adequate job on your folks."

"Oh wow!" sighed Ted. "We gotta get my parents back together again or we're both history!"

They turned to Rufus hopefully, but he held his hands up in protest. "Hey, whoa! No way! Ted, you know your parents better than anyone. If there's a way to get them... 'in the mood', so to speak, you should know it!"

After a moment of thought, Ted snapped his fingers. "I've got it! But it may prove to be most challenging! Bill, here's what I need you to do...."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

She looked up to see a car approaching, then slumped sadly again as it passed. The cab was still nowhere in sight, and she was feeling a little conspicuous, sitting in her wedding dress on a bench outside a hotel at night. She hoped none of the young, drunk Marines would walk out and see her there. The sound of someone approaching made her nervous, until she looked up and saw the lanky form of the young bellboy standing nearby.

"Ma'am? Would you like me to wait with you until the taxi arrives?"

She had wanted to be alone, but there was something about this young man....she felt so warm toward him, but wasn't sure why. "Yes, that would be fine. Thank you."

Ted walked to the bench and sat down, not looking directly at her. "I'm sorry things didn't work out."

She nodded, but added nothing, uncomfortable talking about personal matters with a stranger.

"I hate to say it, but that guy you married is a real hothead!"

"He does have quite a temper at times."

Ted shook his head. "You could do better for yourself than him, I'm sure."

"Please, don't talk about my husband that way. He's really a fine man."

"I'm sorry, but I find that hard to believe."

She looked directly at Ted. "You don't know him."

He studied her face before asking, "What was it that attracted you to him?"

A thoughtful look came over her face. "He's very passionate; about his work, about his honor.....everything. That's a rare quality."

"You seem very much in love with him."

Realizing this was true, she smiled at Ted. "I am."

"Then.....why are you leaving?"

She moaned softly, crossing her arms. "Sometimes his pride gets the better of him."

"And what about your pride?"

This caught her off guard, and she found she had no comeback. Looking over at Ted's inquisitive face, she couldn't help but laugh in surrender. "I guess we have more in common than I thought, huh?"

Ted smiled back. "The two of you were meant for each other. I can safely say you will be most joyous together."

She tilted her head quizzically. "How do you know?"

Ted shrugged. "I dunno. Just a hunch."

A taxicab pulled up to the curb. Ted's mother stood, moving to pick up her suitcase, but Ted stood and picked it up for her. She walked to the cab and grabbed hold of the door handle when she noticed that Ted was still standing by the bench, holding her suitcase as if he had no intention of letting her leave. She stood, perplexed, and thought about what she herself had said. Smiling, she let go of the handle. "I should give him another chance?"

"That would be a most excellent idea," Ted confirmed. "He is presently drowning his sorrows in the lounge."

Mrs. Logan leaned to the cab driver. "That's okay. Thanks, anyway."

She stepped to Ted as the cab pulled away, reaching out to claim her bag, which he handed to her. Letting out a short laugh, she studied his face. "You know, you're a very insightful, young man. You should be very successful at whatever you decide to do."

She was happy to see the warm smile on the bellboy's face. "That means more to me than you could ever know, Mom.... I mean, miss."

Ted followed her inside the hotel, lagging behind as she continued on to the lounge. He was suddenly overcome with the urge to call after her. If there were only some way he could warn her about that night.....to take her back with him. But he couldn't jeapordize their plan. He had to let her go.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The bar was much quieter after the band had excused themselves for a break. Bill watched as Sgt. Logan swallowed the last of his drink and motioned to order another. He then looked to Rufus, who was sitting at the end of the bar, watching the door. Rufus turned and motioned an air guitar strum.....the signal. Within a few seconds, Ted's mother walked through the door, scanning the tables until she spotted her husband.

Bill moved closer to the young Marines, who were busy laughing over the end of a story.

"Excuse me, inebriated, young Marine dudes."

"Yeah? What is it?" one asked in amusement.

"I was wondering if you generous men couldn't do a favor for a most deserving couple."

"Oh, I don't know. Which most deserving couple is that?"

"They're right over there. Sgt. Logan and his new wife."

This statement brought howls of laughter from the recruits. "A favor? For Sgt. Logan?? Listen kid, that guy is the biggest hard-ass on the whole base! No one would do anything for him!"

They continued laughing. Bill stood, undaunted, in front of them.

"Laugh not, mocking enlistees! Sgt. Logan's young marriage is already in most egregious distress!"

"That's no surprise, is it?" laughed one Marine between gulps of beer.

"And...." Bill continued, "If his marriage fails, then he'll have nothing else in his life but the service, and he'll re-enlist, and you'll be stuck with him for another hitch! Comprende?"

The laughter had suddenly died.

"What do you want us to do?"

Sgt. Logan had received the drink he'd ordered when he glanced up to see his wife. He refused to give her any satisfaction by being grateful for her return.

"What? You forget something in the room?"

She remained standing next to the table. "Honey....please. I'm sorry I acted so hastily. It's been a bad night."

"Yeah, so you plan on running out on me every time things don't go just right?"

"I wouldn't have run out if you'd stayed calm!"

Sgt. Logan turned his chair away, scooping up his drink. Exercising extreme patience, she sat down next to him.

Rufus picked up one of the guitars from the stage as Bill arranged the voluntary Marines in a straight line. Ted watched eagerly from the doorway.

"Okay, guys. Make it sweet," Bill coached. "Rufus?"

Rufus strummed a key to get the Marines on pitch, then gave a soft countdown and began playing.

In tender, elegant voices, the young Marines sang in harmony. "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.....we will fight our country's battles on the land and on the sea..."

Mrs. Logan gave a start at the music, then leaned gently over her husband's shoulder. "Oh, honey! They're playing our song!"

Sgt. Logan set down his drink; tears coming to his eyes as one chorus followed another. Slowly he turned to face her, finding the same, sentimental look in her eyes. He took her hand and squeezed it warmly. That was all the apology she needed.

".....the United States Marines."

Ted stood aside and watched his parents pass, arm in arm, making their way to the elevator. His father was carrying his mother's red suitcase. By the time Bill and Rufus joined him, the lovebirds had disappeared behind the closing elevator doors.

"Success, dude!" Bill exclaimed.

"Excellent!" Bill and Ted performed an exuberant air guitar duet.

Rufus patted their shoulders. "Outstanding work, my young friends. I think nature will carry on from here."

"Most definitely," Bill agreed. "Let us take our leave while things are progressing favorably."

"Shouldn't we wait around to make sure that they.....um.....y'know?" Ted's expression suddenly became one of horror. "Oh no!"

"What?" asked Bill.

Ted ran to the stairs. "I forgot to put their bed back together, dude!"

Bill tried to keep up, but Ted was darting up the stairs so fast it was impossible. He finally caught up with Ted at the closed door of the honeymoon suite and watched as his friend quickly pulled a key out of his pocket and opened the door.

Ted froze as the door swung open, revealing his parents lying on top of the mattress on the floor. They were already partially undressed, wrapped in each others' arms with a sheet draped over them awkwardly. They looked up when he entered.

"Oh, I um.....about the bed...."

To his surprise, they simply grinned at him playfully. He got the idea, and backed out without saying another word. Giggles could be heard inside the room as he quietly closed the door.

"Well, Ted, congratulations! Looks like your parents are well on their way to having a boy!"

"It does seem that way," Ted agreed, shaken. "First time I ever walked in on them. Kind of a scary sight, huh?"

"That's nothing. You should see it on the dining room table sometime," Bill offered. "Now, let us motor our butts back to San Dimas, 1988, before anything else happens!"

* * * * * * * * * * * *
*

"At least Mr. Haskell was most understanding about your sudden departure," Bill pointed out.

"Yeah," Ted agreed. "I sorta got the impression he was glad to see me go! That man should really see a doctor about those headaches!"

There was only a dim light coming from the empty gas station as they crossed the street to the extended row of phone booths. Rufus stopped next to his booth and waited for Bill and Ted's attention.

"Gentlemen, I think you can make it home safely from here."

"Yes, thank you, Rufus," said Bill sincerely. "You were most helpful in our time of need."

"Yeah, thanks, Rufus," Ted added, although he didn't look too enthusiastic.

Rufus stepped forward and placed his hands on Ted's shoulders. "Ted 'Theodore' Logan.....you know, life isn't always easy. You're going to face many obstacles in the future. But there's one thing you must do in times of trouble.....and you must do it no matter what."

Ted looked into Rufus' eyes, paying extreme attention.

"No matter what.....never lose sight of your dreams. Keep them here...." He tapped the side of Ted's head. "....and here," likewise motioning to Ted's heart. "No one can take your dreams from you, but it's very easy to give them up voluntarily. Comprende?"

Ted nodded. "Yeah."

"And, of course, you've got Bill here to keep you on track," Rufus pointed out. "You'll do the same for him, I hope."

"Oh, most certainly," Ted assured him.

Rufus stepped into his phone booth. "Amigos, I must take my leave." He quickly dialed a number before grasping the door. "Be excellent to each other."

"Party on, dude," Bill and Ted offered as Rufus closed the door and disappeared in a flash of light.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The phone booth made a three-point landing outside Bill's garage and the two friends stepped out.

"Good ol' San Dimas," sighed Bill, looking around. "Hey, what time is it?"

Ted checked his watch. "If this is correct, it's almost one a.m."

Dropping his arm, Ted hooked his thumbs on the waistband of his shorts as if not sure what to do. Bill realized that, as far as Ted was concerned, nothing had really been solved, and there was still his father to face.

"Look, dude.....it's been a long day. If you don't wanna deal with your dad tonight, you could, y'know, stay here. Spend the night."

Ted considered this seriously, then shook his head. "Naw. I think I'd better get home. No sense putting it off."

Bill shrugged, crossing his arms. "Wish I could help."

Ted looked at Bill sincerely. "You have. Bill, I don't care what my dad says or what he does....we're gonna be friends for all time. And one way or the other, no matter what happens....Wyld Stallyns is inevitably gonna kick some butt!"

They raised hands for a high five, instinctively sensing the camaraderie, and softened the moment by clutching each others' hands in mid-slap and holding on a few moments.

Ted turned to walk home as Bill watched, then stopped at the end of the driveway. "See you tomorrow?"

"You got it, dude," Bill confirmed.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It was surprising how unfamiliar his own street was to him. Although he'd viewed it many times in the early morning hours, it had never seemed such a dark and deserted place before....like an area long since abandoned by light; its residents similarly driven out. Even his own house seemed painfully empty.

The patrol car pulled into the driveway sharply, jostling him. He reached down and turned off the motor and lights, but didn't turn the ignition off all the way. He sat, not thinking, bathed in the soft, green light from the dashboard. The small, red speck of light on his police radio called to him, and finally he reached down to pick up the transmitter.

"Detective Logan calling in. You there, Mac?"

"Yeah, still here," Mac's crackling voice replied. "Any luck?"

"I circled the town twice....no sign of him."

"I'm sure he's taken cover somewhere, sir. Why don't you go home and get some sleep?"

"Yeah," Detective Logan sighed. "That's what I figured I'd do. I'm at my house. You'll keep that APB out, right?"

"Sure thing. Try not to worry."

"Thanks, Mac. See ya."

Detective Logan replaced the transmitter and turned the ignition completely off, removing the key. He remained in the car, however, trying to take everything in. He would never admit it to anyone, but he was very afraid. What if Ted had taken a bus or hitch-hiked somewhere....left town altogether? He could even be heading for another state. No telling what kind of trouble his son would get into. Having been exposed to the underworld of San Dimas for so many years didn't offer much comfort. To imagine how depraved a big city like Los Angeles would be.....

A movement caught his eye and he strained to look through the darkness. He wasn't sure that what he was seeing was real until Ted stepped into the light of the porch, approaching the front door. His heart rode a great wave of relief into his throat, and he scrambled out of the car.

Ted had just opened the front door when he heard the car door open and spun, surprised to see his father getting out of the patrol car.

They said nothing. Both stood, staring at one another briefly. Then, without a word, Ted turned and walked into the house, leaving the door open.

The flood of alleviation was immediately replaced by an even larger flood of anger. How dare Ted run off, make him worry, then completely ignore him! He ran to the house, prepared to give Ted hell before his son could close himself in his room.

Storming through the front door, Detective Logan was surprised, as he had apparently startled Ted, who was sitting in the same spot on the couch where he usually received his lectures.

Calming down only somewhat, Ted's father closed the front door and walked to the middle of the living room, pacing as he tried to remember everything he'd planned to say in the event of Ted's return. "No yelling....don't yell...." he reminded himself silently, then faced Ted. "You okay?"

Ted nodded shyly.

"You know you scared the hell out of me?" It was close to yelling, and he realized now that the advice to himself had been in vain. "I've had an APB out on you all night! Hell, I've been driving around the neighborhood for hours trying to find you!"

Ted wanted to say he was sorry, but couldn't speak. He was terrified of what was going to happen, sensing already that it would be getting much worse. His father was only warming up.

"Of all the crazy stunts you've pulled, this one has to be the stupidest! Running away like that! No telling what could have happened to you on the streets! Not to mention the fact that you directly disobeyed my orders!"

The speech continued, but Ted wasn't listening any more. He was thinking about everything that had happened that night. One statement in particular stood out in his mind....when his mother had said, "You don't know him." It was true. He didn't know his father. But the man hadn't always been so enigmatic to him. He could clearly remember good times they'd shared when he was younger. His early memories of his father more closely resembled the Marine sergeant he'd seen at the Springs Oasis Hotel. This was not the same man. This man was bitter; angry. But why? When had he changed?

Then Ted knew.

Detective Logan was pacing now, waving his arms....his voice getting louder but still trying to stay under control to not awaken Deacon. Finishing his last thought, he spun on Ted, demanding to see the effect of his words, but was faced with an expression he did not expect....one of extreme compassion.

Stopped dead in his tracks, he studied his son's face, trying to understand what Ted could possibly be thinking, but he couldn't fathom it. "What?"

Ted tilted his head, his eyes as questioning as his voice. "You really miss Mom, don't you?"

Stunned silent, it took Detective Logan a moment to really hear the question, which had come at him from left field. But, after recovering from the initial shock, he turned it over in his mind; his eyes scrutinizing Ted's expression. What answer did his son expect? What answer did he want? And why now, of all times, would he ask such a thing? Then he looked beyond the question, deep into Ted's eyes....saw the hurt buried there....and realized that same pain was something he'd felt every day for two years. It was incredible to think, after all this time, he hadn't realized his own son might be feeling the same pain, and suddenly a lot of things became clearer.

"Of course I do," he finally answered, very softly.

The picture of his mother's beautiful, young face still fresh in his mind, Ted found he couldn't look his father in the eyes any more, and dropped his head, sobbing. "I miss her, too. I miss her so much!"

All the paternal instincts he'd battled throughout the day surfaced again, yet he stood, unsure of what he could do. It had been different when Ted was a small child, crying over some monster that wasn't there or a scraped knee. He considered Ted a young man now....and yet, Ted was still his son. Was he really so different than the little boy he'd held years ago?

For once Detective Logan let his feelings mandate his actions as he walked to the couch and sat next to Ted.

Unsure of what Ted's reaction would be, his dad slowly reached over and placed a hand on his son's back. Ted didn't look up, but let himself sink into his father's arms, clutching the comforting body tightly.

His anger abated, he cradled Ted gently, stroking the long, black hair as his son's body quietly shook with sobs. He wasn't sure what was happening, but it didn't matter. All he knew at that moment was his son needed him, and he needed his son. Everything else could wait.

"It's gonna be okay, Ted. We're gonna be okay."

THE END