Torn apart

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Rose Tyler met Alec Hardy the first day she went to a new school when she was just 13. Her mother had followed a boyfriend to Paisley in Scotland and said they were staying. Rose daren't speak at first but Alec was different. He became her friend, they had their first kiss at 13 but 3 years later, she was gone. This is how they found each other and fell in love again in 2012.
Chapter 1 - The news
Suitable for over 16's only

Rose Tyler in this story is the same age as Alec, making it that she was born in 1971, a month after Alec.  Based loosely on David Tennant's childhood but then follows Alec Hardy's story.  No disrespect or intrusion is intended.  Dates may not be the same as in the series concerning Sandbrook and may contain some elements of my other stories on the Sandbrook subject including 'No witness protection' where Rose's friend Shareen leaves the estate with her mother to live with her boyfriend.

This is very sad in parts as Rose makes friends with Alec and he and his dad begin to realise how Rose is unhappy at the flat she shares with her mother and her mother's boyfriend and Alec's dad thinks Rose is being abused, maybe not physically but mentally and it's tearing a young Alec apart to see her like that.  There are no mentions of physical abuse but readers should be warned it may or may not be Rose who is involved as her mother never allows her to spend any more time with Alec than after school and holidays while she is out at work.

~~~~{ silversurfer60 }~~~~

It was the last day of school and thirteen year old Rose Tyler couldn't wait to stop wearing her uniform and go around in her jeans and t-shirt again for six weeks.  She'd seen Mickey Smith on the way home, he'd left school last year, being four years older than her and he was a trainee mechanic.

"School's out for summer?" Mickey laughed as she passed the garage where he worked, talking to her friends.

"Why ya bothering with him?" Shareen asked her, pulling her chewing gum out of her mouth, twisting it and putting it back in, which even Rose thought was disgusting.

She'd been trying to convince her friend it wasn't a cool thing to do but to no avail.

"Hello to you too Shareen," Mickey joked, getting him a scowl from Rose.

"Mickey Smith, don't think we're gonna spend the whole six weeks hanging around here," Rose warned him.

She heard laughing in the background as the other men saw them.

"Smith, get back to work," Stan, the foreman warned him.  "You girls, take notice of your friend there," he pointed to Rose, who was turning a bright shade of red.  "Don't let me see you lot hanging around all summer unless you want to work and I doubt very much you'd want to get your hands dirty and break your fingernails."

"Bloomin' cheek," Charlene, one of the other girls remarked, checking her own fingernails where Miss Walker in hygiene had made her scrub off the pink nail varnish Shareen had passed to her, who hadn't been the one to get into trouble over it. 

"Go play with your ponytails," one of the men laughed, making Mickey turn.

"We haven't got them," Rose retaliated.  "Are you blind or what?"

That made the others giggle, patting her on the shoulder.

"Come on Rose, you're wasting your time with him," Keisha laughed.  "Thought you fancied my brother?"

"What?" Mickey asked, since he thought the now teenager had a crush on him.

"Stop it Keisha, I never said I fancied Jay.  Take no notice Mickey," Rose replied, since his boss had gone back to what he was doing – reading the paper in the corner.

"Well tell your friend there to keep her mouth shut," Mickey replied.  "See you later when your mum goes out?  She still seeing that bloke, what's his name?"

Rose wished her mother, Jackie Tyler had never met 'Scottish' Bob as everyone called him.  He was part of the firm renovating the estate, which Rose thought was a bit of a waste of time and money since the kids, well not her age would just 'redecorate' the brick walls and chalk on the pavement with slogans amongst other things, some unreadable.

"Leave it Mickey, if she wants to see him, there's nothing I can do about it," Rose replied sadly, not liking the fact she was sent to her cousin's flat most nights and had hoped she could be trusted to stay in on her own.  "They're almost finished though, the scaffolding was coming down this morning."

"Good job," Shareen laughed, Rose seeing the disgusting chewing gum again.  "Otherwise all the younger kids will be playing on it all summer and that security guy couldn't catch a tortoise."

That made the others laugh and agree.  Mickey stared after them, Rose would never agree to go out with him and he'd have to wait another two years at least.  Even then she was out of his league and her mother would slap him into another universe if he dared to even suggest it.  Well maybe she would have done but would she still be seeing the Scottish builder if he was leaving?

Leaving her friends, Rose took the stairs to their flat since she didn't fancy getting stuck in the lift if someone had been messing about with it and wondered if her mother was in.  Jackie Tyler was a hairdresser who partly worked from home but often went around the estate to those with young kids and the older women who would gather in two's and three's and Jackie would get a bonus.

"Are ya home Mum?" Rose called out as she locked the door behind her and threw her school bag on the floor of her bedroom, not that there was any more room on the floor than there was elsewhere, something her mother had expected her to stop now she was a teenager.

Rose had just thought her mother had forgotten what it was like to be a teenager but now she was seriously thinking since she had six weeks of trying to get to her bed when she wanted to be alone, she may do something about it.  Little did she know when her mother popped her head around the kitchen door, she was going to have very little choice.

"In here sweetheart, come and say hello to Bob."

Rose hated saying hello to Bob and what was he doing there, since men were still finishing off in the courtyard?

"Guess what Rose?" her mother asked, Rose getting some juice out of the bottle and filling the glass with water.

"What Mum?" she asked, praying her mother wasn't suggesting Bob moved in with them but considering how much time they spent together, wouldn't be that surprised if he was.

"Just tell her Jackie love," Bob told her in a thick Scottish accent and leaning over to put his arm around her waist.

"Rose, Bob and I have been talking and we've made a decision," Jackie started to tell her.

"Is he moving in with us Mum?" Rose asked cautiously.

"No Rose, he has to go back to Glasgow, well just outside Glasgow.  The job here's almost done and he only came down to replace someone, the head office is based there," Jackie replied.

Rose had a feeling there was more to this and wondered why the council hadn't employed a local firm to do the work or maybe they'd saved some money?

"Get on with it Jackie," Bob told her, getting up and helping himself to another pot of tea but Jackie took it off him, smiling at him.

Rose thought it was gross the way he mauled her mother, what he did when they were alone, she dreaded to think.  She wondered if her mother did everything for him and he was just letting her.  She'd no idea where he'd been staying but was just glad it hadn't been with them.

"Okay Bob.  Rose, we're moving love.  Bob asked us to go with him, back to Glasgow, well just outside," she repeated.  "He has a two bedroom flat, you get your own room as long as ya keep it tidy," she continued as Bob pulled her onto his lap as he'd sat down again.

Rose wondered what he'd been doing in her room but it served her right for leaving the door open she supposed.  It wasn't her fault she had girls magazines with pop stars on the front or records her friends had left when they'd been over scattered across the floor, there should be more storage.

Rose reached for the nearest chair and sat down.

"What?" she asked, thinking she'd heard wrong.  As if thinking Bob was moving in with them wasn't bad enough.  At least they'd get to stay on the estate.  "Why are you just telling me?"

"Don't be cheeky to your mother Rose," Bob warned her.

"Rose, we only talked about it last night.  His job finishes on Tuesday, he's going back to get the flat ready for us then we go next Saturday.  Going now gives me chance to get you into a school, I'll have a lot to do sweetheart and I'll have to give notice here.  I'll have to tell my cousins, they can look after what I can't take with us and Bob's mate he made here has a lockup so we'll have the furniture taken there until we can arrange to get it up there, he'll only charge me a fiver a week."

Rose couldn't be more stunned if she tried, she was trying to take it all in, forgetting about getting something to eat, which she probably couldn't manage anyway with the feeling in her stomach.

"Well say something Rose?" her mother urged her.

"I have to go Jackie, I'll see you in the pub later love," Bob told Jackie.  "I'll leave you two to talk about it but it's not up for debate Rose.  Your mother and I are going to live together and since most of my firm's work is in the Glasgow area, it's not very often I work so far from home.  She'll tell you what to expect."

Rose couldn't believe this, what did her mother have to tell her?  That he had three kids who lived with him from an ex wife or maybe three ex wives or maybe they were ex girlfriends?  Shareen knew all about that, well so she claimed.

Rose got up and ran to the living room when Bob grabbed hold of her mother again.  Jackie was going to run after her.

"Leave her Jackie," Bob told her, kissing her neck as they stood.  "She'll get used to the idea, it will be better her growing up in Paisley than around here."

"She's managed so far," Jackie smiled.  "Yeah, I expect it'll be different for her but she'll soon make friends."

Bob let go of her.  "About that Jackie, she has to pull her weight helping you around the flat, you can't let her get away with doing nothing, like she seems to do here."

"Yeah Bob but I brought her up on my own, I had no-one until I met you," Jackie reminded him, nudging for a kiss.

"Well that's all changed Jackie.  I expect her to do as she's asked," he replied.

"Well can we make it look like it's coming from me?" Jackie suggested.  "I mean if I ask her, she'll take it better, won't she?"

"Well I suppose so but she does it or I'll have to get involved.  We also have a few more things to discuss."

"I know.  So you'll give me the names of the schools up there so I can make some calls before we move?" Jackie asked him, knowing what he'd meant and if that's what it took then so be it.

"You'd be best trying the grammar school, she's too old for the other one, schools are different up there," he replied.

Jackie wondered if he was just saying that, did he actually know?  Bob left, them planning to meet later and she'd agreed to let him stay over the weekend for Rose to get used to seeing them together and she went into the living room to find Rose trying to watch the older kids programmes but thinking they were stupid, as if anyone wanted to come home and watch a drama about being at school.

Didn't the programme makers think they saw enough of school?

"He's coming back later Rose, he's staying over until he goes back on Tuesday," her mother announced.  "Rose, we did only actually decide last night but he's been asking for a while now."

"It doesn't make it any better Mum," Rose replied, trying to hide a tear in her eye.  "I've hardly seen him before today."

"He makes me happy Rose.  For the first time since I lost your dad and I know we keep talking about him, we always will but I have to move on.  I've had thirteen years on my own, it's time to move on."

"I don't even know his name," Rose continued, seeing her mother had her mind made up.

"It's Johnson, he's got a good job Rose, he has a nice flat in the better area of the town and there's two schools close by but he reckons the grammar school will be the best one, I'll give them a call on Monday and see how to get you enrolled.  Just think Rose, it's only eight miles from Glasgow, we'll be able to go on shopping trips.  He reckons I'll easily get a job in a hairdresser's shop and you already let yourself in after school."

"Mum, what about the school holidays?" Rose asked, thinking she'd wanted to be on her own but maybe not all day.

"Oh.  Well for now you'll have to manage but you'll make some new friends and spend some time with them.  You'll have to help around the flat though and he only knows about your room because I wasn't expecting him coming over and I didn't have time to close your bedroom door.  Really Rose, you have to tidy it now and throw everything away you're not taking with ya.  We're gonna be busy for the next week so you'd better not have anything planned, like hanging around that garage with that no good Mickey Smith."

"I've already been told by his boss to stay away, geez mum, I was only passing by on my way home, he stopped me," Rose complained, picking up the TV remote and wishing there were more channels.

"I don't know what happened to him, he was such a good kid before he started hanging around with that Jimmy what's his name but at least he got a job, if he manages to keep it.  He'd better hope Jimmy doesn't get any ideas about getting Mickey fired or turns the place over, Mickey will get the blame."

"Yeah, well Mickey's old enough to know better Mum, even I stay away from Jimmy Stone.  Charlene said he's thinking of starting a band, as if any of his mates even know what a guitar is let alone play it," Rose replied.

"Well we'll see, if they get a record to the top of the charts," her mother joked.

"I'll have to tell my friends, it's not like I'm just moving a few streets away.  It's a big thing Mum, you dropped a real bombshell on me."

Meanwhile, in the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire, just eight miles from Glasgow and which the town housed one of the city's airports where thirteen year old Alec Hardy used to like to go plane spotting with one of his few friends in the summer evenings, he had just got home from school and was clearing out his school bag as his dad got his tea ready.

"All done with then Son?" James Hardy asked him.

"Yes Dad, I don't know what I'll do all summer while you're at work though," Alec replied, looking a bit sad.

"I know it's not easy for you and I've talked to your aunt Mary.  She's agreed you can spend some of the time there, I know you're only used to a week at a time but it's the best thing to do.  I'm sorry I can't take you away this year though, it just wouldn't be the same."

Alec wondered what that was supposed to mean?  It was less than six months since his mother had died and all they'd done on holiday was leave him to fend for himself on a beach somewhere on the south west coast of England last summer while they'd sat 100 yards away arguing.

Now she was gone and the house was quiet and all his dad did was try to make up for it.

"Maybe next year Alec eh?" his dad asked him, getting Alec's tea out of the oven.

James Hardy, or Jim to his few friends was a postal worker and worked early mornings, something his supervisor had encouraged him to do in order to be home when the then twelve year old Alec was devastated over his mother's death, which had been quite sudden as no-one knew she had a bad heart.

Alec knew his dad felt partly to blame for not seeing the signs but the hospital had told them it was no-one's fault.  He couldn't help but think his dad thought he'd caused it as at times his mother wasn't an easy person to get on with.  He accepted his tea and sat up straight.

"I know Dad, it wouldn't be the same without her but I'll be okay at aunt Mary's, me and Stuart were talking about going plane watching."

His dad ruffled Alec's spiky blonde hair that was beginning to turn brown underneath.

"Face it Son, you only go to see if any spaceships in the shape of a blue box land there by mistake," he joked.  "Tell me you stopped writing those stories?"  Alec had a guilty look on his face.  "I think you should concentrate on other things Alec, maybe start taking an interest in girls instead of science fiction," he suggested.

Alec put on his best smile and thought he'd maybe just not say anything.  It was going to be a long summer and when he finally got back to school, he wouldn't have as much time to think about his mum.  Being a teenager now didn't make him feel any better and she'd not got to see him become one, the school counsellor had tried to help him as much as she could but even after six months, it didn't go away.

He just hoped after the holidays he could start pulling himself round and take more interest and join a few clubs to take his mind off it.  He also hoped maybe the new term would bring new students but if they were girls, he would forget it, he wasn't ready for that, especially with the likes of Kristin and Moira, who had tried to smother him when it was announced in school assembly that Alec was to be given the school's sympathy and they were all asked to be nice to him, which all but a few miseries had done and he'd become clever at dodging the head bully who had no mercy for anyone, not just him.

So as Rose and her mother were talking about what to take and what to leave, Alec went to his room, the last photo of him and his mother on the window ledge, he wondered what the next term would bring and he could always hope he could try to make a new friend.

Chapter 2 - The goodbyes
Rose had a week to break it to her friends she was moving away - a long way away and she wouldn't be able to get on a bus from another part of London to meet them on Saturday morning, which meant no more trying to dodge store detectives when being cheeky and one of them asking an assistant for their size in a dress they couldn't afford and them all sneaking in the dressing rooms and taking it in turns to try it on.

That had kept them amused for a while and the poor Saturday girl whose job it was to make sure every item was returned to the rail was kept busy getting another size if one of the friends found it didn't fit.  She would miss that more than anything, they'd been doing it since they were twelve and a half, well that and lurking around the men's department and looking for cute boys looking embarrassed their mothers were buying them t-shirts and school shirts.

So when they'd had enough the following day when they'd all got their spending money and tried to fool the bus conductor they all had bus tickets, they went to the kiosk and bought two cans of soda to share and had gone to sit outside Hendrik's Department Store after swearing several months back when they'd mostly all turned thirteen they were going to get jobs there when they left school.

Shareen was sipping on a straw after Rose offered the can of orange to her after taking hers out.

"So, where did ya say you were going?" she asked Rose, who was looking at a cute boy following his mother out and carrying two bags.

Shareen nudged her, the others giggling.

"What?  Oh some town near Glasgow I've never heard of.  Mum's getting all giddy over it, she's already planning shopping trips there every Saturday but I'd rather be hanging around with you lot."

"Face it Rose, you'd rather be looking at the cute boys," Charlene laughed, nudging Keisha, who was taking too long taking a drink.

"Yeah, I guess I'll miss that too," Rose laughed.  "Anyone want my red bike?" she offered, knowing one of her cousins would probably claim it and wishing now she'd never asked for it.

She'd asked for the red bike for her twelfth birthday to join some of the other kids even though her mother couldn't really afford it but there it was, outside on the balcony and her mother had claimed she had no idea where it had come from and Rose knowing she didn't want to admit she'd gone without something to pay for it.

Now, she had better things to do and the bike was forgotten about.

"Think I'll give that a miss," Shareen laughed, handing the can back to Rose and Rose shaking it to see if it was worth sticking the straw in again or just finishing it off.  "So you'll be starting a new school then?"

Rose thought that was rather obvious and felt like saying no, she'd be getting the bus every morning.

"Yeah, some posh grammar school by what mum said, Bob reckons schools are different up there," she replied.

"When was he at school then?" Keisha laughed as Charlene scowled at her for finishing the drink.  "Was that in the dark ages?"

"Probably, I don't know what mum sees in him, he's worse than Jimbo and Howard put together.  I think he must have charmed her on the way to the shops.  I bet it all started that time the washing machine stopped working and she went to the launderette when the repair man said he'd have to go back with a part for it, I mean Bob had to do his laundry, right?"

The others nudged her.

"Yeah, betcha he saw her going in so he took his shirt off and stuffed it in the dryer just to chat her up," Shareen laughed.

"Yeah, then I bet she asked him for change even though there's a change machine," Keisha joined in.

"How do you know there's a change machine, thought your mum had a washer?" Charlene questioned her.

Keisha tried to bluff her way out of it.

"I went in once with my gran," she replied, knowing they'd never go for it.

"Whatever," Shareen huffed, trying to aim the empty can at the rubbish bin and missing.  "Hey Rose, betcha anything your mum flashed her knickers at him when she took them out of the washer!"

"Shut up Shareen," Rose blushed at the thought but that could explain why her mother had suddenly started getting all defensive where she was going.

She'd never worked out why Bob had started calling for her mother and her being told to go over to her cousin's flat.  Now, he was taking them away from their friends and family and her mother was willing to do it.

"Well he must be some bloke then?" Charlene suggested, sitting on the back of the bench as people walked past looking at them.  "I mean to follow him all the way to Glasgow.  Where is it you're going?"

"I think she mentioned Paisley," Rose had to admit, trying to forget about it.

"Where they make the shirts?" Keisha laughed.

"What would you know about shirts?" Charlene prodded Keisha's shoulder from behind.  "Oh, does your brother wear fancy patterned shirts?"

Rose had to smile at the thought.  She was beginning to like Jay but he was older and probably had half a dozen girls lined up already and she'd just be in a long line of them.  She wished Mickey Smith had a long line of potential girlfriends so he wouldn't want her to hang around with him, which she was always trying to avoid.

She also wished they didn't have to go past the garage he worked at on the way back from school.  She had been thinking of ways to avoid him all summer, now that wasn't going to be a problem.

"You with us Rose?" Charlene asked her, nudging Rose with her leg.  "You daydreaming again?"

"Yeah, Earth to Rose," Keisha laughed.  "Bet there's different stars up in Glasgow?"

"Do ya even know where Glasgow is?" Shareen teased her.

"Yeah," Keisha huffed indignantly.  "It’s in Scotland – duh!"

"You only know that 'cos Rose said," Charlene joined in.  "You've gone quiet Rose.  Come on, let's go get two lots of fries from the takeaway, anyone got any spare money or we'll all be walking home."

Once home and saying she'd see them all on Monday, just after five, there was a knock on the door, Rose dreading it was Bob coming back with his belongings as he'd just gone back last night with an overnight bag but that was probably all he'd brought with him.  It was Mickey, which was almost as bad.  Her mother just had to pop her head around the kitchen door as she was preparing tea.

"What's he doin' here?  What do ya want Mickey?" she shouted.  "Rose is too young ta be hangin' around with you."

"Leave him Mum, you never bothered before," Rose protested, not knowing why she was defending him.  "I'm going out for an hour."

"You'd better be back in an hour, we're not waitin' for you to come back to eat, yours'll be in the oven young madam," her mother replied.  "Well you won't be hangin' around with him for much longer, just you remember that."

Mickey was about to ask what that meant when Rose grabbed his arm and pulled him outside.

"What did she mean by that?" a confused Mickey asked.

"Nothing, which did ya mean?"

"Both.  Is she still seeing that bloke, they'll all be gone by Monday, then she'll be upset," he replied.  Then he saw the look on her face.  "He's staying?"

"Not exactly," Rose admitted as they walked down the steps.

Mickey stood in front of the door when they reached the ground floor.

"She'll be upset when he goes, won't she?" he asked as Rose tried to get past him.  "Answer me Rose, is he staying or going?"

"Chill Micks, he's just staying with us until Tuesday, then he's going home," Rose replied.

"And?" he questioned her.  "You mean she's just gonna forget about him?  Huh, I can't see that, I've seen them coming home from the pub."

Did he have to remind her?  She'd gone home and straight to her room so she didn't catch them in the living room.

He moved out of the way and they walked across to sit on the concrete bollards, Rose taking up two as she put her legs up and rested her feet on the side of the next one.

"Okay Rose, what aren't you telling me?" he asked, seeing her staring at the ground.

He'd come to know when she was avoiding something.

"No!  Hang on a minute.  She's going with him?  I mean you're both going with him, to Scotland, wherever he comes from?"

"Mum said he's from Paisley," Rose replied quietly.  "We're leaving Mickey, next Saturday."

Mickey looked lost for words, for a change Rose thought.

"That's a bit soon," he finally said after five minutes silence.

"Tell me about it, how do ya think I feel?  I have to leave school and my friends."

"Can't you stay here with your cousins?" he wondered.

"Yeah, great idea Mickey, I'll just share a bed shall I?  You know what my mum's like when she gets an idea in her head as well as I do," Rose replied.

"Well if you ask me, it'll never last," Mickey suggested.

"She'll do it just to prove a point, trust me," Rose told him.

While they had been talking, she'd seen Bob go towards the front of the block of flats then seen him walk along the balcony.  She didn't like him much, he was a bit too smug with himself and she wondered why on Earth her mother had picked him up.  She'd had to smile to herself that her friends had been right, about picking Bob up in the launderette.

"I'd best go Mickey or mum will let my tea dry up in the oven and her cooking's not brilliant to start off with though I think she's got a cookbook stashed away from the library lately."

"Come by the garage before you leave?" Mickey asked as she got up.

"I was told to stay away, remember?" she reminded him.

"Yeah, sorry.  Guess I won't see you before you go then?" 

"Guess not unless you call and you saw what mum was like?"

"Yeah, thought she'd have lightened up since she met that bloke," he grinned, not knowing what else to say.  "Just for the record, I mean if you don't come back, I was gonna ask you to be my girlfriend when you were sixteen."

"You were?  You seriously thought I'd agree?" Rose teased him.

"Well we hang around together, I thought, you know?" he muttered back.

"I was teasing ya, you 'nana.  Still, it's a long way off, you might have found someone by then anyway, don't wait for me Mickey."

"So what's all that with you stopping by the garage every night then?" he wanted to know.

"I'm not going out of my way to get home Mickey, I used to go past it before you started working there ya know?"

Mickey looked disappointed but tried to laugh.

"Yeah, if you say so Rose, see ya around then, I mean maybe before you go?"

"I don't wanna go to Scotland ya know?  It's not like I have a choice."

With that, she ran off and put the code into the door to get back in.

While she'd been out, after Jackie and Bob had made out, as Rose would have called it, he reminded her of a few things.

"So you agree then?" Bob asked her.

"Well she'd get most of that if she had a dad I suppose?" Jackie admitted.  "About the rest though?"

He put his arms around her and kissed her neck.

"You're not backing out on me are you Jackie?" he asked.

"No, 'course not, it's just, ya know?  She's only thirteen," she reminded him.

"That's why we came to our little arrangement Jackie love," he reminded her back.

"Sorry Bob, I just have to get used to it," Jackie replied, trying to rescue their tea.

"Well consider the alternative?" he asked as he heard the door open.

Rose walked into the kitchen, Bob sitting on one of the wooden chairs.

"You could have shouted hello when I passed you," Bob told her as she went to wash her hands.

She glanced at her mother.

"Yeah Rose, you shouldn't have ignored him," her mother agreed.

"I thought it was rude to shout over to people across the courtyard?" Rose asked.

"Don't be cheeky to your mother," Bob reminded her yet again, how many times, Rose had lost count.

"Well say sorry to him," her mother told her, dishing up what Rose thought was maybe one recipe she could actually manage not to spoil.

"Sorry Bob," Rose said quietly, wishing she dare add that next time, she'd lean over the balcony and do it.

"That's better, best get used to being more respectful to your elders Rose," Bob grinned at her mother as she put his plate on the table.  "This looks good love."

Rose was dying to say wait until he tried the rest of her cooking.  Actually, maybe if she herself sabotaged his food, he may go off on Tuesday and tell them to stay here.  She had no such luck though as he left for work on Monday morning, Rose having gone over to Shareen's the previous afternoon to escape watching yet another repeat of a James Bond film, one with the Scottish version, surprisingly.

"Bye Jackie love," Bob was saying as Rose was deciding what to do that day before her mother had her packing or taking things to various friends and relatives when she decided what they were leaving.

"Yeah, see ya tonight Bob, we are going out?"

"Yes love, we are, then an early night, I have a train to catch tomorrow morning.  Don't forget to check the times on Saturday and book your tickets."

Rose wondered where her mother was getting the money from to pay for them, she was giving up her job as a home hairdresser.  Rose had heard her cancelling appointments for next week.  She was about to give Bob time to leave when her mother asked where she thought she was going.

"Just to Shareen's, why?" Rose replied.

"You can forget that madam, go down to the shop and see if ya can get any cardboard boxes before someone beats ya to it.  Cousin Mo's taking your dad's trophies and some of the ornaments and any clothes we don't want you can help me take them to the charity shop.  Oh, Bev said she'd take that bike for Vicky if ya don't want it any more.  I mean there it was, on the balcony when you went to answer the doorbell, despite me telling ya not to answer the door then a year later ya never go near it."

"Mum, come off it, I know you bought it for me.  What did ya have to do without to pay for it or did ya take extra clients?" Rose asked her.

"What ya talking about Rose?  I keep tellin' ya I've no idea where it came from and then we were tripping up over it in the hallway.  Well get goin' then or they'll be no boxes left and we'll have to carry them over a few at a time."  

Rose shook her head.  So where had the bike come from?  Bikes just don't appear out of thin air, no matter how much you wanted one and she'd lost count of how many times they'd passed the bike shop and she'd stopped to look at it and her mother had to go back and drag her away.

Had it been her dad watching over her and somehow, a total stranger had been prompted to buy it and leave it outside on her twelfth birthday?  No, it had to be something else.  She set off to the shop and began to wonder how they were going to choose what to part with but there would be no room in their cases for anything except necessities.  It wasn't like they were going down to Southend and staying in Jimbo's run-down caravan that smelled of damp and she'd gone back with a chest infection.

She swore she'd never go in a caravan again.

Alec had gone off to his aunt's, her fussing over him ever since his mother had died.

"What's wrong with you this morning Alec?" his aunt Mary asked him as he took his notepad out of his shoulder bag.

"Nothing, I just miss my mum during the holidays."

"Sorry.  Are you going swimming with your friends later?" she asked as she saw the towel.

Alec nodded.  It would be the first time he'd been allowed to go on his own, he was meeting a few of the other boys he actually talked to who didn’t think he wasted his time writing stories.

"Tell you what, tomorrow, why don't you pick some flowers from the garden and we'll take them to put on your mum's grave?" she suggested, patting his shoulder.

Alec smiled.  He'd not been able to accept his mother had gone just like that, even though she'd been ill but she'd covered what had really been wrong with her.  He'd always thought she'd recover when she'd been taken into hospital but she was gone, the surgeon saying she'd never admitted to her own doctor she'd been having heart problems. 

He'd never even got to say goodbye to her properly, his aunt had been with him while his dad had laid on her, holding her hand, even after they'd argued for the past few years that he'd been aware they'd been arguing.  Now his dad was trying his best to make up for it.

"Well go on then, use the dining room table if you want to write," his aunt smiled at him.

"Where's Peter?" he asked about his older cousin who had been off at university.

"He was staying in Edinburgh a while longer with his friends though I expect that's his excuse and he's got himself a girlfriend," his aunt smiled.  "Not got a secret girlfriend of your own then Alec?" she teased him.

"No, I'm not interested in girls yet," Alec smiled back as he got his pencil case out.

"Well that'll all change soon enough, trust me," she replied as she went back into the kitchen.  "Maybe you want to be a writer when you get older?"

"No, I want to go to college, I want to join the police," he replied.

"Really?  You never said before Alec.  What makes you say that?"

"I just want to help people.  I've been thinking about it for a while," he told her.

He'd never get his mother off his mind but he could join the police and help other kids get over losing theirs by finding out how they'd died.  He couldn't bring his own mother back but now his aunt was offering to go to the cemetery with him, maybe he could say goodbye without his dad seeing him getting upset.

By Friday, after Rose had seen her friends to say a final goodbye, their furniture had been taken to the storage unit and they were staying at Mo's for the night then heading for the station for the train to Glasgow.  She was hoping that every time the phone rang or her mother called Bob, they were going to call it all off, though it would have been hard getting all their things back and her mother was handing the keys in to the council office after taking their things across the courtyard.

Rose had guessed Bob had given her mother the money for two one-way tickets to Glasgow, where he was meeting them so she supposed he had a car and had chosen not to drive down to London.  She'd heard her mother saying how they were looking forward to it but she wished her mother wouldn't speak for her.

It had been hard the last few days, trying to cram everything into their suitcases and cart the rest to the charity shop in black bin-liners, her mother smiling at the woman behind the counter and saying they were having a clear-out.  Rose thought her mother was fooling no-one, she'd bought most of them from the shop next door.

It was when she was laid on the sofa trying to sleep that it finally hit her.  She had to start all over again, making new friends, settling into a new school and trying to hide the fact she was English to save being picked on.  She'd already been given several ideas from her friends and was deciding which one to go with and may settle for Shareen's idea of losing her voice but that wouldn't last long but maybe long enough for her new classmates to accept her.

If her new teacher knew where she was from, maybe she'd get away with admitting it.  Maybe she'd find someone to confide in who would help her break the news and who would stick up for her?  Well she could but hope as she drifted off to sleep and tomorrow, her and her mother would be starting a new life but something was worrying her.

All the quiet phone conversations all week, her mother trying to keep her voice down but she'd heard a few things and couldn't work out if they were about her or not.  It was too late now though, they were committed to going, the flat was empty where she'd spent the last thirteen years of her life and they would be living in Scotland.  She'd been to the library, much to Shareen's dismay as she had a library ticket but she'd just looked at a book at the large table while Shareen was pulling faces and chewing her gum, less the disgusting part of taking it out of her mouth.

The next morning after a quick breakfast and saying goodbye to cousin Mo and her younger second cousins, they got a taxi to the underground station which took them to their train station and struggled between them with their luggage.  Then as they were let on the platform for their train to Glasgow, she glanced at her mother, who seemed a lot happier about it than she did.
Chapter 3 The move
"Come on Rose, we ain't got reserved seats," her mother called as other people were still getting off, some just waking up by the look of it Rose was thinking as they made their way to a doorway where no-one was coming out of.

Jackie was putting their luggage in the rack, pointing for Rose to grab the first two sets of seats with a table in the middle so she could keep an eye on their cases and Rose was trying to put the rest of their things including two shoulder bags on the overhead rack and getting in the way, a man stopped to help her.

"Thanks," Rose grinned at him as people were squeezing past.

"No problem Miss, they seem quite heavy," the man replied as Jackie sat herself down opposite as she didn't want to go backwards all the way to Glasgow as it made her feel sick.

She'd made a point of noting where the restroom was when walking down the platform and how she did it, Rose had no idea but she'd done the same when they'd gone down to Jimbo's caravan.  Rose was sure her mother had crammed most of the remaining trinkets and other junk into the shoulder bags, explaining why they were so heavy.

Rose sighed as she sat down next to her mother and hoped whoever sat opposite wouldn't try to spread their legs out but being so near the front, people were forgetting about the seats and walking past, thankfully.  As the guard blew the whistle as he slammed all the doors shut, Jackie motioned for Rose to sit opposite, getting two bottles of soda out of her large handbag.

Rose smiled, dragging luggage from home hadn't been her idea of fun, especially when she'd not wanted to move in the first place.

"Might as well save it for later," Rose told her mother.  "How long does the train take to get to Glasgow?  We don't have to change do we?" she asked, hoping not and that Bob, no matter how she disliked him would be on the platform at the other end to meet them.

"It's a long way Rose, it's gonna take a while sweetheart, I did warn ya.  We can start making our plans for when you start your new school.  Bob said I can apply for a grant to get ya a school uniform and I called the grammar school, you'll have to take a test so I hope you were paying attention last term and not messin' around," her mother warned her.

"Great Mum, now I'll have to hope it'll be enough to get me in.  Is that the only school then?" Rose asked.

"No but it's the best one so Bob said," Jackie replied.

Rose was already fed-up at Bob said this and Bob said that, she already wanted to strangle him before they moved in with him.

"Well when we get settled, we'll get you a library ticket and you can get some books out to catch up," her mother continued.

After the conductor came round, followed by two women with a trolley of tea and coffee and snacks, Jackie splashing out and getting something then moaning to Rose about the prices, Rose was looking out of the window at where they were passing then the train had a longer stop when it got to York, Rose wishing she could get off and stretch her legs but a woman with a small boy was looking for a double seat so Rose got up and let them sit where she had been, smiling at what looked like a two year old.

"Thanks love," the mother told her as she settled the boy, him putting two toy cars on the table.  "Not many youngsters would bother moving.  Mind you, not many adults would either, I came from the carriage in front and men were spread out talking to each other across the tables and leaving the outside seats."

"Tell me about it," Jackie spoke up.  "It was the same last time we travelled by train, remember Rose?"

Rose had no idea what her mother was on about, she'd only been on two trains in her life – on holiday and back and not being well on the return journey, after the damp caravan.

The train carried on, stopping at Newcastle Rose thought the platform sign said and thought it seemed like they'd been on for days, not hours.  The train had got busy, some people were standing in the doorway and between the carriages, glaring at Rose but her mother told her she'd paid for two seats and the people staring had only just got on at the last stop.

The conductor called out for those who had just got on, Rose seeing a man in the doorway say something to him and the conductor looking at Rose.  Jackie saw them.

"He'd best not ask ya to move or they'll be trouble," her mother told her.

A man and a woman were now sat opposite as the woman with the boy had got off at Newcastle.

"Children are expected to stand and give up their seat to their elders," the snooty looking woman wearing a hat said to no-one in particular.

"I've paid for her seat," Jackie replied to the woman as the conductor was waiting for the man with her to show their tickets.

"Madam, I already pointed out to the gentleman over there that the young lady is not a child," he smiled at Jackie, making the other woman look up as her husband nudged her.  "If you ask me, it's the men that should give up seats if ladies are standing but there's no manners left in the world."

"Well my husband's not standing, he has a bad leg," the other woman spoke up.

"It's fine dear, if there are any ladies standing, I would let them have my seat," her husband replied.

Rose was quite amused, geez, if she ever got married, she wouldn't show her husband up like that, well unless it was Mickey Smith, then she might make an exception.  She'd not dared tell her mother Mickey had dropped that bombshell on her and told her if she'd stayed, he was going to ask her out when she turned sixteen.  Great, that was something to look forward to – not, she thought.

It had taken a drastic move by her mother to drag them to Scotland to get her out of it though, maybe her mother had already had a premonition and was trying to prevent it?  The woman opposite was still glaring at Rose and her mother, Rose dying to pull a face but then the man with her might take his wife's view and demand the conductor made her stand up regardless if a woman was standing or not.

Finally, Rose losing track of the time, the train was pulling into Glasgow, the conductor shouting as he walked down the carriages.  Rose wished someone would invent a sign that told you what the next stop was or a map like the underground, she could ride that with her eyes closed.

It was just like her mother to guess which platform the train would pull into and they'd be sat on the right side, Jackie watching out for Bob and waving madly when they passed him as the train pulled to a halt, rather abruptly Rose thought, glad she'd remained seated as people were gathering to get off.

Then Jackie turned her attention to the luggage rack, a few more cases piled on top of theirs and people pulling them off.

"Rose I'll get the bags off the rack, you go help Bob with the cases when everyone's got off," her mother suggested as people were making their way off.

Rose wondered if her mother thought the train was there for the remainder of the day.  Bob was soon able to get on but went to help Jackie pull the bags off the overhead rack, leaving Rose standing by their three cases, two large ones and one smaller and wondering how the hell they'd managed on their own earlier.  Bob put one of the bags on his shoulder as Jackie nudged him to lift the cases off.

"Hey, sorry Rose, want some help?" he joked.

Rose knew better than to say something sarcastic back to him but was considering making an exception.  Instead she just nodded.  He took the cases down, Rose grabbing the smaller one and getting off before he had chance to object and stood back on the platform to let some stragglers off including her mother and Bob.

Bob led then through the barrier, having got a platform ticket and Rose not working out how they had the cheek to charge people for greeting friends and relatives off a train when at smaller stations they could just walk on.  He had parked his car in a short-stay car park and put the cases in the back, Rose had been wondering what type of car he drove and was surprised how big it was.

He drove them out of the city and through the suburbs until she saw a sign for Paisley with a 'Welcome' on it.  Then it finally hit her – they were here to stay, not just for a few days.  Bob drove on and turned down a reasonably decent street and pulled into a driveway of a block of apartments, Rose quickly counting there were eight floors and hoped there was a lift and they were not on the top floor if there wasn't.

She thought it was a far cry from where they'd just come from, there were separate balconies every other window or so, some next to each other as Bob stopped the car in what she assumed was his parking spot, a large notice saying 'Residents only' on it.

Once they got the luggage out, Bob showed them both the code to get in and told Rose not to forget it.  

"I've got you two keys," Bob told them as they rode up in the lift to the third floor.  "Don't lose yours Rose."

Rose wondered what her mother had been telling him but she'd had a key since she was twelve and never lost it but maybe he'd had to pay to have the keys cut or the landlord had charged him for them.  Once they carted everything inside, both Jackie and Rose stood in the entry-way looking around.

"You never said your place was so posh," Jackie joked as she put the case and shoulder bag down, Rose still convinced she'd brought things they didn't need with them.

"I'll show you around then?" Bob suggested.

He led them to the kitchen, about the same size as their old one but a slightly different shape, then the bathroom, considerably larger then a storage cupboard, half empty and Rose laughed to herself he'd expected her mother not to leave much behind.  Then he opened a bedroom door containing a single bed and wardrobe, plus a set of drawers and a desk.

"This is your room Rose, I expect you to keep it tidy," he told her.

They left the door open and he led them to the lounge, nicely decorated and not cluttered like their old one had been but if her mother kept her old habits, that would change.  There was a nice TV, not like their old one Rose had no idea who had claimed it, a hi-fi on a black unit along with some records and a rack containing cassettes and some ornaments and vases amongst other things then Rose noticed he'd put a picture up of him and her mother that must have been taken in the pub.

"Come on Jackie, I'll show you our room," Bob suggested, going to put his arm around her.

Rose guessed she wasn't invited so she went to get the smaller case and trusted her mother would unpack the other two and hand her the things she'd had to cram into one of them.  She closed her new bedroom door and sat on the neatly made bed and tried to take it all in.  Her mother had told her before they'd left London that Bob would have a list of rules she was expected to follow and they weren't up for debate but he'd already made that much clear.

She expected one of them would be if she managed to make new friends, she wouldn't scatter things over the floor but that had been her having more things than there had been room for before.  Now she had a larger wardrobe and behind the door was a built in cupboard so she really had no excuses she supposed.

Her mother knocked on the door.

"Rose, Bob's going to the takeaway for some food, then tomorrow he'll show us a round the town."

"Yeah, fine, guess I'll have to know my way around?  How far is it to this school I'm supposed to go to?" Rose asked.

"I think it's in walking distance, I'm not sure though but you'll get a bus pass.  First ya have to get accepted."

Rose wished she hadn't been reminded.  So after being shown around the next day and finding out where the local library was, she went to get a library ticket and got the books out she was going to need when her mother called the school the day before to ask about an entrance examination, hearing her mother's end of the conversation.

~~~~{ silversurfer60 }~~~~

Even after a week of the holiday, Alec was already bored.  He'd been with his aunt to the cemetery and she'd left him on his own to cry when he'd put some flowers in the vase and she'd taken the others away and she'd told him it was okay.  So the following Tuesday, he decided to meet one of his friends at the library and spend some time there as they'd been told what subjects were coming up the next term so they'd met outside.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea?" his friend Jamie told him as the library seemed fairly full but they were going to the reference books after they'd been to the desk to alter their tickets, since they now qualified to move up from the junior library.

"Well it will give us an advantage," Alec was trying to persuade his friend.

"Maybe but maybe you came here to watch the girls Alec," his friend grinned as two girls were sat in a corner pretending to read something.

"You're as bad as my aunt," Alec replied, running his fingers through his too long hair and seeing the girls hide their grins behind their books.

"What about her over there?" his friend nudged as Alec tried to find one of the books on his list.

Alec turned and looked at a blonde-haired girl sat at a table on her own.  He wasn't that interested in girls, he was shy in that department but he could talk to the girls in his class when they didn't tease him about his spiky hair, especially when Kristy did it, egged on my her friend Moira.

"I don't think she's from our school," Alec replied, turning back to the shelf and trying to convince himself and his friend he wasn't interested.

"She's probably from the local comprehensive school," his friend surmised.  "As if we'd want to been seen with one of them."

"Don't be so stuck up Jamie," Alec told him.  "Just because we passed our exams, they can take them later and still get in our school.  She might be here studying."

"I suppose so.  Let's hurry up here and go down to the river," his friend urged him.

Alec wasn't so keen.  It reminded him of family days out when his mother would pack a picnic and they would walk a mile or two downstream.

"Let's go hang around the park instead?" Alec suggested, not that that didn't remind him of his mother pushing him on the swings but it wasn't as bad.

"Maybe we should ask her to come with us," his friend teased him, looking at the girl who seemed not to have noticed them.

Alec thought the girl was probably tired of boys trying to pick her up, especially if they didn't go to her school.

"Leave her alone, she might go to a better school than we do," Alec replied, going to check out two books he thought he may need.

Rose had seen two boys around her own age but had taken no notice, what would they want to do with her, she probably wouldn't get into the grammar school, which was probably where they went.  She saw them get up and leave, she'd probably see neither of them again but the one with blondish spiky hair seemed cute.

She thought back to Mickey's revelation he'd been going to ask her to be his girlfriend when she was sixteen but she didn't think she'd actually agree, there was more to life than the estate she'd grown up on and now she was getting to experience it.  While Rose was at the library, her mother was having an interview at a hair studio a ten minute walk from where they'd gone to live and she was showing the owner, Marlene her portfolio she'd made of her clients posing and some with Rose, whom she'd often roped in to show off her skills.

"Well Jackie," the other woman began after looking through the dozen or so pages with 'Hair by Jackie' on the fancy cover.  "Is that your daughter?" she pointed to a photo of Rose.

"Yeah, she's thirteen now, this has been a big move for her," Jackie confided.

"I can imagine.  Well you seem to have the experience and the certificates, how do you feel though about confining yourself to a salon?" she was asked.

"Well, I have to start somewhere, it's a big move for me as well," Jackie admitted.  "That's all I ever did really, after my first job I decided it would be easier for my daughter if I worked around her, she's old enough to fend for herself now."

"Including school holidays?" the woman asked her.

"Oh don't worry about her, she'll make friends and she'll be out all the time.  She's gone to the library to study for her entrance exam to the grammar school."

Jackie was trying to impress her potential boss.

"Well Jackie, I think then that you'd fit in here rather well, shall we give it a try?  If you're sure your daughter will be okay on her own?  What's her name?"

"It's Rose, she can get her own lunch, she's done it before and she's got a key," Jackie replied.

"So what made you both move here?" she was asked.

"My boyfriend lives in the town, we met when he was working near where we lived in London, we hit it off right away," Jackie smiled.

Her working hours were arranged and she was to start the following Monday, having Wednesday off when she assured Marlene that Rose could make her own breakfast and get herself off to school after the holidays.  Well she hoped her daughter could and so far, she'd managed to keep her room tidy but it was early days yet.

Jackie set off back to her new home.  Bob had said they needed to talk and she wasn't looking forward to it now they were actually living together.  When he'd been just visiting and staying over the odd time or two, it had been different and when he'd suggested before he'd left that he wanted to take the role of Rose's father, she'd been keen at first until they got to the finer details, which were still under some discussion.

Now she knew this 'talk' was about those discussions and she knew he was capable of throwing her and Rose out if she didn't comply or came to a compromise, which she hoped he'd accept.  She was doing it for Rose, she had convinced herself.  Rose had done well so far but she was a teenager now, she needed a father figure as she'd seen the way the other girls on the estate were turning out without someone to keep them in line and she'd not wanted her daughter to turn out like them.

She was determined though that Bob was not going to get all his own way but from what he'd been saying, it looked like he'd get most of it but there was one thing that was going to be made clear – that they stuck to their initial agreement about Rose and that was never going to change.

Chapter 4 - Settling in
A few weeks had gone by, Rose trying to adjust to having someone who wanted to play the role of her dad, since she'd managed quite well without one all her life.  Jackie was settling in at the salon, Rose sometimes waiting for her at lunchtime when they'd grab a sandwich and find somewhere to sit down and Alec was trying to get used to spending the summer going to his aunt's instead of being at home with his mum, who had been a totally different person when his dad wasn't there.

He'd often wondered why they argued, it never seemed to be over him or anything in particular and now, his dad was totally different, trying to be both parents to him but he'd seen some of his friends change in the last few months, their attitudes towards things in general and he was scared he would become like them as their parents had divorced or separated.  He couldn't talk to his dad though but his aunt knew there was something wrong.

She sat opposite him one day when he was thinking about a story he was writing.

"Alec, I know there's something wrong.  Can you tell me?" she asked.

Alec shook his head.

"Then why don't you write it in one of your stories?  Why don't you write about the last time you went on holiday before you lost your mum?" she suggested.

"I can't Auntie Mary, they argued all the time.  I had to go sit under the cliffs so I couldn't hear them," he replied sadly.

"Where was it you went again?" his aunt smiled, feeling sorry for her nephew.

"Somewhere down south, Dorset I think dad said.  I'd rather not think about it."

"Alec, you have to remember the good times, that's how we get over the loss of someone we loved.  Write a happy story then.  What exactly do you write about, you never say anything," she asked him.

"Mostly about that TV programme I like, I pretend I'm him and have adventures," Alec admitted.

Only his two best friends knew why he carried his notebook around with him and never let anyone catch him writing in it when he got an idea.

His aunt smiled back.  "There's nothing wrong with dreaming of being an adventurer Alec, maybe just not one with a blue box that's a time machine eh?  Sure they're not about John?  Don't let me put you off though, if it takes your mind off things.  Not doing anything today?" she asked since they'd just had lunch.

"I might go to the library, see if that book I wanted has been returned," he replied, putting his notebook away.

His aunt watched him.  She felt really sorry for him and there was no sign his cousin Peter was coming back, it seemed he was having difficulty leaving.  Peter's older brother John though, who was away travelling around the world on one of his fact-finding missions for his research was tall, thin (no matter how much she tried to fatten him up) and always wore a blue suit with brown stripes and a purple t-shirt underneath and red or black Converse trainers on his feet.  She had despaired at him but being in his early twenties, he had the girls following him everywhere, especially when he flicked his out of control hair.

She had constantly tried to get John to have it cut on his visits home, his last one being for Alec's mother's funeral when he'd tried to cheer young Alec up for a few days before he'd gone back to travelling.  It was then she and Alec's dad had noticed Alec was growing to look more like his older cousin in appearance, unlike Peter.  She thought no wonder Alec wrote stories about travelling, he would look forward to hearing about them when John got back.

"Alec, why don't I try calling Peter and ask him when he's coming home?" she asked him.

Alec nodded and got up.  "I wish John would come home, he makes me laugh.  I'll be back in an hour or so, unless you want me to stay out longer?" he asked.

"I want no such thing Alec, I told your dad I would look after you during the holidays.  You can go out or stay in as much as you want.  I can make the spare room tidy, if you'd like some time on your own?  I'll ask your uncle to put everything in the loft and we'll get you a single bed and things, would you like that?"

Alec hadn't wanted to impose on his aunt.

"Yeah, thanks, if it's not any trouble?" he replied.

"Of course it's no trouble, I'll get him to sort it over the weekend.  You go to the library then, you never know, you might make some more friends there?"

Alec had thought nothing else about the blonde girl he'd seen a few weeks ago.  She may not even have gone back in but there again, she could have borrowed the book he'd wanted.  Rose wasn't there when he arrived though, her mother had left her a list of things she wanted doing, including a trip to a new supermarket that had opened nearby and had thought it would save some money.

One thing Jackie Tyler had not got over since their arrival in the town was everything was cheaper than in London, she had a regular job and Bob had just received a promotion so she could afford to shop locally.  It was just her not being able to let old habits go.

Rose entered the new supermarket, warily and took a plastic shopping basket but she'd smiled when it was the same name as one that had opened nearby before they had moved.  For thirteen though, she did look older and got away with not being questioned by any of the staff as if she should be shopping on her own.

She was glad though that Bob was out all day, she'd still wondered why they would talk quietly in the kitchen and why they were being so secretive then it dawned on her as she got back from the supermarket.  Why hadn't she seen it?  She bet they were planning on getting married and Bob adopting her, that was the only explanation.  She waited for her mother coming home, having started preparing tea though why she never got the credit, she didn't know.

She could only assume her mother wanted Bob to think her cooking skills had improved.  Well just wait, if they were planning on getting married, she would conveniently forget to make the meal preparations and Bob would see he was wrong.  It had only been a few weeks and she missed her friends, hanging around with them and maybe getting Mickey into bother with his boss now and then, not enough to make him lose his job though.

She and her friends found it easy to wind up Mickey, it was sometimes just too easy but when he'd started hanging around with Jimmy Stone, she'd tried to avoid the pair of them.  She jumped as the door opened and her mother shouted her.

"Hello sweetheart, had a good day?" her mother asked her, looking on the kitchen counter.

"Mum, are you and Bob getting married?" she came straight out and asked.

"What?  Where did ya get that idea from Rose?" her mother wanted to know.  "No, we haven't even talked about getting engaged, we'd tell ya if we were.  Honestly Rose, I don't know where you get your ideas from, you don't even hang around with Shareen any more, I could understand it then, her mother had a different bloke every week."

Rose thought her mother had a cheek to say that before she'd met Bob.  Now she wished things had stayed like that and Bob had remained here and never taken over the job on their estate.

"Mum, what about all the things I'm expected to do when I start school?" Rose asked her.

"We don't expect ya to do everything Rose," her mother replied as she put the prepared meal in the oven.  "Bob thought it would be good practice for ya to do things on ya own, I agreed with him."

Rose thought how much her mother had changed in the time she'd known Bob.

"Anyway, what makes ya think we're getting married?  Do ya think he wants ya to start calling him 'dad'?"

The thought had crossed Rose's mind.

"I don't know Mum, maybe?  It's taking some getting used to just living with him," was all she could reply.

"Well we're here to stay Rose so ya better had get used to it.  For the first time since your dad died, I found someone who doesn't just want me as a friend or just the odd date.  You're too young to understand that."

"I'm thirteen Mum, I've seen what my friend's parents are like.  Anyway, I was thinking about spending some time in the library, if I pass that test, I'll have to catch up.  When will ya get to know?" she asked.

"Soon I hope, we'll have to get ya a uniform.  They said if ya didn't pass, the education authority would allocate you another school, hopefully nearby.  I never realised that ya would need to get a bus, sorry.  Bob made it sound like it was close by."

Rose thought trust him to get it wrong and just why did she have to pass a test to be allowed in the school, a posh one at that?

"So from Monday, can I get some time to myself?" Rose asked.

"I expect so, it's just working in a salon all day now, I don't get time to sit down and chat like I used to.  I'll stay a while longer then see about starting out on my own again but my boss won't like it if I steal her clients."

Rose didn't think she would.  Still, it wasn't fair all this had been put on her when she didn't even want to be here.  The Friday morning though, a letter came for her mother, with a stamp of the grammar school across the top and she knew her fate had been decided.  There were only just over two weeks before the term started and it would be a rush to get the uniform and she'd been warned short skirts were not acceptable so she couldn't even get away with her old one, if the school colour still included grey.

She knew they wore blue blazers and blue jumpers and she just hoped her mother wouldn't pull her out at the last minute if she couldn't afford the recommended uniform shop.  Her mother finally got home, Rose having returned a book to the library and seen the boy from the other week, whom she noticed hanging around the 'Just returned' books the librarian had taken a pile of and placed on the trolley.

She wondered if he went to the grammar school then?

Alec had thought it was worth his while going back to see if the book he wanted had been returned and he'd been rewarded when the female librarian had wheeled a small trolley piled with books, sorted them out and he'd been the first to spot it.  He had seen the blonde girl across the other side of the library and wondered if she'd been the one to return it?

Rose was waiting anxiously as her mother checked her other mail, making Rose wait.  The letter was finally opened, quite a thick one Rose thought but it could have been the thickness of the posh paper she supposed.  Then she saw there were two other sheets her mother held separately.

"Rose, sweetheart, you didn't quite pass the test," her mother announced, Rose thinking why all the sheets of paper then?  "You did get a high enough score to qualify for an assisted place though, they have to take so many, it's the law here.  They've sent a list of clothes and equipment you'll need and a grant towards the cost.  Well try to look pleased love."

Rose was trying her best but at the words 'didn't pass' she thought now she'd have to see what other school she'd been offered, which could be ten times worse than the one she'd been at.

"We'll go into town tomorrow and find the best place to get your uniform, there's a list of places that take the grants, then we'll get the rest of the stuff ya need.  Aren't you excited love?" she asked, forgetting putting dinner in the oven and Rose hoping it wouldn't be ready when Bob got home.

It would serve him right for dragging them both up here.  She thought her mother would opt for the cheapest uniform store and get as much as she could out of it for the money.  She knew her mother was used to a tight budget and that would never change.

Alec was also having to go with his dad the next day to get anything that needed replacing, since he seemed to find his blazer sleeves were a little short and his aunt had tried her best with it using her sewing machine.

"Sorry Alec," his aunt had apologized that morning.  "I just can't do anything with it, tell your dad.  I have some good news for you though, well two lots.  Peter's staying where he is for now, he got a part-time job and he's staying with one of his friends but John's coming home for a visit, before you go back to school.  That should cheer you up?" she asked him.

Alec thought maybe it just would, he could get some ideas for his time-travelling adventures.  The next day, Alec and Rose had arrived at different shops to look for uniforms though Alec wondered why he hadn't been taken to the department store where his friends went, it wasn't like the clothes lasted any longer.  His dad though had said that was where parents who got a grant shopped and since he could afford to pay for it, they should not get anything from there in case someone who needed it more than Alec couldn't get their size.

Alec wondered if it wasn't something else though, maybe it was because his mother had frowned at the 'discount' clothes store as she called it and she didn't want any of the other mothers she had in her circle see her shopping there.  His mother didn't appear to be stuck-up but he didn't know how she was with the mothers of his friends, whose parents all had good jobs.  Had she considered his dad's job as good?  He was just a supervisor at the postal depot but had now taken a different job to get better hours.

As Rose managed to get as much as her mother said they were allowed, she'd made sure she had a spare jumper, just in case but had hated trying the blazer on, it being the most expensive item and her mother frowning she had to put her own money towards it.

"That had better last you Rose," her mother warned her as they went down the escalator to the ground floor to find the shoe department, something else she was going to have to pay for.

"Mum, we could come back for the shoes and the gym shoes," Rose tried to insist.

"I'm not coming back just for those," her mother replied.  "Bob was so pleased you got in there.  Do ya wanna know why he insisted you went there?"

Rose wasn't that fussed about knowing but her mother would tell her anyway.

"He didn't want to let on he used to go there, he was trying to play it down by pretending he didn't know much about it."

Rose bet he did – not.  It was easy for him to fool her mother, who usually saw through any deception but Bob had her good and proper on that score.  If he'd convinced her mother about that, what else had he convinced her of?  She'd never listen to a bad word against him, there was no use trying to convince her of anything.  Rose was sure he was hiding something but maybe she was just being paranoid?

Soon, the next weekend was looming and it was back to school on the Tuesday, which Rose thought was a bit odd to say the least.  She got everything else she needed on the Saturday, her mother opting to buy things in the market and Rose was trying to pretend she wasn't with her mother and hoping anyone she met at school hadn't seen them going in.

She spent the Monday in the library again, just reading a few things she may need, Alec was with his friend Jamie at the other end but Jamie had seen Rose.

"That girl's back Alec," his friend nudged him.  "Go say hello to her.  My older brother may beat you to it if you're not careful, she looks older than us."

"I expect anyone looks older than us," Alec disagreed.  "Your older brother goes to college this year."

"Yeah, lucky him.  What happened to your cousin?"

"He stayed there, he never came back for the summer but John came back, he should have come back last week but he got delayed.  I won't see much of him but we went around yesterday."

John Smith had arrived back home on the Saturday before and hired a car at the airport.  His mother greeted him and told him Alec had been disappointed at his delay.

"Sorry Mum, you know how it is?" John grinned as he planted his holdall on the kitchen table.  "How has he coped without his mum?"

"John, you don't have to put on that English voice with me you know?" she scolded him.

"I only do it when I'm abroad, sorry.  Otherwise no-one would understand me, would they?  Should I go round and see Alec?" he asked.

"They're coming round tomorrow, go say hello to your dad, he's in the garden shed.  Shame you didn't come back the other week, we did the spare room out for Alec so he'd feel at home."

"Aw, that's nice Mum, I bet he liked that?" John grinned.

"Your hair has got wilder," his mother reminded him.  "How did you cope with it in that heat?"

"It wasn't that hot where I was, I didn't go anywhere exotic Mum.  Is Alec still writing his stories?"

"Yes and I know what they're about now John.  He's not writing about that TV programme, he's pretending to be you."

John looked surprised.  "I did wonder sometimes but I didn't want to brag," he smiled, flicking his hair and stubbing his Converse shoe on the chair leg, getting him another scowl from his mother.

"You knew what he was writing about?" she asked him.

"He asked me not to say anything, he told me after his mum's funeral.  I promised him I wouldn't, after he was already upset."

So while Alec and his dad went for their visit, John took Alec out into the garden and they sat on the garden swing.

"So Cous, looking forward to going back to school?" he asked Alec, who was hoping now he was getting older his hair wouldn't get that wild so maybe he should get it cut?

"Yeah, I expect they'll be new kids in my class and in the first year, I don't envy them," Alec admitted.

"How's the stories then, still basing them on me?" John grinned.

"You wish," Alec laughed.

"Aw come on Alec, admit it, that programme is just that you know?  At least I've really travelled, just not in time."

"Yes you have, what about through time zones?" Alec insisted.

John scratched his head, making Alec smile.  John didn't mind his young cousin made fun of his choice of making a living, doing research for any travel company who would employ him after he tried to make a good impression.

"Weeell, you got me there Cous," John laughed, patting Alec's shoulder.  "Your aunt doesn't like me using an English accent."

"I like it," Alec smiled.  "How long are you staying?"

"I don't know Alec, I can stay for a while, I'll have to convince another travel company they need my services.  So, got a girlfriend yet?" John teased him.

"Promise not to say anything?" Alec asked quietly.  John nodded.  "Can I trust you?"

"Alec Hardy, I'm surprised at you," John pretended to be shocked.  "Who else can you trust?  My younger brother's not here in case you'd not noticed?  You'd trust him over me?"

"I trusted you when I was six John, you told my aunt I wanted to be a writer."

"Alec, you were six, then when you were nine, you were writing stories on scraps of paper.  Still want to be a writer?" John asked him.

"I don't know, maybe not?  I think I might want to join the police?"

"The actual police or the band?" John joked.  "Sorry.  That's very commendable Alec.  No-one ever told you how your mum died so quickly, right?"  Alec nodded.  "Your dad will tell you when you get older but she didn't want to leave you Alec, you do know that?"

Alec nodded again.  "Yeah, I know John, it was just really hard, losing her."

John tried to change the subject.  "So, you never finished why you wanted me to promise not to say anything.  You have got a secret girlfriend?"

"Not exactly John.  I keep seeing this girl in the library but I don't know her from school.  Jamie thinks she goes to another one," Alec admitted.

"Do you want to find out who she is?" John asked him.

Alec wasn't sure and he had no-one else to go to for advice, certainly not his friends.

A/N: Alec's cousin John is based on the clone Doctor, in case you've not already guessed!

Chapter 5  Getting ready
Rose hadn't been able to sleep all that Monday night, thinking what was going to happen with her new classmates, well the entire school when they found out she was English.  Surely though there would be others but they would have either already been accepted or had their own little 'club' or circle of friends she may or may not be invited to join should she be an outcast.

It was something she'd not really thought about until that day and she doubted her mother had considered it, things were different for adults, it didn't seem to bother them.  It was probably the fact that Bob had a Scottish accent that made him stand out while he was working on their old estate that got him her mother's attention in the first place.

She'd no idea how they'd met, it just seemed to Rose like it had happened and there had been nothing she could do about it.  Her mother was hardly going to give up a good thing when she saw it because she'd not taken her feelings about it into account.  

As she tried to sleep, she thought about that boy she'd seen again, whom she knew must keep hanging around the library to try to talk to her but even when he'd been there on his own, he'd not attempted to do so.  He'd been with another boy, the same one she'd seen him with the first time and he'd looked like he was trying to encourage his friend but maybe some other girls had been sitting behind her at another table and they hadn't even meant her?

Before she'd gone to bed, her mother had questioned her.

"So, have you got everything for tomorrow Rose?" she'd been asked.

"Yes Mum, you've asked me a dozen times," Rose had replied.

"Don't be cheeky to your mother," Bob had warned her, yet again.

"It's okay Bob," her mother had defended her, for a change Rose thought.  "I don't know how many times I used to have to remind you, you always told me on the Sunday before you were going back that you needed a new pencil case or some gym shoes.  What was I meant to do?"

"Mum, that was years ago and this time I wasn't starting school on a Monday.  How come it's different here?" Rose asked, thinking Bob would tell her off again.

She couldn't even have a conversation with her mother any more without Bob butting in, he was a real spoilsport.

"I expect it's just how it is, you're not back in London any more," her mother replied.

Did she have to keep reminding her, Rose wondered.  She was hoping her mother had got fed up by now and taken them back home, not that there was anywhere to go, they would have to depend on relatives but it wasn't like her mother to just take off in such a hurry after a bloke.  It had been bad enough when Howard from the market had stayed over on a Saturday night though at least they'd not had to move, hundreds of miles away.

"Yes, Rose, remember that," Bob agreed.  "You'd best stay quiet for a few days, your accent will stand out."

"Great, just what I need, a new school and I can't talk to anyone," Rose thought to herself.  To Bob she just said, "Why, what will they do?"

"Just be warned," he replied, looking at her mother.

"Just pretend you've lost your voice Rose," Jackie suggested.  "I'll write you a note to say you've got a sore throat, there's some lozenges in the bathroom cabinet, put them in your school bag."

Rose didn't think she had much choice, her classmates would pick her out and make fun of her at least, goodness knows what else.  Surely her mother would have pointed that out to the headmaster but wouldn't there be more pupils there that weren't native to Scotland?  Maybe her new teacher would make her stand in front of the class, well she hoped not.

She had escaped to her room, wondering if the two boys she'd seen at the library went to the grammar school but she was only interested in the blonde haired one.  He'd look kind of sad, she'd thought, like he didn't want to be there anyway and considering he'd snapped up the book she'd only just returned, it was a safe bet.

Alec was reading the book eagerly, at his aunt's house, which made her smile.

"Some last minute studying Alec?" his aunt had asked, John in the other room watching TV.

"I tried to get it before, it's only just come back in," Alec admitted, though not that he'd bet the blonde haired girl had it and he'd been watching for her to return it.

"Good thing you went then?" his aunt smiled, relieved he was actually reading a book and not writing one of his far-fetched stories she was still convinced he based on his older cousin.

John had come back into the large kitchen, grinning at his young cousin reading a book.  Going up behind Alec, he ruffled his hair.

"Trying to catch up?" John asked him, going to the cupboard looking for a snack.

Alec was just glad his cousin had dropped the subject as to if he liked the girl he kept seeing in the library though he'd be bitterly disappointed if she wasn't actually going to be at his school.  If she was though, he just hoped Jamie wouldn't tell the whole class that he'd been staring at her or looking for her every time he went in.

His aunt went off to do something and John sat opposite Alec.

"You never answered my question yesterday Alec," John reminded him.

Alec had got away without answering the awkward question his cousin had asked him when his dad had come looking for him.

"I don't know John but if she goes to my school, I'll see her then," Alec replied.

John grinned at him.  "Seems there's more to it then just seeing her in the library, Cousin," he teased Alec.

Alec knew this would happen sooner or later, he'd seen John tease his younger brother Peter many a time over a girl at school or the youth club they used to hang round but he'd stopped going when Peter had, it was no fun without him causing mischief. 

"There's nothing else to it John, she was just a girl in the library," Alec tried to deny anything else.

"Who was just a girl in the library?" his aunt asked as she came in from the laundry room with a basket.

Alec knew he'd never get out of it now.  "Nothing Auntie Mary, Jamie and I just kept seeing this new girl and we wondered if she was going to our school," he had to admit.

"Well, you'll find out tomorrow," she replied, glancing at John, whom she knew was making more out of it than there actually was, she'd seen him doing it with Peter.  "Still, it'll be nice for you to make new friends, not like that Kristy and her followers."

Alec wondered how she had remembered the school showoff.  You were either in Kristy's little gang or looked down on and anyone who had any sense stayed away from her and Moira.

"Those two still bothering everyone?" John laughed.

"I just stay away from them, they're not worth it," Alec replied, knowing he wouldn't get the book finished now.

"Good for you kid, who needs friend like them?" John replied, his mother despairing he wouldn't drop his adopted English accent even though it seemed like he'd come home for a while, unlike Peter had done.  "You'll make some new ones, maybe that girl eh?" he grinned and nudged Alec.

"Stop teasing him John," his mother told him.

"It's okay Auntie Mary, Jamie does it as well," Alec had to admit.

His aunt went off again and John wanted to know more.

"Seems you may have a rival then?" John asked him.  "If you don't do something, someone else will snatch her up."

"I'm not ready to go chasing after girls John," Alec replied.

"Oh come on, who are you kidding?" John wanted to know.  "Everyone has to start somewhere, have their first crush.  Go on admit it, she's yours."

Alec wasn't ready to admit anything. 

"So does Jamie fancy her?" John continued.

"I don't think so, the way he goes on but he said if no-one made a move on her, his older brother would.  Besides, she looks older than me."

"Aw, anyone looks older than you," John teased him, reaching to ruffle Alec's recently cut hair.  "What happened to the spiky look?"

"Dad make me have it cut," Alec replied, not looking too happy about it.

"Well you look more grown up now, maybe that girl will take more notice of you?" John told him.

Alec just hoped he was right but was he ready to take notice of just one girl when he was surrounded by them at school?  So he'd gone home, talked to his dad for a while and gone to his room to try to finish his book.

"All ready for tomorrow?" he asked Alec.  "You look much better with flatter hair you know?"

"Mum liked it like that," Alec reminded him.

"I know Son but she's gone now and you're getting older.  You don't want your friends making fun of you."

Alec thought maybe his dad did have a point?  As he tried to get to sleep later, he laid awake thinking of the blonde girl – why was he even bothering?  What would someone like her want to do with him?  As to Jamie though, he acted more grown up but that was maybe because he had an older bother, on the other hand, so did his cousin Peter but John acted more like a kid out of the two of them.

Both of them were up early the next morning, Alec's dad was just getting ready to go to work, Alec being trusted to lock the door and get himself to school, getting the early bus to avoid the rush.  Rose on the other hand had got the times of the buses and figured the one that got her there fifteen minutes before school started was the best one since she had no-one to hang around with.

That was half the problem, her old mates would have gone back yesterday and she would have been hanging around, maybe calling by the garage to torment Mickey on her way with Shareen just to get him going and they would have been laughing about it all day.  Now she had nothing to look forward to, getting made to pull the extra stitching out of the hem of her school skirt by one of the teachers to make it longer and the others giggling at her being caught and chewing gum and making a mess when told to spit it out in class.

She smiled to herself as she got her breakfast, her mother fussing as usual to make sure Bob had his packed lunch, leaving Rose's on the counter top then them sneaking into the hallway for some groping, Rose imagined it was groping anyway since they could hardly keep their hands off each other.  She usually heard her mother calling out to him that she'd see him later then act all coy and get her own breakfast.

It was a far cry from Rose remembering her mother not getting up until the last minute and still not dressed when she had gone out.  She wondered if things would ever have changed so drastically if her mother had never met Bob?  Rose did not know the conversation that had been taking place in their bedroom though.

"Bob, I told ya, I don't expect Rose to do everything when she comes home," Jackie had protested as she'd sat at the dresser.  "She'll make some friends and want to hang around with them, then she'll have homework to do."

"I know that Jackie but don't let her stay out too long, make sure she's home when you are," Bob had told her.  "Remember what we agreed?"

Jackie remembered only too well what had been agreed when he'd found out she had a thirteen year old daughter.   What had started out in their agreement had changed over the weeks they'd been together and she was so gone on him by now, she had no choice but to agree.  She watched Rose get her lunchbox and handed her some bus fare.

"You'll have to ask about a bus pass Rose," she reminded her.

"I hope I qualify for one then?  It's not very far though," Rose replied.

"Yeah but it's too far to walk though and you don't know your way.  Go on, don't miss the bus and be late on your first day.  Have ya got that note?"

"Yeah but I don't know Mum, I'll be deceiving everyone," Rose hesitated.

"Well what else can ya do other than let the whole school know?" her mother asked.

"Well the bus conductor will know," Rose protested.

"Well just mumble or whisper, then those getting on will already know you have a sore throat," Jackie suggested.

"Well I don't have much choice then, do I?" Rose asked.  "Bye then, see ya tonight, I might not come straight back if I make some friends."

"Well Bob said for ya to be back the same time as me, I'm agreeing with him," her mother replied.

Rose half expected as much.

"Rose, can't you call it home?" her mother continued as she got ready for work.

"You know I can't Mum, this isn't my home," Rose replied sadly.

"Well we're here so make the best of it sweetheart.  Go on or you really will be late."

Alec was setting off to the bus stop at the end of the road, which was the next one up from where Rose would be getting on but he was half an hour earlier.  He met Jamie at the corner and they saw there were only two or three others from school already there in the bus shelter, thankfully Kristy and Moira lived elsewhere or it would be a nightmare.

"Are we having a bet then?" Jamie asked as he sat on a wall instead of in the bus shelter, Alec just leaning against it so the person whose wall it was wouldn't protest.

"About what?" Alec asked, not that he didn't already know.

Jamie nudged him.  "You know what about.  Today is the day you find out if that girl goes to our school or not so I bet you a pound she does."

"I have better things to do with my pocket money Jamie," Alec replied, pretending not to care.

His friend laughed.  "I was telling my brother, he wants to go to the library with us next time," he teased Alec.

"Is that meant to bother me?" Alec asked, trying to act tough.  

"Well I told you he would if you were too slow Alec," Jamie warned him.  "What would your mum have said?  She'd have told you not to mess around and do something."

"Stop it Jamie, my mum's not here, is she?"

"Sorry.  The bus is late or have they changed the times?" Jamie wondered, knowing he'd hit a raw nerve.  "I didn't mean anything but she would have done, she always encouraged you."

"Yeah she encouraged me to let my hair get spiky but dad said I had to grow up," Alec replied as he saw the bus come around the corner.

"Well all I'm saying is if she's new to the school, she should be warned about Kristy and Moira," Jamie said as they went to board the bus.  "Let's sit upstairs and she if she lives around here?"

Alec doubted it, it wasn't a small town where everyone lived in the same area.  She could live anywhere and may still not be going to their school but whoever she was and whichever school she was going to, some other boy would snap her up, maybe even someone like Jamie's brother.

"Come on Alec, cheer up before we get to school.  If she's there, she's there but if not, we can go to the library when we get out," Jamie suggested.  "I was only messing with you about my brother."

Alec wasn't so sure about that, Jamie's brother Alan was well known for talking to the girls, he was almost as bad as John.  As they got off the bus, pupils were already gathering in groups, some whose parents sent them off early and some who got there to avoid the over-crowded buses, they saw Kristy and her gang were already trying to get new recruits for the new term.

Jamie steered Alec towards a few boys they were friends with but before they got there Jamie stopped.

"Still writing your stories Alec?" Jamie asked him.  "Best not say anything, you're never going to get away with it."

"I know, I won't get my notebook out while they're around, okay?" Alec replied.

"Still basing them on that time traveller?" Jamie grinned.

"My aunt thinks they're about John.  I suppose they could be," Alec admitted.

"Are they?" Jamie wanted to know.  "He does actually travel Alec, even if it is only by train or plane.  At least his travels are real.  How long is he staying at home?"

"Who knows with John?" Alec wondered.  "Until he gets another assignment I expect but he'll be writing his reports up for the agency who sent him.  He said something about it the other day."

"Did you tell him, about that girl in the library?" Jamie wanted to know as the other boys were talking.

"I've not got an older brother to talk to about things like you have and Peter never came back, John is all I have," Alec replied.  

They went to join their friends, some of them noticing Alec's haircut and wondering if they maybe should have done the same.

Rose had been waiting at the bus stop, not being able to get in the shelter and hoping the bus wouldn't be full when it got there.  She cringed when the bus did arrive, some of the girls looking at her as if to ask who she was and that they'd never seen her before.  She listened as the others gave the amount of their bus fare and whispered the same as the bus driver issued her ticket and she thought maybe she'd not say the following morning, he seemed used to it.

She had to go upstairs, seeing a few empty seats but teenagers kneeling backwards to talk to their friends so she took a chance and sat next to one of them.  The other girl suddenly turned.

"I'm saving that seat," the girl huffed in a broad Scottish accent.  "Hey Annie, this girl thinks she's going to take our friend's seat," she continued.

If Rose hadn't been warned about speaking with an English accent and risk getting strung up, she would have told the girl not so politely that it was a likely story.  Instead she just shrugged her shoulders and remained where she was.

"Did you not hear?" the girl turned back to her.  "Hey, I think she's deaf or something."

The two girls behind them were already giggling and Rose, having grown up on a rough London council estate knew when someone was winding her up, she was an expert at winding poor Mickey up.  She had to put on an act though of pretending to ignore them so the girl next to her purposely took more room up than she needed but Rose just nudged back.  Despite the girls referring to her, she managed the next few stops, no-one wanting to sit there and got up when she saw others doing the same.

She followed them across the road and through the gate and that was when it hit her.  This was it, she wasn't in Kansas any more.  There were no friends waiting for her to catch up with, she was alone and she dare not even talk to anyone.  She had no idea where she was going, she'd been sent a timetable and what class she was in so she wandered inside the building to see if there was some indication where that was but came out again at the size of the place.

Everyone was gathering at the entrance, waiting for the bell to go as a teacher came out.  Rose followed them all in, stopping another teacher and showing which class she was in and being pointed to the next  floor.  Alec and his friends had gone inside and upstairs and were about to go in for registration as Alec saw Rose coming up the stairs.  He nudged Jamie.

"See, she is here after all," his friend told him, Alec remembering something about betting she wouldn't be on the way there.

Everyone was going into the classroom, Alec holding back as his friend shook his head.  Alec saw his chance as Rose was looking around, the teacher having pointed to the floor but not the classroom number.  Thinking about just giving in and asking someone, Rose recognized him – the boy from the library.

"Hi, are you lost?" Alec enquired as others passed him, taking no notice.

Rose couldn't break her silence if she was going to carry this off for a few days until she got up the courage to admit she was not native to Scotland.  Instead she just nodded.

"Well if you're in the third year there's more than one class," he replied as two teachers were talking outside the next classroom.

Rose showed him where she should be, holding out the piece of paper she'd scribbled it down on from the letter her mother had got.

"Right, it's this one," Alec replied, as a few stragglers passed them and the teachers were splitting up.

Rose just smiled at him, Alec wishing she'd done that in the library, not as they were about to go in the classroom.

"Why are you two still out here?" the female teacher asked.

"Sorry Miss, it was just she got lost and didn't know which was her classroom," Alec tried to explain, Rose just nodding in agreement.

"Well that's very commendable of you Alec but you need to take your desk," the teacher told him.

Rose nodded and followed Alec and the teacher inside, Alec cursing himself he still didn't know her name.  As the teacher read out each name, Alec was waiting for the girl he kept seeing in the library to raise her hand and finally, the teacher, Miss Robinson got to the 'T's"

"Sandra Taylor," the teacher called out as a redhead raised her hand, Alec hoping it was Rose's turn.  "Rose Tyler," the teacher continued as Rose raised her hand slowly, unaware Alec had been waiting as another twenty or thirty names were called out, all of the others he already knew.

There, he had her name, it had been bugging him since the first time he'd seen her in the library and she also now knew his name, Rose thought as Alec had raised his hand, since he was sat in front of her slightly but he'd turned around as two more names had been called out.  His friend smiled to himself and nudged Alec's arm.

Alec knew he would get teased more than ever now he had her name but he just hoped Jamie wouldn't tell the whole class that he'd spent most of the summer holidays wondering who she was or he'd never hear the end of it.  Rose was also glad she had a name for the boy who'd been waiting eagerly for her to return that book and whom she'd seen talking to the boy who was sat beside him.

Now all she had to do was hope she'd get away with being quiet until everyone got used to her and would accept who she was but her hopes were dashed as the teacher made an announcement.

"Class, we have two new arrivals with us this term, Sandra Taylor and Rose Tyler, who have transferred from other schools.  Rose, please stand up and introduce yourself."

Rose's heart leapt as everyone turned to look at her – including who she now knew was Alec Hardy.

Chapter 6 - First day
Rose remained seated, those in front of her beginning to chatter and the teacher telling them to hush.

"We're all waiting Rose," the teacher reminded her, in a soft Scottish accent.

Alec was also trying to turn around but suddenly put his hand up.

"Yes Alec?" the teacher asked him.

"Please Miss, I think she has a sore throat," he suggested, the others starting to giggle.

"Quiet," the teacher told the class.  "Yes Alec, I think it's that or she is just shy.  Rose, do you have a sore throat?"

Rose managed a nod, she was already in too deep to back out of her mother's suggestion and she had to play along, for now.

"Very well, rest your voice and no sucking throat lozenges in class.  Your mother should have sent a note."

Rose fumbled in her desk and brought out the hastily written note her mother had scribbled last night, she'd almost forgotten.

The teacher allowed her to get up and pass the note.

"You maybe should have stayed off?" the teacher suggested, glancing at the note, Rose thinking she'd never get away with it.

She also thought she was glad she hadn't stayed off, she'd finally got to know the boy's name and the one next to him was called Jamie.

It had been a double lesson since it was the first day so they had one more lesson before break time and Rose hung back, following everyone else to the next classroom.  Jamie was nudging Alec.

"Bet she's not really lost her voice, she's having us on," Jamie told him as they went through the door.

"Leave her Jamie, we don't know that," Alec replied.

Jamie sat next to him and nudged him as Rose sat next to a girl called Marie, who had less friends than they did.

"Maybe?  See how she gets on when she meets Kristy and Moira?"

"Then I'll have to keep them away from her, if she can't talk back, you know what they are like," Alec replied as the teacher put his briefcase on the desk in the science room.

"Good morning class," the teacher spoke up.  "I'm your substitute science teacher, Mr Brown is unable to join you.  My name is Doctor John Smith," the tall thin man grinned, putting his glasses on and picking up a piece of chalk to write on the blackboard.

Alec noticed at least he had the attention of all the girls, unlike last term when Mr Brown was there.  Rose was paying attention, the man had an Estuary English accent and she wished now she'd never gone along with her mother's idea of how to keep quiet to avoid being picked on.

"So, anyone else here from London?" the teacher asked, looking around.  

Rose was not going to admit anything and he was probably only here for a few days anyway.  He seemed to be getting away with the accent but he wasn't a thirteen year old teenager who everyone would turn on.  Alec saw her paying attention and began to wonder if she was covering something up.  Had he been right?  Was the sore throat just her playing along because he'd suggested it?  What note had she passed earlier though?

He'd been thinking more about what he'd told his cousin John, whose double could be standing in front of the class but his cousin was no science teacher and was not from London, though he liked to act like it now.  He'd told John he may want to join the police and since his curiosity always got the better of him, maybe he should?

The teacher was asking him a question, since he must have looked miles away.

"What's your name?" he asked Alec, everyone, including Rose looking at him.

"Alec, Sir."

"Then Alec, let's see how much you learned last term shall we," the teacher grinned, making the girls giggle.

Then it was Rose's turn as a few more answered questions.

"I've been told there are two new pupils this year?  Would you raise your hands?"

Rose reluctantly raised hers, as did Sandra, who was sitting next to Kelly.

"So, what's your names then?" they were both asked.

"I'm Sandra, that's Rose, she lost her voice," the other girl replied, Rose being thankful but had the feeling Alec had been about to tell the teacher anyway.

"Well, never mind eh Rose?  Bad luck on your first day," the teacher grinned, something Rose thought he seemed to do a lot of, when he wasn't coming out with words that sounded like he watched 'The Fonz' all day.

The lesson was almost over, Rose being relieved she'd got away with it so far but if this science teacher was going to be here again, she may go confide in him, if not, she would have to tell her class teacher, who should have already been informed.  Rose bet Miss Robinson did know and chose to keep it quiet and had guessed why she'd been reluctant to speak.

The bell went for break time and everyone gathered their school bags and headed for the exit but the teacher held Alec back.

"You seemed to have all the answers," he asked Alec.  "Do you know the new girl?"

"No Sir," Alec replied as everyone else left.  

"I just wondered, she kept glancing at you.  You were also looking at me a lot, any reason?" Doctor Smith asked, Alec thinking he should have been asking the girls that, not him.

"Sorry Sir, it's just you look a bit like my cousin, he has the same name as well," Alec explained, hoping Kristy and Moira weren't going around looking for new victims.

"Ah, no wonder then.  So is he a teacher?" he asked Alec.

"No Sir, he's a travel writer, he does reviews of holiday destinations for travel agencies," Alec admitted, hoping to catch up with Jamie, or maybe Rose.

"Interesting job?  Well don't let me keep you Alec, well done.  That girl though, Rose.  She seemed a bit lost."

"She was, when she arrived but I've seen her in the library a few times, she's been in town a few weeks, our teacher said she'd transferred schools," Alec replied, trying to be helpful if it got him excused.

"Right, that explains it then.  Well off you go," Doctor Smith grinned at him.  "Are you going to make friends with her?"

"I was going to try Sir, may I go now?" Alec asked, thinking this was the longest conversation he'd ever had with a teacher.

The fact the teacher looked a bit like his cousin was a bit strange, especially when his aunt thought he himself was beginning to look like John.

He got outside and went to find Jamie, who was talking to some of their other friends, well the ones who weren't trying to get in Kristy's gang, she wasn't really bothered who joined but she seemed to have lost a lot of followers, Alec thought.  Maybe the old ones had come to their senses?

He looked around for Rose and saw her sitting on a bench under a window.  Jamie was discussing where he'd been on holiday, Alec already having heard about it and it put him off because they'd been nowhere with just losing his mother several months ago and it wouldn't have been the same, well not for him anyway.

Since there were only just over five minutes left, Alec crossed to the bench and stood in front of Rose, who was trying to keep the sun out of her eyes but not wanting to move.

"Hi again, what are you doing on your own?" Alec asked her.  "Not made any friends, not even the other new girl?"

Rose shook her head.

Since she wasn't talking, Alec decided to try and get a few things out of her by the process of elimination, something he was good at.

"So, you transferred from another school?  Out of town?" he asked.  Rose nodded, hoping she wouldn't try to correct him.  "A long way maybe?" he continued.  Rose nodded again.  "The Outer Hebrides?" Alec grinned, making Rose smile.  "Well maybe not that far then?" he smiled back.  "Maybe Aberdeen or Inverness?"

Rose shook her head.  He was about to get his notebook out and suggest she wrote it down when he saw a teacher at the doorway and he'd have to remember to use the other end of the pad anyway, he wasn't ready to show the new girl any of his stories, well not yet anyway.

"Did you bring a packed lunch?" he dared ask her.  Rose nodded again.  "Me too, my mum never approved of school dinners.  Maybe we can talk later?"

Rose nodded and got off the bench, Alec thinking that was a daft thing to say but surely she could try and talk a little?  She'd not ever tried or cleared her throat but he'd seen her take something out of her bag while he'd been walking over and assumed it was something she took to help.  He followed her to line up to go inside, getting a look from Kristy and Moira, who nudged him from the next line.

"No good asking you, is there?" Moira asked, since she was the mouthy one out of the pair.

"Leave him, he wouldn't know what we're about anyway," Kristy told her friend.

Rose could see the two other girls were not so friendly and assumed she'd be best staying away from them.

After the next lessons, everyone was either going to the school canteen to line up to get their lunch or find a place to eat what they had brought with them, Rose having been used to a separate area in her old school but no-one seemed to be bothering.  She found a table but assumed she'd not be alone and sure enough, the two lead troublemakers made a beeline for her.

"You're new here, want to join our group?" Moira asked her.

Alec could see they were trying to get Rose on their side.

"Leave her Alec," Jamie nudged him as he watched the other two girls sit either side of Rose.  "She'll have to learn about them."

"What's so interesting about her then?" one of the other boys asked.

"She's new, she doesn't know about getting involved with their gang," Alec replied, trying to eat his chicken salad sandwich.

"Have you met her before?" another boy asked him.  "You stuck up for her earlier."

Alec was going to try to deny it.  "She just looked lost," he replied.

"Aren't you going to tell them?" Jamie grinned.  "She was in the library a few times."

Alec was going to thank his friend later.

"We never saw her," another one replied.

"Maybe because she was in our local one?" Jamie laughed.  "Not the one in town."

Rose wasn't having an easy time and Alec knew what they were like when a new victim came along.  The last two years, pupils had joined them and got tired of getting into trouble because of them and had the sense to leave.  He was hoping Rose hadn't fallen for their tricks.

"Don't you talk or something?" Moira was asking her as Rose tried to ignore them by eating.

"Bet she's lost her voice," Kristy laughed, not seeing Alec walking across as he'd been unable to stop himself.

"Leave her alone you two, she's new," Alec called out to them.

"Well if it's not Alec Hardy," Kristy laughed.  "Been hanging around the library all summer being a swot?" 

"Yeah, nothing else to do while everyone else went away?" Moira joined in as Alec stood there, his bag over his shoulder.

Rose wanted to tell the two girls to get lost but it would just give the game away.  She would have done and her friends from her old school would have made short work of the pair.

"Aw, I forgot, he'd have been at his auntie's since his mum's been gone," Kristy mocked.

"You leave my mum out of this Kristy Roberts," Alec almost lost his temper.

Rose wanted to say that was uncalled for.  She thought he'd looked sad in the library, his mum must have either left home or passed away.

"Go find somewhere else Alec, we're talking to the new girl," Moira carried on.

"No, you're not, now back off," Alec warned them.  "Go back under the rock you both came from.  You don't get the fact no-one wants to join you this term, who can blame them when they get into trouble for what you two do?" he asked, trying to give Rose a picture of what they were like.

Rose had already got it, she wanted nothing to do with them, she didn't want to make friends like them even though at her last school, she'd caused most of the trouble herself but she'd not been desperate to get anyone to join her.

"Come on Moira, we'll get to her later," Kristy told her.

"No you won't, if she wanted to join you, she would not have ignored you, would she?" Alec asked them.

"So that was what she was doing?" Moira asked as she got up, a teacher approaching and Alec noticing it was the science teacher.  "Thought she'd got a sore throat or something."

Kristy turned around and almost collided with Doctor John Smith.

"What are you two girls doing?" he asked.

"Nothing Sir, just talking.  We were just leaving," she replied.

"Were they bothering you?" he asked Rose as Alec sat opposite to try to finish his lunch.

Rose shook her head.

"Alec, is that right?" the teacher asked him, Alec assuming he'd been watching and he was on dining room duties.

Either that or he'd been waiting for something to happen, going around looking for signs of trouble and the two who had just left would give him plenty.

"They were trying to get Rose to join them, they're the troublemakers around here, Sir," Alec replied, knowing he'd find out sooner or later – the other teachers already knew.

"Then stay away from them.  If they bother you again, tell one of the teachers," they were both told.

"Yes Sir.  Finish your lunch Rose," Alec suggested as she looked in her lunchbox and brought out a carton of yoghurt.

"I'll leave you to it then?" Doctor Smith asked them.

When he walked off, Rose looked over at Alec, wanting to thank him but if she spoke to him, she'd have to speak to everyone, unless she could trust him to keep her secret – that she was a very long way from home, further than the Outer Hebrides, which Alec had suggested and had made her smile.

Instead, she looked around and since everyone was occupied, she reached to touch his arm.  Alec got she was trying to thank him.

"It's okay Rose, just ignore them again, they'll get the message.  They soon get tired and try someone else.  They'll have a go at all the new ones first then go back to the rest.  Have you enjoyed the lessons so far?" he asked her.

Rose nodded, taking a drink out of the carton of juice.

"The new science teacher kept me talking after class because I was answering all the questions," he admitted with a bit of a grin.  "I never intended to."

Rose thought then maybe he'd not intended to speak up for her at registration or got rid of those two girls for her.

"You would not have liked the last science teacher as such, he was boring but this one made it more interesting," he continued.

Rose was thinking if all the science teachers looked like that, she'd have taken more notice last year but he didn't sound like he belonged here and had already admitted it, she wished now she'd taken no notice of Bob or her mother and Alec didn't look like he'd be bothered if she was English.  She decided to keep quiet for now and in a few days time, she'd try whispering or muffling her voice and see how she got on.

Well that was if she didn't confide in the boy she'd kept seeing in the library, who had rescued her more than one that morning.  Everyone was starting to go outside, she wished she was back with her old friends plotting how they were going to wind Mickey up on the way home and if she was going to make her skirt shorter again.  Now, there was none of that – she was the new girl and there were already two troublemakers in her year and she was glad she wasn't in their class.

She'd not been really surprised to find the boy from the library had been outside the classroom she'd wanted nor that he'd stuck up for her.  He must have wanted to know who she was as much as she'd wanted to know who he was. All through the holidays, she had wanted to meet him properly and there he had been.

"Coming outside?" he asked, interrupting her thoughts.  She managed a nod.  "You finished that book then?  I was waiting for it taking back to the library," he admitted, thinking she had probably already noticed that since he'd pounced on the shelf the moment it had been put there.

Rose had to smile – she already knew that by how keen he had been the day she had returned it.  She was dying to ask him why he wasn't joining his friends as they went to sit under the window again in the far corner.

"So you like reading?" he asked, sitting a bit further away.  "I like to write my own stories, about travelling," he told her, not wanting to say too much.  "My cousin is a travel writer, I suppose I get my ideas from him," he had to admit, though he still insisted they were about a man from another galaxy.

When he thought about it, his cousin John could be the time traveller, well maybe not look like him but the way he acted and moved around, not staying in one place for long.  He thought he'd best not mention his cousin looked like the new science teacher – well maybe not yet anyway.

"You must live near me then, I mean if we go to the same library?" he asked, hoping she may break her silence if she was just pretending to have lost her voice, something he was thinking more and more was the case.

Was she protecting herself from something?  Her real accent perhaps?  Maybe she was genuine though and just a little overwhelmed.  Alec continued the one-sided conversation, Rose nodding and smiling now and then, unaware Alec's friends were watching them.

"Seems we've lost Alec this term?" Billy was asking no-one in particular.

"You should have seen him in the library when she was there," Jamie laughed.  "He told me he wasn't interested in girls, guess I should have known?  I wonder why he never went to talk to her though?"

"Maybe he did, when you were on holiday?" another boy asked.

"No, he would have said something to me," Jamie insisted.

"Maybe not?  Maybe he didn't want us to know?" Billy asked.

"I'm telling you, I'd know," Jamie insisted.  "He may have told his cousin though?  John came back a few days ago and I thought that was him in the science lab."

"His cousins looks like the science teacher?" one of them laughed.

"Never mind the science teacher.  What are we going to do about Alec?" Jamie wanted to know.

"Leave him to it?" two of them laughed.

"Be serious," Jamie replied, now a bit worried for his best friend.  "I've only seen him talking to the girls in school."

"She is in school," Billy joined in the laughing.

"Well I'm going to find out later," Jamie insisted.  "I'm not going to lose a friend to a girl.  I was only teasing him a few days ago that if he didn't talk to her, I'd get my older brother to pay a visit to the library.  You should have seen Alec's face."

"So there's more to it then?" Billy asked.  "You can find out what it is, Jamie."

A/N:  I couldn't resist bringing in the Doctor type character as the science teacher from 'School reunion' and the fact it would confusing for Alec with his cousin who had the same name and they looked alike.

Chapter 7 - Where do you come from?
Jamie was now wishing he had never said anything as he looked across to where his best friend was trying to get Rose to talk.  He hadn't thought that by Alec talking to the girl from the library that their other friends would take any notice.

"So Jamie, you're in then?" Billy asked him.

"What?" Jamie asked, coming back to reality suddenly, breaking his stare to where Alec had got half a smile out of Rose.  "Right, I'll see if he'll tell me anything then?  Funny how he said he didn't like girls."

"My cousin said it comes to all of us," Billy replied.

"I hope not," the others disagreed, pulling faces and pointing across to Alec, who had been tempted to get his notebook out again and see if Rose would tell him what was wrong.

Rose was trying not to laugh at Alec's attempt to get her to talk, letting herself smile slightly, which he had noticed.

"So, Rose, want to tell me what happened to your voice?" he asked, his cousin John always telling him the direct approach was best and since he wanted to join the police, he may as well make a start.

Rose shook her head, she was already too deep in this and it was only lunchtime on the first day.  She'd only last another day at most before not only the other pupils would begin to question her but so would the teachers, including that dishy new science teacher.  If only he'd have been at her old school, it would have given her and her friends something else to talk about other than making Mickey look an idiot in front of his workmates.

"How about you write it down?" Alec suggested, making Rose panic as to what she could say so she shook her head.  "Well I think you are just shy," he smiled, withdrawing his hand from his schoolbag.  

Rose took his arm and indicated for him to go back in.

"You can write in my notebook, at the back.  I don't get this notebook out for anyone else, it's personal, well not personal, just my stories, no-one else knows about them except Jamie.  He's the friend who was at the library with me.  Here, write down how you lost your voice.  Is it a sore throat?" he asked, thinking he could practice and maybe skip being an ordinary policeman and become a detective.

Rose smiled this time as he passed her a pencil and opened his notebook from the back.  Jamie was watching with interest, Alec never got his story notebook out for anyone, in case they told Kristy or Moira, who would make fun of him.  She looked at him, he seemed nice, he'd tried to make her feel welcome and talked to her plus he'd stuck up for a few times but so had the other new girl.

He'd also been subject to being picked on by two other girls who thankfully weren't in their class and they'd better watch out when she decided to end her silence, she made mincemeat out of girls like that in her old school, without any help from her friends and by the look of things, they were the school showoffs who wanted others to join their gang to make fools out of anyone who got in their way.  Well that wasn't going to be her or anyone she made friends with and that now included Alec Hardy.

She had to get settled first though, establish that she'd been dragged to Scotland against her will but maybe not mention her mother had followed a bloke, well she might tell Alec, who was looking at her for her to begin writing.  She smoothed the page and wrote 'Promise not to tell anyone else?'  Alec nodded.  'I've not lost my voice, I'm just shy and different.'

"What do you mean by that?" Alec asked her, knowing he was right, she was hiding something.

Was she willing to tell him just yet?  'I'm not from around here' was all she was going to admit but Alec had other ideas.

"You moved to the town?  From where, a long way?"  Rose nodded.  "So a bit further than Aberdeen but not as far as Inverness?" he asked since she'd smiled at his suggestion of coming from one of the islands.  "Fort William?" he suggested, Rose smiling and shaking her head.

Jamie was leaning on the side of the bench the others were sitting talking on, though he wasn't listening.  He wondered why Alec had decided to go talk to her, he'd seen her in the library nearly every time they'd been in and never even tried.  She was very pretty though, his older brother had said it was only a matter of time before he started noticing girls but he never imagined Alec would beat him to it.  None of the other girls in their class or any of the others were as pretty as she was and Alec had beaten everyone to her.

He thought though they were prime targets for Kristy and Moira but he'd seen Alec fending them off earlier.  It was almost time to go back inside, others were wandering towards the door and both Alec and Rose were taking no notice.  Rose was just writing 'No, not there either, try further south,' trying to give him a hint and thinking if he guessed, he wouldn't make fun of her as he probably would if she just wrote it down.

"Jedburgh, somewhere on the borders?" he asked, thinking that was still quite a way.  Rose shook her head, seeing some of the other pupils wandering past, taking no notice of them, thankfully.  He was running out of places, then thought it was more than likely the west of Scotland, naming a few places, most of which Rose had never heard of and would have to go back to the library to look them up on the map.

Then Alec began to think he was right, she was hiding the fact she wasn't from Scotland at all then?  "I give in if you're not from Carlisle or Newcastle," he smiled, Rose offering the notebook back as it was obvious the bell would be going soon and she'd escaped for now.  

Alec had other ideas.  "You can tell me later then, we have geography this afternoon, I'll watch your reaction."

Rose had to smile and got up, Alec putting his notebook away.  So, he wrote stories and didn't want anyone else to know about them?  She could use that to her advantage, confess where she came from and make sure he didn't tell anyone until she regained her confidence and began talking, then everyone would know.  They began to get in line, Alec allowing Rose first and Rose hoping no-one had been taking any notice of them apart from who she knew was Jamie and a few other boys Alec had been talking to before he'd been trying to find out where she was from. 

Suddenly, Moira decided to nudge Alec's arm.  "What were you talking to the new girl for Alec?"

"Mind your own business Moira, she would have talked to you if she had wanted to," he replied, Rose hearing them as they were about to go inside.

"We tried to talk to her, you butted in," Kristy decided to join in, Alec wondering who exactly was in charge, since everyone thought it was her but maybe they were wrong.

"We all know your way of talking," Alec replied as those in front started to move.

Rose turned around and gave the two girls a stare.

"What are you looking at?" Moira asked her.

Rose was so tempted to say her for showing herself up but Alec gently nudged her arm to move forward.

"Don't think we'll forget," Kristy called after them but the teacher was watching them.

"McColl, quiet," Miss Robinson told her as the two girls passed her, making Rose smile as she heard.

Moira tapped her friend on the shoulder and whispered, "They are not getting away with that are they?"

Kristy shook her head as they went to their classroom.

Rose had history first, hoping she'd learn a bit about Scottish history but guess who was the teacher?  She looked as she saw John Smith getting some books out of his battered leather briefcase.  Alec went off to sit next to Jamie, thinking he'd never get away with sitting next to his new friend and Jamie must have something to say about earlier, both in the dining hall and out in the playground.  Jamie nudged him as the teacher was writing something on the blackboard while making a scraping sound that was making Rose cringe.

"So what did you find out about her?" Jamie asked Alec.

"I wasn't spying on her Jamie.  She's new here, I was trying to find out what was wrong with her voice," he replied.

"Did you?" Jamie wanted to know as John Smith turned around.

"So, who can tell me about the battle of Bannockburn in 1314?" he asked, looking around the room and settling on Alec, who to him seemed like he had all the answers earlier.  "Alec?"

Rose wanted to ask where that was and how an English teacher knew about it but maybe he didn't, since he was asking the class.  She thought he must have known he was being sent here, to have looked up Scottish battles, well the place sounded like it was Scottish anyway. 

"Sir, it was the first war for Scottish independence," Alec replied, wondering how the teacher from England knew about it, since he'd not seen the man in the library.

"Very good Alec.  Anything else you can tell me?"

Rose was suppressing a smile, who needed to go to the library when they could ask a native of Scotland.  Alec though wasn't aware the old history teacher had also gone missing without any explanation.  Where else was this new teacher who looked too much like his cousin going to turn up?

Alec gave a few more answers since they'd already been taught a little about it, hoping to impress his new friend, who he now suspected came from over the border and talking about battles nearly 700 years ago between the Scottish and the English wasn't going to help, especially if he said any more and gave no-one else a chance.  Rose would think he was a show-off – or would she?  He could score a few points in his favour if he seemed to know enough.

If she was from over the border, she would need all the help she could get but maybe that was why she had spent as much time in the library as he had during the holidays but what was she doing in Scotland, in Paisley of all places?  He had room to talk though, since he wasn't from here originally but he barely remembered where he had been born, his mother had wanted to move nearer to her sister, who had got married and moved here.

"Right, someone else," the new history teacher told everyone as they shuffled things on their desks, a classic sign they didn't want to be asked.  "How about one of the new girls?  Rose, have you found your voice yet?" he grinned.

Rose could only shake her head, hoping to get away with it before he found out she had no idea, they'd not taught Scottish historical battles at her school, well not that she remembered anyway.  Maybe if they'd had a teacher like him, she would have actually paid attention.

"I hope you're not staying quiet to get out of answering?" he carried on, making the others laugh.

Rose shook her head again, hoping he wouldn't keep asking her.  She'd been embarrassed when he'd come up to her and Alec earlier but at least those two horrible girls had gone off, not that she couldn't have handled them herself but if she did that, Alec may not want to be friends, since he'd drawn the teacher's attention in the first place though he was trying to rescue them.

As the bell went and they were all leaving, John Smith stopped her.

"Rose, are you having a problem with those two girls who were in the dining room earlier?" he asked her as she put her bag on her shoulder.  Rose shook her head.  "If you are, tell me or your own teacher, okay?"

Rose nodded her agreement.

"Good 'cos if they are causing trouble, I'll be having words with them.  Go on then, don't be late for your next class, I think someone is waiting for you?  Maybe he's making sure you don't get lost eh?" he grinned.

Rose smiled.  "Thank you," she mouthed without speaking.

"You're welcome, I hate those who bully others.  It may not be bullying as such but it's intimidation non the less.  Don't make the both of you late."

Rose nodded and walked off, Alec now around the corner.

"Come on Rose, I'll show you where the geography room is, I want to find out where come you from unless you want to tell me?"

Rose wanted to ask him where his friend was but she saw the other boy going into another room.  When they got inside, Alec turned to her and said he'd see her in the playground and went to sit with Jamie, who nudged him.  Alec was hoping the science/history teacher hadn't followed them.

"Be careful Alec, you were waiting for the new girl again," Jamie warned him.

"So?" Alec asked his friend as he got his geography exercise book out of his bag and dared glance across to Rose, who had sat next to Sandra, though the other girl hadn't made any new friends either but at least Kristy and Moira had left her alone.  Rose thought they would probably get around to her eventually.

Sandra was trying to get Rose to talk as everyone settled down.

"I saw you at lunchtime, who were those two girls?" she asked Rose.

Rose thought she had best be careful and shrugging her shoulders mouthed 'Trouble' to which Sandra smiled.

"You seem to have made a friend with that Alec then?" Sandra continued.  "Have you come from far away?"

Rose could only nod in agreement, since it wouldn't be fair to break her silence to anyone other than Alec.  He'd tried in a nice way to find out where she was from, no-one else had talked to her really, apart from Sandra speaking up for her and talking to her now.  Rose had realised the geography teacher was their class teacher and she was pulling down a map of the region after handing out some map books.

She then started asking questions about the coastline, Rose noticing Alec was keeping quiet as someone else answered with details of how it was made up and was thankful she'd not been asked this time but spoke too soon.

"Sandra, how many miles of coastline does Scotland have?"

"Miss, does that include the islands?" Sandra replied, Rose trying to keep a straight face, unlike the rest of the class, which included Alec.  She finally replied then the teacher turned her attention to Rose.

"Rose, which is the largest of the Scottish lochs?"

Rose knew that one and raised her hand.  The teacher indicated for her to write it on the blackboard, Rose writing 'Loch Lomond' after reading it in a book in the library when she had first arrived.  She'd also looked up other facts in case she was ever asked but hadn't thought at the time she'd go along with her mother's idea of faking the loss of her voice.

"Very good Rose.  Can you write down which is the largest Scottish island?"

Alec knew that was a trick question.  "Miss, there isn't one," he answered as he stuck his hand up and she said his name.

"Yes Alec, you are right, it's actually two islands close together counted as one, which are called?" she asked him.

Rose was glad he'd come to her rescue again, since she didn't know that one.  Alec answered as Rose went to sit down, daring to glance at him.  He didn't get any clues as to where Rose had come from and she was glad the teacher had never bothered asking her as they left the classroom.  Once in the playground after she'd been in the girls room, she saw Alec talking to Jamie and went to sit down, avoiding the two troublemakers, who had cornered someone else.  She and her friends at her old school never had to bother gaining new friends, they all stuck to their little groups of four or five of them and only got together when sides were being picked over an argument.

Sandra had seen her chance to talk to Rose but Alec beat her to it, Jamie following him.

"Hi again Rose, you remember Jamie, from the library?" Alec asked her.  Rose nodded.  "I told Jamie I was trying to guess where you came from."

"Aye Rose, Alec says he can't figure it out but I bet I can," Jamie grinned.

Rose thought he'd never guess in a million years until she actually spoke, which wouldn't be for a few more days or unless she really had to.

"I bet she won't admit it even if you guess right," Alec replied, grinning at Rose as if to say she had better not, before she told him.

Jamie went through a few areas, since she knew the answer to the largest loch included that area but Rose shook her head.

"What was she writing earlier then?" Jamie wanted to know.

"Nothing, the bell went," Alec reminded him.  "I asked the same places as you did and she shook her head.  "So where do you live?" he asked her.

"Like she's going to tell us," Jamie laughed.

"We get the number 54 bus," Alec told her, wishing Jamie would stop.  Rose looked up, she had got that one.  "You do as well?"  Rose nodded.  "We never saw you this morning but my dad goes to work early.  He used to take me to my aunt's first but he trusts me to get the bus on my own now."

Rose wanted to know why his mother didn't see him off but she herself had got the bus on her own and she used to walk with her friends to her old school.

"Tell her why we get the early one Alec," Jamie hinted.

Rose could guess.

"We could get the same one home," Alec suggested, ignoring his friend and knowing Rose may have found the bus rather full since they had to get the normal one as the bus company withdrew the special.

He supposed the bus company thought thirteen year olds could cope with the regular one

Rose had to nod her agreement, he was only trying to be helpful and some company would be nice, even if his friend was tagging along.  She didn't want to make the two of them fall out though so she'd have to be careful and if Alec had his friend tagging along, she had to agree to it.

"Right, we'll show you where to get it, unless you have somewhere else to go?" he asked Rose.

Rose shook her head but if she wasn't careful, she'd suddenly say something and give the game up.  She suspected Alec already knew she was putting it on though, he had hinted at it and maybe tomorrow, she may admit it but just to him by writing it in his notebook.  She was dying to know if he was willing to show her the stories he was writing, he had surely shown them to his friend Jamie though, who was now giving her a funny look.

The bell went and they made their way back inside, Jamie catching Alec's arm.

"Did you mean that?" he asked Alec, trying not to let the two troublemakers hear.

If they did, they'd never hear the end of it, only the older boys kept company with the girls, whether the same age or not and he'd noticed a few of the older boys pay attention to Rose, more so than the other new girl but he himself had noticed a change in a few of their female classmates.  Why couldn't Alec have picked one of them?  Why did it have to be the mysterious girl from the library who Alec had been staring at for weeks?

More importantly, why had Alec not done anything about it then instead of in front of the class by sticking up for her?  He'd only teased Alec about his brother, Alistair already had his eye on a girl from the college he went to.  Still, he thought as he joined Alec in the maths class, surprised Rose hadn't gone to sit next to him while she had the chance, it was only the first day and the novelty would soon wear off – he hoped.

Alec had avoided answering Jamie as he'd followed Rose inside.  She had waited for him to indicate where the classroom was but he had meant it, she'd been lost in school, he should see she got the right bus home at least and maybe get to find out roughly where she lived.  She couldn't live that far away if she went to the local library and not the main one in the town.

Neither Rose nor Alec were picked on since the teacher never mentioned Rose or Sandra were new but Rose noticed the female math teacher with ginger hair had some odd things on the walls amongst different charts, including several male Scottish actors and singers.  She knew she was going to like this class, though she'd not taken much notice before.  There again, science and history had never been her strong points either but they may be now.

The bell went and Rose wondered why they'd not been in their own classroom all day, maybe she should ask Alec when she started talking?  Maybe they'd get to be in it the following day, it must be used for another subject.  She was looking forward to gym class though, she was good at that, she'd even got the bronze for under sevens.  She'd show the others that even though she wasn't talking, that she may not know Scottish history but she could beat them all on the ropes.

The bell was ringing as everyone were either heading for their lockers, which Rose now wondered how you got one or the girls room, where she herself was going and hoping Alec wouldn't desert her and she'd have to find the bus stop on her own.  He had seen her heading off but went outside to wait, thinking it was less conspicuous than making it obvious he was waiting for a girl and he knew Jamie wouldn't be seen dead waiting for a girl, especially if Moira and Kristy were around.

While Rose was in the girls room, she thought about going back to an empty flat, she had no homework with it being the first day and her mother had told her to have tea ready for her to put into the oven but now, she was going to tell her mother she'd made a friend and if Alec wanted her to hang around, she didn't want to make up any excuses why she couldn't.  Now though, it was hitting home that her mother wouldn't be there to greet her, she and her friends wouldn't be getting Mickey all hot and bothered on the way home or hanging around with Shareen.

She now seemed to have only one friend, since Jamie didn't seem that keen on Alec talking to her and she and Alec were from different backgrounds.  She just hoped he wouldn't be put off by firstly she was English and where she had grown up but if he wanted to be her friend, it shouldn't make any difference to him.

Chapter 8 - Getting to know you
Getting to know you

Alec was waiting outside in the playground, wondering if he should wait for his new friend or join the others as they headed for various buses.  He had ten minutes to wait for his anyway, the bus company must have had complaints from adult passengers so before the end of last term, it had been changed so it arrived outside the school five minutes before any pupils who wanted it came out and only the sneaky ones had caught it but he wasn't too bothered.

He had the choice of calling at his aunt's house or going home and wait for his dad getting back at four thirty and thought maybe it was time he grew up and do that but with John being back, it may be worth calling to see him.  Now, if Rose happened to live near him or got off at the stop before him, he could get off and offer to talk to her while seeing where she lived or maybe she could stay on and go to his house, if her mother was at work.

Rose was taking her time since she'd heard the mouthy Moira and her side-kick Kristy, whom she'd not heard say much and hadn't decided what name to give her yet were in the cloakroom as she was in a cubicle.  She listened with interest as the two girls were talking, probably admiring themselves in the mirror, she thought.

She was in no rush to get back to an empty apartment and get the evening meal ready so her mother and Bob could 'make out' later while she tried to watch TV, something she was finding even more gross as she got older.

"Kristy, we weren't good enough today," Moira was saying as she pouted and got her lipstick out she'd 'borrowed' from her older sister and was trying to apply it as Moira leaned on the sink beside her.

"I'm doing my best Moira," Kristy replied, wondering who was in the two closed cubicles she could just see through the mirror as she turned around.

"We hardly cornered anyone today, thanks to Alec Hardy.  I mean, we had new victims and one of them we couldn't get anywhere near," Moira complained, making a face to even out the lipstick, having watched her sister Gloria doing it when she was getting ready to meet her boyfriend Angus.

"Yeah, that's not like him, he was a real mouse last term but he'd just lost his mum," Kristy reminded her.

"Feeling sorry for him?" Moira asked her.

"Give him a break Moira, how would you like it?" Kristy asked her, shaking her head as she was offered the lipstick.  "Anyway, in case you forgot, I'm supposed to be in charge so what's with you taking over today?"

"What?" Moira asked, Rose now just leaning on the cubicle door, waiting to leave.  

Now she'd never catch the same bus as Alec, she was going to maybe catch him on his own and admit she was faking the lost voice.  Now she'd have to wait until tomorrow or maybe catch the earlier bus and see if he was on his own but he probably met up with his friend Jamie.  Since when did she start making friends with boys in her class?

"Come on Kristy, I'm the brains around here," Moira laughed.  "Don't you forget it either unless you want me to find someone else?"

"I never said that Moira but everyone thinks it's me.  Anyway, be careful what you say, others might be listening."

"Don't be so daft Kristy, no-one's in here but us.  You know everyone likes to close the doors to make others think there's someone in, it would have been the new kids, goodness knows where they've come from.  Come on or we'll miss the bus," Moira told her.

"Okay then but maybe tomorrow you might give the impression I'm in charge, we don't want the new girls getting the wrong idea," Kristy told her.

Rose heard the door close, then as she opened hers, the other one opened and it was Sandra, who just burst out laughing.

"I knew there was something about those two," she spluttered as she washed her hands, Rose doing the same.  "I've been watching them all day, it's my hobby.  I like to see who thinks they are the boss but it seems everyone got the wrong idea about them.  Come on Rose, say something."

Rose nodded.

"I get it, if you're shy and don't want to talk but you won't get away with it forever.  I think Moira was a bit annoyed Alec stuck up for you, more than once.  Be careful Rose, at my last school, it didn't go down well if the girls made friends with the boys, unless they were older.  We can be friends though, since we're both new?" she suggested.

Rose nodded again and held her hand out, once she'd dried them.

"Great.  Well I have to go find where my bus goes from, see you tomorrow then and we can sit together in classes, if you want?"

Rose nodded again, picking up her school bag.  She was glad someone else was wanting to make friends with her and together, once she decided to talk, they could bring the two school show-offs down a peg or two or whatever the phrase was in Scotland.  There again, she couldn't talk to Sandra before she had spoken to Alec but neither of them may take too kindly to her trying to fool them but they had both hinted they suspected why she'd chosen to stay quiet.

They walked out together and into the playground, where Jamie had given up trying to persuade Alec not to wait for Rose coming out, reminding him that girls liked to take their time.

"How would you know?" Alec had asked him before Jamie had said he was going to the bus stop and that they'd miss it.

Jamie had declined to answer, just shrugging his shoulders.

"If you miss the bus, I'll see you in the morning, unless you were planning on walking down to the next stop to meet Rose?"

"I'm only making sure she gets the right bus," Alec tried to explain, seeing Kristy and Moira coming out and nudging each other.

He hoped they'd not been taunting poor Rose.

"Waiting for your girlfriend Alec?" Moira teased him.

"Him, having a girlfriend?" Kristy laughed, trying to give the impression she really was the leader.

"Leave Rose alone, she's new around here," Alec tried to defend her.  "Where is she, have you been trying to get her on your side again after I warned you?" he asked them.

"Chill out Alec, we've not even seen her unless she was hiding in the girl's room," Moira laughed.  "Come on Kristy, he's not worth missing our bus over."

Alec knew they'd seen Rose, why else was Rose late coming out when she didn't know anyone?

"Something wrong?" an English voice asked from behind Alec.

"No Sir, I was waiting for Rose Tyler coming out, I was asking these two if they had seen her," Alec replied, not used to making up excuses on the spot but he'd been doing it all day, since he'd first found out Rose was the girl from the library.

"You're all going to miss your buses at this rate," Mr Smith told them.  "You don't have to keep calling me 'Sir' all the time, you can address me as just 'Doctor' when not in class.  So, where is she?" he asked the two troublemakers as he considered them to be.

"Why ask us Sir?" Moira spoke up, confirming to him she was in charge.

"Weeell," he prolonged the word.  "Seeing as you are both girls and have probably been applying lipstick in there, you may have seen her in there.  Are there no rules about wearing lipstick in school?  I'll have to look that one up."

"Sir, I mean Doctor, school's finished for the day," Moira tried to correct him.

He could see they were going to make life difficult for him but that was what he was there for, teenagers were more of a challenge than five year olds but he would maybe have to have a rethink once they got to sixteen.

The teacher looked at them instead, then saw Rose approaching, Rose hoping they'd not been talking about her but of course they were talking about her, she was the new arrival and Alec was waiting for her!

"Ah, there you are Rose," the teacher stated, giving the other two girls a frown and he'd not even had them in any of his classes yet.  "You two girls, haven't you got a bus to catch?" he asked Moira and Kristy.

They both went off, nudging each other, Rose staring after them.

"Are you okay Rose?" Alec asked her, concerned the pair of them had confronted her.

"She's fine Alec, aren't you Rose?" the teacher asked her.  Rose nodded.  "I reckon you can look after yourself eh?"

Rose wished he wouldn't speak for her, she didn't want Alec to be put off defending her until she was ready to start talking and even then, it was sort of sweet of him to be concerned for her.

She looked over at Alec, hoping he wouldn't be disappointed once she did start sticking up for herself.  The teacher though was just doing his job, unlike those at her old school who left the pupils to sort out their own problems most of the time.

"Come on Rose, if we hurry, we'll just catch the bus," Alec suggested.  "Thank you, Doctor Smith."

"You’re welcome Alec.  Making sure she gets home?" the teacher asked, as Rose started going towards the gate.

"Yes Sir, she gets the same one as me and my friend, well I think she does," Alec replied.

The teacher watched him run to catch up with Rose, shaking his head.  It seemed the boy had a crush on her and heaven forbid if anyone upset her, by the way he'd been defending her now and earlier plus answering for her in the classroom.

"Hey Rose, wait up," Alec was calling after her as she tried to remember which bus she had to catch.

She knew she'd maybe have to rely on him at least for tonight as he grabbed her arm and hurried towards a bus where pupils were still getting on, thankfully.  Now Rose was panicking that he'd hear her saying how much her fare was but he knew it was the same as his, his stop was the last one before it went up in price.

"Have you got your money out?" he asked as the boy in front asked for his.

He stepped up to the driver and asked for two of the same fare, Rose passing him her money.  He looked around, not seeing Jamie and indicated for Rose to go upstairs, thankful only two or three from their class got that bus and they were too busy hanging over the seats at each other to notice as he let Rose go first, just as the bus set off.  Rose glanced as she went to the stairs, it was just as bad as it had been that morning but maybe since Alec was there to talk to her, it wouldn't be as boring, though he'd be doing all the talking.

She saw an empty seat, having noticed Jamie talking to someone else a few seats further back and assumed Alec would just go to join them but he sat beside her.

"Do you know where to get off?" he asked her.  Rose nodded.  "Well let's see if you get off before me then?"

She just hoped she did remember but she'd made a note of a few things and once the bus joined the route the one into the town did, she'd be okay.

"So will your mum be at home?" he asked her, hearing some laughing from behind them and if was about him or Rose, he'd have something to say about it.

One of the other boys was asking why Alec wasn't joining them, trying to get Jamie to admit something.

"How do I know?" Jamie was protesting and turning back to see Alec sitting next to the new girl.

"We saw him talking to her earlier," one of them opposite told him.

"So, it doesn't mean anything," Jamie was saying, wondering why now, he was defending her as well as Alec was.

He wondered if she had that effect on everyone, well except Moira and Kristy.

"Take no notice of the laughing," Alec was telling Rose as she tried to turn around.  "So will your mum be in?" he asked her again.  Rose shook her head.  "Is she working?  My mum was always in when I got home, now I have to wait for my dad getting back but he said I can wait on my own, I used to go to my aunt's just around the corner.  We've no homework tonight but tomorrow, well maybe you can come round and we can do it together?  I mean until you get used to the school's way of doing things?" he added.

Rose had warned her mother if she made friends, she'd stay out a while but she couldn't use Alec as an excuse though.  There again, she would have been out with her mates getting into trouble had she stayed in London.  She nodded her agreement, giving him half a smile and nudging him.

Alec was hoping she'd break her silence but maybe tomorrow, she'd get around to writing something down?  Rose recognized where she was and knew there was one more stop before hers as the bus set off again and indicated to Alec by putting the strap of her bag on her shoulder.

"Is yours the next one?" Alec asked her.  Rose shook her head and held one finger up.  "Next but one?" he guessed.

That was the one before his.  "Want me to walk you from the bus stop?" he suggested.  Rose shook her head, she wasn't ready to tell anyone where she lived just yet.  Alec was persistent though as they approached the next stop.  "I can get off there, I only go to the other one because it's a bit nearer and in the mornings, not as many get on there.  We can talk for a while, if you want?"

He hoped that once away from school, she may admit something.  As the bus set off again, Rose indicated for him to let her up.  He did so, picking up his school bag from the floor and getting up, surprising her by walking to the steps as she followed him.

"Why is Alec getting off here?" one of the boys asked Jamie, who turned around to see Rose disappearing down the steps.

"He gets off here to go to his aunt's," Jamie lied but he knew either stop would do for the both of them really and Alec had got off there before the summer holidays.  "Don't you remember?" he added.

Alec had rung the bell at the top of the steps even though others would be getting off but he hoped they wouldn't be paying any attention just the same as when they'd got on.  Once the bus stopped, Rose thought she was going to get trampled on as everyone got up at the last second and descended on her and Alec, including some almost falling down the steps.

Once off, Rose went to stand behind the bus shelter until everyone had gone off.

"It's okay Rose, they're always like that.   Have you never got on a school bus before?" he asked her as she saw they were alone.  She shook her head.  "Neither did I until I started at the grammar school, it's a bit daunting.  I used to go to a nearby school.  You used to walk home with your mum or your friends?"

Rose nodded, indicting to cross the road and hoping he wouldn't follow.

"I only live down the next but one street but my aunt lives just down on this side, the next street.  She might be expecting me but my dad mentioned to her I was going to try going back on my own.  It's not the same, going back to an empty house.  Sorry Rose, I never meant anything."

Rose scrambled in her bag and brought a notebook out, then found a pencil she'd not put back in the case.

She wrote 'Moira was making fun of you in the girls room.  Kristy stuck up for you, saying something about your mum not being at home.  What happened Alec?'

If he couldn't trust her, who could he trust at school but the bit about Kristy defending him surprised him.

"Kristy defended me?" he questioned her.  Rose nodded.  "Rose, my mum died a few months ago, my aunt insisted I went to her house every night until my dad got back.  Now he says I only have to go if I want to.  I was going during the holidays instead of being on my own when Jamie wasn't around."

Rose patted his arm, still leaning on the wall and hoping someone wouldn't tell her off but she wasn't tall enough to climb on it.  Alec could see she wanted to sit on the wall though.  Instead, she began writing something.

'I'm sorry you lost your mum Alec.  I never knew my dad, he died when I was a baby.  Alec, do ya promise not to get mad at me?'

"What for?" he wanted to know as he read it.

Rose thought about it.  Should she say anything just yet?  Maybe she should wait but he was looking at her now.  She decided to write something else instead, to just give him half of it.

'I'm not from Scotland at all, sorry I mislead you.'

"Rose, you never mislead me, I did mention a few English places," he told her.  "So you're not from the north of England then?"

Rose decided she had to give him something, since he'd been nice to her all day.  She was about to write again when he stopped her.

"Rose, would you like to go to my house maybe?"

Rose thought it would be better than getting tea ready and being on her own for two hours.

'Sure your dad won't mind?' she wrote before putting her notebook away.

"He says I spend too much time with Jamie, he'll be glad I made a new friend.  We could go to my aunt's?" he suggested.

Rose thought maybe that would be better but she'd get asked all kinds of questions.  She shook her head.

"Okay, it's this way then," he indicated.  

Rose followed him, dropping her pencil into her bag and trying to keep up with him as they crossed the road.  He walked across the next street then in the distance, she could see the other bus stop and supposed he could really use either but as they approached where he lived, Jamie was waiting on the corner.

"You two took your time," he told Rose and Alec.  "I had to cover for you when you got off back there Alec."

"I never asked you to Jamie but thanks.  Rose was going to be on her own, her mother is at work so I invited her back.  Are you coming?" he asked Jamie, surprising Rose.

So he invited everyone back then or was he trying to make her feel better by not making her think he had a habit of inviting just girls back?  She gave him the benefit of the doubt.

"No, I should get back, see you in the morning?  Are you going to be at this bus stop or the one you just got off at?" he asked Alec, already knowing the answer.

Now he was going to have to cover up for his friend and he was going to get his nose pushed out by the way Rose was looking at him.  He'd never known Alec defend anyone before and he was covering for a girl of all people.  When did that happen?  He waved to Rose and set off home, it was no different to when Alec had lost his mother and gone to his aunt's every night he supposed but he'd been hoping to hang around for a while or call later on and go to the park or somewhere.

Alec could tell his friend was disappointed they weren't hanging around with each other but Rose knew no-one else in the area and now, he had a load more places to guess where she had come from.

"This is my house," he told Rose as he stopped in front of a driveway, wishing his mother was waiting in the kitchen for him.  What would she think about him bringing a girl home with him though?

His aunt would find it amusing and so would John, since they'd both teased him.  He got his key out and went to the side door, allowing Rose in first.  She stepped into a fair-sized room, the other door leading to the living room half open and Alec indicated for her to put her school bag on a chair and went to the fridge, getting out a bottle of juice.  He indicated to Rose, who nodded.

"So, what time does your mum get home then?" he asked, hoping she wouldn't have to leave early, he wanted to introduce her to his dad because he had a feeling there was more to Rose Tyler than she had so far let on.  Why had she moved to Paisley of all places was one question he had to ask, if she would talk to him and why was she pretending she couldn't talk?  He knew she was shy but he had to get her to talk to him before someone beat him to it.

Rose sat at the table, Alec switching the radio on and going to hang up his blazer.  He offered to take Rose's as she took it off.

"Does she work until six maybe?" he asked, thinking he may as well ask questions and get some practice in again.  Rose nodded.  "Well how long can you stay?"

Rose wanted to say until her mother got home but she was expected to have everything ready but she could safely stay until after five, it wouldn't take her that long and from tomorrow, she was going to tell her mother she'd made a friend and that they were going to do their homework together.  She just wasn't going to admit her friend was a boy called Alec so maybe she could say it was Sandra instead?  Her mother wouldn't know any differently until she was ready to admit it and Sandra had said she wanted them to be friends, she could use that to her advantage.

Rose got her notebook out, then changed her mind.

"It's okay Rose, I know you're pretending that you've lost your voice, I won't tell anyone, I promise.  I get that you are shy on your first day, you can't hide it forever.  So, tell me why Rose, I hope we can be friends, that we can get to know each other.  Can we be friends?" he asked her.

Rose took a drink then nodded.  He hoped she would make a start soon.

"If it's meant to be a secret, why you're here, you can tell me.  I told you my secret, well part of it.  I like to write stories but not about things I know," he admitted.  He saw her looking up.  "Rose, I write stories about travelling but not around the world.  I write about going to other planets, like that programme on TV.  I never told anyone except Jamie, they'd all laugh at me.  My aunt thinks they're about my cousin who does travel reviews.  Do you think that I'm wasting my time?"

Rose shook her head.  He had a secret and so did she, he trusted her with his and she had to trust someone.

'Alec, I'm from London and my mother dragged me up here to live with her boyfriend and I don't want to be here.' she wrote in her notebook.

Chapter 9 - Revealing Secrets
Revealing secrets

She had almost broken her silence before she'd scrambled for her notebook.  Alec was staring at what she had written – he'd been right, she had been hiding something but it wasn't what he had expected.  She had turned the notebook towards him but he picked it up.

"Rose, it's okay, please talk to me.  I know why you were hiding, it was because of your accent, I won't tell anyone."

Rose looked around like she was expecting the whole class to be there or someone listening but there was just the two of them.  Alec moved his chair and put his hand on her arm.

"Please Rose, I know you were scared to talk in school, that's why I spoke up for you and answered the questions so you wouldn't be forced to talk.  No-one would have bothered, well maybe except Moira and Kristy but if Kristy stuck up for me, that means she's no longer in charge, if she ever was.  You know, don't you?" he asked her.  "They were talking in the girl's room?"

Rose nodded again.  She couldn't keep pretending to be shy or she may drive him away so she just wrote 'I'll only talk to you, outside school, okay?'

Alec nodded his agreement.  He knew his dad would be home soon so what could he say?

"Rose, when my dad comes home, talk to him, he's not going to tell anyone, is he?"

Rose supposed not.  She took the last of her drink to clear her throat, since she'd not spoken all day except to ask for her bus fare that morning, then she'd mumbled it.  She knew Alec was concerned for her but she'd never had to confide in a boy before as she'd always had her friends.  She put her glass down and leaned her head on her arms she had folded on the table, Alec waiting for her to say something.

"You still can't hide it forever Rose, you have to talk to a teacher, go see Mr Smith tomorrow, he's concerned about you, he was asking why Moira was wearing make-up," he smiled.

Rose knew they had been up to something in the toilets.

"Did Kristy really stick up for me?" he wanted to know, thinking he'd give her time to come round, now he knew why she'd stayed silent all day.  

She'd talk when she was ready but he now wanted to know what she sounded like.  This was all new to him, making friends with a girl and he was risking his friendship with Jamie for her but surely Jamie would understand and he was sure he'd heard his friend saying it happened to all boys eventually, they started taking notice of girls but he'd no idea what that actually entailed.

"Do you want to wait until my dad gets home?" he asked her.  

Rose shook her head, she had to do this.

"No," she replied, trying to keep it to a minimum for now.

"Was that so bad?" Alec asked her.  "See, I could hardly tell you are not from Scotland.  So, what did Kristy say about me?"

"That you'd lost your mother, I'm so sorry Alec."

"That's okay Rose, you were not to know.  Was Moira saying something about it?"

Rose nodded, Moira was being a right cow but she didn't want to repeat what she'd heard.

"It was about you sticking up for me, she was complaining she'd not had chance to get me on their side.  If she thinks I'm gonna hang around with them, she can get lost.  My old friends would have made a right meal out of them."

That made Alec smile.

"Alec, Moira's in charge, she reminded Kristy she was the brains and that she was only letting everyone think Kristy was the leader."

"I knew that all along, it was looking that way last term, a lot of the other girls began leaving their side.  So Moira thinks she can win you over?" he asked her.

"Yeah, fat chance.  Alec, I'm sorry, I just didn't know what else to do, in a strange school, I thought everyone would pick on me and it usually doesn't bother me but I don't want to be here, I wanted to be going back to my old school."

"It's okay Rose.  Maybe you should talk to my dad?" he suggested.

Rose didn't want to bother anyone but it was him or Mr Smith.  Maybe she would see how far she could get with him.

"Want to hear something funny?" Alec asked her.  Rose nodded.  "Mr Smith looks like my older cousin and they've got the same name."

Rose giggled, covering her face.

"You're kidding?" she asked.

"I thought it was him, he's been away for months, he writes for travel companies, does reviews and that.  My aunt thinks I base my stories on him."

"Do you?" Rose asked.

"Maybe?  Maybe it's just a coincidence he decided to travel the world, just not in a blue box?"

"Then are ya sure the teacher isn't your cousin?  How can there be two of them looking alike?"

"Well he never said anything to me and Doctor Smith never did either.  I've got another cousin but he's away so he wouldn't know.  It can't be him Rose, why keep it a secret?"

"So it wouldn't look like he was favouring you?" Rose suggested.  "Did he give any hints?"

Alec looked at her.  "Now I think about it, maybe?  He's just got back from a trip Rose."

"Does he come home during holidays?" Rose asked him, beginning to relax a little.

"He was late back this time but he comes and goes but if he's the new science and history teacher, how's he managed that?  My aunt never said anything.  Mind you….  Rose, my cousin pretends to be English when he's travelling and now he won't drop the accent.  My aunt's given up trying to get him to go back to his Scottish one."

"There ya go then Alec.  It has to be him then.  If it's not, then how did a teacher from England know about Scottish history, besides looking it up.  He's been winding ya up Alec, he's been training and he just got lucky, getting your school and he didn't want anyone to know.  Surely he'd have told the head teacher though?" she asked.

"No, he's my cousin on my mum's side though how his mother ended up being a Smith, I was never told.  Rose, does the head know you're from England?"

"I had to take an exam, I just barely passed it.  The thing is though, why didn't our class teacher say anything?" she wondered.

"The same as you said Rose, not wanting to say anything.  I'm going to ask my dad about John when he gets back, they were talking on Sunday when we went round, I bet now that John asked him not to tell me."

"I bet ya right, think about it Alec, then everyone would be getting you to do favours for them.  Are ya mad at me?"

"What?  No, I'm not mad at you Rose but why pretend to have a sore throat?" he asked.

"It was my mum's idea, I don't think she gave it a thought when she dragged me up here."

"So she's at work and leaves you to go home on your own, in a new place?  What does she do?" he wanted to know, forgetting about John.

"She's a hairdresser, she used to have her own home business.  She met a Scottish bloke and she followed him up here just as school broke up for the summer.  She wanted me to go home early and start making tea, he thinks she does all the cooking but she just puts it in the oven or warms it up, I do it all to make her look good.  I hate him Alec and she won't listen to me, she makes me do as he tells me."

Alec looked seriously at her.  "You have to tell my dad, he can maybe help you," he suggested.

"I can't let ya get involved Alec, I'd made up my mind I wasn't gonna make any friends."

"Yeah?  Well tough Rose, you have a friend and I want to help you.  Wait until he gets back but why does your mum make you do as he tells you?"

"I think he wants to marry her and moving up here was a test run.  She doesn't make me call him 'dad' but it's heading that way and I'm not sure I like it.  They whisper when they think I'm not paying any attention.  Do ya think it's my imagination?" she asked him.

"Rose, if it is, you have a better imagination than I have.  Want to see some of my stories?"  Rose nodded.  "I'll go get them, I started a new one, the others are in my room, you can borrow them if you want?"

"Can I just read them here?  I told my mum that if I made some friends, I wouldn't be going straight home but I have to be back before six, Bob gets in around seven or so."

"So he's your mother's boyfriend?" he wanted to make sure.  

"He's a jerk, he never leaves my mum alone.  Even before we moved, well he was working on our estate, that's where they met and she started going out with him.  The next thing I know, he's staying over the odd night or two and she tells me we're packing up and moving.  I wish I'd been older, I could have stayed with a relative."

Alec was thinking no wonder she'd looked so far away when he'd seen her in the library, she was catching up about where she'd moved to and if she'd just passed the entrance exam, seeing what was different.

"Can I ask you something Rose?" he asked as he got up to take the glasses to the sink.  "When I saw you in the library, you were trying to find your way around and trying not to make it look you were not from here?"

"Yeah, bet I was rubbish at it?" Rose grinned.  "I'm sorry I never spoke to you then."

"Jamie was daring me to go over and talk to you," he had to admit, rinsing the two glasses under the running water.  "It's okay Rose, I know now and I won't tell Jamie, not until you're ready to tell everyone else."

"I was gonna tell Sandra, she guessed I was faking it as well but I couldn't tell her before I told you," she replied.

"You made friends with her?" he asked.  "You did not have to wait until you had told me Rose."

"Yeah, I did Alec, you were nice to me today.  Sandra was in the girl's room when Moira and Kristy were talking, she thought it was funny how it came out Moira was in charge.  Ya should have heard them Alec," she smiled.  "Are ya friendly with all new arrivals?"

"Not really," he admitted.  "You looked lost and I had seen you in the library and wanted to know who you were.  So you think the new teacher is my cousin?  Why would he do that?"

Rose was sure he'd already asked that.

"Ask your dad then.  Alec, I should go before he comes home," she insisted.

"Rose, I want to help you, if you will let me?"

"No-one can help me Alec, I'm stuck here and I mean no offence against the town, it's a nice enough place, I just wish I was back home."

"I wasn't born here Rose but I was young when we moved here so I've known nowhere else.  It must be hard on you?"

Rose nodded. "I miss my friends, I miss walking home with them and annoying this guy we know who lives on the estate and seeing how much I can get away with in class.  I'm not usually so quiet but yeah, I felt lost when I entered the school."

"You looked more than lost Rose," Alec told her.  "I'm going to get changed, promise you won't leave?"

"Yeah, I promise, what do I have to go back to but an empty apartment and get tea ready for my mum to take all the praise?  If I leave it, with a bit of luck he'll kick us out and we can go back home," she replied as she flopped her head onto her arms.

"Don't say that Rose, you still might not get home, you might get stranded here and have to go into a hostel.  Did you give up your home before you left?"

"Yeah, we had a flat, I grew up there Alec.  You're probably right, she'd maybe get us back to London, then what?  She'd have to get a relative to put us up.  Sorry."

"Don't be sorry Rose.  Still, maybe you can stay out a bit longer?"

"Only until six, my mum's home just after that but maybe I could go straight home, get everything ready and we could meet later, if ya wanted?" she suggested.

Alec considered it, was she offering to keep him company every night?  Jamie wouldn't like that but if she went home for an hour, he could do his homework with Jamie then they could call for her before tea-time.  That was if Jamie agreed, which if earlier was anything to go by, he wouldn't.

"What about your homework?" he asked her, picking up his school bag.  "I'll get changed and bring one of my notebooks down for you to read, the first one."

"How long have ya been writing Alec?" she asked him.

"A few years, I was sick and laid in bed with nothing to do so I started thinking.  Then mum brought me a notebook and pencil when I told her I wanted to write them down.  That was before she got sick herself.   No-one knew she was ill though, she never told anyone."

"Sorry Alec.  I grew up without my dad, I know what it's like.  So these stories are about that programme on TV?  I like that one, he wears that cricket gear all the time but the other one, I got one of my aunts to knit me a scarf like his, I had to leave it behind."

Alec didn't want to say anything but his aunt has knitted him one.  Should he offer it to Rose?  Maybe at some point, if she didn't start hanging around with the other new girl.  Still, it wasn't up to him, she could spend her time with whoever she wanted and have as many friends, it sounded like she'd had a lot before moving here.

He went upstairs to get changed and hoped he wouldn't hear the kitchen door slamming before he got back down again.  She only had to go to the end of the road and she'd know where she was.  He somehow didn't think she'd leave though, she'd stuck pretty close to him all day but had given him the chance to talk to his friends.

Rose was sat listening to the radio, feeling nervous about meeting Alec's dad.  What would he think of her?  She didn't think Alec had brought a girl home before after school and hoped he wouldn't take it the wrong way but she couldn't tell him she was worried about things at home.  Maybe she could talk to the teacher, or was he really Alec's cousin?  Why pretend though?  Was it really to save Alec the embarrassment or didn't he want the head teacher to know they were related?  Surely though he would have gone to the same school and some of the teachers would remember him?

Over the road at Alec's aunt Mary's house, John had got home, trying not to feel guilty for pretending Alec wasn't his cousin but it had been a last minute decision for him to fill in for two teachers who were absent.  The agency had called him after he'd seen his young cousin and he'd not even told his mother where he was going, he'd just told her he was filling in somewhere.  Hell, he'd not even told her what he'd really been doing, training in Edinburgh inbetween doing odd writing jobs but his talents were wasted on that and he knew it.

It had only been a matter of time before work dried up so he'd taken advantage of doing two part-time courses in science and history and hoped he'd get qualified.  So he'd put his name down at the agency the education department used and crossed his fingers and admitted to his mother after Alec and his dad had left on Sunday.  To say she'd told him off had been putting it mildly.

"Really John, why did you never say anything?" she'd asked him as his father glared at him.

"Sorry Mum.  I just wanted to do something with my life and the travelling was good for a while but I'm sorry Mum, I had to keep up the pretence.  Did you not notice when I was coming home?"

"Why would we John?" his dad asked him. "Why were you so late back this time?"

"Ah, I got the chance to add another subject so I took it, not that they need me for english at present, they've got a perfectly good english teacher but you never know when one might be needed.  The thing is though, what if I end up at Alec's school?"

"Is it against the rules to teach at a relative's school?" his mother asked him.

"I'm not sure about that but it could make things awkward," he had grinned.

"So that's what the accent's for?" his dad had asked him.

"Yep, I had to have an excuse for working part time and then take the extra course.  Still, I reckon the kids might think it's a laugh and try to wind me up.  I can still take writing jobs inbetween, just cut them short if I have to.  So, it's the life of the substitute teacher for me then," he laughed.  "Blimey, if I get Alec's school, I'd best not give myself away.  He said you and his dad think he's gonna look like me when he gets older – poor kid!"

So when he'd got the call asking him to fill in for the science and history teachers at the grammar school, he hoped no-one remembered him and asked any awkward questions but he'd been fine until Alec had walked into the classroom.  He'd seen the way Alec had defended a new girl and knew instantly she had to be the one from the library.  This was going to be a very interesting assignment.

He thought though maybe he'd given the game away when his first subject was a famous Scottish battle and Alec saying he wanted to be a detective, would soon get to the truth and had expected him to be waiting but he'd then thought either Alec would be being brave and fending for himself or he'd invited Rose to his house.  Maybe he'd gone a bit far telling his cousin to call him 'Doctor' though, he still had to take his doctorate in science so he may as well take the history one as well.  

Something was troubling him about the girl though, not just the fact she was refusing to talk.  Something was very wrong with her, she either felt out of place or she had something to hide, maybe both but he knew his cousin would maybe forget about writing his stories and do a little investigating, since he was determined he wanted to join the police.

So when he'd seen those two troublemakers going after her at lunchtime, he'd felt compelled to do something then after school, take the two of them down a peg or two because he instinctively knew they had something to do with why Alec was anxiously waiting in the playground.  He bet anything Rose lived near Alec and he was offering to help her find her way home.

Now he was waiting for Alec to figure out it was him, who had decided to keep an eye on them, tactfully of course but he hoped if Alec discovered the truth, he wouldn't take advantage and tell all his friends though Jamie may work it out.  Would Jamie think he was having his nose pushed out if Alec made friends with Rose, which it seemed to him he had and all that from Alec himself who said he wasn't interested in girls had gone totally out of the window on the first day back at school because his young cousin was definitely having his head turned by Rose Tyler, whether he knew it or not. 

Chapter 10 - Rose's dreaded moment
Rose's dreaded moment

Rose was debating whether to make a run for it before Alec's dad got home but if she did, she'd not only be going back to an empty flat but she would lose Alec as a friend.  Alec had talked to her within a few minutes, he'd rescued her from those two obnoxious girls and defended her several times so she reckoned she at least owed him for that.  Yet though he'd not had the courage to talk to her the several times they had been in the library together so why had he changed his mind?

Was it that his friend Jamie was teasing him?  Maybe so but now the whole class knew he had stuck up for her, even those two girls would have figured that out.  She had meant to ask him what had been going on in the playground after school but she could guess.

Should she make excuses not to stick around when his dad got home?  She also had to decide where she was going to do her homework but it may be an advantage doing it with someone rather than ask Bob about local history.

Alec was changing into his corded jeans and a t-shirt then he went to his drawer to retrieve his notebooks.  It was very rare he showed them to anyone and his early stories were from before his mother had died.  Rose seemed to understand what he was going through, if she'd lost her dad, which was more than anyone else in the school.   He went back downstairs before his dad was due back, he dreaded to think what his dad would say finding a girl sitting at the kitchen table.

If that had been John at school, Alec thought he would be laughing at the way Rose had been defended all day.  John though had decided to come clean with his mother.

"You mean you never let on to Alec all day?" she smiled as she did the ironing.

"Yeah, he'll soon find out though that I've had a secret life for the last few years eh?" John laughed back.

"Really John, you should have said something instead of letting your cousin's imagination run riot, writing all those stories."

"It was his choice Mum," he reminded her.  "I'll tell him tomorrow, I just wanted to see the look on his face when he walked into the classroom."

"Yes, well you've had your fun John, remember, this is the first time he's gone up a class since his mother died," she reminded him.

"Yeah, I know, sorry.  She was my aunt, we all miss her but I thought if I finished my studies and got qualified, just maybe I could help him get through it?  I'm sorry I never told you but all that time you thought I wasn't doing anything, I was studying.  It paid off though, I mean come on, what were the chances two teachers being off?" he asked.  "One is a coincidence but two's an intervention," he grinned.

"Maybe your aunt is watching out for him?" his mother suggested.  "Still, he has Jamie, he's been a good friend to Alec.  Did he make any new friends?"

John smiled to himself.

"Ah, yes, he did actually," he told her.

"Some new boys started?" she asked.

"Well no, two girls I think, well I know one was a girl.  You are not going to believe this but Alec stuck up for her at lunchtime when two other girls were making trouble."

"That would have been Kristy and Moira then?  I thought they would have gone easy on him?"

"Oh, he didn't need any help Mum, he saw the two of them off," he grinned, raising a finger.  "Then I saw them hanging around when school was out and since the new girl was missing, I figured they'd been trying again in the girls room."

"So Alec was waiting for her?" his mother smiled at the thought.  "Who would have guessed Alec would be waiting for a girl?"

"Yeah, I know," he laughed.  "Mum, I think she's the girl from the library, she has to be.  Why else would he stick up for her on the first day?  Do you know what the interesting part is though?" he asked her.  His mother shook her head as she carried on ironing.  "She either lost her voice or she's pretending she had and my bet is on the latter.  If she's new to the area, she may be shy?"

"Then talk to Alec about it.  Still, Alec making friends with a girl, who would have known it?" she asked.

"I know," John laughed.  "I think he was waiting to make sure she got the right bus and she lives around here somewhere.  He was on his own when I saw him talking to those other two girls.  They seem a right pair, one of them had lipstick on.  Since when did thirteen year old girls wear lipstick?" he asked.

"How would I know John?" his mother asked him, wishing he'd go back to his own accent.  "Did anyone make fun of your accent today?" she wondered.

"No," he replied defensively.  "Actually, they all believed I was from London, well maybe all except Alec?  I wonder if the new girl Alec was defending isn't from around here?  What if she's from somewhere in England and doesn't want anyone to know just yet?"

"Yes, maybe?  Well Alec wants to be a detective, maybe it will give him some practice?"

John raised his eyebrows, something his mother was noticing Alec was starting to do the same.

"I'm sure it will Mum," he grinned.  "Mind you, Alec did mention he thought I looked like his cousin."

"Well he's onto you then," his mother warned him.

"Yeah, I think my first mistake in history was asking about a famous Scottish battle," he grinned.

His mother shook her head and went to pick up the pile of ironed laundry.

Alec had got back downstairs and handed his notebook to Rose.

"Why don't you read it out loud?" Rose asked, in case she couldn't understand his writing or some of the words he used.

He went in his school bag and brought out a glasses case.  He was sure Rose wouldn't make a fuss about him wearing them, he tried not to need them but sometimes he got a headache.  With it being the first day back, he'd not bothered but he knew he'd have to start tomorrow so she may as well get used to him wearing them.

He went to sit beside her and opened the thick notebook, which was only thick because of all the writing in it.

"So, what's the story called then?" Rose smiled as he put his glasses on.

"Adventures in time," he replied proudly.

"Is that part one?" she teased him.

"Actually no, I called it that as it was the first one."

"So how many chapters does it have?" she wanted to know.

"Ah, I think this one had three.  I wrote it when I was poorly.  We only have about fifteen minutes before my dad gets back though."

"Well stop wasting time then," she grinned, moving her chair to face him.

Before they knew it, the kitchen door was opening and Alec put his notebook down.  Rose almost fell back with the chair as she tried to move it away.

"Hi Dad," Alec greeted him as he closed the door behind him.

"Well, who's your friend Alec?" he replied.

"This is Rose, Rose Tyler.  She just started today.  She had a bit of a sore throat earlier, is it better now?" he asked her.

Rose had to admire her new friend, he was devious to say the least and he was trying to impress her.  She nodded, not wanting to make a liar out of him so she tried to sound a bit croaky as she cleared her throat.

"Yeah, a bit.  Nice to meet you Mr Hardy."

"Well it's nice to meet you too Rose.  So, new school eh?" he asked her, going to fill the kettle.  "I hope Alec's been looking after you?  Alec, no homework?"

"Not today Dad, I was reading Rose my first story."

"Were you now?  Is that right, Rose?" he asked, not quite convinced as Alec never read his stories to anyone.

"Yes Mr Hardy, his first one, it's really good do far.  I should be going," she replied.

"Will your mother wonder where you are?" Alec's dad asked her.

"Not exactly, she won't be home yet," Rose told him.

"She leaves you to fend for yourself?" she was asked.  Then he realised he did the same to Alec.

"Dad, you leave me," Alec reminded him.

"Yes but you could go to your aunt's.  Have you no-one to stay with until she gets home?" he asked Rose.

"No, I'm new here, I don't know anyone, apart from Alec.  He said from tomorrow, I could do my homework with him, since it's a new school," she replied.

Alec looked at her.  Maybe she'd decided it would be better than trying to do it on her own?

"Is that okay Dad?" Alec looked at him.

"What about Jamie?" he asked Alec.

He couldn't believe his son would give up his best friend to befriend a new girl.

"I was still going to ask him Dad.  Anyway, I'll walk Rose home, she doesn't live far away, do you?" he asked her.

Rose shook her head.  "No, not far but I can find my way back."

"I'm sure he's only making sure you don't get lost, if you've just moved around here?" 

Rose expected he was right.  Alec had looked after her all day and she might disappoint him if she refused to let him walk her home.

"Well okay then, just to the end of the road," she relented.

"What time do you have to be back?" Alec's dad asked her, looking in the cupboard.  "Will you join us for tea?"

"I have to be back for six, my mum expects me to be making tea for her and…" she stopped, looking at Alec.  "We live with my mum's boyfriend, he says I have to help out with my mum working."

"Really?" Alec's dad asked.  "What about homework and spending time with your friends?"

"Rose has only made a few friends today, haven't you Rose?" Alec butted in.

"Alec, let Rose speak for herself.  Well Rose?" she was asked.

"I just made friends with Alec and another new girl.  Two girls were showing off, tryin' to get me to join them but I refused.  Why would I want to go around with them?" Rose replied.

"Sounds like you met Kristy and Moira then?" Alec's dad replied.  "Take my advice Rose and stay away from them, right Alec?"

"One of the teachers told them off today.  Shame you missed it Rose.  They were trying at lunchtime but Rose just ignored them, didn't you Rose?" Alec told his dad.  "We got a new history and science teacher today, the teachers are off sick and I'm sure it's John."

His dad stopped what he was doing.

"What makes you say that Alec?  Are you sure it's not someone who happens to look like him?"  Alec shook his head.  "He would have said something if he had become a teacher."

"He's been travelling a lot but Dad, what has he been doing when he's not had a writing job?" Alec wanted to know.  "Can you call and ask Auntie Mary?"

"I'll call her after tea.  Why don't you take Rose into the living room?" his dad suggested.   "Sure you don't want to eat with us?" he asked Rose again.  "You have time.  So what exactly are you expected to do after you get back?"

Rose knew this was a big mistake, people asking questions about the arrangements her mother had made and she didn't even know half of them.

"I have to tidy the flat and start getting tea ready.  Her boyfriend gets home around seven," she just replied, wanting to keep it to a minimum.

"So you're on your own until six every night?" Alec's dad asked her.  "What have you been doing during the holidays?"

"Keeping the place tidy, shopping and going to the library.  I used to see Alec there but I didn't know who he was," Rose explained.

"He told me he used to see a girl there.  Well go on Alec, take her into the other room, I'm sure she doesn't want to see me making something to eat if she has to wait almost another two hours?  Would you just like a sandwich?" his dad offered.

Thinking it would be rude to turn him down again, Rose nodded.  Why had he pointed out she had two hours to wait until she could eat, then she had to make it herself.

"Yeah, thanks Mr Hardy, I am a bit hungry but mum expects me to eat with them."

"If you come round most nights, why not ask her if you can stay out a bit longer?" Alec asked her.  "Then we could meet Jamie and go to the park or somewhere?"

He knew she'd already said she could go straight home and go out later but he now didn't like the idea she had homework, housework and tea to make.

"I don't want to be a nuisance," she replied.

"You are not being a nuisance, Jamie comes around sometimes but goes home at five for his tea," Alec told her.  "Then he comes round again and we go out.  Come with us Rose?"

Rose looked across at Alec's dad.  She'd had no-one to tell how unhappy she was with her mother's arrangements but she'd just met Alec, it was too soon to confide in him about her problems and by the sound of it, he had his own.

"It won't do you any good being at home on your own," Alec's dad told her.  "Go get some fresh air for an hour?"

"Well okay then, if Jamie comes round?" she agreed.

Rose went into the living room with Alec and he put the TV on.  His dad brought some juice and a sandwich in for her as he called Alec to the kitchen table, leaving Rose sitting on her own.

"Well Alec, what happened to you not being interested in girls?" his dad smiled.

"She's just a friend dad, I only met her today properly," Alec blushed.

"Your aunt told me you spent a lot of time at the library, any particular reason?"

"I was waiting for a book coming back in.  I didn't know Rose had it then I saw her returning one and it was what I wanted."

"You do know if you make friends with her, you may drive Jamie away?" his dad warned him.

"I don't think he'll mind," Alec replied innocently.  "She just goes to school with us.  I had to rescue her today when she arrived.  She didn't have a sore throat Dad, she was scared of what the others would say about her."

"I suspected that Alec.  Well if you want to be a detective, find out more about her.  She doesn't seem keen on going home."

"When we got off the bus, she didn't seem like she wanted to be on her own.  I got off at the other stop with her, she lives two streets away, almost opposite auntie Mary's street.  I think she's hiding something Dad."

"What makes you think that son?"

"Well whoever the teacher was who looks like John, I thought if she was faking the sore throat and he was using an English accent that she might give in and talk?"

"Hold on, the new teacher looks like your cousin and speaks with an English accent?" his dad asked to make sure he'd heard right.  Alec nodded.  "Well in that case, why was he hiding from you?  I think I'd better call him, don't you?"

Alec had thought it would be more fun to play along if his older cousin was playing games with him.  Surely John knew he was onto him and how had his cousin managed to get to teach two subjects?  He also wondered why he'd stuck with the English accent and done a lesson on Scottish history?  Surely that had been asking for trouble?

Alec helped his dad clear the dishes and went to see how Rose was getting on.  She looked around when the door opened.

"I was just gonna bring my plate in," she grinned at him.

"That's okay Rose.  My dad's calling my cousin, he didn't know after all but I'm surprised John kept it all secret."

"He's probably keeping it quiet to save everyone picking on ya?  What if it is him, watcha gonna do Alec?"

"Pretend I'm not related to him?" Alec suggested.

"Good luck with that," Rose laughed.  "Alec, can we go for a walk, I feel a bit out of it."

"Sure, leave your bag here if you want?"

"Nah, I can go straight home then.  Are ya calling for Jamie?"

"I'd best do, I think he was a bit mad at me earlier, for getting off at your stop," Alec replied.

"Alec, I'm not trying to stop ya being friends with him," she tried to assure him.

"I know that Rose.  I can have more than one friend at a time."

"I had lots of friends but I only hung around with one or two when I got home.  What if Jamie doesn't like me hanging around?  What do ya normally do anyway after school?" he asked him.

"We sometimes go to the park or walk on the river path or sometimes we just meet at the library.  What did you used to do after school?"

Rose was embarrassed to say her and Shareen would walk down to the shops and watch the boys cringe as they watched them or they'd go back and annoy Mickey again if they'd not got him riled enough on the way home.  Sometimes they'd sit on the concrete posts and wait for him getting home from work and tease him.  Then she wondered why he'd been going to ask her to be his girlfriend when she reached sixteen?  Why couldn't he have picked Shareen?

Well he wouldn't be spoiled for choice now, would he?

"Girl stuff," she just smiled at him and walked off into the kitchen, leaving Alec looking puzzled. 

What was that supposed to mean?  How did he know what girls did after school?  Did they go to each others houses and do their hair and pinch their older sister's or mother's make-up?  It seemed Moira had sneaked some into school anyway, it had made her look cheap like someone dancing around on a pop music show on TV.

Alec's dad had just got off the phone with his nephew, who had admitted he was the new teacher at Alec's school.

"Why didn't you say something John?" he asked him.

"Sorry Uncle but I'd no idea they'd send me to Alec's school.  He sussed me then?"

"You know he wants to be a detective John, what do you think?" he was asked.

"Did he tell you about that girl who started today?  They call her Rose."

"Yes, he brought her home with him," his uncle replied.

"Well who would have believed it?" John laughed.  "My little cousin bringing a girl home with him?  Mind you, he's been looking out for her all day.  Has she said anything?"

"Plenty," his uncle replied.  "She claimed to have had a sore throat but I suspect she was just nervous.  She sounds like she comes from London."

"Ah, I thought she was putting it on and didn't want anyone to know.  Trust Alec to get her to talk though.  I wonder if she'll settle down tomorrow and say something?"

"Maybe but what are you going to do about Alec being in your classes?" his uncle asked him.

"Keep up the pretence, I have no other option and he'll have to pretend as well, not going around bragging.  Still, you should have seen him hanging around waiting for her after school."

"Was he now?  That's not like him," his uncle told him.

Ten minutes later, Alec was knocking on Jamie's kitchen door.

"Alec, I can go home if ya want?" Rose offered.

"No, it's okay Rose, unless you don't want to hang around with us?" he asked her.

"It's just I don't want to be in the way," she replied as they waited.

Jamie opened the door, since he figured it would be Alec, who had finally got rid of the new girl but his face dropped when he saw Rose.

"Hi Jamie, coming to the park with us?" Alec asked him.

"Not tonight Alec, I have some reading to catch up on.  See you in the morning?  Which stop will you be at?" he asked Alec but looking at Rose.  "Are you still getting the earlier bus?"

"There's an earlier bus?" Rose asked him.  "Is it less full than the other one?"

"Yes, it gives us more time when we get there," Alec replied to her.

"Maybe I'll get that one?  I had to wait around after my mum went out, I can set off before her."

Jamie thought that was all he needed, as if Rose being on the bus coming home and Alec sitting with her, then getting off the stop before their usual one hadn't been bad enough.

"You should catch it then you won't be in a rush," Alec told her.

"I'm still here," Jamie reminded them.  "See you at school, if you're going to the other bus stop?"

"It's about the same distance Jamie.  Why do we go to the other one anyway?"

"To get our money's worth out of the bus fare?" Jamie joked, making Rose splutter. 

They said goodbye to Jamie and walked towards the park but by now, Rose only had about half an hour before she'd have to go home.  They sat on a bench just inside the park instead.

"See if you can stay out longer from tomorrow?" Alec suggested.

"I might not be able to Alec.  I want to hear some more of your story though," she smiled at him.

"You do?  You thought it was good?" he asked.

"Yeah, when ya did the different voices," Rose nudged him as he sat on the back of the bench.  "I couldn't have read it in my head like that, you reading it out loud was much better."

"It was?" he replied.

"Well yeah, it brought it to life.  Do ya wanna be an actor when ya get older?"

"An actor?  No, I want to be a detective, Rose.  When my mum died, no-one would tell me what happened to her.  I want to help people and other kids to find out why their friends and relatives died."

"Wow, I bet ya'd be good at it too," she smiled.  "You didn't believe I lost my voice and ya were right about that.  You got me to talk, ya'd be great at interrogating suspects."

"Would I?  Really?"  Rose nodded.  "Well when I go to college, that's what I want to do, go to the police academy.  What do you want to do Rose?"

"Be a hairdresser like my mum but I may change my mind before then," she replied.

"If that's what you want to do, don't give up Rose," he encouraged her, putting his hand on her shoulder.

"Yeah?  I might just stick to it as long as you promise you'll be a great detective one day?"

Alec didn't know what to say.  Ever since the day his mother had died and no-one would explain how she'd got sick so fast, he had been determined others would be able to find out, no matter how old they were.

"We could go to the same college," Rose was continuing.

That all depended how long her mother was going to be infatuated with Bob, they could be home before then, she hoped.  The last few nights when he'd got home, Bob had been glancing over at her while he and her mother had been engrossed in something and she didn't like it.  It was like he was playing games with her.

Alec was getting off the back of the bench.

"Come on, I'll walk you to your street or you can show me where you live?"

Rose wasn't ready for that yet as they made their way back, past Alec's street and they stopped on the corner.

"So are you getting the earlier bus then?" Alec asked, leaning on a garden wall.

"Might do.  I think I upset Jamie though?"

"He'll get over it.  Don't forget to tell your mum, about staying out longer?"

"Yeah, I'll try Alec but it's not gonna be easy.  She expects me to get tea ready so he thinks she did it," Rose admitted.

"That's not fair Rose, why can't she do it herself?" Alec wanted to know.

"Bob says I have to do my share of the housework, mum thinks that includes doing the cooking.  She'd be lost if I didn't do it.  I can ask for another half hour though."

"Well ask then?  See you tomorrow but are you going to talk?"

He was about to find out the next morning that Rose was going back to being shy again.

Chapter 11 - I will only talk to you
Alec walked back home, now worried for his new friend.  He'd only known her properly for a day after weeks of not knowing who she was as she'd been sitting in the library.  Now he knew why – she had been left on her own all day and by what she had just said, even when her mother and her boyfriend were in, it didn't sound like fun.

At least he had been able to go to his aunt's house and John had finally come home but if he was the new teacher, this was going to be difficult.  He was glad though he'd got Rose to talk but she'd never answered him as she'd pressed the code to get in the apartment block.

She seemed to have liked his story though, it had cheered her up a little at least.  He got back home and his dad was waiting for him.

"So, you finally found out who the mysterious girl from the library was?" he asked Alec.

"Yeah, it was driving me mad and there she was, in the corridor and looking lost.  She wouldn't talk though and sorry but she did not have a sore throat, I wasn't sure she'd speak to you."

"That's okay Alec, you were just looking out for her on her first day.  So where exactly has she come from and what is she doing here?"

Alec quickly explained some of what Rose had told him.

"So her mother works, gets Rose to do the housework and cooking and this man she lives with thinks she does it?" his dad asked, to make sure he'd heard right.

"From what she said and I'm worried about her Dad," Alec replied.

"Sounds like you need to be, that's not right.  Why did they move though?  It must have been a shock for her?"

"She never exactly said," Alec told him.  "I thought she was never going to talk to me.  Did you talk to John?"

"Yes and you were right, he never even told your aunt and uncle, he was training and writing at the same time, goodness knows how he managed.  That means you have to be careful Alec, no-one should know you two are related, understand?"

"Yeah but Jamie sort of knows about John, he'll ask questions," Alec replied.

"Well be careful Alec or John may be asked to leave even though he's only temporary.  At least you'll have someone on your side?  He said he was more determined to get qualified when your mother died, he thought it would help, if he got placed at your school.  So, is Rose coming around often?" he asked.

Alec wasn't sure but she'd said about her homework.

"Maybe?  I don't expect her to come over every night though but she's not made any more friends yet, she may do though, once she starts talking.  John kept his English accent so Rose felt more like she can get away with it."

"Well let's hope so eh?" his dad asked.  "If she's coming round after school, a few ground rules Alec, understand?"

"Dad, she's just a school friend," Alec insisted, remembering his cousin teasing him a few days ago.

"Yes and what about when you get older?" his dad wanted to know.  "I know you are both only thirteen but no going to your room with her and if I think I can trust you both then maybe, when it starts getting dark early and you don't go out so much, I may consider it, then there will be a few more rules.  Now, why don't you call your cousin and see how you are both going to avoid the fact you are related?"

Alec went to the phone and asked his aunt if he could speak to John, who had been expecting him to call.

"Sorry little Cous, I knew you'd figure it out, you're quite the detective, watch out Sherlock Holmes," he joked.

"You sort of gave the game away, the famous Scottish battle?" Alec laughed.

"Yeah, I knew that would give me away but only you caught on.  So, your new friend, has she talked to you yet?" John asked him.

"Yes, she's from London somewhere and now she's heard you talking with an English accent she may start talking.  She never asked why you had an English accent though."

"Just explain it to her but Alec, I had no idea she wasn't from here in Scotland.  So, did you see her home on the bus?"

"She only lives two streets away, I just walked her back.  She was going back to an empty flat until her mother gets home, I could not have just left her, could I?"

John smiled to himself – his little cousin had got himself a girlfriend!

"You be careful Alec, your other friends may take it the wrong way," John warned him.

"Well if they do, they are not my friends, are they?" Alec asked him.  "They had better get used to it."

"Yes, they will.  Now, remember to call me Sir at school but in class, I'll tell everyone they can call me 'Doctor' to make it easier for you, okay?"

"Thanks John," Alec replied.  "Rose won't say anything, if she talks tomorrow but she wrote down earlier she would only talk to me.  She talked to my dad though but John, I'm worried about her," Alec admitted.

"That she's on her own when she's not at school?" John asked him.

"Yeah and what about weekends?  I think she feels alone even when her mother is there."

"Alec, all you can do is be her friend," John reminded him.  "Try not to let it worry you eh?"

Alec thought that was easier said than done.  He hung up and went to the living room, after picking up his latest story notebook and went to sit at the table by the window.

"You got sorted?" his dad asked him.

"Yes.  Dad, maybe we can get Rose to start having tea with us, then she won't have to go back so early?" he suggested.

"Alec, we can't interfere with the arrangements Rose's mother has made, it's up to Rose to try and get around it.  Give her time eh?"

Alec didn't want to give her time, his friends had mothers who worked and were only expected to keep their rooms tidy, not the whole house and do the cooking.  He didn't however want to cause trouble for her but he knew he had to try to convince her to talk to her mother and say she wasn't happy doing it.

Rose had got in the apartment, tidied up a bit and was just starting to make the evening meal when her mother walked in.  

"So, how was your new school?" she asked Rose.

"Fine, I took your advice and didn't talk, it wasn't difficult, I felt lost," she replied.  "I made a couple of friends though, another new girl and a boy I kept seeing at the library and his friend."

"Don't start hanging around with the boys Rose, you never used to," her mother reminded her.

"Well I don't have a lot of choice since two girls are going around gathering support and I don't want to be a part of it," Rose told her.

"Sounds like you and Shareen," her mother replied.  "Are they the school troublemakers then?"

"Yeah, ya could say that, Alec rescued me from them, twice 'cos I wasn't talking."

"Who's this Alec then?"

"I told ya Mum, from the library," Rose tried to tell her.

"You never mentioned anyone at the library.  Is that why you went so often?" her mother wanted to know.

Rose knew now it was, though she had considered it was worthwhile going to see him being prodded by his friend to cross over and talk to her.

"Well if he has his own friends, he's not likely to give them up, is he?" her mother asked.

"He made sure I got home Mum, his friends were on the bus and his best friend Jamie didn't seem bothered.  I'm setting off a bit earlier in the mornings, the bus gives me more time when I get to school and I won't have to wait around when you leave."

Rose was just glad her mother went the opposite way down the street to what she did.  She wasn't quite ready for her to meet her new friend yet.  Just before Bob was due back, Rose decided to bring up the subject of tea.

"What?" her mother asked when Rose said she wanted to stay out longer and had been offered her tea at Alec's house. "What am I supposed to do?" she continued.

"Mum you can cook, we used to manage when I was younger," she reminded her.

"Well Bob's got used to it, what if he complains?" she argued.

"Then tell him you're trying something different Mum," Rose suggested.  "Besides, ya won't have to make any for me."

"No," her mother simply said.  "Rose, I can't risk him throwing us out, can I?" she asked.

"Mum, he won't do that, will he?" Rose asked, thinking her mother was over-reacting.

"Rose, you don't know him like I do," her mother replied.

So that was it, Rose thought.  Bob had been on his own and wanted to play house with them and her mother couldn't see it.

"Mum, ya never used to bother back home," she reminded her.

"That was before Bob and I were seeing each other.  Ya can have an extra half hour out, that's it and ya will have to fit the tidying up in while you wait for tea to cook.  I don't want ya disappearing at weekends either, you can come shopping with us or stay in."

"Can't I even go to the library?" Rose objected.

"Where ya will go meeting your new friend?  Rose, you're too young to be hanging around with boys on ya own.  You'll have to make do with seeing him after school, until you're fourteen, then we'll see, understand?" her mother asked.  "Don't say anything to Bob that you're making friends with a boy."

Rose wondered what Bob had to do with it but she'd not been liking the way he kept watching her but that may be her suspicious mind.

"Well I'm not staying in all day Sunday with the two of ya gettin' cosy on the sofa," Rose protested.

"Then go to ya room," her mother suggested.  "So are ya gonna talk at school tomorrow or not?"

"It was your idea Mum," Rose reminded her.

When Bob got home, Rose quickly ate then said she was going to her room to do some studying, wishing there was a lock on her door so she got the chair and wedged it under the handle, she was still suspicious of Bob.

Rose was up earlier the next morning, making sure Bob had already left and her mother was just getting ready to leave.

"So, is this Alec on the same bus?" she asked Rose.

"He only lives two streets away Mum.  I'll be back around the same time as you but I may eat at Alec's." 

"What does his mother say?" 

"Mum, she died a few months ago, he's just got a dad," Rose replied, trying to get ready or Alec would think she had changed her mind.  "Gotta go, I said I'd meet Alec there, bye Mum," she called as she grabbed her school bag.

That left her mother puzzled since Rose hadn't wanted to go at all yesterday and had half expected a call at work to say Rose hadn't shown up.  Maybe she would settle in after all but she wasn't so sure about her daughter making friends with a boy, considering she used to torment poor Mickey all the time.  She knew now that Bob would find out and he wouldn't be pleased so now she would just have to appease him somehow.

Alec had set off to the stop Rose got on at and hoped Jamie wasn't too mad with him but they could all sit upstairs together and have a laugh together, couldn't they?  He looked up ahead and didn't cross the road until he was sure Rose was walking up her street, or down it, however she considered it.  He had just got to the corner when she came out of the small driveway the flats were situated in and he waved to her.

"Alec, ya really didn't have to walk down, ya know?" she smiled at him.

"I said I would Rose.  So how did you get on last night, asking your mum?"

"I got an extra half hour and I still have to tidy up but it's better than no extra time," she told him as they looked to cross the road.

They still had a few yards to the bus stop but Rose looked and made sure the bus wasn't approaching, it had just got to the stop before, she could just make out.

"Alec, I'm not talking to anyone but you so don't think I'm ignoring you, will ya?" she asked him.

"No, I won't, I understand Rose but John's got an English accent, remember?  It is him, he admitted it last night after I walked you home.  I know I can trust you."

They rushed to the bus shelter as the bus approached and Rose was relieved there were less getting on this one, not that she'd seen any of them from the previous morning in her class, thankfully.  She didn't have time to ask him why his cousin had an English accent, that she'd forgotten to ask Alec last night.  They went upstairs and saw Jamie and the other boys near the back and Rose sat in front of them and Alec, without thinking sat next to her.

Jamie turned around and tapped Alec on his shoulder.

"Come and sit here Alec," Jamie suggested.

Rose wanted to turn around and tell him to get lost and that Alec could sit where he wanted but she resisted.  There would come a time though when she would tell him, Alec's friend or not.

"I'm okay here Jamie, it's rude to leave Rose on her own," Alec replied.

"Then maybe she'd be better sitting at the front with the girls?" Jamie asked him.

"She doesn't know them Jamie, they are in the class above us anyway, they are hardly likely to welcome her, are they?" he asked his friend.

"So are you two going to hang around all day then?" Jamie wondered, half-turning to the other boys, who Rose swore she could hear sniggering.

She thought just let them wait until she was talking, they would wish they had left her alone, she'd show them as soon as she got over being accepted as an outsider but Alec wouldn't desert her, that she was sure of.

Alec just ignored them and turned to Rose.

"Should be good today Rose, we have double maths," he grinned at her.

Rose hated maths but the teacher seemed okay, considering it was their class teacher.

"We have history again this afternoon," he added, hoping he wouldn't give the game away about his cousin and get John fired or moved to another school.  He still couldn't believe John had done that, just for him but now John could also help Rose get over her shyness or was she just pretending to be shy like yesterday, to get his attention?  The question was though, was he bothered she was only trying to get his attention?  He'd been trying to get hers all summer.

Rose got her notebook out and wrote 'I'll only talk to you today during breaks if no-one's watching'

Alec read it and replied, "Okay Rose, save your voice," for the benefit of those behind them.

Rose was relieved he was willing to play along.  They found a bench to sit on outside the school but Rose was still pretending not to talk and Alec was still worried about it, wondering why she was so reluctant.  He knew she wanted to be back in her old school, was this a protest?  Still, he couldn't tell on her but they were joined by John.

"Come on you two, nearly time to go in," John grinned at them.  "How's the voice Rose?"

Rose just nodded, not sure if Alec had told him or not.

"Rose, it's okay, I know.  Did Alec tell you I just put this accent on to get through teacher training?" he asked her.  Rose shook her head.  "You won't be the only one so give it a try eh?" he asked her.  "Talk to her about it Alec and mind you don't say who I am," he reminded them.

Kristy and Moira had seen the teacher talking to them and were debating what to do about it.

"Seems they've got some protection?" Kristy asked.

"Forget those two losers, they deserve each other.  Let's have another go at the other new girl in our year and if not we'll just have to have some fun going after year one," Moira told her.  "Mind you, it could be fun watching those two?  I bet she's putting that on to get attention?" Moira told her.

Rose was getting up after Alec, him waiting for her.

"Seems like she got it?" Kristy laughed.

"I think I feel sick," Moira replied.  "If I have to watch those two every break I will be.  Who'd be wanted to be friends with him, apart from the boys?"

Kristy patted her friend's shoulder as they walked towards the main entrance.

"Never mind Moira, we can have some fun teasing them," she suggested.

"And have that teacher onto us again?  No thanks," Moira replied.

Kristy shrugged her shoulders and followed her friend up the stairs.  They spied Sandra and went up behind her, putting a hand each on her shoulders.

"Hey, wanna have a bit of fun?" Moira asked her.  Sandra just shrugged her shoulders as best she could.  "We want to know if the other new girl has really lost her voice or she's faking it, we want you to find out."

"Get lost you two, I told Rose I'd be her friend," Sandra replied as she closed her locker.

"Well you might not want to be," Moira replied.  "She was sat outside with Alec Hardy, all the girls were chasing after him last year," she lied.  "We wouldn't want you to get jealous,"

They went off when the bell sounded, leaving Sandra wandering towards the classroom and just seeing Alec following Rose inside, whispering something to her.  Were those two telling the truth or just winding her up, could she trust them after hearing them talking last night?  She went into the classroom, Alec went to sit with Jamie, who seemed indifferent towards him and Sandra went to sit with Rose.

"Did you two arrive together?" Sandra asked her, nodding at Alec.

Rose nodded and scribbled, 'we get the same bus' on her notepad.

Sandra nodded back and went back to listening for her name being called, then in the other classes, she was going to see if Alec defended Rose again.  If he did, then those two could be right, not that Alec or any boy in the class was worth a second look, she had only just begun to realise she liked older boys and had her eye on one she'd seen yesterday lunchtime playing football with some other year four pupils, not that he would have noticed her.  She'd only been watching them because she'd seen Alec leave some other boys to go talk to Rose.

She raised her hand when her name was called and glanced at Rose, was she putting on the lost voice or not?  She bet Alec knew the answer to that question.  Throughout the rest of the morning, Alec only defended Rose once in a class they'd not had the day before, which had got a snigger out of some of the others and a frown from the teacher so when the lunch bell went, Rose was waiting outside for Alec.

"Not sitting with us then?" Billy asked him as he looked across at Rose.

Alec shrugged his shoulders, catching up with Rose who whispered, "Go join your friends."

Alec didn't know if he wanted to or not since they had done nothing but sneer all morning.  Billy caught up with Jamie.

"Alec's gone off with the new girl again Jamie, what are you going to do about it?" Billy asked him.

Jamie knew what he wanted to do – Rose Tyler was stealing his best friend from right under his nose and he didn't like it.

Chapter 12  Emerging

A/N I couldn't resist it turning out the new teacher was actually Alec's cousin - sorry!

Alec was torn between catching up with his friends and throwing Rose to the wolves – namely Kristy and Moira but they seemed occupied standing with a group of first year's so she should be fairly safe, until the girls started walking off one by one, leaving the two ringleaders virtually alone.

"What?" Alec realised Rose was saying something else to him.

"Jamie's looking over," she whispered, looking across the dining room.  "Shush, don't say I'm talking to ya, not yet," she reminded him.

"I would never do that Rose," he replied.

Didn't she trust him, he wondered.

"Alec, coming to sit with us?" Jamie asked as he avoided two first year boys tugging at each other's school bags.

"Jamie, Rose has been having trouble with those two over there," he nodded to the doorway where the two troublemakers were waiting for fresh victims to wander in.  "They tried twice yesterday and Rose hasn't quite got her voice back yet, have you Rose?" he asked.

Rose shook her head in agreement but she knew it wasn't fair he was still covering for her.  She reached over to whisper to him.

"Tell him if ya can trust him."

"Are you sure?" he wanted to know.  Rose nodded.  "Jamie, come and sit with us a minute," he told his friend.

They found a table and Alec hoped the noise would cover what he had to say.

"Jamie, Rose isn't from around here, she doesn't want to talk in case those two over there might make something of it and tell the whole school," he explained.

"When you say not from around here?" Jamie asked.  "She's not from outer space is she?" he joked.

Rose wanted to give him a kick under the table for being a smart-arse.

Alec leaned closer, just in case as Rose continued getting her lunch bag out.

"She's from south of the border, more or less from the same place as the new teacher," he told his friend, not wanting to say John's accent was put on.

"No way," Jamie replied, looking over at Rose.  "No wonder she's not talking but no-one seems to bother about the new teacher, you'd get away with it Rose.  Hey, I'm sorry I was so hostile yesterday, both of you but you should have told me Alec.  You won't get away with it much longer Rose."

Rose already knew that.  Alec had been really good to her so far, she couldn't have him sticking up for her all the time once she started talking.  If anyone picked on him, she'd be down on them like a ton of bricks, no-one bothered her friends.

"She knows that Jamie.  Rose, will you talk to him?" Alec asked her.  Rose shook her head, she didn't trust Jamie yet.  "He's been my best friend since junior school Rose, he's okay, he won't tell on you, will you Jamie?" Alec asked him.

"No, I won't say anything Rose, honest but you'd better watch those two, if they get you mad, you may give the game away," Jamie warned her, seeing Kristy and Moira sitting a few tables away.

"I think Rose might surprise us," Alec grinned.  "Eh Rose?" he asked her.

Rose gave him a smile back.

Billy and the rest of Alec's friends were wondering what was taking Jamie so long to come back.

"Seems we've lost him as well," one of the boys remarked.

"Yeah, you can't trust anyone," Billy agreed, going back to eating.

Kristy and Moira though were watching the three of them with interest.

"What are those three up to?" Moira asked her friend.

"I bet the new girl is seeing how many boys she can make friends with, just to show us up," Kristy replied.  "We have to get that other new girl on our side, if she's supposed to be making friends with her."

"I don't need reminding," Moira huffed.  "She's going to be trouble, just you watch, once she comes out of her pretending to have lost her voice."

"How do you know she's pretending?" Kristy wanted to know as Moira stared at her.

"Think about it," was all Moira said.  "We have to be more careful where we talk in future, she might have been hiding last night, since Alec Hardy was waiting around."

"You think she heard us?" Kristy asked.

Moira wondered how her friend had managed to get the reputation she was in charge.

As everyone started making their way outside, Jamie decided to tag along.  At least he wasn't actually going to lose his friend but it now seemed like he was sharing but he only had himself to blame he supposed.  It was him who had goaded Alec in the library to go talk to Rose so he probably deserved it.  They went to the bench where he and Rose had been sat earlier, just on the corner but Alec saw his cousin walking towards him.  So much for keeping it quiet they were related.

"Well, what have got here?" John grinned.  "The three Musketeers?"

Sometimes Alec wished they weren't related, especially since John had kept his accent but at least no-one now may believe they were cousins.

"Any more trouble Rose?" John asked her, since he'd decided if she was a friend of his little cousin, he'd watch out for her as well, without her knowing of course.

"No Sir, they've left Rose alone so far," Alec replied.

"Let her speak for herself Alec and I said you could call me Doctor, remember?" he asked his cousin.

"Sorry, Doctor," Alec corrected himself, getting a smile from Rose and a confused look from Jamie, who was perched on the end of the bench behind Alec.  "It's okay Rose, you can talk to him."

"Yes Rose, you can talk to me.  You're not from around here, are you, mmm?" he asked her.  "Shall I let you into a little secret?"  Rose nodded.  "I just put this accent on to get through teacher training.  I thought I might get away with a few things."

He wasn't sure about Jamie, he'd let Alec decide if he wanted his friend in on their little family secret but Alec must have mentioned that he had two cousins, well since Peter had disappeared, it seemed Alec now only had one.

Alec knew what those few things were, namely going off and doing travel reviews to fool everyone.  He had thought John had been just trying to surprise everyone though and it had worked.

"Well, Rose?" John asked her.

"No Sir, no more trouble, thanks for the rescue yesterday," Rose replied as quietly as she could, making Jamie almost fall off the back of the bench but the wall stopped him.

"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" John grinned at her.  "Are you in one of my classes today?"

"Yes. We have science later, Sir," Jamie chirped in as he recovered.

"Good, see you all then and Rose, don't worry, take your time eh?" John asked her.

He walked off smiling, Alec's new friend was just being selective but he'd bring her out of her shell sooner or later but he was still worried about the two troublemakers. 

"I'll leave you two then?" Jamie asked, getting down.

"Jamie, don't tell the others about Rose yet, will you?" Alec asked his friend while glancing across the playground.

"No but they expected some answers Alec, they want me to spy on the two of you but I'm not going to do it," Jamie replied.  "I'll just tell them Rose was whispering to you and I couldn't hear from where I was sitting.  Friends Rose?" he asked her.

Rose nodded then went for her notebook and wrote a 'Thanks'.

Jamie nodded back and went across the playground to the picnic tables on the edge of the grassed area.

"It's okay Rose, he won't tell on you but you have to start talking," Alec told her.

She knew he was right, then she could tell that Kristy and Moira they had some competition and they weren't going to walk all over her or Alec for the term.  She had been so confident at her old school but she had Shareen back then and wasn't the odd one out in a new school plus now, she had Bob to contend with and what made it worse was her mother wouldn't listen or hear anything wrong about him.  What possible hold did he have over her?

Billy was sat on the table as Jamie joined them.

"Well, did you find out anything?" he asked Jamie, the others looking at him.

"No, she was just whispering, I couldn't hear then the teacher came along and spoiled it.  We'll just have to wait for her to start talking," Jamie replied.

"Yeah and by then Alec will have forgotten about us," Billy told him.  "What's he want to make friends with a girl for?"

"My older brother says it happens to us all," Jamie reminded them.

"Seems like it's too late for Alec," one of the other boys laughed, looking in their direction.

They all joined in the laughing though Jamie was just pretending but still feeling a little jealous.  He decided if he was invited back to Alec's house and Rose was going, he might tag along just to see how they reacted towards each other out of school.  Maybe his older brother was right, Alec was just starting to prove that.

"You could have gone with him Alec, ya don't have to stay with me," Rose reminded him.

"They'll just be talking about nothing, I'm not missing much," he replied.

"And we're not?" Rose smiled.  "Just wait until I find my feet, I'll show those two," she nodded to where Kristy and Moira were talking to some boys, having decided to try a new tactic as it seemed to be working for Rose.

Rose had to laugh when one of the boys pushed his way past Moira and she would love to hear what was being said.

"Be careful with them Rose," Alec warned her.  "They caused a lot of trouble last year."

"Huh, they've not really met me yet, have they?" Rose replied.  "I bet they think by going after the boys, they'll get some protection?"

"You think I'm protecting you?" Alec asked her.

"Aren't you?  You were so good to me yesterday Alec, no-one stuck up for me at my old school, that was what made me tough.  You have no idea what I'm really like, you thought you were helping me because I was shy and lost."

"You looked it Rose, admit it," Alec told her, not sure what he'd let himself in for.

He had felt sorry for her, after weeks of seeing her in the library.  He'd never bothered watching out for a girl before, one he had no idea who she was and he'd finally found out and she needed his help but Rose was coming out of her shell and strangely enough, instead of it putting him off, he thought she was going to be fun to be with.

Little did he know Rose was putting on a tough act, even more so now she and her mother were living with Bob.  Before she had left her home, she had been tough but the last few weeks living in a strange place and seeing her mother acting like a different person was beginning to take its toll on her.

Rose knew she needed a friend and Alec seemed to be it, even Sandra had still been a bit distant though she'd seemed okay in class.  Maybe she was jealous of her being friends with Alec and was backing off?  Still, Sandra didn't live near her like Alec did.  Now it seemed Jamie wanted in and she couldn't bring herself to stop Alec being friends with him, it was his choice.

"So are you coming round to do your homework later?" Alec asked her as he sat on the top of the bench, something Rose had noticed he liked to do after yesterday in the park.

"Yeah, I can stay a bit longer but what about Jamie?" she asked.

"The kitchen table's big enough for three Rose," Alec laughed.

The bell went for end of lunchtime and science was their second lesson but Rose had decided to remain silent, well that was until John decided it was now or never.

"Someone other than Alec," John grinned, looking around the room, getting no other volunteers.  "How about you Rose?  How's that voice of yours?  You seemed okay earlier talking to someone."

Rose was furious, he'd said take her time now he was tricking her into talking.  Alec was glancing across to her and Sandra was nudging her.

"The game's up Rose, get it over with."

"Well Rose?" John was asking her.  "Do you know the answer?  We all know you're new around here, well I've got some room to talk, so am I," he laughed.  "Are you hiding something, I'm sure we all want to know where you're from, don't we class?"

Rose thought if that had been Mickey, she would have decked him.

"I know!" John declared.  "Let's all pretend this is the geography class eh?  Who wants to guess where Rose comes from and don't anyone say Outer Mongolia or a parallel world," he grinned, looking at Alec for the last one.

Alec wanted the desk to swallow him but no-one was taking notice.

"Alec, you've made friends with her, want to take a wild guess?" John asked, trying not to give too much away.

Alec was trying to think what he'd asked her yesterday, trying to keep to this side of the border.  He finally went just a little bit further.

"Carlisle?" Alec replied, making the class laugh and John think that was the end of the science lesson for today and he'd have to give them some homework instead.

"Is that right Rose?" John asked her.  Rose shook her head.  "Blimey, guess it's a bit further south than that then?  Anyone else?"  

He got no takers until Sandra put her hand up after some consideration.  John pointed to her.

"Go for it Sandra."

"Sir, I think she may be from London and she's just shy."

Rose wanted to say thanks a bunch to her supposed friend, even Alec hadn't given her away and she would have rather it had been him.  Still, if it had been Alec, everyone would think she'd told him, if they'd seen the two of them talking and Jamie definitely would.

"Well, well, well," John continued.  "Want to say if she's right, Rose?  Don't be shy Rose, in case you've not noticed, I don't sound like I come from around here, do I – Alec?"

Alec was trying to look away, what was John playing at?  If he was trying to throw suspicion off them being related, he wasn't making a very good job of it, was he? 

"No Sir, you don't sound like you come from around here," Alec agreed, knowing what his own voice sounded like.

"So, who thinks Sandra is right?" John continued as most of the class put their hands up, then Alec and Jamie joined in after Jamie nudged him.  

"We're all waiting Rose," he reminded her.  "We don't mind you coming from there, do we class?"

All of a sudden, everyone turned towards Rose and she thought she would never hear the end of it, all her fears of going there coming true as they chatted to each other.

"Hands up all those who think Rose should just be herself?" John asked them.

Rose was relieved all but one hand went up and that was Billy, who was still trying to figure out why Alec had made friends with her.

"Right, let's leave it at that shall we and your homework for today is the question I was asking which was:  Two identical strips of nylon are charged with static electricity and hung from a string so they can swing freely. What would happen if they were brought near each other?  I want the answer the next lesson," he told them as the bell went.

Thankfully it was break time and everyone headed outside but Alec was waiting for Rose, thinking she'd never talk to him again.  He saw her coming out, trying to ignore Sandra who was telling her it would have come out sooner or later and now it was out in the open.

"Sorry Rose but it was easy to guess," Sandra told her.  "So, say something."

Rose wanted to tell her to forget being friends but once Kristy and Moira found out, she'd need all the friends she could get.

"I don't blame you Sandra, I was just trying to hide it, I didn't know what to expect," Rose replied, seeing Alec.

"Go on, I'll let you off," Sandra grinned.  "He can be a better friend that I can but I'm here if you need me," she nodded towards Alec.

Rose was going to walk past him but stopped.

"Happy now?" she asked him as they walked off.  "I thought I could trust that teacher?"

"He did it for your own good Rose," Alec defended his cousin.  "How long could you have kept it going?"

"Maybe a few more days," Rose protested as the sun hit her eyes and she shielded them.

"It's best to get it over with, now you don't have to hide it," he reminded her.

"Yeah?  I told ya Alec, you have no idea.  You don't know what started because of him," she replied, meaning John.

"Are you going to be mad at me?" he asked as Rose walked to the grassed area and claimed a bench.

"No.  It's just you might not like me when you really get to know me.  Alec, at my old school I did everything and my friends followed me.  I was like Kristy and Moira only twice as bad, they're like a couple of two year olds compared to what I was like and do you know why I went shy when I came here?" she asked him.

"I'm your friend Rose, well I want to be.  You can't have been that bad, those two are just getting into the swing of things," he replied.

"Yeah?  Do they eat chewing gum in class and get into trouble for shortening their skirts?" she half smiled. "That's only the tip of it Alec, the rest would make you cringe."

Alec though wanted to hear more.

"No, it won't.  So why did you go shy then?"

"Really?  Try being dragged away from your home and your friends to somewhere that might as well be on an alien planet Alec, then on top of that, your mother shacks up with a bloke you hardly know and you go to live with him.  He's creepy, he never leaves my mum and me to talk once he gets home, he expects his dinner on the table, my mum thinks her cooking's not up to his standards and…." She trailed off.

"Rose, I'm sorry," Alec told her.  "You only told me part of it yesterday, why?"

"I'd just met ya Alec, why'd ya think?  I could have lost the only person who was kind to me."

"No, you wouldn't have lost a friend Rose, I want to help you.  I want to join the police when I'm old enough, to help people, I told you that.  You could have trusted me to tell me the rest.  I want to hear the rest Rose, really."

"Not here, I'll tell ya later but if those two start on me, you might disown me or get dragged to the head's office with me."

Alec almost burst out laughing, Rose was turning out to be a rebel and would give Kristy and Moira more than they had bargained for if they started on her.  She was still troubled by her home life though, he could tell she was still putting on a brave front.

"Rose, then let me help you?  I mean with home, tell my dad or John," he suggested.

"They can't do anything Alec, my mum's gone blind to it, she thinks it's the perfect life even though instead of working for herself, she works from nine to half five, five days a week and gets me to do the housework 'cos she's not used to it.  It was his idea, he's on good money but I suspect he's not giving her any of it and she only agreed to work to keep me and herself.  I wish she'd never met him Alec, I really don't like him."

Alec wanted to put his hand on her shoulder but everyone would see and it was bad enough they were spending a lot of time together.  He wanted to help her, if she would let him.

"Then talk to my dad tonight Rose, he'll know what to do," he told her.

"Can he get me back home Alec?" she asked him.

"If you went home, I'd lose a friend," Alec replied.

"You have Jamie," she reminded him.

"He doesn't need help like you do.  John keeps telling me to practice being a detective, you could help me and I could help you, if you want?"

The bell was going so they got up, Alec still waiting for an answer.  Did she want his help?  If she did, what could he do about it except get advice from his dad and his cousin?  There was only one more class, Rose sitting next to Sandra but still not talking.  She expected by the time school was out, the word would have gone around that not only was there an English sounding teacher, who was really Scottish but a real live English pupil and she was going to be out of her depth so the tough act it was going to have to be.

She just didn't want to drag Alec into it.

Chapter 13

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20


Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

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