Oh my God, I genuinely thought that I was not going to get anything out for this one before the end of the month. As it is, this is only a third of it, I've still got another two chapters to go! Originally, I planned to write this as one long piece, but the ending of this one f elt like the end of a chapter, and I needed to get something out, so I've split it up. Basically, this whole story has been giving me grief from the get-go. I cannot wait for it to be over, believe me.
I'm gonna try and start the next chapters ASAP and hopefully get them both out by the end of tomorrow. If I fail in doing that, then at least I can say that the first chapter was up in July (I mean, that counts, right? - Oh, it doesn't matter, I make the rules with this, haha)
Anyway, this is a school AU. Also, the school is a real school - my old school. Thought it would be easier to write using a place I'm familiar with. All the locations I'll use in this are real (might be a bit difficult however when it comes to the Uni stuff - like the study bedroom - unfortunately, I'm not clever enough to get into Cambridge University - but John is! [damn him])
Also, one final thing: obviously, A Levels and the end of year 13 happen in April/May time not July. The reason I'm writing this now is because most people associate the end of school and the start of the summer with July, even if some people finish earlier because of Sixth Form, College or University. Just, go with it, okay? :)
Bye for now, and hopefully I'll see you in a matter of hours...
John Smith couldn't help but glance up at the clock sitting proudly on a bookshelf in the library. It wasn't the biggest library in the world, but it was homely – something that could not be said for all school libraries. It was also hell of a lot nicer than the one they had in middle school, near the History and Religious Studies areas. Not that you could ever do any private studying in that one anyway…John swore the librarians gave everyone dirty looks as they walked through the doors. No, this was a lot nicer. Away from annoying Year Nines and situated in quite a marvellous building – an old house to be specific.
It still wasn't perfect, though. Through a door in between bookshelves there was another door: an old-looking, heavy wooden door (nowhere near as impressive as the main entrance door, but impressive enough) and through that door was another room. A classroom to be exact. And it just so happened that there was always a lesson going on in there and, being an old house, the walls weren't exactly soundproof. He could hear everything.
And if that wasn't bad enough, there were people in the library chatting away as if they didn't have any exams to prepare for. God, they annoyed him. The weather was nice, so why didn't they just go outside onto the terrace? Take advantage of the nice weather while it lasted? But no, chatting in the darkened room of the library was clearly a better way for them to spend their time. Brilliant.
As John looked at the clock, he grimaced. It was five past one. Period four would be ending in ten minutes and that meant the beginning of lunch time. Already there were people with food in here; some people having used their free period to dodge the lunch queue (seriously, in about twenty minutes' time, getting to the Year 13 common room would become the most challenging part of the day! It was that bad).
In all honesty, he could've gone home by now. His lessons for the day had finished period three, but John always preferred to work in a working environment. He found it easier to concentrate without all the distractions that home provided him.
Not that he had much of a home. Oh sure, he lived comfortably enough – just like the vast majority of students at this school – but his family had died when he was seven. He remembered them well enough and he remembered the accident that had killed them even more vividly. A car accident, how mundane. He'd been the only one to survive the accident and had been living with the survivor's guilt ever since.
Now, he lived with his adopted family. They were nice enough people, but John had never really fit in. Since they had taken him in and he had moved from Glasgow to Cambridgeshire, he had never been able to feel the same comfort he had as before.
It hadn't all been bad, though. Like said, his adopted family were nice people and he had made a few friends in the ten years that he had lived down here. Donna and Jack were his closet friends; he had met them almost as soon as he had started primary school and they had been a force to be reckoned with ever since.
Donna was a feisty red-head, who had a love for sarcasm and would take no bullshit from anybody -especially not him. She was also kind hearted, too – not that John told her that very often. Maybe he should.
Jack was pretty much the complete opposite of John. He was what most people would refer to as a 'walking innuendo' and had been since about Year Eight. He was loud, brash and sometimes over confident. But, like John, he too, had felt like an outsider to begin with. Jack had been born in America and had often commented (during the early days) about how different things were here than they were there. Now, John knew Jack considered this his home. He had been here since he was about seven – only a few months more than John had – but he was adaptable and hadn't lost his family. That was the main difference between their situations.
Donna and Jack weren't the only ones John had befriended over the years. And they certainly hadn't been the first. When John had moved, it had been the summer, and, while for most it at the start, he had spent in his room in stoic silence, still grieving, he had spent a lot of the latter part playing outside in front of the houses that lined his new street. There had been many kids there at that time, but there had only ever been one that John wanted to spend time with: Rose. She was the first person he had met when he had moved and she was the only one who had ever even started to understand what he had gone through. She, too, had experienced grief. At only five, her father had been hit by a car and killed instantly; neither her nor her mum had been there when it happened. She had told him that she would never forget her mother telling her that her father would never be coming back home. She had cried for days afterwards, apparently, not wanting to leave her room for anything or anyone. John even remembered her mother telling him once that she was the first person she had told any of this to. His seven year-old self had felt immensely proud at being trusted by someone like that. It had been then that he had decided to tell her his own story.
After that, the two of them had been inseparable. They did everything together and John remembered that it had been the only time in the last ten years that he felt any sense of belonging. It was a feeling he only ever got when he had been around Rose.
It had been short lived, however. They had spent a year together, but a year hadn't been long enough. It had been near the end of the summer holidays the following year that John had been told that Rose had to move away. Something to do with rent and the landlord apparently. He had been heartbroken.
He hadn't seen Rose since the day she moved away. She had posted him birthday and Christmas cards to begin with, but, by the time that they reached the end of primary school age, the cards had ceased to come and John knew that he was unlikely to ever see her again. It felt weird to say, but John still missed her, even to this day. It was stupid, he knew, but he couldn't help it.
Both Donna and Jack knew about her – had even met her a couple of times during that year – and they knew that it had hurt when she had left. However, what they didn't know was that he still hid some of that pain within him. God knows what they would say if they knew.
John sighed and cleared his thoughts, bringing his mind back into the present. He glanced at the clock again and saw that it was now lunch time. Already people were starting to come in, just like John knew they would. It also meant that Donna and Jack would be in here at any moment, too. He loved his friends, dearly, but he really wanted to study. His first exam was only weeks away and he wasn't entirely in the mood to be distracted by one of Jack's anecdotes.
He was about to pack his books away, ready for when his friends arrived, when his mobile buzzed in his pocket.
Curious, he took it out. Hardly anyone tried to contact him through his phone. Despite owning a mobile, he rarely used it and was notorious for being bad at returning people's calls. It had gotten to a stage a few years back where everyone thought it best to try and phone or text him only when it was an emergency. Thus, hearing it now only added a slight feeling of apprehension to his curiosity.
As he had expected it was a text, from Donna. It read:
Oi spaceman, meet us outside. The sun's out for once and I've just heard something you might be interested by
Sighing, but in some ways incredibly curious as to what it was that Donna thought he might be interested in, John packed up his stuff and made his way out onto the terrace.
Donna was right, the sun was out for once and John couldn't help but squint as the rays hit his eyes as he stepped out of the old building and walked to the benches on the terrace.
Sure enough, Donna and Jack were sitting around one of the round benches overlooking the grounds. The other benches were full of people chatting and eating and John had to avoid being walked into a couple of times as he made his way to the two people awaiting his arrival.
Sitting down on the bench, John placed his bag next to him and looked expectantly at Donna.
"So, what was it that you thought I'd be interested in?" He asked.
"Oh, and hello to you, too," Donna retorted.
"Sorry, hi." John said quickly, hoping that Donna was about to cut to the chase.
Both of them ignored Jack's silent sniggering at their exchange. The way they spoke to one another never failed to amuse him.
"That's better," Donna smiled triumphantly.
"Donna…" John said in a warning tone, his patience thinning.
"Alright, alright," she sighed. "I was in English this morning and, you know how I am, I like to listen in to everyone else's conversations; well, apparently, Martha's got a new neighbour. Moved in at the weekend."
"And I'm supposed to be interested in this because…?" John asked, honestly wondering why Donna would think this would be of interest to him. He and Martha lived nowhere near each other… well, they lived fairly near one another, but not near enough that a new neighbour of hers would be of any bother to him. It was likely John would never even see them, let alone care about their existence.
Donn shared a knowing look with Jack, who was trying not to smile, clearly aware of what Donna was about to say.
"Well," Donna began. "I think it might be of interest when her new neighbour is Rose Tyler."
"What?" John asked, his eyes wide. Now he understood why Donna had wanted to tell him this. "She's moved back to the area?"
"Apparently so," Jack put in, still smiling.
"Thought you might be happy," Donna said. "You've been missing her ever since you moved away."
"But, what about school? I assume she's gone on to do A Levels, she always was a bright spark," John said.
"She's probably taking her exams in a different school – one round here," Jack figured. "Hey, you never know! She might be taking them here. She might even be in some of the same ones as yourself. If she even carried on with school in the first place, that is."
"Maybe," John agreed.
"And if not," Donna said. "She lives next to Martha, so you can always pop round and say hi."
"I doubt she'd recognise me now," John sighed.
"John, you haven't changed that much."
"I'm eighteen, the last time I saw her, I was still in Primary School. I think I've changed a little since we last saw each other. And what about her? What if I walk past her and don't even know who she is?"
"Don't you think you're thinking about this a little too much? Just pop round and say hi, that's all you can do," Donna told him. "Now, if you don't mind, I have to go and see my History teacher about something."
"When you say 'something', are you referring to all those essays you've been too busy to hand in?" Jack laughed.
"Shut up, Harkness!" She said as she stood up to leave.
John and Jack watched her go before turning to each other.
"So, do you reckon you'll ask Rose out?"
John choked on air for a second before looking at his friend. "What?"
"Will you ask her out, when you see her?"
"Oh, come on, you were smitten by her."
"I was seven!"
"You missed her,"
"I was a kid who'd lost his best friend!"
"It's been over ten years and you still miss her."
Jack waited a second before asking again. "So, will you?"
John sighed. "I dunno, Jack. Like you said, it's been over ten years. What if she's got a boyfriend? What if she's happy? I don't want to just barge my way back into her life if she doesn't want me there."
"Fair enough," Jack agreed, knowing on a moral level that John was right. "But, if it's any consolation, I reckon she's missed you just as much as you've missed her."
"And how would you know that?"
"Because, she's was smitten with you, too, back then."
"She was seven, too!"
Jack just smiled.
John sighed and banged his head on his desk. He was tired, studying was starting to take its toll now. He knew this stuff, he really did, but the constant reminder of looming exams was starting to take its toll. When did learning stop being fun? He wondered to himself. Oh yeah, he remembered the moment you started school. God, he couldn't wait to get into University. Everything would be so very different.
However, exams weren't the only thing on his mind. He kept thinking about what Donna had said at lunch, about Rose being back in the area, now living next to Martha. It would be so easy to just make his way to that part of the estate and knock on her door. Martha only had one neighbour and John assumed that Donna had meant 'next door neighbour' when she had told him. If not, Martha would know. But it would be so easy to just see her and yet, John couldn't help but feel anxious at the thought of seeing her again after all this time. He thought about what he had said to Jack; about fearing she might not recognise him. He didn't think he could take that, because Jack had been right: he had been smitten with her. Yes, he hadn't been very old and yes, it had been over a decade since they ha parted ways, but, despite all that, John knew that Rose had been the only person who had understood him in the way no one else ever had. From what he remembered, she had always been a very perceptive child, always aware. He didn't know how much of that was just her and how much had come from losing her father, but it was there nevertheless. She understood things that others did not; things about people.
The more he thought, the more he worried. What if all these were selected memories? A compilation of the best of them that John had chosen to remember. What if they were only there to preserve the image who John thought she had been in his mind? What is was completely different? He wasn't sure he could allow himself to be shown that his memories were only a rose-tinted view on the reality they had lived.
No, he was overthinking this. Donna was right, he should go see her – what harm would it do? At the very worst, she could turn around and say that she didn't remember him or that she didn't want to see him. He'd be okay with that, surely? After all, it had already been so long. Did he really need her in his life that much?
John shook his head in an attempt to clear his thoughts. He had work to do. He had exams in a few weeks and there was no way he was going to allow anything to compromise his chances of getting into Cambridge; not even Rose Tyler.
There was then a knock at the door, loud and forceful. Probably someone trying to sell something. Or the gas man.
The knock came again and John just groaned. Was someone going to open it? He then remembered that he was the only one in the house until at least eight that evening and so decided to leave it, hoping that the person on the other side would give up and go away.
In fact, they knocked five times before John eventually gave in and grudgingly went down the stairs to answer the door.
He hadn't been expecting this.
John looked startled at the girl in front of him said his name. It took him a moment to process everything, but soon enough realised who was standing at his front door. She hadn't changed at all. Suddenly, he was seven years old again.
"Hi," she said simply, a ghost of a smile on her face. She seemed almost… shy; as if she wasn't sure about what he would say. After all, it had been so long.
John, meanwhile, had no idea about what to say. It didn't happen often (and was something Donna revelled in when it did occur) but he was speechless. The last thing he had been expecting was for Rose to turn up on his doorstep – especially since he had literally just been contemplating going to hers. It seemed like such a coincidence. But, like he always told himself, never ignore a coincidence. Well, unless you were busy, of course.
Maybe this was fate?
On the other hand, maybe not, fate wasn't something John believed in. But, he was willing to admit he was wrong and change his beliefs if it indeed had been fate that had led Rose Tyler to his door.
Suddenly, John became very much aware that he had withdrawn into his own head (a really rather dangerous place to be sometimes) and still hadn't said anything to Rose other than her name.
Getting his head back into gear, he replied with a simple, "hello."
Another awkward silence passed between them. It was odd, not knowing what to say to someone you had talked so freely with in the past. Surely, it wouldn't last, would it?
"So," Rose began, almost unsure of herself now. "I just popped over because I wanted to see you, say hi. Martha told me that you still lived here, so…"
"Yup, still here," he laughed nervously, unsure off what to say next. He hadn't realised how hard it would be to maintain conversation.
"Well, I was just wondering if you wanted to go out some time – y'know to grab coffee or something? There's the Costa in town, isn't there? Or that new one up by Tesco?"
"Yeah, that sounds good – brilliant even."
"So, which one do you prefer?" Rose asked.
"Hmm? Oh, erm, town…easier to get to," John stumbled. Rose just laughed.
"Okay, town it is, then. Saturday alright for you? Say round one o'clock, maybe?"
"Yeah, sounds good," he agreed. "I guess I'll see you there, then."
"Yeah, see you there." Rose gave one last smile before turning around and making her way back down the street.
John watched her go before making his way back inside and shutting the door. As soon as the door clicked shut, John let out a breath he hadn't realised he had been holding. God, that had been so awkward. How had that happened? But it was done now, and he was meeting her on Saturday afternoon. That was good, wasn't it? She still wanted to see him. She hadn't forgotten about him.
That thought alone made him smile. Rose Tyler hadn't forgotten about him. In fact, she had come around here, almost completely out of the blue and asked him to meet her for coffee. Donna and Jack would say that she was asking him out on a date. He wouldn't quite go that far, himself, but the thought of it made him extremely happy – if only a tad nervous.
His only challenge now was making it through the week without the thought of Saturday afternoon providing too much of a distraction.