So I don't know enough about British schools to be comfortable writing a story about them. Hopefully my alternative still falls within the guidelines.


Marian looked around her room one last time throwing in small items that she couldn't live without. She glanced over at her father who was sitting solemnly in her window seat. "Dad, I've been thinking," she stepped closer to him, "maybe I shouldn't go to the States. I mean, there is so much to do around here, and I won't know anyone."

Edward smiled at his lovely daughter, "Marian, I'll be fine. I'll miss you terribly, but I will not let you pass up this opportunity. And you will know someone. You met my coworker's son Robin a few years back. You guys got on smashingly."

Marian looked appalled, "Bloody hell, Locksley is going?! Smashingly? Dad, you have to be out of your mind. He was such a jerk. Do you not remember the way he treated me?" She collapsed on her bed with the full force of all of her teenage drama and yelled into her bedding, "if I would have known that prat was tagging along I never would have signed up."

"Marian, language." Edward shook his head, "The boy just doesn't know how to behave around you. I think he likes you." His daughters face was a mix between a blush and frustration, "That looks like everything. We better get on our way. I don't want you late for your flight.


"Robin!"

The young teenager rolled his eyes, "yeah, mum."

"You have two minutes to get your bags down the stairs or you'll go to the States with nothing more than the clothes on your back," she yelled. He was a sweet boy when he wanted to be, but blimey if he wasn't late to everything.

Robin quickly stuffed another hoodie, his iPod, and his black book (you never know when you might get a number) in the suit case and tried to zip it closed. He frowned in frustration when he couldn't get the lid down. Tucking in a few loose socks he jumped up and sat on the suitcase pulling the zipper closed before he drug it down stairs, "alright mum, I'm ready to go."

The whole car ride to the airport was "remember your manners, Robin," and "no getting into trouble, Robin," and then she hit him with the most uncomfortable mother-son talk in all of England, "look, I know you are growing up, and I won't be around to keep an eye on you. I hear those American girls are a bit easy. If you do decide to," she swallowed hard. This was not a conversation you wanted to have with you sixteen year old son, "well wrap up is all I'm saying. You don't want to catch something you can't get rid of, or end up with a baby or something."

Robin looked at his mom in horror, "mum, wrap up? Seriously? Can we just pretend this conversation never happened, because between you and me you don't make enough for the therapy bills."

"Very funny. Well here is our stop. Will you be okay, or do you want me to walk you in?"

"I'll be fine mum." He hugged her tightly, "Love you."

A tear fell down her cheek as she waved her son goodbye, "love you too."

---

All of the AYA (Academic Year in America) kids went out to Chili's for dinner after they were picked up from the airport so they could all meet. One of the host parents was talking about how this year was their largest turn out of foreign exchange students. Marian looked around the table and saw Robin the Prat and Much his best friend. Much was a nice enough bloke when he wasn't following Robin about. There were two other English boys: Will and Alan. Will was from Scarborough and Alan was from Rochdale. On Marian's side of the table sat John from Scotland and Saffiyah from London.

Robin had noticed the brunette the moment she walked off the plane. She was wearing her hair down and curly and was wearing an amazing blue dress that showed a nice bit of cleavage and some leg. He nudged Much with his elbow, "take a look at little Marian. She sure filled out."

Much's eyes grew wide, "Robin what would your mum say?"

"Wrap up," he said laughing. He made sure that he was sitting across the table from her in hopes to strike up a conversation, and was becoming frustrated when she did not even seem to notice him. There was no way she forgot him. He was sure that he'd made a lasting impression the last time they met. He cleared his throat, "uh, hi Marian. Remember me, Robin?"

Marian looked at him with a blank expression. Oh yes, she remembered him, but she wasn't about to give him that satisfaction, "no," she said simply and turned back to her conversation with Saffiyah.

Robin was shocked, "your dad works with my mum. We see each other at all of the company functions."

"Oh yeah," a look of realization flitted across her face for a moment, "wait, no sorry. I don't remember you at all." She smiled sweetly, "wait a moment, Robin, as in Batman's boy wonder who ran around in tights."

Everyone laughed, but Robin kept his cool, "I prefer to think of it as Robin Hood, valiant hero and protector of the poor, and heart throb for all of England" he said as he flashed a cool, confident smile.

Marian shrugged. Grrr, he was so cute, but the problem with cute boys was that they tended to be players.

One of the host moms, Karen, looked at them excitedly, "oh do you two know each other?"

Robin and Marian answered in unison, "yes," "no."

The older woman looked confused, "alright," she said aloud but in her mind she was thinking 'teenagers!' Karen stood up in front of the group of kids to get their attention, "Each of you will be given a cell phone," she said as the other parents began handing them out. "We preprogrammed all of the host parents' numbers and each exchange student's number. This way you can all be a safety net for each other. If you ever need anything, or just get homesick you can call any of us."

Marian saw a twinkle in Robin's eyes and groaned inwardly.

Once everyone ordered their meals Saffiayah and Marian tried to get to know each other, "so have you always lived in London?"

"Yeah, my whole life. My parents moved from Israel when they first got married. My twin Djaq and I have never even been to Israel, but that didn't stop the committee from nearly kicking me out of the program. I'm Muslim so I must be a terrorist you know. It's bloody ridiculous. The only thing dangerous about me are my amazing skills as a goalie."

Marian smiled, "I like to play on offense, either attacking midfielder or striker. We should play sometime."

"That would be brilliant. If I lose my edge while I'm here Djaq will never let me live it down. So what about Robin and Much?" She nodded towards the boys, "Do you guys go to school together," Saffiayah asked.

Marian laughed, "nah, thank goodness. I go to Knighton, Robin and Much take lessons at Nottingham High."

Robin smirked overhearing the girls, "I knew it, you do remember me."

Bollucks, Marian thought to herself, "maybe I do." Was she flirting with him?

---

Marian was staying with the Guisborne family. Karen, her host mom, had two kids Veronica and Guy. Veronica was a bubbly sixteen year old that had an enormous amount of energy and always had something to say.

Veronica was leading Marian throughout the house. "This whole foreign exchange student program is so enlivening. I mean what an incredible experience." She turned a corner into a small bedroom, "So this will be your room, my room is down the hall and my brother's is in the basement. Oh and my favorite part, this room like mine leads to the roof. Sounds crazy right? But take a look." Veronica pointed to the window. Marian looked out and noticed that you could indeed crawl out the window and sit on the roof. "It is great when you need to get away and think, or just want to look at the stars. Guy isn't around right now. He has band practice, I'm sorry to say you'll meet him soon enough though. He is kind of disconsolate and broody. My best friend Tiffany lives about a block and a half away. That is where Saffiayah will be staying. So you two will be able to hang out whenever. As it is Tiff and I just about live with each other. Am I leaving anything out?"

Right then Tiffany walked in with Saffiayah following close behind, "you'd have to stop talking to leave anything out Vee." Tiffany had golden blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a tiny little nose.

The talkative brunette thought for a minute, "that's true. I have a bit of a problem. I love to talk. Every now and you just have to tell me to shut it. Tiff is that my Batgirl tee?"

The blonde just shrugged, "probably."

"I swear at this rate I won't have any clothes left." Turning to the new face in the group, "you must be Saffiayah? It's so extraordinary to meet you."

Marian looked at her for a moment, "not being rude, but what is up with the ten syllable vocabulary: enlivening and disconsolate?"

Tiff rolled her eyes, "Yeah, that's my fault. I teased her one day about always using the same words over and over again. She was really quite repetitive. She got mad at me and now keeps a pocket sized thesaurus in her purse and another one in her room. But you can usually figure out what she is saying from context clues. The English professors love her."

"Hey it makes me quirky and idiosyncratic." she shrugged.


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