How did Scrubb and Pole first encounter one another? Clearly, it wasn't exactly the friendliest of meetings, from what she says at the start of SC. My take on why that might be... Oh, and this may turn into a twoshot. I have an idea for a sequel, but I'm struggling to find time to write at the mo!

Disclaimer: I don't own it. You know this. The section is named after the guy that owns the characters-so no lawyers, please.

I still cannot work out how I am supposed to fit in at Experiment House, though I've been here nearly a month. Three new boys and another new girl arrived at the school this September along with me, and they've all made friends. The girl just pushed herself into a group of people and started talking, whereas the boys instantly began to wrestle each other in the ways that boys do when they are bonding. I can't do either, and the only other children that have spoken to me since I arrived are the two who sit either side of me in form. This, then, is the reason that I'm sitting on the hill, looking at the straggling school buildings from a bird's-eye perspective, with a book and a friendly spider for company.

This is already my favourite place in the school; sitting here, I can remember my old school (single sex-I'm hardly used to the idea of boys in school yet) and I can convince myself that it's good that I was moved here. Although it's already October, the sun is scorching today. That's never bothered me, though-I don't burn and I'd far rather be hot than cold. And I'm quite contented, really. Theyhaven't bothered me yet, and any spiteful comments have been said behind my back, or not at all. The lessons are far better even here, with the odd values and unique teaching methods, than they were at my day school, and I've always loved lessons.

Someone is clambering up the hill towards me, and I can't imagine why. It's a hot, sticky, dusty climb, and his face is scarlet from the exertion. I recognise him-I think he must be in one of my classes. Biology. I remember now.

"Scrubb," he pants, as he flops down next to me.

"Pole," I reply, holding out a hand. He doesn't take it, though-maybe people at Experiment House don't shake hands.

I honestly can't imagine why he's here. Perhaps he's an emissary fromThem, come to find out what sort of a person I am. That's mean, though-I haven't seen any evidence that he's on Their side.

"New girl, eh?" he asks unnecessarily. I nod. "What mark did you get in the last Biology test?"

That was a very strange getting-to-know-you question, but maybe he is just a strange person, or maybe that's an appropriate thing to ask here. "Eighty-six," I reply, feeling a little embarrassed. I know it was the best mark in the class. I didn't really want to distinguish myself so soon-my high marks were part of the reason that my father pulled me out of my day school, feeling that I wasn't being "challenged" enough.

"Oh, I got a-"

I'll never know what he got, though, because he's stopped talking. His eyes are fixed on the spider, who's walking in a zigzaggy pattern up my arm. Obviously he's just noticed her. Perhaps he wants to hold her. Boys seem to like spiders, and insects, and other things of that kind. I cup my hand over her, scoop her up, and hold her out to him. Instead of taking her, though, he backs away nervously.

Scared of spiders? Really?

"She can't hurt you," I assure him, still extending my spider. She is trying to escape from my cupped hand.

"What sort of normal girl plays with spiders?" he practically spits, still scooting away from me.

Well, that was unnecessarily mean. Just because he's scared of them! "I do," I answer sweetly. My family know that that particular tone meanswarning, but I suppose he didn't pick up on it, because he's still going on.

"You're barmy!" he hisses, now sliding away so fast that he's going to fall down the hill if he isn't careful. Impulsively, I hold out a hand to help him get steady again-only problem is, it's the hand with my spider in it. He gets up and runs away, stumbling and slipping his way down the slope. I would feel sorry for him, only he's still hurling choice insults at me over his shoulder.

"Coward!"

I don't know why I just said that. I hardly ever insult people, but really-a lad scared of spiders?

Above all things, I despise cowardice.


I am approaching the new girl. She's sitting on her hill again, just as she was last week, when she threatened me with her spider and called me a coward.

I have to seek her out, now, because I can't let her have the last word. Coward? I'm no coward, but if I don't do something back, she'll think I am. She has no idea. Alberta didn't raise me to be a coward, only to be rational, and to know that, whatever might be the scientific viewpoint, spiders are not safe. Honestly! Playing with spiders? It isn't natural.

Last Saturday, it was boiling hot, and I had horrible sunburn when I eventually got off that hill. This time, that's very unlikely, because my legs are already knee-deep in mud. The autumn has finally arrived, and it's been practically storming all week. That girl must be very strange to be sitting on the hill like that, in this weather. At least it's stopped storming. If it hadn't, I don't think I could have come out like this. Storms are like spiders-simply not safe.

After slipping and sliding my way up the hill-I've fallen over three times, and I'm already coated in thick dark mud-I can see her. She doesn't look half as content as she did last Saturday. There's a bit of paper in her hand-probably a letter from home. Weakness! Harold and Alberta didn't write to me at all in my first year here. They said they didn't want to molly-coddle me. They were right, of course. It looks almost as if she were crying, and then I see it. Here is my chance.

"Your spider desert you?" I ask scornfully. "Only friend you'll ever make here."

She looks up at me, and gulps. For a split second, I feel sorry for her-she makes a very pathetic picture, mud on her face and tear-tracks. Then, though, I remember whose son I am, and the sympathy goes away.

"You may find somebody else to fear," she says genially. "Incy's hiding from the rain."

Down came the rain and washed poor Incy out; that's almost funny, considering how upset she is, and I know she's offering me an olive-branch.

Who likes olives, though?

"Scared of spiders? I just didn't want to spend any more time with you," I say, looking around me anyway, just in case Incy-bother, she's fixed that name in my head, now- has come back for more. "Pitiful little crybaby."

She doesn't offer any sort of resistance, but the tears flow faster down her cheeks, and all of a sudden I'm stumbling back down the hill, because I feel guilty about having caused them. It's all right, though, I'll get over that immaturity in time. And she does look pathetic, and not in an appealing way-she has thick black mud in her hair, and her eyes are red. Homesick.

Of all things, I despise weakness.

Well? What do you think? Please review and tell me!