AN: I watched too much McLeod's Daughters lately… And with much, I really mean much…

PS: After writing the story I noticed that Rosette discribes Australia not really in a positive way... I'm sorry if I wrote too negatively. I did not want to insult the country somehow. That has never been in my intention...

Somewhere in Australia:

Chapter 1:

The blonde looked out of the small ellipse shaped window. She could see the ocean rushing by under the plane. Far away in the distance she could already see land. Fortunately they would arrive soon. The whole flight wasn't very comfortable. There had been lots of turbulences because of bad weather.

Rosette sighed and closed the lid of the window. Afterwards she turned to her brother who sat next to her. He was fallen asleep and Rosette decided that it was best to do the same.

Some hours later they were driving on the street in a jeep. The landscape outside was pretty boring. Only some hills and bushes or yellow grass. The only change was the group of kangaroos they saw around noon.

In the afternoon they finally arrived at their destiny.

There was a huge ranch with lots of pastures. The cattle looked curiously at the car. In the distance some horses pricked up their ears and watched the vehicle go down the road.

The car stopped slowly in front of a big building. All four doors opened and the members of the Christopher family stepped outside.

Rosette shadowed her eyes with her hand. The sun was very bright at the moment. Afterwards she brushed some sweat away. She had totally forgotten how hot it could be in her home country.

Originally she was born in Australia. This had also been the ranch where she grew up. But shortly after her fifth birthday her father Vinsent had gotten a great job offer. Of course he had said yes and took off to the USA. Earning a lot of money there, he soon had bought a nice house in Michigan and his wife and the two kids had followed him to the USA one year later.

The grandfather, the former proprietor of the ranch hadn't been very happy about that. He had actually wanted his son to take over the farm. The two men had some big arguments and went apart in dispute.

Now, a little bit more than ten years later they had gotten a call that Vinsent's father had died. Since there was no one else of the family left, the ranch was now owned by Vinsent. Because of his current situation he couldn't keep both, his well-paid job and the ranch. So the family took of to Australia to sell the ranch. There was a lot of paper work to do. Moreover it was more like a holiday for his wife and the two siblings who had winter break anyways.

Rosette cursed the heat. At home it was still winter while it was summer here. Furthermore she cursed the whole damn trip. Sure, she had always liked Australia as a child – but only because she hadn't known how life was in other parts of the world. Compared to the USA, it was the worst place for a girl where she was now. That had several reasons: 1. The next village was about one hour away. 2. The next village with a halfway good shopping mall was about three and a half hours far away. 3. She actually had planned to do something with her friends in during the winter break. 4. Because it was a ranch with lots of animals, it was dirty and her nice shoes were already ruined.

A man with some dirty jeans and shirt approached them. He quickly cleaned his hands with a handkerchief before shaking hands with Mr. Christopher.

"Hello, Vinsent. Nice to see you again." Rosette remembered the name of the man. He was called Joe and was one of the farm workers. In the past the old man had always been like an uncle to her. She remembered that he had taught her how to ride her little pony. Now, the time surely showed his effects on him. His hair was almost grey now and some wrinkles were on his face. He still had this warm smile of his though. Joe greeted the others too.

Some other workers greeted them as well while passing by. Mostly they were on the way to repair something or to feed the animals. Another young man came down the road with a dark horse and waved to them before disappearing behind the stables.

Meanwhile Joe helped Vinsent to bring the luggage into the huge house.

Lazy as Rosette was, she didn't help them. She was already pissed enough. It had been her father's idea to come here, so he could do the work. She decided to walk around for a little while. The ranch would surely wake some nice childhood memories. At first she went to the horse pasture directly next to the stables. At the moment there was only one mare with her foal on it.

The blonde leaned against the fence. She jumped as something rough touched her left elbow. As she turned around she looked into the eyes of the dark horse she had seen earlier with the young man. And Rosette hadn't even noticed it standing here.

The saddle and bridle were already taken off. Now the horse stood there, tied at the fence and with big eyes watching her.

"Hey, you. Don't scare again, will ya?" She smiled and stroke over the muffle.

Suddenly the horse snorted loudly and in no second Rosette's arm was full of horse slobber. The girl shrieked and brushed it away on the fur of the horse.

Behind her someone laughed.

Angrily she turned around. "That's not funny!"

The dark haired man shrugged his shoulders went to the horse. "Well, that's farm life, young missy. But I guess some city people like you are just not used to that." Turning his back to her he took a brush out of the box he had brought earlier and began to run it over the horse back.

"Hey, I'm not just a snobbish city girl. I lived here for six years. Though that was before we moved to the USA." She defended herself and sat down on top of the fence.

The other one stopped brushing the horse and hesitated before turning around. He looked at her with narrowed red eyes. "Rosette?"

Surprised she looked at him. "Where do you know my name from?" She asked puzzled.

"I'm Chrno. Don't you remember me?" He said and smiled at her.

"Uhm…" It took a while until the memories from ten years ago were coming back.

"My uncle worked on the neighbor ranch. I sometimes came over here to play with you and your brother." He helped her.

Rosette snapped with her finger. "Right! Sorry, but I honestly didn't recognize you. You changed so much. I can only remember the you who had long hair and who was shorter than me although you were older."

Chrno scratched the back of his head nervously and laughed. "Yeah, I was always a short child. Fortunately that changed."

"And why are you working here now? Don't you have to go to school?" Rosette asked him.

Chrno shook his head. "I finished school last year." He changed the brush and brushed the mane of the horse.

"Ah, and therefore you're now working here." Rosette guessed.

"Yeah, but only until I have enough money to finance the college. It's damn expensive at the moment." He told her. He also told her that he was going to study medicine once he had the money he needed. Suddenly a noise was heard. It was Chrno cell phone which interrupted them. He answered it and brushed his dark hair which shimmered purple in the sun out of his face. Chrno grimaced and told the one on the other end of the line that he would be there soon. After ending the call he threw the brush into the box. "And again more work do to…" He sighed. "Hey, could you do me a favour, please? Just take the horse to left pasture over there and take care you close the door rightly. I've to hurry up. A fence broke and some of the cattle in the eastern area ran away."

Rosette nodded, he thanked her and hurried over to a motorcycle which leaned on the wall of the stable. He waved to her before driving away.

Rosette turned around to the horse and began to untie the robe. "Dare it to snort again and I won't bring you to the pasture." She warned the animal which looked at her with huge brown eyes. "Awww… you're so cute!" SNORT. "That's it… I hate you…" Because she had promised Chrno to take it to the pasture, she did so. "Next time I won't do that again."

Fuming she went into the house and into her old room. It still looked like she had left it so much time ago. A bed was on the right next to the door which was in the left corner. On the opposite side there was a window with a desk underneath. Right next to the desk was a big old wardrobe and on the right side of the room was a rocking horse. Oh, how she had loved it as child...

Her suitcase lay on the bed. She opened it and looked for some thin clothes. After she had changed, Joshua called her and told her that they could have some tea and pie on the porch. Joe's wife Molly had prepared it for them. (They and the other workers lived on the ranch too).

It was some delicious apple pie.

While Vinsent and Joe talked about the farm, the siblings and their mother chatted with Molly about this and that. Molly was a nice woman with a warm smile. She had short curly hair and was a little bit chubby. She also thought that everyone who wasn't as chubby as her was too thin. Therefore she gave everyone an extra portion pie because she didn't want the others to 'starve'

About an hour later Chrno came to tell Joe that the fence was repaired again. He also fell prey to Molly's eat-some-pie-you're-too-thin-attacks. He didn't want to and Molly continues nevertheless. Vinsent also invited him to eat with them, but Chrno said he had lots of work to do and no time for that now.

"Perhaps to another time." Chrno told him and said goodbye before going to the stables again.

"He's a diligent boy. Very hard working. One of the best worker we've here. Sometimes I even have to command him to stop. He really wants the money for his college. Hm… I should think of giving him something extra." Joe commented laughing after Chrno had gone. "Now to the ranch again." He turned to Vinsent again. "It would really be a pity to sell it. Why don't you keep it? I could handle the business here during the time you're in the USA. Like this you only have to come here two times a year for stupid paper stuff…blablabla" Rosette stopped listening to them and laughed nervously as Molly gave her the fourth piece of pie.

In the evening Rosette walked around again. It was so damn boring… Her brother wasn't a great help too… He had been with Joe the whole day and helped him repairing the tractor. Her mother and Molly chatted about terribly boring old days. Chrno had to work and she didn't know the others.

She saw Chrno in the stable and thought she could perhaps help him. He was kneeling and looked for something in the hay store.

"Lost something?" She asked him making him spin around.

"Hell, don't sneak in like that! You scared me to death!" He laughed and brushed the hay off his trousers while getting up. "And yes, I lost my ring while taking some hay for the horses. My girlfriend had the same ring… And I'm so clumsy and lose it. Well I lost some weight in the last time. The ring doesn't fit anymore. It slips off all the time..."

"Oh, really. What's your girlfriend's name?" Rosette ignored the last part.

"I don't want to talk about her now…" He whispered and looked away from her.

Because he looked so sad Rosette offered him to help searching it, but he said there was no need to. It was gone now and perhaps it could be found after the hay store was empty. Moreover he had to continue his work now.

"Okay, we'll see at dinner time then." Rosette already wanted to say goodbye as Chrno told her that he wasn't coming to dinner today. The day had been hard and he was tired. Furthermore he had to get up very early tomorrow and he preferred to sleep.

Disappointed Rosette pouted and said good night.

Then it was already time for dinner. All were gathered in the dining room and cheered as Molly brought her famous steaks.

Joe asked where Chrno was again because his seat was free. Rosette told him what she knew which made Joe's expression serious. He shortly looked over to Molly. The old woman sighed. "Alright. I'll bring something to his room again."

"Does it happen often that he doesn't come for dinner?" Rosette asked Joe.

The man nodded and chewed a piece of his food. "He's barely eating anything since… well, I think he hasn't come over it yet." He said sadly and drank something.

"Over what?" Well, he had begun to speak and now he had to tell her everything.

"Well, you see, his girlfriend died in July. A car accident. He hasn't been the same anymore since then. He only fakes his good mood, doesn't eat… He also uses the work to distract him from thinking. A poor boy… He just has to move on. He can't go on living in the past…"

He shook his head and stared into empty space before taking another huge bite of the meat.

"Oh, I didn't know that…" She whispered, but Joe didn't listen to her anymore.

--

The next day was something special. They had planned a trip to a little waterfall with a lake where they could swim. Rosette already looked forward to it. She jumped out of her bed and got ready. Then she hurried downstairs and burst into the kitchen. "Good morning everybo-" No one was there and the clock said that it was eleven o'clock.

"WHAT?!" The girl screamed. Oh no, she had overslept and now the others went without her. What a pity. Fine, then she would take a horse and go on her own trip.

She went outside and met Chrno on the way to the horses. To her surprise he offered her to take her to the lake. Today was his free day.

"That would be great!" She grinned widely and they went to the stables.

Chrno also knew a shortcut to the lake. The others would make huge eyes when they saw that Rosette arrived before them.

It took one hour, but then they finally heard the sound of the waterfall.

It was a beautiful place and perfect for swimming.

Rosette tied her horse on a tree and placed the towel she had brought on a nice sunny place. Then she took off her clothes – of course she wore her bikini underneath.

Meanwhile Chrno took off his clothes too, now wearing his bathing trousers. He took the saddle off his horse, as well as his bridle.

"What're ya doing?" Rosette asked curiously.

"Swimming." He said and smirked. Then he jumped on the horse back and directed it to the lake. The animal snorted before going into the water. Soon the water was deep enough for the horse to swim and only its head was seen while Chrno was above it.

"Hey, that looks like fun!" Rosette shouted and laughed.

"Sure!" he answered her.

Just to the time the horse went out of the water, the others arrived.

"You little cheater! You took the shortcut!" Joe laughed as he saw them.

"Always!" Chrno said and stopped the horse in the water. The water was going up to the joint of the horse. The horse snorted again and scraped with his right front leg in the water.

Chrno and Joe chatted for some more minutes. The horse scraped more with his leg.

The ones of you, readers, who know horses, know also that scraping with a leg is a sign, that the horse will lie down to roll themselves in the dirt. Or in this case in the water.

And so it happened.

Chrno was caught out of guard and screamed as the horse bent its front legs. He quickly jumped off and then away from the horse while it lay down in the shallow water and rolled in it in delight.

The other people around roared in laughter. They began to unpack their stuff and Rosette's mother brought a huge picnic blanket.

All in all it was a nice day. Everybody had fun.

Rosette watched Chrno from time to time.

Joe had been right the evening before. Chrno was only faking his good mood. As fast he could smile, grin or laugh, his smile faded away again when he felt unobserved. Then his face was always so serious with a hint of sadness…

Rosette felt sorry for him. She had to talk to him some time soon.

Then it was already time to go home.

--

The paper work was more than expected and it seemed like the Christophers had to stay longer than planned. In the meantime Rosette and Joshua's winter break ended. Therefore they were sent to the local school. Rosette was so pissed about that. She wanted to go home to the USA. NOW. It came better. The first school day was a bloody hell. Their maths teacher Ms Valentine was a little witch...

Later on there were other news.

Vinsent had found out that he could earn more money with the breeding of horses and cattle than he earned in his old job. That meant that they would stay here forever now. Rosette directly began to argue with her father. She didn't want to stay here. All her friends were in the USA and here she barely knew anyone. How could he take her out of her life? That was terrible. The argument ended with Rosette screaming at Vinsent. He raised his voice too and Rosette turned around on her heel.

She wanted a place where she could be alone and climbed on the attic of the hay store. Half an hour later she heard a sound and climbed down. It was Chrno.

"Still looking for your ring?" She asked him and leaned against a beam.

He gave her a short nod and looked over to her.

"Hey, I'm sorry about yesterday. I shouldn't have asked you…" She thought for a moment. "About her."

"Never mind. You couldn't know." He answered her lowly.

"Yes, but I could have asked it less directly."

"IT IS OKAY." Chrno said louder making her fall silent for a very short moment.

"I'm just saying tha-"

"Listen." He hissed. "That is none of your business and it will never be. So leave me alone now!" He screamed the last part at her.

She winced and backed away. Then she turned around and ran.

That was so mean. Everyone was screaming at her. Nobody liked her. Why did she have to be here and not with her friends like she was supposed to be?

She saw a horse tied to the fence. It was already saddled. The blonde untied it and with on leap she climbed on it. She pushed her shank against the flank of the horse and it began to trot away. While passing by she told one of the worker that she would be away for the afternoon – just in case someone was looking for her which surely wouldn't happen.

--

It was already evening and dark clouds eclipsed. Worriedly Joe looked up. "My my… if that's not going to be a huge thunder storm. Go and bring the animals into the stable. The ones from the east pasture too." He told the workers who took off immediately.

Meanwhile Joshua sat in the house and watched the first raindrops fall against the window pane. His mother sat next to him and turned the radio on. The speaker warned the farmer because a storm was coming. It had already reached the neighbor village.

A soaked Vinsent entered the room and took off his wet rain cloak. Happily he told them that he had helped the others and that all animals were safe by now. The only thing to worry about were the corn fields.

"Anyways. Where's Rosette? I've to talk to her again." The father asked and wiped some raindrops out of his face.

"Don't know…" Joshua continued staring out of his window. "In her room I guess."

Vinsent shrugged his shoulder and went into the bath to take a shower.

It was dinner time already and all except for Rosette and Chrno were there. Far away in the distance there was already some thunder heard.

Vinsent began to worry. His sorrows increased when he heard that the last one who had seen her was the worker who said that she went away with the horse.

"Oh my God! What if she lost the way and is still out there in the storm?!" Vinsent screamed.

Molly said that she would go over to Chrno's little apartment and ask him if he had seen her. She took an umbrella and went outside. The others followed her – without umbrellas though. They would look somewhere else on the ranch.

Chrno also hadn't seen her and said he would look in the hay store. She wasn't there, but therefore he found the item he searched before and put it in his pocket.

Then he went outside again and met up with the others in the middle of the yard.

"Found her?" Someone asked, but nobody did.

Neighing was heard and Rosette's horse galloped towards the stable – but without Rosette.

"Holy hell… we've to find her! Hurry up and take the horses. Like this we can follow her traces better!" Joe called and in no time all were ready to take off. "Okay, in case you don't find her within the next two hours, get back. If the storm gets too bad, get back too. We'll call the police then."

--

Rosette stumbled along the way and sniffed. Everything today was bad. The arguments, everyone screaming at her and then the stupid horse that went crazy because a lightning crashed into a tree fifty meters far away. She fell off and landed directly in the biggest mud puddle there was. Oh, and not to forget the stupid weather. The sun had already set and the rain was cold. She clutched her arms and rolled down the sleeves of her shirt.

Additionally she was so far away from home that no one would find her in the next time.

She sniffed again and winced as a loud thunder was heard. She accidentally took a step to the wrong side, slipped and fell down a little hill. Arriving on the bottom she stayed in the sitting position she was in and started to cry quietly.

A strange sound was heard and she looked up. In front of her were the two white teeth of a hissing rattlesnake. The blonde shrieked. She had totally forgotten the dangerous animals there were. How could she even have been so stupid to run away alone in an area she didn't even know with dangerous animals? That had been her most stupid idea ever.

The snake hissed again and she shrieked. A loud BANG was heard and the snake collapsed. A bright light blinded her. It came from a flashlight.

"Are you hurt?" Chrno asked her and tied the rifle on the saddle. He jumped off the horse and looked at her. Another thunder was heard and the rain showered down.

"No." Rosette replied and got to her feet. All of her clothes were soaked by mud now.

Because the storm had begun now, there was a loud noise and Chrno didn't understand and she had to say it louder again.

Chrno came closer to her, so she could understand him. "The storm is heavy now! It's too dangerous to go home through the forest. There's an old mine not far away. We can go there and wait until the storm is over!" He pointed into a certain direction and gestured her to follow him.

She did so and brushed the traces of tears and rain out of her face. Rosette wanted to start a conversation – she hated the silence. But Chrno seemed pretty much stressed and pissed too. No wonder. He was all wet and the rain was cold. Plus he had already had a hard day.

In the end Chrno had been right. The mine wasn't far away.

Relieved they entered it. At least it was dry in there.

"For how long do we have to stay here?" She asked tiredly and sat down on a rock next to the wall.

"I don't know." Chrno still didn't want to talk. He sat down too.

After a while he began to get nervous.

"'s something wrong?" Rosette asked him.

"I just don't like it here… That's all." He answered her shortly again.

"Hm… okay…" Rosette said and got. "Hey, I'll be back soon. Please stay here." With that she turned around and exited the cave.

Chrno got up as well and wanted to know where she was going. She told him that she needed a toilet.

He nodded and sat down again. Taking the opportunity that she was gone, he pulled the item out of his pocket.

--

Finished behind the bushes Rosette returned. She brushed some wet blonde bangs out of her face. "Back aga-" Her mouth clapped open as she saw Chrno sitting there with a injection in his arm.