~#~ (Chapter 98)

John sensed the change in Scott's mood immediately and reached his hand out to his brother. "We've come this far," he said softly. "We may as well do the last part. We're only eighteen months or so behind now. I'm under no illusions that this is going to be easy but I need to know the rest; I need to know for myself and, more importantly, I need to know for Jacob."

Scott nodded, closed his eyes and sucked in a long, deep breath. "After your break," he said slowly. "…you took Rosie home. You stayed a couple more days there before flying back here and then you spent a week here before going back up there." Scott pointed skywards which Jeff and John correctly understood to mean Thunderbird 5. "Hang on. Dad, I need the notes. If I get anything wrong here then it's all going to be messed up in everyone's heads forever."

Jeff silently handed the notes to Scott who nodded and quickly started skimming through the last few pages. John took the opportunity to slip out to check on Jacob and Jeff went in search of Kyrano and a tray of coffee.

Scott had finished with the notes by the time the others returned and the three took a moment to drink their coffees before continuing.

"OK," Scott said decisively. "So, you were back on Five, Rosie was back on the homestead and, from what I can gather, you called her several times over the next two or three weeks until one day you couldn't get a reply? Am I right?"

John nodded. "Exactly. Rosie was fine…or at least, she'd seemed to be. I assumed, at first, that there was a problem with her phone but as the longer it went on, the more obvious it became that it was more than that. Rosie knew my number and she knew that she could ring it pretty much any time of the day of night. I would have expected her to have made contact but she..." John let out an explosive breath and shrugged. "…well…didn't. She'd dropped and broken her phone in the past and she called me from the shop as soon as she got the new one activated. We called one another every couple of days and she knew I'd have been trying to get through and that I'd have been worried when I couldn't." John stopped and shook his head. "I'm rambling, aren't I? I'm sorry. Anyway, I couldn't get through by any of the obvious means, phone, email, that sort of thing. There hadn't been any storms near the smallholding, there'd been no tsunami warnings, forest fires or anything else that would have meant she'd been evacuated so I was pretty much stuck until I could get back down and go over there. When Alan got sick and I couldn't come down I thought about asking you," John flushed slightly and nodded at Scott. "But I didn't. Partly because I didn't know how Rosie would react to me sending someone out to check up on her and partly because I wasn't one hundred percent sure that there was anything wrong. We'd had such a good time before I went up, we'd been like…well, like a proper couple for the first time and I thought Rosie was as happy about that as I'd been. I really couldn't see how anything could have changed in such a short time but I guess I was mistaken…" John gave the others a sad smile. "Badly mistaken."

"You weren't to know," Jeff murmured. "…and from what we've learnt this afternoon, it would have probably been disastrous to send Scott over there to 'check-up' on Rosie anyway. I can't imagine that she would have appreciated a virtual stranger, and a man at that, turning up on her doorstep unannounced."

John shook his head. "She certainly wouldn't have let you in," he replied softly. "More likely it would have scared her and she just wouldn't have come to the door. The smallholding was quiet and out of the way; it was far enough from its neighbours to keep it private and it was well away from the road so people didn't turn up there by accident. The post box was at the end of the drive so theoretically no-one would come to the door and that's the way Rosie liked it."

"That's what I mean," Jeff agreed with a nod. "Scott turning up with no warning wouldn't have gone down well at all. It would have scared her and in her condition, who knows what else it might have done."

John paled slightly at this. "I…um…" he frowned and then looked at Scott. "Do you know if there was a problem with the phone at all? Did Rosie know I was trying to contact her or were my calls and emails not getting that far?"

Scott smiled sadly. "She knew," he replied. "There were little 'John tried to call again' notes in the book. Rosie also referred to it in one of the letters to you and said that she wishes she'd had the courage to answer your call when she had the chance. In another of them she acknowledged that she'd never be brave enough to post the letters to you but hoped that someday, somehow, you would get to read them and that you'd understand. She loved you, Johnny. She loved you a lot but there was no way she was ever going to risk letting you get close to, or live with, her child. I think she knew, deep down, that you'd never have done anything to hurt either herself or Jacob but…well…" Scott put the notes down on his knee, sighed and reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Do you remember me saying that Rosie had been put on anti-depressants after her mother died?"

John frowned slightly and then nodded. "Yes," he replied. "Why?"

"She never came off them," Scott explained quietly. "…until she realised that Jacob was on his way when she simply stopped taking them. Completely. No gradual lessening of the dose, no taking advice from a doctor about changing to a different or 'safer' drug, she literally just stopped taking them and it affected her, quite noticeably. Her diary entries started getting confused and mixed up, especially at first. She became worried and panicky and eventually the worry about you, the baby, the future and everything else was controlling her every waking thought. That's when she ran. She packed her diaries, photos, ID and what clothes she could carry, into a couple of bags and she literally fled. I suppose the bond on the smallholding must have taken care of any unpaid rent and clearance of…well, whatever she'd left behind. She drove to Tauranga, dumped her car and then paid her way onto a freighter to Sydney. She bought another car, with cash, in Sydney and spent the next few months travelling down Australia in short spurts, mainly sleeping in the car but occasionally renting whatever accommodation she could find for anywhere between a week and a month. She didn't seem to have a particular destination in mind, or at least if she did then she didn't write it down. Towards the end of the pregnancy she couldn't really sleep in the car so spent some time in a refuge for women who'd suffered from domestic violence. The women there were nice to her; they were caring and kind and actually managed to get her back onto some sort of medication before she left."

Scott stopped again and held his hand out to John who gripped it gently. "This is where the diaries were essential," he said softly. "…because, at first, I didn't understand why she left the refuge at all. She could have stayed where she was until after Jacob was born and someone would have been on hand 24/7 to help her get to grips with motherhood. From what I can gather, once she was stable, settled and had recovered from the birth, they would have helped her find somewhere to live and would have then stayed in touch in case their help was needed in the future."

Scott shrugged his right shoulder and smiled sadly. "Instead she chose to risk both her life and Jacob's, by getting on a plane and flying over to Tasmania...all because some well-meaning refuge worker suggested contacting you to arrange maintenance or child support or…whatever it is they call it nowadays. The refuge on the mainland was part of a big charity. They would have been able to contact you from a generic location and then gather the money and distribute it to Rosie and Jacob without you ever knowing exactly where they were. Rosie knew that there was no way you would have left it at that. She knew that you would have wanted contact with her and Jacob but because of her past she couldn't let you have it. That's why she left. She moved away from the refuge that knew too much about you and moved into one that knew nothing about you at all. She made herself ill in the process and put both herself and Jacob at risk but by doing so she virtually guaranteed that you would never find either of them."

"It's the reason you were 'dead' on the birth certificate, Johnny." Scott frowned slightly and shook his head as he realised he was getting ahead of himself. "As you know, from when you flicked through the book, Rosie covered her baby bump with baggy clothes and she flew from Melbourne to Devonport. It's only a short hop on the plane but it upset her or Jacob or…um…both of them and within hours she was in a new refuge being poked, prodded and scanned." Scott looked from John to Jeff and then back again. "Just about the first thing she told the new place, other than her due date, was that you were dead. She was taken in, cared for and the next day Jacob was born. Rosie gave the authorities your name for the birth certificate but left you as 'deceased' so as to stay hidden." Scott paused and looked up at John again. "Is this making sense? I know it's all a bit jumbled up but so were the diaries and letters. Rosie was confused and unsure of what she needed to do and where she needed to be. She had no stability at a time in her life where she needed it the most and then suddenly, a week or so before she expected it, she had a whole new little person to look after. She didn't handle it well at all and it was obvious from the diaries that her head was all over the place for a couple of months. She wrote you a lot of the letters during those few months with, apparently, no intention of ever posting them and she wrote random and sporadically in her books. She became paranoid and worried that someone was going to hurt Jacob or take him away from her and it took a lot of coaxing from the refuge staff to get her to see a doctor."

Scott sighed heavily. "It took several attempts to find a medication that suited her but once they did Rosie stabilised and threw herself headlong into caring for Jacob. She took over his care completely and was eventually confident enough to go it alone. She bought a car, moved down to Hobart and aimed to start afresh in the relative anonymity of a largish city. She intended to try and find a job down there but then realised that she couldn't because it would have meant leaving Jacob with someone while she was at work. She rented out the apartment, giving a couple of months rent in advance and spent virtually everything she had on furnishing it. She left herself just enough to live on for a few months but was starting to worry in the last few weeks as to how she was going to fuel the car or pay the rent. She'd applied for financial aid but was getting very frustrated having not receiving a reply from anyone about it."

Scott sighed again and leant back in his chair, stretching his legs out in front of himself. "That's about it," he said softly. "The entry from the night before the crash was pretty normal, just a general rundown of the day and a bit of a rant about the guy upstairs who was playing his music too loud. She hadn't written anything the next morning so I couldn't tell you where she was heading to, or coming from, when the accident happened and...well, I don't really think there's anything more I can tell you. The diaries were pretty comprehensive, although occasionally confused. Rosie was messed up and, honestly, I don't think you did anything wrong."