The Blonde Girl

By Lumendea

Chapter One: Curse of the Piper: Clown with a Balloon

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.

AN: This new series is inspired by Rose in the series four finale and the Sarah Jane Adventures. What if Rose had met the Doctor and aliens much younger and had time to grow up knowing her own potential, how would her life have changed?

Rose Marion Tyler was eleven years old and very worried. Five children from her area of London had gone messing and her best mate Shireen was among them leaving both herself and the area in a state of anxiety. Of course, the police had been around the Powell Estates and the surrounding area, but had found nothing. Her mum, Jackie Tyler, was keeping Rose closer to home than ever before and the parents of the Powell Estate had taken to encouraging all the children to stay in groups. Rose knew that her mother and all the others were simply worried, but the notion that Shireen has been taken and she could do nothing made her feel helpless. Whispers around the estates suggested that the police believed the kids had run away or gotten into trouble as some kind of youth gang. As the first week vanished with no news, many feared that the police would simply drop the case and declare them all runaways. Rose did not believe that Shireen would just run away for a moment.

Sunday found Rose and her mum in the flat of the Bell family with Jackie sitting beside Shireen's mum Angela and trying to offer what little comfort she could under the current conditions. The tension on the estate was thick and hung heavy over even the youngest children as parents kept them close and accusations were starting to be exchanged. Tensions between public officials who were suggesting a run away gang and drug problems and the parents of the missing were reaching a boiling point. Hearing Angela cry to her Mum that Shireen wouldn't just disappear on her family made Rose's stomach tighten painfully and she escaped into her missing best friend's room.

Everything was still in place despite the police search giving the place a sense that the girl who lived her had just rushed out on her way to school. Her friends pink duvet was thrown across the bed, a pair of shoes were in the middle of the floor and a lipstick had rolled off of Shireen's dresser.

Sighing softly, Rose sat down on the bed and looked around the room with a sad frown, trying to understand what had happened to her friend. Rose picked up one of Shireen's school folders that were stacked on the edge of the bed and flipped through it, but finding nothing she dropped it back on the bed. Then she crossed over to the small vanity that Shireen had set up in the corner in the room. Sitting down, Rose glanced over the little packages of makeup and the photos of cute actors that Shireen had collected that lined the mirror. Rose blinked when she noticed a strange yellow ticket was tucked part way under Shireen's jewelry box. Picking it up, Rose frowned as she read it: Spellman's Museum of the Circus. That didn't fit Shireen at all; she hated clowns and avoided them like the plague. She assumed that the ticket had been left there when her friend emptied her pockets and just hadn't been thrown away yet, but Rose folded it up and slipped it into her pocket anyway. Standing up, Rose gave the room one last look over before rejoining her mother in the living room.

They didn't stay much longer, but Jackie promised to send over some tea later on to cheer Angela up. On their way across the council estate, her Mum talked about a recent television show with Rose paying only the slightest bit of attention. They were almost home when Rose saw it. She was on the stairs between levels when the clown crossed the courtyard, carrying a bright red balloon in its hand. Rose blinked in surprise at the odd sight, but then it was gone when her eyes opened.

"Rose," Jackie called from their flat doorway just above her, "Come on then."

"Coming Mum," Rose replied with a shake her head as she climbed the stairs. She glanced back over her shoulder quickly, trying to figure out how the person had moved so fast, but once she was in the flat, the clown left her mind.

Rose did not think about the clown until she was school two days later. Everyone at Jericho Street Comprehensive was talking about the disappearances and student theories filled the corridors. Many theories were along the same line as the police, a young gang or runaway pacts, but other suggested horrible situations with murders that made Rose cringe. The class clown was suggesting alien abductions to anyone who would listen and even claiming to have seen lights in the sky.

In maths class, Rose sighed in distraction and doodled on the edge of her paper, tracing her friends name in long curving letters. She looked out the window next to her seat and gasped softly as the same clown dressed in red, blue and yellow walked across the courtyard carrying his red balloon. Rose looked back to her teacher for a moment, trying to decide if she should say something, but then turned back to see nothing in the courtyard. Rubbing her eyes, Rose looked back at the courtyard with an uncertain expression.

"You alright?" a soft voice asked from next to her as a foot kicked her shoe gently. Rose turned to look at Sharon Allen, a pretty girl of African descent in the next desk over who was watching her with a look of concern. "You're really pale Rose," she added with a glance towards the teacher.

"I'm fine," Rose assured her with a forced smile that wasn't at all successful.

"Worried about Shireen right?" Sharon asked, her features softening sadly.

"Course," Rose responded with a whisper, but she couldn't ignore the cold weight that had settled in her stomach as she looked down at the page in front of her and saw Shireen's name.

The rest of the day passed very slowly for Rose who felt far too aware of the world around her to sit quietly and absorb the teacher's words. Rose doodled in her notebook, glancing out at the courtyard every so often, both hoping and dreading seeing the clown again. Once the final bell released her and her fellow students, Rose gathered up her things and headed towards the main entrance, her feet dragging in her dark mood. Then she heard a throaty chuckle, nothing like she'd ever heard a student or teacher make. The sound was sinister… somehow she knew that and Rose changed direction just in time to see Sharon entering the loo.

"Sharon?" Rose called out with a hint of hesitation, "Was that you laughing?"

There was no response and Rose glanced at the main entrance before taking a few steps towards the toilet. She called out her question and Sharon's name once again, but there was no answer. After a moment of hesitation, Rose entered the bathroom and looked about the small room for Sharon. A bag was lying on the floor with pens and paper spilling out of it. No one answered when Rose called out. Walking forward, Rose pushed open the first of the three toilet stalls, but it was empty. She called for Sharon again as she opened the second stall, but there was again no answer. Rose opened the third and final stall, staring inside at the emptiness where a person should have been.

"Sharon?" Rose called out, her voice weak and desperate.

Suddenly, the throaty laugh came from behind her and Rose turned to see the clown with the white face paint and huge painted smile standing in plain view in the mirror. Only, the reflection made it appear that the clown was standing right behind her. Gasping, Rose spun around to look, but she was alone in the room. She looked back to her mirror, ignoring a shaking hand to see the clown grinning at her.

"What are you?" Rose asked in a breathy voicee, "How are you doing that?"

"All I want," the clown told her in a raspy voice, "is to give you a balloon."

The clown's hand that was holding the bright red balloon reached towards her and passed through the surface of the mirror. She stumbled back when the balloon came within inches of her face and watched the mirror's surface ripple outwards from his arm.

"That can't be real," Rose gasped, shaking her head in denial, but not removing her eyes from the clown.

"Just take the balloon," the clown told her with a smile that was growing wider by the moment.

Suddenly, the loo door swung open and Rose's middle aged history teacher stepped inside. The older woman seemed startled, but looked quizzically at Rose.

"Tyler?" she asked, peering that Rose over her glassed, "Shouldn't you be getting home? It's against the rules to loiter."

With a stunned expression, Rose looked back at the mirror, but the clown and balloon were gone. Blinking, she took a breath and nodded to the teacher.

"Yes, of course." Rose managed to say in a weak voice while gesturing to the fallen bag on the floor. "Someone dropped their things," she added in a stronger voice.

"I'll take them to the lost and found," the teacher assured her with a touch of impatience. "Now move along."

Nodding, Rose rushed out of the loo and into the hall which felt huge and far too quiet. It only took her a few moments to escape out the front doors and into the sunlit courtyard. Turning, Rose looked back up at the school with a frightened expression.

"Maybe I'm going mad," Rose whispered to herself, shivering softly despite the warm day.

Rose began to walk to the bus station, glancing around her constantly and wrapped her hand around her bag strap. A group of her fellow students were waiting at the corner for the bus, chatting as if nothing was wrong. Rose joined the group and tried to relax, but then she saw a flash of yellow and red in the corner of her eye. Across the street was a small park and standing there smiling at her was the clown.

"Rose," a voice beside her called. "Rose!"

She turned to see Mickey Smith, a tall dark skinned boy that she had grown up looking at her with concern. He was lived near the Powell Estates with his grandmother and was a few years older than Rose, but she considered him a good friend.

"Sorry Mickey," Rose told him, putting on a smile.

"You alright?" he asked, studying her expression carefully.

"I'm fine," Rose assured him. "Just a bit tried," seeing that he wasn't convinced, she added, "I'm worried about Shireen."

A look of discomfort and understanding passed over Mickey's face and he nodded. He looked around at the students with them and suddenly frowned as the bus pulled up.

"Hey, has anyone seen Sharon?" he asked loudly, getting everyone's attention.

"She probably catch the next bus," one of the other students offered with a shrug.

"We should stay together right now," Mickey informed the others with a frown.

"Just cause you're older-" Michael from three flats down started to say until Rose cut him off.

"No," Rose argued suddenly, "Mickey's right. We should be looking out for each other until the police find the others." She paused taking a breath, "We don't need any more of us vanishing like Shireen."

Everyone fell silent as they boarded the bus, but Rose noted that everyone stood and sat close together during the ride home. It didn't make her feel any better as she wondered if Sharon even could attempt to catch the next bus home.