Authors Note
Good Afternoon All.

I haven't had much time for writing lately and this isn't the sequel to Wanted that I really wanted to publish. I do have parts of it sitting there ready to go but it needs a lot of work….more than I have time for at this point in time.

This, I apologise, is not exactly high quality. This started sometime last year as one of those things I swore that I would never let leave my hard drive and I'm still not convinced that posting it is the right thing to do, however I do want to write some more of it and posting the start of something is usually the motivation I need to finish it.
It is fluff at it's very poorest. The plot isn't great, in fact in many chapters there is not a lot happening, but it does deal with a few things which are mentioned in Season 1 of Rush. It was inspired by Josh and Graces conversation about children and how Josh wanted a little girl with a blonde ponytail who was stubborn and it kind of just took off from there.

Once we were young.

"This is bullshit! What sort of regionals has the girls cross country starting at the same time as the guys? Not even the school carnival does that! They're gonna bloody get in our way" a 15 year old Michael Sandrelli whinged.
"So start hard, get out in front." Brendan 'Josh' Joshua replied with a laugh "and you won't have to worry!"
"And what if I have to push past one to get to the finish line?"
"Then you're doing something wrong cause you should be way out ahead of any of them."

"Did you hear that Gracie?" Alana Wynn asked, the two girls standing nearby stretching against the fence.
Grace Reid gritted her teeth and nodded. "Yep" switching legs to stretch out her left calf.
"You don't just want to beat Stella now do you?" she laughed watching the focus intensify on her friends face.
She laughed and shook her head. "Narh now I've gotta beat whoever they are as well"

The race began fifteen minutes later. As expected Josh very quickly broke ahead of the pack. Not being one to look back he pushed forward, easily lengthening his lead.
Grace took a steadier start to the race, taking the first 500m to really push past the other contenders, easily passing the female contenders before pushing herself to overtake Michael on a straight stretch, surprising the teenager and throwing him considerably as she pushed herself into second place. For the next three and a bit kilometres Grace paced herself off Josh keeping a steady jog about twenty metres behind him.
With about three hundred metres to go Grace really started to make her legs work, pushing herself hard to close the gap between her and the boy in front of her.
With one hundred metres to go Josh was stunned to hear footsteps nearly level with his. Grace pushed forward managing to level with him, unable to resist taking a quick look to her left to check out his expression. Josh didn't see her look, his eyes were focused straight ahead, a look of determination etched on his face as he powered on breaking into a sprint for the last eighty metres.
Grace pushed on beside him, running faster than she had ever run in her life but unable to overtake Josh again; crossing the finishing line just two metres behind the boy in front of her.

Exhausted and out of breath both collected their coloured raffle tickets confirming that they were the victors of their respective divisions and took a cup of ice cold water offered to them by the race officials. Grace took her water a few metres away allowing herself to fall back against the hill leading up from the oval they'd finished on, laying back into the grass as she caught her breath tipping the water over her head and face. Josh allowed himself to collapse beside her, propping himself up on an elbow sipping his water as he continued to suck in the oxygen, not used to having to finish so strongly.
After a few minutes of catching her breath Grace too propped herself up on her elbows turning to offer him a hand. "Congratulations. Nice race."
He grinned "Thanks. You too. I'm not used to being pushed like that"
"By a girl?" raising her eyebrows.
"By anyone." Shaking his head; incredibly impressed that the girl beside him had pushed him so hard. "That's my training partner just finishing now" he nodded to Michael as he crossed the line to take forth position in the male division, making him fifth all up.
She nodded in acknowledgement. "I'm buggered" she admitted with a laugh.
"I'm not"
"Bullshit!" she called him on it with a laugh.
"Yeah ok, you made me finish pretty hard."
Grace sat up properly still laughing as a teacher from her school came over to her. "Nice work Gracie" handing her a bottle of water. "None of the others are in yet."
"They won't be far" she commented, taking the lid off the bottle and having a slurp. "Thanks for this" gesturing as she swallowed.
"You're welcome. Don't forget your recovery."
She nodded as the teacher walked away, offering the bottle to Josh who gratefully accepted taking a swig. "Ahh crap" she said a few seconds later as the next female competitor crossed the line.
Josh swallowed quickly "Not what you hoped for?"
She shook her head. "Nope. Is mortal enemy too strong a word?"
He smiled. "Maybe."
"I just thought Alana would have it in her to beat her" seeing her friend cross the line about ten metres behind.
Michael walked over with another two bottles of water tossing one at Josh. "You ready?" he checked, ignoring Grace.
"Yeah I'll be over soon."
Grace pushed herself up to a standing position. "I better head down anyway. Guess I'll see you at state. Congratulations again." She smiled and went down to the finishing line to hug Alana and congratulate her.

"Oh good. So you beat her then?" Michael double checked as Josh rejoined the school team.
"Yeah. Only just though. She gave me a run for my money on the last two hundred."
"As long as you creamed her at the end it doesn't matter."
"You're embarrassed you were beaten by a girl?" Josh called him on it.
"How's a guy supposed to push past a chick?"
"It was cross country! You could have gone around" laughing. "Besides, you let 3 others past ya mate. Don't blame her cause you stuffed up."
Michael rolled his eyes. "She threw me off ok?"
Josh just laughed at him. "Loser" he teased. "Say bye bye to states."

"How'd you go?" Alana checked, pulling her hair out of its band and resecuring it in a neater ponytail as she too sucked in the air.
"Second. "
"Second? I got third and Stella came in just before me."
"Yeah. Sorry first from our race…couldn't pip him though" pointing to Josh.
"You beat the whiney one though?"
Grace nodded. "You were soooo close to catching Stella. You'll get her next time. Third though… we're going to state!"

Back at their school three hours later Grace finally had a look at her mobile phone. Smiling, she returned the missed call from her boyfriend of three months Conor Barry. The son of a family friend, Grace had known Conor since they were both about seven but hadn't had much to do with each other in their early teenage years, when their families had insisted that all the Reid and Barry children attend a lunch earlier in the year.
With a push from both sets of parents the two had begun spending more time together and before either of them knew it they were 'going steady'. Conor had just turned seventeen and was in the same year as one of Graces three brothers, all three attending the all-boys school located next door to the all-girls school Grace and Alana attended.

"Hey Babe it's me" she smiled when he picked up walking away from the group.
"Gracie! How'd you go?"
"Yeah good. I got through to state"
"That's great!"
"I'm sorry I missed you, we got held up at the carnival. I've only just got back to school."
"I'll come pick you up now?"
"It's ok. I'm going straight to touch anyway…I just wanted to say hi."
"Touch? This afternoon? Gracie you've run four kilometres already. I thought you were taking the night off?"
"I was but Ava's done her ankle again so we're short if I don't play."
"Can't they get a sub? I want to see you tonight."
"Narh we need to win this one. I'm alright to play. I'll be finished by six thirty. Why don't you come over after dinner?"
"You're not gonna fall asleep on me again?"
"Noooo" she laughed. "I'm not gonna live that down am I? I was exhausted. And it was a crap movie."
"Never. Alright I'll pick you up from touch if you like?"
"Sounds good. "
"I love you"
She smiled to herself. "Me too. I'll see you soon. Bye." Hanging up and going to get changed for touch.

Grace grinned when she looked up after the game and saw Conor waiting for her. Grabbing a bottle of Gatorade from the coach and running over she was stopped from kissing him by Conors arm.
"No way Gracie. You're not touching me until you've had a shower."
She laughed and looked down at the sweat and dirt that covered her. "C'mon babe it's not that bad!" trying to kiss him again.
He laughed. "Yeah it is. I have no idea why you find this game appealing. I think you'd be cleaner if you mud wrestled. You're sitting on a towel!"
She laughing taking his hand instead. "C'mon I won't be long". Pulling him back over as when talked to the coach and grabbed her things before walking back to Conors car with him, rolling her eyes as he put a towel down on the car seat to protect it. "Sometimes I think you love this car more than you love me?" she teased.
"Mmmm it'd be a big decision if I did have to choose" he joked back closing the door for her once she was in.

"Have you got your costume for Friday night yet?" Conor checked with her forty five minutes later when they were back at her place, Grace freshly showered and in shorts and a singlet looking through her DVD collection while Conor sat on the lounge.
"Friday night?" she asked only half paying attention.
"Gracie! Nathans party. I've told you about it three times!'
"Yeah yeah I knew it was coming up just didn't realise it was this Friday."
"But you're still coming right?" he doubled checked as she put a DVD in.
"Course I am" sitting back on the lounge beside him, kissing his cheek. "Costumes a surprise though."
"Meaning you haven't organised anything?"
"Meaning it's a surprise and I'm not telling you until Friday night" she laughed. "Relax" she instructed cuddling into his side and pressing play and watching the movie with him.

Grace skipped netball training on Friday afternoon coming straight home from school for a change, saying a quick hello to her mother before going upstairs to get ready.
"Hey Leish?" sticking her head into her older sisters room on her way back from the bathroom to her room, wrapped in a towel fresh from the shower. Leisha was Graces oldest sibling, at 21 she was in her second year of an arts degree at university. Very much a free spirit Leisha had given her parents grief throughout her teenage years and they were just happy that she'd finally settled down to study after a wild GAP year backpacking through Europe.
"Hey yeah?" laughing at her. "What?" having sussed her out. "You're home early… are you going out?"
"Yeah to a party with Con. Can I borrow your curling iron?"
"Yeah sure. You need a hand?"
"Would you mind?"
Leisha shook her head clearing some papers from her bed. "Sit down…tell me what you want."
"Nothing fancy…loose curls. I'm pulling them back into pigtails so they don't have to be perfect."
"Pigtails? What, are you twelve?"
"It's a costume party" she laughed.
"Ooooh what's your costume?"
"Sailor" she laughed. "I had to improvise with what was in my wardrobe...and I borrowed a hat off Alana."
"Soooo what are you wearing?"
"An old dancing costume with a striped singlet under the vest"
Grace blushed and nodded. "And a trench coat over the top so Dad will let me out of the house."
"Yeah that's not a bad idea. Conors eyes will roll back into his head. Wait, wouldn't my youngest brother also be going to this party if it's one of Conors friends?"
She shook her head with a laugh "Narh. I don't think he goes to St Eddies. Someone Conor knows from debating or something. Thank God. It's too awkward to make out with Con under Chris's watchful eye. Sometimes I think that's why Mum & Dad were so keen on the idea of Conor and I. Chris is at every second date."
Leisha laughed "You might be onto something there."

Two hours later

"GRACIE. CONORS HERE" Andrew, Graces eldest brother yelled out to her as he opened the door.
"Andrew don't be so rude. Conor come in sweetheart" Mrs Reid pushed Andrew out of the way and turned to Andrews twin Simon who was sniggering on the couch. "You're just as bad. The two of you should be upstairs studying, not down here giving your sisters' boyfriend a hard time. You have exams in two weeks."
"Two weeks Mum. We'll study in two weeks then" Simon rolled his eyes at Conor. "How you doing old mate?"
"Good…I might go upstairs and let Grace know I'm here if you don't mind Mrs Reid?"
"Of course not love, go ahead."

Conor went upstairs and knocked on Graces bedroom door.
"Come in" she invited, in the middle of doing up her trench coat.
"Hey babe" he said, walking over to give her a kiss. "Is that your costume?" looking at the coat.
"Is that yours?" laughing at the devil horns. "Seriously? Big effort there. And no, the coats not my costume."
"Give us a look then?"
She laughed taking the coat off and putting her hat on.
"Wow. You look amazing… I'm going to spend my entire night beating guys away from you with a stick… Are you sure you want to go out in that?"
"You're kidding right?" she asked doing her coat back up. "It's longer than my netball skirt. It's fine. C'mon lets just go" not impressed with his question.
"Gracie…wait..I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. You look amazing…really. I'm very impressed."
She calmed down as quickly as she fired up, reaching for his hand. "Least I dressed up" she smiled flicking the horns on his head. "C'mon."

After a couple of hours at the party Grace excused herself from the conversation with Conor and Conors mates going back into the house in search of the bathroom. Returning she spotted Josh standing looking lost over near the food, going over to say hello.
"Hey. If it isn't Usain Bolt" she greeted with a smile.
"Gracie right?"
"Yeah… good memory."
"Your teacher called you it. I'm Josh."
"Well it's nice to meet you properly. How do you know Nathan?"
"I play footy with him. What about you?"
"I don't really. He's a friend of my boyfriends….. You look about as bored as I feel" she laughed grabbing a glass and filling it with Coke.
"Yeah. This.." gesturing to the party "it's not really my scene. They're a bit up 'emselves. I was gonna bail soon."
"You could stay? Entertain me. I'm only a little bit up myself." She laughed.
"A little bit? Don't you go to St Pats? Michael said you're all princesses there."
"You're stalking me?" Grace raised her eyebrows.
"No. Michael recognised the bus."
"Michaels would be the one sulking because I beat him?"
"Ahhh so you did overhear us before the race?"
She nodded firmly. "Sure did. Why do you think I wanted to beat you so much?"
"Have to try harder next time?" he offered with a smirk.
"Alright. You're on!" she laughed.
"What? We're not racing against each other at States."
"No but they'll time us. You vs Me…purely on times."
"Ok…and what do I get when I wipe the floor with you?" he asked with a laugh.
"Twenty bucks?"
"I'm flat broke."
"Guess you better win then." She teased going to sit on Nathans lounge.
Josh followed taking a seat beside her. "You look great by the way."
"Anything's an improvement on bright red, sweaty and gasping for breath right?" she smiled.
"No I mean it. It's a great costume."
"Thanks… Conor hates it."
"Conors an idiot then."
Grace laughed. "You're not supposed to say that out loud."
Josh shrugged his response.
"What about you?" she asked, checking out his jeans and t-shirt. "What are you supposed to be?"
"An undercover cop."
"Really? That's the best you could come up with!"
He laughed. "Narh...I don't do dress ups."
"You really chose the right party then didn't you?"
"I've only been here a couple of months… thought it would be a good way to meet some people."
"And is it?"
"I've met you."
Grace smiled. "You'd already met me."
"Yeah sorta. You drinking?"
"Drinking?" holding up her coke.
"Booze. Did you want a beer?" he offered leaning over the back of the lounge and grabbing two out.
"Um ok…" taking the offered beer and taking the lid off.
Josh laughed. "You don't have to. You don't drink?"
"Only girlie drinks.. and a bit of wine at dinner" she admitted.
He smiled setting his unopened beer on the ground. "Well…have a sip, and I'll drink it if you don't want it."
She nodded putting the bottle to her lips, pulling a face at the smell before drinking a mouthful. Swallowing it quickly she pulled another face. "Yuck" handing him the bottle reaching for her coke to wash it down. "You really like that?"
Josh laughed taking another mouthful. "Yeah, you get used to it. Try it again in a minute."
"Yeah right."
"No trust me. It gets better" he laughed.
She waited another few minutes before reaching for his beer again, taking another mouthful still pulling a face.
"Drama much? You didn't mind it that time!" he accused.
"Yeah it wasn't as bad. Think I prefer my lolly water" having another sip and handing it back to him. The two were in the middle of sharing the second beer when Conor came back inside.
"Gracie I thought you were coming back out."
"Narh. Conor have you met Josh? Josh is the guy that beat me in the cross country the other day. Josh this is Conor."
Conor glared at Josh. "You're giving her beer? She's fifteen!" He snatched the drink away from her. "Grace you're parents are going to kill me! What the hell do you think you're doing? Get up."
"Conor it's one drink. I'm not even tipsy. We're just talking. Give me back the beer."
"No. Get up Grace. I'm taking you home."
"I'll get a cab when I'm ready to leave" she shot back stubbornly.
"How much has she had?" Conor asked aggressively turning to Josh. "You bloody idiot. What are you doing giving her alcohol?"
"Oh give it a rest Conor, I'm not drunk. I'm annoyed."
"Right well you can be annoyed in the car. C'mon you're never gonna get a cab on a Saturday night."
"Give me back the beer." She challenged.
Conor sighed and handed it to her. "Happy?"
She nodded taking another mouthful before handing it back to Josh and standing up. "Sorry about this… I'll see you at States?"
" gonna be ok?" he checked.
Grace nodded. "Yeah. I'll see you around. Night."

Grace left the party with Conor in silence. Getting straight into the car, Conor turning to look at her once they were both inside.
"Over your tantrum yet?" he asked.
"Conor I had barely had half a beer. I was finally starting to enjoy myself at that boring party and you walked in and told me off like a bloody kid" she fired back up. "Just shut up and drive" she told him annoyed, turning the music up.
Conor shook his head starting the car and driving back towards Grace's house, pulling over at a park a few kilometres from her parents' house moving his hand onto her leg.
"You're kidding right?" she almost laughed. "You want to make out?"
"C'mon Gracie. It wasn't that big a deal, and I've hardly seen you all week."
"I just want to go home Conor. "
He sighed and nodded. "Alright fine," driving her home in silence, turning the music back up.

To be continued.

My apologies that is ends in such a strange place but like I said, it is a pretty slow fic and does take a while to proceed.