A/n So I wasn't going to start a new fic for a while, but me and the lovely Elle (DressedLikeATartAgain on Tumblr) got a'talkin and this just developed a whole lot quicker than I ever expected. It's completely AU but fingers crossed I've still captured the characters.
As I stay at the start of every chapter, enjoy!
Tonight, we are young.
So we'll set this work on fire.
We can burn brighter,
Than the sun.
We are young - Fun.
Alex Price looked around the common room that she'd been guided into, her greeny hazel eyes darting from walls to faces to seats to lamp fittings trying to take everything in. She was reasonably used to being thrown in at the deep end and being met with an onslaught of different sights and sounds, it just took her a moment to try to process everything. This new sixth form was completely different from the she had attended for a brief 5 weeks in London and the entire place seemed to ooze a much more relaxed and welcoming feel. This welcoming vibe also extended to the head girl stood next to her, pointing to a doorway just to their left, explaining that it lead to one of the computer rooms.
'There's usually computers free because, to be honest, not much work actually gets done' she told Alex, her eyes bright as her lips broke into another friendly smile and she made her way across the room to show her around the kitchen area. 'Did you bring a mug?' the question passed Alex by unheard, her eyes still flitting around the room, and it wasn't until she saw a pair of blue eyes looking at her and waiting for an answer that she realised she'd even been asked a question.
'Oh, sorry. What?' Alex asked, realising how dopey she sounded instantly. 'Way to creat a good first impression, hey?' she thought to herself, but the girl next to her just laughed lightly and repeated herself.
'I said did you bring a mug? There'll be hell if you use someone elses, believe me. This is the kitchen, obviously. It's not too great but it's better than the one at most sixth forms.' Alex looked around at the little kitchenette which sat in the corner of the common room, sectioned off with laminated floor as opposed to the carpet that covered the rest of the room. It was a simple, neat counter with a couple of cupboards, a fridge, microwave, sink and toasty maker which sat on the side.
'Yeah, they didn't have a kitchen at all at my last one' Alex smiled. She had been surprised at the schools facilities and even more surprised at how nice everyone seemed to be. On arriving, Alex had assured her Mum that she was going to be fine and so Caroline had pressed a kiss to her daughters forehead and scurried off to work, leaving her in the capable hands of Mr Holland. Holland had introduced her to head girl, Annie Cartwright, and told her to give her a tour before turning back to his computer screen with a wink. Annie had shown Alex the rooms her lessons would be in, introduced her to a couple of her teachers that they had passed on their travels and they had ended up in the common room just before break ended.
'You can come and meet everyone quickly before period 3 if you want?' Annie asked and Alex nodded. After having to move after just about settling into life at a different six form in London, she had been told by her Mum and Dad that they were moving to Manchester, meaning she had to leave her friends and everything she had ever known to live in a place that she really wasn't too keen on the idea of. So it was surprising to her that within being in her new sixth form, she was being welcomed by someone who seemed absolutely lovely. As they made their way over to a small group of girls, she saw numerous faces that were smiling and waving at her.
'Alright?' a small, dark haired girl wearing oversized stripy jumper and leggings greeted her with a massive smile that Alex couldn't help but return. 'I'm Shaz' she told her and shuffled over slightly so that there was room next to her on the blue sofas that were scattered around in a circular communal area that the girls seemed to have claimed a long time ago. Shaz placed the satchel bag that had been sat by her side onto the floor, placed the blue folder covered in doodles on her lap and then patted the spot beside her with a wink. Alex couldn't help but instantly like the girl and sat down, immediately feeling comfortable in the presence of the group. 'That's Phyllis' Shaz told her, nodding towards the girl that was sat opposite them. Phyllis nodded at her with a small smile and gave her a quick 'hiya' before turning back to her phone and finishing her text to her latest boy. Whereas it may have come across as rude from some people, to Alex it felt like she was already one of the group and it was the natural thing to do so she watched Annie sit down and make herself comfortable and then realised that she hadn't actually said anything.
'Oh, god!' she exclaimed with a little laugh. 'Sorry. I'm Alex' she told Shaz who giggled lightly. It was a sound that Alex decided she loved.
'What subjects have you chosen, Alex?' Annie asked, curling her legs up beneath her and arranging her long cardi so that it wasn't stretching.
'Chemistry, Psychology, Law and English' she told Annie just as the bell rang, signalling the start of her first lesson. She noticed that Annie and Shaz had exchanged a happy look at her words and Shaz quickly explained why.
'Brills! Me and Annie do Law and Psychology too!' A wave of relief passed through Alex at the news that she'd have people in her class that she knew and would be able to talk to. Everyone around her were all so comfortable in each others company and she really wasn't liking being the 'new girl'. She had heard a couple of comments about her as people had walked past and, although it was only to be expected, it was unsettling to know that you were being talked about and looked at.
'Where's...S3?' she asked, looking up from her timetable and glancing between the girls around her. Phillis looked shoved her phone in the back pocket of her jeans and glanced over at Alex whilst picking up her bag.
'I'm going past the science block. I'll take you to it' as she walked past, causing Alex to give Annie and Shaz a 'see you later then' grin and jogging to keep up with Phyllis. She got the impression that Phyllis was more 'bull-in-a-china-shop' than the others and the one of the group that was more brutal, but she didn't feel intimidated by her and was glad that she seemed to be making friends already, no matter how childish it sounded to say it.
Sat in the chemistry lab, Alex was glad to find that she seemed to be keeping up with what Dr Parkes was saying. She had started the course at her old college and it was apparent that they had been going at similar paces so as the teacher explained about the chemical process that could change salicylic acid to acetylsalicylic acid and thus forming asprin, she was glad to find that she could actually understand what was going on. The boy sat next to her was furiously making notes, trying to write down every tiny detail that was said in handwriting that strongly resembled a childs. After having the experiment that they were going to do explained, the class were assigned a simple distillation to demonstrate how chemicals can change and transform. As Alex gathered her equipment, she found the boy next to her had already brought her over a bunsen burner.
'Oh. Thanks' she told him with a slight smile. She didn't know why, but there was something odd about the boy who stood across from her with his sleek black hair and thick black glasses.
'I'm Jim' he introduced himself, and much to Alex's surprise, held out his hand. She tentatively took it and shook his hand lightly whilst looking him up and down. He had a white t-shirt on under a black and red checked shirt that was undone and the slick smile he was giving her unsettled her a little. Pulling his hand away from his, she gave him a little smile and turned back to her equipment.
'I'm Alex' she told him, glancing up at him and then back down. Jim kept up a continuous flow of conversation as they set up their stuff and lit their bunsen burners without giving Alex much of a chance to respond which suited her just fine. As they began the distillations, Alex noticed that Jims bunsen burner was burning rather enthusiastically when they were supposed to keep it at quite a low level. He ignored her polite reminder that the valve on the bunsen was only supposed to be half open, keeping it off a roaring flame and it wasn't until also noticed his overzealous fire and came over to tell Jim to turn it down, which he did with a 'sorry, Sir'. No sooner had the teachers turned his back, Jim looked over at Alex. 'What's the point in such a wimpy flame, ey?' his sly grin filled his face as he turned his flame up once more. The thought that this was a pyromaniac in the making crossed Alex's mind, but instead of voicing it, she just kept her head down and let Jim talk for the rest of the lesson, concentrating on what she was doing.
'… And I don't really know, I just can't stand him. They all throw themselves at his feet and he barely pays them any attention. If you want to be with someone, surely you'd want them to actually acknowledge you?'
'Well - '
'And every single time he's in the kitchen, he throws something at me! Can you believe that? Whenever he makes tea, he flicks the teabag at me!' Alex had to cough and cover her mouth to stop the giggle of laughter escaping her. She'd been hearing about Gene Hunt for the last fifteen minutes of the lesson after someone had brought up the upcoming rugby match and the conversation was continuing as she'd made her way back to the common room, Jim not leaving her side. Gene and Jim apparently didn't get on very well and from what he was saying, he was the centre of every girls world and whose sole purpose in life was to make Jim's life hell. She wasn't sure how true his words were, but she had her suspicions that Jim was exaggerating just a little. Or a lot. Captain of the rugby team ('He's not even that good') and with a firm group of friends ('I don't know why, he treats them all so badly'), Alex thought that perhaps Jim was just incredibly jealous of Gene, but what she did know was that she would rather not spend much more time in Jim's company.
'Alex! Over here!' Annie's voice floated across the common room as they entered and she beckoned her over enthusiastically. Alex turned to Jim with a look that she hoped was apologetic across her face.
'Sorry, Jim. See you later?'
'Well - ' she patted his arm a little and turned to walk away from him quickly before he could say anything else, shooting Annie a 'thank god' look as she made her way over to the girls sofas. She took a seat next to Shaz again, accepting a cookie that she was offered.
'Enjoy chemistry?' Shaz asked her, glancing over at Jim who was retreating to an empty table in the kitchen area. Alex followed her eye and tried to hold back her smile.
'The lesson was okay... the company... not so much' she let out a sigh as Annie, Phyllis and Shaz laughed at her expression of exasperation and her dramatic eye roll.
'Our Jimbo isn't the most fantastic of people' Annie laughed, sitting down and rifling through her bag for her mobile.
'He doesn't seem to like Gene much' Alex told them with a smile on her face. Shaz let out a sigh as Annie laughed and Alex got the feeling this really wasn't news to them. But then again, she got the feeling that the whole school knew that Jim wasn't Gene's biggest fan. 'So I guess Jim won't be going to the Rugby match this week?' she asked lightly. Annie shook her head and laughed a little 'no'. Annie's attention was quickly ripped from Alex as a blonde boy snuck up behind her, grabbed her around the waist and yelled 'MONSTER' in her ear. Annie's scream caught the attention of a lot of the other teens sat around the room, but they quickly turned back to what they were doing as soon as they saw what had happened as if it were just an everyday occurence which Alex suspected it was. Annie turned and hit the boy hard on the arm whilst letting out a shriek of 'Saaaam!'. The handsome looking boy laughed and took the seat next to Annie, laying his arm around her shoulder and looking over to Alex.
'Alex, right?' he asked. Alex nodded in reply and let out a little giggle as Annie crossed her arms and pretended to sulk next to him. 'I'm Sam' he told her. Alex nodded at the boy. He had a welcoming and friendly smile and the way he glanced down at Annie made it clear he was devoted to her. They made a nice couple, him in his chinos and polo shirt - effortlessly 'cool'- and Annie in a pretty floaty floral top and high-waisted shorts with black tights on underneath. Alex's attention was drawn away from them as Shaz reached over to her and took hold of her necklace.
'I like this, 'Lex!' she said, admiring the charms that were on her long chained necklace around her neck. She seemed to take particular interest in a butterfly with its metal wings bent back to make them look like they were flying.
'Thanks' she replied, surprised at Shaz's familiarity. It seemed a little odd to her that after only a couple of minutes of being in each others company, Shaz would reach out and so closely inspect her necklace, but then she reasoned that although she seemed shy, Shaz also gave of the impression that she didn't really care what people thought and already thought of Alex as a firm friend, so she just watched as Shaz looked at all the different charms on the chain then dropped it back in place and leant her head in the palm of her hand and turned to the conversation Sam and Annie were having.
'There he is' Sam said, looking over Alex's shoulder at the double doors that were in his view. 'Alright, Guv?'
'Tyler, you shit. You said you'd meet me by the canteen'. Alex turned to look over her shoulder at the imposing figure of Gene Hunt. He had a small hint of a smile on his lips as he made his way over to the group and Alex studied his face as he came closer. She wasn't really sure what she had expected from Jims description, but what she was met with was a broad shouldered rugby player in jeans and a smart/casual shirt with a handsome face and a head of blonde, shaggy hair. She could see why someone like Jim Keats would feel threatened by Gene instantly; all eyes were on him as he entered and his presence filled the room with something that just demanded attention.
'And who would this be?' he asked, standing behind Alex and looking down on her with the same smile playing at the corner of his lips. Alex looked up at him from her seat and grinned - she couldn't help it. She could feel herself being watched by a group of girls across the other side of the room but ignored them, telling him she was Alex Price.
'Ohh, we have a posh one' was Gene's response which earned a laugh from the group and colour to rise slightly in Alex's cheeks. She was aware that her accent was different from most the people in the school and Gene's rough and rugged tone made hers sound even posher and she couldn't help but blush a little at his remark.
'Leave her alone, Guv. Not everyone's as common as you' Sam spoke up, causing Gene to narrow his eyes threateningly and mumble 'watch it, Tyler', but the small wink he gave him made it clear he was kidding. Alex looked from Gene to Sam with question in her eyes.
'Why 'Guv'?' she asked. Gene caught her attention again as he puffed his chest out and rocked back on his heels a little as he explained.
'I'm captain of the rugby team. I give them instructions they do whatever the hell I want them to. I'm their Guvnor.' His voice was filled with pride and Shaz let out a small snort of laughter at his show of masculinity.
'Boys, ey' she mumbled to Alex with an eye roll that brought a smile from Alex. Gene's eyes fell back on Alex and he looked her up and down, taking in her black skinny jeans, white vest top and black blazer thrown over the top. The bangles on her wrist jangled as she swept her fringe out of her eyes trying to give herself something to do other than crumble under his intense gaze.
'Where you from, Madame?' he asked her, turning the conversation back to her.
'I moved from London' she answered and Gene raised his eyebrows.
'Oh, la de da, Lady Price' he gave her a tiny mock bow and then moved round so he was stood in front of her. 'Shift yer arse. Come on, move up.' The group laughed at Alex's surprised expression as her and Shaz shuffled up a little, leaving room for Gene to sit next to her on the end of the sofa and to sling an arm along the back of it. It wasn't quite around her, but she felt ever so slightly uncomfortable none-the-less, but her sense of unease soon vanished as the whole group fell into an easy conversation full of light-hearted jibes and carefree laughs. It was safe to say that Alex felt she was settling in very nicely.