disclaimer not mine (because sometimes when you are sat on a park bench crying there are good people in the world.)

Gone?

"Don't look at me like that, Gary." Stevie huffed as she walked back down the steps to the shop. "None of this is my fault."

"I didn't say it was." Gary slumped in the chair and picked up a Heather Small mask. "What's this?"

"Nothing for you to worry about." Stevie reached out a hand to take it from him.

"What have you done today, to make you feel proud?" Gary mumbled as he handed the cardboard cut out to her. "Not much really." He slipped off the stool and skulked out of the shop. Stevie shook her head and watched him go. She had no idea where Miranda had gone but had a feeling they had been wrong about Gary.

"It is all my fault." She sighed before turning back to the till. "It really is my fault."

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Miranda sat on the park bench watching the world go by. She had no intention of going home and certainly wasn't going to go to her parents' house. The last thing she needed was Penny berating her for being in her mid 30s and still unable to keep a boyfriend. Miranda closed her eyes and shook her head as she saw an elderly married couple walking along. The old man had a small dog on a lead as his wife linked her arm through his. Although they walked considerably slower than almost everyone else in the park neither seemed to mind. Miranda smiled as the elderly woman sat next to her.

"He likes to give Ben a bit of a run." She explained. Miranda nodded as she watched the elderly woman as the dog bounded around the park. "I'm Rose. That's John and that mad mutt is Ben. My pride and joy."

"Miranda."

"Are you alright? You seem a bit down."

"I'm thirty-five. Thirty Five." Miranda shook her head. "How long have you and John been together?"

"Well." Rose smiled. "He was in school with George. My older brother."

"See? You've known each other forever." Miranda sighed. "I'm thirty-five. I have no kids. One mother who is forever despairing of my lack of children and a boyfriend who is cheating on me."

"Oh dear." Rose handed Miranda a tissue. "Thirty five is young. I wish I was thirty-five."

"How?"

"I'm eighty-six. John is eight nine and Ben is twelve." She smiled as the little terrier bounded after the tennis ball JOhn had thrown. "But in the beginning I never thought John would look at me. I was plain I supose. I was the funny but plain girl. Had my own shop."

"I have a gift shop."

"Really?" Rose smiled. "I sold sweets. It was my parent's shop but when Dad died I got it."

"Oh." Miranda had no idea why the old woman was talking to her but it did seem to take her mind off her own trouble.

"John was a friend and then one day he had to go away. National Service."

"Gary went away, travelling. Hong Kong."

"Oh very exotic." Rose smiled.

"Yeah."

"Anyway, he came back more confident. Spoke nicely, asked me to help him with his work. He'd trained as a cook in the army. Best sponge cake I have ever tasted. And well, sixty years later this is us."

"Do you have children?" Miranda watched as the old lady's eyes clouded over. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

"It's ok dear. Yes, we have four. All grown up now. Well, all my girls are."

"Girls?"

"I have three daughters. One's a nurse. My boy died when he was a baby. I suppose these days they call it cot death but all I know is it broke my heart losing him."

"Oh God. I am so sorry." Miranda felt her eyes fill with tears as she listened to the old woman telling her story.

"Thank you." Rose patted her hand. "Now, this is not why I told you about my lot. My girls are big and headstrong. One lives with a woman! That took a little getting used to. Wasn't the done thing in my day but Deborah is happy so I am. And your mum will be too."

"You haven't met my mum."

"No." Rose laughed lightly. "But all good mothers just want their child to be healthy, happy and looked after. If you think this Gary is the one for you don't run at the first bump in the road. Whatever he's done, as long as you love each other. Trust me, John was no angel as a lad. "

"Yeah." Miranda sighed as she watched the old man turn and walk towards them.

"Oh, Miranda?"

"Yeah."

"You look after yourself. Life is too short to cry over any man. Even the ones we think are worth it."

"Thanks." Miranda smiled as her eyes shone with unshed tears. "I mean its' just because its Gary."

"Ah. Then I hope he is worth it. You can be happy you know? Your version of happiness doesn't have to mean babies and weddings. You never know what cards the good Lord deals us. Look at my lot. And to think I didn't even like John much when we were kids."

"Take care." Miranda watched as she walked away, one arm linked through John's as the dog bounded around them. Shaking her head she knew the old lady was right. The late summer sun faded as Miranda sat there and watched them go. It was only when she felt a hand cover hers that she realised someone else had joined her.

"Gary."

"Hi." He blushed slightly as she turned to face them. "So you met my Gran and Grandpa then? I wish they'd let us walk the dog."

"Your grandparents?" Miranda stared at him aghast.

"Yeah." Gary smiled as she looked at him. "Rose and John. The reason I moved back the first time was to keep an eye on them. I thought you knew."

"Yeah." Miranda sighed as the vague memory came back to her.

"You know? I always said I wanted the sort of relationship they have."

"Really?"

"Yeah." Gary nodded. "They met when they were teenagers. You know my grandfather was a cook. Taught me how to cook when I was a teenager. They argue and bicker all the time but I guess they got lucky."

"How?" Miranda watched as Gary smiled at her.

"They fell in love with their best friend."

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A/N I hope you liked this. It wasn't the direction I was going to take it but please review.