Stranger

A/N This is a one shot wrote as a MAHOOSIVE thank you to Emily for a lovely review she wrote me after a particularly crappy day at uni. Seriously you perked me right up so I wrote you this. Anyway on route home from Uni I was listening to my Ipod and a song by Darren Hayes called Where you Want To Be came on and voila this took shape. It is also partly inspired by the fact that I graduate Uni next year so…..

Anyway I have messed with time a little here, please pretend that Rosie had yet to graduate and she is dating Dylan. Ok, here we go.

(X)

Rosie stood in the hallway of Leopards Den readjusting her graduation gown. The cap sat on a table in front of her all the palaver to pick up one little piece of paper. Of course her dad wanted to go the whole way seeing as his baby girl was graduating. Baby girl? Not for a long time, but she did it to please him, someone may as well be happy today. This was the culmination of six long years of work and to be honest she didn't feel happy, or sad just indifferent really. This was supposed to feel different, but it didn't. She stared into the mirror pushing errant strands of hair into place, they had fell from the clip that held her hair aloft. The house was empty since her dad was taking everyone out to celebrate. He'd been celebrating since he found out that she had not only passed but with flying colours he was more chuffed than her!

She exhaled as she stared at her reflection. All those years ago when she had started uni life had been so different. She had been a newly married woman full of excitement and slightly scared about what life held for her ahead. She had also been deeply in love with her husband. She knew her face was different from then too. She was older, more mature and her face proved that. She had more confidence and was more likely to speak out now. She was in total control of her life and destiny. She made sure of that now. She knew the consequences when you lost that control. There were a few instances she had as examples. She'd lost control while doing pathology work and it had almost cost her the degree. She had lost control when her dad was losing this place and she had almost lost her mind with worry. Thankfully they had got this place back before she cracked up completely. The last though was by far the worst, and the most heart breaking. Sometime in the last couple of years after being completely swamped with Uni work and worries about Leopards Den she had lost control of her marriage which had brought around the eventual loss of her husband. When said like that it sounded like Max had died, nope, he was still alive and well living somewhere in Jo'burg, or somewhere else, she didn't know. Only part of him had died, and that had been the part that loved her. And that was the part that had almost killed her.

"Max." she breathed looking at herself in the mirror. If she closed her eyes she could see him there behind her, his chin on her shoulder grinning from ear to ear. Making faces at her in the mirror trying to make her smile as she kept the most solemn face possible because his facial expressions really made her crack up sometimes.

'I'm so proud of you Rosie, didn't I always say you could do it.' he'd tell her and she'd turn and kiss him.

He had been her rock throughout this. Every time she had went into meltdown about a test he was by her side soothing her fears and reassuring her believing in her when she didn't have that belief in herself. When she locked herself away for hours at a time to write an assignment or study for a test he brought her gallons of coffee and made she sure took frequent breaks and ate something. Somewhere along the line she had lost all that. This was his degree as much as hers as she'd have never been able to do it without him and now…..she shook her head. Noticed that her eyes no longer sparkled like they had before.

"You should be here." she whispered to the empty house. "You should be by my side, I miss you."

A tall man walked into the house, sauntering like he owned the place.

"Awww Rosie you missing me already?"

Rosie watched as Dylan headed straight for her. He had warm brown eyes, tanned skin and hair that was styled impeccably. She didn't reply to his idiotic suggestion.

He didn't care that she didn't reply. "I told you I wouldn't miss this for the world. MY Rosie graduating, who would have thought it?"

His Rosie? Since when? They had only been dating a few months and to be honest he was starting to get on her nerves.

His arm snaked around her waist and he pressed a kiss to her temple. "You got there then."

Max had known she would, he had absolute faith, Dylan? Not so much. He had expressed surprise when she told him her aspirations, even more so when she told him she was practically graduated. Sometimes when he spoke to people he acted like the had single handedly got her there himself. And at those times she wanted to kill him.

"Just let me dive in the shower, pull on my suit and we can go. I must say I couldn't wait for this day!"

Rosie finally looked at him. "YOU can't wait?" he hadn't had long.

"All that work we did all coming to an end."

She had to bite back a comment about how it had been her work and Max's not his at all! He had no idea how hard she had worked. He hadn't been there. She didn't say it though. Times like these always made her feel angry, and upset. It made her think of things. Think of Max and how different everything would be if he was here beside her. He wasn't though and she'd be wise to remember that. This wasn't the life she expected and no that didn't make it better.

(X)

Max was walking from his bathroom, sweatpants hung low on his hips as he rubbed his hair vigorously with a towel. He had just stepped out of the shower after getting up from bed thirty minutes ago. He'd had a late night at the bar last night and rising at dinner time was a rare occurrence for him. Rosie used to live for the days that he and her could just lie in bed all day. They used to stay in their pyjamas, or nothing at all make prank calls to their friends and family or snuggle up watching movies eating anything at all. She had been on his mind a lot recently and he couldn't for the life of him say why.

After tossing the towel in a washing basket he noticed from the top of his stairs a white envelope on his mat. He ignored it and walked back into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He started, but the plain envelope, which had no writing on was annoying him. His curiosity got the better of him and he jogged down the stairs his toothbrush still in his mouth and picked up the envelope. After this he returned to the bathroom to finish his teeth. Once his toothbrush had been rinsed and all the foam from his mouth gone he tore open the envelope. There was a white ticket inside with a small note.

"You should be there." he read aloud. He frowned and scanned the ticket. Marriott hotel, Jo'burg 1:00 Conference room. He frowned. Why would he be invited to the Marriott conference room? And who expected it of him? There was nothing major going on in his life at the moment. Nothing of this magnitude anyway. If he had still been married then there might be one thing he thought absently. Rosie's graduation would be coming up…..he thought of the date and froze.

"So you did it then?" he whispered. "I knew you would." he felt a swell of pride. She had been adamant that she couldn't do it yet she had. He'd known all along that she could. He picked up the letter and ticket, after walking in his room he tossed them on his bed. He headed straight for his wardrobe and pulled put a t-shirt. He pulling it on roughly and found his eyes were drawn to the bed where the ticket lay mocking him.

'She did it without you, she never did need you!'

He clenched his jaw.

'Go see how much she doesn't need you Max!' the voice provoked. 'Bet she's laughing, happy without you!'

He shook his head. "No." he told himself conversationally. Walked to his drawer and pulled out a pair of socks. He remained standing as he out them on, usually he sat on his bed but he didn't want to be near to the ticket. He was finding it hard not to slid it into his pocket. He looked at his rumpled bed sheets one last time and found himself moving towards the ticket instinctively.

She wouldn't have to know, he told himself. C'mon you know how much you're dying to see her….he was bent over when he stopped himself.

"NO!" he yelled and stomped from the rooming slamming the door. Minutes later the bedroom door burst open and Max ran in picking the ticket up.

"I'm not that strong!" he told himself pulling his wardrobe open and grabbing some jeans and a shirt. He headed for his bathroom to do his hair, again.

(X)

Rosie stood alongside her fellow graduates in a darkened room. Names were being called, people walked to collect their diploma and then they were clapped. Nerves fluttered uncomfortably in her stomach and she pressed her hand to her queasy stomach. She looked at her family sat in their seats chatting softly. Her dad spotted her and waved. She gave him a smile in return. As her gaze moved from one member to the other she couldn't help but get the feeling that someone was missing, and it was massively obvious. Her eyes settled on her boyfriend. Dylan sat slightly apart from her family not even trying to join in any conversation, he did this so often that her family had stopped trying. The way he looked now was like he didn't belong, like he didn't even want to and to be fair he didn't. Even the way everyone were dressed, although her family were dressed smart only Dylan had wore formal wear.

"Rosemary Trevanion."

Her eyes widened imperceptibly and she began the walk to the podium, her friends smiled and patted her arm as she passed and she nodded. She exhaled then walked up the stairs to the stage. Her footsteps were placed carefully and she headed towards the course leader.

"Congratulations Rosie."

"Thanks," she replied as she took her diploma and shook his hand. As soon as her diploma was in hand there came a roar from her family and they were on their feet clapping widely. Dupe whistled and she blushed bright red. Dylan she noticed sat there clapping blandly lowering himself so he hadn't noticed. Her dad's smile was wide and she smiled he gave her a thumbs up. She headed down the stairs and towards her family quickly. She headed straight for her dad who wrapped her in a big hug.

"Dr Rosie Trevanion." he told her proudly. "My daughter the vet, I'm so proud of you." then one by one she was passed around the family given hugs and congratulations.

Finally it came to Dylan. "Congratulations Rosie."

She nodded. Thanks Dyl." and kissed him gently. A figure in the background caught her eye over his shoulder and she looked. There was someone in the shadows, his face hidden by a cap. She frowned. There was something so familiar about the stance….

"Rosie…" Dylan asked.

She turned and found her boyfriend down on one knee. Her jaw dropped.

"Rosie Trevanion I love you. Will you marry me?"

Her face became pained and she choked. "Um…."

Her whole family was staring waiting for her answer. She exhaled uncomfortably, she looked behind her and found the stranger had turned and was heading towards the exit. She tore her gaze away towards Dylan who was waiting expectedly.

"I'm sorry I've gotta…." and she dashed for the door to the stranger. "Hey!" she called.

Everyone stared dumbfounded. She didn't care, she had to see this stranger. He didn't stop though, he slipped through the exit she surged on ahead running now weaving in and out of chairs, the sound of clapping fading as she became focused on catching the stranger.

"Hey!" she yelled. "Stop!" and burst through the doors, when he wasn't in the foyer she ran to the exit, came to a stop on the street. It was empty, no one around just her black robes flapping in the breeze. She swore.

Dylan appeared and took her by the arm.

"Rosie I asked you a question!" he demanded.

"I know." she replied absently pulling her arm away, her brain going in circles over the stranger.

"Well!" he snapped. "I proposed and you ran off!"

His words brought her back to reality. Oh God he proposed! She felt sick again - did she love him enough to marry him? With Max she didn't hesitate, didn't even have time to ask herself that question before the answer erupted from her…. "Dyl don't you think this is pretty quick?"

His face darkened. "Is that a no?"

"Well not in so many words." she evaded.

"So you accept my proposal then?"

"No!" she yelped a flush crept into her cheeks.

"That answers my question then, goodbye Rosie." and he walked off. She didn't follow. Too lost in thoughts about her stranger and his rapid departure.

That Night

Rosie sat nursing a beer at Fatani's bar with her family, most of whom were already drunk or at least half way there. She however was still on her first drink which Dupe declared was criminal, she ignored it. She was in a melancholy mood. Thoughts from the past seemed to be tormenting her right now. It didn't help that she was sat in the same place she'd been when she had first told Max that she wanted to be a vet. She sighed staring at the bar where Liv and Fatani were laughing, joking and flirting. That had been her and Max once upon a time. That was when life had been so much easier, when all she and her husband had needed were each other.

"What do you think Rosie?" her dad asked.

"Huh?" she looked at him

"About you being a full time vet with me until Alice can?"

"Sure dad," she replied her tone impassive, to be honest her heart and mind weren't in it. She thought when she graduated she'd feel different. That the emptiness that seemed to be her constant companion these days would dissipate. She was wrong, if anything it seemed to be worse. Her graduation was supposed to be a cause for celebration a new start….but not like this.

"Rosie sweetheart?" Alice asked.

She shook her head. "I need some air." she stood up thrusting her hands in her pockets and headed for the door.

"Should I?" Alice asked.

Danny halted her. "Let me." and he followed her through the door. Rosie stood there on the pavement looking up at the stars, she closed her eyes.

Her put his arm around her shoulders. "She was there you know."

Her head whipped round. Did her dad know the stranger? "Who?"

"Your mum…that is why you are out here right?"

"Um….yeah." she exhaled sadly.

Danny knew that tone, she was lying and in that second he knew who was on her mind. "She'd have been so proud of you today. University was always her hope for you. It was where she wanted to go too."

Rosie nodded. "But I came along and ruin…."

"Made me and your mum happier then we ever imagined we could be." he interjected.

"Fact remains dad if I hadn't been born then she'd have qualified as a doctor and she might have known what was wrong with her and she may have been diagnosed sooner."

"Rosie there is nothing more fulfilling than being a parent. As soon as your mum found out she was pregnant with you she didn't want to be doctor Trevanion anymore she wanted to be mummy Trevanion and she was."

She looked up at the sky. "I missed her today. I miss her most days but it was really apparent that she wasn't here."

Her dad nodded. "I felt her, she was here cheering the loudest along with Alice."

Rosie laughed. "Woman's got a set of lungs on her." she looked behind her. "Don't tell her I said that."

Danny laughed. He then became solemn. "Your mum was there when I graduated you know."

Rosie stared at him. "Really?"

He nodded. "And so were you."

Her eyes widened.

"We didn't know about you yet mind." he rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "I would never have got through it without her. I pulled a few overnighters and she brought me coffee or energy drinks. I forgot to eat sometimes and as I was about to keel over from hunger she'd appear with a sandwich." he smiled in memory.

Rosie's mouth had fell open.

"Before that I knew I loved your mum but it was then I realised how lucky I was to have her in my life. It made me appreciate her more. Appreciate how her presence seemed to just enhance me. Sometimes I could be so tired my energy reserves ran out and when I looked into her brown eyes…" he looked at her. "The brown eyes she gave to you I was able to find the last words for that assignment or find a way to study a little bit more."

She sighed heart heavy. "I had that dad."

"Dylan?"

That earned her dad a pointed look.

"I guessed not, you didn't hesitate when Max proposed."

She shrugged then rubbed her eyes.

"Do you still love Max sweetheart?"

"What if I did?" he tone tired. "Would it make a difference?"

Danny shrugged. "It might, if he knew."

She shook her head sadly. "Well he doesn't know and even if he did he wouldn't care. If he did where was he today? He asked for the divorce dad, not me. He stopped caring not me."

Danny nodded. "I'm going to go back in and drink to your mum. You coming?"

"Nah, think I'll go home and have a soak in the bath with a glass of wine and a good book."

Danny kissed here forehead. "Ok sweetheart, get a taxi yeah?"

She nodded, "Thank everyone for coming, I'm just in the mood for a party right now."

He hugged her close. "Cheer up huh?"

Rosie closed her eyes as her dads hold enveloped her. "I'll try I just….this was supposed to be different but it isn't. This was supposed to be a new start."

"It still can be." he urged.

"Not the start I want." she admitted then pulled out her phone and dialled a taxi. Her dad stood by her side until it came. She climbed in and stated an address as it pulled away and her dad waved she began thinking of where she ended up.

In terms of destination she was exactly where she wanted to be in South Africa qualified to do a job she loved. Her dad, step mum and siblings around her. But emotionally? She wanted to be where she was six years ago. Max's arms around her while she fed the ellies. Him stood at the bbq charring meat looking all inspiring, as he had liked to say. Waking up in his arms and looking into his eyes and just knowing that he loved her by that one look it was like that moment in a single glance contained a thousand words and conveyed a million emotions. Rosie's head dropped and tears filled her eyes. She needed him so much! Why did she have to sacrifice the most important person in her life to get here? They had loved each other so much and now, well they may as well be strangers. She was dying inside and no one knew, she hadn't even known until today. What happened? Did they fall out of love or simply grow apart? She didn't have time to ponder that question as the house appeared in the distance, only the veranda light burning the house being empty. Robbie was sleeping in Cedric Juniors room under the watchful eye of Fatani's babysitter, still Liv held the baby monitor close by incase Alice was needed.

The car halted and she paid the driver, climbed out and walked up the stairs and let herself in the house. She approached the bathroom and started the hot water tap pouring in a liberal amount of radox. After that came the living room so she could grab her hifi, when she did she swore she saw a light on in the flat she and Max used to live in, but that was impossible no one had lived there since she and Max had left. She moved closer and shifted the net and saw it was once again shrouded in darkness. She shook off the feeling and headed back to the bathroom and turned the cold tap on low. Placed a CD in here hifi and it began playing a song called Change by the Lightning Seeds.

'The world is full of fools who never get it right, you don't know what to do so you do anything you like." she sang along softly. Dancing along as her feet slid across the bathroom floor. The water was reaching the desired temperature so she turned off both taps and swished the bubbles around. Collected her book from the bedroom, it was called Oblivion she had waited for it to be released for seven years.

She walked back in the bathroom and sat on the edge of the bath pulling off her shoes. The door was still wide open, she was gonna have to fix that. If her family came in and she was still in here that was bound to get uncomfortable! As she pulled her sock off however a shadow passed the door and a man appeared, the hallway still being shrouded in darkness Rosie didn't recognise the figure and she squealed in fright, she used her hands as leverage to try and push herself up on her feet. The edge of the bath was wet and slippery and as she tried to push up she found her hands slipped and her entire body fell backwards…..into the bath. Her head and back submerged. She struggled for a moment until she felt solid hands on her arms pulling her up. She came up and started swinging not knowing why her attacker was saving her. She connected with a solid head.

"Christ Rosie!" Max yelped.

She froze sure she was delirious. Water streamed from her hair into her eyes and she swiped at it. Max meanwhile looked at her fighting a grin.

"What pray tell is so funny?" she asked whens he saw his smile.

He shook his head. She looked at herself in the mirror and her reflection stunned her, she had a massive pile of bubbles on her head, her hair plastered to her head and neck. Max started to laugh.

"Run." she warned.

"Huh?"

"I said run!" she told him and moved.

He dashed out of the bathroom down the hallway and into the living room intending to go out the doors in there. He slipped on Robbie's teddy bear his legs went forwards his bum unmoving and he landed on it with a thump. Rosie was on top of him straight away.

"Do you realise what I thought you were?" she said hitting him.

He was protecting his head, she realised this might hurt him and saw her sock hanging off her foot. She bent down yanked it off and hit him with that instead.

"I. THOUGHT. I. WAS. ABOUT. TO. BE. KILLED. YOU. MORON!" hitting him harder after each word. He lay there taking it until she ran out of steam. When she was finished she exhaled angrily.

He lowered his hands. Looked at the sock in her hand then her.

"You hit me with your sock? Really?"

"Be thankful it wasn't my boot!" she muttered then walked away.

He got up and followed her, rubbed his sore behind as he went.

"You know I imagined seeing you again lots but you accosting me with a sock wasn't really included." he admitted with a grin.

She rolled her eyes and laid a towel on the bathroom floor soaking up the water.

"Can we do this again?" he requested.

"Do what exactly?" she asked looking at him.

He disappeared then moments later appeared with a bunch of flowers. He walked up to her and handed them to her with a smile. "Hello stranger….wet stranger."

"Do you want me to beat you with these too?" she motioned to the flowers.

He giggled and to Rosie nothing had ever sounded better.

She looked at the bouquet if pink mixed flowers. "Thanks, if this is all."

He stared at her. "You look better than I remember." he breathed.

"Why Max? Why are you here?"

"I came to congratulate you on your graduation."

She frowned. "You came?"

He nodded.

"Did you see it all? Like Dylan…."

"So that's his name." he said in disgust.

"Oh." she bushed. "Was that you? The stranger in the hat?"

"No." he told her quizzically.

"Who was that?" she wondered out loud confused.

"I'm joking it was me." he laughed again. "I just love messing with you."

She hit him with the flowers. "I will get my sock again!"

He held his hands up in surrender and they sat side by side in the bathroom on the side of the bath. She pulled the plug and the water drained. "Why didn't you come over in the hall?"

"I didn't know if you wanted to see me. If you even wanted me there. The note that came with the ticket wasn't signed."

"What if I did?" she whispered looking at the damp towel on the floor.

"What about the proposal?" he challenged.

She stared at him taking his challenge and refusing to back down. "What if I declined it?"

This time he frowned. "But you love being married."

She shrugged, it wasn't the being married she loved, it was who she was married to. "So." shook her head. "Why are you really here Max? We haven't seen each other for over a year and the phone calls we shared speak for themselves!"

"Rosie I…." he quieted. "Do you ever think?"

"Often." she replied sarcastically.

"About us?" he added softly.

She walked to the window and looked into the distance refusing to answer. The truth was it was all she did most days, think about her past and him.

"Do you remember when we were the most important part of the others lives?" he remained sat on the bath.

"How do you forget Max?" she asked without turning.

"Then you know how I feel."

She turned. "And how do you feel?"

"I'm full of could've done's and would've been's. I have a empty space inside that refuses to be filled no matter I do!"

Again she didn't reply just turned to stare out if the window.

"Your silence speaks volumes Rosie."

She spun again. "Ok, so what if I DO feel like that! It changes nothing Max, NOTHING! You still asked for the divorce! You still broke my heart Max, why? WHY!"

"My pride!" he admitted loudly on his feet. "Christ Rosie you're a vet and I'm a bar man! I'm supposed to provide for you not the other way around!"

"You were more than a bar man to me. You were everything. You did provide!"

"If my bar was full." he said softly.

She shook her head. "I'm not talking material stuff, I didn't want that. I'm talking time! I'm talking laughter. Love! I didn't care about anything else than that. YOUR LOVE!" eyes swimming.

He took a step towards her. "I know. I know now." he took a step towards her, "I thought you'd look different after graduating bigger somehow but you don't. I look at you and I see Rosie. My brown eyed spit fire. You're still my Rosie and …." he inhaled. "I still love you."

Her heart leapt and part of her wanted to jump for joy, and right into his arms. The other more sensible part of her kept back. "You tore my world apart."

That wasn't the reply he had hoped for or expected.

"Tell me if I forgive you what is stopping you doing it again?"

This was the easiest question he ever had to answer. He went to her and cupped he cheek. It was still clammy from her wet hair. "Because you make me want to turn my life around and be better so I can provide for you. Because at night I wish you were there just so I could kiss you and hold you close. Most of all because I know that even though you are gone my heart is still and always will be yours."

Rosie felt her heart melt, he took her hand and led her out of the house and down towards the flat. When they stood outside of the door he put his hand on the handle.

"Then there's always this."

He opened the door to the flat and Rosie looked inside. The place was full of candles. In rose petals lay on the bed a message. 'I love you'

Rosie stared at the room for the longest time, then looked at Max. He didn't say anything just gazed right back at her. This time she didn't hesitate. She threw herself in his arms.

"I love you." she told him between kisses. "I missed you I love you."

Max pulled her close and closed his eyes not believing that this had worked and she was his again. "I love you too and I swear Rosie I'll never leave you again. Ever!"

"You'd better not." she told him. "Remember I have my sock!"

He laughed and she felt it against her chest.

In that moment Rose felt that as Max held her close the empty feeling which had filled her just seemed to disappear, just like that.

A/N this oneshot was very nearly called 'This Was Supposed to Feel Different' but then max called Rosie stranger so I called it that instead. I debated for a while actually as both titles have merits. I stuck wi stranger since he was her 'stranger' at the graduation.

Also max is based very much on bf in this, he is amazing keeping me spirits up when I'm stressed out, when I say I cant do it or if I forget to eat while studying.

And the ending the bath bit it actually wasn't originally written with that, tbh the original she pulled a gun at the flat lol but I had this imagine of her hitting him with a sock lol

Its kinda long bt hope you all enjoyed this :D x (could have made this into a fic if i'd had the time :/)