Wow! 3 reviews already! :) Here are a few notes to my beloved reviewers:

lozzard-wellard: Thank you very muchly for being my first reviewer! Glad you like the story!

LaughALife: Your review meant a lot to me. It was a huge compliment to be called a wonderful writer by someone whose stories are as great as yours are, so thank you!

anon: Haha, don't you just love the older TJ/Spin stories! :D The whole thing with TJ making Spinelli pay is because he doesn't understand that it's not Spinelli's fault she's gone, and he's really angry because she left so suddenly without saying goodbye, just after he told her his true feelings for her.

Thank you again to all three of you, you're awesome! And now, here is Chapter 2!

Ashley Mills took a deep breath. She was feeling nervous as hell. After she moved away, she was home-schooled, so being in a high school environment was so weird for her.

The last time she was at a school, it was seven years ago, and it was an elementary school. It was quite small, pretty much everyone knew each other, and she was one of the oldest- one of the ones the little kids looked up to in awe.

She was the oldest here, too- but she was still a nobody, because she was new. She remembered how one of her old friends, Gus, was treated when he was the new kid at Third Street and shuddered- what if they treated her like that too?

She eventually found the office- a huge boy with dark, spiky hair and thick black glasses sat behind the desk, typing away on the keyboard. He looked very smart; he was wearing a blue shirt with a stripy green and yellow tie.

Whoa, Menlo sure has let himself go.

"Can I help you?" Menlo said in a bored tone, without looking up from the keyboard.

"Uh- yeah. My name's Ashley Mills, I'm a-"

"New student." Menlo finished for her, handing her a piece of paper. "Here's your schedule."

Ashley read it, not taking any of the black print in. She could see that the schedule told her what rooms she needed to be in for each class; but she still didn't know how to find a single one, so the schedule might as well have been written in Cantonese. "Well? Don't just stand there!" Menlo began, sounding annoyed. "Class starts in precisely four point-"

But Ashley never found out the exact number of minutes until class started, because she interrupted Menlo by saying, "But I don't know how to find any of these rooms!" Ashley was surprised at how desperate her voice sounded- was she really that scared and desperate?

Menlo sighed. "Randall!"

Oh no.

Randall Weens came into view- small and skinny with high-waisted trousers, curly red hair and a mischievous grin.

"Good morning Menlo- lemme guess, another new student you want me to show around school?"

"If you would," Menlo said, typing something on his computer, his fingers clacking away at the keys faster than the speed of sound.

"It would be a pleasure," Randall grinned. Ashley could feel his eyes trace every curve of his body, silently groaning. "You got a name?"

"Ashley Mills," Ashley said, and Randall grinned. "Oh, another Ashley? We've already got more of them than you can shake a stick at here." He laughed at his own, unfunny joke. "They're all best friends, cheerleaders, most popular girls here…" He pointed at four girls standing in the corner, cackling like hyenas. They were all wearing tight designer outfits. Ashley groaned- the Ashleys had been one thing she had not missed about her old life. "Every girl named Ashley has been like them… except for one."

"Who?" Ashley asked, knowing the answer, but wanting to see what Randall would say about her. "Ashley Spinelli… went to elementary school with us, but left suddenly in fifth grade…" Randal suddenly looked uncomfortable and started to blush, then randomly said, "are you like the Ashleys, then?"

"God no!" Ashley said, and Randall sighed. "Thank God! Four of them is quite enough, thank you… though I must say, I wouldn't mind seeing you in the kind of things they wear."

"Keep dreaming, creep!" Ashley said, sounding just like her old self.

Randall laughed and extended his hand towards Ashley. "Well I'm Randall Weens- Randall Scandal, as they call me here. Because I always get the scandals. I know everything about everyone."

"What are you, the school snitch?" Ashley snorted, wondering if there was someone like Miss Finster here who Randall would rat to whenever someone did something wrong.

Randall laughed. "Please. That is so elementary school. I'm better than that… I'm the school paparazzi!"

Without warning, Randall suddenly got out a camera and took a picture of Ashley's horrified face.

Randall chuckled to himself. "That is so going on the front page of tomorrow's school paper."

"But- I didn't want you to take that picture!" Ashley protested. "It's illegal to take pictures of people without their permission…"

"The law's easy to bend around," Randall said, grinning.

"Why would my picture be on the front of the school paper anyway? I'm the new girl… I've not even done anything yet!"

"Exactly. We always do a feature on new kids… people at this school are hungry for gossip, and it's my job to give it to 'em," Randall said as the first bell rang. "Let me see…" Randall took Ashley's schedule from her hands and carefully scanned it. "English, Mr. Gordon, Room 22… OK, I can get you there. Follow me."

Randall led Ashley through the packed corridors, corridors Ashley was sure she would never find her way around. Randall steered her through the crowds of loud people- adding to the noise by shouting, "out of my way, new girl coming through!" This made people stare at Ashley, who wished Randall would shut up- she didn't want to be the school freakshow, she just wanted to blend into the background.

Ashley and Randall stopped outside a room that said Room 22 on the door. "Well, I'm not in this class, but I'll see you later," Randall said, leaving her standing outside. Ashley took a deep breath and went in.

There were five round tables in the classroom as well as the teachers desk. The pupils sitting around each table stopped their conversations and looked up at her as she walked in. Her cheeks burning as she felt everyone's eyes on her, she sat down at the only unoccupied table, too shy to try and make friends. The people sitting in the room didn't exactly look friendly either. They all fitted nicely into their perfect little cliques- jocks, Ashleys, skaters and geeks.

Gradually, the conversation started up again, until the door opened again. Ashley thought at first it might have been the teacher, but when she looked up, she realised it was just another student. This student was about six foot five and quite big, with wavy, shoulder length blond hair and big blue eyes. He was dressed in very bright, extravagant clothing.

"Good morning all," the boy said cheerfully, but the blond boy at the jock table shouted out, "Shut up, queer!" and the whole class laughed apart from Ashley and the boy himself. But he didn't lose the cheerful sparkle in his eyes.

He walked over to Ashley's table. "Excuse me fair lady, please may I sit here?" He gestured to the seat next to her, and she smiled and nodded. This guy seemed nice- maybe he could be her first friend. And he reminded her of someone…

"Thank you… I'm extremely glad you'd let me have your company," the guy said, smiling warmly, but the smile faded as he said, "I don't usually get a lot of company… ever since I 'came out of the closet' in sophomore year, they've been avoiding me like the plague…" he stopped looking sad and the cheerfulness returned. "But it's their problem. Just because I am gay does not make me any less of a person."

"I have absolutely no problem with gay people," Ashley said genuinely, smiling, amazed at how strong this guy managed to say, even with the whole class shouting insults at him.

"My name is Michael Blumberg, but you may call me Mikey if that is what you prefer," the boy said, holding out his hand for Ashley to shake. As Ashley shook his hand, she felt a warm, happy glow inside of her. She found it extremely reassuring that Mikey went to the same high school as her and that he hadn't changed a bit. Maybe TJ, Gretchen, Vince and Gus would be here too. Maybe they were all still friends. Maybe they were all still exactly the same as they were in fifth grade. Maybe they could pick up from where they left off…

"What's your name?" Mikey asked.

Ashley opened her mouth to say 'Spinelli', but looking like a goldfish, closed it again. What was she thinking? She couldn't tell people who she really was…

"Ashley Mills," Ashley said. "I'm new here."

"Wow… you seem so different to the other Ashleys," Mikey said, and Ashley nodded. "Yeah, they're sluts- I mean, Randall told me about them," Ashley said quickly.

"I take it you've met Randall, then." Mikey said. "He shows the new students around school on their first day to get gossip about them. Then he goes home and makes everything he's found out into a newspaper report. The next day, he leaves them to fend for themselves."

"That's terrible!" Ashley said, making a mental note not to let Randall find out anything about her.

Mikey nodded. "I don't agree with it. I believe the new students are extremely scared in their first day here, and Randall exploiting their personal life on the front page of the school papers will just make them feel even more intimidated."

"Sorry I'm late, class," a male voice said, disrupting their conversation. Everyone stopped talking- this time the teacher had walked in. Mr. Gordon was small, porky and bald, but had a huge, black moustache. He was wearing a tweed suit and carrying a stack of books. He placed them on his desk and sat down.

"I'm just going to take a roll call, please raise your hand and when I say your name, so I get to know you all," Mr. Gordon said. "Ashley Armbuster?"

"Present," Ashley A. said, smirking smugly as she raised her perfectly manicured hand, deliberately pointing it at an angle so the whole class could see each perfect, hot pink nail.

"Michael Blumberg?" "Present," Mikey said cheerfully, raising his hand- some of the jocks smirked at each other and the Ashleys started whispering.

"Ashley Boulet?" "Present," Ashley B. said, flicking back her curly black hair and smiling at Mr. Gordon as she raised her hand. She stuck out her chest and fluttered her long eyelashes at Mr. Gordon.

Ashley looked at Mikey, confusion in her eyes. Mikey almost laughed. "Ashley B. flirts with every male teacher, regardless of how old they are," he whispered. Ashley shuddered, that was wrong on all levels.

"Stuart Chapman?" "Present." "Jimmy Cratmer?" "Present." "Amber Davidson?" "Pre-"

Suddenly the fire alarm began to ring.

"Fire drill! Everyone stay calm and make an orderly exit from the room!" Mr. Gordon suddenly yelled.

Of course, no one was calm and no one made an orderly exit. Everyone ran for the door, screaming at each other.

"What's their problem?" Ashley asked, remembering how at Third Street, a fire drill was either a drill or someone setting the fire alarm off for a prank or a dare- it was never a real fire so people always stayed relaxed. "It can't be a real fire."

Mikey shrugged. "It could be… there's this one guy who always skips class to smoke behind the science labs, he's always torching the place."

They followed everyone outside where people were lining up in their classes. Ashley and Mikey joined the back of their class's line.

"Gee, what a shame, I was hoping Blumburger would get burned to death," said the same blond jock who had called Mikey a queer earlier. He was taller and better looking than the other jocks, and you could tell he called the shots in this school by the adoring looks people gave him. He had one arm around Ashley A and the other around Ashley T, while the other two Ashleys played with his hair.

The other jocks laughed and Mikey didn't say anything, but anger bubbled up inside of Ashley. How dare they say stuff like that about her friend?

"And I was hoping maybe the fire would have burned your vocal chords so you wouldn't be able to talk crap to us again," Ashley said, and the jocks chorused, "oooooh!"

"Maybe Blumburger's straight after all," the guy said. "He's got himself a little girlfriend… isn't that sweet, fellas?"

The guys and the Ashleys laughed again. The tall blond guy sneered at Ashley. "They deserve each other. Everyone knows new kids are scum."

The jocks laughed and turned away, leaving Ashley fuming. "Why I oughtta-"

"Leave it, Ash." Mikey said. "They aren't worth the hassle. We'll just have to hope they'll grow up one day."

"Who are those guys, anyway?" Ashley asked.

"They're the basketball team- I do dislike the term 'jocks' as it makes them sound more like labels than people. They are human beings, and they are very talented at what they do."

"What, shooting hoops and being jerks?"

"Most of them would be kind, thoughtful, caring, sensitive people if it wasn't for their overwhelming desires to be popular."

"Why does everyone want to be popular so much?"

"That is a question people like us will never know the answer to."

"Who's that blond guy who thinks he's such a big shot? He seems to be the worst one."

"He's the team captain and star player. Every single girl in school is in love with him. People call him Guy- but his real name is Gus. Gus Griswald."

So Gus is the evil, popular, sporty one! I bet you didn't see that coming… in most stories it's Vince that goes to the dark side :) Please keep the reviews coming!

With love,

Rach :)