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Time after Time

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Falling in love with a posh boy by the bins round the back of Fuzzy Ducks was not in Victoria’s plans.

Still, you don’t always get what you wish for. And sometimes what you do get is so bittersweet that you can’t let go.

**

Pulp was blasting out of the club. The bloke didn’t seem all that drunk, but Victoria was plastered, and they’d tipped out into back alley giggling. There was one couple already at it, on a car bonnet.

‘Whoah, classy, guys,’ called Victoria, trying not to turn her ankle as she slipped on slimy fallen leaves. Four-inch heels had seemed like a good idea when she bought them at the charity shop. They were a bit like a pair Emily Parkes, the snooty girl next door in her digs, had.

Actually, Victoria and the skinny white boy (Sherlog, was it? some weird name) weren’t going to be able to do much better than a car bonnet themselves. Still, there was a wall with a narrow strip of scrubby grass behind it, so she tugged Sher-thingy generally in that direction.

Victoria sat on the wall, and pulled him in for a kiss. The world wobbled... and somehow she was still pulling... and whoomph, the breath went out of her as she landed on the grass, tights ripping and skin scraping painfully across the top of the rough wall.

Sherlog was on top of her, dragged over by her hand fisted in his shirt. Thank fuck he was skinny, so she hadn’t been flattened, and he’d stuck out a hand to break his fall so now he was leaning over her awkwardly, their legs tangled together and crushed against the wall.

‘Jesus, what?’ Victoria wheezed, flailing hopelessly, half-giggling.

Then his face appeared above her, very pale, with his dark hair messed up and laughter in his strange, light eyes.

Oh.

For some reason they both went very still. Common People washed over them.

‘Well, hello Victoria,’ the bloke said. That was one gorgeous, velvety voice.

‘Hello, Sherlog,’ she said.

‘Sherlock.’

That bit of petulance made her want to bite the end of his pointy pale nose. He smelled so good. Expensive and clean but with the tang of new sweat.

Victoria reached up and brushed his hair out of his face. Out here, his eyes looked weird. Kind of transparent. Obviously this was going to be the point where they kissed... except when she went for it she actually managed to miss his face. He laughed. Not at her; it was just a happy sound.

‘Oh god, it’s November.... ’m freezing me tits off. And rat-arsed,’ Victoria said. ‘If you get your dick out I’ll prob’ly see it double and sit on the wrong one.’

‘It’s customary for the male partner to assist in that process,’ replied Sherlock, deadpan.

Fuck, he was every bit as posh as she’d thought. Posher, even.

‘OK, Sherlock, you’re definitely from the other place. Slumming it with the Brookes plebs, are you?’

‘No, just gathering data,’ he said. ‘You interest me. This isn’t your native territory either, going by the shape of your bra.’

What?

Victoria was – had been, before the night air hit – bladdered enough to want to fuck just about anything, especially something this gorgeous. But. ‘Gathering data’? By groping her bra?

‘Piss off,’ she said, only half-joking.

Sherlock looked frustrated. His sticky-out hair bobbed between Victoria and the light spilling out of the club behind him as he started to talk very fast and far more clearly than a drunk should be able to.

‘I mean that the practical design suggests your funds for clothing are limited, and while you’re willing to spend money on exterior display it’s more important to you to be comfortable than it is to impress a conquest who’s already secured. Am I wrong?’

OK. She’d picked up a nutter. She was starting to wonder where her rape alarm was – with her luck, it was probably wedged under her arse. Still, when she reached for one of her fallen shoes and gave the weirdo a warning jab with it he just rolled off her and sat with an arm around his legs, looking – she felt a weird stab of guilt on seeing it – upset.

‘Fine, look at me like that,’ he snapped. ‘People always do. But it’s obvious you weren’t brought up with the name Victoria. You want very much to join the police, but not merely as a beat officer, so you’re studying law because you think that will help, and you’re worried about failing. Am I wrong?’

‘You’re a fucking freak,’ she shot back, getting as ready as possible to leg it without actually moving. He was giving her the willies. But also... he was absolutely right.

She squinted at him, feeling herself sobering up by the second. All right, so ‘gathering data’ was a freaky thing to say. Didn’t mean that she couldn’t relate, a bit. Drinking this much wasn’t usually her scene either. It just made things easier. Especially when you’d been at uni all of a few weeks and weren’t sure if you’d ever work out what you were doing.

Sherlock’s expression was going blank. She wondered if he was bored with her, but it didn’t seem that way. It was more like he was retreating into himself. The way Sal... Victoria did, when Mum went off on one about her studying and thinking she was better than the rest of them.

She didn’t want him to shut her out.

‘All right, yes, I’m finding it hard,’ she snapped. Must be the booze making her honest. ‘Didn’t exactly get crammed for uni at my school. And my name at home’s Salama, and yeah it’s foreign. My mum’s from Kenya, but I’m from London, before you start on that. Dad always called me Sally.’ Pause. ‘Dunno why I’m telling you this.’

She kind of did, though. This weirdo wasn’t reacting, just listening quietly. It made her want to get a response. It was a bit of a relief to spill her guts, and he was actually starting to look less miserable.

‘Because you like me.’

What? Then again... maybe. Social skills were obviously not the guy’s forte, but she’d never cared much about that.

‘That’ll be why I haven’t stuck this through your balls and legged it,’ Victoria said, brandishing her stiletto heel around just to show nothing was ruled out yet. ‘Look, are you seriously called Sherlock?’

He nodded, mad wavy hair dancing about.

‘Poor bastard. Sherly’s your nickname, then, is it? Or maybe not, eh?’ She shook her head. ‘I blame the parents.’

‘My family’s from Surrey,’ Sherlock said. It sounded like he thought Surrey was a cross between a sewer and no-man’s land. ‘They’re imbeciles. They sent me to boarding school.’

‘Yeah? Nice.’ Victoria had a vague mental picture of a kind of stately home filled with iron beds and kiddy-fiddling teachers – no wonder he was weird. ‘What do you want with me, then? And don’t tell me it’s data.’

Sherlock looked unsure for a moment.

‘I wanted to pick up a girl,’ he said. Then he obviously saw the look on Victoria’s face, and added. ‘Then I wanted you. You don’t fit in much better than I do.’

Huh. She was damn well trying to fit in, and people weren’t supposed to notice. Somehow though, she didn’t mind that he had.

‘Well I want a coffee,’ she said. ‘Coming?

That got her a pathetically eager grin. Sherlock clearly wasn’t good at friends. Victoria had lots now, from her digs and fresher socials. They’d cheered her on when she’d headed out the back of the club. Even Emily, though she’d implied earlier that Victoria would have trouble pulling anyone decent.

She didn’t actually want to go back to that lot. Also, she really was freezing her tits off.

‘Yes! Coffee,’ Sherlock said.