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London, 1982

Lily had her coat over her arm and her briefcase and purse in hand when she spotted Pete coming around the corner, a slightly frantic look in his eye. Why did she suddenly get the feeling her long, hot bath would have to wait?

“Lily! Glad I caught you before you could leave,” Pete said, jogging awkwardly up to her.

“Actually, I was just about to walk out the door,” Lily tried, in a polite way.

Pete didn’t let her declaration dissuade him. “Look, uh, Harry Parker’s here with a lad to be admitted, and he’s got a court order but it hasn’t come round yet.”

Well that was a problem. Bureaucracy was paramount these days—couldn’t just treat someone because they needed treatment, no, you had to have all the proper forms done. Actually Lily didn’t mind the system as much as some other people did—a lack of record-keeping would lead to people slipping through the cracks, not being checked regularly, being sent to the wrong places or given the same treatment twice. When used properly, Lily felt that bureaucracy increased the efficiency of the system significantly. But, as with all human endeavors, there were always going to be people who abused it, who made mistakes, who saw nothing but the paperwork in front of them. Lily tried to see both the forms and the faces.

And although she did appreciate her leisure time, she didn’t really get tired so she had no reason not to work at least as long as the ordinary people here. Sometimes their dedication amazed her.

“D’you think you could do a quick assessment on him, so’s we can get him set up tonight?” Pete continued hopefully.

On the other hand, Lily preferred to be honest about some things. “There’s no such thing as a quick assessment, Pete,” she reminded her colleague, but she was already getting out her keys. “Alright, send him through.”

“Great, thanks, Lily, I really appreciate it,” Pete assured her, heading back the way he’d come.

“Get some sleep!” Lily advised him. The man ran on coffee and jelly donuts—they were going to kill him someday.

Lily unlocked her office and switched the light back on, setting her things down in the corner. It was a tiny place, probably meant as a large closet, really, but it served her purposes well enough. Sometimes she thought the close environment with the walls covered in books and pictures might be more soothing than the open, sterile offices her peers had received. After all these years she could probably demand a larger office from the superintendent and have some hope of getting one—if not a salary equal to her male coworkers’—but for the moment she was content with her lot.

She heard Pete coming back down the hall and sat down at her desk—hopefully he at least had a file on the young man he mentioned, because getting the requisite personal information out of the newly-admitted could be something of a challenge. Usually Lily could tell when they were outright lying to her, but that alone didn’t actually tell her the correct names and numbers.

“Oi! I know you!”

Lily’s head snapped up at the sound of the voice, a variation on an old, familiar theme, and she stared in surprise into the green eyes she had never seen before and yet knew perfectly.

“Look here, none of your cheek, young man,” Pete admonished, giving Lily a moment to cover her surprise. “There’s quite a lot of us just down the hall, so don’t think you can get away with anything.”

The teenage boy didn’t take his eyes off Lily, his own shock at the recognition turning into a kind of self-satisfied smirk as he looked her over. “It’s alright, Pete,” Lily assured her colleague when he gave her a questioning look. Lily was used to working with the young toughs at the center. Unlike everyone else, she had the advantage of not needing to worry about her physical safety, though of course she couldn’t exactly explain that to people.

“You just watch yourself,” Pete warned the teenager again, who looked away from Lily long enough to sneer at the older man. Pete stepped awkwardly across the hand the boy’s file to Lily, and she distracted herself by studying it closely.

“Have a seat… Trevor,” she said, looking at the name on the file.

He perched on the edge of the chair in front of her desk, elbows resting on the arms of the chair, constantly in motion with his foot tapping and fingers twitching. He was young, just sixteen according to his file, with his head shaved bald and a swastika tattooed between his eyebrows. It wasn’t hard to guess his political leanings.

“That’s not my real name,” he said, with an almost manic grin.

“Trevor?” He shook his head. “What’s your real name, then?” she asked dispassionately.

He paused a moment before answering, as if knowing the effect his reply would have and relishing it. “Wayland.” There was no way to hide her expression this time. “Yeah, I know you,” he repeated. “And you know me, don’t you?”

It wasn’t that she had anything to hide, or that there was any point in denying it. But—this just wasn’t the time or the place to discuss this. And he should’ve known that.

Something must be wrong.

“Wayland, huh?” she replied, forcing disinterest. “You must have decided that just recently. You’ve got ‘Trevor’ across the back of your head.”

He smirked, but the light of reckless power didn’t dim in his eyes. “I did just figure it out. I always felt different though. And I’ve figured out your name, too.” He leaned forward for the big reveal. “Susannah.”

This time she was prepared and didn’t give him the satisfaction of a strong response. He wasn’t playing by the rules—he wasn’t being careful. She felt irritated at him, although if something had really gone wrong, it might not be his fault, really.

“It’s Lily, actually,” she corrected coolly. “Lily Gray. Dr. Gray to you.”

He didn’t buy the deception for a moment. But neither did he seem to understand its necessity.

“Let’s talk about why you’re here, Trevor,” she went on professionally, looking over his lengthy list of offenses.

“I’m here for you,” he cut in, with passionate zeal. “I thought I had to go to prison to find you. I’m partway there, I guess.”

The conversation wasn’t being recorded, and Lily didn’t think there was anyone close enough to overhear it. But she still wished he would just stick to the script—they were both in somewhat precarious positions at the moment.

“You’ve been arrested on several counts of shoplifting, vandalism, taking and driving away,” she went on, as if he hadn’t spoken. Maybe he would finally get the hint? “Any thoughts on why you’ve committed these crimes, Trevor?”

“Because I can,” he answered with delight. “I’m faster and stronger than everybody else, and I can’t get hurt!” he boasted, raising his voice and gesturing wildly. “If I get hurt, I can turn the pain off, like a light switch! And heal up right away! And I’m smarter than everyone else—“

Lily captured his flailing hands in her own and held them on the desk, silencing his confession. “You don’t seem very smart from where I’m sitting,” she said, carefully and deliberately. He seemed mesmerized by her touch. “If you’re really faster and stronger and smarter”—and if anyone else did hear this conversation, wouldn’t he sound like an absolute loon?—“why all these petty crimes?”

He started to answer but she squeezed his hands to cut him off. “This center is full of people who can break windows and steal cars. There are millions of people who can break windows and steal cars. Why don’t you use your abilities”—without her actually acknowledging that they existed—“to create great art, or to learn more than anyone else can learn, or to travel where no one else can travel?”

He scoffed at each of her suggestions. “I had to find you,” he repeated, though he sounded slightly less certain now. She waited patiently, letting some of the bravado slip away. “Sometimes I-I know things that are gonna happen, in the world I mean, and I remember things that I couldn’t have done—“ He looked up at her, green eyes pleading for help, such a sharp turn from the cocky power of just moments ago that she almost broke character herself.

“Something’s wrong,” she finally told him, carefully choosing the words she might have used with any patient who showed such delusional behavior. “Things shouldn’t be this confusing for you.”

“You do know me, then, don’t you?” he asked quickly. Had there been more doubt in his mind than he’d let on?

Lily smiled, just a little bit, which he took as a yes, though no one could say she’d acted inappropriately. He held her hands tighter, tighter than a normal person would’ve found comfortable. “If you have great abilities,” she went on, “then you have a great responsibility to use them wisely.”

“That’s not true,” he started to protest. “I’ve been a criminal before, lots of times—“

“To control your abilities,” Lily clarified. “To use them deliberately, with reason—“

“But why?” he interrupted in frustration. She gripped his hands to keep him from pulling away. “Why all these rules? All of this is a lie, these people aren’t real—“

“They are,” Lily countered sharply. He hadn’t lost that kernel of philosophical disagreement with her, anyway. “They have real feelings and families and jobs—“

He shook his shaved head violently. “No, no. How do I know? How do I know they don’t just disappear as soon as I turn my back on them?”

“Because I can still see them.”

He snorted, as well he should at the weak argument. “They’re for your benefit, then,” he decided. “But that’s it. There’s only the two of us. Um… isn’t there?” He seemed to be just now considering the possibility of ‘different’ people besides himself and Lily.

She decided not to answer that question. “You have a scar on the back of your head,” she pointed out thoughtfully. There were photos of his identifying tattoos in his file, which she had instantly memorized, and in one the pale, puckered streak ran just above the stencil of his name. “How did you get it?” It was odd for either of them to have a scar.

“My dad tried to kick my head in when I was three,” he answered, apparently unmoved by the revelation. He seemed more curious about her interest in the matter. “Why?”

Lily was thinking rapidly about their past experiences, of which there were many, searching for any kind of precedent. “Early head trauma… obviously you survived… but with what damage…”

He took exception to this word. “Are you saying I’ve got brain damage or something?” he scoffed. “That’s a load of bollocks. You don’t get brain damage and come out better.”

Obviously he was missing the point. “Things can be very complicated,” she hedged vaguely. “But, you’re going to be here for at least six weeks, for assessment. We’ll talk many times.” This seemed to please him. “But, you have to behave yourself,” she warned. “The next step for you is Hatchmere House, which is a secure residential facility—“

“Nobody can keep me locked up if I don’t want to be,” he boasted.

“—and I don’t work there,” she continued, as though he hadn’t spoken. “So if you want me to help you, you had better not do anything to get sent away from here.”

He was quiet for a long moment. “You like… doing this?” he asked, his gaze encompassing the entirety of the small room. “You like doing what you’re told, playing this game, even when it’s boring or stupid?”

“There are a lot of nice parts,” Lily assured him, letting go of his hands. “But if you want to play the game, you have to follow the rules.”

He didn’t seem to think much of that answer. But before he could reply, they both heard footsteps approaching and waited for Pete to stick his head around the door. “How are things, then?” he queried, slightly suspicious at the silence.

“I think we’re done for the moment,” Lily replied professionally. “I’ll write up the form and file it tonight.”

“Right. Thanks,” Pete told her. “Well, come on, then, um—“

Trevor,” the boy sneered. Well, it might take a while to lose that attitude.

“Right, Trevor,” Pete repeated, as though he suspected he were going to have trouble with this one. “Come along, I’ll show you to your room.”

The boy stood suddenly, with a kind of frantic energy that made him seem unpredictable and dangerous. Which he could be, to most people. “Sounds great,” he replied obnoxiously, and Lily forced herself not to smile.

“This way,” Pete prodded, getting him out into the hall.

A few steps along the boy backtracked to Lily’s office, cutting Pete off. “Which one of us is more powerful, do you think?” he asked her cheekily. Lily merely raised an eyebrow in response and he cackled before Pete pushed him on.

**

“—and he’s been asking for you, so—“

“When did all this happen?” Lily demanded, pushing her way into the narrow corridor that led to the detention rooms. The ancient fluorescent lighting cast a sickly pall onto the faces of everyone who crowded near an orange metal door.

“Last night, around eight—“ Pete began, but Lily cut him off.

“Why wasn’t I told?” she snapped.

“Look, he was quite difficult to deal with,” David replied, in a tone that indicated he was severely understating the case. “Kicking down doors, attacked Simon—“

“He’s been up all night, pacing the room and shouting,” Pete added. “No sleep at all.”

“He must be on something,” David added, as though this were only to be expected.

Lily peered through the small window in the door, seeing the boy pacing the width of the small, bare room as they’d described. The only feature in the room, a large chalkboard, had been ripped down and its pieces scattered across the concrete floor.

“I should have been called,” Lily hissed at the men. “Unlock this door.”

“Pete and I have had a chat with him already this morning,” David informed her. “He’s a right little psychopath, I don’t care if Harry Parker says he’s bright.”

“So you’re not going to unlock the door, then?” Lily challenged coldly. She had been out with David a time or two, much to the envy of some of the other women at the center, but had found him to be a bit too cynical for her tastes.

“He’s a nutter,” David warned her, but he started searching for the key on the ring he carried. “Kept going on about how he was so strong and could break out whenever he wanted!”

“Drugs do seem likely,” Pete was forced to agree.

Leave it to Trevor, or whatever he wanted to be called these days, to say and do just the things he should have been more discreet about, Lily thought with irritation. She tapped on the window, drawing his attention, and his eyes lit up when he saw her. There was something nice about that, really, about seeing someone respond like that to you—and only you. In this particular case it was only to be expected, at least by Lily; but she knew the other center workers were keeping a sharp eye on it, because in ordinary circumstances it could lead to a dangerous interdependence. The goal was to help youths relate better to people in general, not just one person.

Trevor rushed for the door, which David had not yet unlocked. Lily held up her hand to stop him and gestured for him to back up to the far corner of the room. When he had done so, David finally unlocked the door. Of course, by the time Lily had actually stepped into the room, Trevor had run back and wrapped his arms around her with reckless abandon, picking her up and spinning her around. “Lily! Finally!”

She signaled behind his back to the men at the door that she was fine. “Alright, put me down,” she told Trevor. “Let me go so I can look at you.”

He set her down but still held onto one hand as she backed up enough to look him over. “I’ve been asking for you for hours!” he told her. “I just wanted to talk to you!”

“That looks nasty,” she observed, out of habit, examining the bruise on one side of his face.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he boasted. “Not at all. I can make it go away in an instant if I want. I didn’t have to stay in here, either,” he added. “I could’ve walked right out—“

“Well I’m glad you didn’t,” Lily told him firmly. “That would have been awfully hard to explain, don’t you think?” To Trevor, it was meant as a reminder of the game they were supposed to be playing; to everyone else it probably just sounded like she was humoring him. “Now let’s just sit down and talk—“ Well, that was a problem—no furniture. He probably would’ve destroyed any that had been there, anyway.

“Lily needs a chair!” Trevor demanded rudely.

“No, it’s alright,” Lily insisted, not wanting to delay things. “We can sit on the floor.”

She started looking around, trying to find a spot that seemed relatively clean and wondering how she was going to get down there without flashing everyone. “Here,” Trevor said, yanking off his baggy black coat and spreading it out for her. She had to wonder which was cleaner, the floor or the coat, but it was a thoughtful gesture.

“Alright, sit down,” she encouraged, when she had gotten settled without too much awkwardness. “Come on.” He plopped down, lanky and flexible, and immediately tipped over to put his head in her lap—should have seen that one coming. David wouldn’t like it one bit. Nonetheless Lily put an arm around him and used her free hand to rub his shoulder—all very maternal and therapeutic, that was all. “Now, what happened last night?”

“I wanted to see you, and they said I couldn’t,” Trevor responded immediately, innocent and petulant at the same time.

“And what happened when they said you couldn’t see me?” Lily prodded, trying to still his squirming. He shrugged. “Perhaps you said, oh, alright, I’ll make an appointment with her tomorrow?” she suggested dryly.

He grinned. “No.”

“No.”

“I kicked a couple doors in,” he reported proudly. “A couple people, too. Not really hard, though, not like I could have.”

“And you thought this was going to make me suddenly materialize in front of you?” Lily asked him.

“Well, they could’ve called you,” Trevor pointed out, which was exactly what Lily had said to David and Pete.

“If they had, I wouldn’t have come,” she told him primly. “It would only have rewarded your behavior.”

He whined in the back of his throat. “But, Lily! You’re the only one who understands me! I haven’t talked to you in days!”

“It’s been less than two days,” she corrected, “and you’ll have to get used to that. There’s too many people for me to see them all every day.”

“But I’m special,” Trevor reminded her, holding the idea like a shiny jewel. “You can see special people every day.”

“You’re not very special if you can’t follow the directions I’ve given you,” she countered.

“You want me to lie,” he accused.

“No, I want you to think.” Clearly he didn’t see what good that would do. “I want you to think about what it is that you want in this life. Right now you’re on a very steady track to prison. Is that what you want?”

“I don’t like it here,” he said with sudden passion, and she knew he didn’t mean the detention room or even the assessment center. “This whole society—it’s so dirty and corrupt—depressing—“

“Well prison is no utopia, you know,” Lily pointed out.

He seemed to disagree. “I could be king in prison,” he speculated. “I could figure out how it works—it wouldn’t be too hard—and no one could hurt me anyway. I think I could do very well in prison.”

“Nutter,” David repeated in a whisper outside the door. Pete was forced to agree.

“If things are going to be ugly anyway,” Trevor went on to Lily, “I might as well be some place where I’m king.”

“Not every place is ugly,” Lily told him soothingly. “Not even every part of this city is ugly. There are some very beautiful places in the world. You could travel to see them.”

He rolled over to look up at her. “You’d come with me, then?”

She ignored that remark, as she had to with the others listening. “We’ve talked about this before. You could travel, or you could learn more—there’s great beauty in knowledge. There’s great beauty in people as well.” He snorted and turned back over. “There’s a great many people in the world who are beautiful because they’re kind-hearted,” she told him. “All the more beautiful for being kind in an ugly world. There’s some that work here—“ Clearly he wasn’t buying this. “Well, one doesn’t become a social worker for the money or the glamour,” she pointed out dryly.

“You become one if you think you know best, and you want to control other people,” he theorized bitterly.

“I suppose that’s true in some cases,” she conceded, because it was, “but not all. If you only behave in an ugly way, all you’re going to see is ugliness,” she went on. “If you want to see beauty, you need to start by behaving yourself. Patience, control—Well, perhaps you’re not that strong after all,” she commented at his noise of protest. A little reverse psychology could be helpful sometimes. “I’ve seen other people come through here who were strong enough to change.” Although not many, sadly.

He was quiet for a long moment. “I want to see something beautiful,” he finally said.

“Alright, we will,” Lily promised, feeling marginally hopeful. “But you have to earn it. You have to prove that you can be trusted. No more kicking doors, or people. Is that understood?”

“Well, for how long?” Trevor asked.

Lily shook his shoulder. “Is that understood?”

“I guess,” he agreed, without enthusiasm. “But I want to talk to you more.”

“If you earn it,” Lily reiterated. Possibly this was the only time in the center’s history where talking to a counselor was considered a reward instead of a punishment.

**

Trevor gripped her hand harder. “But I want to be with you, Lily!”

Lily glanced around the crowd in the museum’s café, conscious that they were already an odd pair likely to draw attention. “Trevor, I’ve already explained this to you,” he replied coolly. “It’s simply not possible now.”

“Anything’s possible,” he avowed passionately. “We can do anything, Lily! We can go anywhere!”

“Lower your voice,” Lily ordered, deliberately casual. A middle-aged woman at a nearby table was watching them curiously, no doubt wondering what had brought a well-dressed 30ish professional and a teenage skinhead together.

“Well, don’t you want to be with me?” Trevor pressed, leaning even more across the table towards her. He sounded as if a ‘no’ would devastate him—if he believed it, which wasn’t a given.

“You’re too young,” Lily began to lay out, in a low tone that would hopefully prevent eavesdropping. “You’re a minor in a system that I work for, where I have power over you.” This statement made him grin, despite Lily’s seriousness. “It would be very inappropriate.”

“According to them,” Trevor scoffed, clearly not counting that for much. “Let’s leave here, right now. Let’s just go somewhere else, and leave them all behind, and be together.” The earnest blaze in his green eyes made it all seem so possible, so easy.

Well, for him it would be; he had nothing here, no family, no friends, no decent life. But Lily did. And she wasn’t going to disrupt it all, betray the people she’d come to care about, just for his crazy scheme. “No,” she said firmly. He bit his lip, frowning deeply. “You need to make something of yourself first, Trevor. You need to show me that you can be more than a little punk on his way to prison. I don’t want to be with a little punk.”

She wasn’t sure if his silence meant he was thinking it over, or if he was just depressed by her answer. Either way he slumped back in his chair dejectedly, though he didn’t release his iron grip on her hand.

Lily sighed, not terribly pleased with the way this was going, either. She had thought it would be good, useful, to be able to help him through this unusually rough transition period—of any counselor in the world, only she really knew what he was going through, what he could become. He couldn’t be honest with anyone else, not without sounding like a lunatic. It had seemed the perfect setup.

But now she realized it wasn’t. The other counselors were already casting suspicious glances her way—it was only a matter of time before one of them was elected to awkwardly approach her about her professional conduct. Trevor was too attached to her. He wouldn’t listen to anyone else. She knew it wasn’t for the reasons the others feared, but it still wasn’t healthy. He needed to come into his own, to choose how he wanted to act instead of just reacting with antisocial instinct to everything around him. He’d seen her face and thought everything was suddenly okay, that the game was over and it was time to claim their reward. Forget what anyone else in the world thought or felt or needed.

But that wasn’t how the game worked. It wasn’t that Lily wasn’t thrilled to see him—she was. She knew she’d been waiting for him this entire existence, always feeling a little empty inside, a little detached from those around her, a little lonely. And it hurt to think she would have to push him away, even if it was only temporary. If their positions were reversed, would he do it? Would he give in to a crazy scheme to run off together right now? Well, he probably would—Wayland had always had much less respect for the rules than she did. But Susannah believed it was important to abide by them as much as possible, that there was a higher purpose to it.

And also—she really didn’t want to be with a little punk.

“I’m going to transfer your case to Martin,” she said quietly, studying their intertwined hands on the tabletop. “You’ll get along with him, if you’ll let yourself.” He made no response. “I want you to behave, and get out of the assessment center. Go back to school, or find a job. Don’t get in anymore trouble.” She hesitated to continue but in the end decided it was only fair. “And then, when you’re older…”

Trevor shot up again, eyes wide and maniacally hopeful. “How old?” he demanded immediately.

“Twenty-one,” Lily decided. That seemed safe.

“That’s a long time from now!” he protested, with the perspective of a teenager.

Lily smiled a little. “Compared to what?” It was the blink of an eye in eternity.

Trevor smiled back, seeing her point, and for just an instant she saw the face she knew so well, the man behind the reckless, headstrong boy. Then he faded back. “Won’t you kiss me, Lily?” he pleaded dramatically. “Before I have to leave?”

“No, absolutely not,” she told him, glancing around to see if anyone had heard his slightly loud demand.

Trevor closed his eyes for a moment, as if concentrating, and suddenly Lily noticed the people around her moving slower and slower, though their movements were also jerky—it was like watching the film in a malfunctioning projector. Only she and Trevor were unaffected.

“Stop that!” she told him. “You’ll hurt someone!”

The people suddenly snapped back into normal motion again. Lily could have sworn she heard a screech. “Well, you do it, then,” Trevor suggested cheekily. “I’ve been practicing, but I expect you’re better.”

She was. Lily thought about it for a moment, then slowly, gracefully, the people around them slid to a stop. Pedestrians froze mid-step, a baby mid-howl, the soda from the machine behind the counter mid-stream. Trevor looked around in wonder for a moment at the still, silent world surrounding them.

“Will I be able to do that someday?” he asked, reaching out to touch the long braid of a schoolgirl that had been paused as she whipped around with her friends.

“Maybe someday,” Lily allowed, “if you work hard. I’m not really supposed to do it, though.”

Trevor grinned broadly at her. “Don’t it feel good to break the rules? Just sometimes?”

Lily declined to answer that. Instead she leaned forward across the table and gazed at him intently. “Tomorrow you’ll start seeing Martin,” she told him again. “We shouldn’t have any contact, if possible. Do you understand?” Trevor nodded tightly. He didn’t like it, but maybe he understood it. “Good. Come here.”

Slowly Trevor leaned forward and closed his eyes, tilting his head right before Lily brushed her lips against his. For a moment he felt like he was frozen just like everyone around them. Then Lily pulled back, stood, and gathered up her things. “Good-bye, Trevor.”

“See you later,” he corrected.

The crowd slowly came back to life, the noise and bustle of the café growing to normal proportions again. If anyone noticed that the well-dressed 30ish professional was no longer at the same table with the teenage skinhead, they didn’t comment.

**

London, 1987

Lily tried not to trudge as she walked home from the bus stop. It would ruin her shoes. And it was a silly action, given that she didn’t get physically tired. Though tonight she felt as worn out as many of her colleagues always did, and looked forward to the weekend—though she still had a bunch of reports to read and write by Monday.

Walking home after dark by herself didn’t bother Lily, of course—she could take care of herself, just like she didn’t get tired. She could have walked the whole way from the office, really, but it would have taken too long, at a reasonable pace anyway; so she rode the bus, and saved her car for weekend grocery runs. She had stayed late at work as it was and met few people as she walked down the sidewalk; then, as she neared her apartment, a figure appeared in the light of the streetlamp.

For a second she didn’t recognize him. Then her face split into a huge grin. “Trevor!”

He smiled, too, his cheeky grin she knew so well, and moved to embrace her. “Lily.”

For a moment she just wrapped her arms around him and laid her head on his shoulder, a quiet contentment in being reunited with him pervading her—this felt right, it was the way things were supposed to be. They were supposed to be together.

Then she felt like she might be wasting time just standing there like that and pulled back slightly, held him at arm’s length. “Let me look at you. I hardly recognized you!” Gone was the swastika tattoo from between his eyebrows, and the once-bald head was now covered in light brown hair. He still wore a rivet in each ear, though. She wondered if the ‘Trevor’ tattoo was still across the back of his skull, hidden now but not forgotten, like the scar that had indicated his identity-warping injury. “How are you?” she finally asked.

His green eyes blazed with the same fire she remembered. “Even better now,” he told her, looking her over the same way she had him. “You’re beautiful.”

“How old are you?” she questioned, teasingly.

“Twenty-one,” he answered promptly. “I waited five years, I stayed out of trouble, and I just graduated from university.”

“Already?” she asked in surprise. His education had been lagging behind when she saw him last.

“Well don’t forget, I am quite smart,” he reminded her mischievously.

“Of course. What did you study?”

“Art history, and chemistry,” he replied with a shrug. “I wanted something easy.” Lily had to smile at that; no doubt he’d left some pretty amazed professors behind. He pulled her a little closer and his voice grew softer. “Look, Lily… can we go up to your flat now?”

She smiled, easily divining his intent and not at all opposed to it. “Absolutely.” Hands clasped tightly they hurried up the stairs of the stoop, through the front door, and up the stairs towards Lily’s apartment on the top floor. She liked the view from up there, and the walk didn’t bother her. “Now we do have to be a little bit quiet,” she warned him discreetly, “the neighbors—“

“Maybe we should go to a hotel,” he suggested with a frown. “A nice hotel, I’ll pay for it, I’ve got loads of money—“

“Maybe later,” Lily deferred, unlocking her apartment door and pulling him inside. She pushed him back against it and kissed him, their first real kiss in this existence. He responded with enthusiasm. “I don’t want to wait for a hotel—“ She pulled back suddenly to look at him. “What do you mean, you’ve got loads of money?” Lily questioned suspiciously. “You aren’t into anything illegal, are you?”

“No, no, just the stock market,” he assured her, encouraging their previous activity to continue. “Gain more than I lose, you know.”

“Oh. Alright.” That seemed respectable enough. “You can stay the night?” she checked, although the answer seemed obvious.

“Thought you’d never ask,” he grinned.

**

Lily wasn’t sure if they’d been quiet enough for the neighbors’ tastes, though she hadn’t had any complaints. Every time one of them mentioned the hotel idea, the other just didn’t think they could act respectably for the length of the trip there. But that was alright; Lily’s flat was perfectly fine for what they wanted to do. She even had a huge soaking tub, a custom-made indulgence she’d bought herself years ago—she hadn’t imagined it holding two, but it did so quite comfortably.

“Mmm… so what are we going to do tomorrow?” Trevor asked, nibbling her ear.

“Well, tomorrow’s Monday,” Lily remembered with a sigh. “I have to go to work.”

He made a noise of disappointment. “Can’t you take a holiday or something?”

She smiled fondly. “You never had a job, did you?”

“Didn’t need one,” he shrugged, sending wavelets across the tub. “Stock market, you know. Very 1980s way to make money.”

“So you’ve gone from a nihilistic, anti-everything punk, to a yuppie capitalist trading stocks?” Lily assessed with amusement.

“Say that again and I’ll drown you!” he threatened playfully. “I’m not contributing meaningfully to society,” he pointed out, with a certain twisted pride, “except in some abstract monetary way. Besides,” Trevor added more quietly, running his fingers lightly over her arms, “you said you didn’t want to be with a little punk. You wanted me to make something of myself. Well, I have,” he asserted. “Can we be together now?”

Lily rolled over to face him—a slightly awkward position, but she wanted to look him in the eye. “You’ve done so well, Trevor—“

“You can call me Wayland,” he suggested.

“I’d rather call you Trevor,” Lily countered lightly. “That’s who you are now. Here. And you’ve done very well, it seems.”

“You’re hesitating,” he accused. “What, do I have to start my own business or something now? I went back to school and I stayed out of trouble. It was bloody hard, because I met all sorts of wankers and it would have been so much more satisfying to kick at them than put up with—“

Lily kissed him soundly to interrupt him, then settled back down in his arms. “No, you’re marvelous, Trevor,” she assured him, “and I want to be with you.”

He tightened his arms around her. “Good.”

“I’m just thinking…” she went on, with preoccupation. “You’re not a minor anymore and you’re not in the system. But people still might think it was—inappropriate—“

“Oh, bollocks!” Trevor said in frustration, and Lily shushed him.

“No, listen, I’m thinking very seriously—of quitting my job,” she finally said. She thought Trevor would cheer this news, in his charming-obnoxious way, but he was silent. “Trevor?”

“You’d quit your job to be with me?” he said quietly. “But you love your job. You said it was very worthwhile.”

Lily smiled slowly—apparently he had matured after all. “It is worthwhile,” she agreed. “But I’ve been doing it for a long time now… Maybe it’s time I took an early retirement.”

Well, Trevor wasn’t going to discourage that. “Let’s go live somewhere else,” he declared. “Somewhere warm.”

“Have you done any traveling?”

“Some, when I had time,” he revealed, “but there’s a lot more places I want to see. Let’s move to Italy,” he suggested randomly.

“Italy?”

“Mm-hmm. The Cinque Terre, on the Italian Riviera,” he went on, in a dreamy tone. “We’ll live in one of those little villages perched on a cliff above the ocean, where they don’t have any cars and you have to walk up and down narrow stairs all day. We’ll eat olive oil and fresh cheese, and drink lots of wine, and complain about how touristy everything is getting.”

Lily was impressed again. “It sounds like you’ve really thought about this.”

“Well, I saw a travel doc about it on the telly the other night,” Trevor replied flippantly, but somehow that didn’t detract from Lily’s vision of what he’d described. She could very easily see herself living that life, starting over with him, forgetting everything she knew about dreary London in this dreary time. “Maybe,” he went on, “we could even adopt some little Italian orphans.”

She turned to face him again and read the sincerity in his eyes. “Yes, I would really like that,” she agreed.