In Another Time and Place

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to The Adventures of Shirley Holmes because if I did, we would be up to season 20 by now…

A/N: I'd like to dedicate this story to Damon Ford, brilliant mastermind behind the unofficial Shirley Holmes Central website. He doesn't know it, but it was because of him that my introduction to the internet, as a young girl, was a very pleasant one. I'll always have fond memories of those times. Thanks.

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Along one of Redington's finer residential streets, a boy rides his bike. There is nothing remarkable about this boy. In fact, he looks downright plain. His name is Billy – but even that's not exciting. The bike he rides has been well-maintained, and the bag of newspapers that sits on it appears perfectly non-threatening.

He reaches into the bag, pulls one out, and with routine precision, throws it deftly onto a waiting lawn. Reach. Grab. Throw. Pedal. It would seem that this boy is an infinitesimal cog in the intricate clockwork of life, time and the universe.

So it would seem.

A few minutes ago, this boy was filling up his bag of newspapers. It wasn't a terribly exciting start to his morning, so he performed the task in the usual robotic way. He had just lifted his leg to mount the bicycle, when his eye caught sight of a poster hanging from the shop window. It was an ad for the latest set of his favourite trading card game! The leg came down and he advanced, open-mouthed, toward it; so entranced was he by this news.

Here was a choice. As it was, he was already a few seconds late, and he would have to bolt down the last few blocks to make it on time. So, would it make a difference if he borrowed just another second to check it out? Either way, it didn't really matter to him. The cards would still be there if he returned later. And if he chose to stay, there wouldn't be any life-threatening consequences.

Two paths. Either could be taken in the blink of an eye.

But you're not really interested in this ordinary newspaper boy, are you? And yet, if this boy had gotten on that darned bike, you wouldn't be interested in this story. For, you see, this scrawny, uninteresting little person is the spark on the fuse, the starting point, the first metal ball thingy in a chain reaction. In this story, the newspaper boy does go into the shop, and he comes out, not one second, but nearly half an hour later.

As a result, a father is able to beat his twelve-year-old daughter to the morning paper. Bereft of the morning news, she waits around impatiently for him to finish. He later decides that, instead of letting her walk to school as she usually did, he would drive her there himself. As a result, she arrives on time and misses out on a detention. Her attention is quickly sparked by a mystery surrounding a local florist break-in, and reports of arsonists only receive a passing glance.

Meanwhile, a scruffy lad of about the same age does receive a detention, where he sits alone and angry. He is suspected and eventually charged for crimes he did not commit. As a result, he is expelled from a good school and the opportunities that awaited him there.

The newspaper boy rides on, blissfully ignorant that he has changed the universe. But indeed, he has.

For in this universe, Shirley and Bo have never met.

And so, our story begins…

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A/N: I've always wanted to write a story like this! Bits and pieces of it are scribbled on two separate notebooks that have worn out over the years. I know how I want it to end, but I don't quite know how to start... I know the fandom has grown somewhat silent, but if you do happen to read it, I'd appreciate some comments and criticisms on how I could make it better.