She looked up from her barstool, right into dark, dark eyes.


She practically melted…and then she remembered she was meant to be wallowing into her beer over her latest failed relationship, not salivating over the tall handsome guy with a twinkle in his eye currently in front of her.

Jason – #7, as her dad called him – had been blonde, a little shorter than her but smart and going places and…everything that she didn't really want. She wanted to be cuddled, and Jason? He just wanted to fuck or write his "groundbreaking" screenplay. She didn't want a pretentious asshole, she wanted smiles and comfort and…

"Want another, Jess?"

She came out of her thoughts to see that the barman, who she'd known from her first year of college and was the only reason why she was in this dive in the first place, wasn't the one asking her whether she wanted another Bud. It was Mr Tall, Dark and Stubbly.

It was nice stubble as well, a bit of dark scruff on a cut jaw and…he so wasn't her usual type. She liked to think she was pretty, in a sort of willowy way, but she didn't think she was anywhere near the kind of girl this guy should be with. She was a bit plain, lacking in the breast department, and he was…well, gorgeous.

She felt her eyes narrow in a bit of a drunken haze. (How many beers had she had anyway? Were all those bottles across the bar hers? No way…)

"How do you know my name?"

TDS shrugged, his black blazer tightening briefly against muscles and broad shoulders.

"You know mine."

She squinted again, this time a little less accusingly and more confusedly. "Did… Have we…uh, you know?"

She wouldn't say she'd been promiscuous, but well, college had been a little wild on some nights and she wouldn't be surprised if those mornings she woke up and couldn't remember anything of the night before actually turned out to have hidden a stray fuck or two.

And then he laughed. Laughed.

"Shit," she groaned. "I'm so sorry. I don't remember. Was it terrible?"

She might have hiccoughed a time or two in that sentence – she wasn't quite sure, her ears felt like they were full of wool – but TDS didn't seem to mind her less than coherent remembrances of their previous, or current, time together.

He sat down on the stool next to her, his faded blue jeans stretching taut over his thighs.


"We haven't you know," he muttered confidentially, obviously amused.

She put her hand to her forehead, wondering if her hangover was starting early or if her brain was being purposefully slow and stupid. "Then…what–"

"Well." He smirked a bit, revealing reasonably white teeth and a gorgeous smile. "We haven't outside of my head."

She felt her forehead drop to the cool wood of the bar with a dull thud.

"Who are you?"

The music from the jukebox was getting to her, some shit with loose change favouring The Stones was making sure everyone else had to suffer them, and she was pretty sure that she'd lost her purse. At least she had a tab. Getting home would be trickier than paying for tomorrow's hangover.

She patted down her cream-knit dress in case of anything of use as she kept her forehead to the bartop. Her impending headache was receding.

And then, suddenly, there were fingers and a thumb and a palm pulling it up gently from the wood.

How had she forgotten TDS sitting next to her all quiet and beautiful and…urgh, she was such a poetic drunk. She was never drinking again.

Their eyes met again and she felt like there was something – something fairly damn obvious – that she was missing.

There was an odd noise of something moving along the bar right under her nose as he comfortably held up her head still. He smiled, softer and even more secret than before, and she glanced down.

"Oh, God!" She hissed. "How the hell did you get a hold of this? I always knew it would come back and bite me on the ass, not that it didn't in the first place," she added bitterly as she looked at the photo of her young, pale, and very teenage nakedness.

The picture was cracked a bit and sort of scuffed, and then, as she was trying to work out how a stranger – a gorgeous stranger, her mind added helpfully – had something she had given to someone else so many years ago, there was a low voice all husky in her ear.

She looked up, and she could see it – she could see his dad, which didn't mean a goddamn thing anymore, and a younger version of him, which, suddenly, meant everything in the world.

"I said I'd come for you."