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Chapter Text

Sometimes I wonder if anyone believes in me anymore. I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. Plenty of better gods around to believe in, if you ask me. I could introduce you, if you want. I know a few of them, even if half of them don’t talk to me anymore.

It’s so quiet out here. There’s so much space. Too much space. You never see anyone if they don’t bother to come looking. I can time travel all I want, but it never changes how empty space is. I even saw the Big Bang once. Not sure I ever want to do that again though. These things are never how you imagine them to be. I used to be human. Seeing that sort of thing just - changes you forever.

Maybe that’s why they don’t like me so much. I got baggage. Too many ties and loose ends. Can’t blame me for it though. They’re the ones who made me like this. They gave me these powers and made me live forever. It’s the worst curse in the world. I know I keep saying that, but it’s true. Maybe it’s different if you were never human.

I’ve spent time walking the Earth again, visiting anywhere and everywhere. I’d walk streets and paths and suburbs, trying to feel connected again. I’ve been to every continent on the planet. I’ve met some people around the traps when I’ve tried to reach out to them. To feel anything, to feel that you are still alive.

I don’t ... I didn’t seek them out. Not really. I just. Sometimes I’m sat by a river or a harbour or in a park or somewhere nice, and sometimes, people see me, and sometimes they’re nice enough to sit down beside me and say hello. Most of the time, I never see them again. Sometimes, they want to keep in touch. I write ‘em letters. They like that.

I’ve been back in time to see how things used to be. Part nostalgia, part curiosity, part cynicism. Perhaps it was also boredom. I’ve walked past the houses of old friends, watched them sitting in their front rooms, laughing and crying. Sometimes, I saw them glance through the window, as if they’ve seen something in the corner of their eye, but it was like I was invisible to them. I mean, I can become invisible if I want to, but when I’m not doing that and they still don’t see me? Yeah, it hurts.

That’s why I did it, y’know. I was lonely. It’s so cold and empty in space. I needed company. So I made a little sanctuary, a little universe all of my own to play in, and made it into whatever I liked. Made it look like home, gave it trees and birds and flowers and people and the right sort of buildings. I even put a few canals in and a nice train line, just because I could. Then I filled it with my friends, and anyone else who wanted to come that I’d befriended along the way, and for a while, things were okay. I had my friends back, we laughed and made music together like we always did, and I forgot for a while that I’m on me own.

I suppose I should’ve known it wouldn’t last. Because eventually some people did leave. They remembered they had family and friends of their own and couldn’t leave Earth for good. So I let them go and wished they’d come back to me one day. It hurt to say goodbye to friends, but I wasn’t going to stop them going if they really wanted to go back.

After a while, I tampered with their memories, trying to get them to stay as long as possible so they’d forget about Earth and what they’d left behind. I wasn’t trying to hurt them, I just - it was the way the magic worked, or so the fairies said. I wanted them to stay with me, not go home and leave me behind. I knew it was a bad idea, messing with their heads like that; they weren’t really my friends anymore, but it did stop the aching loneliness in my heart, just for a while.

But it all went wrong and now I’m writing this from a prison ship. I don’t know how long I’ll be here. They don’t give out those sort of sentences because time doesn’t really exist for us. We’re eternal beings. Some arbitrary time alone is not a good punishment. No, what they do is lock you in a prison ship until they decide you’ve paid your dues. Eternal guilt is a bitch of a punishment anyway.

But the time alone isn’t a problem. I wouldn’t mind that so much. But the prison ship has these shields around it that stops me using me powers. I’m cut off from everyone, left on me own until they decide to free me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in me cell, just crying. Actually, not even crying. I jus’ can’t feel anything anymore. I think they’re trying to drive me mad. I never thought it was possible to feel so excruciatingly alone as I do now. I guess I got what I wanted.

I don’t know why I started writing this all down. It’s not like anyone will read it. I’ve never been much of a writer either. I’d rather make music, but I’m not allowed a guitar, cos it’s got strings. What should it matter to beings who can’t die I’ll never know. I learnt a long time ago not to bother trying to argue logically with them; it’s not something they understand.

Maybe it’s all that loneliness. Maybe it’s because I don’t even know if anyone still believes in me. I don’t want to die. Gods die when people stop believing in them. They get weak and disappear. But then they still never really die, they just hang around waiting for someone to remember they’re there. I’m not even asking to be universally loved. I just want to tell my story before I’m too weak to tell it. Otherwise, they’ll bury me within the depths of history and no one will even remember my name anymore.

I’m not trying to absolve myself. Well, maybe a little. But I did screw up, and people got hurt. But I’d do it all again if it meant I could hear the music ring out again.

Chapter Text

It was that awkward week between Christmas and New Years. The party was hitting the tail end of the night, and those still there were considerably quieter than they had been. Julian and Chas had vanished somewhere, while Charles was telling filthy tales from their university days to anyone who was still conscious. Craig had finally stopped dancing on the kitchen bench, though not before he’d wrecked half the house; Andrew vaguely remembered him saying he was going home an hour ago, though that didn’t mean he’d actually left. Andrew couldn’t remember where Chris was. Hell, he couldn’t remember the name of the song currently playing, though he felt he should, since it happened to be a Beatles track.

Andrew was sitting on the floor by the piano, gazing up at Charles as he spoke. The memories were making him laugh. So focussed on Charles, he wasn’t sure he’d heard what he thought he’d heard, a small voice goading him with tales of fame and fortune. Unable to tell if the voice was real, he figured it was just ambient noise and ignored it.

It was just as Charles was getting to the story of smashing through a glass window in some sort of protest that Andrew felt a little light-headed and decided to get some air. Taking his leave, he headed outside into the cool night. No one else was out there, and he was silently glad of it. He sat down on the old sofa squashed into a corner of the verandah and let his mind wander.

Andrew hadn’t noticed the fairy. It had in fact been hanging around him all evening. There were too many other things going on for him to notice the tiny body and the shrill beating of its wings as it flitted around his head like a blowfly in summer that refused to leave you alone. Andrew had become aware of the sound eventually, but as it did nothing else, he had stopped paying attention to it.

Out on the verandah where the noise was much less deafening, the fairy was easier to hear. It flitted around Andrew’s head, almost invisible. Andrew, in his inebriated state, still heard the wings as they beat madly due to the fairy’s extraordinary metabolism. The fairy repeated what it had said, and this time, with no noise around to distract him, Andrew heard it loud and clear.

“I can make you a star, like you deserve to be,” it said.

Andrew laughed it off, unable to think of what a silly little fairy could do to make him famous. As if he wasn’t already famous. Which kinda creeped him out anyway. His current collection of fangirls was bad enough. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what proper fame was like.

“Uh huh, and what would you know about it, hey?”

It was the best retort he could come up with. The fairy didn’t reply. As Andrew thought about the words again, he slipped the small metal spaceship out of his pocket and caressed it gently with his fingers, suddenly nostalgic. He ran his thumb over the words, vague fleeting memories of his younger self slipping through his consciousness. He wasn’t sure why he still carried it with him all these years later. He’d never shown it to anyone, and the writing on it was still as meaningless as it had always been. Nothing had happened since he’d acquired it. Nothing at all. No weird dreams, no strange occurrences, nothing. Maybe nothing would ever happen.

“You’re out of your time, Andrew. I can take you back to where you belong,” the fairy said.

“Oh yeah? And where’s that? Timbuktu?” Andrew said, still laughing.

“How about Shangri-La?” the fairy said.

Before Andrew could reply, the spaceship heated up, there was bright white flash of light, and Andrew found himself somewhere else.

 

Andrew discovered he was in a dressing room in what might’ve been some sort of club. It was in fact a very small dressing room, with peeling dark red wallpaper, a dresser that needed a paint job, a light fitting that was possibly the one thing in the best condition, and a lounge that looked like a stage prop, made of wood gilded with gold leaf and covered in fake velvet to give an air of expense, all that was needed in a stage prop. There was a small wooden stool at the dresser, and the carpet was a typical white shagpile in need of a decent clean, given the dubious shade of browny grey it had acquired. In spite of the sense of neglect, it wasn’t that bad. The mirror on the dresser was in pretty good nick as well, and the etched designs that bordered it were still sharp and beautiful.

Andrew stared at his reflection. Not only had he been transported elsewhere, he had also been given a change of clothes as if he needed to fit in. For starters, his hair was long, much longer than he’d ever had it before, and it was slightly wavy, though not properly curly. It was almost a light blond colour, most definitely not his natural colour. The hair hung down past his shoulders and tickled his skin. As for his outfit, well, it was very reminiscent of his Stairway To Kevin costume, though the more he examined it, the more he became aware of the subtle differences. He had some idea at least of the decade it was supposed to represent; then again, it was hard to forget freezing his arse off in a flimsy shirt that didn’t quite deserve to be called a shirt, even if it was for the purpose of making fun of Kevin Rudd while ripping off Led Zeppelin. He was a little disconcerted that ABC costumes had suddenly become real clothing. He shivered a little in the cool air. Would it have killed them to have given him something a little more substantial to wear?

“Why am I dressed like this? Where am I?” Andrew said.

“You don’t like the outfit?” The fairy sounded disappointed.

“It’s a little revealing. I’m getting rather cold,” Andrew said, annoyed at the fairy. A talking fairy made as much sense as anything else he’d seen lately, so he figured he’d run with it and see where things went.

The fairy waved its hand and Andrew’s outfit changed instantly to something else entirely. Andrew still wasn’t happy. It wasn’t too dissimilar to his Gerard Way outfit, though it had some alterations. It was less emo for a start, and the jacket sort of resembled a red ringmaster’s jacket. His hair had even changed from long wavy hair to something much shorter and darker and spiked in a very strange manner.

“Okay, this doesn’t even fit. I look like I belong in some emo band,” Andrew said.

“You’d be good in an emo band. I’m only trying to help, you know. Is this better?” the fairy said, flicking its hand again.

Apparently, the fairy had decided to compromise. He wasn’t baring much flesh now, but at least he sort of fitted in, in an eccentric sort of way. He had his old long wavy hair, with a spiked leather collar around his neck, accompanied by a slight velvet tunic in a faded shade of purple and what seemed to be black leather pants. Andrew was a little irked to find himself wearing make-up, tasteful and subtle though it was. Then he looked a bit closer and spotted a light dusting of glitter. Andrew wasn’t sure if the fairy was just being silly now.

Andrew sighed. “It’ll have to do. So what’s the date anyway?”

“October seventh, nineteen seventy seven. You’re at the feet of your destiny. Ten minutes til you’re on. This is your first gig. Make it count for something. I’d hate to think all this is a waste,” the fairy said, still flitting around his head.

He hardly recognised the significance of the date; it was overpowered by the rest of the fairy’s words. “I’m gigging? Out there? Wait, what kind of audience am I playing to? Am I even playing instruments? This is really short notice, you know.”

He had nerves gurgling in his stomach now. He slipped the spaceship he was still holding into a pocket for good luck. Not that it was a good luck charm, but he figured anything had to be better than nothing. He felt he’d need all the luck he could muster if he was going to get out of this gig alive.

“You still have all the gifts and memories you did before. Use them. Your guitar’s over by the wall there. Her name’s Syd. Don’t disappoint me. And try to rock it up a bit. Save your heartbreakingly melancholic ballads for later,” the fairy said.

Andre frowned. “Don’t you know the sort of songs I write? That doesn’t leave me much to play. Have I even got a band, or is it just me?”

“You’re on your own. For now. You don’t really want to share the spotlight right now, do you?” the fairy said.

“Um, well, I’m not sure, am I?” Andrew said.

“This is your chance to be the star you’ve always wanted to be. So, what’s your name then?” the fairy said.

“My name? It’s Andrew Hansen,” Andrew said.

“Not your name, silly. Your stage name. Surely you’ve picked out a stage name,” the fairy said.

Andrew remained silent. He’d never told anyone what he’d always wanted to call himself, especially when his dream of being a rock star crumbled out of existence. It was something he’d made up when he was eight, and hadn’t had the heart to change.

“Dani Turquoise, D-a-n-i. That’s what I always wanted to be called. Stupid name, I know,” Andrew said.

“I’ve heard worse. Now grab your guitar and get out there,” the fairy said.

Andrew was still too confused to disobey, and picked up his guitar as he left the confines of his dressing room and headed out towards the stage. He gave his guitar a quick tune and ran through every song he knew as he tried to work out which ones he should play. He peered out at the audience packed into the dingy club, searching for, well, anything really.

Someone caught his eye. A man in a long dress and beautiful make-up lounging on his chair as he took a long drag of his cigarette. He definitely looked familiar. His hair was slicked back and coloured a shiny black, and he moved in an elegant manner that took Andrew’s breath away. Andrew had never seen Craig look so utterly beautiful before. It wasn’t costume; everything Craig wore had been chosen for a reason, and the effort wasn’t lost on Andrew. Ever since they’d met way back when they were at uni, Craig had been challenging Andrew’s sexuality to the point where Andrew had had to admit defeat and accept that yes, at least where Craig and other pretty men were concerned, Andrew was most definitely bisexual. It was at that point that the flirting had finally turned into sex, though it was never as regular as perhaps either of them might’ve wanted.

Charles, on the other hand, was the one exception to this rule, since there was nothing especially Craig-like about him, and yet, they had trouble keeping their hands off each other. Charles gave him an outlet that no one else did and it was strangely okay, no matter how long they’d been friends. It had become part of how they expressed their close friendship; they weren’t ‘friends with benefits’, their relationship went far beyond that to a point where neither could quite express just what that was. At the thought of Charles, Andrew wondered if he might turn up in this world as well. If Craig was here, and looking fucking gorgeous to boot, perhaps others had found their way here too.

“Yes, that is who you think it is. You’re best friends, have been for years. Truth be told, I think he wants you, but that’s for you to deal with. Now get ready. You’ll have time to perform five songs. Try not to depress everyone, will you? There’ll be time to be the sensitive brilliant genius later,” the fairy said, filling him in on the situation as it interrupted his thoughts. It decided he didn’t need to find out yet just how close they really were.

“Right, man, you’re on next, yeah? What’s your name again?”

Someone Andrew assumed was some sort of stage hand, or at least he looked like one, grabbed Andrew’s arm and pulled him towards the stage. He spoke with a broad British accent Andrew couldn’t identify.

“Uh, Dani Turquoise,” Andrew said.

“Well, then, Danny, good luck, man. I really should know your name by now. You’ve only been and gigged here the last twelve weeks,” the man said.

“I’ll have it tattooed on my chest. Then you won’t forget it,” Andrew said with a small grin.

“Yeah, that’d be a good idea. Here, you’re on now. Break a leg,” the roadie said.

“Yeah, thanks, man,” Andrew said.

Andrew took a deep breath and tried to settle his nerves. He waited for his name to be called before he strode on stage, half-prepared to wing it if necessary.

The crowd cheered loudly, as if they’ve been waiting for him all night. He gazed at the people and their smiling faces, though they were just a blur and he didn’t recognise anyone else. He especially didn’t notice two men hiding in the shadows in one corner, watching him intently, which was probably a good thing as he might’ve fainted if he’d seen them. There was a pause and then the music came to him, a song Andrew didn’t quite recognise but sung anyway, a rocking tune about some guy Andrew couldn’t quite remember.

-Wait, guy? The question about why he was singing about a guy in a not-so-innocent manner would have to wait as he continued with his short set. The little fairy flitted around his head, controlling everything.

Andrew left the stage feeling rather elated at how things had gone, though he could hardly remember what had happened after he’d walked on and begun playing. Craig was waiting for him backstage, lounging seductively on the old couch as he smoked another cigarette. It appeared to be his thing. Andrew decided not to question it. Craig fluttered his long lashes at him and smiled.

“Good show. They were really into you this time, Dan. Smoke?” Craig said, offering Andrew his tin of cigarettes.

“Ah, no, not right now. You look gorgeous, Craig. I mean, really fucking gorgeous,” Andrew said.

“Well, I should fucking hope so. I paid a premium for this number,” Craig said. “And don’t call me Craig. It’s Pixie, remember?”

“Then I’ll pay a premium to get you out of it, Pixie,” Andrew said with a smug grin, only slightly apologetic for getting Craig’s name wrong.

Craig stubbed out his cigarette as he rose to his feet and leant in to whisper in Andrew’s ear. “Shall we leave this fine establishment and find ourselves somewhere more exquisite to play?”

Craig grabbed Andrew’s wrist and kissed him while his other hand slid up his chest. Andrew shivered, a hand still clutching his guitar tightly. Craig pulled away and brushed past him. He stood in the doorway and leaned against it, looking over at him through his glittered eyelids. Andrew put his guitar away and grabbed his coat. He pulled it on quickly, glad for its warmth, and flicked his hair out from under the collar.

“You ready?” Craig said.

Andrew picked up his guitar case. “Yeah, let’s get out of here.”

“Oi, don’t forget your pay this time,” Craig said, gesturing over his shoulder.

“Oh, yeah, thanks. Then we’ll get out of here,” Andrew said.

 

They were in a cab soon enough, heading off to Craig’s extravagant apartment in the city, Andrew’s pay duly collected. The doorman let them in and Craig strutted through the long hallways towards his rooms. And they were exquisite rooms indeed, fitted out in the most gorgeous furnishings and fittings. Andrew had never seen quite so much extravagance in one place before. From the tapestries and rugs to the furnishings, chandeliers, artwork and other trinkets, it was the sort of place that he always imagined royal palaces looked like when he were a child. Craig’s bedroom was the lushest out of the lot, and it was to Craig’s bed that Andrew found himself being led to. His coat and guitar had been left at the door, as had Craig’s lovely velvet coat.

The bed was a four-poster, with a dark intricately carved wooden frame. The mattress was just right, and the sheets, blankets and duvet were simply the softest things Andrew had ever felt. The pillows were piled against the headboard and hugged Andrew’s head as Craig lay him down as if he was a fragile child.

Craig crawled onto the bed and knelt over him, a finger brushing over his bare chest. Underneath that coat, which wasn’t a dress as Andrew had first thought, Craig was wearing a most temptingly thin shirt that hugged his body tightly and the smallest skirt possible, with his long legs shimmering with hose and ending with gorgeous boots. Andrew couldn’t help running his hands inside his shirt, feeling his warm skin. Andrew had always found Craig strangely alluring in drag. On anyone else it would just look stupid, but Craig managed to make it desirable in a way that challenged Andrew’s insistence he didn’t like men as much as he liked women.

“You are in so much trouble, mate. I shouldn’t even be doing this with you right now, I should be entertaining His Royal Highness at some stupendously dull party, but fuck it, I figure you deserve it for such a good show tonight,” Craig said.

“I’ll consider myself lucky then. You gonna get going already?” Andrew said.

Craig pulled his shirt off over his head and began grinding against Andrew’s groin. “Oi, you know I hate rushing. It spoils it. It’s gotta be perfect, you know.”

Craig lay down beside him and pulled him into his arms. They shared a soft kiss and Craig buried his hands in Andrew’s hair. Craig’s tenderness surprised him. He was used to Craig being rough, self-centred and sex-oriented. This Craig was not only considerate, but he was even interested in foreplay and romance. It was a little off-putting. Where was the Craig that would pin Andrew into the bed and fuck him stupid? He almost missed it.

The words from the first song he’d sung that night floated through his head again. He hummed the tune and suddenly the words made sense. He knew who he had been singing about and what he’d said. He sat up and stared down at Craig, shocked, ignoring the fact Craig had just been about to start sucking his dick.

“Jesus Christ. I… That song was about you! Why am I singing about you?” Andrew said.

“Ah, because you love me? Seriously, you wrote the damn song. I’d think you’d remember who you were singing about. You wrote it when we were away in Germany together. It was our last night there and we were on our hotel balcony. You had Syd out and began playing and singing it off the top of your head. Seriously, Dani, have you been drinking too much again?” Craig said, looking concerned.

“Oh, yeah, that’s right. Sorry. I - maybe you’re right. I probably did have too much to drink,” Andrew says, dismissing the conflict.

Craig propped himself up on his arm, looking over at him. “Seriously man, did you take anything at the club? You seem a little jumpy. I know it’s not your thing, so…”

“No, no, I didn’t take anything. Well, not unless someone slipped me something.” Andrew was a little afraid this was part of his rise to fame. He didn’t want to get on drugs, did he?

“Well, if you’re sure,” Craig said.

“Yeah, I’m sure. Sorry, I’m a bit out of it. Could do with some sleep, I think,” Andrew said, making his excuses.

Craig pouted and batted his eyelashes adorably. “Oh, no, you don’t. Not until I’ve had my fun. You wouldn’t deprive me, would you?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t dare deny you that. I like you too much for that.”

“Hmm, that’s what I like to hear,” Craig murmured, pressing a kiss to Andrew’s lips.

The idea that in this world, he was in love with Craig, and Craig was in love with him, was strangely settling. Craig was gently kissing his neck. Andrew began exploring his body. Andrew was silently grateful for Craig’s tenderness. He’d be glad to be free from the soreness that usually came after sex with Craig.

Craig nipped on Andrew’s neck and teased his skin with his tongue. Andrew gasped at the sudden slight pain. The context made it strangely appreciated.

“Glad you’re fitting in, Andrew. Don’t waste it,” the fairy chimed in, flitting around them both.

Andrew was too distracted to hear. The fairy smirked and vanished in a burst of sparkling dust. Craig bit down Andrew’s chest, sucking his nipples as his fingers curled around his arms. Andrew made a half-arsed attempt to fight him off as he let Craig have his way.

It occurred to Andrew that this was as close as he and Craig had ever come to making love. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had sex this gentle, especially with Craig. It was, however, comforting. Sometimes, Andrew just wanted to be loved, not beaten about in bed as if he were a flimsy toy. He didn’t have the strength to cope with just being used as a sex toy, and had he not been sleeping with Charles as well, he would’ve told Craig to slow down. Charles had always provided the tenderness Craig didn’t offer; in their own way, they balanced each other out, and that was the way Andrew liked it to be.

 

Andrew lay in bed afterwards, staring at the exquisite ceiling. Craig had left him feeling utterly content and it was a feeling he was loath to let go of. Idly, he traced the shapes and patterns decorating the ceiling. Craig slid out of bed and wandered over to his wardrobe. He opened the doors and gazed at his large collection of outfits.

“Dani?”

Andrew turned to look at him. “Hmm?”

“C’mere. Help me pick something for the coronation,” Craig said.

Andrew sighed and got to his feet. He wandered over to the wardrobe and stood beside him. “What coronation are you talking about?”

Craig flicked through his outfits one by one. He looked at them with disdain as he judged them not fit to wear to a coronation of such importance. “Big, big, big party. Party of the decade. His Royal Highness is taking me to the Royal Ball and I have no idea what to wear.”

“Okay, who’s this Royal Highness you keep talking about?” Andrew said.

Craig looked at him, incredulous. “What the hell is wrong with you tonight? It’s Charles, you dickhead. Jesus. Now help me choose something. Charles will be pissed if I’m not the most beautiful creature out there.”

“Uh, okay. So what kind of theme will it be?”

Craig gave Andrew a reproving look. “High fantasy.”

“What? I’m not going, am I?”

“You kinda have to be there. You’re the one being crowned. Seriously, have you forgotten everything tonight?” Craig grew concerned and pressed the back of his hand to Andrew’s forehead.

“Oh, right. Sorry. I think I need more sleep. I’m clearly not concentrating tonight,” Andrew said.

Craig turned to look at him and smiled. “Hop into bed. I’ll go make some tea. We’ll deal with this in the morning.”

Craig pulled him into a hug and kissed his forehead. Andrew calmed down at his touch. After one last kiss, Craig left him alone. He pulled on a long flowing silk gown as he went, tying the cord around his waist. Andrew slid back into bed after pulling one of Craig’s shirts on. The fairy appeared and flittered around his shoulder.

“Fairy, seriously, give me some memories of what I’m supposed to be doing. I can’t cover my mistakes forever and I don’t want Craig worrying,” Andrew murmured.

“It will cause more memory damage when I return you to your own time if I do that. However, I can gift you enough information to calm your ragged nerves. The rest is up to you,” the fairy said.

“Do that then. I don’t want him worrying that I’m on drugs or something,” Andrew said.

“As you wish,” the fairy said.

It waved its hands and the pieces, mostly, fell together in Andrew’s mind. At least, his relationships to his closest friends and acquaintances made sense, and he had a better idea of his career thus far. He even had some recollection about the ball he was apparently going to tomorrow and his coronation. He had no idea why he was being crowned, but he figured he’d find out eventually. The most hilarious image came in the form of Charles in his royal persona. Andrew was still giggling when Craig returned, carrying a tray laden with a teapot, cups and saucers and some small biscuits. Andrew shifted as he settled into bed with him.

Craig offered the plate to him. “Here, want some? Thought you might be a bit peckish.”

“Yeah, thanks. I am a bit hungry, now that you mention it,” Andrew said, taking a couple of biscuits.

“I made them myself. They’re your favourite,” Craig said with a wink.

Andrew smiled and was surprised by how good they were. “Good stuff. I like the robe.”

“Thanks. Picked it up last week in Paris. Who said you could borrow my shirt anyway?” Craig purred, brushing a hand along his arm.

“I was a little chilly,” Andrew said.

“Not with me around,” Craig said with a grin.

“Yes, I’ve gathered that. Are you seeing anyone other than me and Charles?”

“No, well, I met this one guy at a bar a week ago, so we’ll see what comes of that.”

“He’d better be cute. I don’t want you giving yourself to just anyone, you know.”

“He’ll be around in a couple of days. I want you to meet him, see what you think of him. If you don’t like him, it goes no further,” Craig said

“Sure, sounds good to me.”

Craig turned his attention back to the teapot. He moved the teacups back a little as he spun the teapot around a few times to get the tea leaves circulating. With the tea strainer held over one cup by Andrew, Craig began pouring, filling up the two cups with rich tea. Craig smelt the tea before he handed Andrew his cup.

“Good stuff, this. Got it sent from China. See what you think of it,” Craig said, picking up his own cup.

Andrew took a sip and was charmed by the sweet, subtle flavour. “That’s lovely, Pixie. I love the different flavours.”

“Yeah, it’s very nice,” Craig said, taking a sip himself.

It turned out to be one of the nicest cups of tea Andrew had ever had and the biscuits were a most fitting accompaniment. Andrew was by now comforted by the fact that this was his bed and his house and that he belonged here. Craig left to take the tray back to the kitchen and Andrew settled down in bed. Craig slunk in soon enough and undid his gown, slipping it from his shoulders as he looked down at Andrew coyly.

“Dani, dear, that shirt of mine looks marvellous on you, but I really would prefer to see you out of it,” Craig said as he slid down onto the bed.

Andrew complied, pulling the shirt off over his head and throwing it aside. Craig settled down beside him. Andrew noticed he’d removed his make-up. He looked different then. Andrew pulled him into a gentle kiss.

“You ready for bed?” Craig said.

“Yeah, I think so,” Andrew said. He was already beginning to feel sleep catching up with him.

With one final kiss and murmured good nights, the lamp was switched off and they both settled down to sleep.

Chapter Text

Andrew felt much better the next morning. Craig had woken first and it was the slight tugging on Andrew's cock that finally roused him. He lay there as Craig worked him, murmuring into his neck. Half-asleep still, he felt very relaxed by the time Craig was done with him. He barely protested as Craig got up to get them breakfast. He lay there in dreamland, happy to wake up slowly.

Instead of eating in bed, Craig decided they should eat at the dinner table, like proper civilised people. He'd organised for a rather sumptuous feast to be spread out before them, with everything from cereal, fruit, toast, waffles, crumpets, muffins, bacon, eggs, coffee and juice. Satisfied with what was waiting for them, Craig came to rouse Andrew and get him to come and eat. After a little coaxing, Andrew got up and followed Craig to the dining room.
"Are you really sure we need this much food just for breakfast?" Andrew said, gazing in awe at the feast before them.
"No, we don't need this much food. That doesn't stop me ordering it though. Oh, and this arrived for you this morning," Craig said, handing Andrew a parcel in plain brown paper.

Andrew recognised the handwriting on the front of the parcel and opened it, wondering what Charles might've sent him. There was a letter and a bunch of cassettes. Andrew set the cassettes on the table and took the letter out. "Oh, right, demos. Fabulous. I was wondering what had happened to them," he said as he read the letter, not in the least able to remember ever recording them.

"Has Charles been seducing you with his studios, hey?" Craig said, slinking into a chair as he began serving himself some breakfast.

"Yeah, yeah, we did these a while ago. I'll have a listen to them in a bit, just to see how they've turned out," Andrew said as he took a quick look at the demos, as if it might refresh his memory. The titles didn't exactly help, so he set them aside and took a seat opposite Craig. He read the rest of the letter. "And it seems he's found another band for me. I do hope this one's better than the last."

"You gonna let me listen to them this time?" Craig said, inspecting the tapes.

"Maybe. Maybe not," Andrew said. He gathered the tapes back and made sure Craig couldn't reach them.

"Tease," Craig said with a grin.

Andrew smiled at him and grabbed some toast. He might let Craig listen to them later, once he'd heard them and decided if they were indeed even good enough.

 

Andrew had wanted desperately to stay home and listen to his demos, but Craig would have none of it. With the ball that evening, Craig insisted on dragging Andrew out shopping as the start of what would turn out to be a very long day of preparations. Andrew barely had time to take in the city as he was dragged into almost every clothing shop the city had in search of the perfect outfit for Craig.

They were also looking for a Princely outfit for Andrew for him to wear to the coronation, and Andrew was quite sure he never wanted to try on any more clothes for the rest of his life by the time they got home again. They'd been out so long there was still no time to rest and Craig shoved him towards the bathroom and told him to shower.

Andrew ran a bath instead, and he appreciated sinking into the hot water. He'd added some bubble bath and the foam smelt lightly of lavender. He took the time to think over everything he'd experienced since arriving in this strange world. His fairy flitted about his head, but Andrew ignored it. He wanted to be still and quiet, just for a while. Craig had chatted amicably about some of the people who would be at the ball that evening, and Andrew needed a moment on his own to come to terms with the fact he would be mixing with very exclusive company indeed.

In the end, he decided there were far worse things to have to endure, and he may as well make the best of it. After all, if he could introduce himself to the right people, he might just have a music career. The city obviously worked on a 'who you know' rule and Andrew was thankful he had Craig to escort him through the right circles of society.
Getting ready had taken Craig a lot longer than it had taken Andrew, who curled into a chair as he read a book he had pulled from a shelf at random while he waited for Craig to finish. Andrew wasn't quite sure what Craig would be dressed in. He hadn't explicitly stated what he'd be wearing; it could be any number of the outfits he'd bought that morning. He looked up as Craig entered in a most stunning ball gown made from shimmering dark blue silk and delicate embroidery. It looked somewhat more like a wedding gown than a ball gown, at least in design, though the way Craig carried himself made sure he got the right impression across. He also wore a slight sparkling silver tiara that didn't in any way seem trashy or too over the top.

"Jesus. You look amazing!" Andrew said, getting to his feet.

"Thanks. It's not too showy, is it?" Craig said.

"Well, it certainly stands out, but I think where you're concerned that can only be a good thing," Andrew said.
Craig grinned. "I thought you'd like it. Come on, we're going to be late if we stay any longer," he said, taking Andrew's hands.

After exchanging a quick kiss, Craig pulled him out to the waiting limo. How Craig managed to do so without tripping over the extensive train was anyone's guess. Andrew figured he'd had a lot of practice.

 

The palace Andrew and Craig arrived at was gigantic. It was lit up with huge floodlights and there were servants and footmen and journalists and guests arriving by the dozen. Andrew was amazed at the sheer size of the place. Their limo pulled up and they stepped out into the light.

Andrew had to admit he wasn't sure he liked so much attention. Still, Craig took his arm in his and smiled and waved as the cameras flooded to him. Andrew did his best. He was a Prince, after all. He should at least act like one, as Craig had reminded him in the limo on the way there.

Craig coyly made his way up to the entrance, reluctantly waving them goodbye as they stepped inside the much quieter lobby. They were greeted again and a servant ushered them into the main ballroom. It was done up like a throne room and very richly decorated. There, lording over the entire room, was Charles, resplendent in royal blue and red, with a dazzling crown on his head. The room was significantly full as all the invited guests mingled, drank champagne, and ate a variety of things offered to them on silver platters.

"His Majesty wished to see you as soon as you arrived. Follow me, sirs," the servant said as they pushed their way through the crowds towards the throne at the end of the hall.

Charles lit up as he saw them approach. He stood and went to meet them. Oh, how he'd been waiting so long for them to arrive. It was a big night they had planned.

"Pixie! Dani! Oh, it's so good to see you," Charles said, bringing them both into a hug.

"Good to see you too, you old queen," Craig said.

"You look magnificent. When you said you were going to look the most beautiful, I didn't quite expect you'd do it so convincingly," Charles said, stepping back to take a look at Craig's gown.

"Only the best for you, love," Craig said.

"So, Dani, excited about the coronation?" Charles said.

"Yeah, I am," Andrew said.

"He didn't sleep all night," Craig said with a wink.

"I'm sure he didn't. This is a big night for him. He officially becomes my heir. Big responsibility," Charles said.

"Yeah, I know. I'm honoured, Charles," Andrew said.

"I will have no one else. Now, come, let us celebrate! The coronation starts in an hour. Drink up, friends!" Charles said.

 

It took another hour for most of the guests to arrive. Apparently Charles' declaration that the coronation should begin in an hour's time used a very loose definition of 'hour.' Andrew didn't mind. The later it happened, the more time he had to get used to the whole concept. The ballroom filled up soon and Andrew couldn't hear himself think. He'd also lost count of the number of glasses of champagne he'd had. He'd been too busy squeeing in delight as he recognised people from his own world that he idolised.

"Keep your pants on, Dani, at least until after the coronation," Craig said.

"But-but look, it's-"

"Jesus, you'd think you'd never seen them before in your life. Calm the fuck down. There'll be plenty of time to fawn later," Craig said.

Andrew held his breath as he watched them pass. He must be dreaming, but no, everything felt all too real. There they were, all four Beatles, smiling, laughing and mingling while looking far younger than Andrew had expected. He froze as he saw Paul give him a small nod and a wave. Surely he hadn't meant him. It must be someone else beside him. Yes, that must be it.

"You've met before," the fairy whispered.

"No we fucking haven't," Andrew murmured.

"I think you'll find you have," the fairy taunted.

"Christ. I won't sleep for a week now," Andrew said as they vanished into the crowd. He was beginning to feel jittery and nervous. To be in such company was a little mind-breaking, whatever else the fairy wanted him to believe.

"You'd better not. You never do good gigs when you don't sleep," Craig said.

"I just saw The Beatles. I think I'm going to faint," Andrew said.

And faint he did. Craig wasn't surprised. Andrew was caught from behind, stopping him falling to the floor and hurting himself. His head was spinning. He didn't even recognise the face looking down at him, which, given the circumstances, was probably for the best. The sight of Jeff Lynne smiling down at him was unlikely to make things better.

"You alright?" the man said.

"He's a little excited," Craig said. He knelt beside him and waved his fan in his face, trying to rouse him. "Come on, princess, wake up."

Andrew squinted and breathed in deeply as the dizziness eased. It was only when he tried to sit up that he was aware someone was behind him, not that he knew who he was. He was also on the floor. "Jesus. Can-can I get some water?"

"I'll get you some. Just wait here," Craig said, standing up.

"Not going anywhere," Andrew muttered. He tried to sit up again and found himself cradled in someone's arms.

"Take it easy. Don't want you fainting again," the man said.

"Didn't mean to do it the first time," Andrew said.

"Better look after yourself. Still got your coronation to do," the man said.

"Hmm, coronation," Andrew said, dreamily. Andrew thought he would be quite happy to die right now. It wouldn't be a bad way to go.

Craig returned soon enough and helped Andrew sit up. Andrew didn't even notice Charles standing behind Craig, looking concerned.

"We'll get you some air, okay? Come on, let's go somewhere quiet," Craig said.

Andrew was helped to his feet. He sipped his water as Craig wrapped an arm around him and led him away. Charles followed, concerned about his friend and heir.

 

Charles found an empty bedroom on the third level. It was quiet and dark and thankfully far away from the noise of the party in the ballroom. Andrew was feeling much better, but it didn't deter his friends. They loosened his jacket and lay him down on the bed.

"What happened anyway? Is he going to be alright?" Charles said. He perched on the bed and held his hand gently.

"He fainted, that's what. He's all excitable tonight, not that I blame him. He should be okay now, unless he decides to faint again," Craig said.

"Leave him with me, Pixie. He's my heir. I need to take care of him. We'll join you soon. Give us twenty minutes?" Charles said.

"Sure. I'll send for you when you're needed," Craig said.

Charles watched Craig go, shutting the door behind him as he went. Andrew finished off his water. He started at the ceiling, convincing himself he wouldn't react the same way twice.

"Dani, hey," Charles said.

"Hey. Sorry about that. Got a little excited. I'd forgotten you kept such good company," Andrew said.

"Got a little star-struck again?" Charles said.

"Yeah, just a little. Sorry," Andrew said.

"It's okay. Happens to the best of us. You'll be alright now? Not having second thoughts about the coronation, are you?" Charles said.

"I won't need to do anything, will I?" Andrew said.

"Just hang around and look pretty," Charles said.

"Why do you even need a Crown Prince anyway? This isn't a real kingdom," Andrew said.

"A King needs an heir. This will all be yours one day, no matter what happens to me," Charles said.

Andrew looked at him curiously. There was something in his words he found troubling, but he decided not to press the point. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that, shall we?"

"If we were actually blood relatives, it'd feel very weird to do this," Charles said as he lay down beside him and brought him into a kiss.

Now this was the Charles he remembered. The one who loved him fiercely. The one who'd looked after him when he couldn't look after himself.

"It never feels weird when you touch me," Andrew murmurs, brushing a finger down his cheek.

"Sentimental bastard," Charles said.

Chapter Text

Andrew returned to the ballroom some time later with Charles at his side. Andrew was disappointed they couldn’t act like lovers. Still, having Charles with him settled his nerves considerably. It was time for the coronation.

Everyone of importance was surrounding the throne. Charles got into his grandest outfit and took his seat. Craig took Andrew’s arm as they waited at the end of the room, waiting to be called in. Craig would escort Andrew down to the throne.

“Scared?” Craig murmured.

“A little,” Andrew said.

“You’ll be fantastic. They just adore you,” Craig said.

“Well, that makes a nice change,” Andrew said.

Craig kissed him again, one more for luck. The trumpets heralded their entrance and they pulled apart as the doors opened in front of them. There was a path made through the crowd to the throne, a red carpet they would walk down.

“Well, here goes nothing,” Andrew said.

The walk down was surreal. Everyone kneeled to him, as if he really was royalty. He was no one important. He wasn’t famous, he wasn’t rich. He wasn’t even of noble or royal birth. Why did he get such treatment? Charles was smiling as they approached. Andrew found comfort in his eyes.

“Prince Dani, you come before us to be crowned,” Charles said. “I have named you my heir and successor. In time, you shall be King. All hail the Crown Prince Dani!”

The crowd cheered loudly. The noise was deafening. Andrew tried not to look too uncomfortable.

“Kneel, Prince, while I crown you,” Charles said.

Andrew did so, bowing his head as he tried to work out why something so frivolous was treated with such great importance. Then he caught sight of the crown. He hadn’t seen Charles’ crown before, so he was unaware of how grand it was. His own crown was just as decorated. Andrew had never worn a real crown before. It felt heavy on his head, even if it wasn’t more than a gold coronet with jewels. Charles lifted him to his feet and hugged him.

“You look so beautiful,” Charles whispered and kissed each cheek.

Andrew blushed. Was he allowed to fall for Charles in this world? Because if Charles kept this up, he might very well do just that.

“You can fall for anyone you like,” the fairy goaded, whispering into his ear so quietly Andrew wasn’t sure he had even heard it.

The crowd cheered as Andrew was presented to them, their new Crown Prince. Andrew both adored the attention and wanted to run a mile from it. After a speech Charles gave that Andrew never quite remembered, the partying began again in earnest now that the main event had passed.

Andrew found everyone bowed or curtseyed and congratulated him as Craig drew him into the crowd again. It was like a fairytale. Andrew had to congratulate himself on not fainting again when his idols bowed to him and kissed his hand. There was something insanely not right about that, but Andrew was floating on air. He was only just beginning to understand the kingdom that Charles had created and how important it was to everyone here.

 

Andrew was quietly grateful when Craig had taken his arm and led him away from the noisy ballroom. He had some idea of what Craig had in mind, and he felt he needed the distraction. It had been a very intense night, and he had met a lot of people he rather idolised. He hadn’t fainted again, though, which was comforting.

Andrew didn’t really know where Craig was leading him, but he figured he had some destination in mind. It was the look in his eyes that told him that Craig had definitely planned this. Halfway up a grand staircase, Andrew noticed a small key in his hand. Wherever they were going, it was not somewhere just anyone could get access to.

Andrew figured they must be on the top level of the palace by the time Craig stopped outside a solid locked double door. He turned to face Andrew and smiled at him.

“Now where might this be leading to, hmm?” Andrew said, bringing Craig close to him.

“You’ll have to wait and find out, won’t you?” Craig said.

Andrew kissed him. “Does Charles know about this?”

“Maybe.” Craig grinned. Andrew assumed that meant he didn’t. “Come on, you haven’t seen this part of his private rooms yet.”

Craig unlocked the door and took Andrew’s hand as he pulled him inside. He made sure to lock the door behind them so they wouldn’t be disturbed. Flicking a light on, the room was some sort of erotic play room. It wasn’t a bondage dungeon, though it was definitely not a room for sedate wholesome pleasure, if the plush carpets, the velvet furnishings, and the particular way the furniture was crafted were anything to go by.

“What is this place? I was just expecting sex in some random guest room,” Andrew said.

“Hey, you’re the Crown Prince. You deserve a go in his sex room. But this is not where I want to fuck you. Through here.”

Andrew followed Craig’s gaze towards what looked like a smaller room beyond the main room. The door was bordered by exquisite carvings and a flowing fabric veil. There was a sense of the forbidden about it, as if it was just asking for someone to break in to see what was beyond it. Craig gave him a sly grin as he slipped the key in the lock and let them in.

“Don’t tell Charles we used this room. He’d never forgive us,” Craig said.

“Good thing I wasn’t planning to tell him then,” Andrew said.

“Now, close your eyes. Prepare to be surprised,” Craig said.

Andrew duly shut his eyes and he felt Craig take his hands and lead him forward into the room. Craig moved away, presumably to close the door, and Andrew waited for Craig to tell him to open his eyes. Craig slipped behind him and wrapped his arms around his waist.

“Look yonder, dear Prince, and survey your Kingdom,” Craig whispered.

The room Andrew saw before him was nothing like what he imagined. The room was a small bedroom, furnished with things Andrew had never even imagined existed. Apart from the gorgeous four poster bed, there were things in there that suggested this room was the bondage dungeon, rather than the tame room outside. Andrew had never seen so many whips on display, nor had he seen real shackles. There were other things Andrew didn’t recognise, nor had a name for. He had no idea Charles had such a room, nor an interest in such things.

“Well, I-“

Andrew wasn’t sure what to say. Craig kissed his neck gently and ran a hand up his chest, deftly undoing the buttons of his jacket.

“Just indulge me. We don’t have to use any of this stuff, I just like having illicit sex in here. It’s the one secret I have that Charles doesn’t know about, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Craig said.

“I think I can cope with that,” Andrew said.

Craig moved in front of him. “Help me with the gown?”

Andrew took his time with the gown, adding soft kisses as he undid the cords and zips that held the dress so tightly to Craig’s slender body. How Craig managed to look so feminine without breasts was a total mystery. He ran his hands down Craig’s arms and across his chest, appreciating just how wonderful the fabric of his dress was. Craig stepped out of it elegantly, revealing some lingerie Andrew didn’t know Craig even owned. When Craig had said he planned to fuck him during the ball, he hadn’t anticipated such detailed planning.

Craig stepped back and lay on the bed, encouraging him to join him. “Come on, Highness, a girl can’t wait forever.”

Andrew slipped his jacket off and left his boots lying on the floor. All he wanted to do was get out of his finery so he could explore more of Craig’s body. Soon, Craig was the only one with anything resembling clothes on as Andrew lay beside him and kissed him. There was no desire to rush, just a need to celebrate in their own way.

 

By the time Andrew and Craig returned, the party had become a concert. Charles’ throne room had become a stage, and Craig had to hold Andrew so he wouldn’t faint as they returned to The Beatles playing while the rest of the guests danced. The lighting was more like that from a proper concert venue, and ball gowns and tuxes had been replaced with clothes better suited to dancing and general revelry.

“I think. This is the most awesome night I’ve ever had,” Andrew decided.

“I think they’ve noticed your entrance,” Craig said as a pair of spotlights came their way, lighting them up as the crowd turned to welcome them.

“So this is why we changed,” Andrew murmured.

“I came prepared. This always happens. What did you expect with so many musos around? Can’t keep them off the stage if you tried,” Craig said.

But Andrew wasn’t listening to Craig anymore. All he could hear was Paul and George inviting him up to the stage to sing with them. Andrew nearly shat himself.

“Well, go on. Don’t keep them waiting. I adore the way you harmonise with them,” Craig said, taking the opportunity to push Andrew towards the stage.

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

Andrew was surprised that instead of completely freaking out and fainting, he’d had a surge of adrenalin and now he couldn’t wait to get up there and sing with them. He smiled as Paul lent a hand, helping him onto the stage. It felt very different up there. There they were, The Beatles, just smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves, and Andrew was right there next to them. He needed little encouragement to sing with them, and his little fanboy heart was beating a million times a second. Just being on stage had killed any nerves he had and the only thing he worried about was making sure he didn’t mess up.

Craig found Charles amongst the crowds and slipped the keys back in his pocket. Charles was too busy yelling encouragement to Andrew to notice.

 

A few hours later, after just about everyone who could sing or play an instrument had been dragged on stage, the party had begun to die down. It was well after midnight by then. Andrew was exhausted, though he was still floating on adrenalin from his own performance. He had just managed to convince Craig that sleep was most definitely a good idea.

Charles, however, had other plans. Charles and a small entourage were heading off to his country estate for the weekend, and Craig and Andrew were most welcome to come. Andrew had decided that was also a good idea. At least he could find somewhere isolated out there to process everything that had happened. He’d been waiting for Craig for the last half an hour or so. He’d gone off to get his things for a weekend jaunt into the country, promising to pack something for Andrew as well. Andrew perched on a windowsill, sipping his last glass of champagne.

His mind free from nerves, he was better able to take in those around him. A sizable crowd were still around, though it was mainly because they were waiting for their cabs, limos, cars and other such modes of transport. The crowd thinned gradually, and that’s when Andrew saw them in the back of the room. He was far enough away to process their appearance without wetting his pants from excitement. He also finally noticed they too were rather anachronistic, now that they were in normal light again. They didn’t fit, especially when they were acting like lovers. And looked wrong. Because they didn’t look like they were supposed to, now that Andrew thought about it. George Harrison was much younger than Andrew expected, given the year. Conversely, Jeff Lynne looked older and out of place. They were kissing tenderly, not drawing attention to themselves. Andrew looked away as Jeff caught his eye and approached.

“You’re out of your time, Highness,” Jeff said, bowing to him again.

“So are you,” Andrew countered.

“Shouldn’t that tell you something?” Jeff said. “Oh, and great gig last night. Send me a demo if you’ve got one. I’d like to hear it. I’ll see ya round.”

“Uh, yeah, sure, I-”

Andrew couldn’t finish his sentence. He watched in fascination as Jeff wrapped his arm around George’s waist and led him out of the room. Andrew was still staring in awe when Craig returned and broke his concentration. The offer - no, request - hadn’t quite sunk in yet, let alone the fact he’d just been talking to Jeff Lynne and George Harrison.

“Who was that?” Craig said.

“Oh just… someone,” Andrew said, still comprehending what just happened. He wasn’t sure he’d have been able to tell him exactly what had happened right then even if he’d wanted to. His knees weakened and Craig managed to catch him before he fainted again.

“Come on, love, I got our bags sorted. Charles is waiting for us,” Craig said, declining to tease him about it.

Andrew blinked, unsure if he’d seen what he thought he’d seen before, Jeff and George kissing like lovers. Dismissing it as more anachronistic mayhem, or the product of too much champagne, he let himself be led out to where Charles and his entourage were, his mind only half focussed on what was going on.

 

Jeff and George hung back outside in the shadow of the palace, watching Charles and his friends head into the country. The night air was calming, and they had a good spot behind one of the giant columns where the shadows obscured them from view. Jeff lit a cigarette while George leant against him.

“I bet he’ll faint,” George said.

“Nah, he’s not that pathetic. He’ll be fine, I reckon,” Jeff said.

George straightened. “Hundred quid says he does.”

Jeff shook his hand. “Deal.”

With that, they took themselves to Charles’ estate to watch Andrew, arriving well before the others did. The bedroom was the one Charles had reserved for Andrew and Craig to use. It was larger than Jeff had first thought, and the furnishings were suitably posh. He wasn’t sure Andrew would care when he arrived though. George wandered around the bedroom they had appeared in. He picked up a small figurine that sat on the mantelpiece before turning to Jeff, setting the figurine back in its place.

“Y’know, you got the subtlety of an elephant dancing in a tutu up the high street,” George said, approaching him.

“Yeah, but Georgie, what a dance,” Jeff said, his hands resting on George’s hips as he brought him close.

 

The country estate Charles owned was just as grand as the palace, though Charles insisted his country house was smaller. Their group was about fifteen in number, some of whom Andrew knew, some he’d just met and some he’d never seen before. Charles got them set up in guest rooms and left them to it. It was dawn, and no one was in the least bit interested in doing anything other than sleep. Andrew would have to wait til everyone woke to meet properly everyone who had accompanied them.

Craig and Andrew had a large room with possibly the biggest bed Andrew had ever seen. Andrew finally felt like he could stop at last. The door shut and he flopped down on the bed, exhausted. Craig took a moment to slip out of his dress before flopping down next to him.

“Fuck that was a good party. I told you it’d be big,” Craig said.

“I never want to fucking move for a week,” Andrew murmured.

“Well, I’m sure Charles would let us stay that long if you wanted,” Craig said.

“Sleep first. Talk about that crap later,” Andrew said.

“You’re not sleeping in that though. Come on, sleepyhead. Out of your royal wear,” Craig said, hauling himself to his feet.

Andrew sighed as he got up. Wearily, he undressed. Craig folded up all their things and hung his dress up. Andrew’s crown was locked in a drawer in the bedside table, one made for that specific purpose. Fifteen minutes later, they were able to sleep. They crawled into bed and curled up next to each other, quickly settling into sleep.

 

Jeff and George returned to the room Andrew and Craig were in and entered quietly. Andrew and Craig were both fast asleep, entwined in each other’s arms. Since the sun was well and truly up by then, traces of light crept in past the thick curtains, leaving the room not as dark as it would’ve been at night. Jeff approached Andrew and knelt beside the bed.

“Aww, lookit him,” Jeff said softly, brushing away the hair from Andrew’s face.

“I’d best be careful if that’s the sort of arse you’re chasing now,” George murmured.

“I ain’t after him for that. Why would I when I got you?” Jeff said, turning to look up at him. “Jus’ lemme…”

Jeff’s voice trailed off as he rested a hand on Andrew’s forehead. He just needed to give him one more dream before they went. Andrew shifted slightly, his eyes moving rapidly under the lids, but remained asleep.

“There. That’ll give him something to think about,” Jeff said as he stood.

“Bastard. Come on, let’s get outta here,” George said.

They exchanged a quick kiss before vanishing. Andrew slept on, oblivious to their intrusion. Craig rolled over and an arm slung itself over Andrew’s chest. Neither woke.

Chapter Text

Craig had woken first the next day and had left Andrew alone to sleep. It was late afternoon by the time Andrew woke. He sat up in bed and wondered where everyone was. He remembered the party the night before and unlocked the drawer to see if that was a dream or not. No, there was the crown sitting in the drawer.

“Shit. What have I gotten myself in for?” Andrew said.

“Ohh, good morning, sunshine,” Craig said as he entered. “I thought you’d never wake up.”

“Did eventually,” Andrew said.

“Time to get up anyway. It’s nearly dinner time. Well, it will be in an hour or two. If you go now, you can shower first,” Craig said.

“Hm. Yeah. Good idea,” Andrew said.

He got out of bed and found something to wear that wasn’t as stifling as the thing he’d worn the night before. Taking some of the offered bottles of soap and shampoo Craig handed him, Andrew headed down to the bathroom. He’d decided to ignore any grandeur he saw. It would break his brain further, he was sure of it, if he paid attention to it. Finally alone with no distractions, Andrew let himself think.

“What’s all this royalty stuff got to do with my career?” Andrew mused.

“Connections, Andrew. You saw the kind of company he keeps. You need him to get anywhere. You will send that demo tape, won’t you?” the fairy said, appearing again as it stayed out of the water.

“I don’t know. Why would he want to listen to my music anyway?” Andrew said.

“Do remember he asked you to send one. I would’ve thought that was incentive enough,” the fairy said.

“Yes, I do remember. I’m trying not to freak out about it. I can’t believe that happened. It feels like a dream,” Andrew said.

“Send it. You never know where it might lead. You’re the one who’s always wanted to be a rock star, remember?” the fairy said and vanished.

Andrew had to admit the fairy had a point. It couldn’t hurt to send it, and it’s not like he’d asked him to listen to his tape. Jeff has asked him of his own volition. He wanted to listen to it. How he had not seen them at his last gig was anyone’s guess. Perhaps he’d been so busy trying not to screw up he’d not bothered taking in who was in the crowd. He’d make sure to look for them next time.

He stood under the hot water and allowed his memories of the night to drift through his mind. It had really been a fantastic night, from the coronation to sex with Craig to performing with The Beatles. Andrew was quite sure he could die happy right then and there. He’d gotten along with Paul rather well, and it was only now that he was looking back on the night that he remembered the way they were flirting with each other.

As he got to thoughts of sex with his idols, he remembered the dream he’d had while he’d slept, of strange ships and Jeff and even more seduction. Jeff had held him and whispered to him, telling him his hopes and dreams and what Andrew deserved in a not-so-innocent manner. They had fucked on the bridge, with Jeff in the Captain’s chair and Andrew in his lap. He hadn’t dared mention the dream to Craig when he’d woken. He didn’t think Craig would know what to make of it, and really, it was somewhat embarrassing, so he had kept it to himself.

Alone with his thoughts, no one would care if he masturbated, just a little. He felt he probably should, or it would end up being far too distracting. It was Jeff who came to mind, who whispered in his ear and caressed every inch of his body. It was only when he opened his eyes that he realised he hadn’t been imagining as much as he’d thought he had. Jeff stood naked before him, smiling curiously. Andrew tried to speak, but words failed him.

“Shh, lemme give you a hand,” Jeff said.

“You’d better. This is mostly your fault,” Andrew managed to say, indicating his not so subtle erection.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Still, wasn’t half bad, was it?” Jeff said.

Andrew just grinned at him. There was no room between them and Jeff’s hands were quickly fixing the issue at hand. Andrew had nothing to complain about. He even kissed Jeff, enjoying this charmingly real dream-like illusion.

It didn’t last nearly long enough, and once Andrew’d had his pleasure, Jeff kissed him one last time and vanished. Andrew leant against the shower wall, utterly content.

 

Andrew did manage to extract himself from the shower eventually. Craig was waiting for him outside. Andrew was glad to see him. At least he knew Craig wasn’t some figment of his imagination.

“You took your time,” Craig said.

Andrew approached him. “I had a lot to digest. Feeling better now.”

“Yes, I can tell. Come on, time for dinner.”

Andrew took his hand and they set off for dinner. Andrew kept admiring whatever it was Craig was wearing as they went, and he almost stumbled on the way down.

Dinner was grand, but it suited the surroundings. The dining room was lush and luxurious, and the table set in a glorious manner. Everyone else were already seated, and Charles got to his feet as Andrew and Craig entered.

“Here he is, my wonderful heir! Come in, Dani, Pixie, take a seat and we’ll get started,” Charles said, ushering them in.

Everyone cheered and Andrew found himself brushing off their platitudes. It felt easier now that he had Craig with him. He had told himself he’d have to get used to the attention, so he was doing his best to not feel like he didn’t deserve it.

Once they’d been seated, the feast began. Andrew felt he needed the rich food Charles offered, given the way he felt. He was suspicious that his hangover wasn’t as great as he’d expected it would be. He was quite sure he’d drunk a shitload of champagne the night before, and yet…

He ignored the inconsistency. It was merely one of many. Soon, they would become the norm and he’d come to notice only those things that were supposed to be there, which was why he was concentrating on his dinner, rather than taking in who had come with them. There would be time for more brain breakage later. Perhaps he would take a walk around the gardens with Craig after dinner. That might help clear his head.

 

The gardens at night were beautiful indeed. They were the typical manicured gardens one would expect a grand mansion to have. Andrew had coaxed Craig away at last, after Charles had served them a meal that had lasted two hours. Now, in the cool night air, Andrew was trying to settle down and not freak out. While the shower had helped, he hadn’t had a moment to comprehend properly everything that had happened, especially his surprise visit from Jeff.

“You sure you’re going to be okay? You seem a little jumpier than normal,” Craig said. They had stopped by a lake and sat on a stone bench, watching the moonlight ripple off the water.

“Everything’s happened so fast. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Andrew said.

Craig brought him into a hug. “You’ll be fine. This is your big chance. Don’t screw it up, alright?”

“I’ll try not to,” Andrew said.

“Hey, stop worrying. You’ve got the talent to make this work. Don’t you doubt yourself now. You belong here,” Craig said, content to wrap an arm around his shoulders.

“Oh, the number of times people have told me that,” Andrew said, thinking of his own world rather than the one he was currently in.

“Don’t scoff. It’s true. I still remember the first time I heard you sing. It still sends shivers down my spine. In all my beauty, I can’t sing for shit. Trust me, don’t make me try. That’s your area. You make beautiful music and I just look beautiful,” Craig said with a smile.

“You are very beautiful, Craig. Pixie. Sorry. Brain’s still melted,” Andrew said, forgetting Craig’s name for a moment. “I met Jeff Lynne. Fucking hell.”

Craig appeared not to notice the slip. “Aww, you’re so cute when you’re fawning. Look at you. You’re like a kid in a candy shop or something. Just settle down when you need to, okay? How long do you want to stay anyway? Charles said we could stay as long as we want,” he said.

“A few days might be good. It’d give me time to clear my head. And get used to everything. I’m not used to people bowing to me. It’s weird. Why do they take it so seriously?” Andrew said.

“In time, you’ll understand just what this kingdom means to everyone and why they bow to you with the greatest respect. It’s not something I can really explain to you. You need to get it on your own. Give it time, okay? It’ll happen,” Craig said.

“I don’t have much choice, do I? How did Charles get all this money anyway?” Andrew said.

“Your guess is as good as mine. He claims its old money, but he’s the sort of man who makes his own business. He says this estate has been in his family for generations. Whatever the truth, he has money, and lots of it, and everyone adores him. Don’t ask me how he did it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were fairies or some pact with the devil. Charles is that sort of guy,” Craig said.

“Is there something wrong I don’t know about? It’s just something I saw in his eyes before. He’s worried and I don’t know why,” Andrew said.

“You picked up on it too?” Craig said.

“Yeah, I did. Do you know why he needs a Crown Prince? It seems unnecessary. Why go to all this trouble? What for? Why does he need an heir for some made-up kingdom? It makes no sense,” Andrew said.

“I wouldn’t let him take you as his Queen,” Craig said with a small laugh. “But no, seriously, I don’t know. But I’d consider it the highest form of honour. I’ve worked hard to get you that sort of respect, the respect you deserve. You want to be famous? This is how you do it. Charles knows anyone who’s worth knowing. If he can’t help make you famous, then no one can.”

Silence fell between them then, and Andrew gazed at the water. Nothing that had happened had been unpleasant, so he really had no reason to give it all up. The fairy was right; this was the chance of a lifetime. He could be the rock star he’d always dreamed of being and no one could stop him. He’d just have to get used to being amongst such excellent company. If that was the price of fame, he figured he could cope with that. There were worse things in life, Andrew knew that very well.

 

They stayed out a little longer before Craig decided to retire to bed. Andrew let him go, content to spend some quality time alone. The cool night air was being particularly conducive to his thoughts and he wished to take advantage of it. He remained by the lake, gazing at the still water. The fairy returned and flitted around his head. He noticed it made a shimmering white reflection on the water. In the distance, he could hear a couple of guitars being played quietly, though he couldn’t hear them well enough to guess who might’ve been playing them. It added a surreal quality to the night air as the music drifted across to him.

“I’m never going to stop getting star-struck, am I? Not in this world at any rate,” Andrew muttered.

“You just need to learn to deal with it,” the fairy said.

“How can I do that? I’m not supposed to be here. This is some strange mishmash of time where everything has come together in the strangest way and I just don’t know how to accept it. It’s too weird,” Andrew said.

“Then just accept it. I’m not taking you back. Learn to deal with it, or else,” the fairy said. “Now get ready, you’ve got someone waiting for you.”

Before Andrew could answer, the fairy vanished and Andrew heard the approaching footsteps. He figured it must be Charles. Andrew was startled to discover it wasn’t Charles at all who came to sit beside him. No, in some mad hand of fate, it was Paul McCartney.

“Nice out here, in’t it?”

Andrew glanced over at him. Paul looked too young, far too young for the year it was supposed to be, now that he looked at him properly. He looked at least ten, maybe fifteen, years younger than he was supposed to be. What kind of fucked up world was this?

“Yeah, nice and quiet,” Andrew said.

“Sorry I didn’t manage to catch you before at the coronation. I wanted to talk to you on yer own. You looked magnificent, yer Highness,” Paul said, giving him a slight but genuinely respectful bow.

Andrew blushed, but didn’t stop him. “Don’t worry, I was kept busy enough anyway. Not your fault. It’s nice to see you again. I wasn’t sure if I ever would.”

“Had to find time to scarper, din’t I? Don’t fret, I’m here now. Oh, and hey, you dropped this,” Paul said, handing him the small metal spaceship. “Got one too, hey?”

Andrew took it from him, surprised to see it. He hadn’t felt it drop from his pocket, but apparently it had. “Thanks. Yeah, I got one too. So very long ago.”

Paul sounded distracted as he replied. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

Andrew felt him shift closer and take his hand in his. For some reason, Andrew didn’t freak. There was something about him that settled Andrew, told him this was okay. The flirting he remembered as they’d played on stage together made a bit more sense then, though there seemed to be no accompanying explanation.

“Why are you here anyway? How long are you staying?” Andrew said.

“As long as y’need me. I missed ya while I was away. I’ll take you away one day, just you and me. We’ll escape to Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, anywhere we want,” Paul said.

Andrew loved the way his face lit up as he spoke. “As long as I’m with you, I don’t care where we go.”

Paul looked up at him, eyelashes fluttering a little. Andrew smiled. Paul leaned in and kissed him, slowly and sweetly. Andrew melted. Oh, how he loved Paul. Yes, one day they would escape together, just the two of them, and leave this town behind. There was reluctance in the air. Andrew knew they both had commitments, but the night, at that moment, was theirs alone.

Indeed, Andrew had forgotten he didn’t really belong here and totally believed the life the fairy had given him. It was all that mattered and he was sinking further and further into this strange world and the role he was playing. It was far more interesting than his old life and he wasn’t sure he wanted to go back.

“Let’s go for a walk, get ourselves lost,” Andrew suggested.

“A grand idea. It’s not like there ain’t plenty of garden to get lost in,” Paul said.

They left the pool behind and wandered around the garden holding hands, letting the cool night be their alibi. They stopped at the furthest part of the gardens by a stone gazebo and yet another pool. It felt like the end of the world. They sat down in the gazebo and gazed back at the mansion and the estate. They seemed so small now, seeing them from afar.

“Why are we all here anyway?” Paul murmured.

“Hmm? What do you mean by that?” Andrew said.

“You know that spaceship you’ve got? Everyone here has them. It’s like we were given them just so we could all be brought together now at this particular time and place. I don’t know why though. Georgie has his ideas, but the whole thing seems too odd to be mere coincidence. What do you think?” Paul said. He slipped out his own spaceship as he spoke, as if to emphasise his point.

“It would explain a lot, certainly. I mean, its 1977, I’m only supposed to be three years old,” Andrew said. He was his own self again, the sight of that little spaceship killing the illusion.

“I’m glad someone else has noticed. I thought I was the only one,” Paul said.

Andrew slipped his spaceship out again. The metal was warm from being in his pocket. “‘One day you’ll fly with us to the stars.’ I got it when I was 19. I’ve wondered what on earth it meant ever since.”

Paul looked at him, and Andrew recognised something in his eyes that said he knew what he’d gone through before receiving the spaceship.

“Jeff…” Andrew trailed off. It was all he could say. Paul looked at him. He understood.

“Yeah, I know, he came to me too. I think he visited everyone,” Paul said.

“What on earth is he planning? Does everyone know about this? Surely the rest will have noticed,” Andrew said.

“No, Dani. We shouldn’t talk about it, especially not when others are around. Charles gets weird about it. It’s our little secret, alright?” Paul said, clasping his hands over Andrew’s, trapping the spaceships in between.

“Yeah, our little secret,” Andrew said.

“Dani? What’s the future like? Do we survive? Tell me we survive. I need to know,” Paul said after a moment’s thought.

Andrew hesitated. He had this nasty suspicion that if he told him anything, he’d be breaking some Vitally Important Rule of Time Travel. Still, there was a naïve fear in Paul’s eyes as he realised he was faced with someone who’d come from the future and knew what had happened to him, to them. To the band and the people he loved.

“Yes. Yes, you do. I don’t want to say any more in case it wrecks everything,” Andrew said.

“Maybe y’ve already said too much. Doesn’t matter. Life’ll do as it wishes,” Paul said.

“Sorry. I still can’t believe how young you are,” Andrew said.

“Gotta start somewhere, Dani,” Paul said. His eyes were wide with optimism.

Andrew was awed by the experience. Here was one of his heroes, at the start of his career. Knowing where he would eventually end up, that moment seemed like the very beginning of a life of greatness and Andrew was there to see it. He could think of no words to say then. They seemed useless in trying to express what he was feeling at that moment. They shared another kiss and completely missed the shooting star traversing over the top of the mansion, its tail glowing red, blue and yellow in the sky like fireworks.

Chapter Text

Three weeks later, Charles was sitting in his drawing room, entertaining a guest. Charles sipped brandy from a large glass and sat back, watching the flames dancing in the fire place. Jeff Lynne leant against the windowsill, watching from a distance.

“Things going alright?” Jeff asked.

“Just like we planned,” Charles said.

“Good lad. I knew you were the right man for this,” Jeff said. He approached Charles and stood beside him, resting a hand on his shoulder. “And Andrew?”

“Clueless. Too star-struck to think straight. I should introduce you next time. That’ll keep him going for a while,” Charles said.

“All in good time, Charles. There’s no need to rush. Come here. It’s time you paid me your dues,” Jeff said.

Charles finished his brandy and got to his feet. He still wasn’t completely used to this, but as long as it ensured his continued wealth and happiness, he’d continue to pay Jeff as he dictated.

They shared a kiss and Jeff held him firmly. It was one of the first of many payments to come as Charles led his master to his royal bed chamber. Charles made sure the door was locked, ensuring they had privacy. They kissed again and Jeff was more forceful. Charles was reminded of his place and who was ultimately responsible for his position in the world.

Charles was always the bitch. He stripped and lay down as requested like an obedient puppy. Jeff merely smirked and pinned him down. A fierce kiss followed, and Charles gripped onto his arms. Foreplay was not a part of Charles’ payment. It was sex, and that was all, until Jeff had been satisfied.

Charles bit his lip as Jeff pushed in. Jeff was never gentle. At least, not gentle as if he were his most treasured lover. That was a privilege reserved only for George and no one else, Charles was well aware of that. Charles squirmed and held on tight, giving everything Jeff wanted.

No one knew about their relationship, let alone the sex aspect. Charles had worked hard to build his image of a son from a very old and wealthy family, someone fit to rule them. No one was to know Jeff was entirely responsible for his wealth, nor that Charles wasn’t strictly in charge. What happened between them in Charles’ private bedroom was a secret Charles could never tell.

 

“You must really like that country estate of Charles’ to be going back so soon,” Craig said. He sat on his bed, eating ice cream, as he watched him pack. “I’m only sorry I won’t be going with you. Too many things to do here. You behave yourself, alright? Only sleep with boys if they’re cute.”

“I’ll make sure to remember that,” Andrew said with a smirk. He appreciated the permission. It would make seducing Charles much easier.

“So what’s the occasion then?” Craig said.

“He’s getting some of his muso friends to come down, see if I like any of them enough to make a band. No pressure, mind, but still. Worth going, if only to satisfy Charles,” Andrew said. He’d done a few more gigs at the clubs around town since returning from Charles’ estate, and it had only grown his desire for fame. He had always wanted to be a rock star. Now, finally, he had his chance. It had become an intoxicating desire the more he discovered about the city, its limits and its possibilities.

“Ooh, I bet he’ll bring Juno with him this time. You watch him. He’s rather ravishingly talented as well. Can’t believe you haven’t met him yet,” Craig said.

“No, not yet, but we’ll see,” Andrew said.

“Go and have a good time. You got everything?” Craig said.

“Uh, I think so. Charles is picking me up soon,” Andrew said.

“I think he can allow us to say a quick goodbye first, can’t he?” Craig said. He set the bowl of ice cream aside and invited Andrew onto the bed.

“I think he can, yes,” Andrew said, lying beside him.

Craig’s lips were cold and creamy, and Andrew noticed he had been eating strawberry ice cream. It tasted wonderful. He would miss Craig while he was away, but he’d always have Charles for comfort. He hoped he’d share a bed with him. Not that he was trying to cheat on Craig, he just needed Charles. Even in their different personas, Andrew was still inexplicably drawn to Charles more than anyone else, as if his mind was trying to cling to the few bits of reality he could find.

 

Their goodbye was interrupted by Charles, who had been let in and had made his way to their bedroom, guessing where they were. A half-naked Andrew was curled against a naked Craig, and both looked like they were asleep or close to it. Charles smiled. He almost didn’t want to interrupt them, but he did have a limo full of musicians waiting so Andrew would have to wake up.
Charles perched on the bed beside Andrew and leaned down to kiss him, gently moving his chin around. Andrew woke, smiling happily up at Charles.

“Hey there. Come to take me away, have you?” Andrew said.

“Shift your arse, Dani. We gotta go,” Charles said.

“Pixie, man, wake up,” Andrew said, prodding his sleeping boyfriend.

“Now, why would I want to do that?” Craig said, keeping his eyes closed even though he was mostly awake.

“Cos I’m about to leave and I’d like a goodbye kiss, if that’s not too much trouble,” Andrew said.

Craig smiled and sat up. Andrew straddled his hips as they kissed once more. Charles averted his eyes. There were whispered promises to call and behave and only fuck cute boys, and then Andrew got off the bed and dressed, getting ready to go with Charles. Craig lay there, trying to look more enticing than a trip away with Charles, but Andrew wouldn’t change his mind.

“Stop sulking, alright? I’ll be home soon enough,” Andrew said, leaning in to give Craig one last kiss.

“You go have a good time. I’ll be waiting with champagne and strawberries,” Craig said.

“I thought you might. You behave yourself. I’ll see you later,” Andrew said.

“I want to hear about everything that happens when you get back, you hear?” Craig said.

“Don’t worry, I’ll tell you every gory little detail, alright?” Andrew said with a grin.

Craig sat up as Charles led Andrew away, a hand resting in the small of his back. Craig resisted the urge to be jealous. It wasn’t in his nature, not really, but he knew Charles well and knew he got his way more often than not. Still, he would look after him, so it wasn’t like his Dani was in any danger.

 

The car was parked by the curb. It was short by limousine standards, but still rather impressive. The driver opened the door for them and Charles and Andrew clambered in. Inside were five more people Andrew didn’t know. No, that wasn’t quite true. He did know them, but back in his own time. Who knew what they did here?

“Dani, let me introduce Chassybear, his inseparable love Julian, Dommy, Chris and Juno. Guys, this is Dani Turquoise. You lot behave yourself or there’ll be trouble,” Charles said, settling between Chas and Dom.

Andrew took a seat next to Juno, it was all that was free, and murmured his greetings to them all.

“So you’re Dani, hey? Heard a bit about you, new Crown Prince and all,” Juno said.

Andrew managed a smile. “Yeah, that’s me.”

“Oh, I like you. I think we’re going to get on just fine,” Juno said, leaning in to whisper in his ear.
Andrew shivered but had to agree. There was something in Juno’s voice that suggested they might end up in bed together before too long. He resisted the temptation to suggest that was merely because back in their own time, they had been lovers.

 

There was another surprise waiting at the estate. A car was parked out the front, its occupant getting out as the limo pulled up. Charles, Andrew and the rest of the band piled out as the limo stopped, satisfactorily inebriated. Charles waved to their surprise visitor and wandered over to him to greet him.

“Hey! Georgie my man! Nice to see you again! To what do I owe this delightful visit of yours?” Charles said, wrapping an arm around his shoulders.

“Do I need a reason to visit you, Your Majesty? Thought I’d come see how your new boy’s shaping up,” George said. He was looking older than Andrew remembered from the party, but still looked young, comparatively speaking. Maybe he’d just imagined him looking really young. It’s not like he was anywhere near sober. That, and he’d been rather distracted by Paul at the time...

“Hey, Dani, c’mere! Lemme introduce you,” Charles said.

Andrew and the others wandered over. Andrew was glad he’d had a drink or two before being introduced to George Harrison. He’d have fallen to pieces if he’d been sober. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. He did feel a little nervous though, all the same.

“Dani, mate, this is George. George, this is my boy Dani,” Charles said.

“New Crown Prince, hey? I’m honoured,” George said, bowing to him slightly as he took Dani’s hand and kissed it gently.

Andrew blushed. “Uh, hi, nice to meet you too,” he said. It was still weird to have people bow to him, mostly because he knew the respect they were giving him was genuine. He just couldn’t work out what he’d done to earn that.

“Come on, lads, let’s go make some music,” George said.

They spent the next two hours jamming in Charles’ little studio. Andrew figured it would be a good litmus test to see how well they’d get on if he decided to take them on as a band. They had started writing the beginnings of a few songs, which pleased Charles immensely. If things continued the way they were, Andrew would have a band, and he’d be on his way to stardom.

 

Craig was in the bath when the doorbell rang. He sighed at the unwanted interruption and waited for his butler to get the door for him. He wasn’t so cheap as to run around naked, wearing only a robe, as he rushed to answer the door. It might be someone important. Besides, he had a butler, and his job was answering the door. Well, one of his jobs. Soon enough, his butler knocked on the bathroom door and entered.

“Who is it?” Craig asked.

“Mr Lynne to see you, sir. Said it was urgent,” the butler said.

“Show him through. I’ll be with him once I’m decent. Get him a drink or something,” Craig said.

“Certainly, sir.” The butler bowed and left, closing the door behind him.

Craig rinsed the last remnants of bubbles and soap off his body before he stepped out of the warm water. He always felt better after a bath. Thankfully, he’d already brought some clean clothes with him, saving him a half-naked run to his room to grab something. He spent as much time on his appearance as he felt was polite before he went to see his guest. Craig found him in the lounge room. He sat on a sofa, glass of whiskey in one hand, gazing out the window at the street below.

“And what can I do for you?” Craig said, sitting down opposite him.

Jeff turned to him. “Just checkin’ up on my Dani. Is he around?”

“Ahh, you just missed him. He’s gone to the country with Charles and some musos. He said he’d be back in a few days, but it could be longer, depending on how well it all goes,” Craig said.

“Oh, that’s a shame. I’ll have to come back again. That said, you’re not bad company yourself,” Jeff said.

Craig leaned back on the couch. He knew when he was being propositioned. “Oh yeah? And what’s in it for me? I’ve got enough clients as it is. I’m not sure I need another. Cos I always ask for Dan’s approval first.”

“That’s very considerate of you. I would suggest that it’s in your best interests to take me on,” Jeff said.

Craig raised an eyebrow, intrigued. “Oh, yeah? Why’s that then?”

“His Majesty suggested it. That Dani of yours is going places. I’m just making sure things happen as they’re ‘sposed to,” Jeff said.

Craig considered his words. Perhaps he shouldn’t question them. “Okay then. What do you want?”

“Two nights a week, one with you, one with Dani. It’s your choice which nights they are, but no overlap. And what I do with Dani is none of your business,” Jeff said.

“You know, Dani’s not really part of the deal here, it’s only me who-”

“I’m sure if you just asked him, he’d tell you if he wanted this or not. I ain’t looking to sleep with him. That’s what I’ll pay you for. But no questions about what I do with Dani. It’s between me and him alone. Alright?” Jeff said.

“Okay. How much? I’m not cheap, as you might’ve noticed,” Craig said.

Jeff wrote him a cheque and handed it to Craig. “Per week. How does that sound?”

Craig looked at it. There were a couple more zeros there than he was used to seeing. Jeff really, really wanted to secure his services. But what do to next? His protocol was never to accept a new client until he’d had the okay from Dani. Should he wait until he got back? He probably should. But there was no way he was refusing his offer.

“That’s a shitload of money. Okay, I’m all yours, subject to Dani’s approval. He likes knowing all the people I sleep with,” Craig said.

“I can wait. Now hows ‘bout we go see just what I can do for you,” Jeff said, leaning forward.

“Okay. I mean, I-I don’t normally do this, but…”

Craig’s voice trailed off. Something was buzzing inside his head. He shook his head and the buzzing stopped. With a smile, he stood and took Jeff’s hand, leading him to the bedroom where he always took his clients to save his own bedroom getting destroyed. The door shut behind them and Craig arched his neck as they kissed.

It was downhill from there. For once in his life, Craig gave in to his client. He had no desire to fight for dominance. Craig was never sure just how long they’d spent together, but he didn’t care. The sex was great and Jeff was as gentle or as rough as he liked. It wasn’t often he was able to just enjoy sex for sex’s sake, even though he was technically with a client.

Craig was almost asleep by the time Jeff was done, happily satisfied by the evening’s events. Jeff leant down and kissed his forehead as Craig lay on the bed, partly sleeping under the covers. Jeff reached into his pocket and pulled out a little metal spaceship. It glowed brightly as words appeared on it. He left it in Craig’s hand and vanished. Craig rolled over and slept on.

 

Later on that evening, once they’d stopped jamming and had gotten through Charles’ banquet, Andrew was exploring Charles’ library. There were all these old books he was interested in reading. He gazed at all the titles and picked one out. He returned to the chair by the lamp and sat as he opened the book. It was a book of old fairy tales with illustrations. It was quite pretty. He opened it to the first story and began reading. So absorbed in the quiet he didn’t hear Juno enter and sit on the chair next to him.

“Like to read, do you, Dani?” Juno said, breaking the silence.

Andrew looked up in surprise, turning to face him. “Oh yeah, I’m rather fond of books,” he said.

“Wanna go for a walk?” Juno said.

“Sure,” Andrew said.

Andrew made sure to put the book away before following Juno out of the library. Juno didn’t lead him into the gardens. Instead, they went up a floor. Juno stopped them outside a rather non-descript door. Andrew wasn’t sure what the purpose of this was. Charles had sort of told them not to go up here. Juno slipped a key out and unlocked the door. It creaked open slowly to reveal a dark room.

“Come on. This is my little hideout,” Juno said, taking Andrew’s hand as he led him inside.

Juno turned a couple of lights on and lit a lamp. The room, now bathed in light, was quite warm and homely. It wasn’t some dusty unused room as Andrew had anticipated. No, it was seductive and furnished with cushions and a bed and a writing desk and assorted keyboards and other things, as if it was a self-contained flat inside this big mansion.

“I can live up here for weeks, if I want to. Wrote some good stuff here. Do you like it?” Juno said.

“I do, yes. It’s charming,” Andrew said.

“Here, shut the door and I’ll get us a drink,” Juno said.

Andrew did as he was asked and carefully shut the door. He liked the handle on it. It was brass and rather ornate. He spent a moment caressing it with his finger before returning to Juno, who offered him some sort of alcoholic drink he’d just made.

“What’s this then?” Andrew said.

“Try it and see. It’s a personal recipe,” Juno said.

Andrew took a sip and let the taste linger in his mouth. “That really is nice. What on earth is in that then?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know? Come on, sit down. We should get to know each other better if we’re going to lead this band,” Juno said.

Reclining on the bed had its advantages. They wouldn’t have to move there once they’d decided talking was boring and wanted to move on to other things. Juno could lie beside Andrew and stroke a finger through his hair. Andrew could brush a finger against his cheek and stare into his eyes. There was nothing at all wrong with this scenario.

“So, what brings you into this world, hey? When did you come from?” Juno said.

“Oh, you know, around. Wait, when? What do you mean?” Andrew said, unsure he meant what Andrew thought he meant.

“When. Like, it’s 1977 now. What year are you from? I know we’re not strictly supposed to talk about it, but I always ask. You never know,” Juno said.

“Oh, right. Um, it was… You know, I can’t even remember anymore. 20-something. 2001? 2007? I don’t know. I do remember when I got my little spaceship though. Mid-1994. I don’t know why I remember that more than I remember when it was before I came here,” Andrew said.

“Everyone remembers getting their spaceships. I think I’m later than you. I remember it being 2015 before I came here. You look familiar though, like I’ve seen you before but can’t quite remember who you are…” Juno trailed off.

“I don’t know. Do you want me to tell you where I know you from?” Andrew said. He was surprised Juno didn’t remember. He’d thought he’d seen recognition in his eyes. Perhaps he’d been mistaken.

“You can if you like. It might not be true for my world. I’m still not sure if we’ve been gathered from the same world or from parallel worlds,” Juno said.

“We were in a band together, late 1990s. We were, ah, rather close. We kinda drifted apart though. Went and did different things,” Andrew said.

Juno brought his face close, cupping his cheeks as he stared into his eyes. “Why don’t I remember you? What was your name? I need to hear your name.”

“It’s not Dani. It’s Andrew. Andrew Hansen. Depressed little nerdy boy at Sydney University. Ring any bells?” Andrew said.

“Oh, Jesus, Andrew. Oh, God, how could I have forgotten you? I swear this place is eating my brain. Oh, man, it’s good to see you,” Juno said. He brought Andrew into a tight hug, trying not to cry.

Andrew hugged him back. He remembered. “Do you remember how close…?”

“I do. Yes, of course I do. I really missed you, you know, after it broke up. Never had a chance to tell you how awesome it was back then. Sure, things didn’t work out, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, not for you,” Juno said.

“You were there when I needed you. For that I’m grateful,” Andrew said.

Juno reached down and pulled out a small knife from one of his boots. “Swear you won’t forget. We won’t forget,” he said as he took Andrew’s palm and cut their initials into his skin.

Andrew hissed at the pain. “I won’t forget. I promise.”

Juno cut the same into his own hand. “Never forget. Don’t let this world destroy you,” he said, clasping their cut hands together.

“I won’t forget,” Andrew said.

Juno brought him into a hug, fighting the urge to cry. He spoke confessions only Andrew was allowed to hear. “I want to go home. This world is too strange. I don’t know how to get back. I’m trapped here.”

“I don’t know what’s going on here. Someone has a grand plan for all this. I suppose we’ll find out in good time,” Andrew said.

“I don’t want to find out. I want to go home. I don’t like this world. It’s making me forget things. I’m not Juno. I’m Cam. I don’t belong here,” Juno said, holding Andrew close.

Now it was Andrew’s turn to comfort his friend. Cam began to cry as he remembered his old life and everything he’d left behind. They had begun to fade into oblivion, removing themselves and any link to a previous life.

“What’s going on in my mind? I’m losing myself. Make it go away, Andy,” Cam said.

Andrew didn’t think he knew how to do that. Is this what this place did? Gather people from different time periods and make then into completely different people? Why? Who would do that? Why would you do that?

Lost for anything else to do, Andrew sung to him quietly, singing the songs they had once performed together. Cam remembered those. He kept gripping Andrew’s bloody hand as he began to sing along with what fragmentary memories he had left.

“Do you have a fairy, Andrew? A little thing that talks to you?” Cam whispered.

“Yeah, I do. I thought I was the only one,” Andrew said.

“You can’t see them. I reckon everyone has them though. Little fairies that keep us sedated. Maybe that’s why we’re not supposed to talk about this, so we don’t go mad,” Cam said.

“Maybe. Just try and forget it. Let’s just be Andrew and Cam for one night before we go back to Dani and Juno. Just us together, no one else,” Andrew said.

“Okay, that sounds nice,” Juno said.

Andrew kissed him gently then, just like he used to. Juno-Cam clutched him close. He needed this, needed to remember where he came from. Andrew was only too happy to oblige.

Andrew’s fairy watched them together, pondering whether it should tell Jeff about their dissent. Cam’s fairy was most indignant at its charge rebelling so much from the paradise it had brought him to.

“We can’t let this go on. They’ll need to forget again,” Andrew’s fairy said.

“We should send them both back,” Cam’s fairy said.

“We can’t. Andrew’s too important. They’re both needed here. Let them have their night together. If it comforts them, so be it. We can ease them back into their roles later. Come on, let’s give them some privacy,” Andrew’s fairy said.

Cam’s fairy glared at the two of them writhing on the bed together and disappeared. Andrew’s fairy wished them luck and left them to it.

On the bed, Andrew kissed Cam and whispered to him as Cam held him close, desperate to find solace. Andrew wasn’t sure what to do, but it didn’t matter. They soon fell into the same rhythm they’d had when they were together, and Cam didn’t want it to end.

 

Andrew wandered through the mansion. He couldn’t sleep. Juno’s words had been on his mind ever since they’d spoken, but he lacked enough information to properly deal with them. He’d left Juno sleeping and had snuck out to wander, hoping it might help clear things up. He found Charles in the sitting room, standing by the fire. Andrew approached, wanting to talk to him.

“Oh, hey, Dani. You’re up late,” Charles said.

“Couldn’t sleep. How ‘bout you?” Andrew said.

“Just thinking,” Charles said.

“About anything in particular?” Andrew said.

“Nah, it’s not important. I should probably go to bed. You doing okay? Not missing Pixie too much are you?” Charles said.

“Maybe a little. Bed feels a little empty. I should call him tomorrow,” Andrew said.

“You’re just trying to get me into bed, you little whore,” Charles said with a laugh.

“I can’t help it. You’re just that attractive. Could we...? I mean, if you were interested, of course,” Andrew said.

“I’m all yours. Who knows? It might help you sleep better,” Charles said.

Andrew smiled. Charles took his hand gently and led him back upstairs. Andrew hadn’t seen Charles’ bedroom last time he was here. It was bigger than he’d imagined. It really did befit a king, even a self-proclaimed one.

“You haven’t got anything, well, smaller, and more intimate, have you?” Andrew said.

“Through here, love. You don’t think I actually sleep here, do you?” Charles said, walking over to the wall. He gave him a look that suggested that, yes, he really did sleep in that gigantic bedroom rather a lot, but he would forever deny it.

Charles led him through a narrow door hidden behind a tapestry and into a smaller room, clearly designed for entertaining guests. Charles shut the door and finally they were alone.

“Nice place you got here,” Andrew said, sitting on the bed.

“It has its uses,” Charles said.

“Are you going to sit down here already? I can’t kiss you when you’re hovering around like a disobedient child,” Andrew said, not intending to sound domineering.

“Oh, yes, sorry, I was just-”

“Shut up and get your arse here.”

Charles did as he was told and sat down next to him. For some reason, Charles was feeling hesitant. Andrew kissed him and laid them both down on the bed. Charles held onto him, silently glad Andrew had made the first move.

Chapter Text

It was nearly another two weeks later before Andrew and the rest of the band returned. They’d been having so much fun, they hadn’t wanted to stop, but Charles had other guests coming and they really needed to go. They’d managed to record demos of almost an album’s worth of tracks, and a few more incomplete fragments; Charles had booked them some studio time back in the city to clean them up and record them properly.

Andrew’s relationship with both Charles and Juno had grown, and he’d slept with both more than once while they’d been away. Locked away in Juno’s little room on the third floor, they’d written some good snippets of songs before getting distracted by each other again. It was the one time they used their real names, forgetting the personas they were supposed to be. It helped keep Juno sane, Andrew was sure of it.

Andrew was surprised at how much closer to Juno he’d grown. He was expecting he’d be closer to Charles, but Charles was often busy and Juno was there far more often, so they’d bonded all over again as if they were back at uni, back doing their little band, and hoping to make it big.

Andrew had come to love Juno’s little room, and, unknown to Charles, had moved in there a few days after the first night they’d spent in there. Together, they would spend the time writing, sleeping, fucking, or just talking. Juno had a window that looked out at the garden, and Andrew liked looking at it at night, with Juno by his side.

They talked often of their past together. Andrew filled in blanks in Juno’s memory. The more Juno remembered, the more comforted he was by Andrew’s presence. They even redid a couple of the songs they used to play together and reworked them for the band. They’d rewritten the lyrics so they were more explicitly about the two of them. It was safer to sing about their relationship in this strange world than back home, and it made more sense, or so they’d convinced each other.

They had parted ways very reluctantly, though both knew they’d see each other again soon enough. It still hurt to say goodbye, and Andrew noticed how Juno hugged him very sweetly and whispered to him before letting him go. Andrew promised to call before the limo drove off again, taking the rest of them to their respective homes.

Still, Andrew was happy to be back home. He had missed Craig a lot, in spite of the excellent company. Dragging his bags in, Andrew was about ready to collapse with exhaustion. It had been tiring, but good. He dumped his bags and went to find Pixie, who was lounging in his library reading while he smoked a cigarette.

“The prodigal musician returns,” Andrew said as he entered.

Pixie looked up at him and smiled. “Oh, there you are. I was beginning to wonder if you’d been murdered out there by some psychopath. How was it?”

“Awesome. Too much to tell you right now though,” Andrew said.

“Go freshen up. I’ll go make some coffee. You can bitch to me then,” Pixie said.

“Okay, sounds good,” Andrew said.

After a quick kiss that lasted a little longer than necessary because Andrew was rather enjoying the smoky taste of Pixie’s kiss, Andrew left him to shower. Pixie slipped the bookmark in place and sat up, leaving the book on the coffee table. Taking a moment to have one last drag, he stubbed the cigarette out and headed for the kitchen. He’d let Andrew tell him about what he’d been up to first before landing the whole ‘Jeff Lynne’s our new client’ thing on him.

 

Pixie had settled in the sitting room, taking not the sofa but the small table by the window. Warm afternoon sunlight was streaming in. He was sitting in a way that Andrew found particularly enticing. He approached and sat down opposite him, feeling better now that he was in some clean clothes.

“So, did you like Juno?” Pixie said.

“I did, yes. We got along very well. Charles finally found me a band I like, would you believe. We’re calling ourselves Discordia, and Juno and I are sharing lead vocals. I have a good feeling about this one, Pixie, I really do,” Andrew said.

“Jesus, about bloody time. I was beginning to think you’d never find one, the way you kept turning them down,” Pixie said.

Andrew smiled excitedly. “Yeah. We got some good work done. Recorded some demos too. It’s sounding really great. Charles is getting us in to record later in the week. I can’t wait.”

“Oh, I’m so proud, my little baby’s growing up. Just wait, man, you’ll be famous soon enough,” Pixie said.

“That’s the plan, yes,” Andrew said. He sipped the coffee and settled back. He was surprised at how restrained he was being. Perhaps he was happy to have his own secrets. “So, did you get into any trouble while I was away?”

“Well, I don’t know if it’s trouble, but I did take on a new client. Sorry for not telling you, but I felt it could wait til you got back. I didn’t want to ruin your mojo,” Pixie said.

“Oh yeah? Anyone I know?” Andrew said.

“Jeff Lynne. And he wants a night a week with you alone as well as a night with me. And hey, don’t look at me like that, he was offering many times more than what I normally charge. How was I supposed to say no?” Pixie said, watching Andrew’s face as it turned from curiosity to shock. (Or was it fear?)

“Jeff Lynne? Why on earth would he want a night with me?” Andrew said, head reeling from the possibilities.

“He didn’t say, said it was none of my business. I assumed it was something to do with your music or whatever. Anyway, he said to call when you got back so he could work out what day was best. I didn’t know how long you’d be away so…,” Pixie said.

“Jesus Christ,” Andrew said. “I’ll - I’ll deal with that later. When I’ve had a bit of a sleep. Yeah.”
Pixie finished his coffee. He had a feeling he’d be the one calling Jeff. Andrew had enough on his mind as it was.

 

The rest of the week was a blur. Andrew spent far too much time with the band, recording, drinking and occasionally fucking Juno. He was too busy to see Jeff until after the single launch. The band had picked a song called “Butterfly House” for their first single, and had spent the week perfecting the song until they arrived at a version Charles liked enough to send off for printing, with a few B-sides to entice the listener, though no one would be willing to admit that they were only included because they were finished. Andrew was particularly finicky about his songs and knowing the audience, was rather more nervous about getting them perfected than he might otherwise have been.

Andrew felt a little weird about the whole thing when he thought about it. His old band had released an EP, but that had been on CD. This one would be vinyl, which was another thing altogether. He went to see them being made. The final product felt odd in his hands. His music was on that small 7”. Listening to it made his head explode with happiness.

Now all there was to do was settle back and wait for the launch party Charles had promised.

Andrew had wondered why they needed a launch party. The world seemed far too small to warrant such a thing, let alone a thriving music industry, but he kept forgetting about all the musicians who also inhabited this world. It seemed only natural that they would continue making music, particularly when they seemed to be free of the big corporate music industry back home.

Jeff had ways of making the printing of EPs and albums far faster and easier than physically possible under normal circumstances, and the readily available studios made for a thriving music scene. Freed from the normal pressures and restrictions of music-making back home on Earth, the music that was around had a far more honest sound than Andrew had ever heard before. With plenty of clubs and venues to play in, there was no shortage of shows to go to, or places to play. Andrew and his band and done a few gigs now, and when he wasn’t playing, he was out at the clubs, drinking in all the music that surrounded him.

Music was also far more profitable here, as there were no debts to pay back, so virtually all the royalties went to the artists. All that was needed was booking the studio time, recording music, and getting it printed. There were no middlemen to intervene and bands generally took care of themselves. Because there was no need to worry about anything apart from making music, that freedom had produced music that would never be released back home, and Andrew devoured it eagerly. He would have to find a way to bring it all home with him. He couldn’t bear leaving it all behind, not if he had any say in it.

 

Andrew was pleased he didn’t have to dress up like a prince for once. He liked being in much more comfortable clothes, and anyway, the band were performing, so he could hardly go in his formal wear anyway. He’d spend the afternoon with Juno, picking out stage costumes, as they discussed the sort of look they wanted. They hadn’t really quite settled yet on their image yet and were still trying out various outfits that fitted with their chaotic discord theme, with varying levels of success. Craig, on the other hand, had come in his best outfit, a sleek deep blue dress that hugged his body tightly. His attire echoed the 1920s in style, and he had some suede heeled boots on that Andrew thought were just magnificent.

The pub was already packed when they arrived, arm in arm, and Charles greeted them at the door, ushering them inside to a rousing cheer. There was no time to take in who was there as everyone came to congratulate him. Finally, he made his way to the rest of the band, and they hugged him warmly and handed him a drink. Juno wrapped an arm around him, and they clasped their hands together, their scars touching, a small reminder of what they shared.

“So, big night, hey? How are you feeling, apart from nervous?” Charles said, prodding Andrew in the ribs.

“Oh, I’m doing alright. I’m sure it’ll kick in sooner or later that this is for me, for us, and not for anyone else. What’s the plan anyway? When are we playing?” Andrew said.

“I thought I’d wait til everyone was nicely sloshed before bothering with the formalities. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with long speeches, just introduce you and get you out there playing. The stage is yours, boys, so play as long as you like, and feel free to invite us all up there with you if you feel like it,” Charles said.

“Sounds good to me. We’ve got a few covers up our sleeves. We’re still perfecting a few songs,” Andrew said. “Shall we sort out some semblance of a set list just so we all have some idea of what we’re doing up there?”

“Well, we start with ‘Butterfly House’ and go from there. Nice mix of our songs and covers, I think. That enough of a set list for you?” Juno said with a grin.

“You’ve got a while to sort it out, don’t panic just yet,” Charles said. “Oh, you’ll have to excuse me, there’s someone I’ve been meaning to catch up with. I’ll see you later.”

Andrew waved him off and was left with having to think of a set list and stop himself passing out as he was quite sure he’d just seen a Beatle wander through the crowd. He settled for finishing his drink and wondered just how drunk was too drunk to play as Chassy passed him another.

 

From a deserted laneway somewhere out the back of town, David Bowie casually strolled into the night as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He was right where he wanted to be. The crossing had been far too easy. He had expected Jeff would’ve put in some sort of barrier, but apparently he’d been wrong. All he’d needed to do was walk right through the boundary as if it wasn’t even there. Now that was some careless work, and he made a mental note to mention it to Jeff when they finally met.

There was a shining light behind him and he stood aside as several bodies went tumbling out into the street, yanked from various points in their own lives back on Earth and brought here. He leaned against a wall as he watched them get to their feet. A simple wave of his hand sent them all off to different parts of town to disorient them. Heaven forbid he should make it easy for them to cause trouble, though their presence alone would be enough. He didn’t even really need so many of them, but he had taken a rather shrewd delight in noting which of Jeff’s friends he’d left behind. It was more than a little obvious that Jeff had left the more precious of them behind, and it seemed to be a most excellent sort of bait for his purposes.

“Let’s see how well you deal with that, my dear,” he murmured.

A shadow appeared beside him. He glanced over his shoulder as George came up beside him, draping an arm around his shoulder.

“You know, you really are evil,” George mused.

David grinned. “It’s part of my charm.”

George moved in front of him and gently pulled him into a kiss. David held him back, surprised as George pressed him against the wall. “He’s not gonna see you, is he?” George whispered as his hands found their way inside David’s coat.

“Of course not. I’m not that thick,” David said. “Shall we fly? I haven’t flown for years. Much as I’m enjoying this, love.”

George kissed him one last time and smiled at him. “Okay, just for you. I can show you around.”

After one more kiss, they broke apart. David stepped back a little, giving himself room to change.

“Be an owl. Just for me,” David said quietly, brushing his fingers down his cheek.

“For you? Anything,” George said.

George launched into the air as he transformed into an owl, David not far behind him. Together, they hooted as they flew off into the night, exploring the dark city below.

 

Andrew was nervous as hell as he listened to Charles introducing them. Up on stage, he had a much better view of the crowd, and he was sure that if Juno hadn’t been beside him, holding his hand, he’d have fainted at the prospect of playing on stage in front of some of his idols. He knew he’d enjoy himself once he was out there, but until then, his nerves took over. It wasn’t even the first time he’d played for them either. The weirdest thing about this world was the audience before him was pretty much the usual crowd he played to. It was an audience of peers, which was just that little bit more daunting than an ordinary crowd back home. He’d grown used to seeing at least one Beatle there, usually Paul, and Jeff seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He’d even been convinced he’d seen Bob Dylan slipping through the back of the crowd one night, but no one else had seen him, leaving Andrew to conclude he’d been mistaken.

“We’ll be alright, won’t we? What’s the setlist again? I can’t remember what we decided on,” Andrew whispered.

Juno gently massaged his shoulders as he leant in to reply. “We’ll be fine. Don’t worry about the setlist, I’ve got it memorised. Just let me take lead tonight, okay?”

Andrew nodded, and agreed to let him take over. He’d done it before, and Juno was a great showman. It would at least shine the spotlight on him instead. Andrew could just concentrate on playing the right notes. He was beginning to suspect that last vodka shot with Charles was a bad idea.

“I’m not ready for this. I’m so not ready for this,” Andrew murmured as Charles finished his speech and introduced the band to play their first single.

“Too late to back out now, man. Come on, they’re waiting,” Juno said as he pushed him forward.

The rapturous applause took Andrew by surprise, but once he was out there, his nerves soon disappeared. He was always fine once he got on stage. It was just the long wait beforehand that did him in. Striking up the first chord, he gave Juno a grin and they started playing.

Three songs in, Andrew remembered the rest of the set list, which at least meant he wasn’t constantly giving Juno confused looks, as if he had no idea what he was doing. He was actually feeling pretty good in spite of how drunk he was. The atmosphere was amazing and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

After they’d finished their setlist, the stage was opened to anyone who wanted to play, and Andrew was most pleased he was up there singing a duet with Paul McCartney. Andrew kept throwing him wistful gazes, and Paul played up to him, doing his own teasing. And if Juno looked jealous, it didn’t last, and Andrew just focussed on enjoying himself and not fucking up as almost everyone in the club had their turn on stage, turning the show into one long jam session that didn’t really end until just before dawn.

 

Craig escorted a very sleepy Andrew back home just as the sun was rising, Juno gladly helping carry him inside. Laying him down in bed, Juno joined him, and after a slight kiss, they both settled down to sleep. Craig let them be. He wasn’t that tired, and asked for some coffee to be brought to the sitting room.

He sat by the window, watching the sunlight gently streaming through the city. He had a lot on his mind, too much to go to sleep. He’d had a very strange conversation with Charles during the evening, and he still wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. He hadn’t had a chance to talk to Andrew either; he’d been too busy on stage. Craig had just been asking about the heir, and why Charles thought he needed one, and Charles had said something about continuing the dream throughout the ages, though Craig wasn’t sure if he was talking sense or not. He mentioned something about fairies, but as he’d started to explain, George Harrison had caught his arm and asked him to dance. Like Craig was going to say no.

Maybe he’d misheard Charles. The club had been very noisy, that’s for sure. He thought about calling Charles just to see if he remembered it and might clarify, but Charles was probably fast asleep anyway, just like he should be. He couldn’t stop thinking about it though. Charles did look worried about something, Craig could work that much out, but he didn’t know what.

Finishing his coffee, he went to his room and wrote down the whole conversation word for word as he remembered it and made a note to talk to Charles about it later. Finally feeling tired, he got into his pyjamas, carefully putting his outfit away, before climbing into bed. It felt empty without Andrew there, but he’d taken Andrew to the room next door, so he and Juno could be together. Lying down, he gazed at the ceiling, his conversation with Charles still running around his head, before he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Back in mid-1965 in Birmingham, far away from Jeff’s perfect world, a 19 year old Bev Bevan and his fellow bandmates were grabbing a pie after their gig that night. It was cold, but the Pie Stand was already sporting a large gathering of fellow musicians. He had been discussing the show with one of his fellow bandmates when he spotted someone in the distance. He looked familiar, but there was too much shadow to tell.

Bev couldn’t look away from him as the man walked towards him, and Bev knew he was after him. His eyes were glowing, that was all he could see. He held something in his hand that could’ve been a weapon, though its shape was difficult to discern. The crowds parted to let him through as he moved forward. Silence fell over them, as if they were all afraid of what might happen if they tried to stop him. What the man held in his hand looked like a shotgun. No one wanted to get in the way of that.

There was something in the way he was behaving that made Bev afraid. He didn’t wait to see what he wanted. He turned and ran, sprinting off into the dark streets as his friends called after him. Every time he looked behind him, the man was the same distance away, even though he was walking. No matter how fast Bev ran, the man was still behind him, the same distance away.

Then he hit a brick wall. Literally. The pain seemed somehow more staggeringly bad than he expected, though he was still too scared to notice. He stumbled a little, trying to steady himself. His head ached badly, and his vision was a little blurred. He didn’t remember this part of town. The man was still approaching, arm outstretched as if to grab him, or shoot him. It was hard to tell with the shadow. There was nowhere to run. There was also no time to beg or plead for mercy.

Before Bev could really comprehend what had happened, the man had shot him, killing him instantly. The wall behind Bev disappeared, there was a searing pain in his heart, and Bev was pulled backwards and thrown out onto an unfamiliar street, very much alive.

 

Oli Hecks found himself standing on a street corner in what looked like a residential part of the city. There were a few streetlamps around, lending the brickwork a sodium orange glow. It was a rather picturesque street, really. The houses all looked old and English, with neat little planter boxes filled with roses and lavender and primrose and other assorted English flowers, the sort you see in traditional country gardens. Wrought iron fencing fronted them all, with neat shining numbers sitting proudly on the gate. A thin layer of snow covered everything, just to complete the picture. They all looked perfect. It was a little too perfect. The orange glow from the street lamps made the place seem spookier than it might otherwise look during the daytime.

He wasn’t entirely sure how he’d ended up on this rather lovely street. It was one of the few streets he hadn’t explored since he’d found himself here. The last thing he remembered was driving around Los Angeles with Dhani around sunset. They’d come over a hill, and the sun had nearly blinded them for a moment until they turned and the sun moved away from their direct line of vision. Soon after that, well, Oli wasn’t entirely sure. He’d felt something pulling on the car, and then he’d blacked out. Had they crashed? Was Dhani okay? Where was Dhani anyway?

Oli looked around. He couldn’t see anyone else with him. There didn’t seem to be anyone around at all. The houses, for all their perfection, appeared to be unoccupied. There were no cars parked outside on the street, no foot prints in the snow apart from his own, no dogs barking, nothing. Just to be sure, he approached one of the houses and knocked on the door. No one answered. He peered through the mail slot, and a window, and saw no one. He tried another and got no answer.

“Ahh, they can’t all be empty, can they?”

Curious, Oli tried another three houses before finding one with an unlocked front door. Cautiously, he entered. The house was silent. Too quiet. The front room was perfectly tidy. He approached the mantelpiece, looking for anything to identify the owners. There was a small crystal vase and a ceramic statue of a basset hound, but nothing else. Strangely enough, there was no dust.

Oli moved onto the kitchen. Spotlessly clean. The dining table had been set for four in a most elegant manner, but there was no meal, no people. The only other thing on the table was the gravy duck, full of steaming brown gravy. He thought about tasting it, but he wasn’t sure it wouldn’t kill him.

Heading upstairs, the bedrooms were also bare of personal items. The beds were made very precisely, and the soft toys on the children’s beds arranged perfectly. It was as if it had been a room photographed for a furniture magazine. Nothing was out of place, everything was incredibly tidy, and it had an artificial pristine glow about it.

Looking out the window to the backyard, the snow-covered grass was neat, but there were some patches of icy dirt. The garden was otherwise as neat as the front. A lone tire swing hung from the branch of a tree and it swayed gently in the light breeze. He decided against heading down into the garden and left the empty house as he went back out onto the street again.

A cold breeze blew through the street. Oli wished for a warmer jacket. Shoving his hands deep into his pockets, he crossed the street to where a lush park was, albeit a small one dusted with snow. He decided he liked this side of the street better. It wasn’t as disconcerting. Figuring he would find out nothing about where he was standing around looking at pretty houses, he set off, looking for another part of town. Maybe he’d find Dhani if he looked around long enough.

 

Bev lay on the ground, eyes wide with fear and shock. He’d been shot. There was a wound and blood staining his shirt to confirm this. Just to be sure the wound was real, he touched it gently with a finger and the stabbing pain was all too real. Then there was blinding pain in his head and he rolled over, curling up tightly. He lost his vision. Panic set in. Where was he? Was he dead now? Was this was the afterlife was like?

Gradually, the pain lessened and Bev relaxed, still lying on the cobblestones. His vision returned slowly. The city he saw before him was totally foreign. It didn’t calm him in the slightest. Still, he wasn’t sure there was anything he could do about it, so he merely lay there and took in the city. There were people around, he could hear them, but no one seemed to be paying him any attention.

When he felt strong enough, he got to his feet and looked around him, squinting. It was daytime, probably mid-afternoon, and it definitely wasn’t Birmingham. On first glance, it looked like London, but upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. The fashion didn’t help either, apart from the fact it wasn’t the mid 60s anymore, though it didn’t help him work out what year it was, or even where he was. He looked at what he was wearing before his eyes were drawn to the small metal spaceship at his feet. He bent to pick it up. He’d never seen it before. Engraved around the edge were the words, “From one form to another, we live as one.” He had no idea what it meant. Perhaps he had died after all.

Wait. Why did he look so … discoloured? Something was wrong with him. The world around him was brightly coloured, but he had a decidedly dull hue to him, almost as if he’d had all the colour drained from him. His skin was a very pale pink, his skirt barely had colour in it, and he looked very much out of place in this world, as if he’d come straight from a black and white photograph. They weren’t even the clothes he had been wearing at the time, and he became slowly aware that his hair was distinctly longer than it had been. The theory that he had died and this was the afterlife was gaining support. Why else would he look like that?

He looked at the street before him. Someone was clearly responsible for this, but he had no idea who that might be. Clutching his hand around the spaceship, he set off down the street, hoping to find someone who could tell him what was going on, and whether he had really died.

 

Dhani Harrison was wandering through the streets, wondering where he was. After debuting at Coachella earlier in the day, he had spent the evening lying on a bed beside Jeff in a little motel room in Indio, California, making a toast to his father with a bottle of champagne. He’d caught sight of a shooting star and made a wish he knew wouldn’t come true. Now he was in some strange city he didn’t quite recognise. He shivered. It was a bit cold.

The streets looked English, but not enough for Dhani to pick out which city he might be in. He wasn’t sure how a street could manage to look so very English, and yet manage to hide exactly where it was. All the streets had very ordinary names. He didn’t see anyone anywhere, so he just kept walking. There didn’t seem to be any shops around, just house after house. They looked like nice houses too, not run down council houses. A scruffy brown dog ran across the street and disappeared into someone’s backyard. Dhani turned down the next street and wondered when the endless stream of houses would end.

It wasn’t until he saw that dog again that it occurred to him he might be wandering around in circles. He kept going, changing directions and which route he took, but he still ended up on the street with the dog running across it. He didn’t seem to be able to get out of it. The dog didn’t even notice him, ignoring him completely as it ran across the street. Eventually, he decided to follow it, and squeezed past the gate into the backyard.

To find himself in a churchyard was just a little bit disconcerting. The little stone church looked very cosy as it sat there in the park. The dog had vanished, and a young child was running between the graves, throwing rose petals on them. The child didn’t seem to see Dhani either, and the names on the headstones appeared to be written in some ancient language he couldn’t decipher. As he looked over between the trees, he thought he saw his father walking past, the dog trotting merrily beside him. When Dhani looked again, they were gone, and so was the child.

He left the church behind and headed towards the surrounding woodland. There was a park nearby, but it was empty. He heard a dog barking, but it echoed around him and he couldn’t work out where it was coming from. The faint sound of singing drifted through the air towards him, and he looked back at the church to find light flickering through the stained glass windows. Hoping there might be someone inside who could help him, he went back towards the church.

The singing stopped as soon as he entered, and there were no lights anywhere. No one was inside. Curious, he walked down the central aisle towards the altar. There still didn’t seem to be anyone around, so he turned around, only to find the doors had shut. He hadn’t heard them close and when he tried to open them, they wouldn’t budge.

When they did finally give in and fly open, Dhani found himself back on the same street he’d started on, that brown dog sitting by his feet. Someone was seriously fucking with him, and he didn’t like it at all. The dog was no help; it just stared at him happily. The streets were still deserted. Deciding he’d had enough, he broke into the closest house through the lane around the back and found it was empty too. The front door wasn’t locked, either. The dog had vanished.

As he looked out at the street, he saw someone hurriedly cross the street and sit down on the steps outside one of the houses. Finally glad to find someone, Dhani ran over to him, only to find Oli sitting there shivering with cold. They didn’t waste breath on greetings as Dhani brought him into the house he’d just broken into. He lit the fire and sat Oli down in front of it.

There was a blanket hanging over the back of the sofa. Oli wrapped it around him as he spoke. “So glad I found you. It’s been months. Stuck in this bloody street. I can’t get out. Where the hell are we?”

“I don’t know. I just got here myself. How can you have been here for months? That makes no sense,” Dhani said, sitting down beside him.

“None of this makes any sense. I thought we’d crashed the car, but I woke up here and you were nowhere to be found. I’ve just been nicking stuff from the houses. I can’t do anything else. It’s so boring. There’s no telly, no radio, no people, I’m stuck here on me own. I never seem to run out of food either. Like, when I take something, the next day, it’s been replaced,” Oli said.

“So there’s no way out of here?”

“Not that I’ve been able to see. You seen that dog, right? Don’t ever follow it. I can’t even begin to explain where it led me. I just want to go home.”

“Maybe someone’ll find us here eventually. At least you’ve got me now,” Dhani said, bringing him into a hug.

 

Bev walked down the street until he caught sight of another spaceship that looked similar to his own. It was barely visible from a man’s jacket pocket as he sat outside a café drinking coffee with his mate, who was quietly strumming an acoustic guitar. Bev approached them and sat down in the spare seat.

“You know this is taken, kid?” the man said, glancing up at him. He looked about fifty with a mess of dark brown hair and spoke with an American accent. His mate was hiding under a rather nice hat, his dark blond hair sticking out underneath the brim. He didn’t look at Bev, content to ignore him as he played a tune Bev didn’t know.

“Sorry, but I just wanted to know where you got that spaceship,” Bev said, gesturing to the man’s pocket.

“What, don’t you know where they come from?” the man said.

“I don’t know anything. Don’t even know where I am. I was just out with me band after our show, and then this bloke appeared. Didn’t see his face. He chased me, had me cornered, shot me, and then I find myself here with this at my feet. Got any answers?” Bev said, setting his spaceship on the table for him to see.

The man considered his answer. “Look, we’re not supposed to talk about it, but Jeff Lynne’s the one you’re after. At least, that’s what the current theory is. Look for him,” the man said.

“Jeff Lynne? But he’s just a kid. He’s younger than me. What could he possibly do?” Bev said, vaguely aware of the young guitarist’s name.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” the man said.

“Do you know where I can find him then?” Bev said.

“Could be anywhere. Go find His Highness, King Charles. He’ll be able to get you two in touch. He lives in that big palace a few blocks over,” the man said, indicating the direction.

“And who should I say sent me then?” Bev said.

The man sat back in his chair as he lit a cigarette. “Tell him Bob sent you,” he said, after taking a drag.

“Just Bob?” Bev said.

“He’ll understand. Now, get going. My coffee’s going cold,” Bob said.

The other man looked over at him at last. “Hey, maybe we’ll see you there. His Majesty’s having a party tonight.” He also appeared to be American. Maybe this wasn’t England, but America. It was a very English-looking America if it was though.

“Yeah, maybe,” Bev said. “Thanks again.”

He returned to his playing, gently picking out a tune. “Don’t mention it. Oh, and kid? Get some sun, you’re as pale as a ghost.”

Bev thanked them and headed off, annoyed that others saw how pale he looked as well. It did reassure him his eyes weren’t just playing tricks on him though. Hopefully Jeff could fix it.

Once he’d left, Tom Petty stopped playing and turned to Dylan. “Think we should’ve told him who we were?”

“I doubt he’d have known, even if we’d told him,” came the reply.

“Yeah, probably. Would’ve been fun to mess with his head though. He has no idea what his future holds. Oh, to be young and innocent again,” Tom said, a half-grin crossing his lips as he glanced at Bob.

“Speak for yourself.”

Tom chuckled quietly and started playing again, picking out a suitable song.

Chapter Text

Bev was left wandering the streets again. They looked different, as if they changed all the time. He didn’t know quite where he was heading. As he left a more residential area and came back to town, more people were around. All sorts of music poured out into the streets from the clubs and pubs, and Bev wanted to look in all of them.

The music was like nothing he’d ever heard before, music that wasn’t jazz, classical or rock music. There were some that sounded like they were made with electronic instruments, and some had a pounding beat that made Bev’s head hurt. He wasn’t sure what these other kinds of music were, and he would’ve looked inside the clubs, but the music from an old-looking jazz club caught his attention first.

The music that greeted him sounded very familiar. The drumming in particular stirred some ancient memory in his mind. Curious, he decided to go in. The bouncer let him through once he’d paid and Bev carefully made his way through the crowd until he could see who was playing.

Bev stared in shock. He didn’t look like any memory he had of him, but Bev knew it was his father. He’d never seen him play before. Bev’d been too young, and then his father had died when he was ten. He was strangely entranced by him.

He approached the stage reverently, watching the way his father played. He loved the smile on his face. So focussed on him, Bev hadn’t noticed he’d walked straight through people as if he wasn’t even there. Certainly no one noticed when he tested his visibility by climbing on stage. He turned and looked out at the audience, who didn’t seem to notice he was there. Maybe he had died. Maybe that’s why no one could see him.

He glanced at his dad again before leaving the stage. Again, no one seemed to notice. Someone even walked through him as if he didn’t exist. Bev was not at all pleased by this. He’d thought he was solid enough before, but perhaps this was what happened when you died. He needed to find Jeff. He really, really needed to get out of there. Leaving his father behind, Bev ran out of the club and back onto the streets, continuing his search in earnest for the palace.

 

Thankfully, it didn’t take much longer for Bev to find the palace. Then again, it wasn’t hard to find a building that size. Figuring he had nothing to else to lose, he approached what looked like the front door and rang the bell. The door opened and a thin-faced butler peered out.

“Well, you’re different. What purpose have you here?” he said.

“I’m looking for a King Charles. Bob sent me,” Bev said.

“His Majesty is currently not receiving guests,” he said.

“Can you just ask him anyway? I don’t know where else to go. I need to talk to him about Jeff,” Bev said, hoping he might be let in.

The butler sighed. This pale boy had mentioned Jeff. He would have to wake Charles after all. “Alright, come in. But wait here. I’ll go wake His Majesty,” he said, opening the door to him.

Bev entered and was astounded by the lobby. This was grander than he’d ever imagined. This place, wherever it was, was certainly not Birmingham. He followed the butler to the sitting room and waited, taking a seat on a pristine-looking lounge.

The whole room was pristine, actually. It sparkled in a way pristine rooms sparkle. Bev didn’t want to touch anything for fear of breaking something. He was sort of nervous, if he was being honest. He didn’t know who this King was or if he’d be friendly to him. Figuring there was nothing to do but wait and trust he’d been sent to someone who could help him, he sat on the lounge and waited, hands balled into tight fists.

 

The butler had been very reluctant to wake the King. He knew he was resting, as he always did at that time of the day. The butler entered the darkened bedroom and hoped he wouldn’t get his head chewed off for waking His Majesty. Still, he knew it was important that His Majesty see his visitor, so he woke him, even though he was sure he wouldn’t like it.

The butler had been right. Charles had not appreciated being woken. Charles stirred, groaning in a manner that made apparent his displeasure. He was a King, dammit. He should be able to sleep as long as he wanted. Charles sat on the edge of his bed, wondering what was so important that his precious slumber had been disturbed.

“What the fuck is going on? I thought I said no visitors?” Charles said.

“You have company, Majesty. He wants to talk to you about Jeff,” the butler said.

Charles yawned, a hand scratching the back of his head. “Of course he does. Know who he is? Must be a new arrival. Okay, fine. Gimme time to get dressed and I’ll go see him.”

“He’s waiting in the sitting room, Majesty. Do you wish an escort, or…?”

“I’ll be fine, Harris. I think I can navigate my palace to the point where I can go and find a guest. Bring me some coffee. Make it strong,” Charles said.

The butler bowed and left him to it. Charles got up and dressed in his semi-formal finery. He was not holding Court, so formal Royal dress was not needed. However, he should look suitably royal. He was, after all, a king. He dressed in such a manner that made clear he was a King, and that he was most displeased that someone had dared to interrupt his slumber. He scowled as he set his crown on his head. He didn’t really need to wear it, but, well, nothing said King like a crown, and maybe the little bastard would bow to him and beg not to be killed. The final touch was his ceremonial rapier. It was sharpened, but it was not fit for combat. It didn’t need to be. Sometimes, just seeing a sword was enough to make his subjects bow and scrape at his feet. He always liked it when they showed him reverence. He knew he deserved it. After a final glance in the mirror, he left to find his visitor.

 

Charles made his way through the palace to the sitting room. He paused in the doorway. Bev was still seated, gazing off out the window. If he had been expecting someone, he had at least been expecting someone he knew. Whoever his guest was, he hadn’t seen him before.

“So, you wanted to see me so badly you interrupted my sleep? Who are you anyway?” Charles said. He walked in and stood opposite him, observing him with an air of irritation he probably didn’t deserve.

“You’re King Charles?” Bev said, looking at him. He went to bow, but Charles gestured for him to sit.

“Yes I am. Who are you? What are you doing here anyway? I wasn’t aware anyone else was coming through,” Charles said.

“Me name’s Bev. I’m not sure where I am. I was hoping you’d tell me. I was just out with me mates, and then this guy chases me. But he shoots me, right, and next thing I know, I’m here with this at me feet. Please tell me this is all real and not just some very bad dream. Sometimes people can walk through me, like I’m some sort of ghost. It’s like they can’t even see me. But then sometimes I can touch things too,” Bev said. He took the spaceship from his pocket and left it on the table between them.

“Ah. Right. So you’ve got a spaceship. That makes a difference. What year was it before you came here?” Charles said. “You sure you’re okay? That wound looks, well, bad.”

Bev glanced down at the wound. It was still bleeding a little. “I’m fine, or at least I feel fine. The wound’s stopped hurting, which is nice. It’s 1965. Or it was. Why?”

“Here it’s 1977,” Charles said.

“No wonder things didn’t look right. This isn’t Heaven, is it?” Bev said.

“Look, there’s not much I can tell you. Jeff kinda told me not to tell. What’s your name again?” Charles said.

“Bev Bevan. Do you know what I’m doing here?” Bev said.

“I’m not in charge here, Jeff is. You’d have to ask him,” Charles said.

“So where might I find him then?” Bev said.

“He lives across town, 10538 Mayfair. Big house with a giant version of one of those spaceships on top. Can’t miss it. Don’t know how well you’ll be received though. He’s hard to get hold of and doesn’t normally take visitors, but good luck,” Charles said.

“Thanks. I’ll go see if he can’t tell me why I’m here,” Bev said, slipping the spaceship back in his pocket.

 

Charles watched him go. He wouldn’t have said it aloud, but for once, he thought Jeff had made a mistake. He knew the names of everyone who was supposed to be there. Bev was most definitely not on that list. Indeed, he remembered Jeff stipulating precisely (and with rather more emotion than Charles had expected) who wasn’t supposed to be on the list and why, after he’d gone through the list of people who were coming. He particularly remembered the desperate, almost pleading, tone in Jeff’s voice as he told him why Bev wasn’t supposed to be coming. Charles had decided against asking about the real nature of their relationship and shut up like a good little minion.

Still, that Bev was actually here and also had a spaceship meant that something had gone very wrong. There was supposed to be only one way in here. If Jeff wasn’t bringing people in, then who the fuck was? He didn’t want to risk speaking out of turn, so he figured he’d let Bev tell his story. Then it wouldn’t be Charles’ fault.

Charles retreated into the secret room where all the different people were being recorded and tracked, just to see if his presence had been recorded too. The glowing table spread before him. It was a map of the town and showed everyone’s locations. A separate view tracked the time periods all the people had come from. Bev Bevan was definitely on the town map. He was approaching Jeff’s house. Curiously, his marker was the same colour as George Harrison’s. The significance of this was beyond Charles’ comprehension. The question would be whether 1965 was in the list of time periods too. It shouldn’t be there at all; it wasn’t part of the pattern.

“Birmingham, 1965. Search for Bev Bevan,” Charles said. He liked that it had voice command.

His answer flashed across the screen. ‘That person does not exist.’

“That can’t be right. He’s here. He can’t just disappear. Search again,” Charles said.

‘That person does not exist.’

“Search for him in every time period then,” Charles said.

‘That person does not exist.’

“Shit! Shit, shit, shit! Something is wrong. People don’t crossover here and disappear from their own world. It doesn’t work that way. Why is this different? Was it because he was shot?” Charles said. Jeff would not like this at all, and the map offered no answers.

He checked the time. His party was due to start soon. Jeff would have to wait til after he was done entertaining. He could tell him about it all later. What harm was there in waiting? What could this stranger possibly do?

Then the map blinked at him and chirped to get his attention. Charles looked to see what it wanted. Three red dots flashed their locations.

‘Unauthorised arrivals.’

“Three? There are three of them now? No, no, this is completely wrong. Who are they?” Charles said.

The screen flashed their identities on the map. Charles gasped. Things were not right at all. So very wrong. Perhaps he should tell Jeff sooner rather than later. A further five unauthorised arrivals appeared as dots on the screen. Charles was most displeased.

‘Boundary instability. Unauthorised arrivals require registration and life duplication in order to prevent boundary failure. Please confirm,’ the screen told him, referring to the boundary of the time bubble that surrounded them.

“No, no, no. This isn’t happening.”

‘Boundary instability. Unauthorised arrivals require registration and life duplication in order to prevent boundary failure. Please confirm,’ the screen repeated.

“Goddammit! I do not need this right now,” Charles said.

Hurriedly, he scribbled down the names and where they were, and went to contact Jeff. The last thing he needed was the boundaries collapsing on him because somehow there were unauthorised arrivals here, especially when he had a party to host. However, Harris his butler came to inform him the guests had started to arrive and the problem of people who shouldn’t be there would have to wait. He was a King, after all, and he shouldn’t keep his guests waiting. He was a better host and monarch than that, and he prided himself on his hospitality. He knew how to throw a party.

He did, however, send a quick message to Jeff before he left; he couldn’t bring himself to leave without telling him what was going on before he made his way down to the party. The possibility of boundaries collapsing, Charles decided, wasn’t something that he could just put off.

 

George stood on the top of the plateau that overlooked the cliffs below. It looked down over the whole city far on the horizon. The city glowed in the night-time, and if the sky hadn’t looked so very different from what he was used to, he might almost have bought the illusion that he was back on Earth. As he watched the city, a tall slender figure with bright orange hair appeared and came to stand beside him.

“You ain’t supposed to be here. Charles’ll see you,” George said, not bothering to see who it was. They had agreed to meet there earlier in the day. George needed to know everything was ready.

“And I suppose you’re going to turn me in, yes?” came the indistinct voice behind him.

“That wouldn’t do me any good, would it?” George said.

“Tell me, how are things down there?”

“Just fine. Jeff doesn’t suspect you. I’ve done me best to keep your identity hidden. The rest is up to you,” George said. “That was a very clever trick of yours, sending yourself through like that. I’m impressed.”

“Jeff isn’t the only one with his powers.”

“I take it you were responsible for Bev? Just so you know, you didn’t actually kill him, but he’s destroyed enough he won’t be a problem for us,” George said.

“What happened to him was - regrettable. My agent overcompensated.”

“Nevertheless, he don’t know what he is. Jeff will be easier to destroy without him by his side,” George said.

“Spacetime has made you callous, Harrison. Since when were you this cruel?”

George declined to answer. “Is everything prepared?”

“It has been for weeks. We’re waiting for your instructions.”

“Soon, aye? I’m waitin’ for the right moment,” George replied.

“What are we going to do with all those people I sent through?”

“They’ll keep Jeff busy while we take over.”

“I thought we were destroying this place?”

George shrugged. “Maybe we’ll keep it. I know some of its secrets now. It’d be a shame to lose it. There’s plenty here to exploit, and we could use a new base, one the others can’t find.”

“Fucking Guardians. They might as well not exist for all the authority they wield. Can’t claim power unless you’re prepared to use it, that’s my rule.”

“Leave them. If they’re happy to exist in their little isolated world, refusing to meddle in anything, that’s their business. The rest of the universe happily exists without them. We’ll deal with them in time.”

“So you’re still serious about bringing them down?”

“The universe needs guardians who actually do something to keep the place in order. The Guardians stink of stagnation. The cycle of creation and destruction needs to continue again.”

“I take it you have a plan?”

George again declined to answer. “Get out of here. I have work to do. I’ll call you when I need you.”

The figure bowed and backed off, vanishing back through the boundary to the ships outside. George walked closer to the edge. With one final look at the city below, he transformed into an eagle and flew off into the sky.

Chapter Text

Andrew paced agitatedly. Jeff fucking Lynne was coming tonight, when he didn’t know, to spend the night with him. He would wait until after the band had launched their first single before coming to see him. It had been rather well-received, and hearing it on the radio was still making him smile. Jeff had called earlier in the day, saying he was coming round to celebrate with Andrew. Pixie already had plans anyway, so it didn’t matter what he did. Andrew would have the house to himself.

Still, it had taken all afternoon to sink in. Andrew thought he’d adjusted to this world enough, but apparently not. He’d changed his outfit three times, unsure what to wear. Pixie was no help either; Jeff had refused to tell him what he wanted to do with Andrew.

Pixie walked up behind him and squeezed his shoulders gently. “Just relax, will you? He can’t want to harm you, not when he wants an ongoing relationship. He didn’t seem mean when he was here last. What are you worried about?”

“It’s Jeff Lynne. That’s the problem. Jeff fucking Lynne. Why does it have to be him? I’ll probably faint again,” Andrew said.

“You’ll do no such thing, mister. You’d better behave. I’m leaving you for Charles’ company tonight. Jeff’s orders. He really wants some private time between the two of you. I’d go with it. Offers like that don’t come along every day,” Pixie said.

“But why would he even want to come and see me? I’m no one. I just don’t understand this at all. It shouldn’t be me. You, I can understand, but not me. No one ever wants to come and see me, not like this,” Andrew said.

The doorbell rang then and Andrew instinctively looked towards the door.

“Well, you’re about to find out why he’s here. I’ll stay while you get introduced and leave you two to do whatever it is he wants to do with you,” Pixie said.

Andrew felt a surge of nervousness in the pit of his stomach. And then, seemingly an instant later, there was Anton escorting Jeff Lynne into the room.

“Mr Lynne for you, sirs,” Anton said as he gestured him inside. He bowed and left them alone.

“Nice to see you again, Jeff. How are you?” Pixie said, going to greet him.

“Knackered. You?” Jeff said.

“Trying to stop Dani fainting. He’s a bit nervous. Go easy on him,” Pixie murmured.

“He won’t be nervous by the time I’m done with him. Aren’t y’gonna introduce us then?” Jeff said.

Pixie turned to face Andrew and found him slumped on the couch, clearly overwhelmed by the situation. Pixie was at his side, cradling him gently as Andrew slowly came to.

“Come on, you big baby, you promised you wouldn’t faint on me,” Pixie said. Andrew, upon seeing Jeff smiling at him, made to get up, but Pixie held him back. “Hey, easy, mate. Take it easy. It’s okay.”

“Jeff. Shit. Sorry. I mean, that usually never happens and-”

“Don’t worry about it. You alright?” Jeff said.

“I will be, in a while,” Andrew said, settling down. “Craig, can you-I mean, Pixie, y-you know what I mean-”

“Just stay there. And don’t faint again. I’ll get you some water,” Pixie said, deciding against berating him about getting his name wrong.

Andrew relaxed into the couch, letting his body go limp. He stared up at the ceiling, unable to look at the other man in the room, as Pixie left him to get him what he needed. Jeff smiled and came to sit beside him.

“Yer not gonna do that every time we meet, are ya?” Jeff said.

“I-I don’t think so. I hope not. Sorry. So embarrassed. I’m usually better than this,” Andrew said.

Jeff reached down and took his hand gently. “You’ll be right. Feeling better yet?”

“Getting there. Pixie keeps teasing me because I’m such a girl,” Andrew said.

“Nothin’ wrong with that. I think you’d make a cute girl,” Jeff said.

Andrew stifled a laugh. “You haven’t seen me in drag.”

“You’d make a good princess, I reckon,” Jeff said, turning to face Andrew as he gently brushed the hair out of his eyes.

“In a pink dress and glittery tiara? Yeah, that’s what Pixie reckons too,” Andrew said, hiding the shiver that travelled down his spine at Jeff’s touch.

“What do I reckon?” Pixie returned then, carrying a tray laden with a tea pot, cups, and some tiny cupcakes with coloured icing on top. “I brought snacks. Thought you might want some food, Dani.”

Andrew sat up, grateful for Pixie’s attentiveness. “Yeah, that sounds good. You’re not staying then?”

“You seem perky enough now. I’ll leave you boys to it. Charles is waiting for me,” Pixie said.

“Have a good night then. I’ll be alright with Jeff to look after me,” Andrew said.

“You’d better be. I’ll see you guys later. Don’t wait up, Dan. This party could go til dawn,” Pixie said.

There was a kiss for Andrew and a reassuring smile for Jeff and then Pixie was gone, flitting down the hallway and away into the night. The silence was strange. Andrew hadn’t realised just how much noise he could make. He sat forward and sipped the small glass of water Pixie had brought.

“He’s a good man, that Pixie. Takes good care of you,” Jeff said.

“Yeah, I’m grateful for that. Every day I look down at the street and thank the stars I’m not living there anymore. This is pure luxury,” Andrew said.

Jeff ran a hand through Andrew’s hair, loving the way it fell down his back. “How long were you out there for?”

“Long enough. I’m not that good at taking care of myself. I was starving most of the time,” Andrew said.

“You do have that malnourished street urchin look, don’t ya? I might just have to feed you cupcakes all night and fatten you up,” Jeff said.

Andrew laughed a little. His nerves were settling down now, and a warm happiness was spreading through his body. He had no idea what the night would bring. Would there be sex involved? Certainly he could feel the sexual tension in the air. Something might come of it.

“So. Why did you want to see me tonight?” Andrew said, his curiosity getting the better of him. He poured the tea as a distraction and handed Jeff a cup.

“Just to see how yer doin’. Haven’t had a chance to talk to you yet,” Jeff said.

“Sorry, been busy with the band and stuff. I didn’t even know you wanted to see me,” Andrew said.

“I was waiting for the right time. Had to get the band together first. Congrats on the single, by the way. Sounds fabulous. I knew this place would be good for your imagination,” Jeff said.

Andrew decided against questioning Jeff’s involvement in the process. “Ah yeah, thanks. It’s a bit weird having it out there, but people seem to like it so I can’t really complain. Juno’s really good. I still think he’d be a better frontman than me.”

“He hasn’t got the stage presence you’ve got. You gotta lead that band, not him. Wanna show me some of the stuff you’ve written? I’d like to see you play,” Jeff said.

“Okay. Sure. Uh, music room’s through here,” Andrew said, taking a couple of cupcakes as he got to his feet.

 

Tea abandoned, Andrew led Jeff into his small studio-cum-bedroom. He slept in here when he had been working far too late and didn’t want to interrupt Pixie as he got into bed. It was a modest room, relatively speaking, and tastefully decorated. There were a couple of different keyboards sitting against a wall and a few guitar cases in one corner. The desk against the wall adjacent to the keyboards was strewn with paper, covered in all sorts of scribbles. The music part of the room seemed out of place with the normal bedroom part of the room, but Andrew liked it anyway.

“I should’ve cleaned up a little. Sorry,” Andrew said.

“I like a messy musician. You’ve got all sorts of interesting things here, haven’t you?” Jeff said, flicking through a small handful of papers.

“Just ideas and such. Might not go anywhere,” Andrew said.

“Go on, play something for me. Whatever you like,” Jeff said, leaving the paper behind on the desk.

“Okay. Um.”

Andrew sat at the keyboard. His fingers hovered over the keys as his brain searched for a song to play. He settled on the last song they’d worked on at the estate. It was by no means perfect, but it wasn’t bad for what it was. Andrew shivered a little as Jeff sat behind him, his arms slipping around his body. He paused, unsure where it was going.

“Don’t mind me, keep playing,” Jeff said, making sure there was little room between them.

“Okay.” Andrew kept going, picking out the melody again.

“Here, change that chord. This one sounds better,” Jeff said, modifying the chord he’d just played, his hand sitting over Andrew’s.

Andrew played the section again, and yes, it did sound better. Jeff rested his head on Andrew’s shoulder. Andrew was beginning to feel like he’d done all this before.

“Try it again from the top, with them changes,” Jeff said.

Andrew began to play again, noticing it did sound better than before. “I do like that better. Here, pass me that paper?”

“Memorise it, Dani. You gotta learn this stuff,” Jeff said.

“I’m doing my best. I was just gonna write it down for the rest of the band,” Andrew said.

“That’ll come later. Gotta get it perfect first. Play it again,” Jeff said.

Andrew obliged, unable to say no. He felt a little more confident playing it then. He only missed one chord. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to screw up,” Andrew said.

“Doesn’t matter. It sounds marvellous. Just concentrate on remembering it,” Jeff said, a finger brushing his cheek ever so gently.

Andrew began to remember the dreams that led to him getting his little spaceship. They’d started out just like this, or close enough to this. What was going on? Maybe he should see where this goes before saying anything though.

Andrew played it again, this time making no mistakes. Jeff held his waist loosely. It seemed a bit much for a small guy like Andrew, having Jeff’s considerable weight behind him. Still, he didn’t feel like he was being squashed though, just held. He dared not look down when he felt Jeff’s hand slipping down his thigh. So he was right about the sexual tension. Fabulous. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to fuck him right there and then, or try and resist as long as possible.

“You play beautifully. I knew you were the right one for this,” Jeff said.

“This all happened in my dreams, when you came to me before. What’s going on?” Andrew said.

“Nothing you need to worry about. Now are you gonna let me seduce you or not?” Jeff said, grinning at him.

“I - uh, well…”

Andrew had given in. Jeff kissed his neck. His beard was scratchy, and Andrew shivered. There was something incredibly delicate about his touch, as if he didn’t want to break tiny Andrew. Jeff’s hands gently rid Andrew of his shirt. The feel of his hands running across his bare flesh was intoxicating. He wasn’t in a position to do anything back to Jeff; this was all about Jeff doing things to Andrew, and fuck did it feel good.

The teasing was there, just as Andrew remembered from his dreams. Close, but not touching him, a finger dipping below his waistband, but going no further, the soft kisses pressed to his neck. The air in the room was cooler now, and Andrew couldn’t help shivering, his skin covering itself with goose bumps.

“Come on, love, come to bed. You could do with some warming up,” Jeff said.

“Okay, that sounds good,” Andrew said.

Jeff helped him to his feet. They shared a kiss before perching on the bed. Andrew was nervous again. It was one thing to dream about fucking Jeff Lynne, and another to actually go through with it. Jeff held his hands gently. If he noticed the scars carved into one of his palms, he said nothing. Perhaps he was willing to overlook it.

“You alright?” Jeff said, seeing Andrew staring at the ground, arms clasped close to his chest as he shivered in the cold.

“No, just - cold. I wish Pixie would heat this place up better,” Andrew said. It was the only thing he hated about the mansion. There were certain places that were always cold.

“Go on, get out of that finery and get into bed. Don’t want you getting sick,” Jeff said.

Andrew did as he was told, stripping down to a shirt and underwear. Oh, it felt good to be snuggled underneath the thick doona. It took a moment to warm up, but he was glad of it. Jeff soon joined him, slipping into bed beside him with a similar amount of clothing on. They faced each other, Jeff stroking his cheek gently with his thumb.

“You’re so warm. How do you do it? I’m always cold. Too small, says Pixie. Not that he can talk. He gets cold too,” Andrew said.

“I’m too big for me own good. Come here, snuggle up next to me, I’ll keep ya warm,” Jeff said.

Jeff shifted so he was on his back and Andrew curled up beside him, arms around him. Andrew was surprised at how non-sexual it all felt. He was waiting for Jeff to start mauling him, but it never happened. Maybe he was waiting until Andrew could see him without fainting first. All he did was hold his hand gently and keep him close.

“This is really weird, you know,” Andrew murmured.

“How’s it weird?” Jeff said.

“Because you’re here and I’m here and this is really fucked up,” Andrew said.

“Fucked up wasn’t the description I’d have used. If you think about it too much, you’ll go mad. Just relax. Run with it. You might be surprised where things end up,” Jeff said, stroking a hand through Andrew’s hair.

“See, now you’re just trying to coax me into sleeping with you,” Andrew said, suppressing a smile.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing. Don’t tell me y’don’t want it,” Jeff said dismissively.

“I dunno. Pixie only lets me sleep with cute boys,” Andrew said, glancing up at him.

“Are you insinuating I’m neither? Dani, I’m hurt,” Jeff said.

“Well, I wouldn’t have called you a boy. I think you’re past that by now. As for the cute part, well…” Andrew trailed off as he rolled over to face him, leaning on his chest.

“You were gonna say hairy old geezer, weren’t ya?” Jeff said, chuckling quietly.

“Not in those words, no. I would’ve said it much more diplomatically,” Andrew said with a grin.

“Smarmy git,” Jeff said and pulled Andrew into a kiss.

 

It took longer to find Jeff’s house than Bev had thought. He’d thought the giant spaceship would make it easier, but no, the streets seemed to shift and move the closer he got. By the time he finally found it, night was falling and it was getting cold outside. Bev checked the number on the gate and went up to the door. It looked dark inside. Perhaps Jeff was out. He rang the bell anyway. At least he could still touch things. Yet another butler answered the door. He seemed less friendly than the last.

“He’s not home. Come back later,” the man said.

“Isn’t he? His Majesty sent me. I demand to see him,” Bev said.

“He’s not here, sir. Go away or I’ll call the police. This is private property,” the man said.

Bev didn’t want to be brushed off again. His frustration kicked in and he pinned the man against one of the doors, glaring at him. “Where is he? Tell me.”

“I told you, he’s out,” the man said.

“Where is he?” Bev repeated. He tightened his grip.

“Ugh, okay, okay, he said he was going to be at Mz Pixie’s house all night. 157 Sheffield Way. Please, don’t tell him I told you. I’ll get a thrashing,” the butler said, caving to pressure. There was something about Bev’s stare that made him decide not to get him any angrier.

“Thank you. See, that wasn’t so difficult,” Bev said, letting him go. He gave him a final glare as he left, cursing at his bad luck at having to find yet another house in this strange city.

 

When Bev finally arrived at Pixie’s house, Anton was most surprised to find a pale young man standing on his doorstep. Pixie had said there would be no guests that night, other than Jeff. There was no reason anyone else should be here. Still, it was his job to greet anyone who arrived, so he should probably see why he was-

“Is Jeff here?” Bev said, not bothering to wait to be addressed.

“Yes, sir, he is, but who are you? Does he know you’re coming?” Anton said.

“Let me in. This is just between us,” Bev said, pushing past him. He didn’t collide with him though, pushing through him as if he had no mass at all.

Anton shut the door as he watched the angry young man march off into the house. “Ohh, Pixie isn’t going to like this.”

 

Bev made his way through the quiet house. At first, he thought he heard music, but it didn’t last long. He would have to search blind and see if he found them in this large house. He looked everywhere until he finally reached the small room where Jeff and Andrew were. The door was slightly ajar. He peered in and saw an older man and a much younger man lying in bed together. He watched them together, heard their whispered discussions and saw their soft kisses. By their voices, the older one was definitely from Birmingham, the younger, Australian. It confused him. Since when was Jeff this old? Last time he’d seen him, he was barely 18. This couldn’t be Jeff, at least, not the one he had known.

Deciding he’d get no answers eavesdropping, Bev stepped inside quietly. They didn’t stop. Perhaps they were so preoccupied with each other that they didn’t notice him. Or perhaps they couldn’t see ghosts. Indeed, they had most definitely moved onto proper mauling territory now, conversation discarded.

“What did you do to me, Jeff?” Bev said, taking a step towards the bed.

Jeff looked up, seeing they weren’t alone. It took a moment to register who the pale young man standing before him was. “Bev? Is that really you? What are you doing here? You look so young,” he said, getting out of bed to greet him as he quickly dressed.

Andrew watched as Jeff embraced him. Bev stiffened at the sudden affection, and not just because he was suddenly solid again. It was somewhat reassuring that Jeff at least could touch him. Still, he hadn’t known Jeff all that well. Why was he acting as if they were best friends?

“I-I don’t know what I’m doing here. I was just out with me mates, after the show, y’know, then there was this man who came and chased me. Fuckin’ shot me. Next thing I know, I’m here, and it’s not 1965, it’s 19-sodding-77, and I’m told to find Jeff Lynne. I’ve got one of these. D’you know what it is?” Bev said, stepping back to show him the spaceship.

Jeff was shocked. “You are not supposed to be here. You’re not supposed to have one of them. You okay? You look a little pale. Did you just say you’d been shot? Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah, I was shot. Is this Heaven or something? Am I dead or a ghost or something? Cos someone walked through me before. Sometimes I can touch things and sometimes I can’t. What’s going on?” Bev said.

Jeff pressed a hand to his forehead. “Well, you don’t feel dead. And this isn’t Heaven. So you shouldn’t be dead.”

“Actually, he looks like he’s come from a photograph, Jeff,” Andrew said, sitting up.

“Yeah, he does a bit, now that you mention it. All them pale colours and whatnot. I wonder how that happened,” Jeff said. “C’mere, Andrew, see if you can touch him.”

Andrew quickly pulled some clothes on and slipped out of bed. He fought back his nerves as he approached and reached out to Bev. He was surprised his hand went straight through what looked like solid mass. His eyes widened in surprise. He waved his arm through him, just to make sure. It found no resistance.

“Oi. Quit it, man. That’s freakin’ me out,” Bev said.

“Jesus Christ. Sorry,” Andrew said, taking a step back.

“Right, just me then,” Jeff said.

“See what I mean? I was hoping you’d be able to tell me what was wrong with me,” Bev said.

“This wasn’t my doing, Bev. I had nothing to do with this. You’re not even supposed to be here,” Jeff said.

“How do I even know you? You’re acting as if we’ve been mates for years. I barely know you,” Bev said.

“We make this band together, you and me and Roy, and it becomes this huge adventure. That’s how I know you. Sixteen years it lasted. That’s what the spaceship’s from, but I suspect you don’t know what I’m talking about. I was beginning to think I’d never see you again. You look just like I remember you, from the time we first met. Who were you playing with before you came here? Were you with The Move yet?” Jeff said, brushing his cheek gently.

“No, I’d just joined up with Carl Wayne and the Vikings. Just got back from a month in Germany. I knew your name, but I didn’t really know you. That’s why this is just so strange. I don’t know what’s going on, especially now that you’re so old,” Bev said.

The Jeff standing before him was a complete stranger to him, but there was an irresistible pull towards him. Jeff made him feel safe, and loved, though he could find no reason or memory to substantiate the latter. Still, the way Jeff spoke, he could feel there was a connection between them. There was something in his eyes that told him to trust him. He might not remember the things he was talking about, but he knew somehow that they were true.

At that moment, Jeff did feel old. He had the power to create universes, to bend time to his will, to travel anywhere and anywhen he wanted to. He could touch people’s minds, talk to them, and know the secrets of their hearts. Hell, he’d even managed to make flames leap from his palms once in a contest with another being. And they were just the powers Jeff was willing to admit to being able to perform. There were plenty he kept only to himself, such as the complicated magics involved in time manipulation, and his own ability to shape shift, amongst others. And yet… What was all that to the world Bev had left behind?

Jeff brought him into a hug, murmuring apologies. He had specifically asked for Bev not to be brought into all this mess. Now he’d been shot and thrown into this world without his knowledge. Anything could’ve happened to his soul on the way. That his appearance was years older than it was supposed to be did not comfort him in the slightest either. What the fuck had gone wrong?

 

Andrew decided to leave them to it. He grabbed the rest of his clothes and left them alone. He hated intruding. That, and Andrew was beginning to feel a little faint. He wondered how many more of his idols would turn up in this world. He was not used to all this, but perhaps Pixie had been right. He’d just have to learn to deal with it.

With a sigh, he went back to the room he shared with Pixie and crawled into bed. If Jeff wanted him, he could come and get him. Better he stay out of their way. They clearly had things to say to each other that they might not want him overhearing.

He curled into a half-circle, lamplight gently pooling over him, as he nursed a book in front of him. It was one he’d found in Pixie’s library. It had been published a century ago, whatever that meant in this world, and purported to be about a butterfly and his journey into the world of man after annoying the Gods. It had seemed like a suitable distraction at any rate, though it was totally failing at its task then.

All Andrew could think about as he listened to them speaking was their relationship, one he hadn’t even thought was possible, not with them. Maybe he didn’t really know them as well as he thought he did.

 

“I was gonna come home to you one day, y’know. Leave all this behind. Doubt that’ll happen now,” Jeff said forlornly.

“What do you mean by that?” Bev said.

“I hated leaving you. I always promised to come and find you again, to be with you like I always promised. Too late for that now, though,” Jeff said. “I loved you so much, but there was nothing else to do. Georgie died and then they called me and I had to leave. But y’won’t remember any of that.”

“I believe you, though. If you say it’s true, I believe you. Dunno why. Gut feeling, I suppose,” Bev said.

Jeff inched closer, closing the gap between them. A finger brushed Bev’s cheek. “Maybe it’ll - Maybe it’ll help ya remember-”

Jeff hesitated a moment before kissing him gently. It was a strangely familiar sensation to Bev. He clutched onto Jeff, chasing answers. Jeff didn’t push him too far, and eventually, they broke apart, gazing at each other.

“Tell me what’s going on,” Bev said.

“It’s complicated. If I say too much, bad things will happen. I’m being watched…” Jeff trailed off and looked around, as if he could sense those that were watching him.

“What’s the matter? Are you in trouble?” Bev said.

“It’s not that simple. Look, this world here? It’s an anomaly. There are those who wish it to be destroyed, but they don’t understand the consequences if they do. I’m trying to save it, but I don’t know if I can. You being here doesn’t help. It means there’s someone else trying to work against me. They let you in. They wanted you here. That’s all I’m willing to say right now,” Jeff said, keeping his voice down.

“This is a different world? We’re not on Earth?” Bev said, letting Jeff’s words sink into his mind.

Jeff shook his head.

“Jeff? Where are we?” Bev said.

Jeff remained silent. He raised a finger to shush him. They remained still and silent. A low hum could be heard. Jeff clutched Bev close and snapped his fingers. They vanished from sight just as a small ball of light entered the room, buzzing around agitatedly.

Chapter Text

Andrew was never quite sure if it was a good idea or not that his music room was so close to the room he shared with Pixie. While he lay there reading, he could hear every word of Jeff and Bev’s conversation. What they said frightened and confused him.

“What’s going on, fairy?” Andrew murmured.

“Nothing for you to trouble yourself with,” the fairy replied.

“Now that just makes me worried,” Andrew said.

Then he heard the sound as well. He froze, unsure what was going on. The strange ball of light soon entered his room and he watched it closely, unsure it wouldn’t hurt him. It could’ve been a fairy, but it seemed more malevolent than that. It circled his head, as if it was trying to work out what he was. Andrew dared not move. After a close examination, it seemed to decide Andrew wasn’t worth its time and left.

Andrew didn’t move until he was sure he couldn’t hear it anymore. He got out of bed and cautiously looked around. The house was silent. He went back to his music room and found it empty. Jeff and Bev were nowhere in sight. He found Anton in his quarters, fast asleep. What should he do now?

“Fuck it, I’m not staying here on my own. I’ll go see Pixie and Charles. I’ll tell them what happened,” Andrew decided.

The house seemed far emptier than it had ever seemed. Andrew went back to his room and changed. He roused Anton to tell him he was going and called a cab. Pixie was never going to believe him when he told him what had happened.

 

Andrew gazed out the window as the cab drove along, watching the city pass by. Looking up, he saw streaks of different colours fly across the sky, red, yellow and blue.

“Wait, wait, stop will you? I just wanna see something,” Andrew said.

“What you seen, sir?” the cabbie said.

Andrew got out and looked down the street. The cabbie soon saw what he was seeing as Jeff’s unmistakable spaceship flew across town, apparently in some sort of battle with other nondescript spaceships. Andrew watched them, unsure what to make of it all.

“You seeing that too?” Andrew said.

“Yeah, yeah I am. What is it?” the cabbie said.

“That’s what I hope to find out,” Andrew said. He cringed as one of the spaceships nearly hit the top of a building. “Ooh, that’s gonna leave a mark. Come on, we’d better get going.”

Their observations over, Andrew got back in the cab and the driver continued their journey towards Charles’ palace.

 

The party was in full swing at Charles’. It wasn’t the same as the last time he’d been here, but it was still huge. There were guests everywhere, still. Andrew was shown in and escorted to Charles, who was in deep conversation with Pixie. Charles saw him first, wondering why he was here.

“Dani, didn’t know I’d see you tonight. Everything okay?” Charles said.

“No, everything is not okay. I-I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s big. Everything was fine, but then Bev turned up and Jeff looked very worried. From what little I heard of their conversation, something’s wrong. I was in another room at the time, they seemed to want some time to themselves. Are they lovers or something? Anyway, I’m just lying there, right? And there’s this ball of light that appears and when it finally goes away, Jeff and Bev have gone and I’m all alone. On the way here, I saw what looked like Jeff’s spaceship fighting off other ships. Tell me what the fuck’s going on, please,” Andrew said, keeping his voice down so he wasn’t overheard.

“We’d better talk somewhere more private. Come on, guys,” Charles said.

He led them into a small office on the third floor. It was the one room in his mansion he knew he could never be spied on. He’d let Jeff know Andrew was here and what he’d seen and go from there. He’d also tell him about Bev and the repercussions his presence would have.

“Look, you guys aren’t supposed to know about any of this, okay? But since you’ve seen that, I can’t exactly deny it. Too much has happened tonight that isn’t supposed to. I suppose Jeff’s doing his best to patch the holes in the boundaries here, but he can’t do everything. They’ll get in sooner or later. Anyway. You don’t need to trouble yourselves with that. Tell me everything that happened, down to the last detail,” Charles said.

“Get me a drink first and I’ll gladly do so,” Andrew said.

Suitably plied with alcohol, Andrew retold his story in as much detail as he could remember. Pixie sat beside him, wondering what was going on. He had known Jeff and Charles worked close together, but that was about it. Tales of aliens and pale men and spaceships was all a bit much.

“Shit. Shit! I need to talk to Jeff. Look, go back to the party, pretend nothing happened. I’ll deal with this, okay?” Charles said, once Andrew had finished.

“But what about-” Andrew said, questions still waiting to be answered.

“What about what? I can’t explain right now, okay? Go back to the party,” Charles said.

“I want to know what’s going on. I know what I saw. Tell me what’s going on,” Andrew said.

“Dani, just leave it, okay?” Pixie said, tugging on his arm.

“No, I’m not leaving without some answers. I can’t just pretend I didn’t see anything. And my name’s Andrew, not Dani. Jesus Christ,” Andrew said.

“Pixie, leave him with me. I’ll deal with him and then deal with whatever the fuck’s going on, okay?” Charles said, relenting if only so he could get him out of the way.

“Okay, if you’re sure,” Pixie said.

“Yes, I’m sure. Now get out of here, this is important,” Charles said, shooing him out the door.

Andrew waited as Charles shut the door and turned to face him. “Well?”

“Well what? What’s your problem?” Charles said.

“This world does not make sense. Nothing’s right. I don’t even belong here. Tell me what’s going on,” Andrew said.

Charles ran a hand through his hair as he crossed the room over to the window. Really, he was buying time as he thought of what he could tell him. He wasn’t supposed to tell. Fuck it, the people weren’t supposed to start questioning either. This wasn’t good. He turned as Andrew approached.

“Alright. What do you want to know?” Charles said.

“The spaceships. What’s going on? Why was Jeff chasing them?” Andrew said.

“Because they’re not supposed to be here? I thought that was obvious,” Charles said.

“Charles, we’re not supposed to be here,” Andrew said.

“I’m not allowed to say anything. Jeff’s orders. I’m sorry. Just - go back to the party. I’ve got things to do,” Charles said. He very much wanted this conversation to end sooner rather than later. The fewer questions he was allowed to ask the better.

“What about Jeff and Bev anyway? Is there something I don’t know about them? They seemed very close to me,” Andrew said, desperate to find out.

“I don’t know, okay? I didn’t ask about that!” Charles said, irritated. He pushed past Andrew and distracted himself by pouring another scotch. “I’m just the minion, Dani. None of this has anything to do with me. Now get back to the party, alright? I’ll deal with this mess.”

Andrew got the distinct impression he was being snubbed. He knew Charles well enough to know he’d get nothing further out of him. If he was keeping secrets, Andrew would never know unless Charles wanted him to know.

Charles sighed and approached him. He cupped his face and searched his eyes for understanding. “Look, I want to tell you, I really do, but it would spoil everything, so I just can’t, Andrew, I really can’t. I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” Andrew said, suddenly wanting to pull away from him.

Charles didn’t reply and tightened his grip. He kissed him, fighting back the urge to cry as he gave him something that would sedate him and wipe his memory. Andrew knew who he was. He knew who Charles was. He wanted to take him and run away, but he knew that would never happen. Charles stepped back as Andrew fell to the floor. Charles wiped his tears away and drank another scotch.

“You stupid bastard. Why did you have to fight it? I could’ve spared you that if you’d just shut the fuck up,” Charles murmured.

Leaving him to sleep off the chemical, Charles went to deal with the bigger problem of unauthorised people and the boundary breaking down. Andrew would be fine; he’d wake soon enough with a killer headache. He’d send him back to the party once he’d sorted Jeff out. Deciding against another scotch, Charles retreated to the small room where the map was and began his work. Things were very much in Not Good territory now.

 

In another part of town, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan were supposed to be at Charles’ party. Instead, they were making their way down the street to a pub they’d both grown rather fond of, known as the Crystal Swan. The streets were unusually quiet, though Tom put this down to everyone being at the party rather than going to the pub.

As they gazed down the street, a ship flew towards them. It was only when it started firing at them that they got out of the way. Tom pulled him into a small alley and watched as the road in front of them suddenly acquired a large hole. Cobblestones were blown to pieces and they ducked to avoid getting hit by the debris.

“It’s going to be one of those nights, I can just feel it,” Bob murmured.

“Not a fan of getting blown up by spaceships, hey?” Tom said.

“It’s not on my to-do list, no,” Bob said.

The silence in the air indicated the ships had probably gone. Emerging from the alley, the street was looking a little worse for wear. There were several holes in the road, and a few buildings that had been damaged. The few people who had been around were also standing around, gazing in awe at what had just happened. They looked up as Jeff’s ship flew overhead, chasing the intruders.

“What the hell’s going on?” Tom murmured.

“I thought you knew everything,” Bob said.

“I know what’s supposed to happen. This? Not on my list,” Tom said.

“Pretty piss-poor psychic, aren’t ya?” Bob said. “Come on, I could use a drink.”

With only a glance back at the wreckage, they set off again to find the pub. It seemed more useful than standing around staring at the damaged street.

 

In the spaceship, Jeff was intensely focussed on the task at hand. Only three more ships to chase off and their world was safe again. Bev sat beside him, silent. He was in a spaceship. A spaceship that was flying. All logic eluded him.

“C’mon ya scummy bastards,” Jeff cursed as he fired on them again. It had been a bitch to mod up the craft with proper weapons, but it was the best thing he’d ever done.

One of the shots hit its target and the ship burst into flame. It would hopefully crash outside of the city. He was trying to chase them nearer to the country area to avoid killing anyone when the ships fell to earth. He glanced down at the monitor; Charles was trying to contact him.

“Not now, Charles. Kinda busy,” Jeff said, accepting his hail anyway.

“But, the spaceship, Dani said there were balls of light and such, I’m worried, Jeff. And Bev, he’s, you don’t realise what his-”

“I know about Bev. I’m dealing with it, okay? I’ll talk to you when all this is sorted,” Jeff said, closing the channel.

 

“-presence is doing to this world,” Charles said, finishing his sentence. Goddamn Jeff was stubborn. He went to check the table again, to see if any other unscheduled arrivals had happened while he’d been entertaining.

Oh, they had a big problem on their hands now. The town map showed eight people including Bev now who should never have been there. Bev Bevan, Kelly Groucutt, Richard Tandy, Mik Kaminski, Dhani Harrison, Hugh McDowell, Roy Wood, and David fucking Bowie. Their timelines hadn’t been duplicated; they’d all been sucked into this world, just like Bev. Erased from their own time, this was the only place they existed now. Fixing that sort of space-time corruption would be a nightmare, if you could fix it at all.

“This is all going to hell. I sure as shit hope he knows what he’s doing,” Charles said.

He watched their markers as they wandered aimlessly around the city, occasionally finding each other. There, Richard and Kelly had met in a pub. Bowie appeared to be wandering the streets. Dhani had run into Oli and they appeared to be in a house somewhere. Charles was thankful he hadn’t run into his father yet. That could prove tricky. He wondered if it was possible to avoid that happening, but he had no time to wonder. Shaking his head in disbelief, he retreated back to the office to wait. Jeff would come eventually. He’d better be there when he does arrive.

 

Finally ridding himself of the intrusive drones, Jeff returned to his mansion, leaving the ship back where it had always been. Time to see his minion about whatever it was he wanted to tell him about Bev.

“Come on, Bev, we’re going back to see Charles,” Jeff said, offering his hand.

But Bev didn’t move. He sat curled into the chair, staring out the window before him. “I just… I can’t cope with this anymore,” he said softly.

Jeff knelt before him, taking his hands gently. “I know this is hard, but I need you to be okay. I’m going to fix everything, okay? I promise.”

At that moment, Bev seemed fainter than before, as if he was fading away. He lay back, tired and confused, a hand clasped over his heart. He didn’t know why it hurt there, the wound wasn’t even bleeding, but he couldn’t help it. It hurt, and he began to feel weak, as if the shot was just catching up with him. Jeff took his hand. He poured every ounce of energy he had into him, trying to make him stay alive. He needed him. He would not let Bev disappear. He was too important for that. That was why he hadn’t brought him here in the first place.

“Bev, please. Stay with me,” Jeff begged.

“Can’t. Everything fading away. So tired,” Bev whispered.

In an act of desperation, Jeff did what he hadn’t ever wanted to do: he froze Bev in time, locking him away in a bubble of time he hoped would protect him. It was all he had left. He was up against powerful enemies. He needed everything he had to fight back.

Bev sat there, unmoving, in a bubble of time Jeff couldn’t fathom. Bev looked dead, though Jeff knew better. He just hoped he’d stopped it in time. There was a point after which someone would disappear anyway, no matter what he did, and even if he didn’t, unfreezing him might kill him anyway. The universe sometimes took issue with things that didn’t behave themselves.

Unable to determine when/where Bev had been sent, he had no idea what he’d even see or experience, locked away in his tiny bubble. If he survived, he’d have to ask him about it. It was still magic he was perfecting, having had few opportunities to try it out. Jeff leant over and pressed a kiss to his head before getting to his feet. He couldn’t move him, not now. They were moving in different timelines now. He told his ship to protect him, no matter what, before he left to go see Charles. It was all he could do.

 

Jeff appeared in Charles’ little office, taking Charles by surprise as he sat there sipping his scotch. Charles jumped in his seat and almost dropped his glass. Given how many he’d already had, Charles felt dropping the glass might’ve been for the best. He’d completely forgotten about Andrew, lying out cold on the floor behind his desk.

“Jesus Christ, how many times have I told you not to do that?” Charles said, getting to his feet as he set the glass on a side table.

“Sorry, I figured I owed you, so I came the quickest way,” Jeff said.

“You know this is all turning to shit, yes? We’ve got eight unauthorised people here now. You know what that’s going to do to this place,” Charles said.

“Eight? Who’s here who shouldn’t be? Apart from Bev?” Jeff said.

“They all appear to be your mates. Here, I made a list,” Charles said, handing him a notepad with the names written on it.

Jeff read them. Oh, that wasn’t good. There was Richard, Kelly, Mik, Hugh, Roy, fucking Bowie and-

“Yes, even Dhani Harrison has been brought through, though he hasn’t gone wandering. I’ve been watching him. He hasn’t moved for hours. I can’t pinpoint where he is either, except with Oli over in the western part of town. Oli’s been stuck there ever since he arrived as well. I’ve never seen him leave. Is something going wrong there? The sensors aren’t picking up anything else from them. It’s as if they’re not quite here,” Charles said.

“What do you mean, they’re not quite here? Where are they?” Jeff said.

Charles led him back to the screen and pointed them out. Two little dots, stuck inside a house. Occasionally, the dots flickered out of existence and came back again. Jeff fiddled about with the controls, but nothing changed.

“That’s not even their house. There’s something masking what’s going on there, but I don’t know what it is. I’d better go check that out. They could be in trouble,” Jeff said.

“I suppose we’re lucky he hasn’t seen his father yet. You know that’s not going to end well,” Charles said.

“Yeah, I do realise that. Shit. How the hell did this go so wrong? Who’s been fucking around with this?” Jeff said, looking at the list in disbelief.

“No idea, mate. Remember the bubble of time? Yeah, kinda hard to keep track of who’s outside of it,” Charles said.

“We gotta get everyone out of here. If any more come through, this whole place’ll collapse,” Jeff said.

“Well done, Einstein. You got any idea how to move an entire world like this?” Charles said.

“I’ll just create a new one. We can move there,” Jeff said.

“That’s what caused this mess in the first place. If whoever’s trying to destroy this is desperate enough, they’ll just follow us. We need to do something else, rather than just run away again,” Charles said.

“Well, what d’you have in mind, then?” Jeff said.

“How should I know, I’m just the minion, remember?” Charles said.

“Hey, you were allowed to keep your mind for a reason. Help me think of something. What options do we even have now?” Jeff said.

“Running away, somehow finding enough firepower to destroy them, whoever they are, or just letting things fall to pieces. I can’t see what else we can do,” Charles said.

“I reckon we keep going, pretend nothing’s going on, but try and find out who we’re fighting against. Come out of nowhere, they did. I’d be nice to know that before we decide what to do, hey?” Jeff said.

Charles sighed. “Okay, fine. And how do you propose we do that?”

“Leave it to me. You concentrate on making Dani a star,” Jeff said.

“This is going to be a disaster, I can just feel it,” Charles said.

“I’ll worry about the world imploding, okay? I believe you’ve got a party to attend to,” Jeff said.

“Well, go on, disappear then,” Charles said.

Jeff smiled and vanished. Charles sighed and sunk back into the couch again. He was tired of all this bullshit. He had tried to tell Jeff before that this fake world was never going to last, but did he listen? No, of course not. Your argument is invalid because Jeff Lynne can create universes. Naturally.

“Charles? What was that all about?” Andrew said as he got to his feet. His head ached, but he’d heard everything they’d said. It had made no sense, of course, but that wasn’t the point.

Charles turned to find Andrew standing there rubbing his head, looking confused and tired. “Uh, don’t worry about it. You okay? You look a little tired,” he said.

“Head hurts. Probably drank too much, yeah? How’d I get up here anyway?” Andrew said.

“Here, you can crash in one of my spare rooms if you want. I’ll go tell Pixie where you are, okay?” Charles said, approaching him with a smile as he avoided answering his question.

“Yeah, that sounds good. And get me some painkillers, yeah? Shit, my head hurts like mad,” Andrew said.

 

Charles gently took his arm and led him away. He’d nurse him all night if he had to, but the sooner he was in bed and asleep, the better. He sent a servant to get some medicine as they made their way to one of the guest bedrooms. Andrew lay down on the bed as Charles drew the curtains.

“You’ll be okay on your own, yeah?” Charles said.

“Yeah, just need to sleep this off,” Andrew said. He undressed and slipped into bed, glad to be lying down.

“You’ve got an en suite through there if you need it, okay? Toilet, shower, I think there’s even a bath,” Charles said, pointing at a door on the opposite wall.

“Thanks. I appreciate it,” Andrew said.

Charles sat beside him, gently stroking his forehead, while they waited for the servant to return. Once Andrew had taken some painkillers, he settled back to sleep. Charles pressed a kiss to his forehead and switched the lamp off as he left to return to the party.

 

Pixie had been chatting with a young George Harrison when Charles returned. Charles grabbed another glass of champagne as he approached them, pretending like nothing was wrong. He grinned and clapped Pixie across the shoulders as he settled into their little group.

“So, how are my little munchkins?” Charles said.

“Drunk, and very pleasantly so, I might add,” Pixie said. “Dani okay?”

“Yeah, he’s okay, just drank too much. I put him to bed in one of the spare rooms,” Charles said.

“We were just discussing the décor, Charles. This is very last century. It wouldn’t kill you to modernise, would it?” Pixie said.

“This is a Royal Palace. Royal Palaces do not modernise,” Charles said, giving Pixie a short glare.

“Hey, settle down, I didn’t know you were that touchy about it. Jesus,” Pixie said.

Charles gave him another glare and left to find less annoying company.

“Something’s up. He’s never this grouchy,” Pixie said.

George gave a non-committal grunt as he watched him go, giving away nothing of what he knew.

 

In a part of the city that had never quite been mapped properly, Tom Petty lay back on the grass outside a church, staring up at the sky and the battle raging overhead. He glanced down at Bob, lying beside him.

“And so it begins. Make a wish,” Tom said, chuckling quietly to himself.

“I’ll make you wish you’d never been born if you don’t shut up,” Bob said.

“I could live with that,” Tom said.

Bob pinned him down and kissed him. Tom was wondering when he’d get around to that.

Chapter Text

Jeff returned to his spaceship to check on Bev. He was still there, barely. There wasn’t much else Jeff could do for him, though, and he turned his attention to Dhani. The part of town they were apparently trapped in looked normal enough. The sensors picked up nothing unusual. His friends were all in their homes, doing whatever it was they were doing. Jeff steered his ship towards the house Dhani was supposedly trapped in. Leaving the ship cloaked and hovering, Jeff went down to the street.

The house in question looked perfectly ordinary. And yet, Jeff could feel something was wrong. There was a slight disturbance in the air, and it was only when he looked at the two neighbouring houses that he realised what the problem was. There was a house missing. Jeff approached the disturbance in the air and extended his hand, seeing if it would reveal his secrets.

It was definitely coming from the city itself, but it gave way at Jeff’s touch, revealing the missing house. Crossing over into the pocket of time, the dark busy street was left behind. The houses on this side of the time disturbance all felt empty, except the one in front of him. Jeff climbed the stairs and went inside, the door unlocking and giving way at his touch.

The house was dark, and the ground floor was empty. It was only the faint sound of voices from the first floor that gave away that anyone was staying there. Taking the stairs to the first floor, he followed the voices to one of the bedrooms. A light was on, and Jeff opened the door and found Dhani and Oli in bed together, talking quietly.

“Dhani? That you, lad?” Jeff said, coming into the room.

Dhani looked up at him and smiled. “Jeff. Hi. I wasn’t sure if anyone would find us here. Where are we anyway?”

“Er, it’s a long story. You wanna get out of here? I’ll tell you all I know once we’re outta here,” Jeff said.

“You’d better. We’ve been stuck here for, what, a couple of months? I think that’s what we got up to,” Dhani said. He shoved Oli. “It is a couple of months, isn’t it?”

Oli yawned as he sat up. “Yeah, a couple of months. I’ve just been keeping track on a bit of paper. Nothing else to do. Do you know how boring it’s been?”

“I’d be thankful that’s all that happened to you. This world can do weird things to you,” Jeff said.

“I know. I followed that bloody dog. I don’t even know what happened,” Oli said.

“What dog? I don’t remember seeing a dog,” Jeff said.

Oli dismissed the query. “Oh, it was just this dog that was hanging around. I’ll tell you all about it later. Now did you say you could get us out of here?”

“Yeah, come on, I can get you out. Lord knows why she’s got you trapped in here, though,” Jeff said.

Dhani almost asked him what he meant, but decided it could wait. He just wanted to get out of there. Jeff left them to dress and they followed him out of the house. Jeff led them through the time disturbance and sealed it up once they were free. He hoped he wouldn’t have to deal with one of those again. A moment later, Jeff took them back to the ship, and he attended to his controls for a moment, searching for other anomalies.

“You’ve got a bloody spaceship? A real bloody spaceship? Where the hell are we?” Dhani said, gazing around him.

Jeff was still fiddling with the sensors. “Er, it’s a long story. I don’t know how you got here, and it wasn’t my fault, but just gimme a second to-“ He spent a moment securing their existences back to Earth, just to make sure they couldn’t break the little universe they were in. “There. That’s fixed it.”

“Fixed what? Where are we, Jeff? And why is Bev sitting there dead?” Dhani said, gesturing to Bev still sitting there, frozen in time.

Jeff went over to Bev instinctively, checking on him. “He ain’t dead. He’s trapped elsewhere. It was all I could do to save him. He was fading away so I put him in a different timeline. I hope it’s enough to save him.”

“I hope you know I didn’t understand a word of that. You said you’d explain it all now that we’re here, so explain away,” Dhani said.

Jeff sighed and stood up. “Okay, okay, but you gotta promise to believe me. I ain’t lying to you, alright?”

Dhani promised he’d try. Oli just looked on, not sure if any explanation would make sense. Jeff set the ship on autopilot before leading them back to the lounge area elsewhere in the ship. He did his best to explain it, but he wasn’t sure he wasn’t just talking bollocks. And because it was Dhani, and Oli, Jeff couldn’t bring himself to lie. He told them everything. He wasn’t sure it was the greatest idea ever, but he couldn’t lie to them.

Dhani hesitated to ask a question once Jeff had finished talking. “So is my dad here too? Only you didn’t mention him with the rest of them...”

Jeff glanced at him. “Yeah, yeah he is. Only I didn’t invite him, and he was dead anyway when I was putting all this together, so I don’t know how he got here, I really don’t. But I was just so happy to see him, I never questioned it, I just...” He trailed off, unsure what to make of it. “You can’t bring dead people here, you just can’t. It doesn’t work like that. So how did he get here? I just can’t think. An’ he’s got weird powers too. He can shape-shift. Dhani, believe me when I tell you I have no idea what’s going on.”

“So what is going on then? How does any of this make sense?” Dhani said.

Jeff got up and walked away from them, torn with worry. He had no idea who had brought his friends in. He had no idea why George was there. He didn’t know who owned the strange spaceships he’d chased down. He just wanted to be left alone in his little sanctuary, but it didn’t look like he was going to get his wish.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but things are different now. I’ve made a lot of enemies. Maybe they’re all finally ganging up on me to get rid of me,” Jeff said eventually.

“Is there anything we can do? It’s not like we’re going anywhere, are we?” Dhani said.

Jeff almost accepted the offer, but he wouldn’t risk their lives, not for his stupid mistakes. “Nah, I can’t ask you to fight for me. This is my battle. But thanks fer offering. Jus’, I’ll take you back to my place. I’ve got other things to do that I’d rather you didn’t get caught up in.”

Dhani agreed. He didn’t think now was the time to fight him about it just yet. “Alright. Take us home then.”

 

Dhani and Oli had been left in the care of his staff. He didn’t want them around, not if he had to fix the boundaries. He’d been aware of their weakness for some time, but he’d ignored it as he hadn’t thought anything would happen. Obviously, he was wrong, and now he’d have to rush to fix them before it was too late.

Jeff hovered his ship at the boundary. If he was going to fix it, he needed to know what was wrong, and that meant contacting it directly rather than use his scanners. He left his ship to stand on the roof of the spaceship. From there he could see the shimmering translucent boundary protecting them, and the endless space outside. Standing on the edge, he reached out to the boundary. It felt warm under his hand, though the contact made it impossible to ignore the problems it had. It sang forlornly to him, reaching out to its creator.

He was surprised it felt such emotions. He hadn’t intended it to be living, not like the world it contained, though somehow the thought that it too had acquired the same sentience calmed him. It would make it easier to manipulate. It was magic he was well-practiced in. Careful not to leave himself free to fall to the ground, he reached out his other hand so he could feel the boundary properly.

“Help me out here, guys. Tell me what I need to fix,” Jeff murmured as he gazed up towards the sky.

It sung out again, louder this time, and began glowing. He saw the boundary before him and all the holes and weaknesses it contained. If he didn’t stabilise it now, it would fail. He closed his eyes as he summoned all the energy he had left and fed it into the boundary, sending it out to patch it. Glittering glowing streams of light sped across the boundary, going where they were required. Knowing it was getting the help it needed, it took energy from him eagerly. Jeff couldn’t let go, even if he’d wanted to.

Having finally exhausted Jeff’s energy, the boundary released him. Jeff fell backwards onto the ship, utterly drained. He lay there, watching the boundary complete its repair work. He hadn’t expected it to take as much as it had. He’d need a day at least to recharge before he went to fight them again.

“George, where are you?” he whispered.

He lay there in pain, calling to George. He had no energy to move. He’d need George to take him home. The familiar stream of black smoke appeared just as Jeff lost consciousness. George gently carried him inside and laid him in one of the small bedrooms the ship contained.

“Sleep sweet, my Jeff,” George said softly as he shut the door.

George returned to the bridge to take the ship back home. He’d look after things until Jeff awoke.

 

Around 4am, Charles went to his little office to see how Jeff was doing. He’d tried sleeping, but his mind wouldn’t shut down. He still hadn’t heard from Jeff, and he was worried something was wrong. Instead of trying to sleep, he’d decided to try and contact Jeff again, just to see if he was needed. The map informed him that Jeff and the intruders were missing. The only clue to their location was a message from Jeff.

‘Don’t look for me. I’m dealing with our visitors. The city will deal with the people. Pretend like nothing’s happened. Have George and Bev with me. Will be back in one piece soon enough,’ the message said. It had been sent two hours ago.

Charles sighed. It was all he could do. Only Jeff knew the master commands for the whole city; Charles had no power to change anything. He was just a minion, after all. Reluctantly, he returned to bed, wondering if he’d actually sleep this time.

 

All over the city, every one of its citizens were quickly falling asleep as the city began its self-preservation. All except Charles, of course, who ideally would’ve remained in his small office to oversee the whole situation, except for the fact he’d gone to bed, trying to get some sleep. He’d succumbed to some medicine to help him sleep; he knew he’d need it if this situation was going to go on much longer.

It wasn’t like Charles needed to supervise the city much though. Jeff had designed the city to be self-sufficient for a reason. It was a sanctuary, a hidden paradise. It looked after itself and the citizens, protecting them by sending them to sleep if it needed to repair itself. It was a living, dynamic city, able to change at will and respond to danger by protecting its citizens. With the city able to take care of itself, Jeff was free to worry about other things.

Everyone in the city Jeff had met at some point in his life, and he’d brought them all here to live in happiness and freedom. He’d grown lonely, out there in space, and he missed his friends too much. Some of the ordinary people he’d met in his wanderings, after he’d got his powers, as he’d travelled the Earth, seeking some sort of comfort. He was connected to the entire cosmos, but he had never felt so lonely before. Perhaps creating his sanctuary wasn’t so great an idea, but it was too late now.

With the people unconscious, the cobblestones fell back into place and the buildings fixed the damage. It happened on its own, with no need of human intervention. Little by little, the city returned to normal, as if nothing had ever happened. The fairies attended to their charges, removing any memory of the attack to continue the illusion that nothing had happened. They would wake when the city had finished its repairs and life would continue as normal.

 

Landing the ship back at Jeff’s mansion, George carried Jeff inside. Jeff had only gotten to this point twice before. He was always careful not to let his energy drain so much, but he had made sure George knew what to do should it happen again. Jeff was laid down on his bed. George sat beside him and fished around in a bedside drawer for the substance he wanted. Leaning over Jeff, he let a few drops of clear liquid drip onto his lips. Jeff didn’t react, but George didn’t expect him to.

George shifted so he was lying next to him on his stomach. It seemed all the more adorable because of how young George was looking. He gently caressed his cheek as he watched him, hoping he would be awake soon. Dhani’s voice interrupted him, and he looked towards the door as his son entered the room.

“Dad? What’s wrong with him? Is he going to be okay?”

“He’s been fixing the boundaries. Took everything he had. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine in a day or two. What are you even doing here though? How did you end up here?” George said, sitting up.

Dhani approached the bed and sat down. “I wish I knew. I just found myself here, and I ran into Oli, and we were stuck in some weird house for two months or so. I didn’t believe him when Jeff said you were here too. It’s weird seeing you so young, too. You look like a ghost.”

George gave him a weird look as he reached over and rested a hand on his shoulder. “Strange things happen out here, lad. You alright then?”

“Yeah, dad, I’m fine.”

George gently squeezed his shoulder and smiled at him. There were so many things Dhani wanted to say to him, but he didn’t know where to start. George lay back next to Jeff, tending to him gently. Dhani watched, still unsure what was going on.

 

As the city began to fall asleep, Tom Petty discovered he was perhaps the only one still awake. Dylan had succumbed to the city’s magic and lay asleep beside him, tiny fairy flitting around his head. Tom, however, was very much awake, and had no desire to sleep. He lay back, watching the shining sky. It wasn’t an Earth sky at all. The shimmering veil that surrounded them made the night sky seem lighter than it was. The constellations were different too. And there was no moon, probably because this wasn’t really a planet, and therefore lacked the possibility of having satellites orbiting around it. The lack of moonlight was somewhat disconcerting to someone used to it. It made night here much darker than normal; the stars offered very little light to the land below.

Tom thought about what was supposed to happen. Why he had been given this knowledge was not known to him, but he had accepted it when he saw how it came true. And everything had happened as planned. He wouldn’t be doubting his knowledge if all these unexpected things had decided to turn up, however. He had no idea what to make of them. He should go see Jeff again. He might help sort out what was going on.

Leaving Dylan where he was, he got up and headed off to Jeff’s, entranced as he was able to watch the city repairing itself. He took his time, watching as the bricks fell back into place and the cobblestones straightened. He was surprised to see Jeff’s mansion had taken some damage. He gazed up at the façade and noticed the cracks and chips repairing themselves. One of the windows was broken, and a planter box had crashed to the ground. The front door was hanging open slightly. With slight hesitation, Tom pushed it open and entered. Perhaps the attack had damaged the door.

The house was quiet and empty. Tom had never been there before. When he’d met with Jeff before, it had always been at Charles’ palace and never at Jeff’s mansion. It wasn’t as grand inside as he’d anticipated. When he heard a soft English voice, he followed it, hoping to find Jeff. Instead, when he got to Jeff’s room, he found Jeff unconscious and George Harrison lying beside him, talking to him quietly. Dhani appeared to have fallen asleep beside them both, unaware of Tom’s presence.

“Is he alright?” Tom said, entering the room.

“Nah, he’s just resting. He’ll be fine,” George said.

“Ah, right. I just wanted to talk to him, is all,” Tom said.

“It’ll have to wait til he wakes, whenever that’ll be. Why aren’t you sleepin’ like the rest of the city anyway?” George said

“If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t have come to talk to him. Dylan’s asleep though. I left him by some church we found our way to during the night. Why aren’t you asleep?” Tom said.

“Me, Jeff and His Majesty are exceptions to the rule. We don’t sleep when the rest of the city does,” George said.

“How long you think he’ll sleep for then?” Tom said.

“No idea. Last time, he was out a little over a day. No telling how long it’ll take this time. He was fixing the boundaries, see? Took almost everything he had, as far as I can tell,” George said.

“Jesus. Want me to go then?” Tom said.

“You can stay if you like. Nothing much to do out there anyway. Everything shuts down,” George said.

“Nah, better go back. Bob’ll wonder where I am when he wakes,” Tom said.

“Well, fair enough. Feel free to come back if you’re bored,” George said.

“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind,” Tom said.

He nodded to him as he left. In fact, he probably didn’t need to talk to him now. Seeing him out cold was enough to tell him what was going on. He wandered slowly back to the church and lay beside Bob again, content to watch the sun rise.

 

Andrew woke next to Craig. He assumed it was the next day, but he happened to glance at his watch and noticed the date said it was two days since he’d last been awake. He wasn’t sure why this struck him as both sensible, and deeply disturbing, apart from his mind’s logic that he couldn’t have slept so long he’d skipped a day. That usually only happened when he was seriously depressed, and to the best of his knowledge, he wasn’t seriously depressed at that point in time. He hadn’t felt depressed since he’d arrived in this world either. That was a strange realisation.

He sat up, going over what he remembered. All he could recall was a big party at Charles’ place, and then... Nothing much at all, apart from crashing in one of Charles’ spare rooms. He wasn’t sure how he’d got home either. His head felt weird, like he couldn’t quite remember something important, but he had no idea what that might be. Craig was still asleep. Andrew took a chance to wake him up for once as he leant over and kissed him, gently rousing him from his slumber.

It was a most pleasant way to start the morning, Andrew thought, given the excesses of the night before. They had a lazy start to the day, and after a sumptuous breakfast that Craig insisted they eat in bed, they went to bathe together to wash away the sleep some more. The bath was filled with wonderful warm water and the sweetest scented oils Craig had managed to find. They bathed together, enjoying a moment of peace. Andrew held Craig in his arms, gently brushing his skin with the back of his fingers.

“You know, I still haven’t figured you out yet. What’s with all the drag? I mean, not that I’m complaining, but you know,” Andrew said.

Craig chuckled quietly. “It was kind of an accident, really, and I pulled it off so well, it just continued. It’s my thing now. I don’t feel as strange about it as I used to. It’s rather more enjoyable than you might think.”

“So, you’re still a guy, right? Not going to turn into a girl on me without warning?” Andrew said.

“Ha, I don’t think so. I might look good as a girl, but I’m perfectly happy as a man, thank you very much. I think it adds to my charm, don’t you think?” Craig said, faux-preening himself.

“Oh, sure, you’re all charm, princess,” Andrew said, bringing him into a kiss.

Craig cupped his face, deepening the kiss, as they shifted in the water to be closer and more comfortable. There was no more talking for a while, just gentle caresses, soft kisses, and the most luxurious feeling Andrew had ever felt. They indulged in being in each other’s arms, together, with no one to separate them. Andrew held him tight, just being. Eventually Craig broke the silence.

“Andrew?”

“Hmm?”

“I don’t think I want to leave.”

“Leave what? The bath?”

“No, this place. Wherever it is we are. I don’t want to go back.”

Craig shifted in the bath and turned to face Andrew. He took his hands and Andrew was surprised to see how tired he looked.

“You alright?”

“Just - I want to stay here forever, just you and me and Charles. I don’t have to feel guilty for kissing you here.”

Andrew rested a hand on his shoulder as he leant in and kissed him. They moved as close together as they could, ignoring the water spilling over the edge. Andrew’s hair stuck to his back as Craig lay them both down, stretching the full length of the tub. Craig kissed him and ran his fingers through his hair as it drifted in the water. Andrew caressed his body, running a hand down his side.

The water, the heat, the oils, it all worked to make them both relaxed. Andrew leant against the wall of the bath, smiling happily up at Craig. Craig smiled down at him and brushed his hair out of his eyes. They kissed again. Craig was most definitely right. He didn’t feel any guilt for kissing him in this world, wherever they were. He wanted to stay there forever.

They talked some more, just quietly, confessing to each other what they’d kept secret til then. Clinging to each other, they wouldn’t leave. They didn’t want to leave. They remembered home, but neither wanted to return. Craig loved him so very much, Andrew could tell, and going home would mean returning to a world where they couldn’t love each other. Andrew didn’t want that. He wasn’t sure he could bear losing Cam and Craig all over again. His heart wasn’t up to that sort of pain anymore.

Chapter Text

George remained at Jeff’s side while he slept. He needed to make sure he was okay. It was taking longer than it had before. George was worried. What if he didn’t wake up? What if he died? He could take care of the world if needed, but he didn’t know all the master controls. He’d need Jeff to help him do that. Dhani hadn’t hung around too long, though. George didn’t mind. He figured he needed time to process everything. He’d said Jeff had told him everything. He could understand how that would make him feel.

George hadn’t been aware of the people David had chosen to send through. It hadn’t been a concern to him. But he hadn’t expected he’d pick his own son. Suddenly, he was conflicted. To Jeff’s credit, he had looked after Dhani for him after he’d died. George owed him for that. Destroying this world now seemed a lot more complicated. He’d thought of nothing else while he waited for Jeff to wake, trying to think of a way to stop it. But stopping things might be more of a problem than he’d anticipated. This world was an anomaly. Jeff had grossly abused his powers in creating it. And yet... He’d spent time there. Did he really have to destroy it? Couldn’t it be saved? Or would that just be delaying the inevitable?

Just as George was about to go call for some breakfast, Jeff finally woke. His eyes opened slowly, and he smiled softly as George smiled down at him. He looked surprised to see George there, watching over him.

“George. Hi. Everything alright?” Jeff said, his voice soft and tired.

“It is now that you’re awake. Had me worried there for a while,” George said.

“Was repairing boundaries. I’d forgotten how exhausting it can be,” Jeff said.

“I noticed. You’ve been asleep nearly two days,” George said.

“Yeah, I had a feeling it would be that long. Big job, it was. Definitely feeling better though. Get me something to eat. I’m starving,” Jeff said, sitting up.

“I’ll be a minute,” George said.

Jeff watched him go and lay back. He was beginning to feel the world again. He was thankful the world was holding steady, at least for the moment. Even though it had knocked him out for two days, his efforts had been worth it. He’d bought himself enough time to come up with a plan to defeat whoever was about to come in and destroy the place. He would have to contact Charles at some point as well. A good minion deserved a good Overlord.

George returned soon enough and Jeff ate gratefully. There was a lot to do. George sat beside him, gently resting a hand on his thigh. Jeff knew what he wanted, but he wasn’t sure he had time to surrender to him.

“You’ve got all the time in the world,” George prompted, as if reading his mind.

Jeff turned to him. “Well, I have missed you, and it’s not like we’ve had much time to ourselves lately.”

“I’ll at least let you finish eating first,” George said.

Jeff appreciated his concern, and he was ravenously hungry. He ate quickly, giving himself some time to let it all settle as he lay back in George’s arms, kissing him gently.

 

Leaving George behind, Jeff set about stabilising the world and making sure nothing was about to break on him again. The control room was in the back part of the mansion, hidden from easy access. The last thing he needed was for just anyone to go in there and fuck things up. The screen came to life as he entered, reading his desires as it showed him what was going on.

“Oh, that’s not good. How long have they been asleep?” Jeff said.

“31 hours, sir,” the screen replied.

“Are most of them awake now?” Jeff said.

“Yes, sir. No memory triggers yet,” the screen said.

“Good, good. Anything else I need to deal with before I get to work?” Jeff said.

The screen flashed up all the messages Charles had sent him. Jeff didn’t mind. Charles was a decent minion. He’d better read them all before doing anything. He’d probably have a better idea of the situation. In between Charles’ continued pleas for some sort of message from him, he got everything. The city had taken plenty of damage, and had only just finished healing itself. The people didn’t remember anything, which was how he expected it would stay.

And then Jeff remembered he hadn’t checked on Bev in, well, since he’d gone to fix the boundaries, and couldn’t remember if he was still okay. In front of his console, he had a few more tools at his disposal and made sure to link Bev’s existence back to Earth, completing the link for anyone who had also been forced through. He really should send them all back, their existence was damaging the boundary, but they were still people too, some Jeff cared a lot about, and he didn’t quite have the heart to kick them out wordlessly and with no explanation. He would have to deal with them in time, but there were more pressing matters to deal with, so they would have to wait.

All the other unauthorised arrivals were fine, and were now happily linked back to Earth, but there was a problem with Bev. His link refused to work. The few traces of him he could find back on Earth were corrupted. None would accept the link, even though Jeff knew they were perfectly capable of doing so. What made him shiver was the one reason he knew that would make them refuse to connect: if the person in question was dead. It certainly explained his appearance, and Jeff had a niggling feeling he had known this as soon as he’d first seen him, but that didn’t make it any easier to accept.

So Bev was dead. Would that mean he would-?

Jeff dared not finish that sentence as he went back to the ship to check on him. If he’d vanished, he had no idea what he’d do. Thankfully, Bev was still in the ship, though he wasn’t transparent anymore. He still looked pale and colourless, though. Confident, sort of, that Bev wouldn’t disappear, Jeff carefully freed him from the time prison he was in. Finding himself back in the spaceship, and in the same time as Jeff, Bev looked over at him, desperate for an explanation. Jeff took his hand. He wasn’t sure he could find the words to tell him what had happened to him.

The time Bev had been frozen in had surrounded him with memories from his past and flashes of his future, some more confusing than others. He had eventually come to the conclusion it was showing him all the different versions of him, which was why some childhood memories were of a boy and some of a girl. That one version of him had been born female was distinctly disturbing and not one he wanted to think about at all, though it did make sense in a very strange way. He wasn’t sure he’d discuss what he’d seen with Jeff though, not yet. He needed time to work it out for himself.

“You okay?” Jeff said quietly.

“Dunno. Might be,” Bev said. He shifted in his seat and sat forward, rubbing his sore head. “What happened? Why did you do that to me?”

“Didn’t have much choice. It was that, or let you fade out of existence, and I ain’t ready to give you up just yet,” Jeff said.

“Do you still love me?” Bev said, unsure why he was asking it.

“Always. I promise,” Jeff said.

“Get me out of here. I don’t like it here anymore,” Bev said.

“Come back to me house, I’ll tell you what I can there. Things aren’t quite as good as I’d hoped,” Jeff said.

Bev nodded, afraid to ask what he meant. Jeff pulled him to his feet. Holding him close, they disappeared from the spaceship and appeared in the control room. It was the safest place to talk now.

“Another of your magic tricks, hey?” Bev said.

“No, that’s real magic. For once,” Jeff said.

“Real magic? What do you mean by that?” Bev said.

“Proper magic. Like, stuff from fantasy, not card tricks and rabbits outta hats,” Jeff said.

“I suppose you’ll tell me elves and fairies are real too, yeah?” Bev said.

Jeff snapped his fingers and a fairy appeared. It flitted around Bev’s head, this glowing yellow thing. Bev was surprised it could speak to him. It told him its name, a name no one was ever allowed to repeat, and how it would always be there for him, if he ever needed its help. It hovered before his eyes, giving him a good look at this tiny creature.

“This isn’t real. Is it?” Bev extended a finger, as if trying to touch it. When he felt it wrap its arms around his finger, and felt how warm it was, it had to be real.

“It’s real. This one’s yours. Now you’re properly part of this world. No chance of you disappearing on me anymore,” Jeff said.

“Am I trapped here?” Bev said. Not seeing home again was not something he wanted to consider.

“No. No one’s trapped here. Though I’m considering the possibility of permanently closing the boundary and severing our links with Earth in order to stop this place collapsing in on itself and destroying everything. If it came to that, I’d give the choice to go home or stay here before doing so, and at the moment, it’s only a last resort if I can’t fix things manually,” Jeff said, avoiding giving an answer to his question.

“That’s not what I asked. You said things weren’t good. What’s wrong?” Bev said.

Jeff took a deep breath and turned away from him. He couldn’t look at him. He hadn’t been able to save him. He was dead. All that was left was this… figment of his existence. He couldn’t go back. He probably couldn’t leave here. Jeff had no idea. He’d never dealt with that before. He leaned against the console, holding back his grief. How do you tell your lover that he’s dead, that you failed him? Jeff had no idea.

“Jeff? Speak to me. What’s wrong with me?” Bev said, resting a hand on his shoulder.

“I failed you. Whoever did this to you, whoever forced you into my world, they killed you. You’re dead. You can’t go back. I did my best, I really did, but I couldn’t, Bev, it didn’t want to work, I’m so sorry,” Jeff murmured.

“I’m dead? But this isn’t Heaven? Or whatever the Afterlife is? What does that mean then?” Bev said after a while, giving his words time to sink in.

“This ain’t the Afterlife. Trust me, I’ve been there. You haven’t crossed over, and I don’t know if you’ll even be able to. I just… I don’t know. I’m so sorry. I don’t know if this is what they meant to do, but this has never happened before, not to me. I don’t know what to do or say to make things right again,” Jeff said, slowly turning to face him again. He didn’t want to look at him, but the panic in his voice got to him. “You’re an anomaly within an anomaly. No wonder they want to destroy us.”

“I’m not dead. You’re lying. This isn’t happening to me. Fix me, Jeff. I want to go home,” Bev said.

“I don’t think I can. I don’t even know what you are. You’re not a ghost. I’ve seen ghosts. Ghosts have ties to their homes. You don’t have anything like that. This is all that’s left of you. There’s nothing left on Earth. It was corrupted, probably when you were sent here. Fuck it, sending living people here is dangerous enough. I can only imagine sending someone on the verge of death is going to create complications no one could ever anticipate. I wish I had a neat little explanation for you. I wish I could wave a wand and make everything better. I just don’t know anymore. I don’t know what to do. I didn’t even want you here to begin with. You were too precious for that. I didn’t want to risk losing you, but it looks like I have,” Jeff said.

Bev stepped backwards and hit the wall. The shock had set in. He had wondered why he hadn’t felt hungry the whole time he’d been here. He slumped to the floor, arms curled around his legs. He was dead. He had no idea what to do next.

Jeff watched him, feeling utterly exhausted. He didn’t know how to comfort him. “Bev, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen, I really didn’t, I-”

“Jeff? Hold me? But… can you look different? Like, the way I remember you?” Bev said softly, looking up at him.

Jeff did so in an instant. It would be cruel to refuse him now. A much younger-looking Jeff took a seat next to Bev and held him, absolutely lost as to what to do next. Bev curled up in his arms. The problem of the world collapsing in on itself was suddenly vastly unimportant.

“It’ll be okay. I promise. You’ll be okay,” Jeff said, trying to calm the panicked thoughts in Bev’s head. It was the one time Jeff hated being able to read thoughts, and did his best to shut them out.

“How can it be okay? I’m dead,” Bev murmured.

“You’re still here. People can see you, talk to you, touch you. You can feel, can’t you?” Jeff said.

Bev shifted. He could indeed feel the warmth from Jeff’s arms around him. “But what do I do? If I’m trapped here, what then? What if this place does implode? Will it destroy me?”

Jeff remained silent. He was thinking through all the possible things he could do to help him. He was desperately hoping there was some sort of magic that would help. This was not an issue of technology; this was a problem of the spirit, of magic. What could you do with a dead corporeal fragmented human spirit anyway without destroying them?

“Y’see, the problem with you is that you’re dead. Or, at least, the collective Universe is telling me you’re dead. Your soul seems to think you’re dead. Yet your body is somehow alive still… Something went wrong when they sent you here, and until I know what they did, I don’t think I can fix you,” Jeff said after a while. “And your age is wrong. Your body aged as you were coming here. I can feel it. Your mind, your soul, is still stuck in ’65, but your body is at least 5 years older, six or seven, more likely. Didn’t you wonder how you remembered me? It weren’t your memories, cos I know you shouldn’t have any, not from when you come from, but you felt it too, didn’t you? Come from your heart, it did. Your heart remembers me, even if your mind doesn’t.”

Bev couldn’t deny the contradiction. It’s true, he didn’t remember much of Jeff at all, but he had trusted him, had somehow known there was a connection there, that they had indeed once loved each other deeply.

“Help me remember you. I want to-” Bev stopped, unsure of the right words.

Jeff turned and gently kissed him, fingers loosely lifting his chin. They shifted into a more comfortable position as they kissed, though it wasn’t long before things other than kissing were happening. It was comforting. Jeff slowly shared his memories, allowing Bev to see what they had together. The more he saw, the more Bev was convinced his gut instincts had been right.

 

It was a young George that returned to Jeff’s house, finding him in the control room still, holding Bev close. George didn’t interrupt them. He just had to look at them to know what had gone on between them. As he was about to leave, Jeff looked over and saw him.

“Oh, hey, there you are,” Jeff said. “How’s everything looking then? Are we going to make it?”

“We should be alright, as far as I can see,” George said. “Never seen you looking so young, Jeff.”

“I-I asked him to. It’s easier to cope with,” Bev said softly, glancing at him. He lifted his head slightly, his hair falling over an eye. He clung to him. He avoided George’s gaze. It was making him uncomfortable.

“Got him fixed, for the moment, though I still don’t know what he is,” Jeff explained.

“Ah, right. So. World holding together then?” George said.

“Still need to fix a few things, and-”

“You do know there’s a warning on that screen, yes? Something you should be paying attention to?” George said, indicating the screen Jeff and Bev had been ignoring.

Jeff turned to look at it, reading the message it was flashing with increasing concern. “Shit. I thought I’d dealt with that already,” he said.

“Apparently not. Are the other ships ready?” George said.

“Almost. I’d need to refuel and work out how many pilots we actually have,” Jeff said.

“Want me to deal with that? I think he needs you more right now. Oh, and make sure you’ve fixed the boundary. As I was flying back, I felt a few inconsistencies. Might want to take a look at it,” George said.

“Great. More work. I’ll check again, just to make sure,” Jeff said.

“You do that. Just don’t go knocking yourself out. This isn’t the time to be draining all your energy,” George warned.

“I’ll do my best,” Jeff said.

With a final glance at them, George vanished. Bev watched him with fear and curled up closer to Jeff. “He really doesn’t like me. Any idea why?”

“Don’t worry about him. It’s nothing personal,” Jeff said.

“That just tells me it is something personal. What’s going on? Are you two-”

“It… It’s difficult to explain, since you don’t remember it. It weren’t your fault though. We just … moved on,” Jeff said.

“But you said before that you wanted to come back for me, that you’d always love me. Was that true?” Bev said.

“I loved you both at different times. And then he died…” Jeff paused and took a deep breath. “I didn’t know he’d be here with me. I thought I’d be alone. But he turned up with the other Beatles, much to my surprise. I was never going to risk bringing you here. I didn’t want you getting hurt. I hadn’t even thought Georgie could come here. He was dead, least I thought he was. Then he turned up and he’s not human anymore and I don’t even know what to say to him apart from fall in love with him all over again. I didn’t want him to die. I loved him too much to let him die. But there was nothing I could do. All I could do was vow to look after Dhani, his son. But he’s turned up here too. Someone’s playing tricks on me, and I want to know who it is,” Jeff said.

“Just… don’t leave me. If I can’t go back to Earth, I want to stay with you,” Bev said.

“Wouldn’t dream of sending you back. Don’t know if I could, even if I wanted to,” Jeff said, holding him close. “But we should get to work. This place won’t save itself. Wanna come?”

“Sure. Just don’t shut me up there again,” Bev said.

“I won’t, trust me. Not unless you start disappearing on me again,” Jeff said.

“I’ll try not to,” Bev said.

Jeff stood and pulled Bev to his feet. After a quick kiss, they disappeared back to the spaceship to deal with the coming invasion and the weakening boundaries.

 

Bev was coping with flying in Jeff’s spaceship much better now. The motion of flying wasn’t so bad once he’d gotten used to it. Indeed, once they’d started cruising, Jeff set it to autopilot and took Bev to check the smaller ships it carried. They were docked in the outer part of the ship, ready to be deployed from the four cargo bay doors. The ships looked similar to typical American fighter jets, though these were smaller and designed for space travel. They had more efficient engines and better weapons. Each would be crewed by two men, one pilot and one co-pilot/navigator. These were the best ships for the sort of combat Jeff knew he’d be facing.

“How many are there? Who’s going to fly them all?” Bev said.

“Should be close to 40 of ‘em. And, well, I had hoped not to stoop to using everyone here as pilots, but I was possibly being far too hopeful that I’d get any reinforcements, so I’ll have to train everyone instead, and quickly. Thankfully the fairies will make the process much faster, but I’d hoped not to resort to it. They shouldn’t be fighting my battles for me,” Jeff said.

“Isn’t there another option?” Bev said.

“None I can think of. I’m not all that popular in the universe. Allies are few and far between, and the ones who gave me this job are useless. No, I’m on my own, and those ships need at least one crewmember, two if I can arrange it,” Jeff said.

“So when do they fly out then? Are we just going to sit here and wait for them to attack us?” Bev said.

“We have to. There’s no accurate way of working out who’s on the other side of the boundary without crossing it,” Jeff said.

“Well, in the interests of, oh, I don’t know, not getting slaughtered, perhaps we should go over and see just who we’re dealing with. You keep thinking there’s some huge armada of ships out there. There might not be. The more you know the better,” Bev said.

“Okay. We’ll take the ship back and go out in one of the jets. But I bet you anything there’s 50 million ships or something out there,” Jeff said.

“You’re dreaming. There probably isn’t that many. I think you’re over-estimating your enemy, whoever they are,” Bev said.

“Ahh, fuck it. We’re already in this one. We’ll cloak it and head out. The boundary won’t give away our crossing in this ship. It will for the others. I don’t want them to know we’re spying on them,” Jeff said.

The decision made, they returned to the bridge and set off, cloaking the ship. Bev made a few changes to the cloak to strengthen it and make them impervious to other ships’ scanners. Not that he knew what he was doing, of course. The fairy had told him what to do and he had complied.

Flying through the boundary was strange. The shimmering light seemed impossibly thin as they approached, but turned much thicker as they travelled through it. Eventually they emerged into the black space outside. There was nothing except stars. It was as if they were utterly alone. Indeed, Jeff’s world was invisible amongst the sky unless you knew what to look for.

“Well, there’s nothing out here at the moment. Unless they’re cloaked as well,” Jeff said.

“They’re not. Here, try it again,” Bev said, adjusting the scanner slightly.

“Since when did you know how to fly this baby?” Jeff said.

“Dunno. Fairy told me,” Bev said.

Jeff gave him a curious look before running the scan again. Sure enough, it found seventeen ships of mostly small cargo ship size and a few larger combat ships. It seemed… unimpressive.

“Why do I get the horrid feeling that’s just an illusion to stop us seeing what’s really out here?” Jeff said.

“Because you’re paranoid? Look, I made sure the scanner could penetrate everything out here, even illusions and cloaked ships. If it’s only picking up seventeen ships, that’s all that’s out there,” Bev said.

“I could take them out single handed and still be home in time for tea,” Jeff said.

“Oi, don’t get cocky. Last thing I need is you getting a big head. Any idea who they might be?” Bev said.

“Not really. They’re not giving themselves away. I don’t recognise any of these ship signatures. Whoever they are, they’re either disguising their real identity, or I’ve never met them before,” Jeff said.

“Hey. What’s George doing out here?” Bev said, noticing the flickering of his existence on the scanner.

“George? Where? He shouldn’t be here,” Jeff said.

“He was moving fast, went towards one of the bigger ships,” Bev said, pointing at the ship he’d seen George travel towards. “You don’t think he could be-”

“Well, it would explain why he turned up here uninvited,” Jeff murmured.

“You didn’t invite him? Why? I thought you’d want him there,” Bev said.

Jeff shrugged. “All this happened after he died. It’s harder to bring someone back when they’re dead. He had no timeline to link to. So, yeah, I was a bit surprised when he turned up, but I was just so glad to see him I didn’t even think about how he might’ve gotten here.”

Jeff fell silent. Bev rested a hand on his shoulder.

“You okay?”

“I will be. I just… Of all the people to betray me, it had to be George, didn’t it? Whoever they are, they really know how to hurt me. I’m gonna fuckin’ destroy them for this. C’mon, let’s get out of here. Now I know exactly what I need to do,” Jeff said.

With one last glance at the invisible ships, Jeff turned his ship around and headed back inside his world. He wasted no time in finishing off the work on the boundary, adding in the last touch of magic to stabilise it completely and make it difficult for their enemies to get inside.

Chapter Text

The first thing Jeff did was head back to the vinyl factory where all the records were made. He’d had an idea of how to save Bev, but he wasn’t sure if it would work. He hadn’t told Bev yet, just in case he was wrong. Picking up a 12” record, Jeff inspected it, wondering if it would withstand the journey home.

“You’re going to use records to destroy those ships? That’s definitely not what I expected,” Bev said.

Jeff tapped the record, listening for something. “No, I think I know how to get you back to Earth in one piece.”

“With records? You’re mad. How’s that supposed to work?” Bev said.

“Well, you’re just energy. Solid energy, but still, energy. It’s ancient magic, but I think it might work. I just - I need to get you onto a record, and with the right trigger, when you get back to Earth, you’ll come to life again. Properly alive, not just this figment. But I haven’t tried it before so I don’t know if it’ll work,” Jeff said.

“So you can send me back to my time? I can go home again?” Bev said.

“I don’t know. I need to send you through with someone else, but I don’t know if anyone’s come from the same time as you. I need someone to take the records back, so I can’t guarantee the right year, but you’ll definitely be back on Earth. I might be able to get it within a few years of ‘65 though. I haven’t decided who’s going to take the records either. It needs to be someone who can keep the memory alive. Someone needs to remember this world to make the magic work properly,” Jeff said.

“Surely anyone would do for that. We’ve all got decent memories,” Bev said.

“No, I can’t just use anyone. It needs to be the right person. I just- Oh. Dani would do perfectly. He’s got the right kind of imagination. Come on, we’ll go see him now,” Jeff said.

 

Andrew was in his music room, working on a new song he’d thought of, when Jeff arrived with Bev. Andrew did his best to act composed and normal, and not freak out again because Jeff Lynne had come to see him again. He set his guitar down and stood.

“To what do I owe this particular visit?” Andrew said.

“I got a special job for you. Things are going to go bad soon, and you’ll all have to go back to Earth. I need you to take all your records with you. Think you can do that?” Jeff said.

Andrew felt it was a rather strange request, but he’d hoped he’d be able to keep the records he’d acquired here and wasn’t going to say no. “I think I can do that, yeah. Why? What’s going on? Are we in trouble here?”

“I can’t say much just yet, but I need you to take one special record with you. It’ll be the most precious record you ever own and I want you to promise you’ll guard it with your life,” Jeff said.

“If that’s what you want, sure, I can do that. What record is this? Is that it there?” Andrew said, noticing the record tucked under one arm.

“Not yet. We need to record onto it first. Come with me,” Jeff said.

“What do you mean, record onto it? You can’t record onto records like that, you-“

Andrew was cut off as he was taken from Pixie’s house to Jeff’s house. They were in some sort of workshop, and there were all sorts of bits and pieces of machinery around the place. Jeff immediately got to work. Neither Andrew nor Bev had any idea what he was doing as they watched him building something. Half an hour later, he was done, and the machine before them looked like some sort of daft gramophone.

“What’s that supposed to do then?” Andrew said.

“It’s a long story, but when this place is destroyed, Bev’ll be destroyed with it. He can’t leave this world, not like that. That’s all that’s left of him. But if I can get him onto that record, and you play it when you get back to Earth, that should bring him back to life. I know it sounds daft, I really do, and I still don’t know if it’ll work, but it’s the only way I can think of to get him out of here. Jus’- Bev, sing every song you know into that mic there. I’ll get it recording. This might be the last time I see you, but when I get out of here, when all this is over, I’ll come find you, I promise. I mean it, Bev. This time, I’ll come for you, no matter where you are, and I’ll never leave you again,” Jeff said.

Andrew did think it sounded daft, but he wasn’t going to argue with Jeff. He gave them a bit of space to say goodbye, not wishing to intrude. He had come to accept their relationship, even if it broke his mind somewhat. It was one of those things he hadn’t quite wanted to know, and now that he did know, he wasn’t sure what to do with that knowledge. And then he heard Bev singing, and his voice sent shivers down his spine.

Andrew approached them, and watched as, little by little, Bev faded from view, permanently meshed into the vinyl that spun around on the turntable. The last few notes he’d sung hung in the air. Andrew wasn’t sure he’d ever forget them. Once the machine was done, Jeff carefully picked up the record and slipped inside a sleeve to keep it safe. He sealed it with magic, just to make sure, before handing it to Andrew.

“Don’t play this until you get back to Earth. It will only work once. If you play it here, he’ll be stuck here for good. I don’t think I can record him like this again. You gotta be in a certain state for it to work, and once he’s restored, it won’t work again. So be careful with it. Don’t lose it either. Now go back to Pixie. I’ll call you all when I need you again,” Jeff said. “Oh, and if you happen to pick up a copy of every record that exists here, I’d be ever so grateful. Once the music’s gone from here, it’s gone forever.”

Andrew was about to reply, but he suddenly found himself back in his music room, the record clutched to his chest. He gazed at the album art. It was quite pretty and distinctive, but it didn’t give away what it contained. He carefully slipped it in with his other records and packed them all in a protective case for safe keeping. Things were going to go bad. He might want to start packing now. He’d need to find room for all those bloody records.

 

Charles frowned at the screen before him. He’d been resting again, but Jeff had roused him with a message. He had work to do. It was time to activate their emergency plan. Charles hated that he was in charge of it. It would trigger everyone’s fairies into telling their charges what was going on and give them the choice to stay or leave. If they chose to leave, they’d be able to gather a few things before their fairies took them home. They would be returned to Earth, to their time period, and wouldn’t realise anything had happened. If they stayed, and they died, there was no way they would ever see the Earth again. Charles hoped they’d all choose to go. He didn’t want them hanging around any longer than necessary, especially if their little sanctuary was about to be destroyed.

Charles hated that they even had a choice. He knew he wouldn’t be going anywhere. Jeff still needed him, and would return him once his job was done. He’d already asked if he could take the palace back to Earth, but Jeff had said no. All the wealth he had here would vanish. He would just be an ordinary human being again. It was a very depressing thought, though he’d already picked out a few things to take back with him. The crown, for one, and some of his finery. Some of the sex toys locked up in a secret part of the palace, for another. He’d just have to find someone willing to use them on him when he got back home. Easiest job in the world, he thought, knowing how hard it would be.

The screen before him chirped, alerting him to some more messages. He read them wordlessly, preparing to trigger the fairies. He knew this was it. This was the end. After one more message from Jeff, asking him to hurry the fuck up, Charles gave the command, and the fairies were triggered. He cursed and went to get some scotch. He needed a damn good drink.

 

Andrew had gone straight to the biggest record store in the city first and told them what Jeff wanted. At least one copy of every record was to be saved and packed up, ready to be taken back to Earth. He’d go to the vinyl press later and see if he could save the acetate masters as well, knowing how valuable those would be.

While he was collecting records, and compiling a great catalogue of what he was gathering, his fairy was chattering away at him. Andrew was listening, but he’d already heard enough from Jeff to know what was going on. The fairy offered him a choice to stay, or go straight back to Earth once he’d finished collecting his records.

At that, Andrew straightened and stood there, thinking. Reality had sunk in. He would have to leave this place. All he would have left were the records. He wanted to stay here, he knew that, but the fairy reminded him Jeff’s task was meant for Earth, not for here. Andrew should leave as soon as he could. Andrew declined to make a decision just yet. He wanted to talk to Craig first. If he was going to go back, he wanted to go back with him. The fairy accepted this, and let him get on with collecting records, knowing that was the priority for the moment.

 

Andrew didn’t see Craig until that evening, once he’d finally collected everything Jeff had asked him to collect. He wasn’t sure why he’d got the job of archiving all the music in this world, but he wasn’t going to say no to Jeff. Andrew had found several large padded cases waiting for him when he finally returned, and he assumed he was supposed to fill them with records, presumably sent by Jeff. Andrew liked that they held more than they appeared to hold, which made packing a lot easier. Along with the records, he’d also collected all the acetate masters and master tapes he could find. Those were just as priceless and irreplaceable as the records themselves.

Unaware of what had been going on, Craig was surprised to find the boxes piled up in Andrew’s music room as Andrew finished packing up his music and his instruments.

“Going somewhere? What’s going on?” Craig said, coming into the room.

Andrew turned to see him standing there. “Oh, just, Jeff wanted me to save all these records. We have to leave this world, Craig. We can’t stay here any more. It’ll be destroyed. He wants me to save the music. Hasn’t your fairy told you all about that yet?”

Craig paused, and realised the fairy had indeed told him about that. “It can’t be over. Can I bring anything back with me? I’ll never find some of these outfits ever again.”

“I don’t know. Ask Jeff. But he asked me particularly to save the records, so if you happen to fill that spare case with clothes, I won’t say anything to him. That’s all I can offer you. They were all the cases he gave me,” Andrew said.

Craig thought a moment. “Be right back.”

Andrew continued packing while Craig ran to pack up what he couldn’t bear to leave behind. The case wasn’t very big, and he couldn’t take everything, but he had, for once, been sensible about it and had enough to pack in there. He’d brought the dark blue dress he’d worn to Andrew’s coronation too. Andrew was pleased by that. He had loved that dress. Craig sat on the bed as he watched Andrew.

“We’re really going, aren’t we? We can stay, you know. The fairy said we can stay,” Craig said.

“No, my fairy’s right. My place is back on Earth with all these things, not here. We have to keep the memory of this place alive. I’d rather you came with me too. I don’t want to leave you here to die,” Andrew said.

“I’m going to miss the fuck out of this place. I’m going to have to stop kissing you when we get home. The guilt will be too much if I dare. I’m sorry,” Craig said.

Andrew came over and brought him to his feet, holding him close. “No, don’t say that. Don’t think like that. I’m not going to lose you, Craig. Being here, being with you, I love you more than I ever imagined I ever did. I know you feel the same way. Do you really want to throw that all away?”

A tear rolled down Craig’s cheek, and Andrew brushed it away with his thumb. “Don’t. Andrew, please-“

Andrew kissed him. He wasn’t going to lose Craig. Not now. Not after everything they’d been through. When they broke apart, Jeff was there, watching them. Andrew could see how sad he looked.

“It’s all done, Jeff. I got every record I could find. I got the all the masters as well. Is that all you wanted me to save?” Andrew said.

Jeff smiled and cheered up a little. He was suitably impressed by his efforts. His legacy would survive after all. “I’d like to save more, but there’s not enough time. Thanks for thinking of the masters too. I’d never have remembered those.”

“Figured you’d want everything I could possibly get, so I got the lot. It’s all shrunk down in those boxes. There’s a lot more there than you’d think,” Andrew said.

“I thought those boxes would come in handy, that’s why I sent ‘em over. I’d best send you back now. I might not get another chance, and the fairies aren’t up to shifting that much gear. Play that record when you get back, alright? You ready?” Jeff said.

“Ready as we’ll ever be. We really wanted to stay, but I know that’s not possible for us. We’re needed back on Earth, right?” Andrew said.

“Yeah. I’m so sorry about all this. I wish it had lasted longer. We could’ve made some great music together,” Jeff said. He reached out and touched Andrew’s cheek.

Andrew looked up at him. “Will I see you again?”

Jeff hesitated. “I don’t know. Maybe not. Keep the memory of this place alive. I need it to live on inside you, and in you, Pixie. You need to remember this place, or it’ll die and fade away. Remember me. Don’t let me die.”

Jeff hugged them both tightly, and Andrew couldn’t help thinking he was being a little overdramatic. Andrew was sad he hadn’t got to know him properly in the time he was there, but he wouldn’t let him down. He’d remember everything. He had to. Jeff was depending on him.

No one wanted to let go. Jeff kissed them both one last time before sending them back to Earth, along with all the records and boxes and instruments in the room. Pixie’s mansion seemed very empty now that they’d gone. Jeff didn’t linger and went back to the ship to prepare for the battle, hoping he’d done enough to save what they’d made here.

 

Jeff watched the scanners as, one by one, the ship’s hangar filled with his friends. Anyone who had decided to stay would be brought there and prepared to fly the ships. He didn’t want them risking their lives for him, but he knew he needed them. He had no one else to fight for him. All the calls he’d made to his few allies had gone unanswered. He was on his own.

He’d already scanned for ships waiting for him. He still saw seventeen of them. He relaxed a little, but he still didn’t think they’d make this easy for him. They were obviously waiting for him to attack first, otherwise his little sanctuary would have already been destroyed. That made him nervous. That would give them enough time to launch an ambush if they so wished. They had all the resources of the cosmos at their disposal. Jeff just had whatever he could find in the universe he’d created. The odds were decidedly stacked against him.

He tried not to imagine everyone being slaughtered as they went out to fight. He tried not to think about the futile effort this fight would be. He’d already had a summons from the Council of the Guardians, demanding he front up and take responsibility for what he’d done. He hadn’t told anyone about that though. He was hoping he could fight off this fleet and find somewhere else to live, taking those who wished to stay with him. He had no desire to front up to anyone, let alone the Guardians. He hadn’t wanted these powers anyway. The longer he had them, the more he didn’t want them.

Dhani had joined him on the ship. He’d been getting the smaller ships ready to fight, just to give him and Oli something to do. Jeff had almost sent them straight back to Earth once he’d found out they were there, but they’d pleaded to stay, and he’d reluctantly given in. At least if they were with him he could protect them. Dhani joined him on the bridge then, standing beside him as they surveyed the ships outside.

“How’s it going down there?” Jeff asked.

“All ready to go. We’re just waiting for pilots and your instructions. You got a battle plan sorted then?” Dhani said.

Jeff moved the ships about on the screen, arranging them into groups. “Sort of. If all else fails, try and shoot anything and everything and see if we come out on top. I’m not good at this sort of thing. I don’t - I don’t like war and violence an’ killing. You know that. This just isn’t in me nature, but I’m not going to just surrender to them either. So I gotta fight this time, even if I don’t want to, even if I’m afraid everyone will die, because there’s nothing else to do. I wish you’d all go away and let me fight this myself. It’s my battle, not yours. You’ll just end up dead. I couldn’t live with myself if I was the reason everyone died.”

“Oh, quit your whining. We’re not going anywhere. You think we’re gonna let you have all the fun?” Tom said, appearing behind him. He gave Jeff a wry grin as Jeff turned to face him.

“But you could die out there. Why would you want to risk that?” Jeff said.

“We’ve got your back, Jeff. We all do. We’re down there waiting for you, ready to fight. Get yerself some courage, will you?” Tom said.

Dhani brought an arm around his shoulder. “C’mon, Jeff, might as well get this started, hey?”

 

The hangar was tense with silence. His friends were paired up, standing beside their chosen ship, waiting for their orders. Jeff wanted to cry. There were more than he really needed. He wasn’t expecting so many to want to stay with him. Dhani led a rousing cheer for him, trying to get everyone psyched for the battle. For a moment, Jeff believed they’d win. He silenced them as he stepped forward to address them.

“If any of you are having second thoughts, now’s yer last chance to leave. If we’re going to do this, I only want the most committed pilots to fight with me. This ain’t gonna be easy, and I’m expecting they’ll put up a decent fight. I just hope yer up to it,” Jeff said.

He paused, and he noticed a few more disappearing. He would miss them, but he didn’t blame them for going. Still, the rest of them cheered and listened intently as he outlined his plan for them. It wasn’t the best battle plan ever, he knew that, but he was hoping he could save them by taking on most of the offensive attack, leaving the much smaller ships as back-up. He felt an impending sense of doom as they willingly climbed into their ships and got ready to fly out.

 

Jeff returned to the bridge to oversee the battle. Moving the ship out of the protective layer of the boundaries, they entered open space, and it was only then that Jeff realised he’d vastly underestimated the number of ships out there. There had to be at least thirty well-armed battle ships, two large mother ships, and some attack ships that would decimate his own small fleet of ships. Jeff wondered if it wasn’t too late to pull out.

“I thought you said there’d only be seventeen? Why are there so many more out there?” came a voice over the radio.

“I thought- there were only seventeen last time I looked. But they’ve seen us now, it’s too late to retreat. Everyone, get out there and try to take them down. Make a stand. Let’s see if we can’t blow them out of the sky,” Jeff said, making things up as he went as he watched the ships approaching.

They wasted no time in opening fire. If it wasn’t for the shields protecting Jeff’s ship, his own fleet wouldn’t have made it out alive, and Jeff made sure to return cover fire to see if he couldn’t make a fatal strike early on. He got a few hits in, but the ships kept coming, and he had to hold on tight as he took a hit himself. A blow skimming across the bows as a warning shot.

It was a chaotic battle, as most battles are. Ships were lost on both sides, and Jeff felt every loss personally as his fleet disappeared in front of him. They didn’t explode; things didn’t explode in the vacuum of space. They just vanished. Jeff did his best to destroy as many ships as he could, but his own ship took a couple of hits that were more than just near-misses and it became clear he wasn’t winning this one.

As he lost power, he watched as the rest of his fleet disappeared. The enemy ships surrounded him and as his last engine shut down, he was left drifting in space. Defeated, he waited for them to board. He was all alone now. He was the only one left on the ship. At least no one would be around to see him surrender.

“I’m surprised you even bothered fighting. You’ve got more spine than I thought,” Stardust said, walking up behind him.

Jeff cringed at his voice. It had been a very long time since he’d seen Stardust. “I’m not that pathetic. Just. Get it over with. I’m ready,” Jeff murmured.

Stardust observed him. He approached him and stood beside him. Leaning in, he caressed his cheek gently. “If it’s any consolation, I never thought it would end this way. You showed so much potential when I first came to you. So young but so much power.”

Jeff brushed his hand away and moved away from him. “Don’t. Just. Let’s get out of here.”

Stardust straightened. “In that case, by order of the Council of the Guardians, I am authorised to take you into custody. You are charged with gross abuses of your Guardian-granted powers, and you will be judged accordingly. It’s over, Jeff. I can’t save you now.”

Jeff lowered his head, but said nothing. Stardust took his arm and they left the ailing ship. Returning to Stardust’s ship, Jeff found himself in the bridge where he could only watch in silence as his ship disintegrated and his own universe destroyed. Jeff felt like a small part of him had died. It was the last thing he was allowed to see before he was taken to the brig, locked away in a small cell as the ship set off. Jeff knew what fate awaited him. He was sure he’d never see the Earth again. He prayed Bev would forgive him.

Chapter Text

Sometimes I wonder if anyone believes in me anymore. I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. Plenty of better gods around to believe in, if you ask me. I could introduce you, if you want. I know a few of them, even if half of them don’t talk to me anymore.

It’s so quiet out here. There’s so much space. Too much space. You never see anyone if they don’t bother to come looking. I can time travel all I want, but it never changes how empty space is. I even saw the Big Bang once. Not sure I ever want to do that again though. These things are never how you imagine them to be. I used to be human. Seeing that sort of thing just - changes you forever.

Maybe that’s why they don’t like me so much. I got baggage. Too many ties and loose ends. Can’t blame me for it though. They’re the ones who made me like this. They gave me these powers and made me live forever. It’s the worst curse in the world. I know I keep saying that, but it’s true. Maybe it’s different if you were never human.

I’ve spent time walking the Earth again, visiting anywhere and everywhere. I’d walk streets and paths and suburbs, trying to feel connected again. I’ve been to every continent on the planet. I’ve met some people around the traps when I’ve tried to reach out to them. To feel anything, to feel that you are still alive.

I don’t ... I didn’t seek them out. Not really. I just. Sometimes I’m sat by a river or a harbour or in a park or somewhere nice, and sometimes, people see me, and sometimes they’re nice enough to sit down beside me and say hello. Most of the time, I never see them again. Sometimes, they want to keep in touch. I write ‘em letters. They like that.

I’ve been back in time to see how things used to be. Part nostalgia, part curiosity, part cynicism. Perhaps it was also boredom. I’ve walked past the houses of old friends, watched them sitting in their front rooms, laughing and crying. Sometimes, I saw them glance through the window, as if they’ve seen something in the corner of their eye, but it was like I was invisible to them. I mean, I can become invisible if I want to, but when I’m not doing that and they still don’t see me? Yeah, it hurts.

That’s why I did it, y’know. I was lonely. It’s so cold and empty in space. I needed company. So I made a little sanctuary, a little universe all of my own to play in, and made it into whatever I liked. Made it look like home, gave it trees and birds and flowers and people and the right sort of buildings. I even put a few canals in and a nice train line, just because I could. Then I filled it with my friends, and anyone else who wanted to come that I’d befriended along the way, and for a while, things were okay. I had my friends back, we laughed and made music together like we always did, and I forgot for a while that I’m on me own.

I suppose I should’ve known it wouldn’t last. Because eventually some people did leave. They remembered they had family and friends of their own and couldn’t leave Earth for good. So I let them go and wished they’d come back to me one day. It hurt to say goodbye to friends, but I wasn’t going to stop them going if they really wanted to go back.

After a while, I tampered with their memories, trying to get them to stay as long as possible so they’d forget about Earth and what they’d left behind. I wasn’t trying to hurt them, I just - it was the way the magic worked, or so the fairies said. I wanted them to stay with me, not go home and leave me behind. I knew it was a bad idea, messing with their heads like that; they weren’t really my friends anymore, but it did stop the aching loneliness in my heart, just for a while.

But it all went wrong and now I’m writing this from a prison ship. I don’t know how long I’ll be here. They don’t give out those sort of sentences because time doesn’t really exist for us. We’re eternal beings. Some arbitrary time alone is not a good punishment. No, what they do is lock you in a prison ship until they decide you’ve paid your dues. Eternal guilt is a bitch of a punishment anyway.

But the time alone isn’t a problem. I wouldn’t mind that so much. But the prison ship has these shields around it that stops me using me powers. I’m cut off from everyone, left on me own until they decide to free me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in me cell, just crying. Actually, not even crying. I jus’ can’t feel anything anymore. I think they’re trying to drive me mad. I never thought it was possible to feel so excruciatingly alone as I do now. I guess I got what I wanted.

I don’t know why I started writing this all down. It’s not like anyone will read it. I’ve never been much of a writer either. I’d rather make music, but I’m not allowed a guitar, cos it’s got strings. What should it matter to beings who can’t die I’ll never know. I learnt a long time ago not to bother trying to argue logically with them; it’s not something they understand.

Maybe it’s all that loneliness. Maybe it’s because I don’t even know if anyone still believes in me. I don’t want to die. Gods die when people stop believing in them. They get weak and disappear. But then they still never really die, they just hang around waiting for someone to remember they’re there. I’m not even asking to be universally loved. I just want to tell my story before I’m too weak to tell it. Otherwise, they’ll bury me within the depths of history and no one will even remember my name anymore.

I’m not trying to absolve myself. Well, maybe a little. But I did screw up, and people got hurt. But I’d do it all again if it meant I could hear the music ring out again.

 

I haven’t touched my journal for weeks now. Feels like weeks anyway. Maybe I shouldn’t write it all down. It would never be the whole truth anyway. It’s not like I can just ask anyone else who was there to tell me their side of the story.

Maybe it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe I’ll just stop here.

 

I’ve been dreaming again. Bev was there

He. He wanted me to write, but I can’t- it’s too painful. He was the only one left when it was all over, and I couldn’t save him, I couldn’t

The book was painful to hold. Jeff had hidden it away in his cell, wishing to forget about his aborted attempts at remembering his story. It had become far too painful, and left on his own, he had nothing to do but dwell on his thoughts, and it spiralled into guilt and terror. Maybe madness too. Jeff was never quite sure he hadn’t gone mad.

He felt the connections coming back as soon as he stepped out of his cell. He fell to his knees and wept, the flood of emotion too much to bear. He could feel everyone. Everything. The cosmos flooded his mind with sensation. He was part of it again, and it hurt like hell.

“Come on, they’ve called for you at last.”

Jeff couldn’t move. The guards lifted him to his feet and made him walk. Somehow, Jeff never knew how, he walked beside them, wishing he was back in his cell again.

 

I hear voices. Bev’s voice. Georgie’s there too. But Stardust chases them away. It doesn’t help. Bev fades away, a ghost who no longer exists. I couldn’t save him. He’s worse than dead. At least you have an afterlife when you’re dead. He got erased from existence. No one remembers him anymore. Except me.

 

These four walls are maddening.

 

I never meant to hurt them. The fairies, they said it wouldn’t hurt them if I did that to them. I just wanted them to stay with me, and the fairies said they could help. So they made them forget about the Earth. Turned them into different people. Different memories. Different lives.

They weren’t my friends anymore. But I didn’t care. We still made music, I still had them with me. Things were alright.

Georgie was there. Of course everything was alright. He died. He died before I could save him, before he could become like me, and all I had left was his son. I never wanted anyone back more than him, and when he showed up with the other Beatles, when I saw his smiling face-

I’d never been so happy in my life. I hugged him tight and kissed him and never left his side.

But then he-

Jeff couldn’t bring himself to finish that entry. He’d never finished it. Never even talked about it since. It had been the one wound that would never heal.

 

Jeff was taken to the transportation room. Moments later, he and his guards were in the chambers of the Grand Council, and the first thing Jeff saw was his face, and everything came crumbling down around him.

“Hullo Jeff. I heard they locked you up for a bit. Did ya enjoy it?” George said, striding towards him with a half-smile on his face.

Jeff wanted to run, but his guard held him firm. He struggled in vain before he fell to his knees, refusing to talk to him. He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to react.

George lit up a cigarette, more out of habit than need. “That’s quite the performance there, Jeff. You’ve been practicing.”

“You sold me out. Don’t you dare talk to me again,” Jeff murmured, fighting back the tears.

“You’re the one who broke the rules, Jeff, or had you quite forgotten that?”

George walked around him, looking down at him. Jeff averted his gaze, unwilling to let him win. He wasn’t sure he had the strength to hate him back.

“Oh, haven’t you heard? I run this place now. You broke my rules, Jeff. The universe is made of creation and destruction. To interrupt that goes against our very nature. Your very nature. Utopia doesn’t exist but as a fiction in the minds of madmen. You just think on that for a while. Bring him to my rooms. He’s staying with me. I hope the guilt drives him mad,” George said.

Jeff didn’t have any fight left in him. The beings who’d given him his powers were powerless to react. He watched them sitting there behind George on their pedestals, wrapped in white linen. Amun offered a sympathetic smile, but remained where he was. Stardust just gave him a coy smile and waved him goodbye. Jeff didn’t know how to take that.

He was shut in a small cage at the foot of George’s enormous bed. Jeff curled up and wept again, wondering if he’d ever be free. He still had his journal, it was tucked away inside a pocket, shrunken to avoid detection. He did not have the strength to write in it anymore.

“That’s right, lie there in your prison, sweet Jeff, and one by one, they will forget about you. You’ll fade away into nothingness and become one of the ghosts you created.”

George’s voice had never sounded so cruel. Jeff hated it. He desperately wished he was able to die like mortals to end his torments once and for all. His heart would never heal.

 

I never thought I could ever hate a man I love so deeply.

He torments me with love. He knows it hurts me when he brings me onto his bed and kisses me, just once, just softly, just like he used to do.

He’s the one keeping me in chains. I still love him. I want to destroy him. I never did anything but love him, and this is how he treats me. He loves me. I wish I was back in my little cell, away from everyone. Away from him. I think I’m really going mad this time.

 

It’s been weeks. At least I think that’s how long it’s been. I can’t tell anymore. I’m still connected to the cosmos, which brings me some peace, but I am silenced and unable to communicate with anyone unless George says I can.

I’ve written letters in my book. I’ll never send them, I can’t, but I still write them. Maybe somehow the cosmos will send my letters for me when I’m no longer around. I’m not sure how long that will be. Maybe forever. Maybe they’ll all be dead by the time I can send them.

 

I don’t know if Bev’s still alive. I don’t know if the magic worked. I can’t feel him anywhere. Maybe I really failed. I destroyed him. I cast him out of existence. It’s all my fault.

George taunts me with that too. He finds my letters and reads them. Then he destroys them. He destroys everything I care about. I hate him so much.

 

Jeff had no strength to fight him anymore as George pulled him out of the cage and onto the bed. He used to keep count of the days, but it became useless after a while. There was no way to tell, so he stopped. Sometimes, he wouldn’t see George for a long period of time, and it was then that he wrote in his book, though he hadn’t written more than seven pages since he’d been kept in the cage. He’d run out of things to say.

George kissed him, his hands gentle and warm. It hurt. It always fucking hurt. George would bring him close, caress his cheek, and whisper to him how much he loved him. Jeff had no strength to fight him anymore. He’d accepted he’d never be leaving that cage.

Every kiss left him a little bit weaker. Every kiss was a little easier. Jeff’s body was beginning to fade. It was still solid, but he knew it wouldn’t last. He wondered forlornly whether anyone would miss him.

George kissed him, and Jeff’s heart ached. A tear rolled down his cheek. His grip on reality was fading fast. He wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be alive.

 

I can feel their belief fading. I can’t answer them so they think I don’t exist. They move onto other gods. They scrub my name out of history because I am not real. Every day I feel a little weaker. My power to resist him is fading. One day I will be too weak to care. He will take me then, I’m sure of it, and I won’t have the strength to fight back. I will love him again, wholly and completely, and give everything to him. And then I will die because I won’t have any strength left in me. No belief, no strength, I am condemned to fade away and die. No one will remember me now. No one. I will be that long-forgotten god that no one quite remembers that that more famous god might once have absorbed into their cult. They will find images of me and say it’s him. I can’t tell you how much that hurts. All I wanted was to be remembered, but I won’t get that now. That’s true death. True hell. I’ll fade out of existence and no one will remember my fucking name. What is my name anyway? I can’t quite remember anymore. My body has almost disintegrated. He still taunts me with Dhani, with memories of my friends. At least, I think they’re my friends. I don’t always know who they are. I can’t do anything. I can feel my mind going now. I can’t quite remember everything. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. What did I do? George won’t tell me. Says I broke his rules. I don’t know about that. He won’t tell me. I just feel broken now. Everything aches. I’m dying. I’m a god and I’m dying. I’m dying. Oh god.

Chapter Text

Andrew woke late that day. It had been a late night. Day. When did he go to bed? He couldn’t remember. But he’d had some fucking awesome dreams. He smiled as he lay there sleepily, remembering everything that had happened. A voice in his head urged him to write. Sitting up, he reached for a notebook, and found one under his bed. Scrambling around for a pen, he wrote until he could remember nothing more about the dreams he’d had, unsure why it was so important to remember these particular dreams.

He read over them once he’d finished, taking in everything he’d written. There was something there that needed telling. Remembering. He didn’t know why. There was something more he had to do. He thought for a moment and went to his computer. He had to try and contact the others who had been there too. They had to remember as well.

The website took little time to set up. He’d just picked a free one; there was no time to wait for domains to come through. The code rolled off his fingers with ease as he built it. Once he’d made the site, he spent the next hour typing up everything he’d written and turning it into something coherent. When he finally was able to hit ‘publish’ and put that information on the Internet, he felt he’d finally done his job. He spent ten minutes collecting as many email addresses as he could find. He didn’t have them all. He pasted the link into the body of the email and sent it. He had no idea if he’d get any responses, but even if he was dismissed as a fanciful lunatic, at least he’d tried.

He sat back. There wasn’t anything else he could do. As he gazed about his room, he noticed the pile of records by his bed. His small metal spaceship was on top of them, holding down a piece of paper. Unsure where they’d come from, he reached for the note and read it.

“Oh. Jeff. The dying god. The records, the ones he wanted me to save. Yes. I remember now. There was one he gave me. One that was very important. I wonder which one it is?” Andrew murmured as he remembered the task he’d been given.

The record he wanted was on the bottom of the pile. He set it playing and sat back, listening to it. Nothing happened until he’d finished playing both sides. He didn’t have time to get out of the way as a man toppled onto him, falling out of thin air. Untangling themselves, they sat up. Their eyes met. Andrew remembered. He thought Bev did too. He still looked as young as he had before, back in the big magical city, except he didn't look like a pale photograph anymore. He had colour in his skin, and looked more alive than before..

Andrew scrambled to his feet, offering Bev a hand. “Bev. Shit. I can’t believe that fucking worked.”

Bev looked around, not recognising his surroundings as Andrew helped him up. “Where am I? Who are you anyway? Do I know you?”

“Dani Turquoise, though I don’t know if that means anything to you. My real name’s Andrew. Jeff asked me to bring you back. From the city. Do you remember Jeff’s city?” Andrew said.

Bev got up and looked around, peering out his bedroom window. Things did not look like they should. He did remember Jeff’s city, now that it had been brought up. He remembered Jeff making that daft machine, and then singing all those songs onto that record. So it had worked after all. He was hit with a wave of sadness as he mourned the lost city. “I remember. So what year is this? I suppose I’m being too hopeful that I’m anywhere near where I should be.”

Andrew checked his calendar. “Um. Sorry. It’s two thousand and seven. August, I believe. You alright?”

Two thousand and seven? No wonder he didn’t recognise the world around him. He walked around Andrew’s room, looking at all the things he didn’t recognise. The computer on his desk was a very strange-looking contraption, like a small television attached to a typewriter. Andrew showed him things and told him what they were. Bev figured he’d just have to get used to it. There was no Jeff to send him back to his own time now. He was stuck. As he tried to get his head around Andrew’s mobile phone, he couldn’t help laughing.

“What’s so funny? It’s not that preposterous, you know,” Andrew said.

Bev glanced at him. “You know, I should be sixty three years old. But look at me! I’m still a kid. I wonder what I can get up to in this world. Where is Jeff anyway? Reckon he’s still alive?”

Andrew wasn’t sure. He went to his computer and searched the web, just in case something had changed. He frowned. “He’s apparently been missing for six years. No one knows where he is. He just disappeared one day. Like, he stopped being a recluse and just vanished. No one’s heard from him and no one can find him. How strange. I wonder what happened to him.”

Bev turned to face him, the smile fading from his lips. “He’s never coming back for me, is he?”

Andrew looked at him helplessly. He had no answer for him. “I don’t know, I really don’t. I’m sorry.”

Bev sat down on Andrew’s bed, staring at the floor. He tried not to be upset, but the strangeness of the place he was now in was too much. “He promised. He said he’d come back for me this time. What am I supposed to do now? I don’t belong here, but I can’t go back. You’re all I’ve got now. You and your silly tiny preposterous telephone.”

Andrew sat beside him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “I’m sorry. I wish I could help you. I wish I could call Jeff and bring him back. But it’s not going to happen. I miss him. I never had the chance to get to know him like you did, but I’m still going to miss him. And while we might not have him anymore, we still have his music. And his memories. We remember that city, don’t we? He told me to remember it. Remember him. I think that’s all we can do. Remember him and his city and the music and hope it’s enough.”

Bev smiled at the memory. “I never did see enough of it. What was it called anyway? I’m assuming he named the bloody city.”

“Shangri-La. That’s what he called it.”

Bev shook his head. “Oh, of course that’s what he’d call it. Come on, then, let’s listen to all that music. It’s not like you’re short.”

They gathered all the records, sorting them into piles, as they decided where to start first. They made a tentative play list, and, sitting together on the floor beside the record player, they played each record in turn, reminding each other of the city they’d left behind. In their memories, it lived on. For some reason Andrew couldn’t articulate, he just knew that one day he’d see Jeff and that city again. One day, they’d all return to Shangri-La.