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Written in Reverse

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Alisha realizes, a few days before their community service ends, that the Simon of the future was never in love with her. He was in love with an Alisha from the future, a ghost of her. She would catch him staring at her sometimes, just fucking staring, and there was something in his eyes that she could never place. Despair. Shock. Sadness. She could never pinpoint exactly what it was that was drowning him in those moments.

He would often let out a raspy, almost-pained "I love you" when he came and she grew depressed and confused when she reminded herself that he probably wasn't speaking to her, he was speaking at an Alisha from the future. His future.

It breaks her. That truth just breaks her.

Desperation and delusion. She was full of both and willing to ignore the voice in the back of her head telling her that this weird relationship with someone from the future was never going to work out. The prick managed to confirm that nagging voice when he killed himself. For her. For them.

She has a good cry from that realization, before silently telling herself to fucking stop it, to either curl up and die or to do something about it.

Bizarrely, she remembers a conversation she had with him, shortly before he killed himself. For her.

"So how old are you, Mystery Man?"

"Is that important?"

"Oh, fuck off, you know it is."

"I'm old enough," A pause as he ran his hand over her bare back. "Old enough to die, yeah?"

"Don't even joke about that, what the fuck is wrong with you?"

He never responded, and she never asked him about the future again. She figured he felt bad about the exchange because she found a note in her purse that he must've slipped in there while she was sleeping. She had opened it when she got home and had smiled happily at his scrawled words, short and sweet on a piece of notebook paper.

The first time we held hands was at a bar. We got pizza the same night. I've loved you ever since.

The night after he died, she read the note again and sobbed. After she had cried out everything she had, she tucked the note away in her jewelry box, cleaned her face, and went to meet the group for some take-out.

She isn’t broken.

* * *


As previously decided, the group goes to a nearby pub for a round of drinks to celebrate the end of their community service. After two hours of dicking around during which Nathan attempted to show them all his cock twice without anyone asking, the group slowly drifted out. Curtis went to do fuck all with Nikki, Kelly had enough of Nathan and just left, and Nathan found some poor, drunk soul to bring back to the community center.

And then there were two.

Alisha finds Simon staring at her, as he often does, as they sit across from each other. His long fingers grip his bottle of beer tightly as he sneaks another glance at her. "What?"

Simon quickly glances down at the table, an awkward twitch on his lips. Clearly waiting for her to snap at him. "You don't want to leave?"

She shrugs, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible. "I'm fine here." She pauses, eying him. "And you? You don't want to go home?"

He meets her gaze, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly in a shy smile. "I'm better here."

She doesn't bother to hide her surprise, then. "Why?"

The smile disappears from his face abruptly. "My family. They still act like I'm going to kill myself."

Alisha blinks rapidly now, thrown off by the shift in conversation. This Simon still doesn’t know how to have a proper conversation, is more about just saying what's on his mind rather than speaking for his company. "Are you?"

A ghost of a smile plays on his lips, then. "No."

"I'm glad," she fidgets just a bit, looking at her drink. "Are we friends, Simon?"

His brow furrows as he leans forward, his hands planting down on the table as if he’s sharing secret information. "We've always been friends."

What a lie. The sincerity in his voice almost kills her. She decides to ignore the lie, to focus on their present. They are friends, whatever that means. "You're right," she says with a faint grin.

"It's getting late," Simon says suddenly, straightening up in his seat. "Do you want me to walk you home? Since it's late."

She can’t stop the smile from growing, whether it be from the alcohol coursing through her system or the fact that Simon is being polite, and she nods quickly. "What a gentleman," she teases and he blushes, swiftly smoothing down his hair.

Simon gives her his jacket as they walk to her place and she has to stop herself from sniffing the fabric, from asking if she can keep it. She asks him questions about his family and he gives short answers, unable to keep the surprise from his voice. Clearly, no one has ever bothered to get to know Simon beyond the basics.

Simon has a sister whom he appears to adore. Simon's parents both work. Simon's parents don't know how to talk to him, but they try. Simon was beaten up regularly by bullies since the age of nine. Simon used to have panic attacks, which stopped after he started community service. Simon thinks Torchwood, whatever that is, is shit. His birthday is in October. Little things, Alisha now knows.

When they reach her flat, panic flashes in Simon's eyes for a moment. "I-I didn't ask about you, that was rude of me."

Alisha's brow furrows and she smirks as she slips off his jacket. Simon seems the kind of person to look up how to do certain things and follow it down to the smallest detail. How to Talk to People for Dummies. How to Be Polite for Dummies. How to Talk to a Pretty Girl for Dummies.

"I would like to know about you. Your family."

Okay, maybe he hasn’t read that last book yet.

She hands Simon his jacket, giving him a small grin. "Then I guess you'll have to talk to me some more."

Simon's lips purse together in a tight smile as if he doesn’t know what to do with that invitation, and he nods. "I can come to the bar more," he says slowly, and then his eyes light up briefly. "Get out of the house." The smile grows. "Make my parents happy."

"No one's stopping you-" Alisha pauses as he carefully folds his jacket. "Come to the bar, then. Keep me company. Keep me and Curtis company,” a frown twitches on her lips. "Don't bring Nathan, yeah?"

He smirks and glances down at the ground. "I can't make any promises."

She nods and bites back the grin growing on her lips. With a nervous twitch of her lips, she reaches into her purse. "Do you want a cigarette?"

"I-I don’t smoke."

"Oh," She drops the box back into her bag, forcing a smile on her face. "Thank you for walking me home," she reaches over, squeezing his wrist over his shirt. "Good night."

"Good night..." he hesitates for a moment, and she can almost see the quick talking-to he’s giving to himself in his eyes. Coaxing himself to say, "Sleep well."

To Alisha's surprise, a text pings on her phone twenty minutes later. Simon.

 

I'm home. Good night.


She can’t keep the grin from her lips. Progress. This is progress- he’s talking, he’s reaching out. So, she responds. Keeps it simple.

 

Glad ur ok. G nite.

 

* * *


Alisha lifts her gaze from her compact mirror, catching her mother's concerned stare on her. She quickly lowers her eyes, focusing on making sure her lipstick is perfect. "What."

"Are you all right, darling?”

"Yeah. Just tired. I work now, you know. You and daddy should be happy."

Her mother smiles at her, picking up her salad fork. "We are, Alisha, we are." Her mouth quirks in a way that makes Alisha hear her dad, loud and clear, 'god, you two are twins' and she pines for her father suddenly. Her mother glances at Alisha, sighing. "I know you're disappointed daddy couldn't come but he has to work, you know that."

Alisha nods, mustering a smile. "I know. I'm glad you came to eat with me."

"How're things?" her mother asks quietly. "You've been..." she trails off, rubbing her lips together. "You've been distant since your community service.”

A shrug. "Community service was shit, thank God I'm off it."

Her mother grins, her eyebrows rising. "Got a boyfriend?"

Alisha stares at her mother, frozen for a moment as she feels that familiar tightness in her chest. Her jaw clenches as she struggles not to cry. The grief always hits at the most random of times. A song on the radio, someone walking by wearing a hoodie, her Simon making a face that reminds her of her mystery man. Now.

Now isn’t the time to break down.

"Alisha?"

Alisha smiles, dropping her mirror into her purse. “His name is Simon,” she says slowly, tries to get used to saying it. "Simon Bellamy." Her mother looks elated for a moment and Alisha allows a rare happiness to fill her, telling herself that it isn't exactly a lie, that it'll eventually come true. "I met him in community service."

Her mother looks troubled for a moment. "Community service," she repeats.

"Don't worry, mum," Alisha says with a roll of her eyes. "Nothing scary. Arson, he accidentally set a fire. He's really nice. And sweet," she lowers her head, feeling the tears welling in her eyes. "I like him a lot."

"That's how I feel about your father,” her mother says softly. "So that's a good thing, love."

Alisha inhales sharply as her mother’s hand hovers over hers and she swiftly pulls her hand away. "Yeah."

Her mother stares at her for a long moment, her hand frozen where Alisha’s hand was just seconds ago and she immediately contains herself, pulling her hand back and giving Alisha a smile. "Can we meet him?"

"Not yet," Alisha says quickly. "He's shy...he’s not ready."

Her mother's brow furrows in concern. "Alisha, are you sure you're all right?"

Alisha gives her mother a tight smile. "I will be," her eyebrows lift as she picks up her glass of water. "Let's get dessert."

 

* * *


Simon finally holds Alisha's hand for the first time at a bar the group goes to one night, a few days after he had walked her home. Just like the future him had said. It freaks her out a bit- she’s always believed in freedom to do what she pleases, and here it is, playing out as destiny just like the future Simon had said. She had kind of brushed it off, even with that Vegas picture there in her purse, as the simple words of the mystery man. Just because he said it happens doesn't mean it has to.

Destiny was bullshit. She couldn't help it if she were in love with Simon, but she could control how they hooked up. Or at least, she hoped she would be able to. Despite that, at the moment, things played out like her future Simon said. And it both scared her and pissed her off.

They stand next to each other against a wall as the others are busy ordering more drinks, each sipping their own beers and not talking, and it’s more awkward than Alisha wishes it to be. After the previous night, she thought things would be easier. But Simon hasn’t come to the bar without Kelly or Nathan accompanying him, hasn’t done much, other than text her every so often.

Disappointed isn’t a strong enough word for how she’s feeling. He’s moving so slow, slower than molasses.

"You said I was beautiful a couple of weeks ago," she finally blurts out. She hoped he hadn't heard, but the way his eyes land on her tell her otherwise. "Did you mean that?"

"Y-yes," his mouth twitches as he leans forward and for a moment, she thinks he’s going to kiss her. His head moves, his mouth just short of her ear. "You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. You make me nervous."

She can’t help the hot flush of her cheeks or the odd feeling of her heart racing. Whether it’s just some misplaced confidence or the alcohol, he has definitely complimented her, and boldly. "Yeah? Is that why you only text?"

Simon nods as he straightens up and away from her, his eyes widening slightly. "I didn't mean to be rude."

"You're not rude," she lets out a faint laugh. "But when you promise to do something, I expect you to do it."

He nods again, shooting her a look. "I tried, but you make me nervous,” he says slowly. "You're funny. And you're smart, and you're beautiful."

She gives him an incredulous look. "You think I'm smart."

"Yes. And you don't put up with anyone's shit," Simon looks serious for a moment. "I like it."

Her eyebrows rise as he glances back at her and she leans forward, biting her lower lip playfully as she stands on her toes for a moment. "Are we flirting, Simon?"

There's a flush on his cheeks as his mouth twitches anxiously and he shrugs. "I don't know how to flirt."

"You're doing a damn good job of it right now. Are you going to hold my hand next?" she teases.

Simon's eyes narrow somewhat as he considers her question. "Do you want me to hold your hand?" he shoots back quickly.

She meets his gaze and falters for a moment at the strength of it. The heat of it. It reminds her of her mystery man. "I have this fucking power- is that a challenge?"

For just a fleeting moment, she hopes he’ll say yes, that she can touch him and drag him to the bathrooms. But he says nothing and she stays still. In that hesitation, rationalization takes over and she hopes he will drop the conversation completely, which has gotten to be far too intense for her liking.

It isn’t going to be. His lips press together as he set his drink down on the table in front of them with a bang. He pulls his sleeve over his hand and reaches over, hesitantly grabbing Alisha's hand in his makeshift mitten.

A bold move, for Simon. Completely chaste, like two children holding hands. But a move nonetheless. She likes it.

"All right?" Simon asks, his eyes searching her face, probably for approval.

"Yeah." Alisha grins, relaxing when he smiles back and they stand there for a few seconds until Kelly's booming "Simon!" fills their area.

Simon releases Alisha's hand, his eyes widening with panic as Kelly approaches.

Kelly stops in front of them, her eyes narrowing as she glances from Alisha to Simon. Alisha's brow furrows as she quickly realizes what Kelly is doing- she sensed the tension and sees how flustered Simon looks and is busy trying to read their minds.

Don't, Alisha thinks, glancing at Simon and seeing him staring intently at Kelly, probably thinking the same thing Alisha is. Please.

Kelly frowns at Alisha before facing Simon, giving him a grin. "We found a girl who wants to talk to ya. Nathan didn't pick her, I promise. Come say hello."

Alisha doesn’t say a word but her eyes drift in the direction of Kelly's attention. Some skinny, blonde thing with a nose ring. That girl is not Simon's type at all, Kelly should know that. He likes girls like her-

"Ya know what?" Kelly shakes her head, giving Alisha a pointed look. "Nevermind, mate. She's not your type."

Alisha's mouth drops and she blinks rapidly, glancing down at her drink. Kelly has read her mind again, she never stopped.

Simon turns to her as soon as Kelly walks away, his brow furrowing. "What's going on?"

She can feel the panic rising in her. Simon isn’t stupid and he definitely noticed the look Kelly had given her. "What?"

"Why are you being so nice to me? Talking to me? Flirting with me?" The more he talks, the angrier he seems to get. Confusion and Simon don't mix, she’s learning that. He doesn’t like to be confused.

She shrugs. Keep it simple. "Maybe I like you. Do you have a problem with that?" He’s taken aback,  doesn’t say a word, but a smile plays on his lips then. So she grins.

"I don't," he finally says. "Do you?"

"Not at all."

Simon leans forward abruptly, his mouth near her ear. "Are you hungry?"

"Am I hungry?"

"We can go get some pizza, if you want." He nods at the crowd in front of them, adding, "It's a bit loud here."

Alisha is frozen for a moment, thinking about the note her mystery man had left her. It's all happening the way he said. Pizza also appears to be Simon's go-to as a date idea, a safe choice. At least his delivery is loads better this time. The way he’s looking at her is weary, almost like he’s expecting her to be as rude as she was the last time he asked her out for pizza.

She nods, willing herself to do something, anything. She gives him a smile and starts to move. Simon stays put and she glances back at him. "Coming?"

He quickly nods and follows her, his fingers resting on the small of her back on her shirt as they move through the crowd, as if he will lose her. She glances over at the group, still standing by the bar, and is met with their confused expressions. The only one not visibly affected by the scenario seems to be Nikki, and the only one who bothers to say anything at all is, of course, Nathan.

"Barry! Where are we going?"

Alisha's eyes close briefly and she wordlessly tries to will Simon into continuing to follow her out, to not tell Nathan where they are going. She peeks over her shoulder at him, catching the tiny smile he gives the group before gently pushing Alisha toward the exit.

Out of anything that has happened tonight, this pleases her the most. He wants to be with her, without the group. He could've said they were going to get pizza, but he didn't. He wants her all to himself. This is definitely promising.

The secrecy, of course, gets them both the constant bing of texts as their night continues elsewhere. Simon, being the gentleman- or fool- that he is, pays for everything and they both eat, checking their cells as they vibrate and chime.

"Have you talked to Jessica?" Alisha asks through a mouthful of pizza, wiping her fingers with her napkin. "Since..." she trails off, grimacing.

He shakes his head, meeting her gaze. "No. I took her number off my phone before our community service ended."

"Do you miss her?" she asks before she can stop herself, and he merely shrugs.

Then, silence. Horrible, awkward silence. Simon takes a long sip of his drink, his eyes on Alisha as she checks her phone, scrolling through the messages. She wishes he would say something, just to break the silence. Of course, he doesn't, so she must.

Alisha smirks at the third text from Kelly, straightening up in her seat. "Listen to this- What's going on, mate? Kelly."

Simon smiles, peeking at his own phone. "That was rude. Curtis."

"How drunk are you? Curtis."

"Are you mad at us? Kelly."

"Where are you, we're worried. Curtis."

"Good one, go fuck her. Nathan." Simon's smile falters as soon as the words leave his mouth and he sets his phone face-down. "I think we should text them back."

"Got it," she finishes off the text to Kelly, sending it and setting her phone down. "Told them we were just hungry, went to get pizza. So we should finish quick."

Simon stares at Alisha for a long moment, his eyes searching her face. He finally lowers his gaze, cleaning his fingers with his napkin. A faint disappointment is on his face as he gives her a brief, forced smile. "I'll walk you home," he says quietly.

Alisha feels her heart drop at Simon's suggestion, quickly realizing that he took her comment the wrong way. He thinks she wants to go home, not that she wants to leave before the group finds them. No part of Simon can consider that she wants to be with him alone, even after she fucking told him that she liked him. This is getting frustrating.

They manage to avoid the group, and Alisha reads the texts as Simon walks her home. He even laughs at some, so she read him some from Chloe and Lucy. He even humors her and smiles at those, which delights her.

She decides to skip Nathan's text asking her if she loved Simon.

"Did you mean what you said at the bar? That you like me?" Simon asks as they stop in front of her building.

She shrugs. "Yeah. You like to listen and you say what you mean. And you're nice. I like that."

At that, he leans forward, leaving the quickest kiss she’s ever had on her cheek. Quick enough for her to feel it, but not long enough for her power to take over. His lips are dry and kind of cold from the weather. He gives her a small smile, nodding. "Good night."

"Good night," she grins at him, before turning and walking into the building. She isn’t even inside her flat before the text chimes on her phone. Simon.

 

I like you too.

 

* * *


She still sleeps at the future Simon's flat. She can't help it, it's become the only place she feels...normal, other than with the group. It happens more often as she gets closer to the Simon of the present. Her Simon.

Sometimes she cries, staring at that fucking Vegas picture as she wonders when the fuck Simon is going to become who he’s supposed to be. She cries out of pure frustration and loneliness. She touches herself and misses mystery man's hands on her and wishes her Simon would just try to touch her, maybe he has some power they don't know about. It's all just delusion, she knows full well Simon can’t touch her.

Sometimes, when she’s half-asleep, she swears she hears the lift start, or the shower run and she always jolts up in bed, looking around the flat wildly. She even calls for him, always, hoping that the past few weeks have been a nightmare, and that her mystery man will pop up, that ghost of an amused smirk on his face.

Every time, she’s disappointed.

The sheets stop smelling like him, so she washes them. The little food that was in the fridge has long spoiled, so she tosses it. Dust collects on his table and his counter, so she cleans it. Stupid shit she does in that flat, like it is her own. She supposes it is, now.

Only when the loneliness and the grief gets to be too much, to the point that she feels like she's suffocating, does she leave. And every time, she texts Simon, hoping he's available to chat or have a drink.

He always is.


* * *


"Do you...do you believe in destiny?"

Simon glances at Alisha beside him, his mouth quirking a bit as he nods slowly. "Yes. How else would we all have gotten here? The powers?"

Alisha frowns, licking the ice cream around the edges of her cone. She and Simon separate as someone walks between them, and come back side by side as they continue walking across the estate. She’s going to count this as a date, even if Simon doesn’t. Coming out of the blue to the bar and asking her if she wanted to go get something to eat on her break is a date. It has to be.

She’s turning into such a girl. Fuck, she is turning into Lucy. This is troubling.

"But," Alisha shakes her head, looking up at Simon. "Destiny can be changed, yeah? It's not over and done with."

Simon considers Alisha's statement, shrugging as he takes a bite of his ice cream. "Well...that depends."

"On what."

"If you believe destiny is infallible or if you believe in free will. If you believe in free will, anything is possible."

Alisha nods, her jaw setting. "I believe in free will," a smile grows on her face as his eyes widen briefly. "And you obviously don't."

Simon glances down at Alisha, a small grin playing on his lips. "I didn't say that. I just..." he trails off, inhaling deeply. "We all met because of destiny. We have these powers because of destiny-"

She laughs harshly. "Bullshit!" He slows and she stops, turning to face him. "That's bullshit," she laughs, pointing her cone at him. "What if Curtis had switched groups? Or I had gone to the loo before the storm like that other guy? Or Kelly had gotten your power? What if that fucking storm never happened?"

"But he didn't," he says quietly. “You didn't. She didn't." He meets her gaze. "And it did."

Her smile fades. "You really think all of that was planned?”

"What else could it be?"

"What about us?"

Simon's brow furrows in confusion. "What about us?"

Alisha shrugs, digging her sneaker against the concrete. She’s just vomiting out words today, no different from any other day she has spent with Simon. Why should she stop now? "Do you think this is destiny, us walking here?"

"Maybe. Maybe this is meant to happen, just as it's happening."

She feels the tears well in her eyes before she can stop them and she quickly looks down at her ice cream, rubbing at her eyes. She can’t accept that. This all isn’t planned out and unbreakable, it can’t be. "I think you're wrong."

"Alisha," she can hear the concern in Simon's voice, feels his hand light on her shoulder over her jacket. "I didn't mean to upset you."

She chuckles weakly. "You didn't."

He shakes his head, giving her a slight smile. "I like your idea of free will."

Alisha glances up at Simon, the urge to hug him overwhelmingly high. She resists, gesturing at his cone. "What did you get?”

Simon looks down at his cone. "Regular, with strawberry syrup."

"Can I?" He nods, holding out his cone and she leans forward, slowly licking off a bit of his ice cream. She can feel his eyes on her and she lifts her gaze, her eyes locking on his. A grin quirks on her lips as her tongue runs over her bottom lip. "Do I still make you nervous, Simon?"

"Not so much anymore."

As much as she hates to admit it, he makes her feel different. Shy. He makes her feel shy. Even after the ice cream cone moves, he can make her feel shy with just one comment. She likes that. It's different.

The moment holds between them before Alisha realizes they're just standing there grinning at each other like a bunch of idiots. As that hits, so does the stranger bumping into Simon, sending him stumbling forward.

Alisha's mouth curls in disdain as she looks over Simon's arm at the man rushing away. "Watch where you're going, you twat!" she yells after him before glancing at Simon, smiling at his wide-eyed expression. "Want to switch?" she asks, gesturing at his cone.

Simon nods and they carefully exchange cones. She grins up at him, taking a lick of her newly acquired ice cream and he smiles back as they continue their walk back to the bar.


* * *


"Don't do it."

Alisha lowers her lipstick, glancing at Kelly in the mirror. She wonders for a moment if she had misheard her, if Kelly had been talking to someone else in the bar bathroom, but of course, she wasn't. "Don't do what."

Kelly hands Alisha back her tube of mascara, giving her a firm look. "Dick around with Simon. He'll fall in love with ya and when you get tired of him, I'm going to have to sort him out."

Alisha's eyebrows rise as she turns to face Kelly. "What makes you think I'm dicking around with him?" She frowns as Kelly shrugs. "What, you think I'm just bored or something?"

"Or he's not your type?" Kelly offers, the faint aggression in her tone left floating between them.

"What do you know about my type?"

Kelly shrugs again, turning back to the mirror and checking her hair. "I'm not fighting with ya...I just see the way he looks at you special. And you know how Nathan is."

"Well, maybe we like hanging out,” Her fingers play on the chain around her neck as she considers what Kelly has just said. “He looks at me special?” Kelly nods, and Alisha bites back the smile on her face. “You really care about him, huh?”

"Too many people pick on him." She glances at Alisha. "I'm not going to even try to understand what you’re up to, but just don't hurt him. Seriously."

Alisha smiles tightly, throwing her lipstick into her purse and closing it swiftly. "You know, I'm feeling right knackered. Gonna head home."

Kelly watches Alisha in the mirror as she walks to the door. "Alisha, I didn't mean to insult ya-"

"It's fine!" Alisha exclaims too fast, opening the door. "I'm not going to hurt anyone. I promise."

That seems to satisfy Kelly and she nods, facing Alisha. "This talk never happened, yeah?'

Alisha gives Kelly the smallest of smiles, nodding. "Tell the guys I went home?"

"Sure."

As she's walking home, she can't stop herself from texting Simon. It's become their way of talking when they can't find the nerve to talk face to face. She actually loves that, he can go on and on in texts, it's easier for him that way. She’s going to slowly work him to talking on the phone. Maybe tonight.

She gathers up the nerve and sends him the quick text. Short and simple.


Call me when u get home :-) xx


He, of course, does what she says. She manages to keep him on the phone until four in the morning and falls asleep as soon as he hangs up, a smile on her face.


* * *


Amused, Alisha watches Simon's fingers slide over the neck of his beer bottle. Long, thin fingers moving up the neck, then down. "Enjoying yourself?" he stops abruptly, giving her a crooked grin. She sighs, tossing a pile of napkins in the trash. "Does it bother you that Nathan calls you Barry all the fucking time?"

Simon's smile grows. "Does it bother you?"

"Answer the question, Barry."

He laughs, shaking his head. "Not anymore. It's his way of being nice. I guess."

"I guess it's better than melon fucker," she says with a chuckle.

"Yeah," Simon's eyes follow Alisha's hand as she wipes at the bar counter with a rag, her bracelet clanging on the edge with each swipe. "I want to film you," he mumbles, pulling his cell phone out of his jacket pocket. He fiddles with it for a moment before glancing at her.

Alisha beams, throwing down the rag. "What? Right now? Here?" He nods and she poses, freezing when he gives her a disapproving look. "What?"

"The real you."

The smile fades and her shoulders droop slightly. "What do you mean?"

He slowly raises his phone, peering at her through the screen. "No acting. No games. Just be you."

She quickly grows insecure as his eyes bore into her through the small phone screen. He's not looking directly at her but she feels like he is, and she lowers her gaze to the counter. "Simon."

A smile perks on his lips as she glances at him through her curls. "You're beautiful."

Alisha lets out a breathless laugh, shaking her head. "You keep saying that..." she bats at his phone, covering it with her hand. "Can we do this another time? When I'm not working?" Simon nods, lowering his phone and she grins. “You're weird, you know that?"

He smirks. "So are you."

"A match made in heaven," she scoffs, picking up the rag and swatting his arm with it. "Wanker."

"I'm back!" Alisha and Simon both turn at the door as Curtis rushes in, catching the rag Alisha throws at him. "I'm not late, I came on time."

"Yeah, so did Nikki," Alisha mutters, grinning when Simon nearly chokes on his beer. Her smile fades as she catches Curtis' suspicious stare and she rolls her eyes. "What?"


* * *


She impulsively flashes Simon her bra one day during drinks at a pub. Mostly out of boredom, some curiosity over what his reaction would be. Just a quick glimpse, a flash of cup, a peek of purple. He has been staring at her for most of the night anyway and she decides to do something about it. Really, his staring isn’t all that creepy when you actually want to be the object of his attention.

She waits until Nathan is checking out a girl and Curtis is kissing Nikki and Kelly is checking her phone to do it. As expected, his eyes widen and he quickly looks away, his hand immediately flying to his hair as he anxiously smooths it down. His eyes lift, catching on her amused ones, and his mouth twitches.

And then, a slight smirk.

She has to laugh.

Of course, Nathan immediately notices the change in Simon's demeanor, the faint flush on his face, and calls him on it. "What?" Nathan starts looking around feverishly. "Did you see tits?"

"No."

Simon is a bad liar.

"Where? Come on, man! Don't hold out on me!"

Simon doesn't respond, quietly sipping his beer. His eyes flit up to Alisha before glancing back at his drink and thankfully, Nathan doesn't notice since he's too busy whining about Simon's secrecy.

"You are such an ungrateful little twat. I decide to make you my friend and this is how you repay me. How am I going to get you laid if you don't tell me when you see tits?"

"I didn't see anything,” Simon smiles slightly. "You've drunk too much."

Nathan holds out his empty beer bottle in Simon's face, wiggling it. "I'll forgive you for being a shit friend if you get me a lager."


Alisha waits a few seconds before standing and following Simon to the bar. She flicks the back of his hand with her nail, smirking when he glances at her. "Enjoy the show?"

Simon's mouth purses together for an instant before he allows the smile to form. "Yes."

"Buy me a drink?" she asks and he nods, already reaching into the pocket of his trousers. She hesitates for just a moment before standing on her toes, leaning in toward his face. "Feel free to stare at my tits anytime," she whispers in his ear before walking away.

She glances over her shoulder as she walks back to the table, catching him staring at her with his mouth open in a stunned silence. She smirks as she slides into her seat. He’s all hers.

Everyone is still preoccupied with their own shit except, of course, Nathan. "So," he says, making a show of turning toward Alisha with an expectant look.

Alisha shrugs. "You're not the only one who can get a free drink out of our mate Simon."


* * *


Simon ends up in Alisha's bedroom after yet another night of drinking. Drinking seems to be the only way to loosen Simon up so it's no wonder after a couple of hours at the pub, he agrees to a tour of her flat.

It was simpler than she would've thought it to be. "Wanna come up?" Just like that, and he nods, following her in. She isn’t sure if he understands what coming up usually means, or if he does and is just ignoring the signs. Either way, he’s in her flat, in her bedroom.

He isn't drunk, just relaxed enough to run his fingers over the holiday lights she has over her bed and vanity mirror. His fingers linger on the lights she decorated her headboard with and she wishes she had Kelly's power, just to get an idea of where his head was at. His back is to her, his hands brushing over her pillow as he glances over his shoulder at her.

She finally speaks up, unable to take the silence any longer. "Like it?"

He nods. "It's unique."

"I can do it for your room. In boy colors, like blue."

Alisha inwardly scolds herself over her awkward line. Terrible. Just terrible. The old her would've turned the room lights off, offering to give him a closeup view of the headboard lights. Now she stands around like an insecure teenager, nervously playing with her necklace.

Simon faces Alisha, an amused grin on his face. "I'm all right. Thanks."

She frowns, inhaling deeply with determination before walking over to Simon, stopping in front of him. Now or never. He's not making any steps forward, so she'll have to. "Touch me."

All right, maybe she is a little bit drunk.

His eyes flit to her bare arms before he awkwardly places his hand on her waist. She shakes her head, grabbing his clothed wrists and placing his hands on her breasts. His eyes widen briefly, a sharp breath escaping him as she pushes her chest up against his hands.

"When I said you could check out my tits," she says in a low voice. "I meant it, Simon."

He stares at his hands on her breasts for a long moment before his eyes dart to her face. "What...what are you doing?"

"I see how you look at me and I've given enough hints- you like me, yeah?"

"Y-Yes."

She smiles, pleased, running her hands over his covered forearms. "Good," she takes a step closer, peering up at him through her curls. “Well?" She inhales deeply as he leans forward, his cheek brushing over her hair.

"What happens now?" Simon asks shakily, his hands moving down her breasts, over her stomach and under her jacket.

"What do you want to happen?" she whispers, carefully nuzzling her hair against his cheek.

He seems to gather himself and snaps out of whatever trance he’s in, stepping away from her. "We can't do what I want," he says shortly.

Alisha breaks free with an aggravated groan and the scowl on her face fixes on Simon. "This is killing me, Simon," she says angrily. "Fucking killing me- I'm the only one trying-"

Simon's eyes widen, his mouth opening and closing helplessly. "I'm scared-"

"I'm scared too!" she exclaims. "Okay? I'm fucking terrified but I want this and you won't make a move!"

He fidgets uncomfortably. "You know why."

Her eyebrows rise. "Oh?" He shakes his head and she steps forward, her hand lifting. "I can make you if I wanted to. I can do it."

She's going crazy. She's finally going mental. All of this is finally getting to her and she's losing her mind. She's finally a nutter. She's finally one of those people she avoids on the tube at four in the morning. Fucking hell.

"Don't!"

The anger and fear in Simon's voice stops her cold, and her hand lowers as the tears well in her eyes. "You're afraid of me," she says softly.

"I'm not."

"You said you were scared."

Simon looks lost for a moment, glancing around the room as if someone will pop in and come to his aid. "I-I'm scared of what I'm feeling, not of you," he says slowly. "I'm scared because this is happening and we can't-"

She sticks her bottom lip out in a pout. "So this is my fault?"

He shakes his head, carefully reaching for her. "None of this is your fault." And when she doesn't respond, he continues with conviction, "It's not on you, none of us asked for this."

Alisha feels her heart skip at his words, almost the exact same ones said by the future him months before. This is too much. "Get the fuck out," she mutters, a tremble in her voice.

Simon's eyes narrow in confusion, his hand frozen between them. "What?"

"Get out!" He freezes at her yell and she slaps his hand away, pointing at her bedroom door. "Get the fuck out, Simon!"

Anger flashes in his eyes for a moment before he stomps past her and out of her room. Seconds later, she hears her front door slam.

Alisha stands there, stunned, for what feels like hours, continuing to stare at the spot where Simon had just occupied. She had fucked it up. She had fucked it all up.

She shakes her head, grabbing her purse and rushing out of her bedroom. In a daze, she turns off the lights in her flat before turning them back on, just like a crazy person. Finally, she leaves, a sharp breath escaping her as the cool air hits her. She makes the familiar walk to the other flat.

Up the lift, the lights flicker.

She inhales and exhales deeply as she enters the lair, feeling as if the bricks on her chest have been lifted. She flops on the bed, burying her face in the sheets, before opening her purse and pulling out the picture of her and Simon. She slowly sits up, gazing at it.

It’s just too much. What if the future Simon was wrong? What if he really fucked things up and he was never going to come back to her? What if he never became this person and none of this will ever happen-

"What is that?"

Alisha cries out at the sound of Simon's voice as he appears over her, his horrified eyes on the picture in her hand. "Simon-"

He glances around the room, looking scared and suspicious as all fuck, before looking down at Alisha again. "What is this place? Where did you get that? How-"

Her heart is pounding. Adrenaline rushes through her briefly and she wonders her odds at escaping the flat and never running into Simon again if she shoved him and ran. She feels dizzy and there’s no way to lie to him now. "The man in the mask."

"Who is he?"

She inhales deeply, her eyes locking on his. "It's you." He blinks rapidly, a shuddering breath escaping him as he begins to look like he’s about to faint. He quickly sinks to the edge of the bed before he can topple over and she turns to face him, holding out the picture like a child would. "It's you, Simon."

And then it all comes out. Spilling out of her, weeks and months of secrets and pain. She tells him everything. How she got to the lair, how she found out the man in the mask was him, how she fell in love with the future him, how he was able to touch her, how they were able to have sex, how they were together in the future, how he died, all of it. It was finally out and she was briefly so fucking happy not to have that weight drowning her.

And he’s taking it better than she thought he would.

"So I'm going to die."

Maybe not.

"No! I mean, I don't think so," Alisha gestures at the photograph now in his hands, shifting closer to him. She bumps his shoulder with hers, but he doesn’t flinch or move away, and she considers that to be a victory. "You did it to save me, so we can be together in the future. You're like a proper superhero."

His gaze is uncertain as he turns to her. “When do I become this superhero?” She shrugs and he nods, glancing down at the photo. “So what happens now?”

Alisha lets out a bitter laugh, shaking her head. “I have no fucking idea.”

Simon looks up, his eyes drifting over the vast space. "So you've been living here? Since he- I..." he grinds the heel of his right hand against his right eye, his face contorted into a pained grimace. "Since."

"Sometimes. He- you gave me the key."

"Jesus."

Alisha abruptly stands, suddenly wanting to get out of the flat. She doesn’t want to leave Simon, but it’s too much. Her brain is finally catching up with her mouth and this is all just such a bad idea. He had told her not to say anything and she didn't listen. Just like that, everything has changed.

She musters a smile, pulling the chain from around her neck and holding it out. "I guess it's all yours, superhero."

He looks up at her, slowly taking the key and handing her the photograph. A trade.

She nods once, bending down and picking up her purse. "I-I'm sorry, Simon. I have to go," she says with a weak smile, stepping toward the lift.

"I could get a copy made," he says suddenly. "For you. If you want it."

Alisha stops in her tracks, glancing over her shoulder at him. "Yeah?"

Simon makes a face, as if his offer is the only, obvious one. "It's a big flat."

Alisha officially moves in two weeks later.