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The pinks and oranges of a sunset hung in the sky above the terraced houses of Acton, illuminating the evening walk of four young men on their way to the pub for a pint. The eldest, a smartly-dressed blonde, led the way, peering back over his shoulder every few once in a while to make sure the others were following along. The tallest of the group, raven-haired John, had an arm hooked around the head of his young and rambunctious mate, Keith, who kept trying to step on the heels of John’s brand-new loafers. John rubbed his knuckles against Keith’s hair in retaliation, refusing to abate even as the 17-year-old began to cry bloody murder.

“Christ, John, let him go,” Roger called back, “or his mother’ll hear him from Wembley and drag him home.” With an eye roll, John did as he was asked, releasing Keith to continue his game of heel-stomping.

Lagging at the back of the party was gangly, blue-eyed Pete, whose gaze was trained on the cracks in the sidewalk ahead of him. His thoughts, however, were focused inward, where words and meaning and music were jumbled together in his head. As the lyricist of the band he and his three friends had recently formed, it was his task to untangle his thoughts and form songs from them. The notebook he recorded these words and phrases into was clutched in his hand; he carried the silly thing around everywhere, in case something came to him. At the moment, he was contemplating a lyric he’d jotted down back at Roger’s house, where the group had spent the afternoon noodling around on their instruments in the garage.

If Pete had been looking up, he might have seen that the gap between himself and the pair of men goofing off ahead of him had grown significantly, leaving enough space for a small vehicle to drive between them. Instead, the dark-haired teen continued to revel in his own thoughts and dreams, paying no mind to an oncoming scooter carrying a young Mod. Just as the scooter made to turn the corner, Pete stepped into the narrow intersection, blocking the driver’s path.

“Watch out, Pete!” Roger hollered, having seen the collision coming just as he looked back to scold Keith about the volume at which he was speaking. Pete squeezed his eyes shut and braced himself in anticipation of the impact, but the scooter managed to swerve, skirting him by mere inches. The red Vespa tilted too far to one side, dumping the young Mod from his seat and depositing him onto the pavement. The right handlebar cracked against the ground and the scrape of metal against the street echoed between the buildings on either side of the road. Stunned, Pete stood in place, his mouth hanging open in a surprised ‘O’.

The rider, now lying flat on the ground, let out a pained groan. Snapping out of his state of shock, Pete rushed to the boy’s side, feeling like the world’s most self-centred prat for not having checked for vehicles as he crossed the street. When his mind wandered, he tended to block out his surroundings and assume that others would accommodate for his lack of attention. This time, he hadn’t been so lucky.

“Oh my god, are you all right?” Pete asked loudly, kneeling down beside the young man splayed out on the road. Roger and the other boys arrived at the scene a few moments later.

“Shit, have you killed him, Pete?” Keith asked dramatically. The driver was moving his limbs slowly in an attempt to stand, making it clear that he was indeed alive. Roger cuffed Keith upside the head for asking such a stupid question, resulting in a howl of, “Fucking ow!” from the young drummer.

“Ever heard of watching the road?” the young man on the ground moaned pathetically, angling his face towards Pete. A nasty goose egg was forming on the side of his head where he’d bonked it against the ground, and the side of his bespoke tartan trousers had worn away when his leg had scraped along the rugged pavement.

“You’re…oh Christ, you’re hurt,” the lanky teen fretted, offering a hand to the fellow who had nearly run him down. “I’m terribly sorry, I was so lost in my own…” Pete’s mouth began to flap open and shut like a fish’s when he met the honey-brown eyes of his victim – a curly-haired Mod around his own age, eighteen, whose outfit put even Roger’s suit jacket and tie to shame. The man accepted his hand, sucking in a breath as he put weight on his legs and stood up.

“Can you stand, mate?” Roger asked, stepping forward and laying a hand on the fellow’s shoulder. Still holding Pete’s clammy hand in his own, the scooter rider nodded, grimacing at the pressure Roger’s touch was applying to the area where his shoulder had made impact with the asphalt.

“I think I’m fine, thanks,” he muttered, lifting a hand to the touch the skin above his temple. He hissed, experiencing a stinging pain as his fingers made contact. When he inspected his fingertips for blood, all parties were pleased that there was none to be seen – just a nasty bump on his noggin.

“Pub’s just down the street,” John said, tilting his head in the direction of their usual weekend haunt. “Shall I nip down and bring back a bag of ice for ‘is head?” Roger nodded, and gave a wave indicating that Keith should follow. The two took off towards the pub, jogging side by side.

“I appreciate it,” the boy said, wincing as he gingerly patted his hip. Where the pavement had rubbed right through the fabric of his trousers, some of the skin had been scraped away as well, leaving dew-like beads of blood on the surface of his leg. His fingers came away red this time, taking the boy by surprise. “Oh. I might have to…sit down,” he murmured, feeling his vision begin to cloud over. “My head’s a bit funny, I thin—”

Before he could finish his sentence, the Mod’s eyelids fluttered erratically, and his legs gave way beneath him. Pete cried out in surprise, and Roger jumped into action. Between the two of them, they caught the young man mid-fall and brought him gently down onto the sidewalk. He had only lost consciousness for a moment, because by the time Pete had managed to tuck his notebook beneath the chap’s head as a makeshift pillow, his hazel eyes were blinking up at him in confusion.

“You’re okay, mate,” Roger assured him. “You’re just feeling a tad woozy.” The blonde shot Pete a look of concern. “Maybe just close your eyes, and we’ll see if that helps.”

“Brilliant,” the boy responded, his voice weak. His lower lip began to tremble as though he might cry at any moment. Pete reached for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, hoping the gesture might comfort the poor fellow. His palm was warm and sweaty, but Pete didn’t mind; his heart jumped in his chest when the young man grasped his hand tightly in return.

“I don’t think a bag of ice is going to cut it,” Roger said decidedly, biting his lip. “He hit his head pretty hard, and there might be some internal damage we can’t see.” Pete nodded in agreement, eying the significant lump on the side of the boy’s head again. “I’ll go down to the pub and use their phone to call for an ambulance. Are you fine to stay and keep an eye on him?”

“It’s the least I can do,” Pete said, still feeling guilty for having caused the accident. “Just be quick, in case something goes wrong.” Roger got to his feet and took off running in the same direction John and Keith had gone, his suit jacket billowing behind him as it caught the breeze.

“Has he left?” a gentle voice wondered aloud. Pete glanced down and saw that his victim was watching him curiously.

“Yeah. Went to call for an ambulance,” Pete explained. “We were thinking that you should probably get a doctor to look at that bump on your head.” He felt his cheeks heat up when he realized he was still holding the young man’s hand. When he tried to pull away, though, the fellow held fast, refusing to give it up.

“Oh, I’ll be fine,” the teen protested, waving his free hand dismissively. “But I’m glad you stayed,” he smiled. “You’re much cuter than your friends.”

“Oh, um…thanks,” Pete stammered, giving more attention than necessary to a nearby tyre mark on the pavement. The boy’s comment had taken him by surprise, especially when less than a minute ago, he had seemed barely conscious.

“I’m Nathaniel Byrne,” the fellow said by way of introduction. “And you are…?”

“Peter Townshend,” Pete replied, glad he could remember his own name. He felt flustered by this young man, especially when he was staring at him the way he was now. His eyes had an unnatural look to them, as if he had the superhuman ability see right into Pete’s head and read his thoughts.

“Peter Townshend,” Nathaniel echoed, glancing Pete up and down. “Nice name; suits you.” With the hand that wasn’t clasped in Pete’s, Nathaniel reached out and toyed with one of the laces of Pete’s scuffed black Doctor Marten boot, untying it.

“What was that for?” Pete frowned, shifting forward to examine his bootlaces. He wobbled a bit, still trying to balance in a crouched position beside the injured boy at his feet.

“I’m flirting with you,” Nathaniel said teasingly, the corners of his mouth turning up ever so slightly. “Or can’t you tell?” Pete swallowed hard, unsure of how to respond to the comment. He wasn’t particularly experienced with flirting, especially not with other boys. In fact, he tended to make a fool of himself in front of just about every person he found even mildly attractive.

“Why are you doing…that?” Pete asked, confused. Feeling a flutter in his stomach, he was sure he was about to be sick; maybe seeing Nathaniel’s blood had affected him more than he’d thought.

“Well, because you’re cute,” Nathaniel told him, as though Pete should be aware of the fact. “And you’ve got sweet eyes.” Pete felt a blush creep up his neck, and he averted his eyes, as though that might keep Nathaniel from noticing his embarrassment.

“You shouldn’t say such things,” Pete scolded, folding his legs beneath him. “Someone’ll hear.” The curly-haired adolescent laughed quietly, wincing at a bit of sharp pain he felt in his ribs.

“I’m sorry,” Nathaniel apologized softly, still smirking slightly as he clutched at his aching ribs. “I’ve just always thought that if a boy is lovely, and looks like he won’t punch my lights out for saying so, I should tell him.”

Before he could respond, Pete’s attention was piqued by the sound of footfalls against the pavement; he looked up to see that two of his friends had returned. He wrenched his hand out of Nathaniel’s as if the boy’s skin had burned him; the thought of John and Keith asking questions was more than he thought he could bear.

“Roger’s called an ambulance, they should be here shortly,” John informed the pair as he came to a halt at the edge of the sidewalk. His eyes followed Keith, who was curiously inspecting Nathaniel’s scooter, which lay on its side a few feet away. “Oi, Keith, don’t touch that. S’not yours!” The scooter’s engine, which had provided a sort of white noise up until this point, cut out as Keith removed the keys from the ignition.

“Nearly forgot about that old thing,” Nathaniel said, trying to lift his head from its resting place atop Pete’s notebook. “Hopefully it’s not bloodied up too badly. A splash of paint and maybe she’ll be as good as new, eh?” Pete pressed his lips together doubtfully; the Vespa had likely sustained serious damage in the accident.

“Lie back or you’ll injure yourself worse,” Pete commanded, finally finding his voice. “Help is on the way, but until it arrives, you’d do well to just stay still.” Nathaniel raised an eyebrow in amusement; it appeared that Pete’s shy awkwardness had melted away upon his friends’ arrival. They brought out the courage in him that he wasn’t able to find on his own.

“Is this your boot, sir?” Keith asked, wandering up beside Pete and Nathaniel. He held a stylish black leather boot in his hand – it appeared quite similar to the type John preferred to wear, with a pointed toe and no laces.

“Looks like a match to me,” John said, pointing at Nathaniel’s feet. One was clad in an identical boot, the other in a green argyle-patterned sock. “I think we’ll let you put that back on for him, Pete.” Keith tossed the boot towards his gangly friend, who caught it before the boot could hit him in the face, as Keith had intended for it to do.

“Don’t look so sour, mate,” Nathaniel joked, “These are a fresh pair of socks. Washed ‘em yesterday, in anticipation of this exact moment.” John and Keith chuckled at his jest, but Pete ignored it, choosing instead to focus on getting the boot onto Nathaniel’s foot, quickly but without bending and breaking all his toes.

The wail of a distant ambulance cut through the night, and grew in volume as it raced towards the group. Two minutes later, a set of paramedics was at Nathaniel’s side, inspecting him for injuries. Pete was asked by one of them for an explanation of the incident, as well as whether Nathaniel had exhibited any symptoms of a head injury: fluid leaking from his nose or ears, slurred speech, memory loss, or other things of that sort.

“He was a bit dizzy at first, but since then, he’s been right as rain,” Pete informed them, catching Nathaniel’s eye once again. He allowed himself a small grin as the brunette winked at him, subtle enough that even the always-observant John missed it.

Once their medical assessment was complete, the paramedics decided that as a precaution, Nathaniel should be taken to hospital to be monitored overnight. They placed a brace around his neck in case of spinal injury, and carefully loaded him onto a gurney. The young man gave Pete one final wave before being loaded into the back of the ambulance, and the vehicle took off towards the nearest hospital as soon as the gurney carrying Nathaniel had been strapped in properly.

“Well that was an adventure!” Keith exclaimed once the ambulance was out of sight. “An adventure that’s made me rather thirsty, in fact.” Keith wrapped an affectionate arm around both John’s and Pete’s waists, and laid his head on Pete’s shoulder.

“I think you owe us all a pint, Townshend,” he insisted. “After all, if you had been watching where you were going, John and I wouldn’t have had to run, and we wouldn’t be so parched.” Pete rolled his eyes, but agreed to buy the first round at the pub. He found himself wishing that their new acquaintance had been able to join, instead of sitting in hospital awaiting an x-ray.

* * * * *

A few weeks later, Pete completed his journey to the pub without incident, this time alone. John had made plans with other mates, Roger’s young wife wanted him to stay home for the evening, and Keith’s mother had prohibited him from going out after school for a week, after he’d come home drunk off his head the previous weekend. Pete sat hunched over in his chair, brooding over a pint of lager and cringing each time one of the guitarists in the band onstage played a wrong chord.

The leg of the chair beside him scraped against the floor as it was pulled back from the table. Pete turned, expecting to see that one of his friends had escaped their obligations for the evening. Instead, a curly-haired young man with soft brown eyes seated himself on the chair; he recognized those eyes immediately.

“So, I hear you’re a regular around here, Mr. Townshend,” Nathaniel said, taking a sip from his own drink (some sort of fruity thing that made his breath smell sweet). “D’you know, there are four pubs within close walking distance of the intersection I had my accident at, and you happened to be at the fourth and final?”

“You went to four bars looking for me?” Pete asked sceptically. “Sounds like a monumental waste of time, seeing that I’m a real tosser. The bartender would have told you that if you’d asked him about me.” He felt his palms begin to sweat as he gripped his glass tighter, but he tried to keep up the air of egotism that typically settled over him after a few drinks; Nathaniel was an assertive guy, so maybe he’d fancy Pete more if he played that part as well.

“He did say something along those lines,” his companion laughed, setting his drink down on the table close enough to Pete’s hand that their pinkies brushed up against each other. “But I knew that already.” His eyes glittered mischievously, conveying the awareness that he was testing Pete’s patience with his flirtatious behaviour. It had been one thing when they were alone on the street corner, but touching him in the middle of a crowded pub was another thing entirely.

“Why’d you come looking, then?” Pete wondered, pulling his hand back. “Surely you have better things to be doing on a Friday night.” He glanced around, seeing whether any of the pub’s other patrons were staring at them; Nathaniel was sitting much too close to be just a friend. However, it seemed that everyone else was too busy tossing back shots or dancing to the terrible live music to care about the two of them.

“You know why,” Nathaniel murmured, reaching out to give the slim black tie Pete was wearing a playful tug. “You’ve got sweet eyes, remember?”

“They’re probably a lot sweeter when I’m not drunk,” Pete countered, taking a long swig of his beer. “Sorry to disappoint, but I’ve got somewhere to be in a few minutes.” Nathaniel’s knowing expression made it clear that he knew Pete was spouting bullshit. This was only his second drink of the night, and he had nowhere to be but back in his bedroom at his parents’ house. The real issue, which Pete didn’t have to say aloud, was that he was afraid. He was eighteen years old and had barely even kissed a girl, after all – what was he supposed to do about a chap like this?

“Let’s take a walk, then,” Nathaniel suggested with a casual shrug. “We don’t need to drink anymore if you’ve already had enough. No point hanging around in a pub if you’re finished drinking, is there?” The lead guitarist of the warm-up band chose that moment to play a note so loud and horribly incorrect that everyone in the room turned towards the elevated stage. By the sounds of it, he must have snapped a string and choked a bird with it.

“Fine,” Pete conceded, draining the remainder of his drink. “I can’t sit through another minute of this shit band anyway.” Nathaniel flashed him a bright smile and abandoned his own drink on the table.

The two stepped out of the pub and into the cool of the night. The streetlamps cast a warm light onto the street, illuminating their path well enough that they were able to avoid the broken glass that littered the pavement out front of one of the other pubs. Music from within O’Reilly’s, the favoured hangout spot of Pete and his mates, drifted out of the door as a young couple stepped out to smoke. The tune sounded much better than what Pete had just spent the last 45 minutes sitting through, but he was glad he hadn’t chosen the Irish pub tonight; his curly-haired friend might not have found him otherwise.

“So, how’ve you been?” Nathaniel asked a few minutes later, breaking the silence. “You’re being awful quiet tonight, Pete.”

“Not much to tell,” Pete admitted, tucking his thumbs into the front pockets of his trousers. “Uni’s winding down for the semester, I suppose. And we’ve got a gig booked next weekend at a place that’s halfway decent.”

“You’re in a band?” Nathaniel inquired, glancing in Pete’s direction. “I didn’t know. What sort of music do you play?” He seemed genuinely curious, so Pete decided it couldn’t hurt to share a bit about himself.

“Originally, we played skiffle and trad jazz,” Pete shrugged, “but we’ve moved towards R&B in the last few months; Motown covers, and a few things little things I’ve written for the group, mostly.”

“So you’re into the Mod scene, then,” Nathaniel smiled. “Or, at least, you dress like a Mod.” Pete looked down at his own outfit, realizing that he had started dressing more and more like young people that came to his band’s shows in recent times. His own personal style was much more casual, but John had gotten him into the habit of wearing a tie, and was the owner of the slightly-too-large suit jacket Pete was currently wearing.

“I haven’t got a Vespa or a Lambretta, if you’re wondering,” Pete told his companion. The Italian scooters were incredibly popular amongst the Mods, but Pete preferred to spend his earnings on guitars and tuition, choosing instead to tag along in Roger’s old junker of a car when he needed a ride someplace. Now that his mind was on motor scooters, the image of Nathaniel’s own red Vespa lying sideways on the pavement came to memory.

“I’m such an arse. I should have asked straight-away,” Pete groaned, smacking himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand. “How’s your scooter? Is it wrecked, or—”

“No, no! Just as I thought; needed a bit of paint and she was like new,” Nathaniel said, giving Pete’s arm a reassuring squeeze; he hoped Pete hadn’t experienced too much anxiety about the accident. “Don’t worry about that at all.”

“Good, good,” Pete nodded, breathing a sigh of relief. The two walked along in relative silence for a few minutes more, before Pete asked suddenly, “Are we going somewhere, or just wandering aimlessly?”

“Well, it’s getting quite late,” Nathaniel noted, glancing at the face of his wristwatch in the light of a streetlamp. “Why don’t I walk you home, and we’ll call it a night?” Pete’s stomach did a somersault; walking someone home was what boys did for girls they fancied.

“Sure, all right,” Pete mumbled, biting his lip anxiously. “It’s a bit of a walk, but if you don’t mind…”

“I don’t mind,” Nathaniel reassured him. “Trust me.”

* * * * *

“So, do you live around here as well?” Pete inquired once they were just a few streets from his parents’ house. The two of them had been walking and chattering away about everything imaginable for a half-hour. Really, Pete had taken a few detours to stretch out their time together, and either Nathaniel hadn’t noticed, or he had, and wasn’t going to say anything.

“I’ve got a flat in north Chiswick,” Nathaniel explained, “near Gunnersbury Station. Half-hour walk from the pub, this time of night.” He ran a hand through his hair as he scratched an itch, giving Pete an opportunity to admire his dark, tightly coiled curls in the evening light. Where most Mods went for sleek hairstyles that mimicked those worn by the likes of the Beatles, Nathaniel kept his own hair in a controlled, curly mop – fashionable bedhead, he liked to call the style. (Years later, when Pink Floyd joined the music scene, Nathaniel would come to mind when Pete met Syd Barrett for the first time.)

“Peter, you’re staring,” Nathaniel said with a little smile, pulling Pete from his thoughts. “Now that I haven’t got that terrible bruise making my head look all lumpy, I look quite all right, don’t you think?” The younger man rolled his eyes and gave Nathaniel a gentle shove; Pete did find him handsome, but he wasn’t about to say so.

“I’ve seen worse,” Pete joked. “At least you haven’t got a nose big enough to park a bus on.” Nathaniel frowned at Pete’s comment.

“What are you talking about?” he questioned, genuinely confused. He stopped walking, and grabbed Pete’s arm to stop him as well.

“Oh, sod off,” Pete exclaimed. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. My nose is enormous. Or have you been distracted this whole time by my pretty eyes?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Nathaniel chastised him. “Your nose suits you.” Pete snorted; that was the sort of thing his mother said in an attempt to comfort him when the kids at school made fun of him for his large beak of a nose.

“Whatever,” Pete scoffed, wrenching his arm free from Nathaniel’s grasp. He walked on ahead and turned the corner, where there were no more streetlights for some time. Thankfully, Pete was as familiar with the area as he was with the back of his hand. He and John had ridden their bikes up and down this stretch of road a million times in their younger years. He had a lead of twenty paces on his companion when he heard the slap of footfalls against the sidewalk coming up behind him.

“Have you decided to join me again?” Pete asked, turning his head to the side. Without warning, Nathaniel skidded to a halt in front of him, grabbed Pete’s face in both of his hands, and pressed a hard kiss to his lips. When he released him, Pete staggered back, blinking in surprise.

“Wha—what the hell?” Pete spluttered, furrowing his brows angrily. “Why would you do that?”

“Because I like you,” Nathaniel responded, a bit confused by the question – hadn’t his interest been obvious to Pete?

“No, you don’t,” Pete retorted. “There’s nothing to like about me, so just fuck off with that. You think I’m easy, and that’s why you’re still here. Well, I’m not, so you should just leave.”

“Unbelievable,” Nathaniel said, incredulous. “You’re shy and awkward, Pete, and that’s fine – it’s cute, even. But don’t you act as if there’s nothing good about you. Your friends wouldn’t stick with you if you were such an unlikeable person.”

Dumbfounded, Pete stared at his companion; no one had ever said something like that to him. For years, he’d allowed himself to wallow in his own self-pity about all the bits of him he didn’t like – but Nathaniel’s words were true. There were plenty of things about him that people loved – and clearly, this man had caught a glimpse of a few of those things in the short time they’d known each other.

“I don’t know what to say,” Pete admitted, shoving his hands back into his trouser pockets. “I guess…you’re right. I’m sorry.” Nathaniel stepped closer and reached for Pete’s hand, which he held firmly in his own.

“Don’t apologize to me,” he said softly. “You owe it to yourself to see the good in who you are. I can already see it, Pete; tell yourself.” Pete was suddenly overwhelmed by his emotions, and a moment later, found that Nathaniel was holding him in a tight embrace. A few tears dripped onto the Mod’s tailored jacket, but if he noticed Pete’s tears, he didn’t say anything.

Once Pete had collected himself, Nathaniel encouraged him to continue their walk. It was nearly 2:00am by now, and he still had to make it back to Gunnersbury before he could go to sleep for the night. Once they’d passed two more stretches of terraced housing, Pete stopped outside his parents’ home, gesturing toward it with his thumb.

“Here we are,” he smiled awkwardly. “The old Townshend place.”

“You’ll have to give me a tour sometime,” Nathaniel suggested. “Maybe when it’s not so late.” Pete nodded, shifting his weight back and forth from foot to foot.

“So…I guess this is goodbye, then.” Pete brushed his crooked fringe out of his eyes so he could get a better view of his new friend in the dim night-light.

“Goodbye for now,” his companion conceded. “But if you gave me your telephone number, we could see each other again sometime soon? Maybe check out the Marquee Club in Soho. They’ve got some decent bands playing there now.”

“Sure,” Pete agreed. He held out a hand for Nathaniel to shake, and felt immediately silly for doing so; five minutes ago, the man had kissed him – a handshake hardly seemed appropriate. Nevertheless, Nathaniel grasped Pete’s hand firmly in his own, and held it for much longer than was typically socially acceptable.

“Don’t be a stranger, Peter,” he murmured, tilting his face up slightly to compensate for the height difference between them. “You know where to find me now.” Nervous at being the one to initiate this time around, Pete closed his eyes and leaned in, meeting Nathaniel’s lips with his own.

His mouth tasted of cigarettes, but the kiss wasn’t unpleasant by any means. When the older boy grabbed hold of Pete’s collar with his free hand and deepened the kiss, Pete stepped back and allowed Nathaniel to press him gently up against the brick wall beside the short staircase up to the front door. They would be out of sight if Pete’s father were to look out into the street, but were exposed enough to make the experience more thrilling than it might have been in a more private environment.

When Nathaniel broke away, he left Pete’s mind reeling. How could a kiss have felt like that, he wondered. None of his short-lived flings with girls from the local colleges had ever made his head spin the way this had.

“I should really be going,” Nathaniel murmured against Pete’s lips. The Mod released Pete’s hand from his own a moment later, pecked him once more on the cheek, and strolled back down the street in the direction they’d come from the pub. Entranced by the sophisticated air surrounding the Mod, Pete stood on the front step until Nathaniel was out of sight. Too late, he realized that he’d forgotten to write out his telephone number for the boy.

However, since Nathaniel had managed to find him in the din of a dodgy pub with barely a clue to go on, he trusted that if it were meant to be, they would meet again.