111. Shelter In Your Love

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The safest way to go through life
is right inside love
And I shelter in your love
I shelter in your love

Always leave the club before the lights come on. Always leave the party when it's still in full swing. Don't stay to the end. Don't still be there when they're cleaning up. Don't be the one they have to chuck out into the early morning light, the one begging just one more drink, just one more song, hanging onto something that's already finished. Past it's best. Gone off the boil.

Always leave before the party's over, and this party is definitely over. 

That was his mistake. When Paul and Pete were sent home, John should have followed. Fuck, they probably all should have gone when George was deported, nearly three weeks ago.

He casts one last look around the room above the Top Ten, their home for only a short while. There's still some belongings here; some of George's clothes, a pair of shoes belonging to Paul, Pete's drum kit. They only let them grab a few things before they marched them to the airport and put them on a plane to London. John was here, still lying in his bunk bed reading a book when Pete and Paul, accompanied by some German goons burst into the room, barking orders like gestapo. Plain clothes policemen, John knows now, though he didn't at the time.

'What's going on? What's going on?!' John shouted as he jumped of the top bunk, clad only in his y-fronts and NHS specs. 'Who the fuck are you?!'

Pete and Paul were already packing furiously, grabbing clothes and books and stuff that didn't even belong to them and shoving it into kit bags.

'What are you doing? You can't--'

One of the German's swept his arm into John's chest pushing him backwards into the wall. 'Stand back,' he commanded in monotone English, then released him. 'Schneller!' he shouted at the others. 'Schneller!'

'Paul,' John said, going to his side. 'Paul, what's happening?'

'They're sending us home,' Paul replied, not stopping moving. 'At least, I think they are. They speak too fast. I can't follow what they're saying.'

'When? Now?' John asked, following him around the room.

Paul nodded. John put his hand on his wrist, stilling him, making him look at him. Paul's eyes were bloodshot, sore and worried, rimmed in red. 'They wouldn't let us call the British Consul, or me dad, or anything.'

The German shoved Paul away from John and towards the door, putting his body in between them.

'Well, hold on--' John started as they herded Paul and Pete out onto the landing. 'They can't do that. Wait, what about--'

Paul cast a look back over his shoulder at him at the top of the stairs. One of the Germans dug him in the back and then Paul was gone.

He hasn't heard from him since. Not Paul or Pete or George. Cynthia sent a letter a few days later saying Pete and Paul had arrived back in Liverpool safely. They'd been put on a plane to London and spent their last remaining funds on buses and trains back to Liverpool.

Now John is about to do the same. He lifts his army kit bag over his head, swinging it around his chest and hoists his amp onto his back. Fucking heavy but there's no way he's leaving it behind. He's not finished paying for it yet. With the way John's luck is going, someone will probably mug him for it on the way back to England.

Stu's staying behind, but it's different for him. John's not seen him for a couple of days. He won't come down to the Reepherbahn anymore. They'll boot him out too if they find him, but he's planning on hiding in plain sight, living at Astrid's, hanging around with her arty student friends. That's where he's gone today, to the art college with her.

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