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Four Years Ago

Tears stung Ruby's eyes as she walked, seemingly aimlessly, searching the streets for any sign of John or the Teds... or anything. The town appeared to be suddenly abandoned. Not a single shop was open. Ruby began to make her way back towards the seafront, down a steep cobblestone hill. Towards the bottom there was a pub with some people sitting outside of it, loud music emanating from it. She could stop and ask for help there. Before she reached it though, there was an old man wearing a flat cap and a threadbare tweed blazer, struggling to make his way up the steep hill.

'Excuse me,' Ruby said, stopping him. 'Can you tell me the way to the nearest police station?'

The old man replied in a thick Yorkshire accent that Ruby couldn't make out, and pointed back up the hill in the direction she'd come from. Ruby nodded to him, despondently, not understanding a word he was saying. She felt like sitting down and crying. She was stranded in this seaside town, miles from home, with almost no money and now, no John.

'Ruby!' a voice shouted behind her. She turned towards it. John was standing in the doorway of the pub. 'Rube!' He jogged over. Ruby looked at him - he looked... fine. Not a scratch on him, no so much as a bruise. Nothing like the blackened eyes and bloody nose Ruby had been picturing.

'Hey, there you are,' he said happily as he reached her, as if he'd just lost sight of her in a shopping arcade for a moment. There was a half drunk bottle of brown ale in his hand. The old man said something else indecipherable and carried on his way up the hill.

'Where the hell have you been?!' Ruby demanded, her concern quickly turning to anger.

'I was looking for you...' John said, sheepishly.

'What? In there?' She pointed to the pub.

'Yeah, well, I thought you'd be past sooner or later. I was looking out for you.'

'So what... what happened? How did you get away from...'

'John!' Another man appeared at the pub doorway. No, not just another man. It was one of the Teds. 'Drink in behind the bar for yer, son!' John nodded to him.

'Ta, Dan. Be there in a minute.'

'So you're on first name terms with them now then?' Ruby asked, incredulously, unable to stop her voice getting louder and higher pitched.

John grinned. 'Yeah. I suppose so...'

'I thought... I thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere!' Angry tears began to well up in Ruby's eyes.

He smirked, infuriating her further. 'You should know by now I can talk my way out of most things...'

'I was looking for the police station to try any get help..!'

'Ah, Ruby don't cry,' he said softly and tried to take her in his arms.

She pushed him away roughly. 'I'm not crying, I'm so... so angry with you!'

'Look, I thought I was done for too, but then I saw one had a guitar, and turns out they're all some kind of folk-skiffle band. They're playing here tonight, so we got talking - you know, music's like some kind of international language - and turns out they're okay, really.'

'They're not okay! They were going to...'

'All water under the bridge.' He edged closer to her again and she didn't push him away this time. 'I was going to come and look for you in a moment. I couldn't just walk off immediactly.'

Ruby took a deep breath, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, trying to get herself back under control. 'Right, well, lets just go then.'

John bit his lip. 'Come and have a drink first.'

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