7 | Smoke, Mirrors & Astrophysics

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Despite having no plans to serve food earlier than seven, and with little warning, Finn caught the tube back with me from work on Thursday

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Despite having no plans to serve food earlier than seven, and with little warning, Finn caught the tube back with me from work on Thursday. When I questioned him on this, he started complaining about living miles away and it being considerable effort for him to go home, then return into the city centre, by which point his complaining was irritating me, so I just accepted it.

We met outside King's Cross Station, and he was already there by the time I arrived a little after five-thirty. He was making a phone call, so I waited with my shoulder against the entrance of the underground while he blathered away. I stood with crossed arms and spent a considerable amount of time sighing loudly to signify my impatience, but he didn't seem to notice.

'Yeah, it's—I did tell them it would be you picking her up,' I caught him say as I picked at my split ends. 'Did they—No, it's okay, I'll speak to them tomorrow. Yeah. Yeah, cool, cheers. Okay, yeah, bye.'

Hallelujah.

'You're late,' he pointed out the second he hung up the phone.

'I'm sure you'll survive,' I muttered as we swooped into the station. 'I'd also like to point out that you're the one who invited yourself a whole hour and a half early to this thing, so my sympathy is limited.'

'Now that's no way to speak to your guest.' He started tutting as we made our way through the ticket gates.

'Where do you live, anyway? If you're commuting from Belfast or wherever the hell you're from, by the way, I'd highly recommend finding a job a little closer to home.'

Finn snorted. 'Nah, not quite. I live in Barking,' he clarified, then pointed sideways as if it meant anything. 'East London.'

'I know where Barking is,' I said with an eye roll he couldn't see, given he was walking a little ahead of me. 

He spun around on the escalator we'd just stepped onto and faced me—he liked spinning on escalators, didn't he? His pale eyes were wide, and his lips parted in a state of what appeared to be sincere surprise as he held the strap of his backpack.

'You've braved the territories outside zone 1? Are you okay? D'you wannna talk about it?'

'Oh, piss off,' I jibed. 'What's that even supposed to mean, anyway?'

Finn didn't reward me with an answer, just turned back around with a laugh. I chose not to inform him that I'd never been anywhere near Barking in my life, and in fact, knew next to nothing about the area beyond it being somewhere I'd not expected a young professional to live.

Dharsheni was in the cupboard under the kitchen sink when Finn and I arrived at the apartment, but I was far more perplexed than he was; he didn't even bat an eyelid at the sight. Sheni explained there was a leak when I questioned her, but like the genius she was, she was moments away from repairing it. 

Finn was behind me as I stood in the doorway, bobbing his head around to steal glances into the small room as if he'd never seen a kitchen before. Before I could ask him what on earth he was doing, Dharsheni jumped up from the laminate floor, then dumped her spanner into the sink.

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