~\New Year's Eve/~

Every year tens of thousands of people, British and non, gather together in Trafalgar Square and tens of thousands of people gathered by the River Thames all to celebrate surviving the past year. 2003 had brought many events. On January 16th, Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 only to disintegrate upon re-entry sixteen days later. On January 24th, the United States Department of Homeland Security officially began operation. On February 4th, Yugoslavia became Serbia and Montenegro, Lilith made a point of making note of Rowan Williams becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury. On July 5th, SARS was declared to be contained by the WHO. On July 30th, the last 'old style' Volkswagen beetle rolled of the assembly line in Mexico. On September 18th, The United Kingdom's Local Government Act 2003, repealing controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 received Royal Assent. On September 25th, a magnitude-8.0 earthquake strikes just offshore of Hokkaidō, Japan. On October 19th, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta. On December 24th, President George W. Bush announced the capture of Saddam Hussein. And on 1st January 2003, nobody saw all of that coming. And of everything that was about to happen in the year to come, nobody knew what to expect.

Ryan, Lilith and Connor, all wrapped up with scarves, gloves and hats appeared at the riverbank just in time for the crowds to swarm and buzz with excitement and cheap beer. Everyone was singing along to 'Another One Bites The Dust'. As new cameras from the BBC and ITV and every other news channel that broadcasted London New Year's scanned through the rows of screaming Brits and joyous celebrators. From young children being carried around by mummy and daddy to middle-aged who still knew how to scream and shout and let it all out, all of them yelled into the cameras shouting happy words and 'Happy New Year's'. It was Ryan and Lilith's first time at the New Year celebration by the river and they were both alive with the energy and spark of the people. Connor had been once before, but he too was getting caught up in the spirit. Ryan led the other two by the hand into the crowds, hoping to get both an amazing view of the clock and the fireworks, which were being displayed again for the first time since 2000 and Ryan didn't want to miss a second of them. Before they could say anything, the last 10 seconds of 2003 had begun. And, just like every year, the people of Britain counted down along with the people of Burkina Faso, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Portugal, Saint Helena, Senegal, Togo, and the Western Sahara.


The colours of the digital numbers that were projected onto the face of Big Ben changed from green to blue. Everybody's favourite colour supposedly. Did 2004 seem like a blue year? A little bit. If you wanted to think of it that way.


Lilith watched Ryan stop and stare up at the clock face. She saw her hand in his and his hand in Connor's and smiled a little sadly. As the clock ticked again she let go of his hand and took a tiny step backwards.


Ryan turned around, noticing immediately that his left hand felt colder and lighter. He searched behind him, seeing Lilith only a step away and made a face asking why she'd moved. Lilith points to him and Connor and made a mocking kissy face, smiling at them both with as much genuine joy for them as prideless jealousy.


Ryan looked over to Connor and told him what Lilith was doing. Ryan seemed both happy and sad about it, but he was just as grateful to her. He knew not every friend might do that after all the years and new years they'd spent together. Especially when they were giving room for something so unexplored as Ryan and Connor.


Connor turned around to Lilith and made it as obvious as possible that he was mouthing 'Thank you!' to her. She smiled at him and ticked her chin at him in response. The two had gotten off to a bumpy start in November, but that all seemed to fade away. The boy Connor had next to him, hand gripped in his, was the reason they could be friends. He was the reason they were teammates. He was the reason they both went to bed smiling.


Lilith stands still and smiles, but is jolted from her position as a handsome stranger bumps into her. She turned around and apologised, having been lost in thought she didn't know what had happened. She barely glanced at the guy who'd bumped into her before turning back to face the clock and say goodbye to the last seconds of 2003.


A hand appeared on Lilith's waist that she did not expect and spun her around. It was the stranger. The handsome stranger. She took a second to look at him properly now; a chiselled chin, dark hair in curtains and soft hazel eyes. The very handsome stranger had his hand on Lilith's hip. She allowed this. He hardly seemed dangerous. Too pretty.


Connor cupped Ryan's cheeks in his hand and felt himself smiling wider than could remember. Just staring into Ryan's dark eyes made his heart skip too many beats to be healthy. Ryan felt his face burn at the eye-contact. Every time Connor looked at him with that much emotion in his eyes it made his face burn. How had this beautiful boy come into his life so suddenly? And how he managed to become something to him? Only God knew. Maybe he could ask Hecate next time he needed her to save him? But there was nothing else left to say. And so, in those final moments of the year they met, Ryan and Connor's looked leaned into each other.