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Learning Curve

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They were going to Coney Island. "Because you promised to take me," Olivia had repeated.

"I don't remember saying that," Charlie told her, but she refused to let him off the hook.

"I don't see why you're so set on this," he grumbled. "Luna Park's a pretty crummy amusement park. You grew up with the Magic Kingdom practically in your backyard."

He'd finally given in. Except he was supposed to meet her at the 14th St. station at nine. She was there, where was he?

"Charlie. I'm getting cold." To avoid the crowds, she stood on the other side of the upper steps of the entrance, leaning back against the cold concrete wall, and pulled her jacket around her. He was never late.

"I'm heading toward you. ETA five minutes. Less than that, even."

"Don't make me hurt you," she warned, smiling as she said it. Work was so crazy they almost never got a day off together. She didn't want to waste this one.

"Promises, promises. But, hey. Just wait 'til you see what I got us," he wheedled.

On the subway, they drank the coffee and munched on the fresh bagels, still warm from the bakery. "Real coffee. I'm impressed. Did you have to take out an advance on your next check?"

"No, I borrowed against my life insurance and promised the barista my first-born child. This shit ain't cheap." He sipped it meditatively. "Damn it's good, though."

She nodded. She had forgotten how good it smelled. She remembered waking up to the scent of fresh-brewed coffee coming from her mother's kitchen, had taken it completely for granted.

Well, all the more reason to enjoy this rare luxury.

"How's Frank?"

"Good. He called last night. It's a Hanta virus again, they think, but he says they won't know for certain until the tests come back from Atlanta."

"When do we get to meet this guy? You two sound like you're getting pretty serious."

Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Charlie watching her, and hid a smile. "Soon, and yeah, I think we are getting serious."

"You're breaking my heart, to say nothing of Lincoln's."

She rolled her eyes. "It was one kiss, it wasn't my idea, and he's so over it."

He shook his head in mock horror. "God, you're heartless, I don't know why we put up with you."

She giggled. "Me, either." She sat up and cracked her neck. "I can't wait to ride the Cyclone. Did you know the Texas Cyclone in Houston was modeled after it? I hope the original lives up to its namesake."

He raised an eyebrow. "No, I did not. Anyway, I wouldn't have reason to compare them because I've never ridden the Cyclone."

"You've got to be kidding." Charlie was a native New Yorker. "Why the heck not?"

He shrugged.

"No, come on, you've gotta tell me." She punched his shoulder.

"Ouch." He rubbed his arm. "You just can't let it go, can you?"

"Nope."

He took a deep breath, blew it out and grimaced. "Fine. I don't like roller coasters. I rode one when I was seven, I puked my guts out afterward and have never gotten on one again." He added, "And I'm not riding the Cyclone." He stood up as the train braked to a halt. "Come on, this is our stop."

That's right. New Kirk Plaza. They had to get off the subway and ride the shuttle to Avenue J, then get back on. The station at Avenue H had been closed down due to a level 2 event, two years before she'd joined Fringe.

She followed him off the platform, into the mall and back down the steps to the street level. "Fine. We can do other stuff." She brightened. "I know. We can go on the Hell Hole." No sign of the shuttle bus yet.

"No."

"But the Hell Hole's nothing like the Cyclone. I bet it's practically a kiddie ride," she insisted.

"Fine then. Here's the bus." He stepped aside to let her get on first. They flashed their show-mes and found seats in the back. "Now can we talk about something else?"

~/~/~

She stood outside the restroom, waiting, rubbing her arms. After ten minutes, he emerged, looking none the worse for having puked all over her jacket. It was a good thing it had warmed up and that the jacket was tacky crap from H&M. Hesitating a little, she stepped toward him. "Charlie..."

He held up his hands. "Don't start with me, Liv."

She cocked her head. "I only wanted to say I was sorry."

"Fine. Apology accepted." He looked rueful. "Anyway, it's not your fault I can't say no to you." He looked her over. "Where'd your jacket go?"

"Trash can." She couldn't stop herself from grinning at him. "I love you, but I'm not going to walk around wearing your undigested breakfast."

"Point taken. Let's go pick out our matching tee-shirts proclaiming "We survived the Hell Hole," and get the fuck out of here."

"But I haven't ridden on the Cyclone yet," she pleaded, pretending to pout.

"NO."

"I thought you couldn't say no to me."

"I'm learning."

 

The end.