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Taking flight

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Arthur tried to bite back a grin when he looked over. The moment they boarded the helicopter, Percy had checked the seatbelts at least five times and then clung to every handle he could reach after putting the headphones on. They had been discussing this for weeks with Arthur insisting it was a wonderful experience and Percy being very adamant about never setting a foot on any of these hell machines – his term, not Arthur’s.

The pilot told them about the mountains around them and pointed out interesting spots, his voice sounding weird and tinny through their headphones. “And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Arthur nodded, but Percy didn’t react at all. Reaching over, Arthur scooted as close to Percy as possible, trying to coax him into letting go of one of the handles and taking his hand. When Percy finally did, it took Arthur all of his acting skills to not yelp at the force of his grip but smile reassuringly.

“You know, Percy, you can open your eyes.” He smiled and then chuckled when Percy tentatively opened one eye and threw him a look that showed clearly what he was thinking about Arthur’s brilliant idea to force him into this tiny can that would mean certain death for them.

Squeezing Percy’s hand, Arthur mouthed “Love you.” Then he pointed out the window. “Wow, this landscape is beautiful. I’ve been here so many times and it still takes my breath away.”

Percy nodded. “Yup, takes my breath away, too, just not the good way.”

Even the pilot laughed. “No need to worry, I’ve been doing this for twenty years and everybody came back safe and sound.”

Arthur laughed but Percy made a sound as if he highly doubted that. Still, he risked a peek at the window and it seems he forgot that he was high up in the air. Even the death grip on Arthur’s hand eased off. “Wow.”

For the next 45 minutes, Percy just looked at the majestic landscape beneath them, the snow-covered mountains and the sky that was so blue that it almost hurt looking at it.

When they finally landed back where they started, Arthur jumped out of the helicopter and ran over to the other side to open the door for Percy to get out after the pilot gave him a sign that it was safe to leave the aircraft.

“That was…,” Percy’s cheeks glowed and his eyes were shining.

The pilot laughed. “The view has left many speechless and if I’m honest, I’m still in awe each time I go up there.” They walked towards the little building. “And you, my friend, are a very brave man.” He patted Percy’s shoulder.

“Brave? Who? Me?” Percy laughed. “I’m just another story you can tell your next customers. The tall bloke who was too scared to look outside.”

Letting them into the little building so they could get their backpacks and things, the pilot shook his head. “Trust me, I’ve seen so many people freeze up and not even getting into the chopper. Or changing their mind as soon as we took off, demanding I’d take them back after only three minutes. In the beginning, I thought we wouldn’t get the whole hour of flight. But you were brave enough to stay and when you decided to give it a chance, you loved it.”

Percy made a face. “I wouldn’t say I loved it. But…it wasn’t as bad as I’ve expected.”

Arthur grinned. “You forgot that you were on a helicopter, you were too busy looking.”

Shrugging, Percy reached for his backpack. “Guess so. It was just so beautiful out there.”

They said their good-bye and wandered back to the restaurant close to the heli landing pad.

Arthur had made a reservation for a table by the window where they could see the sun setting and city that lay beneath them switch on the lights.

“You’re very quiet.” Arthur sipped from the champagne he’d ordered.

Percy tore his eyes from the view and smiled shyly. “I’m not a man of many words, you know that.”

“Even more quiet than usual.” Smiling, Arthur reached over the table, put his hand on Percy’s and gently stroked its back with the pad of his thumb. “Are you alright?”

Nodding, Percy sighed. “It was just a bit overwhelming and embarrassing today.” He caught Arthur’s fingers with his thumb and held on.

“Don’t worry about that.”

Percy threw Arthur a look. “Okay, who are you and where’s Arthur?”

Arthur laughed. “Why would you say that?”

“The Arthur I know would call me a girl and never let me see the end of it.” Percy mock-frowned.

“Oh,” Arthur chuckled. “This will make its way into my speech at our wedding, be sure of that.”

Percy blinked. “Wedding?”

Arthur stopped all movement and stared at Percy for a moment. He had waited for the right moment for months and had actually planned to ask Percy while they were on the helicopter. He sure hadn’t meant to blurt it out, to say it like that but now it was out in the open. He took a deep breath. “Yes…I thought…would you?”

Still staring back at Arthur, his mouth hanging slightly open, Percy blinked and then swallowed. “Are you sure?”

Huffing out a chuckle before he nodded, Arthur smiled. “Yes, I am.”

“But…you’ve just witnessed me behaving like a…”

“Percy, I’ve witnessed you doing a lot of things since we’ve been together. You’re fighting for justice in the court room every day, you’re coach of a rugby team of difficult kids and you still find the time to help out at the animal shelter. So what if you’re not too fond of travelling in a helicopter? I’m very proud that you at least tried.”

“It…it wasn’t that bad. I might get used to it.” Percy gave Arthur a wry smile.

Arthur laughed. “Before we know it, you’ll go and get your flight licence and expect a helicopter for Christmas.”

“I’m pretty certain this won’t happen.” Percy grinned. “But…yes.”

“Yes?” Arthur blinked.

“Yes to your question.”

It took Arthur a moment to understand. He’d thought Percy had successfully diverted the topic. Now he felt like the smile on his face was only stopped by his ears. He didn’t know what to say, so he just got up and leaned in to kiss Percy.