The ferris wheel loomed above them with it’s luminescent twinkling lights set starkly against the twilight sky.
Phil Lester, a young man in his early 20s, looked up and shook his head.
“I’m afraid of heights,” he admitted, bashfully.
“Oh. Well, maybe we can just find something else to do then,” Dan Howell, a tall and lanky young man, just barely 19 said, trying to hide his disappointment.
Dan had ridden the train to Rosendale all morning to meet this new friend named Phil. The two young men had been talking on Skype for months, but had never met in real life. There was always the chance that that feeing, that sense of magic that led to the 4 hour Skype sessions might not be there in real life, but it had been there as soon as their eyes met at the station. Their meeting had been sweet and tentative, with a gentle, clumsy, and giggly hug exchanged before the back packs came off and gifts were given.
They had made their way to the sky lounge and were soon engrossed in conversation, clinging to the stuffed animals they had exchanged downstairs. The chemistry was there instantly, and the blunted looks from the other patrons went unnoticed as they giggled and laughed together.
Phil won Dan a Rubik’s cube in the claw machine and Dan blushed as he accepted it.
“I’ll never be able to solve this, you know,” Dan said, staring down awkwardly.
“I bet you can, don’t doubt yourself!” Phil encouraged as they walked away from the machine.
“I’ll work on it when I’m back on the train later,” Dan promised.
“Oh, I know,” Phil said, “Let’s take a selfie! I’ve got my new phone!”
“Okay, cool,” Dan agreed, immediately fussing with his straight brown hair.
They posed for several pictures, then Phil tweeted out the silliest one for his followers to see, which was a sexy pose from Dan and a funny face from Phil. His favorite, when they were both grinning, he kept for himself and Dan to share.
“Hey,” Dan said, “let’s get some food. I’m starving!”
“Again?!” Phil said with a laugh, “We just finished eating two hours ago!”
“Yeah, I’m still growing,” Dan replied. “At some point, I’ll be taller than you, I reckon.”
Phil rolled his eyes, “Alright. What do you want to eat?”
“Corndogs!” Dan exclaimed, and the two set off on a mission to find some carnival food for Dan.
They settled for hotdogs, found a bench on the pier and looked out over the river.
“I’m so glad you came to see me today,” Phil began, suddenly feeling awkward.
“Yeah,” Dan said, “I, uh, I am, too.”
“I’ve had fun today,” Phil began, then trailed off.
“I’ve had fun, too,” Dan parroted.
They shared an awkward silence.
Maybe reality was going to be a little harder than Skype after all.
“I, um, wish you didn’t have to leave tonight,” Phil stuttered.
“Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to, but I have class in the morning, so I kind of have to go. I mean, I could skip I guess, but….”
“No, no you shouldn’t do that.” Phil said. “Class is important.”
There was a tension there that had been building all day, but they had just now felt the brunt of it, and it had left them both feeling tentative and awkward. They left the underlying feelings unspoken, but they both knew what was going on.
“We still have an hour before I have to get to the station,” Dan began, “so let’s make the most of it!”
“Okay,” Phil replied, a hint of sadness in his voice.
They got up and disposed of their trash, and then made their way back up the pier.
“The sunsets here are really pretty, usually,” Phil said. “We could watch it.”
“Oh, I know!” Dan suggested, “We could watch it from the big ferris wheel!
Phil looked up and shook his head.
“I’m afraid of heights,” he admitted bashfully.
“Oh. Well, maybe we can just find something else to do then,” Dan said, trying to hide his disappointment.
They stood for a moment, and then Phil said, “Well, maybe I could try it. It doesn’t seem to go fast or anything.”
“Nah, mate,” Dan agreed excitedly, “It’ll be fine!"
Dan rushed up and bought the passes and Phil, swallowing hard, followed him up the stairs and into the swinging seat.
“Oh God,” Phil said as he sat. “The seat moves!”
“It’s okay,” Dan said, gently, “We’ll be fine. We won’t rock it and it will be a nice, peaceful ride.”
“Okay,” Phil agreed, and he sat back against the seat and grasped the handles with white knuckles.
Once the ride started, Dan looked over at Phil who looked completely terrified.
“Are you alright?!” Dan asked, both genuinely concerned and a little amused.
“Yeah,” Phil lied. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Dan reached over and put his hand on top of Phil’s. “Give me your hand.”
“I’m not letting go,” Phil said, shaking his head.
“You have to sit back and relax. You’re missing the sunset! Now just give me your hand.”
Phil reluctantly pried his shaking fingers off of the grab bar and immediately Dan cupped it in his own two hands.
“You’re fine. I’ve got you,” Dan said, soothingly.
“Ok.” Phil said, turning white.
“GIve me your other hand.”
“No way!” Phil said, shaking his head. “No, I’m holding on for my life here.”
“Nothing bad is going to happen. Give me your other hand”
“Look at me,” Dan encouraged softly.
Phil turned his head slightly towards Dan and found himself staring into his brown eyes. Dan said nothing. Phil’s breathing slowed a bit until finally, he relaxed his grip on the grab bar and, as Dan nodded encouragingly, let go and quickly grasped Dan’s wrist.
Dan smiled, “See, I knew you could do it!”
Phil managed a grin.
Dan re-arranged himself in the seat so that he was looking right at Phil, his and Phil’s hands still in a pile between them. For the first time, he noticed Phil’s eyes were three different colors: blue, green, and just a bit yellow.
“Breathe,” Dan encouraged.
Phil took a deep breath, then let it out quickly.
“Slower,” Dan said, shifting his hands a bit so that he held one of Phil’s hands in each of his own.
Phil took a long breath in, and a slow breath out.
“There!” Dan praised, “You’re doing great!”
He gave Phil’s hands a gentle squeeze of encouragement.
“Now, let’s turn a bit and look at that sunset you were bragging about,” Dan suggested.
But Phil did not turn. In fact, he didn’t even seem to blink. He stared into Dan’s soft, brown eyes with an expression that Dan had never seen on his face before.
Dan gazed back, feeling his face turn pink, then red. Those eyes. He could get lost in those eyes.
Phil swallowed hard.
Dan noticed the golden sunlight reflecting off of the side of Phil’s smooth face.
Phil noticed that Dan was beginning to lean towards him, ever so slightly.
Dan felt himself drawn to this beautiful man before him. He didn’t know what he would do when he got there, but he knew he wanted to be closer to him.
Phil’s face suddenly relaxed. He grinned. He squeezed Dan’s hands, leaned in, softly, ever so softly, pecked Dan on the lips.
He started to pull away, but Dan gently pulled his hands towards him and returned the kiss, this time, slightly opening his lips.
Time stood still. As their eyes closed, all they knew was the taste, the feel, the warmth of the other. The sounds of the carnival below them had faded away. The twinkling lights and the brilliant sunset had vanished from thought.
Tentatively, gently, they explored each other’s lips with repeated soft kisses.
And the ferris wheel circled around and around.
Finally, they broke apart, keeping their faces close. They opened their eyes slowly. Dan’s blush was bright red. Both were breathing deeply and heavily. Dan grinned and the appearance of his dimples made Phil giggle.
“What?!” Dan asked softly.
“Your face. It’s so beautiful,” Phil replied.
Dan bit his lip.
“Don’t bite that,” Phil said, “I want more of that later.”
The train ride back to his house was a blur to Dan. As soon as he got home, he opened up his laptop and got on Skype.
“Hi!” Phil said, back in the familiar backdrop of his room.
“Hi!” Dan replied.
“How was your trip home?” Phil asked.
“I don’t know,” Dan answered honestly
“You don’t know?!”
“It’s all kind of a blur. I was, uh, I was thinking a lot.”
“Yeah? What were you thinking about?” Phil teased.
“Well, not you if that’s what you’re asking!” Dan teased right back.
“I hate you,” Phil said with a laugh.
“I hate you, too,” Dan said, his voice soft.
They talked on through the night.
Dan gently licked his lips when he woke at noon. He had missed class. He did not care.