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Don't Look Down

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"COLIN!"

Bradley ran across the courtyard to where Colin was standing with some of the crew. He skidded to a stop just short of knocking into him, and Colin turned and gave him that small smile that made Bradley's stomach feel all warm and gooey.

"Colin, you have to come see this," he said, a bit breathless from his sprint.

"What is it? Another spider?" he asked, eyes twinkling a bit.

"Just come on," Bradley said, grabbing him about the wrist and pulling him back the way he came. No one said anything; he was always interrupting Colin in the middle of conversations or dragging him off on some whim or another--everyone accepted it.

He led Colin into one of the towers, ducking to avoid hitting his head. "Where are we going?" Colin asked, though he continued to let Bradley lead him.

"You'll see. It's bloody brilliant, I promise," Bradley said, starting up the spiral stairs. He'd exhausted himself getting up to the top the first time, but it had been so incredibly worth it. His first thought after he'd regained some semblance of coherency was that he had to show Colin, so he'd sucked it up and gone to find him.

Colin was quiet behind him as they went higher and higher until finally they reached the top and Bradley led him outside to take in the incredible view of Pierrefonds. He let go of Colin and went over to the wall, placing his hands on the cool stone and enjoying the way the breeze lifted his hair from his forehead.

"Isn't it great?" he asked after a few moments. Colin hadn't uttered a peep since they'd stepped outside--he was probably as awestruck as Bradley had been the first time. "Colin?"

Colin wasn't at the wall next to him, so he turned back toward the door. Colin was standing next to it, back pressed firmly to the stone and palms flat at his sides.

"What are you doing over there?" Bradley asked. "Come see the view. You wouldn't believe how high up we are!"

"I can see it fine from here. It's great," Colin said quickly. Bradley narrowed his eyes; was Colin inching back toward the open door?

"What? That's bollocks, you can't see anything from over there," he said, reaching for his friend. "Come closer."

"No," Colin said firmly, moving his arm before Bradley could grab it again. "I don't want to."

"Why not?"

"I just don't, alright? Can I go back down now?"

"Back down? What--no. You haven't seen--"

Colin shrank away when Bradley went to pull him away from the door again, pressing even tighter against the wall. Bradley didn't like it at all, Colin flinching from him like that. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just want to go back down to the courtyard." Colin inched to his left slowly until he was standing in the doorway, where he relaxed a bit and drew a deep breath. Bradley looked between him and the sprawling landscape, confused. When he saw the people milling about on the ground below, no larger than insects, it finally clicked in his head.

"Are you afraid of heights?"

Colin ducked his head, shuffling his weight from foot to foot. "A bit," he said.

"But--how? I mean, you went on all those rides with us at the park. I thought that--"

"I didn't want to look like a tosser, alright? Standing around and waiting at the bottom while all the big kids have their fun," he said, sounding tired and embarrassed. Something inside him rebelled at the defeated tone--Colin should never be unhappy. Ever. And certainly not because of Bradley.

"I'm sorry, mate. I didn't know, I just thought you'd want to see it."

"It's fine," Colin said, stepping back into the darkness of the tower. "Though could we go back down now? I feel like I'm going to get swept away by the wind or something."

"Well, you are a bit thin, I suppose" Bradley joked, slinging his arm around Colin's shoulder as they started down the stairs. When Colin laughed and leaned against him, all warm and intimate, Bradley knew he was forgiven.

***

Bradley rapped hard on Colin's door. They had a rare evening off, and an even rarer evening off without Angel or Katie hovering about. Not that Angel and Katie weren't lovely--they were--but Bradley didn't want them tagging along and messing up his plans for Colin, who finally got around to opening the door.

"Hi," Colin said, leaning against the jamb, a bright smile spreading across his face. Bradley's stomach did the gooey thing again, and his heart gave a hard thump for good measure. Damn Colin and his adorable...Colin-ness.

"Alright, come on then."

"Where are we going?" Colin asked, standing up straight.

"Out. It's too nice out to laze about the hotel."

"Oh," Colin said, blinking. "Right then, hang on." Bradley held the door open as Colin puttered around for a minute getting his wallet and mobile. He squatted down to tie his trainers, and Bradley watched the way his long, pretty fingers pulled at the laces.

"'Kay," he said, standing up after a moment. "I'm ready."

Bradley turned sideways and pressed his back against the door frame. Colin bumped him with his shoulder as he walked past, and they rode the elevator down in a comfortable silence.

When they got to the car Bradley had acquired for the evening, Colin arched an eyebrow. "What's this?"

"It's a car, Colin. Runs on petrol, has an engine and four wheels, that sort of thing," he answered, opening his door.

"Funny. Where are we going that we need a car?"

"It's a surprise. Get in."

Colin eyed him for a brief moment before shrugging and sliding into the passenger seat. He chattered while Bradley drove, following the directions he'd memorized before they left. Almost an hour later, he saw what he was looking for--bright lights and the silhouette of a huge Ferris wheel against the evening sky.

"A carnival?" Colin asked, sounding suddenly excited. "We're going to a carnival?"

"Yep," Bradley answered, relieved. He'd been worried that Colin would think it was silly. Then again, he didn't know yet exactly why they were there, so his excitement could be short-lived. Bradley followed the markers for parking and turned into a spot, shutting off the engine and the lights.

"Wow, I haven't been to a carnival in years," Colin said, coming around to Bradley's side of the car. "How'd you know about this?"

"Heard someone on set mention it," he said, digging in his pocket for his money. They paid their admission and walked in, immediately assailed by the sounds of bells and buzzers and people laughing. He reached down and took Colin firmly by the hand. "Come on."

Colin looked surprised, but he didn't pull his hand away and followed readily enough. Until he realized that Bradley was leading him to the Ferris wheel.

"Bradley," he started, trying to pull back. Bradley maintained his grip on Colin's hand, which had gone from warm to clammy in a matter of seconds.

"You're going on it."

"I really don't want to," Colin said, digging his heels in and bringing Bradley to a halt. Bradley promptly let go and moved around behind him.

"There's nothing to be afraid of," he said gently, putting his hands on Colin's hips and pushing forward. Colin resisted, so Bradley leaned into it, pressing his chest against Colin's back. "Hundreds, thousands of people go on these every day and nothing ever happens. You have to face your fears."

"The next time I see a snake, I'm throwing it at your head," Colin warned, still struggling a bit.

Bradley took a moment to regret sharing that particular piece of information before moving on. "Come on, Cols. I'll be with you the whole time. You'll be safe, I promise."

"If we die in some horrible, fiery Ferris wheel accident, a lot of people are going to be really angry," Colin said, but he allowed Bradley to push him toward the ticket man. He moved to Colin's side, keeping an arm firmly around his waist.

"We are not going to die in a fiery Ferris wheel accident. Please tell him we're not going to die in a fiery Ferris wheel accident," Bradley said to the man selling tickets.

"We haven't had a fiery Ferris wheel accident in at least two years," the man reassured, smiling widely.

Colin blanched.

"Two please," Bradley said, glaring.

"Here you go," he said, handing Bradley the tickets. "And don't worry young man, it's perfectly safe."

"See?" Bradley said, pushing a still-reluctant Colin into the empty car in front of them. "Nothing to worry about, just like I said."

Of course, it was just Bradley's luck that the Ferris wheel got stuck when they were at the very top.

"We stopped. Why have we stopped??" Colin asked, his eyes squeezed shut. He hadn't opened them once since they sat down.

"They stop all the time," Bradley said, patting Colin on the knee reassuringly. "They're just letting people on and off."

"Right," Colin said, "letting people on and off. There's nothing wrong."

"Nope, nothing wrong." He leaned over to look down at the ground, and Colin squawked when the car tipped forward. He grabbed the safety bar with both hands, gripping it so tightly that his knuckles went white.

"Sorry, sorry," Bradley said, a bit sheepishly. He pried one of Colin's hands off the bar and held it between his, rubbing it to get the blood flowing again. Colin relaxed marginally when they started moving and then squawked even louder when they jerked to a stop again, harder than the first time. He looked at Bradley, eyes a bit wild.

"What happened? What was that? Why have we stopped again?"

"I don't know," Bradley said, leaning very slowly to the side and looking down. There were three men standing at the controls, gesturing wildly. Well, two of them were--the third was just scratching his head.

Bugger.

"Hmm," he said, sitting back in his seat.

"'Hmm??' What do you mean 'Hmm??'" Colin asked. "What did you see?"

"Well," Bradley said, "there appears to be a bit of confusion."

Colin stared at him, his cheeks pink and his eyes wide, and Bradley couldn't help but think how pretty he was, even though he was obviously about five seconds away from having some sort of episode. "Oh fuck," he finally moaned, "we're going to die in a fiery Ferris wheel accident."

"We are not going to die," Bradley said, unable to keep from laughing. "Stop being so melodramatic. It's probably just a small glitch." He smiled brightly, but Colin just glared.

"I hate you," he said. "I really, really hate you."

Bradley pouted. Colin groaned and scooted down, hiding his face against Bradley's shoulder. "Why did you make me go on the Ferris wheel? We could've been playing darts or eating spun sugar or doing something else on the ground."

"I don't know, I guess I wanted you to have something nice to think about the next time you had to be up high somewhere."

"Nice?" Colin asked, lifting his head and glaring some more. "What could possibly be nice about being stuck on a Ferris wheel?"

"The view," Bradley said, looking out over the bustle of the carnival. "The wind in your hair. Come on, just have a look." He nudged Colin, who reluctantly peeked at the view out of the corner of his eye before returning his eyes to Bradley's face.

"Happy?"

"Baby steps, I guess," he answered with a sigh. Colin actually smiled, his fingers curling around Bradley's where their hands rested in Bradley's lap. Bradley looked down--he'd almost forgotten that he was still holding Colin's hand. Emboldened, he shifted--carefully--to face Colin and leaned toward him, delighted when Colin came to meet him halfway. Just when their lips were about to meet, however, Colin pulled back and looked at him suspiciously.

"That's what it really is, isn't it? You made me come up here so I'd be distracted enough to let you snog me."

He might've been offended had Colin's eyes not been dancing merrily, his hand still holding Bradley's tightly. Bradley used his free hand to grab Colin's shirt and pull him forward, unresisting, until their lips met in an open, smiling kiss. He took a moment to enjoy the feel of Colin's mouth against his, finally, after so many weeks of subtle flirting and near-constant togetherness.

Colin moved first, nipping at Bradley's lower lip, tongue darting out to taste the corner of his mouth. Bradley moved the hand that was bunched in Colin's shirt to the back of his neck, curling around it and pulling him closer. He parted Colin's lips with his tongue, licking into the sweet, hot cavern of his mouth.

The kisses got wetter and a little dirtier, and by the time the Ferris wheel jerked forward once again, Colin was practically on Bradley's lap, hands buried in his hair. He pulled away quickly and Bradley could see by the flash of blind panic on his face that he'd forgotten where they were.

Quite flattering, actually.

"It's okay," he said, grabbing Colin's hands and holding them tight. "Maybe they've fixed the problem."

Colin sighed, dropping his head onto Bradley's shoulder again, looking out ahead of them this time. "And I was just starting to enjoy myself."

Bradley grinned. "See? Something nice to think about the next time you're stuck somewhere high, just like I said."

"Or I could just associate kissing you with being completely and utterly terrified," Colin said casually as the wheel swung them down and around once more.

"Didn't feel all that terrified to me," Bradley said, feeling quite chipper. They went around one more time before it was finally their turn to get off. Bradley stumbled out of the car, Colin close behind. The ticket man smiled down at them.

"Sorry about that, boys. Just a small glitch."

"I told you so," Bradley said triumphantly, slinging his arm over Colin's shoulders. "Now be honest--that wasn't so bad, was it?"

Colin rolled his eyes, but then he smiled.

"Nah. It was actually kind of brilliant."