Rose shifted her weight to her left foot, eyes locked on the giant in front of her. This was quite possibly the worst decision she had ever made. What was she thinking? She should just turn around right now and–
She turned around to find a tall, skinny bloke standing behind her. He was grinning down at her, shielding his eyes from the sun. He had a head full of brown hair that stuck out in every direction. She couldn't tell much about his face from the shadow that his hand casted over it, but what she could see was sharp and handsome. She thought she might be able to see freckles dusting his cheeks if she looked hard enough.
"Scared? Nope. What makes you ask that?" she questioned, lifting an eyebrow. All thoughts of abandoning the beast in front of her dissipated at his question. No way she could leave now, she had to show this bean pole just what she was made of.
"You've been shifting your weight back and forth since we both got in this line five minutes ago."
"That's just… excitement," Rose said, setting her jaw. His lips twitched, and he nodded very seriously.
"Well… If you get too excited on the roller coaster, you can hold my hand." He waved his hand at her, wiggling his long fingers.
Rose was about to scoff at him when she turned and caught sight of the monster roller coaster in the corner of her eye.
"Yeah… I might do," she said casually. He gave her what was probably the brightest grin she had ever received.
"Who are you, then?" Rose asked.
"I'm James McCrimmon! Soon to be Doctor James McCrimmon. I'm a grad student," he said, puffing out his chest.
"Really? I'm a grad student, too. Rose Tyler," she offered him her hand and he took it, giving it a firm shake.
"Nice to meet you, Rose Tyler," he said.
A line for a ride had never seemed to move as quickly as this one did. They spent their wait talking about their university (and learning that they both attended the same one) and what they were studying and their families. She didn't think she'd ever had such an easy conversation with a perfect stranger before. Soon they were pulling their safety bars down and preparing for the ride ahead of them.
They were both jiggling their legs, their eyes scanning the track. She could hear James chattering on about the history of roller coasters, but she wasn't taking much of it in. She was too busy eyeing the large hill in front of her. It would be the best and worst part, she knew. She clenched her fists.
"Rose," James said, just loudly enough for her to hear him. She looked over to see him wiggling his fingers at her. She smiled for the first time since she had stepped on the platform, taking his hand and lacing their fingers together tightly. Her grip tightened even more when the ride jolted to a start.
They crept toward the top of the first hill, Rose biting her lip the entire time. She was sure that time had slowed a little bit just to mess with her.
"You ready?" James shouted, an insane grin on his face. Rose nodded, letting out a deep breath. The muscles in her stomach tightened. Her heart clenched. As they crested the top, Rose and James both let out a loud whoop. Her grip relaxed around his hand.
The next thing she knew they were hurtling toward the ground at breakneck speed. They weaved through the twists and turns. The loops and hills seemed to grow as they approached. She could feel the adrenaline pumping through her veins.
Too soon it was all over and they were unstrapping, getting out of the ride on jelly legs.
They stood at the bottom of the ride, silent. James' already wild shock of brown hair was absolute insanity by now.
"So… Should we go check out our picture?" he asked, lifting an eyebrow. Rose grinned.
"Of course," she said, taking his hand. They walked the short distance to the booth with the photos quietly. Rose was surprised that James could be quiet, the only time she'd seen him close his mouth since they met was when she was speaking.
When they got to the booth they both started looking for their photo. James' eyes lit up when he found it.
"That's a keeper," he said with a tiny smile. Rose looked at the picture that he was pointing to. They were seated in the very first cart, eyes blazing, huge, manic grins across their faces. They were having the time of their lives. James pulled his wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans and quickly bought them each a copy. Rose decided she'd have to buy him something to eat to pay him back for the ridiculous price that he'd just paid. They slid the pictures into their bags carefully.
"You wanna go play some games?" Rose offered, sticking her hand out for him to reclaim. His fingers locked with hers like they were two pieces that had been molded for each other.
"I am pretty impressive at these things, if I do say so myself. I once beat a carnie at a ring toss, you know. Ooh and one time I beat a clown at a balloon-animal-making race," James said, bouncing on his toes.
"A balloon-animal-making race?" Rose asked skeptically. They walked toward all the games (well, Rose walked, James bounced), swinging their hands between them lightly.
"Oh yes," he said, "very competitive lot, clowns."
He said it with such sincerity that Rose almost kept from laughing. Almost.
"I'd imagine so," she said with a serious nod, squeezing his hand.
"I don't think you'll find any balloon-animal-making races here, though," she said after a moment.
"No, perhaps not. But I could try my hand at the ol' ring toss. See if I've still got it," he said with a twist of his lips. That smirk made Rose's knees a little weak. She pushed that thought as far back as it would go in her mind.
They walked what felt like a couple of miles to the games, James' talking never easing up. With some people, Rose would probably find it a little annoying, but there was something about James that made her want to hear the rise and fall of his voice all the time. He had a pleasant voice. As far as Rose could tell, everything about him was pretty pleasant. His brown eyes seemed to sparkle with life and exhilaration all the time. He had the energy of a little boy who'd had too much sugar all the time.
"Alright, Rose Tyler! Time for you to see my skills in action. I'm going to win you something off the top shelf. That giant bear, maybe," he said after he received his five rings. He eyed the bottles, lining up his first toss. He flicked his wrist, sending the ring flying through the air gracefully. It landed perfectly, catching a bottle straight away.
"Alright… I might have underestimated you. That was a little impressive," Rose teased, giving him a tongue-touched smile. His back straightened and his chest puffed out.
"Well…" he trailed off, sniffing. He lined up his next toss and sent it flying just like the first one, catching a bottle with ease.
"You don't beat a carnie in a ring toss without being at least a little impressive," he finished, smirking at her. She was pretty sure his head would explode if he got all five rings.
"Could I try one?" she asked. He looked over at her, handing her a ring without question.
"Thanks," she said. She held the ring up, looking at the bottles through the hole in the center. She was about to toss her ring when James stepped up behind her. He placed his palms on her shoulders, turning her gently. His hands then went down to her hips, hovering over them. Rose turned her head. His gaze was questioning. When she gave him a tiny nod his hands landed on her hips, shifting her stance a little.
"There you go," he breathed in her ear. He took a deep breath before stepping back. Rose cleared her throat, lining up her toss again. She sent the ring flying and caught the top of the bottle.
"I've never made one of these stupid things before," she exclaimed, spinning around. She wrapped her arms around James, pulling him in for a tight hug. He laughed, returning her hug.
"That was brilliant! It's all in the hips," he said when they parted. He wiggled his hips jokingly, earning a laugh from her. She couldn't help but notice how well he could move those hips of his.
"Do you wanna do the rest of them?" he asked, holding the two remaining rings out to her.
"No, you can do them. I'll let you win me something," she said. He nodded, lining up his shot (and shoulders and hips) once again. Rose stepped closer to him, observing his method from close-up. She brushed against his left arm lightly and heard his breath catch. He swallowed hard. Something went awry in his throw because this time the ring bounced uselessly off the side of a bottle, clattering to the ground.
"So much for the giant bear," Rose teased. He stared down at his hand, looking betrayed.
"James?" she asked hesitantly, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"I… I don't remember the last time I missed a ring," he said. He sounded incredibly confused and hurt. Rose chuckled.
"S'okay! You were bound to miss one day," she assured him. She wrapped an arm around his waist and gave him a quick squeeze.
"Just refocus and take the next one. Relax or you'll miss it, too."
James nodded. He took a deep breath and set his shoulders. He twisted his hips, presumably looking for the perfect position that he'd missed with the last shot. He threw the ring, sending it soaring. Rose bit her lip as it seemed to hang suspended in the air. It caught a bottle on the very back row, ringing the top and settling perfectly.
"You did it!" He turned to her, wrapping his arms around her waist and lifting her up. He spun her in a circle, laughing happily. When he put her back down on her feet, they heard a sigh behind them. They turned to see the man behind the booth rolling his eyes at them.
"You can get anything below the top shelf," he said, sounding unimpressed.
They contemplated all the stuffed animals in front of them. Tucked away in the corner was a little grey wolf.
"James?" Rose said, tugging on his hand. He hummed in the back of his throat.
"The little wolf," she said definitively. He nodded, asking the man to retrieve it for them. The man handed it over with another sigh.
"That bloke loves his job, yeah?" Rose said with a laugh, hugging the wolf to her chest.
"You want me to put it in your bag for you?" James asked. Rose nodded and they stopped for a second, James unzipping her backpack. She handed him the wolf over her shoulder. He placed it gently near her photograph and zipped the bag back up.
"There you are," he said. He came back to her side and took her hand.
"What do you wanna do now?"
"Honestly? I'm a bit hungry. You?" Rose asked. The scent of food had been assaulting her since she stepped foot in the park this morning.
"Starved," he said with a nod.
"You're not gonna get sick on the next ride if we eat now, are you?" she asked skeptically. The last thing she wanted was this gorgeous ball of energy puking on her on the next roller coaster. He laughed.
"No, I won't," he promised.
"I'm trusting you," she said.
"I would never betray your trust," he said quietly.
"What are you getting?" he asked, eyes on the menu board.
""M not sure… I was thinking about a corndog and some chips," she said.
"Ooh, chips do sound good," he said. He licked his lips, looking down at her and bobbing his eyebrows.
"I love chips," she admitted, giggling at his antics.
"Alright… Chips and a corndog?" he checked as he stepped up to the window. She nodded.
"Could I get two corndogs, two baskets of chips, and two Cokes please?" he asked politely. The teenager behind the window nodded. She punched in his order. When he reached for his wallet again, Rose stopped him.
"I've got this one," she said, handing the girl the money for their food.
"Alright, but this just means I have to buy you some cotton candy later," he said, shaking his head. Rose laughed.
"Fine by me."
"If they take any longer I'm afraid that I'm going to have to eat you," James said sadly.
"It's been five minutes, James," Rose laughed.
"Here you guys go," the girl behind the counter said.
"Finally," he sighed, grabbing all the food he could hold. Rose laughed again, grabbing their drinks and following him to a table. He spread out their food across the table as she sat down, setting his drink in front of him.
"On the roller coaster, I noticed that you completely relaxed after the first hill," James said casually, tucking in to his chips.
"Yeah, that's how it always is for me. I'm a ball of nerves until I get over the first hill on the first roller coaster that I ride. After that I'm good. There's just something about making it over the first one, you know?" she said. He hummed in the back of his throat.
"That makes sense," he said.
"There's a fireworks display here at the park tonight… Do you wanna go?" Rose asked after a brief moment of silence. James' face split into a large grin.
"I'd love to go," he exclaimed.
"We've got a while until it starts. Do you wanna ride some more rides? It's," Rose checked her phone, "3 o'clock right now. The show starts at seven."
"Yeah, there's a Ferris wheel here. Want to ride that?"
Rose looked skeptical.
"I dunno…" she said hesitantly.
"Oh, we don't have to if you don't want to!" he assured her.
"You sure?" she asked.
"Absolutely," he promised. She couldn't help but notice that his eyes lost a little of their sparkle for the first time since she'd met him.
"You know… I think I might like to try it out after all," she said, forcing her voice not to waiver. She was pretty afraid of Ferris wheels. Some might say deathly afraid, but she'd call them dramatic.
"Really?" he asked, practically bouncing in his seat.
"Yeah! It sounds fun," she said, trying her hardest to convince herself.
"It's my favourite ride," he admitted sheepishly.
"How come?" she asked, tilting her head.
"It was the only one I could ever convince my mum to get on when I was a little boy," he said, looking down at his empty basket of chips. Her hand came across the table to rest on his, catching his attention.
"I would love to ride the Ferris wheel with you, James," she whispered. He gave her a small, grateful smile.
"Let's get a move on, then," he said, jumping up.
"Ferris wheel won't wait forever!"
"Rose? Are you okay?" James asked as he stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. Her eyes snapped open. She hadn't even realized that she'd closed them.
"What? Yeah, 'course I am! Why wouldn't I be?" she said in what she hoped was a convincing manner.
"Well, you're looking a little green around the gills… and you've not stopped tapping your feet since we got in. Are you sure you want to ride? I could get their attention and get us off, if you want," he offered, already raising his hand to flag them down.
"No," Rose said, grabbing his arm and pulling it back down.
"Really, I don't mind," he tried again. Rose cut him off.
"We are riding this bloody deathtrap and that's that," she said stubbornly.
"Deathtrap? It's a Ferris wheel, Rose. You rode the biggest roller coaster in the park with me today and didn't have this much trouble. What's going on?" he asked, brow furrowed.
"Nothing… I dunno. I've never ridden the Ferris wheel, okay?" she said. She desperately wanted to look anywhere but his face right now. Everywhere that wasn't his face, however, seemed to either be blue sky or rocking Ferris wheel carriage.
"What, really? Never in your life?"
"No. Never in my entire life," she said. She took a deep, calming breath.
"Why not?" he asked, sounding confused.
"I dunno… I just haven't. All the rocking and swaying and being a million feet in the air…"
"We're hardly a million…" he trailed off when Rose glared at him.
"You're right," he said quickly, "it's so peaceful, though. I love it up there. It's the best at night, you know. I feel so close to the stars."
His voice morphed into a reverent whisper by the end, face alight with a different type of glow than the one she'd been seeing all day.
"You'll have to take me back up here at night, then," she whispered back.
Suddenly the Ferris wheel started moving. Rose squealed and took James' hand, scooting so close to him that she was nearly in his lap. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"It's okay," he whispered into her hair, holding her tight against him. They rode slowly around the wheel in companionable silence. James was right. This was perfectly okay, Rose thought as she rested her head on his shoulder.
The scorching sun faded seamlessly into the cold moon as they rode ride after ride. Rose preferred the roller coaster, dragging them to what James thought must have been a hundred. James liked the calmer rides, really, but he had already decided he'd follow Rose wherever she wanted to go.
"James, I think we have time for one more roller coaster before the show starts," she said excitedly. He laughed with a nod.
"Which one?" he asked, lifting his eyebrows.
"The biggest one in the park. The one we rode the first time," she said. He'd been hoping they'd return to that one. It was his favorite by far. He wasn't sure if it was because he met Rose there or because it was genuinely the most fun ride there, but he didn't much care either way.
When Rose shifted from foot to foot this time in the line, he believed that it was due to excitement instead of fear. The line moved quickly as almost everyone in the park was getting ready for the show already. Soon they were seated, pulling their safety bar down again.
Rose once again took his hand, lacing their fingers together.
"You ready?" he asked.
"'Course I am," she said.
The ride jolted and they were off toward the first big hill once again. Just like the first time, they crept toward the top, holding their breath. They released all the air from their lungs in loud yells as the raced down the hill, toward the first loop. They looped it smoothly, laughing with pure joy. They didn't stop laughing the whole ride.
"That was amazing," Rose said breathlessly. He agreed, tugging her toward the concession booths.
"Where are we going now? The show is that way," she said, pointing behind them.
"I promised you cotton candy, remember? And I can feel you shivering, we're getting hot chocolate, too," he told her. She laughed again. James couldn't remember the last time he'd heard someone laugh so much (or the last time someone had made him laugh as much as he had today).
They made it to the booth quickly, both rushing to get to the firework show on time.
"Could I get a cotton candy and a large hot chocolate?" he asked urgently. The middle age man behind the counter laughed, talking his money and quickly getting them their snacks.
"Run!" James exclaimed, taking her hand.
They ran through the mostly empty park, laughing and trying not to drop their food.
They screeched to a halt, turning to find the Ferris wheel operator calling after them.
"You two headed to the fireworks display?" he asked.
"Yeah…" they said hesitantly.
"Wanna watch it from the top if the Ferris wheel?" he offered.
"Really?" James asked, already stepping toward the man.
"You'll never get a good spot over there now," the elderly man assured them.
"View's way better from up here!"
"Rose? Is that okay?" James asked, eyes full of hope.
"Of course!" she said.
"Thank you so much, sir," Rose said to the man as she and James got into their car.
"Call me Wilf," he said kindly, making sure they were both in safely before he walked over to the lever to send them to the top.
"You were right. This is beautiful," Rose whispered, taking in all the stars she could see from the very top.
"You're still shivering… Let me warm you up," he said, taking one of her hands and rubbing it between his. She took the hot chocolate and took a long drink, warming her chest. She put the drink down and grabbed the cotton candy, offering it to him. He took a large bite, laughing at her surprised face.
"This day… was so different from what I was expecting," she said.
"Good different or bad different?" he asked hesitantly.
"Just… different," she said. That wasn't completely true. It was good different. Very good different. James smiled. He released her hands and grabbed the drink sitting between them and took a sip.
"That's still hot," he said, sounding surprised.
"Yeah, it is. It's really good, too–" she was cut off by a loud 'pop' and whistling sound.
"It's starting, James," she said, scooting closer to him. She slid her arm behind him and snuggled close, breathing in his scent.
The sky exploded in a shower of red and green sparks.
"I love fireworks," she said.
"You know, you're really warm," Rose said. It was freezing out but somehow he wasn't shivering at all. He was just putting off heat, warming her right up.
"Thank you," he laughed, pulling her impossibly closer. She looked up at him, biting her bottom lip.
"I think the show is almost over," she said as she looked in his eyes.
"I think you're right," he answered, licking his lips.
"Then we have to go home."
"We do," he whispered.
"You'll call me tomorrow?" she asked. It wasn't really a question. She had no doubt he'd call.
"Of course," he promised. She nodded.
"I know," she said. She reached up to bury her fingers in the hair that had been taunting her all day. He shifted, facing her, leaning in. Their lips were a breath away from each other.
James closed the gap, pressing his lips against hers softly, sweetly. It was probably the sweetest kiss she'd ever received.
She heard a loud explosion behind her. The finale, she was sure. She ran her tongue along his plump bottom lip, teasing it. He growled, opening his mouth to suck her lip between his teeth and nibble on it. Rose carded her fingers through his hair, tugging on it.
They sprung apart like two teenagers caught by their parents.
"Ah, Wilf… That's it, then? Show's over?" James asked, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.
"You two didn't even notice the Ferris wheel move?" Wilf asked with a laugh, unlatching their door. They blushed instead of answering, climbing out of the car.
"Thank you again, Wilf," James said, holding his hand out for a shake. Wilf took his hand and pulled him in for a hug.
"Don't mention it," he said with a warm smile.
"This your car?" James asked when they stopped.
"Yep," Rose said, popping the 'p' like she'd heard him do a thousand times today.
He leaned down, pressing a chaste kiss to her lips.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow?"
"You'd better," she said teasingly.
"I can't wait," he whispered. She thought she could see a blush tinging his ears.
"Goodbye, Rose Tyler."