At the top of the Eiffel Tower, three men stand looking out over Paris. They are an oddly matched bunch, a tangled hotchpotch of tall and short, pale and dark, young and old, elegant and scruffy.
The first man, tall and pale, wearing dark jeans and an I Heart Paris t-shirt that sit oddly on his thin frame, looks at the other two and smiles. A keen observer might notice something devilish in that smile, but neither of the men at whom it is directed are particularly observant, and anyway, they're not looking at him.
"You know, I hear the wind up here is quite spectacular," he says idly, his voice a deep English drawl. Both men turn to look at him. "Apparently – I don't know if it's true, but apparently if you jump off, the wind comes up at such an angle that it will actually lift you up and put you back on the ledge."
"Nawh," the third man, dark-skinned and young, scoffs incredulously in his twisted American whine. "That's gotta be bullshit."
"No, it's true," the second man, short and weatherbeaten, cuts in, his Irish accent rough. "I've been up here before. I've done it." The third man shoots him a disbelieving look. "What, you want me to prove it?"
The first man begins to look worried. "Oh, no," he backs down. "I'm not sure it's safe."
But the second man, stocky and determined, is already climbing the safety-rail. "Nah. I've done this before. It's fine."
He stands with his arms outstretched at right angles from his body, tipping horizontally from the rail and falling as though unconscious. Indeed, he only falls for a moment before something seems to catch him and he rises again, up and up, until he lands on his feet on the handrail. He teeters for a moment, then jumps lightly down to join the other two. Both of them are staring at him open-mouthed.
"I don't believe you," the tall one says, but his tone is one of awe. "It's just a trick. Do it again."
The older man smiles complacently. "With pleasure." Once again he climbs onto the barrier and spreads his arms like an angel, letting himself fall forwards. Once again he doesn't get far before something picks him up and lifts him, none too gently, depositing him back on the handrail.
The youth, this time, is impressed. "Whoa," he breathes. "That's awesome. D'you think I could do that?"
The second man grins. "Of course. It's all a matter of having the right technique. How's your balance?"
Carefully, kindly, he guides the third man up onto the rail and instructs him on how to hold out his arms. "And then you relax your body, and you just… fall…"
Together, their bodies tip; at the last moment, the second man sticks out a leg and steps off the parapet, his body hanging in midair, while the third man falls and falls, and continues to fall. The first man looks up at the second, and snorts. "Bloody Americans," the second one says, the Irish growl gone. The two of them laugh until the youth, screaming, is a dangerous distance from the cobbled Parisian street below. Then the older man dives with superhuman speed to catch him before he hits the ground.
When he has placed the dark-skinned youth safely on the street, still giggling, he kicks off the ground and soars back to the top of the tower. The curly-haired man is still laughing, clutching his sides and howling with mirth.
The second man smiles softly and steps down from the rail, into his arms, while the first holds him tightly and nuzzles into his neck. "You can be delectably evil sometimes, Doctor Watson," he sniggers into the shorter man's hair.
"Gee, I wonder where I get that from, Mister Holmes," he replies, smiling fondly. They find their way blindly to each other's mouths and kiss, languid and unhurried. Years later, when they break apart, the shorter one bundles his companion into his arms and rises into the air.
"Can you go right to the top of the Empire State building?" the first man can be heard to say as they drift away. "We should go there next."