'You can do this,' he says encouragingly, squeezing my hand to calm my shaking.  'It's easy.'

 I nod and swallow a few times, willing myself to relax.  He looks at me, concerned, his brown eyes wide with worry.

'You don't have to go through with it, James,' he says finally, trying to smile and look like he won't mind.  I can see right through him, though.  I know him so well, this man I love.  He's been looking forward to this for months.  It would break his heart if I said "no" at the last minute – and I know he wouldn't go without me.  He'd give up doing what he loves so much to stay with me.  That's how much I mean to him.  And because the feeling's mutual, I won't ever refuse to do what he wants.

I smile at him as bravely as I can, and reach out shaky hand to tease through his hair lovingly, a gesture designed to soothe my own nerves more than his.  He's only tense with excitement and anticipation.  He's young and wild and lives for thrills.  I'm older and more conservative and am already seriously doubting my sanity in agreeing to fund this little trip, let alone come on it.  I manage to say, 'I can do this for you, love,' and a beam breaks out over his gorgeous face, and suddenly all is right in the world.  He laughs aloud, eyes dancing with joy, and reaches up to clasp my hand in his.

'See?  You're not that old if you're prepared to do this.'  And then he laughs, to show I'm not really old at all – or maybe just that the way he feels for me won't change no matter what.  I don't mind which.  They'd both mean so much to me.

People say that with nearly ten years in between us we can't really love each other.  They say he is attracted by my maturity (and, it has been said, my bank balance) while I am apparently drawn in by his youth and good-looks.  I can see why they think that.  He is a beautiful young man, and I'm approaching middle-age.  But I love him nonetheless.  And yes, his beauty and youth are part of the draw for me.  But that's only because they're him.

'James?' he interrupts my thoughts, one of his tender hands reaching up to in so simple and yet so heartfelt a gesture it nearly makes me cry.  Maybe my nerves contribute.  'Love,' he says very softly so no one else can hear,  'you know I don't care about your age.'

He can always tell what's bothering me; he reads my heart easily.  It used to make me uncomfortable.  Now it's one of the things I love about him.  I smile a little.  'Thanks, Tays.'

He grins a little before turning about to engage some stranger in small talk with all his charismatic nature on show.  Everyone feels comfortable with him.  It's part of his charm.  While he's so occupied, I turn around, leaning as far back as I can in the barely-padded seat.  I close my eyes and try to ignore the nerves chewing at my stomach, the unfamiliar suit digging into me in all the wrong places, and the thrumming of the engine.  I put the idea of what I'm about to do from my mind and instead focus on Tays.

Tays.  A good place to start, with such a unique name.  His own in every way.  As unconventional as he is.  I often wonder if his parents knew how incredible he would be when they named him.  They must have had some idea to give him such a different label from everyone else's.  "Tays" is as quick and vibrant and wild as he is. To me – though maybe I look deeper than everyone else – it's even a reminder of his particular beauty: sharp and slim and in-your-face.  Irresistible.

And this incredible youth has been mine for three years now.  When I met him first he was only twenty-one – barely a man, more than a boy.  We were at a gig or other.  Neither of us can even remember the name of the band, which I suppose is ungrateful seeing as we have everything to thank them for.  We were both drunk, both high on the atmosphere on the place – and him on speed, I know now.  I've never believed in love at first sight, but when he caught my eye, dancing a little with one of his friends, I fell head over heels.  Besotted.  I couldn't look away from him.  And when he suddenly looked back, it was the most natural thing in the world to dance together.  And then to kiss.  And then to take him home.  After a few weeks of tentative dating, we knew we'd found something so special as to be worth more than all else.  He broke the news to his friends, and I to mine, and then moved into my flat and my bed.

And since then, he's never left.

I open my eyes slightly to look over him.  His face is animated in some wild story or other – and knowing him he's probably telling the truth.  His hands move through the air in quick strokes as he talks, and all faces around us are turned to him, entranced.  He has that affect on people.

I'm almost jealous.  Jealous that he's with them, jealous they're all in this together, enjoying this.  The same old doubt creeps back – how could he ever love me?  Tays who's beautiful and young and far, far too good for a thirty-three year old man.  How long can it be until he tires of me and leaves suddenly, leaves me unable to live without him?

And as usual he calms all my fears with that effortless grace of his.  As if he's aware of my thoughts he turns around suddenly, and smiles at me in a slow, soothing way.  Completely uncaring of our audience, all strangers we've only known through the training, he lifts his fingers to his lips and kisses them gently before leaning forward and pressing his hand to my mouth fleetingly.  'Love you, James,' he whispers softly before turning and leaping back into his story.

I'm blushing, but Tays is uncaring of the few odd looks he gets.  And oddly enough, most people don't seem to care.  One woman does speak up: she smiles at me brightly, and asks towards both Tays and I: 'scared?'

Tays forgets his story instantly and replies firmly, 'James is just a little nervous.  But he'll do it, won't you?' he looks at me quickly.

Some day I'll ask him how he thinks I'd say "no" when he's looking at me like that, hopeful and sweet and incredibly in love.  I nod my head swiftly.

Tays positively beams.  It's not only from my agreement, however: the team leader is calling out for us to get ready.  Tays whoops in delight and bounds to his feet, checking straps and backpack with accustomed ease.  So do most of the rest of the group.  My own stomach is threatening to dissociate itself from my meager breakfast as I get to my feet very, very slowly.  My hands are numb.  I can't think straight.  They're opening the door.  Or is it a hatch?  I don't know.  And as I suddenly become aware of Tays pressing his lips to mine in a quick good luck kiss, I cease to care.

Tays pulls away all too quickly.  'You'll go through with it?'

I nod again.  'For you.'

He makes another excited noise, and then I realize everyone else has gone.  There's just us and the teamleader, who is shouting at us to hurry.  Tays looks back at me one more time, and smiles that love-filled smile, before turning and throwing himself out of the plane.  I watch him fall into the sky.  He has never been more beautiful.

I bite my lip.  I taste Tays.  I smile.  And then, fears overcome but not forgotten, I step out of the plane.

And then we're flying, just he and me, spiralling about each other, laughing and screaming with ecstasy and so alive it almost hurts.

And in that moment of having trusted him enough to follow him blindly I am assured, once again, that our love shall always keep us higher than we are even now as we fall through the endless sky together.