Chapter Nine

There are three things that Doctor Bradley Oscar Jones is sure of.

The first is the inumberability of the stars, and that try as he might he will never be able to name every single one of them. As poetic as that sounded, it was something that he constantly struggled with, his mind telling him he must be more than the balls of gas that formed the stars millions of miles away from him but the concept was beyond him. The plaque of a named star sits on the wall in his apartment by the porch that he rarely ever sits on, a gift from Lydia that was given after he walked for the first time, eight months after his accident. A red dwarf star that is meant to be a reminder to him of his own strength.

But every time he sees it, Bo is reminded of his own shrinking existence in the universe.

A bleak, but true out look to have. His frustration with his own existence is not directed towards Lydia in any way, despite it being her gift that cemented this feeling. She is almost entirely unaware of the effect that the gift has, and Bo would never voice such to her.

It remains and catches his eye only every now and then, no matter his attempts to not, his subconscious can always find it on the nights where his mind isn’t fully there. When he wishes for nothing more than to disappear into the much too soft couch in his living room and cease existing, even if for just a short time.

The second point that is to be made is that no matter how many dreams of a full and complete lower limb that Bo has, the chances of it actually happening are less then slim. Though in the strangest way his mind never tries to complete it on the nights where he dreams.

Bo had grown rather accustomed to the way that his life was now, as well as what he could be. So much of everything was centered around whether or not he could take part in certain activities, most of which just took time before he could. Though it appeared the potential of practicing was much to far off.

While more than anything he wishes that all of this hadn’t happened the way it has, as it appeared he had so quickly fallen from the grace of Broadway and was now sitting below it all looking up at the world with no sure way to live.

There are parts of him that smile at the thought of what he has achieved since the loss of his lower limb.

The chances of both Bo and Oscar meeting was much slimmer previously. Without their collision on the street, they would not have met as quickly. If both had been living their own wonderful lives in their own circles they would have, almost assuredly, missed each other completely. Bo was performing every night, and despite the sure fact that Oscar was a big fan of seeing shows, he had Jessamine, and had confided in Bo that he did not see as many shows as he would like.

Bo would have just continued on, just as Oscar would continue on, and it was nearly guaranteed that they would not have met in a way that could lead to where they currently were.

Which would have meant that Bradley would have missed out on Jessamine, and the comfort that he feels in the father-daughter pair’s household. They were kind to him, and welcomed him with open arms that he gladly fell into.

And at the end of his train of thought, the simplest fact (yet at the same time, the hardest for the Doctor to wrap his mind around) is his wishes for the future of his life.

Bradley often claims, to those who ask (Lydia mostly), that they are just wishes, things he hopes will happen, and nothing more, but rather in this case, they are things that he is almost sure will happen. It is truly just a matter of when and how.

Bo is also sure that he will end up back on stage, it just fell to whether or not he was ready to step back out there and whether or not someone would cast a man missing a leg in a role that almost assuredly involved dance. Bo was sure he could do it, confident even, he had been practicing to some extent, though only during mid-day when he was sure his downstairs neighbors wouldn’t be there to listen (and complain).

Tap was to be avoided, though he was never particularly good at it previously, and lyrical things were surely much easier then they had been. He could still dance, and though it took him a minute longer to grasp it and to figure out how to move his leg to keep himself at a comfortable, yet still elegant, follow through.

And as Bradley sits at the piano at Oscar-Michael Torres’ apartment for the fourth time in one week, he wishes more than life that he was just as confident as he appeared. In his eyes, Oscar was always the one to make advances, and while Bo did not complain about any of the advances (in most situations, he wished for them), he also wished that he could make such advances in such success without prompting.

More than anything, Bradley wanted to kiss Oscar, softly, and brush his fingers softly through the hair that sat unbothered on the man’s shoulders. It was difficult for Bo to think past the man’s hair, which often got caught in the man’s collar or had to be tied up out of the way when he was trying to concentrate. It was a rather distracting thought, as Bo’s hair rarely grew past the couple of inches that sat on top of his head, and never grew long enough to brush the bottom of his ears. The idea of the overstimulating hair was not one that he could wrap his mind around, even attempting to grow it out would not work to his benefit.

But kissing, yes, Bo always wanted to kiss the man. Oscar was rather fantastic at it and, and though he found himself overthinking it almost immediately and often put his own wants in favor of waiting for Oscar to kiss him when it was convenient for the smaller man.

“She’s never tired whenever you’re over.” Oscar’s voice was soft as to not startle the man presently sitting with his hands situated on the piano. They moved sporadically, hitting notes that formed a melody but set dissonantly on a scale. “When you’re not, she can barely stay up for a movie, but you come over, and all she wants is to stay up and pitch fights when told to go to bed.”

Bo smiled as Oscar voiced this, he found the idea of Jessamine protesting bedtime because of his presence rather touching. He turned around, looking up at Oscar’s face with bright eyes. He leaned forward, pressing his face into Oscar’s torso, breathing in the smell that he had grown to love so quickly. Oscar’s hands brushed through the taller man’s hair, and Bo smiled into the man’s stomach, finding comfort in the repetitive action.

Oscar began to hum, his voice light and soft, humming lyrics to a song that hadn’t fully been ready to be sung until now, fingertips brushing across the tops of Bo’s ears. The vibrations that passed through Oscar and into Bo from their current position made Bradley very happy.

Without a warning, Bo looped his hands around the back of Oscar’s hips and pulled him closer. The smaller man yelped, his hands falling from Bo’s hair to his shoulders in an effort to make sure he stayed standing. His hands were heaving on Bradley’s shoulders, but the taller man did not mind it, rather Bo smiled into the man’s stomach, pressing a kiss with confidence he did not believe he possessed.

“Sing to me.” Oscar spoke it softly, as if it were a request that would in no way, shape, or form be considered. Bo looked up at him, not expecting Oscar to have spoken. The words were so soft that for just a moment Bo wondered if he had even spoken at all, the only hint that words had been spoken was the subtle vibration that the seated man felt through the contact of his face in Oscar’s stomach. “I haven’t heard you sing before.”

It was a clarifying statement that Bo was almost sure wasn’t true, but he smiled and leaned back. His hands drifted from behind Oscar’s back to around his front, briefly resting on his hips before coming to sit on the man’s forearm, whose hands still sat on the seated man’s shoulders. It was an action that meant that Bo wasn’t sure what to do in this particular situation.

Bo wanted to stand and kiss Oscar.

His leg was doing so much better than the first time that he had been over all those weeks ago, when the kissing was mutually beneficial but almost certainly initiated by one side of the party. Bo felt the need to prove it, almost. There was a certain amount of anxiety in Bo’s mind as he used Oscar’s arms as leverage to pull himself to his feet.

Bo felt as though he towered over Oscar, the top of the smaller man’s head just barely reached his collar bone. While Bo was rather used to being the taller person in the relationship, as his previous partner was just barely at the six foot mark. Oscar was the first person to be so much shorter than Bo, and he couldn’t say that he didn’t like it.

It very easily made Oscar the perfect height for kissing.

Bo leaned down, wanting to kiss the man’s lips but bypassing them to instead kiss the smaller man’s cheek. He tried to think of something to say.

“Okay.” His voice was ever so soft, he ran his fingers through Oscar’s hair, “But you’ve got to play for me.”

It was an ask that Bo hoped Oscar would always say yes to, as the man was very skilled at playing the piano and it took just a moment for Oscar to formulate his reply.

“Deal.”

It took Bo much longer than he would care to admit to understand the meaning behind the word. Oscar meant it in the sense that they were making a trade; Bo would sing if Oscar played the piano, and at first Bo misunderstood this fact. There was a very specific feeling associated with seeing Oscar sit down at the piano, his hands poised over the keys as he looked up at the taller man.

Bo took a few deep breaths, pausing slightly as Oscar asked; “What should I play?” His eyes bright with something that Bo couldn’t place. He considered the question for just a moment.

“Anything.”

When Oscar’s hands began to move, a peaceful feeling washed over Bo, the apartment was filled with a music that was so specifically familiar, Bo felt himself begin to sway, his body finding the rhythm hidden in the notes.

Bo was starting to get excited, his body reacting without his consent, his hand began to flap by his side to the tempo of the piece. The stim sat in the middle space between Bo and Oscar, a peaceful interaction that did not sway either party. The song was one he had not sung in such a long time, his mind supplied the notes without him having to think much about it.

Maybe I’m brainless, maybe I’m wise.” Bradley’s voice was soft, cautious to stay just loud enough to do himself justice, but not too loud as to overwhelm the small apartment that the pair sat in. “But you’ve got me seeing, through different eyes.”

The glissando was missed, but neither Bo nor Oscar cared.

Oscar had faltered ever so slightly when his boyfriend began to sing, the power behind each of his notes was something he had almost not expected. ‘Almost’ being the important word, Oscar wasn’t sure of anything to expect from the taller man. Everything that he had assumed was quickly thrown out the window, instead taking to learn every piece of information he could about the man in the time that he took to release it.

His boyfriend continued to sing, putting a sort of passion into the words that made Oscar smile brightly.

And somehow I’m feeling, it’s up that I fell.” The riff was not expected, as Bo had originally missed the glissando as well as it had been almost two years (that Oscar was aware of) since Bo had sung this song. And in an impressive way, here he was, performing it like it was second nature for him.

Every moment.” Oscar wasn’t sure when he had decided to take part in the duet, but when he did he made sure that his hands did not falter as to accidentally mess up the performer. “As long as you’re mine, I’ll wake up my body and make up for lost time.”

When Bo took the next line by himself, he leaned against the piano bench, his hand automatically going up to rest by his right ear and wave side by side. His left leg made a distinctive click through his pant leg as it hit the bench. Oscar could feel him swaying, the internal metronome in him keeping everything in time.

So when Oscar faltered, Bo continued alone automatically.

And when Oscar dropped out, out of fear that his mistakes would mess up the man, Bo finished the song entirely and perfectly alone. His voice carving through the notes with tonal accuracy that would make any performer jealous, Oscar couldn’t help but fall in love just a bit more as he listened. Internally he wished nothing more than to sing along, externally his eyes were bright and a smile was on his face that was only meant for the man in front of him.

The room was silent for just a second after Bo finished, his face slightly flushed as he thought through the rest of the song, applause erupted from the smaller man that made Bo smile.

With the afterthoughts of what happens next in the show echoing in both of their minds, Oscar stood careful to not jostle the bench too much, as the taller man was still relying on it.

“That was amazing Bowie.”

The blush on Bradley’s cheeks darkened, and the taller man seemed to avoid looking directly at Oscar. The pianist lifted his hand, pressing it to Bradley’s cheek delicately, bringing the man's attention back to Oscar’s face.

Oscar lifts himself to his toes, every so carefully wrapping his arms around the taller man’s neck and closing the distance between the pairs lips. He held back slightly, waiting for Bo to say that he was okay with this.

The permission to kiss came in the form of Bradley’s arms wrapping around the smaller man's waist and pulling him close. Bo tilted his head down ever so slightly for their lips to make contact. Oscar found himself melting into the kiss, his head falling back as the pair interacted in a soft way.

Bo felt a confidence within himself that he fully hadn’t expected and, for the first time, he found himself taking a step closer to the smaller man, taking the initiative. The bench that he had been leaning against made an awful screech as it scrapped along the ground, and under circumstances beyond their current predicament, Bo would have shied away from the noise.

Bradley pushed Oscar backwards, the smaller man’s hips hit the edge of the piano in a movement that was nearly awkward. Oscar yelped in surprise, his hands dropping from around Bo’s shoulders as their lips met in a way that was surprisingly delicate.

Bradley let his hands wander, feeling as though he was touch starved and the only way to fulfill this need would be to touch every part of Oscar without care for how long it would take. It was very likely that he was touch starved, so much of him relied on physical contact with others, and it was only now that he had someone to comfort him. His hands pushed at the smaller man’s waist, his fingers pulling the tucked shirt out of his pants and his palms pressed onto his warm to the touch stomach.

It was Oscar who pulled away briefly, his cheeks flushed and eyes bright, a hiss on his lips at the feeling of Bo’s perpetually cold hands running along his bare hips and stomach. Bo found himself falling in love in the rumpled look of Oscar’s hair mussed up, lips puffy, cheeks bright red, a shiver still passing over his body from the cold of his hands on the warm of his stomach.

“God.” Oscar’s eyes looked over every inch of Bo’s face, as if trying to memorize his look. He pulled the taller man back to him, his lips forgoing Bo’s lips to move instead along the taller man’s jaw line, pressing small kisses along it in quick succession.

The feeling that the taller man felt coming over him at the smaller man’s lips pressed on his jaw was one that he did not like, and without really considering what he was doing, Bradley pulled away, dropping the hands that were under Oscar’s shirt and almost immediately forgetting about the bench that was now behind him.

In any other circumstance, the image of a flushed Doctor Jones going over a piano bench backwards would have been a funny one, but the panic in his eyes even before his false leg hit the bench alerted Oscar to the fact that something was wrong.

Forgoing his own flushed face and the feeling of blood rushing to certain places, Oscar hurried to Bradley.

The taller man looked panicked before his back hit the ground, his hands reacted without him telling them to, covering the back of his head to avoid the pain of it smacking uncontrolled into the ground. Oscar held back from touching Bradley, though he let his hands hover over him.

“God, I’m so sor-'' Oscar's apology was interrupted by a smile from Bradley that could have easily been seen as forced.

“Don’t.” His voice was firm, but not angry. His hands moved from protecting the back of his head to covering his eyes, as if he were embarrassed, but it was so much more than embarrassment.

Bo wished he could disappear from the here and now. That he could fade into the floorboards and fall into the room below this. Despite the embarrassment that would come from falling into an unknown’s apartment would be a much better experience then what had just happened.

When he pulled his hands away, Oscar was more concerned than amused. Bradley noticed the hovering hands almost immediately, he grabbed the one nearest to him and pulled it to rest on his stomach. The warmth was welcomed, and it took a moment for Bo to speak.

“That was me, I wasn’t expecting it, and I didn’t-” Bo trailed off, entirely not sure if he wanted to be vocal about the fact that he disliked something that the smaller man did.

Oscar just sighed. “You didn’t like it.” It wasn’t phrased in a disappointed way, but rather in a factual one. Oscar could recognize the fact that the taller man disliked the kiss as he had almost immediately pulled away from what should have been seen as something pleasant. “It’s okay, I should have made sure you were okay before-”

The smaller man trailed off, his voice cutting off suddenly as he smiled down at the man laying on the floor in front of him.

Bo felt rather obligated to speak to him, to explain the situation and say that it had nothing to do with Oscar but rather a disconnect in his brain that told him that the texture was not a welcomed one.

“It wasn’t you.” Bo sighed loudly, reaching with hands that sought warmth in the form of Oscar’s entire being. He pulled himself into a seated position, noticing almost immediately that his left leg was twisted in a way that would not normally be physically possible. “Textures are a big thing.”

Oscar hummed as a response, retracting his hands as Bo reached down to his false ankle and twisting it in a rather aggressive movement. The ankle cracked twice before lining up with his knee. The smaller man helped him up without a second thought, though he pulled his hands back once again as if unsure whether or not the taller man would be alright with physical contact after what had just happened.

Bo seemed to reboot for a moment.

His hands opened and closed by his sides, and he could feel the smaller man beside him looking at him, but all he could focus on was making sure that his own mind was still processing what was going on. He gave himself that moment, before he reached with delicate hands towards Oscar, who let the tall man pull him to his chest without complaint.

In much the way that Bradley had found a home in Oscar, the smaller man had found comfort in the arms of Bradley Jones. Oscar had not dated anyone in a long time, longer than he would care to admit, but if someone were to take a look at Jessamine and the lack of wedding ring on his finger, they could gather that it had been at least four years.

Jessamine’s mother had been his best friend, and when she had passed, Oscar focused all of his attention into raising Jessamine, and now there was someone in his life who wanted to give him attention. Who wanted to kiss and hold him, and Oscar never wanted to stop.

The smaller man rested his head on Oscar’s chest, pressing a kiss to the space there. “Can I kiss you again?” Oscar’s voice was slightly muffled when he asked, and after a moment he pulled his head back, looking at Bo with a curious glance.

Bo smiled, nodding his head and leaning down slightly to look at Oscar. The smaller man reached up, wrapping his arms around Bo’s neck and pulling him down by his neck. Their lips met softly once again, and Bo’s hands wrapped around Oscar’s waist, nearly in the same way as before, fingertips splaying across the smaller man’s stomach as his other wrapped around his back.

“Back up.” Oscar mumbled against his lips. Bo glanced over his shoulder reminded him of the couch that sat against the wall.

Bradley did not protest the movement, a smile on his lips as he continued to kiss the smaller man as they moved. He kept his footsteps light, though his false heel clunked ever so slightly as it tried to move in the correct angle. His knee bumped the couch before he was ready for it to, he nearly fell, and only for Oscar’s hands did he not.

Oscar gave him the chance to sit, and Bo took his time, adjusting his false leg and smiling up at the man. It was a strange angle on the man, from his seated angle Bo could see Oscar’s full lips, the way that freckles decorated under his chin and dotted up to his ears. The ends of his mussed up shirt came up just high enough for Bo to make out the beginnings of a tattoo on his stomach.

In that moment, Bo decided he wanted to learn every inch of Oscar’s skin. To decorate the tattoos with kisses that would brush and remind him of his existence for the rest of his life. The curiosity of what the tattoo looked like, what it meant to the man was something that sat deep within his mind.

His own tattoos were much his own, flowers and thorns, words and symbols. Each with their own understanding, and some without any form of meaning. He smiled as he looked up at Oscar, cheeks tinging red in a way that meant he was almost surely embarrassed Oscar looked unphased.

Oscar stood for a moment, his eyes brave as he looked down at Bo. He hesitated for a movie, snatching up the remote that sat on the table and turning on the TV, the movie they had started with Jessamine continued to play as he sat on the couch beside Bo.

He wrapped a hand around Bo’s, pulling ever so slightly with no protest from the taller man. His head landing on Oscar’s lap. Their joined hands sat on Bo’s shoulder, Oscar’s left hand delved into Bo’s hair, pulling just enough for it to send shivers down Bo’s body.

“Is this okay?” Oscar was considerate enough to ask and Bo’s response came in the form of his lips pressing to the back of Oscar’s hand.

The pair fell asleep like that, joined in a way that meant comfort to each side of the couple, complete trust shared

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