Chapter Five

Bo could not believe someone as apparently wonderful as Oscar would show any form of interest in him, but it was there, on full display at times, though in the smallest of ways.

It all started with how Oscar approached Bo outside at the beginning of their (assumed) date; the remembered fact of Bo’s dislike of shaking hands and the way that he just smiled said hello to him with an incline of a head. Then onto the introduction of Bo to Jessamine and the careful offer of a hand to help him stand after his kneeling to greet the little newcomer, and while Bo had not taken him up on his offer, the gesture was greatly appreciated.

Oscar made no move to sit next to Bo on the bench, an action that Bo greatly appreciated, though it could have been in part to the need to sit next to his daughter, no matter which, the action was appreciated. Oscar’s carefully placed words to Jessamine throughout the meal, especially after she kicked his right knee twice. He  made no attempts to scold her, but rather explained how the action was wrong. The movement itself doing so much more damage than Bo originally let on.

The psychologist in him had started to pull apart the father and daughters interactions. The way that Jessamine appeared perfectly content in existing in her own space seeming almost too familiar, Bo said nothing specific about it.

Everything about the man was kind, and Bo was nearly sure that he wanted to at least get to know him, just a little, if not more. The little girl joining them at the table was just as much a mystery as the rest of the conversation. Jessamine, with her dark brown hair and bright blue eyes a stark contrast to Oscar’s deep brown ones. It was easy to see that they were father daughter, but Bradley could tell that most of her features were that of her mothers, rather than her fathers. The intense amount of focus that she had on the drawing that she was doing was well appreciated, as the adult pair was able to have a full conversation without fear that she would feel left out.

Bradley couldn’t believe that anything like this was happening, as it seemed so much like some sort of novel or fairytale story that only happens to anyone in some fanciful and gorgeous world. Perhaps he was the Elizabeth Bennet to this Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Though to most, the setting of his life was bleak, a stark contrast to the Yorkshire countryside that Jane Austen’s books were set on.

New York City, despite all that has made it such a monument to the world, can be considered dirty or too habitual of a place to find the need to go on adventures in.

But to Bradley it was everything.

The first becomings of a boy turning into a man, the hum and drum of every person on the streets living out a life so uniquely and wonderfully theirs. The universe does not make mistakes when it comes to the lives of the little folk, and New York is the home of these little folk. Every star studded collar and bright eye presenting a unique point of view of the city, no matter the limitations pressed upon them.

New York was home, and the fact that it was now the setting of what appeared to be a romance story seemed strange, but at the same time, oddly common. As it appeared every romantic comedy had something to do with the New York skyline, if not more than that.

“I want to do this again.” Bradley’s voice spoke just as the trio finished their eating, the last morsel of food reaching Jessamine’s mouth as she remained the pleasant smiling face that she had been the entire breakfast.

Oscar seemed to find his statement unusual, though his face broke into a contradictory bright and crooked grin. “We haven’t even finished this.” The phrasing was strange, and as Bradley thought it over Oscar continued. “Come to the park with Jessamine and I?”

Bradley found himself nodding, his own internal acceptance that he wasn’t ready for this meeting, and this happening, to be over just yet prompting the movement. When the check came, it was Bradley who took it up, insisting with a bright smile that he treat the father-daughter duo.

“I get to hold Mr. Bo’s hand!” Jessamine shouted loudly, the volume prompting others in the area to look, most with faces of annoyance that soften easily at the sight of a little girl dressed all in blue holding the hand of a towering six foot individual.

Bo had to bend over slightly to hold Jessamine’s hand, the bright smile never leaving his face as he let her pull him to the front of the restaurant. Though he was careful not to lose Oscar as he went, only at the last second grabbing the man’s hand in his own and pulling him along. The action perfectly uncommon in Bradley’s life, but at this moment not uncomfortable.

The trio only came to a stop once they stepped out through the front door as Jessamine was suddenly unaware of which direction to head in. Bradley bent over, motioning his head to the right and watching as Jessamine’s face lit up.

“That way?” She asked, pointing eagerly down the street just to make sure.

Bo nodded, and once again they were off, though at a much slower speed given the city-goers and commuters in the way. Jessamine’s hand in Bo’s and Bo’s in Oscars, the perfect harmony of three weaving their way through the city as they went.

“I wish you would have let me pay.” Oscar muttered, his voice loud enough to be heard over the everyday music of the street and yet soft enough that it felt almost like a secret shared between the two. “It was me who asked you out, and I did spring someone else into the mix suddenly.”

Bo found himself smiling once again, unconsciously leaning closer to Oscar as he spoke just as softly. “Yes you did, but she’s adorable, and I’m glad you brought her along.”

“Usually her Abuela watches her on the mornings that I have a meeting or something else like this, but something came up and I ended up bringing her along.” Oscar’s hand tightened around Bradley’s, and for just a moment he seemed to remember that he was holding the man’s hand.

He didn’t pull away despite the constant pulsing thought of every piece of bacteria and negative organism now being shared between the two. Bo didn’t drop Oscar’s hand.

They came to a crosswalk, the usual New York City traffic leaving a rather large number of people waiting for the sign to change. Bo found a rather large lump in his throat as they waited, the words that he was trying to form suddenly caught in his throat; “That’s good.” His voice was muffled, his heart rate rising as he watched the cars speed by.

Jessamine made no move towards the edge of the curd and Bradley felt reassured that she knew what she was doing to the extent that she did. Though the thought did not lead to a loosening of his grip on her hand or a cautious eye on her as they waited.

“Hmm?” Oscar looked at Bradley, and if he noticed the change in mentality in the man he said nothing.

Bo took a breath, trying to remember the train of thought he was having moments before the sudden crosswalk. He cleared his throat before speaking, “That’s good that you have family so close to be able to watch her.”

An internal shrug passed over his mind, as if that phrasing was close enough to the original train of thought that he was having to pass off as a coherent and unperturbed way of thinking.

“It is.” A smile could be heard in Oscar’s voice without Bradley having to look, though he was nearly sure that he couldn’t bring himself to look past the little girl holding his hand, a constant fear that she would run into the speeding roadway without a second thought prompting a tightening of his grip on her hand.

And Oscar’s by extension. If the man noticed the change in grip, he said nothing. Instead taking to step up next to Bo, their shoulders just barely brushing against each other with the action.

Bo hummed, the line to a song filling his mind with a bouncing melody and rhythm tapping through his finger tips. His right middle finger patting a steady beat against the humming caught in his throat. The look of someone entirely interested in what he was doing fell on him, and Bo found himself looking over at Oscar. Watching as the edges of his mouth curled up into the smallest of smiles, a lovesick look in his eyes.

Sorry.” Bo found himself apologizing, though he wasn’t sure what for. The usual want to turn away being overtaken by the infinite timeline spanning in Oscar’s eyes, he was smiling at him, and just as Bo started to speak again Jessamine’s voice rang out.

“Time to cross!” She shouts, her voice echoing in the small spaces between all of the people. Bo held her hand tighter, almost feeling the need to pick up the little girl as she pulled them into the crosswalk. “Come on dad!”

Jessamine was all bright colors as she crossed the crosswalk, the few people she bumped into on her way regarding her with smiles at her child-like behavior, surprisingly kind for an early afternoon in New York.

It seemed easier to cross the street with Jessamine’s hand in his, and maybe Oscar’s had something to do with it too. Bo could find peace, though he couldn’t miss the way his right leg seems to thunk into the ground in an off-kilter way. The sound unmistakably false to the trained ear, and based off of what he knew about the father-daughter pair despite the music and the composition training, both sought the present, and focused on the next few steps, rather than the current steps that they were taking.

It was an admirable trait, and Bo had the strongest feeling that he would learn a lot on their trip to the park.

“Do you like dogs?” Jessamine’s voice was unexpected, but not unwanted, her bright eyes looking up at Bo expectantly as they continued their trek.

Bo considered it for a moment, he hadn’t thought about pets in a long time, as his current address did not allow for pets above a certain size. “I suppose I do, though I haven’t had one since I was a kid.”

Jessamine stopped abruptly in her tracks, the action nearly starting a domino train as Bradley had to stop himself just as quickly to avoid falling on top of the girl, the smaller form of Oscar bumping into his back.

“You don’t have a dog! But adults can do anything!” It was a childlike notion that Bo greatly appreciated. He started walking again, pretending to think dramatically on Jessamine’s words as he did, cautious to make his steps as natural as he quite possibly could.

“I could get a dog.” Bo nodded assuredly, as if convincing himself that he could. “But you see, Jessamine,” He used her full name, as no nickname had already been mentioned and the idea of making one up was just out of his reach, “Dogs need a lot of attention and time, and I don’t think I’d be able to give a dog all my attention.”

Bo glanced down, watching as the girl made a face that gave her the appearance of someone much wiser before shrugging. “Makes sense.” She nodded surely, before smiling brightly as she continued to speak, “We have a dog, his name is Dedos, it means fingers, because when we got him he liked to nibble on fingers.”

And to Jessamine, that was the end of the conversation and to mark it, she dropped Bo’s hand and started off in a bouncing skip. Bo watched her for just a moment, though she seemed to be fully aware at what point was too far from the adults that she was with, the need to keep an eye on her still there.

Oscar started to speak, his voice smooth and welcomed as Bradley concentrated on the words being spoken. “Sorry about her.” The apology was not needed, but Oscar continued speaking before Bo could protest. “She gets it from her mother.”

It was the second time Jessamine’s mother had been mentioned this morning, and Bo found himself all the more curious at the thought of whoever it was catching someone as wonderful and charming as Oscar. But he felt no (strong) need to pry, as the topic had already been mentioned without his asking, and something told him he would know the end of the story by the end of their extended date.

“Can I ask ‘bout your project?” Bradley’s voice was slightly distracted as he spoke, his eyes lingering on Jessamine as she narrowly avoided crashing into an unfocused pedestrian.

Oscar glanced at Bo, though the action was missed entirely by the taller man. It was a curious glance, one that conveyed genuine want and wish to share whatever secrets were just inside his mind. He formed the words without thinking them through.

“It’s a musical.” The sentence did not sound rushed, though Oscar certainly felt as such, but to see the way Bo’s face lit up at the three simple words was like a heaven sent notion of pure peace. The hand still in Oscar’s squeezing ever so slightly, the micro-movement would have gone unnoticed by most, but Oscar found comfort in it.

When Bo spoke his voice conveyed every range of excitement to it, rising slightly in pitch and tone, “Really?”

Oscar just nodded, the action subtle as he tried to piece together the best phrasing for the exacts of his musical. “It’s being completed right now, that is, off-off-Broadway-”

The term was recognizable as what most would call “still in the studio,” though Bo could tell from the specific phrasing that Oscar was trying to inform him that the show had made it to the choreography point in production, and soon it would be time for casting.

“-We, or rather, I want to start casting soon.” Oscar said it with the brightest of smiles, conforming Bradley’s thoughts about the status of the show. “It’s about Alexander Hamilton.”

Now then, if Bradley had gone to college for History, he would have known and been able to recognize the name, but Doctor Bradley Oliver Jones was not a Doctor of History, but rather a Doctor of Psychology, and the name went entirely amiss by the practiced psychologist.

Oscar seemed to recognize the face of someone who did not recognize the name, and started sharing the exacts behind who he was.

Alexander Hamilton was rather impressive; the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, right hand man to the first president of the United States, and in the end died in a duel despite the fact that he was known as a good shot. The man also appeared on the ten dollar bill, and when Bradley genuinely thought about it, he hadn’t carried around cash in a long time, so the face on the ten dollar bill was much a blank to him as the rest of the information shared.

All of the knowledge that he could quite possibly need about said Founding Father was then supplied to him for the remaining duration of the walk, not that he was complaining, just listening to Oscar’s voice brought him joy.

He could, after all, make a history lesson seem interesting.

It wasn’t until the trio had made their way into Central Park, seen Jessamine off to the playground, and taken a seat on a bench not too far away (both father and newfound more than friend keeping a close eye on her) did Oscar notice the obscene amount of information he was giving to Bo.

“Sorry for the info dump,” Oscar muttered in a genuinely apologetic tone, his voice dropping in frequency of words and overall loudness as Bo stood over him.

Bo shrugged off the apology, taking instead to admiring the man seated in front of him as he rocked back and forth on his heels, though he did not miss the glances given to him at his opposition of sitting he pretended, rather surely, that he did not see them.

Bo could feel it in his prosthetic; the way the soft sleeve felt against what was left of his leg, the beginnings of every nerve ending protesting against the simple contraption that passed as a normal leg in everyday life. He could not be sure what set off the feeling, as so much new had happened today that any number of things could have led to the sudden appearance of dissent in his missing lower leg.

It would not be an easy night, that much was obvious, and he would welcome the group therapy that he was supposed to be attending, though, the smallest part of him wanted to make excuses to them and stay with Oscar and Jessamine.

“You know, I could google you now.” Oscar’s tone of voice was entirely joking, the smallest piece of genuine laughter falling through his lips as he watched Bo’s reaction.

The other man was mostly unphased, a soft shrug of his shoulders and the smallest of smiles the only movement he made before speaking; “Or you could just ask.”

It was a statement that he hoped prompted further conversation, and based fully on the way that Oscar’s eyes seemed to light up at the phrase, he was almost sure to take him up on the offer.

“What did you study at Julliard?” It was not that Bradley thought Oscar wouldn’t remember where he went to school, but rather that he genuinely believed he wouldn’t call the school by name. “You said that you were a ‘proud graduate’ which means you must have loved it?”

Bo found himself nodding, a distant smile on his face as he thought of all of the time spent in the vast halls of the school. The feeling of being constantly surrounded by like minded music makers, every hall seeming to sing with their own sort of music.

“I studied Psychology, and Vocal Performance, and came out with a Doctorate in each.” It was said in a half shrug, as if his academics was not something of a big deal, though the look on Oscar’s face said the opposite.

“Holy fuck.” Oscar said it much too loudly before quickly slapping a hand over his mouth and looking around in an excited rush, as if trying to make sure he hadn’t been caught. Bo took that chance to look over his shoulder, noticing Jessamine swinging back and forth on the kids swing, wonderfully content just as before. “Shit, and I thought I was impressive.”

Bo shook his head, pausing in his rocking as he noticed a pair of kids around Jessamine’s age walk up to her on the swing. “It’s just doing what I love.”

“Which is the best thing to do.” Oscar finished, though his words fell on mostly deaf ears as Bo was much too concentrated on the way that Jessamine acted around other kids her age. “Why psychology?”

It was a question that had been asked many times of him, given the fact that the degree could lead to much of anything and (at the time) here he was performing in shows on Broadway. Bo’s answer came naturally, “I’ve always had trouble discerning other people’s emotions, their tone of voice and phrasing always seemed to throw me off.” He spoke softly, and to Oscar it seemed to be like he was remembering something. “Psychology gave me a window into what I couldn’t understand.”

Oscar took the answer as a poetic one, the smallest part of his heart going out to the man standing in front of him at the shared fact of his inability to understand the emotions of others. “Wow.” It was all that Oscar could think to say.

Bo shook his head, as if trying to shake away the smallest part of sadness associated with the admittance. “But anyways, what about you and Wesleyan?”

“I am, and always will be, a theatre kid.” Oscar’s laugh was a warm one, all rolling sounds and shaking shoulders, the sound contagious enough for Bradley to join in. His shoulders shaking silently as most of the concentration was on his facial expressions.

The need to ask why was forgotten, given the fact that he knew enough about theatre to not need to know why Oscar specifically loved theatre. 

Everything about it was wonderful, the lights, the sounds, the music, the way that each individual from the customers to the lead had a role oh so important. Every combination of wonderful people joining together to form a show that could only be admired.

Bo didn’t need to ask why Oscar enjoyed the theatre, because the reasons were the same for him.

“I can understand why you love it.” Bo spoke with the smallest of smiles, his thoughts overrun with memories of a time he had felt like he had forgotten.

Oscar spoke quickly, his voice reaching a crescendo that Bo had not thought possible, “You love the theatre to?”

It was in that moment that Bo realized he had not spoken of what he does, or in this case, did do, unlike Oscar who had spoken in depth about his position in life. Bo just nodded, trying to find the complicated words to describe what he was feeling, the smallest ones came easy.

“I’ve been a part of theatre since I was a kid.” It was Bo’s turn to tell a part of the story of his life, and Oscar leaned back, a light smile on his face as he listened intently. “I came here first when I was just twelve, as Gavroche in Les Miserables.”

Oscar nodded.

“Then it was Danny Zuko at fifteen, Will Parker, from Oklahoma?” It was phrased as a question, and Bo waited for a nod from Oscar before continuing, “at seventeen. I was the Baker in Into the Woods at just twenty. Then one of my favorite rolls, Jack Kelly at twenty-two in Newsies, just before their Broadway debut. And-”

“And?” Oscar interrupted, his voice displaying how startled he was by Bo’s apparent continuation. “There's more?”

Bo nodded with the smallest bit of laughter in his tone. The joking sound that he made sounding almost forced as he tried to push away the negative feeling associated with the role. “Fiyero, in Wicked. My favorite role, when I was twenty-six.”

Oscar could see the tension in Bo’s shoulders as he spoke, the sadness in his voice and the inability to continue being punctuated by misty eyes and a passing glance over his shoulder. He knew that he shouldn’t ask why, but curiosity took over, and he spoke without fully thinking it through.

“Why did you stop?” Oscar dramatically threw his hands into the air as if he wasn’t sure how else to react. “I mean, you loved it obviously!”

A strange feeling washed over Bo, and instead of replying, he turned, taking the chance to check on Jessamine. She was, once again, perfectly content in existing by herself as she slid down the swirling slide, ran around, climbed back up, and slid down again. The psychologist in him wanted to analyze it, but he held back.

“Maybe that should be for another date.” Bo said it with the slightest hint of a smile in his eyes, he shouldn’t wait to share the important fact of why, especially with someone who approached a relationship with him in a romantic light. It shouldn’t be shared later, but he felt that in saying it, he would be given the chance to think on his thoughts.

Not that he wanted to think specifically on his missing leg, as so much of his day and thoughts already focused on it. Every little piece of his life having some sort of effect on the stump; his sleep, the amount of food he’s eaten, how long he’s been on his feet. Bo could not go more than a few minutes without another thought thrown at the largest missing piece in his life.

The pattering of someone running much too fast brought Bradley’s attention back to the present, turning just in time to see Jessamine running towards them, the biggest smile on her face as she jumped onto the bench next to Oscar. She wiggled for a moment, the interruption to the conversation welcomed as it rid the air of the silence.

“Can we go get ice cream?” Jessamine said it in the sweetest tone, looking at her dad and making a face that no one could say no to.

Bradley could see Oscar struggling with a response, so he spoke up, “I have to go Jessamine, but next time we can get ice cream?”

Jessamine took a moment to consider it, hopping off the bench and approaching the man. “You pinky promise?” She held up her hand, pinky finger extended.

Bo paused for effect, tapping his chin with his hand as if he were genuinely considering whether or not to say yes. “I pinky promise.” He wrapped his pinky around hers, shaking it twice before letting go, having to hold himself back from wiping the appendage off on the side of his pant leg.

Jessamine nodded, waving goodbye excitedly before running back off to the playground, making a beeline for the swings once again. Bradley watched her go.

“She’ll hold you to that.” Oscar’s voice was much closer when he spoke, and Bradley turned to face him, noticing the lack of space between the two. The shorter man had to look up to make direct eye contact with Bo, a continuous smile on his face.

Bradley smiled softly, his eyes flicking down to Oscar’s slightly upturned lips. “Then we’ll have to get together again soon.”

Oscar spoke quickly, “Saturday?”

Bo’s response came after a moment's hesitation, his usual Saturday schedule running through his head before he spoke. “I can do Saturday, text me.” He paused, remembering that Oscar preferred to call, “Or call me.”

“I will.” There was a promise in Oscar’s tone, and without really thinking it through, Bo leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to Oscar’s cheek before stepping away.

“See you then.” Bo said it with a smile, watching as the man in front of him lit up brightly from the kiss, cheeks turning bright red as he stumbled over his words.

“Y-yeah, Saturday.”

Bo turned, walking away with a steady gait, a bright smile on his face as he tried to control his excitement. His left hand started to pat against his leg as he tried to continue his way out of the park.

His voice was just above a whisper as he spoke;

Perhaps we too shall be such roses.”

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