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Ladder to the Stars



 
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Gray Taylor

Things have been going well. Great, even. Despite Gray's hesitations, he found himself becoming invested, something he never quite thought would happen again. He'd been convinced that he'd had and lost his person, up until a certain point. Now, though it is glaringly obvious that they had never been his, he is left feeling worse than before.

Enter, Bodhi Jones.

His polar opposite in nearly all things, this particular man has managed to slip past his hard exterior if only to chip away at it behind closed doors. They'd shared so much, yet it is hardly anything at all in the grand scheme of things. But here, in the presence of so many others, Gray had started off defensive.

Sat in the corner at a table, away from the rest, Gray isn't drinking. There is no Manhattan waiting to be sipped, but instead water. And he isn't alone. He has his near constant companion - an easy feat, when it is taken into consideration that this is a meeting of certain affiliations.

Still, he would rather be back in Wales.

"Jasper."

The name escaped him, pained and laced with a quiet fury. Just like every other night, the argument would wake him, his breath quick and senses heightened. He would never realize quite what it is about this dream that forces him to return consciousness, though he imagines it is the consistently worsening state of it.

Usually, he is alone.

Lonely tradition would have him rise from bed and go about setting his mind on work to clear his mind of all thought. This, however, is different. He is not alone, and therefore not lonely. He can feel the Bodhi beside him, a gentle weight upon the bed that seems to demand he fall in closer.

He would not open his eyes. Gray remains so very still, he is sure he might stop breathing altogether.


"No, no, no. You can't just negate the consequences we legally pay for our actions. If someone serves jail time, they are literally paying for their actions. Otherworldly forces don't get to add to the load." Despite his words, there is a slight grin upon his face that touches his eyes. Leaned forward where he sits, Gray is completely immersed in the conversation, his attention solely given to Bodhi.

"Why even have a criminal justice system, if it's universally null?"

He needs to snap out of it, and he knows it.

He breathes. Four counts in, four counts out. Over, and over. Subtly, and doing his very best to keep from waking his counterpart. He can still hear Jasper's bellowing in his head, the sh-tty words that haunt him in varying degrees of harshness far too often. He knows that it isn't working. The breathing, the desperate way he attempts to force his mind elsewhere.

A sigh sounds off beside him, so soft that it might be lost to the night if he were not so hyper aware, calling him to the here and now.

Bodhi.


Stormy hues would flicker over the face before him, and Gray would lift his glass to sip at his water before giving a rueful look and quiet chuckle. A shrug, and the glass is set down, his hands folded together as they rest upon the table in the space between them. "I may as well quit my day job."

Whether he realizes it, or not, his mind has been knocked free of the incessant arguing. The echoing ceases, and all is quiet. Peaceful.

In that moment of clarity, the thought of ten days in mind, Gray's arm would tighten around the man gently, bringing him carefully closer. Finally, cheek rested atop his head, he would find peaceful sleep.


"F-ck, Bodhi," he mutters, a laugh upon his breath.
August 26, 2019 08:12 pm

Bodhi Jones

His index finger touches lightly to the bridge of his nose before pointing conspiratorially at the man, a smirk marring his otherwise peaceful expression. "You're starting to get it," he laughs, leaning back in his seat as if to take him in all the better. "Human nature has always tried to guess the will of the Universe, or negate it themselves. You can't honestly believe we have the power to override forces of the Cosmos."

Bodhi stretches luxuriously, feeling the lack of sleep deep in his heavy limbs. Suppressing a yawn, he fails to keep his thoughts from wandering back to the dream that had crept into his restful state and pried him forcefully from its confines. And it wasn't even his own.

"Jasper."

He shakes himself, plastering a smile on his face as Gray makes his quip. "We all have useless attachments, no?" The laugh that follows sounds hollow to his own ears, and he cuts it off quickly, the noise an odd din in his head. Clearing his throat to feign its responsibility, he takes a lasting drink of the water in front of him, effectively draining it and leaving him with no other alibi to rely on.

Wonderful.

Uncomfortable in his own insecurity, he shifts, mentally pushing it off, to be dealt with when he can meditate upon the new, and admittedly troublesome, emotion. He doesn't want to concentrate on muted jealousy or creeping dread, both foreign concepts in all previous flings. For now, Bodhi is more than happy to lose himself in the moment shared between the pair of them, and no one else. For as long as he has him.

"What?" he laughs along, recentering in the present and feeling wholly better for it. "You brought it up, don't blame me if you're now questioning your career choices. Though I'd venture so far to say that your particular line of work breeds its own cosmic force. If it makes you feel better, anyway..."
August 29, 2019 03:25 pm

Gray Taylor

"Starting to get it?" Shaking his head, a glorious eye-roll would follow the words. There are far too many holes in the logic of the universe, and he would be right there to call it out. And though everything is going well, just as it always seems to, Gray is so very focused upon the blip that presented itself on the radar. Bodhi, for just a moment, had been less than genuine.

Smile unfaltering, becoming a mask of it's own, he is forced to reckon with what that may mean. Such a thing is not normal, though their decidedly short relationship has given him very little to go off of in terms of normal. No one can completely know a person in mere weeks, and Gray cannot pretend to be completely competent in all things Bodhi Jones.

"Not really," he chuckles darkly, knowing precisely what his line of work entails. He kills people for a living, ripping soul from body and presenting it to the gates of Hell. If there is any cosmic force in that, it is surely highly negative.

Honestly, he's going to Hell and he knows it.

But this is hardly the issue. The issue is that one, false laugh followed by a clearing of the throat. Gray is forced to contend with what that might just mean, and his own insecurities begin to creep up.

Is he having second thoughts about all this? Getting bored? Had he been awake? Did he talk in his sleep? Did Sarah or Claire give him some piece of personal history that made him wary or uncomfortable?

F-ck. Okay.

Cagey and private as he is, this is a difficult pill to swallow. Gray is contending with his own prideful secrecy, and this is not something he wants to lose. So, in an odd show, he shifts in his seat, feigning comfort while situating himself so that the backs of his fingers might rest against his counterpart's. It is then that he realizes he isn't even sure how Bodhi feels about these things, and it brings him to pause in his actions, becoming still and simply waiting to see the reaction... or if there will be one.

"Here's the thing.. everything we do plays a part in whatever we earn. So, if we are paying for our wrong-doings, aren't we then earning back whatever f-cking cosmic brownie points we lost? Balance in all things, and all that." A small smirk would appear, and he would bow his head just slightly in an attempt to hide it away as he jests. "Or are you, the enforcer, here to prove me wrong and make me pay? Because I'm fairly certain this isn't how it works."
August 29, 2019 05:20 pm

Bodhi Jones

Their fingers meet in an unvoiced question, and Bodhi answers the hesitancy with a slight twitch before his own come alive and entwined with Gray's. Hickory stands firm in the storm as he meets that stoic gaze with a warm smile. I'm here, the gesture says, and he knows his uncharacteristic behavior did not go unnoticed. This man is a skilled observer, and Bodhi is not fool enough to think he'd pulled one over on him.

"You will talk yourself in circles, trying to understand the will of the Universe." Speaking in level, soft tones, he watches Gray's expression carefully, his own inexperienced mask cast to the wayside. He can only hope for a glimpse behind this well-practiced pokerface. "The only thing we can ever understand is that, in this form, we will never understand. And we aren't meant to."

Squeezing the hand gently, he then begins tracing absent-minded patterns into his skin, his thumb acting as an imaginary paintbrush guided by the inspiration of deep thinking. "I'm here to experience whatever I am to experience, just as you are, just everyone in this place is." For emphasis, he nods around at the surrounding tables, all different manner of people having made their way into the bar for one thing or another. This one, to drink away the work day; this one to stave off going home to an empty house. "It's up to you whether that's a comfort, or something else entirely. But everything has a purpose in our lives..."

Gearing up, he takes a steadying breath, smiling into his eyes once more.

"...even Jasper."

The ghost of something flits across Gray's well-kept expression, and before he can jump to any damning conclusions, Bodhi presses on. "You had a dream - or a nightmare? - last night, and you mentioned a name." There's no particular inflection in his voice, nothing accusatory; what kind of man would he be, to set upon him over a dream? To set upon him over anything, really. Their histories are still unknown to each other.

He's simply offering a path, should Gray choose to open up.

"You have nothing to be ashamed of, or concerned over. I just want to know you. And... this sounded important."

All the while, his thumb continues its painting, soothing and productive in its pattern.
August 29, 2019 06:16 pm

Gray Taylor

A deep breath sounds within only his mind as their hands come together. It takes everything in him not to glance around the room, suddenly so very aware of himself, and them. Within Bodhi's grasp, Gray can feel himself become nervous, and he wills himself to raise his gaze if only to lock eyes with the man. A moment passes, internal judgments passed, and Gray gives a minute nod of some form of understanding.

They're both here.

Here.

What a hell of a word, he would think, allowing himself to relax into this absolute first. And he listens, willfully not looking around at those other patrons but instead maintaining his current focus directly on Bodhi. His fear, at this precise moment in time, is that if he were to acknowledge the room, he might very well break away. Simply put, Gray has no desire to do such a thing.

He'd been ready to rebut when a single breath catches his attention, and there is no stopping his brow as it quirks in question just before the a single name is spoken. In that moment, there are several different thoughts that populate his mind, all of which bring his blood to a near boil. Yet again, that mask is carefully put back in place, both brows raising now if only to acknowledge the one person he cannot seem to escape.

His sights drop, seemingly called to watch the invisible design being etched upon the back of his hand at work. A slight squeeze his afforded to Bodhi's hand, and Gray shakes his head gently. "Claire's brother," he mutters. Even those words are far too misleading, for he is so much more than that, and he had promised not to lie. "My.. hm."

This is important, he would tell himself. Just as much as Bodhi is giving him an opportunity, he is silently asking that it be taken. Everything is so much clearer now, he simply cannot ignore it. "It was short lived, and unhealthy." There is something in his tone that is telling, quiet as his words are. It isn't pretty, and it nags at him often.

Another shake of his head, and Gray settles an overcast sky upon his partner as he makes his most important point. "It's in the past, Bodhi. It's fine." Quick thought leads him to softly affirm them both, "I'm here. Understand?"
August 29, 2019 06:43 pm

Bodhi Jones

Bodhi lifts a solitary eyebrow at the words Claire's brother, knowing full well it could never be that simple. And then, brow furrowing, he questions why it couldn't. Again, he doesn't know the situation in the slightest, and as Claire seems to rely on Gray for what he can only assume is much more than this brother, his frustration stands to reason.

But no. It can never be that simple, and that much is evident in the low hum as Gray seemingly considers the man.

Short-lived and unhealthy.

Bodhi nods his understanding, but doesn't probe further. These sorts of topics are minefields, and one wrong move could set the whole thing to exploding before it even has the chance at being diffused. Besides, it's best for Gray to take the lead on his own story. Too often, people lose sight of that very real necessity.

"I know you're here," he offers reassuringly, leaning forward to rest his cheek into his free palm, the elbow propping his head up, "but that's here, too. It may have happened in the past, but it's still here, with you."

The name is whispered through his mind again, and just as the night before, he almost seems to jolt awake. Thankfully, the shock of restlessness is only in his head, and he manages to keep himself physically in line, grateful to save himself the embarrassment. And, as Gray's beautiful eyes bore into his own, he is forced to realize how very carefully he is trying to not look around.

Bodhi smiles, unobtrusively retracting his hand.

"If you're not ready for this, for us... Please don't rush on my account." Still, he is leaned forward, committed to this bubble of tentative privacy, even if the physical connection has broken. "As I said, I know I can be straight forward, and that can come off as pressure, but... That's the last thing I want to do. You deserve to take things at your own pace, just as I deserve to express my emotions as I see fit. I care about you, I've made that known. That doesn't equate to us being on the same page at the exact same time."

His hand still rests on the surface of the table, mere centimeters from Gray's. It remains there, as comfort, as an offering, as whatever it is meant to be taken as. But it is there, just as he is.
August 29, 2019 07:08 pm

Gray Taylor

Motherf-cking Jasper.

Gray could curse the man's name all day, for a number of reasons. Right now, in this moment, he is the reason for Bodhi to pull away. He is the reason that this conversation is even happening, and all of this is being splayed out upon the table between them. F-cking Jasper. One more reason for him to be so eerily angered by the man.

He swallows it back, maintaining their connection as he shifts if only to reclaim Bodhi's hand. Just as much as it is a silent statement, he is testing his own boundaries and desperately trying to be a better person. He'd never been good before, always shoving Jasper off in the public eye and never quite being what was needed. It comes down to a desire to not make the same mistakes twice.

With his free hand, he taps the table thrice with his fingertips. "F-ck," he mutters, before clearing his throat. "It's an argument that we had. We maintained a friendship, or some semblance of one, after the relationship was ended. It was difficult for me to let go of, given the circumstances of it's demise. Neither of us were innocent, but..."

Trailing off, Gray would force himself to glance sideways if only to come to terms with this. The here, that is. Them. It does little to calm his nerves, and he feels wholly better once he has settled on Bodhi once more.

"I would never have told you that I wanted this if I wasn't ready for it."

There is a true time of consideration taken on Gray's part as he attempts to decide just how far he wants to delve into this all. He could make some grand gesture, declare himself all in and do his very best to be his best.. but would that not become a recipe for disaster? Would he not be following the same path he had before? Too many goddamn questions.

He sighs.

"It's a little intimidating.. but, I am all in." As if to seal this chosen fate, Gray would lean in, glancing a coveted, secretive kiss to Bodhi's cheek before whispering. "Are you okay with that?"
August 29, 2019 07:57 pm
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