Harry still couldn't believe that Bob was corporeal. His hockey stick had been a long shot…but it had worked. It had really worked. Just like Winifred's arrow. Now, Bob was enjoying being real and, for some reason that was still unknown to Harry, he was currently down at the local theater putting on a rehearsal for a musical.
Apparently, the man had found a deep fascination for the arts while being a ghost and was now seizing his chance to be a part of it.
Today, Harry had decided to so something that was particularly adventurous and out of his comfort zone…he was going down to the theater and watching one of the rehearsals.
Quietly, he snuck into the back of the theater and sat in one of the darkened back rows and watched as Bob worked with the cast, which was a total of two this afternoon. Harry guessed that it was most likely two of the main characters that they were portraying.
He smiled to himself as he heard Bob say,
"Oh, for the love of… Daniel! Support when you hold that note, please! Otherwise, you just sound like a deflated balloon…"
Now that was the Bob he knew; snarky whether he was corporeal or not. Some things never changed.
Harry watched in amusement as the young man named Daniel looked much like a deflated balloon at Bob's remark, and then straightened his back and squared his shoulders resolutely. Luckily, this young man didn't seem to be one to be cowed easily. Good. That was the only way to deal with Bob.
Bob now turned to the young lady on the stage who had long brown hair and bright hazel eyes.
"Karen, if you could continue from the previous bar, we'll take it from there."
She nodded, and as she flipped her hair over her shoulder she quickly turned back a few pages in the script in her hand, and then gave her director a winning smile and said,
"Ready to start."
Bob nodded. "Good."
He then motioned to the man who was situated behind the piano and they started the scene over.
Harry was impressed as he listened to the young woman named Karen. She had an excellent voice and sounded amazing. Daniel, on the other hand, seemed to be missing something. He wasn't bad; on the contrary, he was quite good, but it sounded as though something was missing.
Bob cut them off again with a sharp movement of his hand cutting through the air.
"Daniel," he started, and Harry immediately recognized that tone. "What did I just tell you? Support, please remember to support. Without it, you take away from the full meaning of the words that you're singing."
At Bob's chastening look, Daniel's eyes dropped to the stage, and Harry briefly felt sorry for the guy. He'd been on the receiving end of that disappointed look; it was the one that made Harry feel no taller than his ankles.
"Sorry, sir," Daniel said, and Bob gave the younger man a slight nod, a mere tilt of his head than anything else.
"It's alright…just practice. Remember," he reminded him, motioning with his hand to demonstrate. "Sing from the diaphragm, not the chest. You'll get the support, as well as the sound and volume. It will make all the difference."
He then turned back to Karen, keeping the same even yet chastening tone in his voice.
"And Karen…enunciate a bit more. You sound wonderful, but I'd like to be able to understand your words, as well."
She nodded and then cast her eyes over the theater…and then Harry saw her eyes land on him. No, she couldn't see him. Could she?
"Uh, Mr. Bainbridge, someone's in the back."
Yeah, she could see him.
"Do you know him?" she added inquisitively, looking at Harry with a curious gaze.
Without glancing back, Bob gave his two cast members an uncharacteristic smile. Karen and Daniel exchanged a glance, but it seemed neither one of them had an answer for the other for their director's look. Bob then nodded, his gaze even more enigmatic than what they were used to.
"You can come to the front, Harry," he said, not even turning around, and Harry chuckled to himself.
Of course Bob knew he was there; it seemed to be impossible to surprise the man.
Letting the smile cross his lips, he stood and sauntered his way to the front row, glancing over at Bob's long and elegant profile.
No longer bound to a limited wardrobe, he wore modern clothes, but with much better taste than Harry did…and with more class. Right now he wore black dress pants that clung to the firm lines of his hips and upper thighs. His shirt was a simple black Oxford that was open at the collar and exposed a gorgeous, pale column of throat, and part of his chest; a sight that had been denied to Harry for years and had eluded him with delectable promise, but was now on display for all to see.
He briefly felt territorial, and wanted to snarl at anyone else who saw it…
…But then Bob gave him that smile, the one that he only gave him; it was the one that started as a smirk in the corner of his mouth, but then turned into a look of fondness in the center of his lips, his eyes bright. He stood at the front, one arm out in front of him, propped on a low folding table, and his other arm was bent, his hand in a loose fist propped on his hip.
Harry gave him his own grin, the one that stretched from ear to ear.
"Hey, Bob…thought I'd see what you were up to today. You don't mind, do you?"
Bob let out a low, warm chuckle.
"Not at all, Harry. Not at all."
Unnoticed by both of them was the look that Karen gave the two of them. She had suspected, but she hadn't had any proof…now she did. Yep. Looked like Mr. Bainbridge was taken. Too bad, she thought to herself. However, looking at the man that he'd called Harry, she inwardly smiled. She had to admit it; he had great taste.
Not noticing her look, Harry sat down in a seat near Bob, crossing his arms across his chest and gave Bob a look.
"Please…continue," he said, motioning towards the stage.
Bob gave him his chastening look, but Harry continued to simply smile back at him, knowing how much it annoyed the man, and after a long moment, Bob rolled his eyes and turned back to Karen and Daniel.
"Let's go ahead and skip to your first solo, Daniel, and see if we can't get that voice to be as great as it's been in previous practice, hmm?"
He raised an eyebrow in Daniel's direction and the man reddened slightly, but straightened his spine once more and gave his director a strong look in the eye and a firm nod.
Harry appraised the young man for a moment, and couldn't help but notice that he was fairly attractive. Black hair, green eyes, pale skin. He had a wiry build, but it suited his six foot height quite nicely, and his snug jeans and gray t-shirt left little to the imagination.
He then watched as Karen walked to the edge of the stage and sat down while Bob, Daniel, and the pianist turned the pages of their scripts, and then Bob motioned to the pianist.
"Give us a five measure lead in, please, Terry."
Terry nodded, and then began to play and Harry couldn't help but be impressed as he watched the man's fingers fly over the keys and listened to the sound that came out.
Bob was conducting and then motioned to Daniel and the young man began to sing. Harry watched as Bob conducted the both of them, using his left hand to motion to Terry and his right hand to motion to Daniel. His hands moved fluidly, effortlessly, and Harry could see a beauty to the man that he hadn't seen before.
However, Bob suddenly stopped, cutting off both singer and pianist.
Harry couldn't see Bob's face, but he knew that the man was glowering.
In clear, crisp tones that were absolutely frigid, he said,
There was a long pause…and then he said, in a much softer tone, "Supporting these notes are essential for this song, especially for the octave jumps in this piece."
He paused for a second time, closing his eyes, and then he motioned to Terry.
"Let me show you," he said softly, but the words, though quiet, startled Harry out of his comfortable complacent position in his chair. Was Bob going to sing? Could the man actually sing? And if he could, then why hadn't Harry known about it?
"Same as before, Terry; five measure lead in."
Terry nodded and began to play. And then Bob began to sing…
"Hunt for this man…comb the city, every street, every grate. You put a guard at every gate, drag him out! Shout the moment that you find him…DAMN!"
At the power of that one word, Harry nearly bolted out of his chair, but he was glued to it at the same time. He listened as Bob continued, barely believing what he was hearing, trying to reconcile it with the man that he'd known for his whole life.
"Knock in the doors, lock up the city, track him down through this town! And be quick about it now…how the devil can I ever prevail when I'm only a man? I can never be duped by that scurrilous phantom again…"
The tone shifted.
"I wasn't born to walk on water…I wasn't born to sack and slaughter, but on my soul I wasn't born to stoop, to scorn, and knuckle under! A man can learn to steal some thunder, a man can learn to work some wonder…but when the gauntlet's down it's time to rise and climb the sky…and soon the moon will smolder and the winds will drive! Yes, a man grows older but his soul remains alive, while those tremulous stars still glitter, I will survive! Let my heart grow colder and as bitter as a falcon in the dive…"
Harry had no breath left in his body as all of it had left his lungs the instant that he'd hit the words "a man grows older, but his soul remains alive…" Was Bob even aware of what he was singing? It was like the song was meant for him.
And, by the way, the man couldn't just sing…he could sing.
His voice was powerful and Harry felt as though he were pleasantly drowning beneath the seductive tones of Bob's singing. The man was truly, amazingly, gifted…and had somehow hidden his talent from Harry for all these years. Suddenly, hearing 16th century show tunes wasn't sounding so awful.
He let himself sink deeper into his seat and listened to the words that Bob was singing.
"There was a dream, a dying ember, there was a dream I don't remember, but I will resurrect that dream, the river's stream and hills grow steeper! For here in hell where life gets cheaper, oh, here in hell the blood runs deeper, and when the final duel is near, I'll lift my spear and fly, piercing into the sky and higher, and the strong will thrive! Yes, the weak will cower, while the fittest will survive! If we wait for the darkest hour, till we spring alive! Then with claws of fire, we devour like a falcon in the dive…"
The key and the words then turned bitter, but Harry was captured, hanging onto every word and note, unable to stop staring at Bob as he performed.
The man wasn't just singing, he was performing.
It was something that he'd only seen hinted at from time to time whenever he made Bob upset enough with him to actually get mad. It was this slow burning rage that had, to Harry at least, always seemed tightly controlled, and now he could see the true uncontrolled passion that lay beneath it as he sang.
He listened even more closely and found himself tensing in an odd way as he heard him sing,
"…and no never kneel. Never bend! Rend into bits, Fight! Oh, the beauty of the fight…I'm not a man to hunger for blood, but the spirit can cry to be younger and fiercer and fly, piercing into the sky and higher…" and he continued to sing.
But when Harry had heard him yell "Never bend!" and "Fight!", all he could think of was how it applied to Bob so easily.
He had never been one to walk away or bow down to pressure. He was a fighter, even when he'd been a mere spirit, and now it was made into flesh and his fierce passion seemed to make him practically glow as he finished the song.
"Then with claws of fire, we devour like a falcon…in…the dive!"
He held the last note for an impossibly long time, while Harry, Karen, and Daniel all looked on in shock.
Bob's face was flushed and a light sheen of sweat now covered his face and down his neck, under the collar of his shirt.
Daniel, thoroughly impressed by the performance of his director, began to clap vigorously, and both Karen and Bob joined him, and soon after, so did the pianist, Terry. Karen even added a whistle and Harry grinned when he saw Bob redden slightly at the attention.
Geez, what did the man expect after a show-stopping performance like that? Silence?
Terry, surprisingly enough, was the first to say something.
"Best Chauvelin that I've ever heard," he said, giving Bob a broad smile. "And I've heard the Original Broadway 1987 Cast, mind you."
At hearing this, Bob ducked his head and placed his hand back on the table, returning to the pose that he'd greeted Harry in. Daniel chimed in, however, and Harry watched in further amusement as Bob turned red once more at his lead's words.
"Sir, that was amazing…I don't think I'm quite that good, but I'll do my best."
Bob then smiled and gave the young man a nod.
"Good, Daniel…that's all I ask."
He then turned to Terry and motioned for him to flip back to the beginning, which took the other man a moment, and then he motioned to Daniel to do the same. They were starting again, and this time it was going to be Daniel's turn.
Terry lead them in and then Daniel began to sing…and Harry grinned to himself as he saw a faint smile appear at the corner of Bob's mouth.
Yes, Daniel sounded significantly better, and it was obvious that Bob had known that the young man had it in him.
They finished the song, and Daniel looked at his director, an expectant look in his green eyes, and Bob nodded.
"Much better. Of course, in my opinion, there's always room for everyone to improve, so don't slack off, and keep practicing, hmm?" he said pointedly, lifting his hand from his waist and gesturing towards him.
With that, he turned to Karen and said, "We'll go over your duet with Daniel tomorrow, so, just keep reviewing over what we've done so far and please remember to look at your lines, as well as your music. This is a musical, not an opera," he finished, addressing both of them, arching an eyebrow.
Both of them chuckled at that and stepped down off the stage, putting their scripts and music into their bags and then waved to him as they left.
Bob then faced Harry.
"Sorry, but I'm going to be a bit longer. I need to go over some music with Terry. Do you mind waiting? We can stop by the café on the way home," he suggested, a regretful look in his eyes, but it turned to a sweet smile when Harry said, "Hey, don't worry. I've already got lunch ready for us back home, waiting in the fridge."
Bob nodded and leaned over and pressed a thankful hand on Harry's shoulder, and then walked over to the piano, leaning against it and talking in low tones with Terry.
Harry observed the two of them, slightly fascinated as he watched Bob's eyes light up as Terry's fingers jumped across the keyboard.
He looked closer at the man called Terry and smiled at what he saw. Strong jaw, warm skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes were in a stark contrast to Bob, who stood next to him. Terry wore dark gray jeans and a dark gray button-up shirt, making his eyes seem more blue than they were.
Harry chuckled under his breath as he realized Bob was in all black and Terry was in all gray. Matched monochrome.
They were very opposite, but they were similar in their movements, and soon Harry found it hard to pull his eyes away from Terry's hands as he played.
He was playing a piece that was soft and quiet, and every now and again, Harry was catching something from Bob.
"Okay, here on the words… 'drunk on dreams', slow it down a bit, and then pick it back up at 'who hungered for the glory' and then take it back down again over here," Bob said, tapping on the sheet music in front of Terry.
The pianist nodded and played it again while Bob closed his eyes and listened, and then nodded.
"Yes, exactly. Just follow that throughout the piece and you should be fine."
Terry nodded and then stood up from the piano, collecting his music. He then turned to Bob and whispered, "Your boyfriend has been watching us."
Bob reddened slightly and coughed.
"He's a friend, Terry…nothing more."
Terry grinned and finished packing up his things, sliding his piano folder into his messenger bag.
"Sure he is," he said enigmatically, and then walked out of the theater, casting a hidden glance over his shoulder at the two men as they approached each other, each of them with a broad smile across their lips.
They're hopeless, he thought to himself as he walked out the door. Absolutely hopeless.