Despite the anxiety he feels, Oswald allows Sofia closer to him. He even begins to invite the woman over to his home, cooking dinners for her, and talking to her less like an enemy and more like a friend. The way he feels when she looks at him is something he doesn’t quite understand, yet he understands this feeling quite well. The feeling of his heart beating heavily in his chest, palms sweating, and this overwhelming anxiety that makes him feel utterly foolish. There’s a look in her eyes, something playful and loving. She looks beautiful in the candlelight, her smile genuine and no look of disgust as she stares into his eyes. He feels lost in a dream, like this isn’t something he deserves to have, but he’s determined to enjoy it while it last.
After dinner one night she takes hold of his hand, her touch warm and gentle. He carefully gets up from his seat and allows her to lead him into the sitting room. She releases his hand and goes to sit down on the sofa near the fireplace, she looks up at him expectantly and all he can focus on is the beating of his own heart as he looks at her admiring her beauty.
“Come here, I thought it might be nice for you to stretch out and relax for once.” She says patting the spot next to her on the sofa, she smiles as she looks up at him.
He swallows hard and makes his way to where she sits, in the back of his mind he is conscious of his heavy-footed movements. Ever since their shared moment in the Lounge he feels extra aware of his leg, the nerve damage and the way he just drags the dead weight around as he walks. He slowly sits down, he keeps a bit of space between them still finding himself rather unsure about her or them. He gasps when she places her hand on his bad knee, he looks from her hand to her face.
“It’s okay, I was thinking I could look over your leg, maybe massage it. So long as you’re okay with that.” She speaks softly, her voice a soothing tone that eases the tension he’s feeling.
He finds himself incapable of speech, he merely nods and allows her to lift his leg up resting it across her lap. He can feel the heavy beating of his heart, the tightening in his throat, and this overwhelming urge to cry and hide his face in shame.
Slowly she runs her hand over the top of his leg, he watches the movement of her hand as it moves over the clothed limb, he can just feel her touch, but not in the way he wishes he could. Her eyes are on him and she softly whispers that it’s okay, that she won’t hurt him. Again, he finds himself nodding, he keeps his focus on his leg and her touches.
Her hands move to his shoe, her movements are careful and slow as she unlaces his shoe then slips it off, she sets it on the floor. She presses and rubs his foot, he groans quietly at the feeling realizing he’s never had anybody before her really touch him in such a way. His anxiety builds when she begins to roll his sock down, he catches sight of his bare ankle, a feeling of disgust fills him at the sight of his scarred and burned looking flesh. He closes his eyes and turns his head away, he can feel her warm bare hands on his exposed skin. Tears slip down his cheeks, he nervously chews his bottom lip as he feels her touching his skin.
“Shh now it’s okay, I told you before that I won’t judge and I didn’t, did I?”
He keeps his eyes closed, he’s quiet for a long pause before deciding to answer her.
“No, you didn’t.”
“And I’m not judging now, I won’t ever judge you, not for this.”
Oswald opens his eyes, he allows himself to look despite the fact he feels sick seeing her hands on his scarred skin. He almost feels it’s wrong for somebody so normal, so beautiful to be touching him. Her hands are careful yet firm as she moves from rubbing his foot to moving up his exposed leg, she has his pant leg rolled up to his knee exposing every scar and mark.
“It’s hideous.” He comments, his voice bitter as he glares down at this own leg.
He can only think of how useless it is, how he almost wishes to have it removed, but he would never really go through with that. He knows himself too well.
“No, it isn’t, it’s a part of you.”
He scoffs, “Well the rest of me is rather hideous, wouldn’t you agree?” He asks looking back up to her face.
There’s a sadness in her eyes as she looks at him, he almost regrets his self-deprecating comment.
“I don’t think that at all, I find you to be quite beautiful.”
He turns his head looking away from her again, he feels small and shy with her, and it’s a feeling that terrifies him.
“What do you want from me?”
“I want to help you.”
“Stop telling me that, I know that you want something from me. Everybody does.”
“If we work together we can make the city run smoothly, no issues at all. I’m only asking for you to trust me and let me work alongside you, that’s all.”
He looks back to her studying her face, he is almost praying to see a lie, but he can’t.
“Fine, so is all this just to soften me up until I agreed to let you work with me?” He asks gesturing towards the leg she is still massaging.
She laughs and shakes her head, her hair falling over her face before she pushes it back over her shoulder.
“No that isn’t it at all, I’m doing this, because I want to do this.”
Carefully she lifts his leg setting it back down on the ground, Oswald feels himself tense slightly when she moves closer to him on the sofa closing the space between them. She places a hand against his cheek, he fights the urge to flinch away from her touch. Her touch is gentle, her fingers lightly stroking against his freckled skin, she stares into his eyes as if she sees parts of him he’d hidden away months and maybe even years ago.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you Oswald.” She whispers, her fingertips trailing along his jaw.
He feels himself shiver under her touch, he feels so hot and cold all at once. His eyes close when she presses her lips to his. He sighs into the kiss, tentatively he kisses her back. The kiss is gentle and sweet, tears roll down his cheeks and carefully he places a hand on the back of her neck stroking his fingers against her soft skin. She places a hand against his chest and he’s quite sure she can feel his heart pounding, she deepens the kiss and he moans softly feeling overwhelmed by her. He feels that relief and that anxiety, that feeling of it only being the two of them, and he realizes it has been many months since the last time he experienced this feeling. The feeling of falling in love.