It physically hurt touching him. There were too many nerves, too much friction, just too much. It hurt more to realize this, to know that after so long, after so much pining, there wasn’t a damn thing he could do because he couldn’t fucking touch him. And he couldn’t explain it either. How was he supposed to explain that because he had been so alone for so long, he couldn’t do the one thing that might take away the loneliness?
And it killed him. The looks Jake gave him, the way his mouth quirked down in the most tragic way, the way his eyebrows bunched together in worry and hurt. Because fuck everything Jake thought it was his fault, and Dirk wanted to scream at him, to yell that for chrissake please don’t. Don’t take the blame for this, just don’t hate me, please please please because that’s all he wanted. Just don’t hate him, just be with him.
He knew Jake knew loneliness, he knew that it fucking sucked and there would be nothing better than to actually be with another person. And Dirk knew that’s why Jake was so concerned, because what the fuck was wrong with Dirk that he didn’t want a high-five? Or to shake hands? Or at the very least a completely platonic bro-hug?
Too much friction, too much heat. It would always lead to Dirk clamming up, tensing, fleeing too fast for Jake too see and too suddenly for Jake to do anything about it. And damnable pride there was no comfort for either of them, no way to say hey it’s cool it’s whatever I get it because they were both men, men didn’t talk about feelings, men didn’t admit any weaknesses.
Dirk was crushed.
He was crushed and alone even when Jake sat right beside him because as soon as he would move to tell Jake everything, his tongue would dry and grow five sizes in his mouth and smooth words turned clumsy and he was shaking and sweaty and fuck everything it wasn’t worth it.
Except it was. It really really was because Dirk had been after this for so long. So he did what he had to, he worked his ass off, he sat uncomfortably as his fingers brushed against Jake’s. There was nothing romantic about it, nothing romantic about the way Dirk had to clench his teeth just to touch Jake’s fingertips. There was nothing romantic about the sob that nearly wracked its way out of Dirk’s throat when Jake clapped him on the back, or the utter look of hurt as Jake realized what he had done.
Jake yearned for it, missed the human contact and it showed and Dirk was hurting him just as much as he was hurting and it was a vicious cycle of what the fuck are we supposed to do this can’t go on this is a mistake. Except it wasn’t and both of them knew it wasn’t but that didn’t make it any less painful. Jake and Roxy and Jane were fine. They hugged and bro-fisted and hung out and were normal. At least as normal as any of them could be, and Dirk would have to sit and watch from afar. Watch as hugs were given and shoulders were tapped and smiles were shared. And Dirk was fucking tired of watching from afar, of being stunted by some bitch who decided he would be better off alone, for some stupid temporal bullshit to shoot him too many years into the future to be able to ever meet his Bro, to ever really meet anyone.
So he would clasp Jake’s hand when the girls weren’t looking, and Jake dare not squeeze his fingers, but he looked right into Dirk’s eyes, glasses be damned, and understood. And that’s all Dirk needed, even though it was a fuck ton of too much, even though his fingers ached from the heat and the friction even though it was the smallest of touches, it was a comfort, the understanding. And it grew from there.
Jake could squeeze his hand. High-five him. Bro-fist. The hug was a long time coming. Dirk would tense every time Jake got too close. He would flash step the fuck out of there and have to see Jake’s crestfallen face at another failed attempt because he felt like he had failed Dirk and the urge to scream at him would hit Dirk again and he would hold back because Jake was trying just as hard as he was. And when they finally made it, when Dirk finally hugged back, it was the best fucking feeling Dirk had ever had because holy hell people are warm and comforting and Jake was too perfect.
And everything was too perfect, war or not. Especially when Dirk found the courage and fortitude to kiss Jake. When he found the words to confess; he cringed as they tumbled out crooked and stilted and awkward, but the look on Jake’s face was worth it. Following the smile as it grew was the most amazing thing Dirk had ever seen and everything was worth it for that one smile, for the kiss that happened afterwards, for the way Jake’s arms enveloped him and everything tasted like sweat and adventure.
Dirk was done with being unable to interact with other people. He was done watching and waiting and planning. He had acted, he had conquered, and he was happy.