Jaime’s roommate has a new girlfriend. Her name's Amy and she’s a Chem major with blonde hair and brown eyes, and the first time they meet she starts making cooing noises about how cute he is and how she has at least five friends that would jump at a chance to go out with him, if he’s interested--?
“No, thanks,” he says, because blind dates terrify him and because I’m a vigilante with an alien scarab on my back isn’t a pick-up line.
She looks like she’s going to argue but then Bart’s there, barging in like he owns the place, throwing himself on Jaime’s bed, and instead her big eyes just get even bigger. Jaime understands; Bart has that effect on people.
“You guys are going out, right?” he asks, because it’s probably impolite to have a late night CoD marathon with other people in the room, especially the way he and Bart play, and Jeremy nods and ushers his girlfriend out to the movies or dinner or whatever it is new couples do on a Friday night.
Jaime doesn’t miss the significant look they share on their way out the door.
“She was hot,” Bart says, already getting the menu screen up, and Jaime shrugs, nudging at him until he makes room on the bed.
Bart looks up at him then, blinking. “You don’t think so?”
“I don’t know,” Jaime says, grabbing a handful of Doritos while there’s still some to be had. “She’s not really my type, I guess.”
“Oh,” Bart says, turning back to the TV. “Cool.”
Cool, Jaime thinks. Okay.
“Yeah,” Jaime says, rolling his neck until it cricks, “okay. Lit’s kicking my ass.”
Up ahead, Cassie laughs, throwing her head back as Bart finishes telling her some story, and Jaime wonders if he can put off his History paper for a few more hours to go to base and let off steam with the others; he’s already lost too much time, though, and there’s two sets of Trig problems and a Bio lab he’s going to be strained to finish by Monday as it is.
“Cassie’s headed home tonight, too,” Tim says. “Her mom wants her in Gateway City for the weekend.” Jaime looks at him sharply, and Tim smiles but doesn’t say anything else, falling back to talk with Barbara instead.
“Dude,” Bart shouts, shaking Jaime out of his own head. “Hurry up! We totally have time for milkshakes before you have to Zeta out of here if I help you with Math.”
Jaime speeds up and doesn’t look Tim in the eye.
There’s a girl talking to him about some band she’s into and why her Philosophy professor’s a genius, and Jaime nods along and leans back against the kitchen table so his legs don’t give out. She reminds him a bit of Zatanna, all dark hair and passion, and he tells her so before he can stop himself, the words sliding easily off his tongue.
She laughs like it’s the best thing she’s ever heard and doesn’t ask questions, so he grins down at her and grabs another drink.
“Do you want to get out of here?” she asks, and Jaime wants to say yes, wants to stumble back to someone’s dorm and experience more new things, but instead he’s shaking his head and leaning closer to be heard over the sudden wave of music from the next room.
“There’s this boy,” he says, honesty coating him like armor. “There’s this boy--”
“Ah,” she says, disappointed but still smiling, and when she asks him to dance instead he takes her hand and lets her lead the way.
Bart’s already waiting when he gets there, tapping his feet and leaning up against Jaime’s door like he couldn’t just phase through it, and Jaime feels something in him relax.
“No hogging the covers,” Bart says, like it’s ever Jaime that does.
Jaime rolls his eyes and digs out his keys and tries not to give away all his secrets in the smile he couldn’t fight if he wanted to.
Jaime looks up from his Physics book, blinking.
He’s not my boyfriend, he thinks.
“Good,” he says, the lie feeling too easy on his lips. “He’s good.”
(That’s how he’d learnt her name in the end, morning-after hangover in full swing as he searched out coffee and found her instead. She’d laughed at him as she took his order, and she still reminded him of Zatanna even in the cold light of day.)
“How’s the boy?” she asks, because that’s still what she calls Bart. They haven’t met, which is part happenstance and part direct effort on Jaime’s part.
“You’re the second person to ask me that this week,” Jaime says, and Meg hums under her breath.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” she says softly, after a while.
Jaime shakes his head and doesn’t answer.
Except when he gets back Bart’s already there, curled up and snoring softly, arms hugging Jaime’s pillow close, and eyelashes casting shadows across his cheeks as he dreams. Jaime’s heart feels too full, his feet too heavy, and he wonders if love leaves everyone so uncomfortable in their own skin.
“No hogging the covers,” he whispers, kicking off his sneakers and jeans, and Bart doesn’t wake but Jaime can see the smile that lights up his face anyway.
“I still don’t understand what we’re playing,” Jaime whispers, mouth almost too close to Bart’s ear, and Bart grins, ducking his head and moving his piece five spaces, laughing when Amy hits Jeremy over the head with a copy of Hard Times.
Afterwards they all head down to the dining hall, Bart telling elaborate stories that have the others in stitches and Jaime rolling his eyes, and it’s easy and comfortable and fun up until the moment Amy smiles and says, “We should go on a real double date, sometime.”
Jaime feels the world come screeching to a halt, and he’s used to the scarab now, can mostly block his voice out until it’s time to suit up, but suddenly it’s like he’s fifteen and new and the scarab’s reacting to Jaime’s own mental freak out, echoing destroy her, destroy her until Jaime’s ready to run for the hills--
Then Bart’s curling his fingers over Jaime’s, unfolding them from their grip on the edge of the table, and Jaime shuts his eyes and lets Bart anchor him until the world quiets down.
“That’d be fun,” Bart says, and he sounds like he means it.
Jaime focuses on their joined hands and breathes.
“I know,” Bart says. “You’re such an idiot. I’ve known for ages.”
“Oh,” Jaime says, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him whole.
“Stop it,” Bart says, uncharacteristically serious, and Jaime forgets sometimes how well Bart knows him. “For the record, I fell in love with you first.”
“Yeah?” Jaime says, and everything suddenly feels like too much and not enough.
“Yeah,” Bart says, and his smile is so bright it’s practically blinding. “But then, I always do move faster than everyone else.”
When he kisses Jaime, it’s like he’s proving a point.
the boy loves me too
i could have told you that, Meg sends back. bring him by for coffee tomorrow, i want to meet him and see if he’s prettier than me.
“Wha’s wrong?” Bart mumbles, rolling closer, and Jaime thinks I’m never going to want anything more than this.
“Nothing,” he says, running his fingers through Bart’s hair and pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “Go back to sleep.”
“No hogging the covers,” Bart says, eyes drifting shut, and Jaime doesn’t think he’ll ever stop smiling.