Jason liked hugs. Strangely, this was something that he had discovered only recently in life, and as the early morning sun slanted in through the window, he lay in bed letting his mind wander on the subject.
Now he thought about it, he concluded that it was entirely possible he had been on the receiving end of more hugs in the last six months since he arrived in Atlantis than in the previous six years of his life before Atlantis.
Might it have been different if his father hadn’t disappeared like that? Mac had been a good surrogate uncle and father figure, and as Jason had grown to adulthood he had become a great friend. He had done a lot for Jason after the loss of his father. But Mac was very much of the opinion that physical contact between two unrelated men should involve nothing more than some hearty back-slapping, and perhaps the occasional arm around shoulders (and even that was usually only when drunk). So it was safe to say he hadn’t been a ‘hugs’ sort of man.
Pythagoras, on the other hand, was a hugs sort of man. Jason suspected that Pythagoras was possibly the most tactile man he had ever known, always free with entirely unselfconscious hugs and touches, a fact which had become apparent almost as soon as Jason met him.
Of course, being chased by lions, guards, the Minotaur, and almost dying on several separate occasions did tend to bring people together, he supposed. But even away from all the adrenaline-fuelled moments he had frequently noticed Pythagoras being right there in his personal space, providing a reassuring hand on his arm or shoulder whenever he looked lost (and, Jason has to admit, he probably spent an awful lot of those first few days looking lost, a fact which had no doubt sent Pythagoras’ mother-hen instincts into overdrive).
But not all of Pythagoras’ hugs were about comfort. In fact, through months of observation and experience, Jason had managed to categorise several different types.
Comfort hugs were definitely in there, all soft and reassuring and a freely offered shoulder for the purposes of crying on, if necessary.
There was also the ‘Oh gods, we’re about to die!’ panic hug, which was frequently followed not long afterwards by the ‘Thank the gods, we survived!’ celebratory hug. In a similar vein was the non-life-or-death-situation version of the celebratory hug, all wide grin and enthusiastic squeezing.
The one that Jason found the most amusing was undoubtedly the ‘Yes, Hercules, you’re my best friend, now let’s put you to bed before you fall down drunk again,’ hug, which was usually accompanied by comedy grimacing and affectionate eye-rolling at Jason over Hercules’ shoulder.
And then there was the one that it had taken Jason quite some time to properly understand. It was the hug that came with far more sincerity than any of the others, the one that happened in the quiet moments, or the times when they were laughing and talking and just being together. The one that simply said, ‘You are my friend and I love you’.
There had never been anyone who hugged Jason like that before he came to Atlantis. He still sometimes wondered what he had done to deserve it, but he was never, ever going to complain about it, even though he had been slightly unnerved at first until he realised it was just how Pythagoras was with everyone he cared about. Admittedly that was fairly small circle of people, mostly consisting of Jason himself, Hercules and Medusa, and in some ways that made Jason feel even more privileged that he was included in that group. Included, but by no means first and foremost.
Jason sometimes wondered what Pythagoras and Hercules had been like before he fell into their lives. It was obvious that they had been friends for years, and Jason had never known two men with so little concept of personal space around each other. Jason suspected they weren’t even consciously aware of that proximity, or how much casual physical contact there was between them.
Once or twice, usually in the moments when he was hit by an unexpected wave of homesickness, or when he felt lost, unsure of his place here, Jason had felt a twinge of jealousy when he watched Pythagoras and Hercules together. He couldn’t help feeling like he was intruding, that he was the spare wheel in the house. He never said as much, mostly because, in his more rational moments, he knew that Pythagoras at least, and probably Hercules as well, would be horrified if they knew what he was thinking. But all the same, no matter how close the three of them had become, no matter how welcoming they had been, Jason knew there was something between Pythagoras and Hercules that he could never be part of. The jealousy had always passed as quickly as it arrived, though, and more than once it had been banished by one of Pythagoras’ comfort hugs as soon as he noticed Jason looking anything less than cheerful.
He felt no jealously now, though.
As if on cue, the warm body beside him turned towards him and a pair of thin arms wrapped around Jason’s waist. Before he could even think about turning over, his shoulder was thoroughly nuzzled.
“Morning,” Pythagoras mumbled.
“Yes, it is,” Jason said, smiling.
“You sound like you’ve been awake for a while? Is everything all right?” Pythagoras was sounding more alert with every word.
“Fine. I was just thinking.”
Jason twisted until he managed to turn over and face him. Typical Pythagoras; still half asleep, and he was already heading into mother-hen mode.
Jason smiled at him.
“Nothing that can’t wait.”
He slipped an arm around Pythagoras and tugged him closer. Pythagoras relaxed into his hold, apparently satisfied that all was well with the world. With a little wriggling and some minor adjustments to accommodate the new position, he resumed his limpet-like cuddle; all bony arms and tangled legs, and the occasional vague sound of contented snuffling.
Oh yes. This was definitely Jason’s favourite type of hug.