It takes a half hour and Dick rubbing his cheek over the velvety softness of his coat sleeve before one of the five people he counts as his best friends finally notices his new accessory.
“That’s a nice jacket,” says Garth.
“Thank you,” says Dick, preening. The jacket in question is a rich dark leather, butter soft, and roomy enough to make Dick feel small, like he simply borrowed his boyfriend’s bomber for the night.
“It looks vintage, but it could be off the runway,” adds Donna. “You never can tell these days.”
“Would you believe me if I said I don’t know who the designer is? I found it on the beach of all places, and there’s no label.” Dick tosses his hair back and blinks at his friends guilelessly as they ooh and ah and ask questions. “It was after Bruce’s annual clam bake. I was walking along the tide pools before we packed in for the night when I heard this strange splash. I climb over the rocks and here was this jacket. Waiting for me.”
Donna cuddles against him. “So romantic, Dickie.”
“And dangerous,” says Vic, frowning now that he’s paying attention. “How do you know someone wasn’t out there spying on y’all?”
“Believe it or not—“
“Or not!” chimes Gar.
“I thought about that. But it was a little damp. Smelled just like the sea.” Dick pressed his lips the cuff and smiles. “No, I was supposed to find it.”
“Look who came back with another round and some questions,” Wally boasts after setting a fresh pitcher of beer on the table. “Don’t be obvious about it, but take a look at the dude by the bar. Is he acting strange to you?”
Four dark-colored heads—and one neon-green one—swing toward the bar. Wally groans.
“Remember when I said don’t be obvious?”
Vic laughs. “What were we supposed to do?”
“I don’t know,” Wally replies. “Be less obvious about it. What’s he doing?”
Donna glances back and forth trying to gauge the sightlines before nodding to herself. “Yeah. He’s definitely staring at Dick.”
“Clearly he’s blind,” says Wally.
“He could be looking at me,” says Gar, a tiny pout on his face.
“Yes, but he’s definitely giving me the eye,” says Dick, blushing prettily. It’s been weeks since Dick has fallen to such an intense stare. Those stormy eyes call to him from across the room. He’s stands before he realizes it, much to his friend’s delight.
“Three minutes, and I’m coming to get you,” says Garth.
Dick winks at him. “Make it four.”
The bar is pleasantly crowded for a Wednesday night. Dick manages to loose the gaze of his friends as he makes his way to the stranger, his stranger, by taking a circuitous route towards the rest room and then down the quiet hallway that brings him to the front door.
Dick slips atop the barstool behind his stranger. He’s intensely gorgeous up close, even more so than from across the room, bearing the sculpted beauty of a model, sliced angles, hard lines. Black hair curls over his forehead adding a rebellious air. He seems oblivious to Dick’s presence, which would be worrying if hasn’t been desperately scanning the crowd.
It’s almost too flattering. He reaches up to tap on that broad shoulder. “Looking for someone?”
The guy spins on his heel, mouth dropping. He stares for a full ten seconds before grounding out a single word. “You!”
Dick grins up through his lashes encouraged by the flush curling across the man’s cut cheeks. Definitely too flattering. His ego is never going to recover from this.
He gives a little wave. “I thought one of us should make the first move. So, hi, I’m Dick.”
The guy looks away suddenly after making a low sound in his throat.
“Are you going to tell me your name?”
The guy shakes his head. Dick gives him an assessing once over. He’s not playing coy so, stubborn and shy? Definitely cute.
“Don’t be like that. We’ve been staring at each other all night. How about you tell me your name and.” Dick licks his lips pretending to think before he leans back into that prickly personal space. “I’ll do whatever you ask.”
Maybe Dick’s rushing things. He could have waited, let the guy work up the nerve to come over, but really. Where’s the fun in that?
Those dark eyes sweep down Dick’s body, heated and thorough as a hand. His jaw works angrily for a moment before he says, “My name is Jason.”
Dick lets himself drift back to the bar. “That wasn’t so bad was it? You want a drink?”
“No. Take that jacket off.” Jason growls. The deep, weathered command thrills through Dick’s body. Well, this is going even better than he expected.
He offers a lazy grin in return pushing back immediately. “No.”
Jason’s expression wrinkles becoming genuinely confused. “What do you…? You said you’d do whatever I wanted.”
Dick spreads his palms down the jacket preening just a bit when those storm-cloud eyes follow the movement. A deep heat radiates from his body so powerful Dick can feel it wrap around him and he shivers deciding to just go with the moment. “You think I’m going to let you undress me here?”
Jason drops heavily to his stool. His eyes look a little glassy like he finally downed the right shot. “Stop that,” he says, voice a graveled husk.
“Stop what?” Dick molds the material to his body loving the butter soft feel and the satiny lining brushing at his neck.
“That. Don’t do that.”
Dick snuggles deeper into the jacket instead letting his lips brush against the collar, his hands pluck along the pipped sleeves. And damn if Jason doesn’t look like he’s enjoying it. That flush continues down his creamy skin all the way to the frank line of his pecs. Dick licks his lips tasting leather, salt, and sweat. Jason shakes just a little, just the tips of his fingers jumping along the bar top and Dick can definitely go with this. He lets his tongue curl over the collar, and Jason makes a horrified groan.
“Fucking quit it!” Jason snatches Dick by the waist and hauls him between his parted thighs. “That’s my skin!”
Dick stares up at him, lips parted, skin burning from the heat of Jason’s body, speechless.
Here’s the conundrum Dick finds himself in roughly a half second after Jason grabs him by the lapels of his new jacket and pulls him flush against a body so commanding, so strong Dick’s knees can’t decide between buckling and spreading. This guy is assertive enough to be the type of guy Dick wants—and frequently dates despite the never-ending heartache—and somehow gentle enough to be the type of guy Dick needs. Jason’s also clearly over his head right now.
Dick folds his fingers around Jason’s wrists and smiles. “Look. If I’m being too much right now, we can take a step back. Go at your pace.”
Jason’s frowns. “Huh?”
“I mean, I like it. And the whole, ‘that’s my skin,’ thing.” Dick repeats using a pretty good approximation of Jason’s rasping voice, “Never heard something quite like that. But if it’s too much for right now, well. We can take it slow.”
Dick glances at Jason’s well-spring eyes from beneath his lashes. God, he’s hot even when he’s confused. Jason expression might be puzzled, but his body is hot and hard in all the right places, so at least a part of Jason knows what he wants. “Or we can take it someplace else.”
Jason’s mouth falls open. “You can’t just take it away when I’ve finally found you!”
“Wow,” Dick drawls, feeling dazed by such honesty. “You really know how to go straight to a guy’s heart.”
“Yes. I do,” says Jason proudly.
The worst thing about that line is how deeply it affects Dick. He stands there cursing his secret romantic side and love of 90s Julia Roberts films. Jason’s heart-felt exclamation is worthy of Nodding Hill or even My Best Friend’s Wedding. Dick’s in the middle of deciding what to do next, when a loud and familiar voice booms in his ear.
“Excuse me. Is this guy bothering you?”
Dick looks up to find two handsome men looming behind them. Surprised by the interruption, Dick takes a step backwards putting himself between Jason and these obnoxious people he sometimes calls friends. It’s a defensive move, a hesitation, which is a terrible mistake.
“This one has an audacious way about him, but he is nothing I can’t handle.” Jason answers while Dick’s cheeks begin to heat.
“That’s a new one,” says Garth.
“Audacious. I like it,” Vic says, grin white and sharp.
Garth and Vic burst into laughter. That small answer gives them enough ammunition to bury him for the next three months.
“Very funny, guys. You’ve checked in. Everything is fine. You can go now,” says Dick, determined to end this quickly. He shoves at Vic’s mountainous body, frowning when it barely moves.
“You’re not going to introduce us?” asks Garth, frowning sadly.
“But your new boyfriend might like us,” says Vic. “I mean, if he likes audaciousness in the extreme.” He and Garth high-five over Dick’s head.
“He’s not my.” Dick tries shoving Garth this time. It’s worse than having little brothers.
“Hey wait! Where did he go?”
Dick whirls around. The barstool is empty. He scans the crowd searching for a gray shirt and dark, tousled hair, but he finds nothing. Jason, with his huge, vibrant presence is completely gone.
At least Vic and Garth look apologetic as they escort Dick back to the table.
Dick spends the rest of the night staring wistfully around the bar. He accepts his friends’ good-natured teasing and apologies with a laugh. A few rounds later, he accepts the fact that Jason, the tragically handsome and painfully honest stranger, wasn’t coming back.
That night, Dick dreams about Jason, his hard eyes beautiful as frozen waves. Hand in hand, they walk together along a shoreline colored gray sorrow and the darkest waters. They’re harassed by sea spray and sand flying on the back of strong winds, but Jason merely laughs when Dick asks if he’s alright, if he’s cold without his jacket. Laughter makes Jason more handsome somehow, smoothing out his frown lines and lighting his eyes. He looks younger, joyful, when he pulls Dick into his arms.
“I’m not cold,” Jason whispers, pressing their foreheads together. “How can I be when it’s you who keeps me warm?”
Dick wakes to a bed filled with sunlight feeling more alone than he has in a long time.
Meditation is the perfect way to begin the day. When the body is centered, and the mind calm, anything is possible.
Balanced on one hand, Dick extends his left leg outwards. He keeps his focus on his breath and the burn in his muscles, but somehow, Jason’s hands creep up through his subconscious. It’s been two weeks but the memory is so vivid, Dick wobbles and that tiny tremble explodes the wayward thought. In a rush, Dick remembers the way Jason had sprawled across the bar stool, thick thighs spread, head tilted back, the faintest stubble on his cheeks. He remembers the rough burr in Jason’s voice, and the way Jason’s breath played over his lips and Dick’s lost, so lost, because he’s not sure if that happened or if it was a moment in a dream. Dick tumbles to the ground with a cry.
Pride smarting, he reaches above his head for his cellphone.
“Wendell,” he says, addressing the phone’s AI. “Call Donna.”
The phone rings twice before Dick realizes he didn’t check the time. Donna’s schedule had her flying from London to Athens to Star City and back at any given moment. Finally, she picks up. “Hi Donna,” he says. “Can we talk?”
Donna’s voice carries through the air like a brisk breeze. “Dick! Darling! Of course we can talk. But we’re rushing through this leaking rust bucket of an Edwardian manor to find a dry place for the shoot, so I must make this quick. Are you ready?”
Dick barely has a chance to reply before Donna begins reeling off a list of platitudes to him.
“Jason will be a passing fancy if you let him pass! Time heals all wounds. You are one in a million. You deserve better. Romance doesn’t start with a strange guy ogling your jacket. Also.” Donna pauses. “Hold on please.” There’s the rapid flow of Greek while she directs her staff. “Sorry, the lighting in this room is horrible. Where was I? Oh, yes. There are other fish in the sea.”
Dick stares at the phone shocked then he begins laughing. Donna joins in. “I’ve been an intolerable mess about this haven’t I?”
“Intolerable? Never. Obsessive?” She hums teasingly. “Maybe.”
Dick rolls onto his back. “You’re right, you’re right. But I know there are other fish in the sea, Donna. I just happen to want this one.” Dick closes his eyes and Jason is there. “He’s always on my mind. I can’t explain it.”
“You could just get rid of that jacket.”
“Never,” Dick says, springing upright. His eyes immediately search for the leather jacket that started this terrible mess and relaxes once he spies it hanging over the back of his favorite chair.
“Well, if you’re so intent in finding this guy, maybe you should go back to the source.”
Dick tilts his head, intrigued. “Go on.”
“You said you found the jacket after Mr. Wayne’s annual clam bake, right? Just go back to Happy Harbor and check around.”
“Donna, you are a genius!”
“Certified even,” she says. “Now, I really must go.”
“Of course. Thank you,” Dick says. “I’ll catch up with you after this shoot is over.”
As ideas go, Donna’s is much better than Dick returning to the bar night after night in a fool’s lovesick errand.
Happy Harbor it is.