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Dinner, Dancing, and a Dog

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It starts with a favor, as things involving Jason so often do. 

Tim adjusts the phone against his shoulder and blows his bangs out of his eyes with an impatient huff. “You want me to what?” 

“Be my date for the night. It’ll make my cover more complete if I have some arm candy.”

Yeah, that’s what he thought Jason said the first time. “You do know that five hours before isn’t exactly the best time to ask a favor like this, right?” 

He can hear the frustration in Jason’s voice. “I know, I know. But it’s just dinner at Scarpetto’s. Guy or gal, doesn’t really matter to me.”

“No, but it matters to the Sicilian mobsters it sounds like you’re trying to nail.” Tim eyes the clock on his desk. If he leaves now, he’ll have enough time to shave and tame his eyebrows into something vaguely feminine that won’t take forever to grow back. “You owe me.”

“Done. I’ll pick you up at 8.”

Tim glares at his phone. One of these days, he’s going to collect on all the little favors Jason owes him. 

Big time. 

~*~*~

Jason lets out a low whistle when Tim opens the apartment door. Traffic had not been kind earlier so he’s glad the rush job passes muster. 

“Wow, I’ve heard some stories about the things you can do with makeup, but this is top notch.” 

Tim shrugs and the fabric barely covering his shoulders flutters slightly. “If I’m going to crossdress, I’m not going to half-ass it.”

“Nope, I can see that.” Jason nods approvingly. “Perhaps you can teach me a few things.” 

It’s hard to keep a straight face because Jason’s idea of a disguise tonight is a goatee. Tim can’t spot any telltale signs that it’s a fake, so it is entirely possible that the dark facial hair is real. He supposes he can give him a bonus point for dyeing the white streak on his brow. It stands out.

“About what?” Tim replies blithely as he grabs a coat. “Padding? Falsies? Gaffes?” 

Jason pales slightly. “I was thinking mascara and eyeliner. There’s a club I need to hit up in a few nights where that kind of look is in.” 

Tim flashes him a bright rosy smile. “Darling, that look hasn’t gone out of style for ages.” 

He takes Jason’s arm and marches him out the door. 

The target is Paul Giannini, an up and coming mobster who Jason believes is the newest hitman for the Petrillo crime family (the irony behind the name means nothing to Jason, so Tim doesn’t elaborate). They’re relatively new to Gotham, transplants from New York, and seem to be trying to rebuild what was once Carmine Falcone’s little empire. Not that this has a chance in hell of happening under Batman’s watch, but it’s nice to let these guys spin their wheels before showing them the ugly reality of what doing business in Gotham really entails. Jason isn’t doing more than surveillance tonight and for his own reasons that have nothing to do with Bruce as he was quick to explain during the drive to the restaurant. 

Tim doesn’t care. He’s the one in a dress after all. 

Dinner is good. It always is here, and Tim makes sure he bats his eyes and coos at appropriate times. Jason tries to play along as best he can, but it soon becomes clear he has no idea what to do with a date. 

“You’re acting like you’ve never done this before,” Tim says quietly once the antipasti is devoured. He may be playing a simpering girlfriend but damn if he’s not getting a free meal out of it. 

The faint reddening of Jason’s ears is all the answer he needs. “I haven’t exactly dated much,” he admits quietly, which is more than Tim expects from him. “Time, inclination, you name it. I always worry I’m going to hurt the other person.”

Tim can’t fault him for that. “I get it. I really do.”

Jason smiles crookedly and huffs a small laugh. “I’ve heard about your track record.” 

“It’s nowhere near as bad as Dick’s,” Tim replies with a cheeky grin and takes a sip of wine. 

The woman Giannini is with gets up and heads toward the bathroom. Tim glances at Jason and he nods wordlessly. She’s almost as important as the mobster so he follows after counting to ten. 

Sauntering into the women’s bathroom like he totally belongs there, Tim pauses at the mirror to check his makeup since the woman he’s tailing is in a stall. Nothing wrong there so he freshens up and shares a smile with the bottle blonde when she emerges. 

The smile drops when she draws a gun. 

Tim is moving before she has a chance to aim it, gripping her wrist tightly and forcing her arm away from them both toward the floor. She’s shouting at him, screaming about how they can’t pin anything on Paul. He doesn’t know or care how they knew they were being spied on, all he’s focused on at the moment is not getting shot or his eyes clawed out by the woman’s free hand. 

He shifts slightly and puts more pressure on her wrist, forcing the woman to drop the gun. She shrieks as he kicks it into one of the stalls and Tim blinks from the sheer volume she manages to reach. The gun is out of the way, so he pins her against the countertop and forces both arms behind her back. 

“Would you please stop that?” he says in a low tone. 

Too low. Her eyes widen. “You’re not a woman!” she manages to get out before Tim claps a hand over her mouth to muffle her. 

In the brief silence, they both hear the gunshot from the dining room, followed by loud shouts and screams from the other guests. It’s impossible to say who shot who from in here, but Tim just hopes that Jason isn’t involved. 

This is all going to hell.

The blonde tries to headbutt him and Tim decides he’s done with her. A quick nerve strike has her limp in his arms, her eyes wide in shock from the sudden paralysis. 

“You’ll be up and making trouble in less than ten minutes,” he says as he tucks her inside one of the stalls and closes the door. “Enjoy the view.” 

Retrieving the gun with a tissue, he hides it in his purse and peers out the door to get the lay of the land. It’s pure chaos in the dining room and Tim doesn’t spot Jason immediately. He does see Giannini laying against an overturned table with blood streaming down one shoulder, gun in hand and shouting at some unseen person about his innocence. What he’s saying doesn’t make sense though, not for what Jason dragged them here for, so there’s a distinct possibility this isn’t Jason’s fault at all. 

Tim keeps low and carefully creeps out. It’s a challenge in three inch heels but he manages. 

As soon as he emerges, a voice speaks up from behind him. “Thank fuck that’s you.” 

It’s Jason. 

Glancing over his shoulder, Tim finds Jason peering out from the men’s room. “What are you doing?” he hisses and tries to crab-walk backwards. Again, heels. 

“Can’t a guy take a piss in peace?” 

“You’re on surveillance. Hold it.” 

“You went to the bathroom!” 

Tim wants to throw up his hands and scream. This is what working with Jason always does to him. “Whatever. You get what you need or is that little firefight out there not the kind of trouble you feel like jumping into?” 

“Those are Maroni’s goons out there. I think they’re gonna take care of my problem for me.”  

That sounds awfully permanent. Tim scoots past the men’s room door and hides behind a large planter. Taking his phone out of his purse, he sends a quick text to Barbara via one of their encrypted numbers for police backup. She replies back an instant later saying they’re already on the way, with the SWAT team en route too.  

“Time to leave,” Tim announces and darts down the back hall to the employee only door. He’s been here enough to know it’s actually the backdoor to the restaurant that leads out into the alley.  

“What the hell?” Jason protests as he follows. “Since when were you in charge?” 

“Since SWAT is on the way and we really don’t need to be stuck here for questioning later.” He also doesn’t want to be here when the nerve strike on Giannini’s girlfriend wears off as she’ll easily point him out unless he gets gone now.  

“Works for me.”  

They’re barely outside when Jason wraps an arm around Tim’s waist and hauls him close, the hiss of a grapple line firing up and into the night. Tim has a brief moment to hold on tight before he’s swept off his feet like the proverbial damsel in distress.  

“What was that for?” he asks once they’re on the rooftop, feeling slightly breathless. He smacks Jason upside the head for good measure, which makes him feel much better. 

Jason growls and rubs his head. “I have a safehouse in this building. We can lay low for a couple hours, watch a movie or something, and then I can take your bitchy ass home.”  

Tim wants to protest but his ankles hurt and the sooner he’s out of these shoes, the better. “Fine. But I’m picking the movie.”  

~*~*~*~ 

After the other night, Tim should have seen this coming. At least this time, he has more than twenty four hours notice, which is good since his ankles are still sore.  

“What time?” he asks with a long suffering sigh.  

“Nine?” Jason replies hesitantly. “Your place because I still can’t quite get the hang of that thing you showed me with the eyeliner?”  

This, at least, he did see coming. “Fine. What club are we going to?”  

Jason rattles off the name of a gay club in the Upper East Side that Tim is rather familiar with. “I know it. I’ve picked up my fair share of drug samples there.” 

“You don’t need to wear a dress,” Jason adds, clearly trying to be helpful since he knows Tim is doing him yet another massive favor. 

He’s glad they’re on the phone because Jason would probably try to deck him if he saw his hugely exaggerated eye roll. “Well, I could, but that would send the wrong message. I’m more believable as your date if I’m in pants this time.”  

“Huh?” Jason sounds confused.  

There’s a growing suspicion in Tim’s mind, one that is going to have him on the floor laughing once this call is over. “Jason, you do know this is a LGBTQ club, right?”  

The long silence is answer enough.  

“Right,” Tim replies matter of factly. “In that case, make sure you wear a pair of tight pants and a t-shirt that’s one size too small for you. Anything else and you’ll probably stand out too much.”  

Considering Jason’s considerable physique, he’s already going to stand out. Tim has a feeling he’ll be the one doing the real work.  

“Okay,” Jason agrees in a slightly taken aback tone. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”  

“Later.” Tim hangs up and glares at his phone. Why is he putting himself through all this? The favor he’s going to call in at some point will need to be a doozy.  

~*~*~ 

Tim totally called it earlier. For all the guys whose type is tall, dark, and muscular, Jason is a piece of meat they can’t wait to get a chance with. Most aren’t pushy once they see him all but clinging nervously to Tim, but a few are forward enough to keep the taller man close. They put out a cover story that fits all too well — this is Jason’s first time in a club like this and he’s a bit overwhelmed.  

Proud to be out with his boyfriend, but still overwhelmed.  

Another new suspicion grows in Tim’s mind, one that harkens back to their dinner conversation the other night. Jason doesn’t date much. Or very possibly at all. This would explain volumes as to why he’s asking him of all people for assistance. Sure, Jason has to know he’s opening himself up to Tim’s ridicule but what he has to dish out is lightyears weaker than the constant ribbing from Dick.  

So Tim plays the role of the more experienced boyfriend, laughing and teasing his significant other lovingly as they maneuver slowly toward the VIP rooms where a drug dealer on Jason’s radar has taken up residence and uses a handful of people here as runners who scope out potential deals, from those who just want to have a little fun to others looking for a more serious fix.  

Jason isn’t after him tonight, he just wants to see what he’s pushing.  

“I’ve heard a rumor that he’s got access to fentanyl,” he explains to Tim out on the crowded dance floor, their bodies pressed together firmly. When he’s not stressing over where to place his hands, Jason is a decent dancer. “If it’s true, then I want to know where he’s getting it.”  

That is definitely something Tim can get behind. He nods and wraps his arms around Jason’s neck, drawing him closer so he can speak without shouting. “Any idea what the street name is around here?” 

If he’s going to be asking around, knowing the right terminology for this part of town will help. What Jason’s real interest is here remains to be seen, but there has to be a connection to the Bowery and Crime Alley if he’s wandered out of his usual haunts.  

Jason frowns, but whether that’s from Tim’s breath tickling his ear or because he doesn’t know, Tim can’t be sure. “I’ve heard both Jackpot and Murder 8 on my streets.” 

Tim knows quite a few more, but this doesn’t do him any good. “We may need to do this more than once. Establish ourselves, work our way up.” 

“I thought you’d been here before?”  

“In various disguises.” The one he’s wearing now is a bit more eye shadow heavy than usual and for once in his life, a five o’clock shadow hides the shape of his jaw. It irks Tim that it still takes him a few days to grow something that Jason, Dick, and Bruce all have to shave off twice a day if the need calls for it. Perhaps he’ll get lucky the further into his twenties he goes.  

The first night is a bust, even if they do score some rather questionable lollipops in a bright shade of blue that would make Dick proud.  

They come back several nights later and Tim manages to buy some oxycodone from the backroom dealer. Apparently, the man doesn’t trust his little army of tweekers with the real cash deals. He drops a hint that he’s in the market for something a little more potent and the dealer gives him a smarmy smile, openly eying Tim in his too tight pants and stylishly ripped t-shirt.  

“I’ll see what I can do for you,” is all he says, and Tim takes that as his cue to leave.  

He makes his way toward the bar where he left Jason and stops short, fighting down the impulse to laugh. It’s way too loud in here for it to carry far, but he’s undercover. 

Jason has two men practically wrapped around him, one with a slender build Tim would probably have if he didn’t have to work out so much while the other guy is a bit more compact. He can’t help but notice neither one of them is any taller than him. What’s even more hilarious though is Jason’s deer-in-the-headlights expression. He’s on the verge of bolting, Tim can tell. 

Well then. He can’t have that. 

Tim strolls up to the bar, letting just a hint of predatorial intent enter his gaze. Right here and now, Jason is his and those two guys are poaching on his territory. 

The things he does to maintain a cover. 

Jason spots him and shoves away from the bar, completely ignoring the two men pouting and pleading with him to stay. 

“Thank fuck,” he says as he all but hides behind Tim. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a piece of meat in all my life.” 

Tim makes sure to smirk at the other men before turning his attention on Jason. “I can’t take you anywhere, can I?” he asks, wrapping an arm around Jason’s waist and dragging him out to the relative safety of the dance floor. They can’t leave quite yet. “Do I need to put a collar on you? A leash?” 

“You’re such a shit, you know that?” Jason comments as they find the beat of the music and settle in. 

“You’re the one who’s a trouble magnet.” 

“I didn’t ask those guys to climb all over me!” Jason’s ears are more than a little red. 

Tim wraps his arms around Jason’s neck and tugs him down slightly, his mouth pressed close to Jason’s ear. From the right angle, it looks like he’s mouthing a line up the side of Jason’s neck, which is the point he’s trying to make to the two men who are still watching them closely from the bar. “You need to relax. We’re undercover and you’re the one acting like the shy virgin. In case you’d forgotten, we’re a couple here. Act like it or these things will keep happening.” 

This close, he can feel Jason swallow even as his back stiffens. Before Tim can even register it, he’s shoved away from him. His protest dies on his lips as Jason spins him around, slotting himself against his back, hands falling to Tim’s hips like they belong there. 

“Better?” Jason’s voice is rough and low in Tim’s ear as they start dancing again. 

Tim swallows, startled by the overwhelming sense of how right this feels. He’s no stranger to being held like this, some nameless person grinding against him while his attention is elsewhere following his target. His body reacts as it never has before and ever so briefly, he wishes that Jason’s hands would slip just a little lower. 

Reality comes slamming back into him when another dancer accidently jostles them. What the hell is he thinking? This is Jason Todd, the same man who has tried to kill him more than once. A few years may have passed since then and they’ve managed to forge a pretty good working relationship, but to say they got off on the right foot would be a complete and utter lie. 

So why is Jason making him feel this way? 

A little too late, Tim nods his head, remembering the question. “Yeah. Fine.” 

They leave a short while later, Tim hoping that Jason doesn’t notice the slight awkward shuffle to his steps. 

Third time is the charm, a fact for which Tim is glad for because once they hit the dance floor again and Jason’s big arms wrap around him, his body starts to betray him once more. He’s never felt so glad to see one of the drug runners and hit them up to see their boss. 

Tim pays out the ass for the fentanyl, not quibbling because this guy knows he’s got the money and is marking it up. 

That night after they leave, he and Jason part ways to change into their uniforms and return, staking out the front and back doors of the club. It’s late by the time the dealer exits through the employee door. They tail him all the way to Burnley and into a nondescript townhouse. 

Jason lowers his binoculars. “Well, thanks for helpin’ me out. I think I got it from here.” 

Tim frowns, but doesn’t argue. His part in all this, pretending to be Jason’s boyfriend to create a believable cover, is over. “No problem. You still owe me one.” 

“Yeah, yeah. You know I’m good for it.” 

Surprisingly enough, he does. 

~*~*~*~ 

Tim drops his box with a heavy thunk. Inside, something crunches and he takes a certain amount of petty delight in Jason’s frown.

“What if I told you the coffee mugs are in there?” Jason says. He’s arranging the silverware drawer. 

“That’s your problem, not mine. I have travel mugs that don’t break.”

Tim stalks away to grab another box. How the hell he let himself get talked into this, he has no clue. 

This being the third time in less than two months that Jason has asked him to help out with one of his cases. Or, more specifically, asked him to be in a fake relationship to help establish his cover. He’s starting to see a pattern here.

“Why the hell did I say yes?” Tim mumbles as he grabs another box from the back of their small moving van. 

He knows all too well why he did. It’s the same reason that’s been haunting him for the last six weeks. The same little feeling that keeps reappearing anytime he even so much as gets a text from the man. 

This isn’t happening to him. It can’t be. He does not find Jason attractive. 

“His face is stupid,” he mutters, then sighs.

Leaning against the back of the van, Tim closes his eyes, trying to calm himself even as he toys with the wedding band resting on his finger yet again. There is nothing to be worked up over. It’s not as though Jason is doing this on purpose. He really does need his help here because a single man living in a neighborhood like this one is going to catch someone’s attention, especially since Jason needs to make himself visible and approachable. He gets to be the house-husband while Tim toddles off to work every morning and returns in the evening. Their marriage is a complete and utter sham. Nothing to get worked up over.

Besides, it’s not like Jason even sees him the same way. This is just a job. A case. Bad guys to be caught.

The drug ring Jason has been after is much bigger and better organized than he originally suspected, the trail leading into the suburbs of Gotham Heights, a solidly middle class neighborhood where crime is more of the white collar variety than anything else. This particular subdivision is relatively new though and when Tim poked around, there were more income figures in the upper five digits and lower six than the rest of the area. Wannabe real housewives of Gotham is what Jason called them and Tim has to concur. In fact, it’s what they’re hoping for. Two good looking gay men moving into the area is bound to attract the kind of attention they want, and Jason is fully ready to play house-husband and collect all the gossip while Tim is at work.

“Here, let me get that one.” Jason’s unfairly big arms reach around Tim to grab a larger box.

Tim huffs and blows his bangs out of his eyes. He needs another haircut but decided against it as it’ll help detract from how similar he appears to Timothy Drake-Wayne. That and the glasses that are perched on the end of his nose, ones that he never lets himself be seen in public with for this very reason. If it works for Clark, it’ll work for him, at least to the casual observer.

“I had that.”

“You’re supposed to be the computer nerd, remember? Lifting big boxes isn’t in your repertoire.”

Tim eyes the muscles flexing under Jason’s t-shirt, easily managing the weight. “Fine.” He picks up a large plastic tub labeled Bedding and takes it into the house.

There are three bedrooms in the house, but from what Tim understands, one is being used for their surveillance equipment and the other for the makeshift office where Jason is ostensibly writing a novel. The current plan is to rotate sleeping in the master bedroom while the other sleeps on the sofa.

Right. Tim heaves a sigh as he drops the bin on the floor and stares at the unmade king-sized bed he’d help set up earlier. “This is gonna suck.”

~*~*~

Two weeks later, Tim is ready to revise that statement. His life doesn’t suck. His life is a miserable living hell.

The routine he and Jason have fallen into is, well, domestic. Every morning, he’s out the door no later than eight to do battle with the evils of rush hour into the city where he mucks around and does casework from the quiet safety of his apartment in Crime Alley. Every evening, he makes his way back out to the suburbs, rolling in no later than six. 

Thank god they have a garage because Tim is pretty sure he’d die if he had to go through the front door and make a show of kissing Jason for anyone who is watching. 

“Honey, I’m home!” Tim calls out with more than a little bit of sarcasm coloring his voice. 

“Fucking finally.” Jason sounds frustrated over something.

It’s probably dinner. He’s taken to watching cooking shows in the afternoon and applying what he’s learned. 

Tim kicks off his shoes in the laundry room and crosses into the wide open kitchen. 

Jason is wearing an apron. It’s a crying shame he’s also wearing jeans and a faded blue henley. 

Son of a fucking bitch. Not again. Tim swallows hard and thanks every god he can think of that the man is facing away from him and can’t see him flounder. 

“Rough day?” he manages to say without stumbling over his words. 

“Just a shitty one.” Jason points toward the sink. “Wash up, then grab your plate. We need to talk.” 

Great. Just great. 

They sit at the kitchen counter, Jason taking a large swig from his beer bottle before digging into his meal. Tim is a little slower to start and fiddles with the wrapper on his. “What happened?” he finally asks. 

“I think I’ve narrowed it down to which house around here is our real target. I finally saw that pool maintenance truck pull up today.” 

The fentanyl and possibly some other drugs are being funneled into the city with vehicles that appear to be for legitimate small businesses, like plumbing contractors or yard maintenance trucks. Vehicles that wouldn’t catch anyone’s attention with drivers who actually make a show at doing what they’re there for. Or so Jason says from what he’s observed. 

Tim perks up. “That’s not bad news.” 

“No, it’s actually pretty good,” Jason concedes. “The problem is that I can only take so many walks through the neighborhood and chat with so many people before it starts to look strange.” 

“Okay…” Tim doesn’t see where this is going. 

“We need a dog.” 

He blinks and drops his fork. “What?” 

“We need a fucking dog. One with a good amount of energy that gives me an excuse to wander around.” Jason viciously stabs some broccoli and stuffs it in his mouth. 

“And just what will happen to the dog when we’re done here?” Tim asks. He’s always wanted a dog but doing so for the sake of a mission isn’t exactly the best reason. 

Jason gives him a look that clearly says he thinks Tim is being an idiot. “We find it a good home, duh.” 

Right. Because that’s totally going to happen. 

~*~*~ 

The dog’s name is Darcy because this is what happens when Tim lets Jason name things. He’s a two year old black-and-white American bulldog who thinks he’s a lapdog and drools more than any creature Tim has ever seen. 

For some bizarre reason, he also adores Tim and tries to sleep with him on the sofa instead of on the big beach towel they’ve laid out on the bed in the master bedroom. 

“Ugh, get off me,” Tim says, trying to shove Darcy aside one night. “You’re supposed to sleep with Jason.” 

He’s tired. Really tired. All this sleep he’s been getting can’t be healthy because pulling an all-nighter didn’t used to be this challenging. 

Darcy whines and gives him the big sorrowful puppy dog eyes that never fail to melt Tim’s heart. How anyone can say no to this dog is beyond him. If it weren’t for the fact that most people thought he was a pitbull mix at the pound, he’d probably have been adopted sooner. 

“You’re a big baby.” Tim yanks at his blanket. More of it needs to be over his shoulders and not pooled around his waist where the dog has made a nest from it. 

“I can’t believe you let him walk all over you like this.” 

Tim looks up to find Jason leaning in the hall entrance. Apparently, his battle over the blankets caught his attention. “I do no such thing.” 

Jason rolls his eyes. “Come on. The bed’s big enough for all three of us.” 

No. No no no no no. This has been what Tim’s resisted most from the moment they moved in together last month. Living with the man that he’s finally acknowledged to himself that he has a crush on is painful enough. Sleeping beside him is a whole different ballgame. 

“It’ll be okay,” Tim says, trying to find an out. “If you can just get Darcy in there, that should be fine.” 

Jason is already shaking his head. “He whines at the door to be let out. Get your ass in there. Or are you afraid I’ll smother you in your sleep?” 

Tim would almost prefer it if it means he can escape what are likely to be some very awkward morning boners. “I starfish in my sleep.” 

“What does that mean?” 

“I tend to sprawl out. There’s a reason my bed at home is a king.” 

Jason runs a hand through his hair and yawns. “We’ll fuckin’ deal with it if you start kickin’ me. Now, get in there and go the fuck to sleep.” 

“I want to state for the record that this is a bad idea,” Tim comments as he stands. Darcy ever so helpfully jumps off the sofa, freeing the blanket. 

“Noted.” 

~*~*~ 

The case drags out for three months, two of which Tim finds himself sharing a bed with Jason. And Darcy, because the dog somehow manages to sleep between the two of them on his beach towel. 

In the end, Jason not only manages to figure out the supply route, but also where he needs to head next. 

“Montreal is not where I expected this case to go,” Tim says one evening as they’re eating dinner. “But it’s not entirely surprising. Canada has a pretty similar problem.” 

Jason nods thoughtfully. “I’m sure I’ll end up in China at some point, but the base of this particular supply line seems to end there.” 

“Well, my Mandarin is a bit rusty, but if you need help, gimme a call.” 

“I will. And don’t think I’ve forgotten what a massive favor you’ve done for me with all of this.” Jason gestures to the house around them and the home it really has become. 

Tim frowns and glances down at Darcy, who’s waiting ever so patiently for any crumbs or slivers of meat that may fall to the floor. “Yeah, about all this… Umm… I really don’t care about the house, but… I don’t want to give up that overgrown lapdog.” 

Jason smiles fondly at the dog. “Neither do I. You’ve got the space at your apartment, right?” 

“Yeah, but I’m busy. Face of WE and all that crap.” Tim scowls and leans down to rub behind Darcy’s floppy ear. The dog’s tail thumps loudly against the flooring. “He needs more attention than I can give him on my own.” 

“Well, I can always stop by. To help.” Jason’s gaze darts away in a brief flash of uncertainty that Tim hasn’t seen since that neighborhood barbeque they went to last month where they had to act like the married couple they’ve been pretending to be. Holding hands was enough to make Jason’s ears turn red, although he tried passing it off as too much sun. 

Tim narrows his eyes, a suspicion rising in the pits of his heart that almost feels suspiciously like hope. Before he can talk himself out of it, he reaches out and takes Jason’s hand. 

Cue the red ears. And a faint flush that reveals a slight scattering of freckles over his cheeks. 

“What?” Jason asks, clearly startled by Tim just randomly holding his hand. He looks everywhere but at him. 

“Jason,” Tim says slowly, carefully because he really doesn’t want to be wrong. “You do know you can come by my apartment to see me, too. I wouldn’t mind at all.” 

He doesn’t let go of Jason’s hand. 

“I… uh… Are you sure?” There’s that insecurity again, but Jason’s giving him a hopeful look, one that makes him appear so much younger than he is. 

Tim raises their joined hands to his mouth and presses a kiss onto the scarred knuckles. There’s no mistaking the heat that flares in Jason’s eyes. “I’d love it if you did. Perhaps we can take Darcy out together. Have a cup of coffee somewhere.” 

“Yes!” Jason all but shouts, then blushes harder as Tim chuckles over his enthusiasm. “Fuck, we kinda went at this ass-backwards, didn’t we?” 

“Well, this is actually one of the longest relationships I’ve ever had, but it’s also the first one where I haven’t gone on a real date. How about we fix that before you go to Montreal?” 

Jason nods, then bites his bottom lip. “Umm, does that mean I can’t kiss you until after the first date?” 

“Hell, no.” Tim pushes their mostly empty dinner plates to the side and seats himself on the counter. He tugs Jason to his feet and the taller man slots himself between Tim’s parted thighs in a way that he can’t wait to explore in more explicit detail later. 

Their mouths meet, hesitantly at first as Tim lets Jason set the pace, then harder as Jason’s confidence grows. 

Jason moans against Tim’s mouth as he tugs lightly on the short hairs at the back of his neck. The moan quickly turns into a groan as Darcy launches himself up from the floor, whining and barking as he tries to get in on the action. 

Tim starts to laugh, even as the dog manages to get his front paws up on the counter. “I hope he doesn’t do this all the time.” 

“Something tells me he’s going to be a worse cockblock than Dick.”