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like you never had wings

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Jason lies spread across the diving platform like a starfish. His long arms and legs absorb the sunlight as easily as the wood radiating warmth beneath him, as does the body beside him. After spending the hour wrestling in the blue waters, he is close to sleep like this, warm and lazy listening to the distant whine of boats motoring down the causeway and Dick’s soft breath washing over his ear. He can count the spaces where their bodies connect, Dick on his side, palm resting on Jason’s abdomen, his hair wet and curling over Jason’s bicep. So close and he doesn’t want this week to end.

The Wayne family traditionally come to their lake home on the third week of summer, or so Bruce explained when Jason first came to the manor three years ago. It’s always a rotating roster of misfits and friends Bruce has managed to collect over the years. The number that makes it to the lake house is always smaller than the invitations that go out though, leaving Bruce, Alfred, Dick, and Jason for the most part. Babs is missing, for the first time since Jason joined the household. She’s older now, in college, with permission to forge new traditions like going to the beach with her new friends. Jason thinks it’s probably the break up that has something to do with that decision, but he doesn’t say it to Dick. He doesn’t remind him that things change.

Dick has a queer affinity with change. Most days, Dick swears he embraces it, has his eyes and heart open, waiting for change. But Jason remembers how heatedly Dick resisted Jason coming to the manor. The angry snarl on his lips when Selina left, and Talia began visiting. Babs left…. And then there’s how clearly blind Dick is to other changes.

And there’s so many more changes that happened this year. Jason's changing too. He burps quietly into his shoulder, probably swallowed half the lake now, but it had been worth it testing his growing body against Dick’s now that he’s taller, fitter. Like his whole insides were being built upon until his bones, one by one, were sturdier, his muscles stronger while he became this big, unwieldy thing that shot up and up to scrape the sky. The only places he feels normal are on the rooftops and next to Dick who somehow seems so much bigger even though they stand nearly eye to eye. Dick, who is compact and lean and has an easy time getting people to open to him, a laugh and a special smile that makes everyone feel a part of him. Jason wishes he had that inside of him, hopes he's at least as handsome as his foster brother to make up for the shy curl of his shoulders and his awkward mouth. He wonders if his hands will ever feel so heavy and right on another person's skin like Dick's hand feels on his belly now.

He’s about to suggest swimming back to shore before he really does fall sleep, when a chorus of giggles catches his attention. The sound carries on the water from the sand smeared at the lake’s edge. He tilts his head up and finds two girls picking their way to the narrow strip of sand at the water’s edge. They’re both pretty, even from this distance Jason can tell, but his eyes come to rest on the girl with brown hair, the taller one with pale skin, a bright blue bikini, and the most perfect looking tits he’s ever seen. The girls snap their towels out like banners that flutter perfectly over the sand. Their voices are pretty too, indistinct and sweet, like chirping birds, and even though Jason can’t make out what they’re saying, he likes the sound. Then the tall girl shrieks and hops at her friend, hand slapping out at her shoulder. Jason’s eyes grow wide because she just, she just bounced in that bikini and he can see the quiver running over her body from here. It sends a low pulse through his stomach, a warm, tilting sensation that’s become way too familiar.

He drags himself upright, pulls his legs until his feet are flat on the platform, and rests his arms over his knees, spine curving forward breathing slowly, willing his dick to calm down already.

Dick shifts beside him. “What’s the matter, little wing?”

Jason flinches away from the warm fingers tickling beneath his knee. “Nothing. Shut up,” he adds as an afterthought because that’s not his nickname anymore. He’s outgrown it with the way his body has stretched, and the baby fat melted away. He’s gaining on Dick, who Alfred suggested had reached his last growth spurt.

“Would you look at that?” Dick must have sat up too because he’s draping himself across Jason’s back. His long arms curl under Jason’s thighs, fingers tickling again. “How long they’ve been here?”

“Not long,” whispers Jason. “I was gonna tell you we should go back to shore.”

“Yeah, right,” says Dick in that knowing tone of his, but Jason also hears the deeper catch in his voice like he hears the quickening of his own breath with the girls pass a bottle of tanning oil between them and then peel their bikini straps down.

Jason open and closes his fists trying not to think about the way the tall girl tucks the straps beneath the band and how the material seems to expose just the tiniest bit more skin. Not with the way Dick presses against him, stoking the heat in his gut.

“Don’t you think it’d be better if you went over there and talked to them instead of staring like a creeper, little wing?”

Jason squeezes his eyes shut. “I’m not staring.”

“Sure you are,” says Dick. His breath is scratchy and breaks along the edge of Jason’s jaw. “Don’t blame you though. She’s pretty hot. You should go over there. Say hi.”

“Dick.”

“Come on. You can do it.”

The encouraging isn’t new. Dick has always been that way, telling Jason he can achieve things if he puts his mind to it. Teasing and coaxing him into new experiences that his parents never managed to give him, like decrypting communications, eating zucchini, and leaping across a nine-foot gap between buildings. And other times it’s simple as learning to ride a bike. A bike of all things. One of the many things Jason never had growing up on Park Row. Dick’s encouragement seems to come from a nice place, a place that says if he can do it then Jason can too. Dick’s been trying to get Jason over his shyness, getting him out there talking to people, girls especially. He’s talking Jason up right now, hands slow and soothing on his legs, a smile soft against Jason’s cheek, confident in Jason, like going over and talking to a hot girl is as easy as lining up that grappling hook.

It’s just that Jason doesn’t think it’s so easy to do, and he’s not sure if he can without Dick by his side.

A hot flush stains his cheeks and his breath becomes a little ragged from the quiet way Dick laughs against his neck. “On second thought maybe, you shouldn’t get up or she’ll know what ‘little wing’ really means.”

Jason jerks his head around to stare at Dick staring down at his tented board shorts. “Shut up you jerk!” he shouts and shoves Dick hard.

He scrambles to his feet and imagines that he can feel all eyes on him. Dick’s, the two girls, the guys on the speedboat slicing the water in two. His feet feel unsteady, his entire world narrowed down to all those eyes on him. He’s angry now. His skin feels sensitive, embarrassment stings along his chest and down the back of his neck, across his cheeks. He stands there frozen, hunched over, and desperate for a way to escape.

When the moment goes by too long and Dick starts to sit up, reach for him, Jason skips back a step, tripping over his foot. He falls backwards into the water with a great splash.

Maybe that's all change is, thinks Jason as he sinks down through the heated lake waters until his toes touch cool depths, losing your balance and falling until you can't go down anymore. He wants to right now though. He wants to sink down and down until he's cold all over. Maybe that would shrink him, make him small again, makes it so he doesn't notice the way girls smile at school or the stretch of a hero’s belly when they're stretching their arms, ready to fly into action. He lets the air out of his mouth. The bubbles roll under his nose. It's a nice thought but it's interrupted by a muffled splash above his head. Dick dives towards him, eyes open wide, fierce and worried before he's grabbing Jason and propelling them both to the surface with three strong kicks.

"Jason, Jason, are you okay?" Dick shouts the second they burst through instead of gasping in air like Jason. They bob together like corks, Dick’s chest pressed to Jason’s back.

Jason coughs taking in more water. "I'm fine. I'm fine, geeze."

"You were down there for like, two minutes, Jason."

"No, I wasn't. I just fell."

"I know! Thought you might've hit your head or something."

“I didn’t. Shit!”

Dick shakes him a little then squeezes him tight. “You didn’t come up,” he said. “You didn’t. Jason.”

"I just. You were making fun of me and I didn't want to. I didn't want to come up with you laughing at me."

“I’m sorry, Jason,” Dick whispers into the wet skin of Jason’s neck. “I’m sorry you got embarrassed, but you shouldn’t be.”

“Why not,” Jason sniffles, head tilting back against Dick's shoulder. “Why shouldn’t I be? I’m a freak.”

“Because it happens to everyone."

"No it doesn't," says Jason because he's never seen something like this happen. It seems like he's the only one who gets this way, sweaty and hard over nothing like at the debate team sleepover last year when Ms. Tyler leaned over him the soft swell of her breast brushed his cheek or the way his blood started rushing all over when all five boys climbed onto the bed wrestling to push the others off. His sniffles become sobs.

"Hey, hey. It's okay," whispers Dick into the shell of his ear. Dick’s arm is strong around his middle holding Jason flush against his body. The waves buoy them together.

“It’s not. Dick. I’m still. I’m still.” He whimpers when Dick’s fingers slide up his thighs just next to the crest of his dick still hard in his shorts.

“It’s okay, Jason.” Dick’s voice is low and sure, the familiar cadence that Jason now realizes is as soothing and natural to him as drawing breath, letting his heart beat.

Jason gives a shuddering sigh and tears slip from his eyes, hot on his skin that's wet from the water.

"Jason," he says quietly, urgently. "Me too."

"Yeah?" he asks voice quavering.

"Yeah." Another kick presses Dick flush against Jason's back, and they float together closely. Jason can feel it then, Dick's hard against the back of Jason's thigh. Hard and hot and breathing slowing into a rhythm Jason can match. "Me too."

 


 

Her name is Lacy Heath and she’s just as good-looking wearing a loose tank top and shorts as she is in a blue bikini. She’s tall with deep brown eyes, a wide-open smile, and a body Jason works hard to respect but ends up glancing at the shape of her hips, her long fingers, and the way her breasts move beneath her shirt so gently.

This is her first time visiting the lake. Her uncle and his wife invited her family. She loves it here, thinks the water is peaceful, has spent days writing in her diar…journal, poems and stuff. She’s made friends with a girl who lives on the far shore, Mallory, but she had thought there was no one else her age here.

She’s glad to meet Dick and, “Um. Your brother.”

“Jason,” says Dick, nudging him forward.

He manages a quiet, “Foster brother,” and then, “Um. Hi,” not that it matters. He’d been waiting for what feels like hours standing by for a chance to say something, anything, to catch her eye and make a good impression. It doesn’t matter because Lacy is so glad to have met them, but her eyes are on Dick when she says this, cheeks rosy but not from the sun. It’s not fair because Jason had seen her first, noticed her across the water, thought about her before drifting to sleep, and even saw her in his dreams. But her smile never left Dick the second he grinned at her and said his name. It’s not fair, but Jason can’t find it in him to be mad.

He does pout quietly at the dinner table when Bruce and Talia wring every bit of information about Lacy from before deciding that he could go out with her tomorrow night.

“But you have to be home before eleven,” says Talia, her deep accent making the proclamation sound magnanimous when Dick has a three am curfew in Gotham. “I will not have you and this strange girl out necking until the lights come on.”

Dick and Bruce laugh uproariously, for them, and for the first time, Dick looks at Talia without that edge in his eyes. Jason doesn’t join them because he doesn’t know what necking is. When he asks, they all laugh at him. It’s not funny and Dick should know better. It’s not his fault that no one tries to tell him anything. Sometimes it’s like they forget that he has a lot of life experience living on the fucked up streets of a fucked up town.

Although the feeling flirts over his body, Jason doesn’t have a lot of time to feel betrayed, not when they start discussing him at the table, voices rapid and overlapping.

“Oh, Jason,” says Talia. “If only you would stay this way forever.”

“It’s just what the old folks say when they talk about making out,” says Bruce.

“Kissing.” says Dick. His cheeks are a little pink, eyes half-moons from the size of his smile. He nods to Jason and he can read it in that small motion—Dick is going to kiss her as soon as he can and he’s promising to tell Jason all about it.

Jason can’t be mad when Dick smiles at him like that, but he sure does think about kissing a lot now.

 


 

Jason sits on the bed, legs crossed, nose wrinkled with bored frustration. Dick has been trying on every shirt he brought with him and discarding each one after a quick look in the mirror. He’s getting ready for his date with Lacy tonight. They’re meeting at the Boat House, a small restaurant on the marina with the best milkshakes and sundaes. It seems weird that Dick is taking her to the place that he and Jason goes, but Jason’s not going to say anything.

Maybe it’s another thing in life that’s changing, Dick doing their things with girls. It kind of hurts, because they have so few things that are just between them anyway. But he’s okay with it, really. It’s not like he’d want Dick with him if he was going on a date. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean he likes knowing his kinda-brother is out there doing something like this before him. Kissing other people.

“Are you gonna do it?” It slips out before he even registers the thought.

Dick’s in the mirror flexing his chest and grinning. He’d been lifting since spring and it’s really starting to show. “Do what?”

“You and Lacy. You gonna be making out with her today?”

Dick glances at him over one shoulder. “It’s not like we’re going to be somewhere private. Besides, it’s too early.”

“You got times you’re allowed to make out with people?” Jason says, dryly.

“No. I mean we just met yesterday. Give me some time to put the moves on her. Then I’ll kiss her.” Dick flips his hair out of his face then frowns unsatisfied by what he’s seeing. He turns and starts rummaging for another t-shirt.

Another question slips out of his mouth, this one serious, telling. “How do you even know how to kiss?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean. I know what kissing is but how do you know how to do it right? Do it so someone will like it?” Jason looks down at his feet not wanting to let Dick know how much he’s been thinking about this. “How do you know she’ll like it?”

“You practice it when you kiss. If you kiss enough people, you learn what’s good and what they like. But everyone’s different so you just have to get a few tricks down.”

“What kind of tricks?”

“Little things like how you hold a girl. Where you touch her while you kiss. Stuff like that.”

Jason tries to picture holding someone in his arms and kissing them like they do in the movies. He’s taller now he imagines he’d have to bend down to reach them. Or pull them up? Sit them in his lap? The thought of some girl spread over his thighs sends a rush shooting through him.

“But how do you practice kissing when you don’t have anyone to kiss?”

Dick pokes his head out of the closet. His eyes have a knowing light in them, the kind that reminds Jason of a dog and his bone. “What’re you on about, little wing?”

“Nothing. Nothing. I just.” Jason trails off with a shrug. He’s not sure how to say that he’s been thinking about kissing ever since Dick had said he was going to kiss Lacy. He’s curious not only because it’s something Dick knows how to do that Jason doesn’t. He just can’t get the picture out of his head—Dick’s mouth open against Lacy’s pink lips and the way Dick’s hands would look sliding up her back to bring her close. It’s always slow motion in his mind and makes his stomach twist.

Dick crosses over to the bed and stares at him. Stares until Jason flushes and closes his eyes, sure Dick can see what he’s thinking when they’re open. Dick gets even closer, his hand cupping Jason’s calves then spreading his legs, knees pressing into the bed between Jason’s thighs, his breath warm on Jason’s face. “You got someone you wanna kiss, little wing?”

“No,” says Jason, voice quiet and small.

“You lying to me?”

“No.” He may not be lying but he’s not telling the whole truth.

“Then why are you asking me about kissing?”

“I just. Wanna be good when I do. I don’t want to look. Stupid.” Jason clutches the blankets bracing for Dick’s reply.

“You won’t look stupid. You’ll look like a fucking stud. Look. Look at me, Jason,” he demands, and Jason’s eyes flutter open. “You want to get good at kissing then you have to practice. Easiest way to do it is with this.” He brings up his fist and grins.

"What?"

"This. You kiss your fist." Dick's grin turns sly. "You can't tell me you haven't gotten up close and personal with it yet. I know."

Jason ducks his head whining," Dick."

"Don't be shy now, little wing. We’re sharing a room, remember? Besides, it's not like I haven't done the same thing."

“Oh,” he squeaks lost for a second. Jason tries to be so quiet at night when he’s wiggling in bed, neck sweaty, dick stiff and wetting the tip of his sock. He didn’t think Dick would be awake. Awake and able to hear him. Awake and maybe doing the same thing. He shuts down the thought, neck turning a deep red.

“So go ahead and do it.”

“Go ahead and do what?”

Dick thumps his ear. “Kiss your fist, dummy.”

“Ow!” Jason slithers to the side rubbing his ear. He looks down at his hand then back at Dick who nods. He closes his fingers into a loose fist and slowly brings his hand up. Knowing Dick is watching him makes Jason feel shaky inside like his belly is trying to turn over. He closes his eyes, puckers his lips, and presses a quick kiss against his knuckle and thumb.

He feels Dick shift closer then snort.

“Don’t laugh!” Jason bawls. “You. You’re making fun of me!” he tries to roll away but Dick’s there trying to stop him, laughing, “No, no Jay, don’t get mad, no.” They tangle together, Jason flailing his elbows around trying to push Dick and Dick swaying between his legs, grabbing his wrist, pulling Jason against his chest and squeezing tight until Jason’s gasps for air.

“Are you going to listen to me now?”

“No,” Jason huffs. When does he listen to Dick anyway? He stops struggling and let’s Dick push him down into the pillows before settling on his side.

“I wasn’t. I really wasn’t, okay,” Dick’s voice softens. “Your face was just real cute, Jason.”

“Was not.”

“Yeah it was. Your nose was all.” Dick scrunched his face and brings his fist up. His mouth moves like a guppy skating the water for food.

Jason puts his palm over Dick’s face and shoves. “Shut up.”

“I’m sorry though. If I made you feel silly.”

“No you’re not. You’re making fun,” he says trying to wiggle away again.

Dick pulls Jason flush against him like he doesn’t mind Jason’s shoulder in his chest or that Jason’s hip cuts into his own. He squeezes Jason gently. “I’m not. And I’m not lying either. Before I ever kissed anyone, I did what you’re doing now. I got real good with practice, and when I got to try for real, I wasn’t nervous.”

Jason looks up at him but Dick looks calm, a little amused, but steady like there’s nothing he wants more than for Jason to trust him. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. It’s okay if you want your first kiss to be special. And it’s okay if your first kiss is awkward too. It gets better.”

“I know that,” Jason grouses. “I’m not. I’ve done stuff. Just never kissed someone before. Not like that. Not like I mean it.”

Dick’s thumb smoothes over his brow slowly, a half smile on his lips. “Jay, it's okay that you haven't done this with another person yet. There's not timeline or checkmark of when you need to have your first kiss. And I get it, Jay. I do. So will you. Come on. Try it again.”

A quick look at Dick’s eyes show that sparkle remains, but also something soft, something Jason always trusts. Dick’s not going to laugh again. He thinks Jason can do it because he’s done it.

“Okay,” he says. “But no laughing.” Jason brings his hand up again and presses his lips there again. He keeps his eyes open this time, darting from Dick’s warm eyes and his mouth.

“Good,” Dick says. “Now try again. A little slower this time. But lick your lips first.”

“Why?” Jason still licks his mouth.

“You don’t want dry lips when you’re kissing. Trust me.”

Jason practices kissing with Dick there beside him. It’s a simple rhythm after he relaxes and listens to the soft rumble of Dick’s voice, try again, go slower, bite your lip, Jason, just a little. They’re even breathing together, heavy and slow, and Dick’s considering hums are echoed by Jason’s soft moans. Dick sweeps his hand under Jason’s shirt and pets his belly until Jason starts to shiver a little, too warm and tingly with Dick’s skin on his skin again.

Then Dick suggests he use his tongue.

His eyes flutter open slowly like he’s drowsy or something. “Huh?”

“French kissing, Jason. I know you’ve seen it before.”

He has. His parents, before the bad times, which is just as bad as the kisses his mother doled out to her dealer. And he’ll forever regret volunteering to take the trash out and finding two of Dick’s friends frenching behind the carriage house. He couldn’t look Roy in the eye after that one. But yeah, he’s seen movies too. Doesn’t mean he knows how to do it though. Dick must see the confusion on his face because he wraps his fingers around Jason’s wrist and brings his hand up.

“Like this,” he says and kisses Jason’s fist. He knows what he’s doing. His mouth is slow against the tight furl of Jason’s fingers kissing the side of his fingers then his thumb like they were Jason’s lips, top and bottom. Not really though, Jason thinks desperately. He doesn’t want—

“Loosen your fingers a little,” Dick pulls back, lips wet, and repeats himself, voice soft as cotton, “loosen your fingers, little wing.”

Jason swallows and does what his Dick asks. Then Dick’s tongue darts between his fingers and it’s not gross. It’s not gross at all. Dick's tongue is sleek and hot. The tip strokes against the sensitive skin of his palm, dragging up and down and in and out like he’s hungry but still willing to take his time. His hand has stopped moving but Dick’s thumb just strokes down the line between Jason’s belly button and the band of his shorts and it’s so hard to concentrate on both feelings, Dick’s tongue and his thumb and what he’s going to do next. Where he might go.

Dick trails three nibbling kisses down to Jason’s wrist before pulling away. He brings his hand to Jason’s lips. “Now you try.”

It’s the kind of challenge that Jason never fails to take, except too he feels loose and lazy right now and his fingers tremble when they slide over Dicks and he settles in closer and looks into Dick's eyes. He tries to kiss like Dick, thoughtful and sure, but he tenses when his lips finally touch Dick’s skin. His tongue is thick and dumb, too wet, sloppy, but Dick just tilts his forehead against his temple and says, “Doing good, Jason. Doing so good,” quietly. It makes Jason shake, makes him pull away with a moan. His lips feel puffy, his chin damp, his mouth open and so, so empty.

Dick’s expression is not one he’s seen before, at least not directed at him. It’s intense, focused intensity burning bright and so close. Jason licks his lips again and watches Dick’s eyes follow every movement. It’d be so easy to sink between the pillows and tug Dick until he was stretched across his body, still a little heavier, warmer, a steady presence that Jason wants pressing over him. Dick makes this sound again, low from his chest and it echoes down into Jason’s bones, so close and inside him, Jason can feel him. Dick leans in closer--how could he possibly be closer--, and Jason’s heart begins to race. He’s already so hard right now. If Dick looks down, he'll see how thick Jason’s dick from practicing. Anyone will notice it, Dick will notice, and Jason can’t promise that he minds much. Then Dick leans up and presses a kiss to the middle of Jason’s forehead. Soft, lingering, not enough.

"You learn quick, little wing.”

Jason whines a little, “Dick,” not asking but disappointed for something he can’t explain, never wanting to name as a shivery sigh against his skin does to Dick.

Dick bites his lips, eyes luminous and hot, before he shakes himself. He pushes up to his knees. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah.” Jason coughs. “Okay.” He watches Dick climb up from a bed and pull on a shirt from his discard pile. He soothes the material across his chest, down his belly then reaches down and. Jason closes his eyes and breathes through the sight of Dick palming his cock, the heavy weight of it in his shorts.

“See you later, little wing.”

“Whatever.”

“Get some practice in. I’ll tell you everything when I get back," Dick calls, before leaving the room.

Jason’s left alone on his bed, sweaty, hot, hard, and with a wet palm.

He makes sure to lock the door.