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Rose Colored Lenses

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Dick stretched out in the bath, hooking long legs over the side of the heated clawfoot tub. A gift, but Dick couldn’t remember the occasion. The water was sweet and milky white from an almond milk soak, and dried rose petals floated, lazy and radiating their cloyingly floral perfume. More gifts, Dick wasn’t sure when he became so dependent on gifts.  

The water was hot, but not hot enough to soothe the chronic ache and knotted muscles. Nothing could, except for the thick haze of opioids. Opioids weren’t an option, Leslie cut Dick off several months earlier, and besides, oxy upset his balance on high rises.

And despite its limitations, the bath softened and scented Dick’s skin. His olive complexion was dark against the creamy water and when he stood the petals clung to him. Dick liked having beautiful, sticky things cling to him; beautiful things usually preferred distance, erecting cracked walls so that he could look but never touch.  

So, Dick liked baths. But nothing gold can stay, so neither could Dick in the bath. He’d lounged long enough. He reached for his rose scented soap and lathered his propped legs. His razor felt heavy in his hand as he leaned forward and dragged it up his skin before swirling the blades in the bath and repeating.

He traced the razor’s path with his eyes, watching as it cut through the foam to leave long tracks of bared skin. Stubborn rose petals wrapped around the razorblades so that Dick was forced to coax them back into the water by dragging a calloused thumb horizontally down the blades. In pursuit of thoroughness, but with the threat of razor burn, Dick drug the razor twice down each section of skin, counting his strokes and counting his sections.

Engrossed in his task as he was, he didn’t hear the front door open and close, not even the click of the lock.

“Dick?” Jason called out. Dick flinched, the razor slipping in his wet grasp. Sharp, stinging pain sliced beneath his knee. Blood immediately welled and then spilled.

“In the bath!” Dick shouted back, never tearing his gaze from the blood as it dripped a thin pink line through patches of remaining lather.  

“Christ, Dick,” Jason hissed from the bathroom threshold. Dick looked up. “Trying for a second career as Victor Zsasz?”

Dick shrugged. “My hand slipped. How was your day?”

“Fine. Boring,” Jason said, fetching a cotton pad from the medicine cabinet and crouching next to the bath to dab Dick’s knee. His cologne burned Dick’s nose, heavy and spicy. Jason only ever wore that much cologne after blood-soaked errands. He’d scrub and rinse, but by his own admission, copper always stuck to his tongue.

“You smell like blood,” Dick commented when Jason went to toss the cotton pad. Jason froze. Dick sunk lower into the water as he peered up at him. Jason set his mouth in a hard line.

“I don’t,” Jason protested, voice pitched and defensive.

“Maybe not,” Dick conceded. “But you smell like your murder cologne.”

Jason snorted, his frown quirking into a wry smile.

“My murder cologne?” he asked, fetching an alcohol wipe from the same cabinet as the cotton pads. This time he knelt next to Dick before tearing the packet and blotting the cut. The sting didn’t bother Dick, it grounded him. He’d begun to feel like he was floating, and that was never good.

“Yeah. You only wear it after you’ve been around a lot of blood. Whose blood?” Dick pushed.

Jason just frowned as Dick’s cut welled again.

“Yours, apparently. That’s a deep cut, Dick.”

Dick didn’t say anything, not when Jason slid a glove-roughened hand down Dick’s smooth calf to tug Dick’s leg closer and certainly not when Jason leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Dick’s knee, above the cut.

“I don’t know why you feel like you have to shave,” Jason murmured against Dick’s soapy skin. “I don’t care if you shave.”

“It’s not about you,” Dick frowned. “It makes it easier to slide into my suit. And it makes me feel clean.”

“You are clean,” Jason shot back fiercely, the grip on his calf turning into a squeeze. “You’re not like the rest of us. You’re clean.”

Dick leaned back and blinked up at the ceiling. At this angle, his back was pressed uncomfortably against the edge of the tub, but Dick wasn’t a stranger to discomfort. “It’s lonely on this pedestal.”

A headache was blooming behind Dick’s eyes. The almond and rose smelled strongly enough, and now Jason’s cologne mixed with the sweet and floral notes to form a suffocating cloud that Dick tasted on the back of his tongue.

Jason pulled away from Dick. “I can’t help it, goldie. Can I finish you up?”

“You’re going to get wet,” Dick warned.

Jason cracked a grin. “You know I like it when you make me wet.”

Dick snorted and relinquished the razor. Jason took the soap and lathered up Dick’s leg again, most of the bubbles having dripped off by then. Then, Jason began gentle, precise strokes.

Jason operated the razor with the same attentiveness and reverence as he did a needle when Dick needed sutures. When Jason reached Dick’s thigh, Dick lifted his leg and Jason shed his jacket and gloves so that he could lean over the edge and dip his ministrations into the water. Every third drag accompanied a kiss, and when he finished, Jason kissed Dick’s thigh. Dick lowered his leg, and Jason kissed his knee, and then his shin, and then he lifted Dick’s ankle with a loose, gentle hand and kissed that too.

Dick felt like a porcelain doll.

The next leg was more of the same, and when Jason finished, he kicked off his boots and crawled into the milky white tub, his shirt and pants darkening as water soaked through. Dick made room for him, pressing his back against the narrow head of the tub while Jason adjusted around Dick’s long limbs. Then, Jason rose from the water enough to grip the sides on either side of Dick’s head. He smiled fondly at Dick.

“Hey,” Jason murmured.

“Hi,” Dick said back. Jason leaned down for a kiss, but Dick stopped him with a hand to his chest. Jason paused, hovering uncertainly. Dick fisted the small patch of Jason’s shirt that was still dry.

“Whose blood?” Dick nearly whispered. Jason frowned.

“A dealer. He was selling uncut fentanyl, one of the girls from The Narrows overdosed. She’s okay, but she’s not the only vic. He wouldn’t listen when I tried to talk, then he got violent. I don’t regret what I did, Dick, and I don’t expect you to understand.”

Dick frowned. “I do,” he urged. “I do understand.”

Jason smiled softly, but it was melancholic. It was patronizing. “It’s okay. It’s like I said earlier. You’re the best of us. I won’t take that away from you, no one can take that from you.”

I’m not, Dick wanted to shout. I’m lonely, he wanted to add. Take me down from this tower, I can't be who you want me to be, I hurt people, I hurt them, I hurt them, I hurt—

Jason leaned down again, and this time Dick let him. Jason’s lips pressed against Dick’s and Dick released Jason’s shirt to grip his bicep instead. He marveled at the wide, coiled muscles, and then he groaned when Jason nibbled his lower lip. Dick bent his leg just enough to slot his thigh between Jason’s legs. He knew Jason needed more friction than that, but he couldn’t reach the clasp to Jason’s pants like this, and Jason wouldn’t relent.

The angle forced Dick to tilt his head back and slide down so that his hair fanned like a halo. Jason lowered himself into the water, bracing his hands on the floor of the tub instead of the sides, and Dick wrapped his legs around him to accommodate the shift.

When Jason finally pulled away, it was only to trail more kisses along Dick’s jaw. Then he kissed Dick’s nose and forehead before lifting himself enough to cock his head at Dick. Dick looked up at him, the water lapping at his ears. His neck burned from holding his head up underneath Jason’s ministrations, and his eyes burned from the essential oils clouding the air. Rose petals gathered around his face and tickled his skin.

“You look like Ophelia,” Jason murmured, awed and starry-eyed.

Dick did not doubt that.