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Freckle, Freckle

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It was on their sixth bi-weekly waffle meeting that Roy paid Dick a very unintentional favour. 

There was a pattern to these mornings: Dick would try to show up at the warehouse early enough to get inside and say hi to Jason, and Roy would try to be sitting on the curb early enough to prevent Dick from seeing Jason at all. When Roy won, he gloated for at least an hour. When Dick won, Roy would sit on the couch and cheerfully shout expletives as Dick crawled into Jason’s bed and tried to convince him to come with them, “Please, I am worried that he is going to poison me one of these times!” Jason always grumbled, burnt out from a night of patrol, and pushed Dick away with one hand while throwing his pillow over his head with the other.

Whether it took them an extra half hour of Dick’s Needy Cuddle Time or not, Dick and Roy ended up at a local diner where the waitress knew Roy’s name and order. She always asked Roy about “that boy of yours”, and Roy would cheerfully tell the waitress how Jason was doing while grinning smugly in Dick’s direction and kicking his leg beneath the table.

Roy just loved to torture Dick.

Once they ordered breakfast - waffles for both of them, because Roy threatened to pack up Jason and move him across the country the one time Dick tried to order cereal - Dick would attempt to make light, friendly conversation while Roy slurped coffee, shoved waffles in his mouth, and half-listened. After his first mug of liquid caffeine was finished, Roy usually became more amiable to talking to Dick - but only if it involved teasing him mercilessly over his budding relationship with Jason.

It was a testament to the fact that Dick was ridiculously, stupidly head-over-heels for Jason that he kept showing up for these breakfasts.

This morning was no different. Roy had been early, and once at breakfast had started in to Dick by gleefully recapping all of the fun things he and Jason had done in the week and a half since Dick had seen him, and Dick tried very, very hard not to be jealous. He knew that that was exactly what Roy wanted, to get under his skin, but it was hard not to be envious when he knew that Jason hadn’t answered all of his texts and Roy claimed it was because they’d been too busy bonding over video games and Thai food.

Inevitably, after coffee number three, Roy would give up trying to needle Dick and would allow Dick to talk about Jason, a little, ask Roy inconsequential questions about Jason and make a fool of himself recapping every little thing Jason had done the last time they’d seen each other. Dick liked to talk about his partners, liked telling other people all about them and sharing the sweet, romantic little details of their relationship. But Jason was a private person, insanely so, and that was only aggravated by the fact that Jason was positive the family would disapprove of him “corrupting their golden boy”. Dick hadn’t told anyone about them - though he would bet money on at least Damian and Tim knowing, what with the whole photo fiasco - so his only chance to be a huge sap about Jason was with Roy. It wasn’t perfect company, considering that Dick was half-afraid that Roy would turn around and tell Jason everything he’d said about him, but Dick was going to explode if he didn’t tell someone about the way Jason looked when he laughed straight from his gut at one of Dick’s stupid quips, or the surprise that lit up his eyes when Dick remembered tiny details like Jason’s favourite kind of tea, or how the roll of his hips into Dick’s could somehow be both forceful and gentle, demanding and almost soft, accommodating.

After Dick gushed to Roy about how Jason had helped a lost little girl find her mom the last time they saw each other, Roy sucked syrup off his fingertips and grinned at Dick, a sharp-edged thing, in response. “So, when are you going to tell him you’re in love with him?” he asked, mock-casually, and Dick groaned and dropped his head into his hands on the table. Roy Harper was really going to be the death of him.

“When he’s ready to hear it,” Dick mumbled, and Roy raised a single eyebrow. Dick sighed. “If I tell him, he’s going to panic and run away. I’d rather… I’d rather never tell him how I feel and keep him happy than gush out my feelings and lose him forever.” And there was Dick’s heart again, slipping out into his words and betraying him, admitting even more to Roy than he already had. Oh, well. He pretty much owed Roy a lifetime of waffles for his secret keeping at this point, anyways.

Roy slapped his hands down flat on the table, and his smile was even more smug than before. “You’ve got it so fuckin’ bad, Grayson,” Roy laughed. “I thought it was pretty serious, but even I had no idea you were such a fuckin’ sap. But damn, are you hard up for him.”

“Shut up,” Dick moaned, and Roy just guffawed a little louder, causing the patrons around them to look at their table. “I can’t help it. I thought it would get easier once it wasn’t an unrequited thing, but he just -” Keeps surprising me, Dick was thinking. Keeps making me fall in love with him all over again every time I see him. Keeps breaking my heart and stitching it back together every time he lets me touch him. Dick shoved a piece of waffle in his mouth to try to prevent his thoughts from turning into words. He had embarrassed himself enough already for one day.

“You poor sucker,” Roy snickered, leaning back in the booth. He leaned back, looking oddly pensive for a moment, before he told Dick, “You know, it’s not just y-” Whatever Roy was going to say - and god, did Dick want to know - it was interrupted by Roy’s cell phone ringing, a snippet of some rock song that was specific to Jason’s contact information. Roy raised an eyebrow and answered the phone. “Hey Jaybird,” he started, “we were just talking about you, and you wouldn’t believe -”

Roy was cut off abruptly by what sounded like furious yelling from the other end of the phone. Dick perked up instantly, concerned, because was Jason okay, did he need help? Dick and Roy could be back at the warehouse in minutes if they needed to be, and the worst case scenarios were already flooding Dick’s mind as he prepared himself to get back to Jason’s safehouse now. “Oh, shit,” Roy mumbled, when the shouting on the line abated. He ran a hand over his face. “I’m sorry, that’s totally my fault. I’ll fix -” and there was more yelling, possibly more irate than before. Roy listened for a while, covering his eyes, before Dick heard the other end of the line go dead and Roy hung up.

“Is he alright?” Dick demanded, already standing up and pulling out cash to pay for breakfast. “Do we need to call for backup? Tim, Steph, and Dami are in school, but I could probably get a hold of Cass -”

Roy sighed. “Sit down,” he told Dick, and Dick obeyed warily. “He’s not in immediate danger. He’s just pissed because I,” and then some incoherent mumbling into the hands covering his face. 

“Uh, pardon?”

“Because I spent the money for our utilities on parts,” Roy ground out. “I forgot they were due. Now our power’s out and we have no heat. Plus Jason is sick, so he’s in a bad mood to begin with, and he -”

Dick blinked. “Jason’s sick?” he asked, worry starting to bubble back up in his stomach. “Why didn’t he say anything? Is he okay?”

Roy actually rolled his eyes in Dick’s direction. “Because he knew you’d worry about him, probably?” he snorted. “Whatever, it doesn’t matter now. He’s going to freeze to death if he stays in that warehouse, but he will probably shoot me if I go over there. So I kind of need you to go take care of him, get him somewhere warm.” Roy watched the slow grin grow on Dick’s face and groaned. “Yeah, I know, I’m so going to owe you for this.” 

There was a half-second where Dick thought about telling Roy the truth - I’m happy because you trust me to take care of him - but he swallowed the impulse. “Waffles on you, next time,” he told Roy cheerfully, and he didn’t miss Roy’s muttered comment about “if there is a next time”.

Dick was back at Jason’s safehouse 15 minutes later, after Roy had run off to god knows where to “hide from Jaybird’s wrath”. Dick wasn’t that concerned - he would just scoop Jason up and take him to his apartment, easy peasy. Jason was sick, so how willful could he be?

As it turned out, very, very willful. 

“What the fuck,” were the first words out of Jason’s mouth when he opened his front door and saw Dick standing there. Jason looked bad, face drawn and pale, wrapped in the comforter from his bed but still shivering. His voice was hoarse and raw, and his eyes looked sunken and exhausted. “I specifically told Roy not to tell you anything!”

That stung a little, but Dick was determined not to show it. “He was worried about you,” he offered, shifting his weight from side to side as he stood awkwardly in the doorway. “Thought you would freeze to death in here.” And Jason just might - the warehouse was numbingly cold, and even in his jacket, Dick felt uncomfortable.

“‘M fine,” Jason rasped. When Dick raised an eyebrow, Jason scowled. “I don’t need to be taken care of, Dickie. I can do that just fine.”

Dick sighed. He knew that if he had any chance of getting Jason to come with him, he would have to make Jason feel as though it was his choice to do so, make sure that Jason didn’t think Dick was pitying him. “I know,” he told Jason, “that you can take perfectly good care of yourself. That’s not what this is. I just want to help.” Jason snorted, but he kicked open the door so Dick could enter the safehouse. Jason slunk back to the couch and threw himself on it, curling up in a ball under the comforter, and Dick had to stop a small, sad noise from escaping his throat at the sight.

“I’m fine,” Jason repeated, when he caught Dick staring at him. “Go home, Dickie.”

Dick shook his head and walked to the couch, settling a hand on Jason’s forehead, pushing back his sweat-damp hair. “You’re sick,” he told Jason, letting the hand run down to Jason’s cheek. “You’re freezing, but you’re almost definitely running a fever. Just let me help, Jason. You can come over and I’ll give you cold medicine and make you soup, or something. It doesn’t have to - it doesn’t have to be an us thing.”

Jason’s eyes lidded a little bit at that, and Dick could tell he was getting through to him. “I would do this for anyone who needed it, Jason,” Dick told him. “It can - it can just be you and me as people, okay? I’ll help you feel better and then leave you alone.”

Jason grunted, but he was pushing his cheek into the warmth of Dick’s hand, and Dick knew he had won this one. “Fine,” he grumbled. “But you don’t get to baby me, and you back off when I say so, got it?”

You’re about as threatening as a kitten right now, Little Wing, Dick felt like saying, but he hid the words behind a smile. “What can I help you pack?” he asked Jason instead. Jason just grumbled and emerged from his blanket cocoon, shivering as soon as he stood up. He grabbed a backpack and disappeared into his bedroom, emerging moments later with it slung over his shoulder, evidently done packing. Compared to Dick, Jason lived in an almost utopia of minimalism. Nearly all of his clothing was black or red and plain, nondescript. Dick had a feeling that if Jason lost all his earthly possessions in a fire, there would be nothing - short of the weapons he always kept on or near his person - that he couldn’t replace instantly and cheaply at the closest mall.

Well, his weapons and his books.

It had taken Dick about 5 “visits” to Jason’s bedroom to notice the bookshelves that surrounded the space, each and every one stuffed full with paperbacks, hardcovers, and even leather-bound tomes of various states of wear. In Dick’s defence, he had been extremely distracted every other time he’d been allowed in Jason’s bedroom, and he probably never would have noticed the books at all if Jason hadn’t been a little shaky that night, a little desperate and wild after watching a kid nearly get blown to pieces by a bomb on patrol.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Dick had told Jason when he balked from Dick’s kiss, smoothing his hands down the back of Jason’s shirt. “Do you want to just sit here for a minute?” Jason had nodded and let Dick pull him in until his face was buried in the crook of Dick’s neck, soft, slightly stuttered breath against his skin, and Dick had let his eyes wander the room as he gently stoked Jason’s shoulders.

The books had surprised him. “All these are yours?” he had asked Jason, after a moment of bewilderment. Jason had tilted up his head to follow Dick’s gaze, and he both blushed and set his jaw in a defensive line when he gathered Dick’s meaning.

“Yes,” Jason had said, his voice hard. “I can read, you know.”

Dick had swallowed quickly - it would take him much longer to get used to Jason’s triggers, to the little things that had him swinging from soft and pliant to cold and hard as stone in seconds - and offered, “That’s not what I meant. I just didn’t know that you collected them. This is a lot of books for anyone, even -” Someone who didn’t just start over their life, was what Dick had started to say, but he wisely trapped the words behind his teeth.

Jason had been silent for a little while, before he finally told Dick, “I pick them up when I go places. I like having them. They make me feel -” and Dick would never know what exactly the end of that sentence was, but he could guess. Like I have a home. Like I’m tied down to this earth. Like I’m really here.

Dick had spent that night running his fingers along the spines of the books, asking Jason questions about where they were from, or what they were about, or, occasionally, what language they were even in. His wonder had finally settled on some French book of poetry that he had deposited in Jason’s lap, and he had curled up on his side next to him on the bed as Jason read to him, his deep voice lilting over the rhythm of the throaty words. Dick had lasted nearly half an hour before he had pushed into Jason’s space and kissed him hard, licking into his mouth to try to chase after the way the foreign words sounded on Jason’s tongue. 

That was the first night they had had actual, fully-realized sex, and Dick had come apart to the sound of Jason hesitantly reciting French verse into his ear.

Dick shook his head to clear it and offered Jason a smile, hoping it looked more put-together than he felt after that memory. “Ready, ‘Wing?” he asked, and Jason’s grip on his outstretched hand was clammy and loose, but there.

Dick had never been so happy that he took his car instead of his bike when he and Jason got outside. Gotham was usually bitterly cold by fall, and by now, early December, the wind was frozen enough to make exposing skin a fatal idea. Jason hunched his shoulders to try to block the wind from his face as he shuffled towards the car, and by the time he opened the passenger door and lumbered in, he was a shivering mess. Dick cranked the heater and drove, figuring that waiting for the heat to kick in wasn’t worth having Jason be outdoors longer than absolutely necessary.

“Feeling alright so far?” he asked Jason at a stoplight, and when Jason didn’t answer he looked over to find his eyes drooping, body as curled into himself as he could manage while in a car. Dick sighed and ran a hand over Jason’s forehead again; it was still hot, definitely still feverish, but didn’t seem to be worse than before. “We’re almost there, and then you can curl up on the couch or in bed, whatever you want. It’ll be nice and warm and I own about a million blankets, so you’ll be cozy.” 

“Couch,” Jason mumbled, and Dick nearly winced before he reminded himself that it shouldn't be personal. Jason had a thing about being vulnerable, Dick knew that, and it was a small miracle that he was letting Dick help him at all - let alone bring him to Dick’s apartment, a place he had never been and was entirely unfamiliar with. Being in Dick’s bed would cross the line in Jason’s head that Dick was sure looked something like “Dick is taking care of me because he cares about people” versus “Dick is taking care of me because he cares about me”.

If platonic care was what Jason needed, that was what Dick would give him.

The rest of the ride passed in silence, Jason’s breathing evening out a little, but never enough to indicate that he had fallen asleep. Jason startled a little when Dick pulled into his parking spot and turned off the car, the ding of the unlocked doors rousing him from his semi-conscious state, and Dick really wanted to gather that sleepy, unsettled version of Jason up in his arms and hold him to his chest forever.

Get it together, Grayson. 

“C’mon up, Little Wing,” Dick said with only partially-forced cheer, and he helped Jason out of the car and into the building despite his huffy protests that he could walk, thank you very much, he was sick, not an invalid. Said protests were easy to ignore when Jason was gripping Dick’s side like a lifeline and occasionally sniffling.

Getting Jason up the stairs was a slight challenge - the freezing temperatures outside had woken him up, but he was a lethal combination of weak and stubborn - but they finally made it to Dick’s apartment. Jason huffed as Dick searched his pockets for his keys, finding them and unlocking the door so he could guide Jason inside.

Jason stopped just past the doorway, looking around Dick’s apartment somewhat warily as Dick kicked off his shoes and hung up his jacket. He nudged Jason to do the same and Jason did that startled rousing thing again, as if he had forgotten Dick was there. “Couch is straight ahead,” he told Jason as he moved to the bathroom. Dick could hear shuffling from the main room as he rummaged through his cabinets to find his cold medicine, so he figured Jason was at least aware enough to listen. Cold medicine in hand, Dick stopped to snag a glass of water and a few blankets from the linen closet before heading back out to the main room, looking at the couch to find -

Jason was curled up on a third of it, his large body compacted in tight in an attempt to hold in any warmth he had left. He was shivering again, cheek pressed against the couch and his teeth actually chattering. He looked absolutely miserable, and Dick was struck again by that pervasive desire to hold Jason and let his warmth seep into the other man’s bones. Instead, he swallowed and stepped closer, offering Jason the pile of blankets. “Come on,” he coaxed when Jason just blinked at him, and Jason finally sat up a little and took a blanket, wrapping it around himself. “Most of these were gifts from Alfred, and they are excellent blankets. You’ll be warm in no time.” Jason grumbled a little as he took the remaining blankets and settled them in his lap, curling into them. Good, that was a start. “Open up,” he instructed Jason, and he showed him the cold pills in his hand when Jason raised an eyebrow. “If nothing else, they’ll help you fall asleep.”

Jason huffed and snatched the pills from Dick’s palm with a shaky hand, tipping them into his mouth and chasing them with water from the glass Dick offered him. He handed the water back and immediately lay back down on the coach, a small, pitiful moan escaping his throat.

Oh, Jason.

“Do you want something to eat?” Dick asked, after shuffling in place awkwardly for a moment, and he sighed when Jason shook his head and covered his face with his hands. “A warm drink then, maybe? Tea?” Dick would never admit it, but he’d been stockpiling all of Jason’s favourite kinds, on the tiniest off chance that someday, Jason would wake up in Dick’s apartment and want something to drink. It looked like that just might happen, but certainly not the way Dick had planned for.

“Mmf,” Jason mumbled, which Dick figured was as close to approval as he was going to get. He went to the kitchen, putting the water on and puttering around while he waited for it to boil.

“I kind of thought you never got sick,” he babbled after the silence proved too much for him. “I’ve never seen you sick since - um. You know.” Smooth, Grayson. That’ll definitely encourage him to open up.

Jason’s voice was like sandpaper when he answered, and it surprised Dick. “I usually don’t,” he said, low. “Enhanced immune system is an apparent side effect of the pit.” If Jason was bothered by Dick’s sharp inhale, he didn’t mention it. “But I run pretty cold because of it - not much body heat. And when I do get sick, it’s usually fucking awful. Lasts forever.”

Dick had noticed that Jason ran cooler than seemed normal for a man his size, but he never asked. It gave Dick an excuse to curl up closer to him when he spent the night at Jason’s place. Dick reached into a cupboard to grab the tea and mugs, before he leaned against the counter and looked out at Jason on the couch. “Sure,” he said, “but how much of that is because you don’t let yourself have the recovery time you need?” Dick chuckled at the ensuing silence. “Yeah, I figured. You’re too hard on yourself, Little Wing." 

“If I’m not, they will be,” was Jason’s answer, and Dick wasn’t sure who exactly he meant. Gotham’s villains, Jason’s remaining dealers, maybe even the Bats? Dick’s stomach churned at the thought of the latter, at the idea of Jason pushing himself to sheer exhaustion to do everything he could to avoid Bruce’s wrath, Tim’s occasionally cold judgement, Damian’s snooty superiority.

Dick’s neediness.

“Well,” Dick said awkwardly, as he walked back to the couch with two mugs in hand. “You don’t have to worry about that today. Today is just you resting and watching shitty movies with your ol’ pal Nightwing, alright? Nothing strenuous.” Might’ve oversold it a bit there, Dickie, Dick thought, just as Jason snorted in his general direction.

“Uh huh,” he said, but he was sitting up a little and taking the mug from Dick, looking at it hesitantly. When he took a sip, his face lit with pleasant surprise. He tossed Dick a look at the other end of the couch, and Dick fumbled a bit under his gaze. “This is that tea I like.”

“Is it?” Dick asked, so far from convincing that it was unbelievable. “Huh. Didn’t notice.” Jason snorted again and rolled his eyes, but he seemed slightly pleased.

So, of course, Dick had to mess it all up.

“You know,” he offered, as he turned the TV on and started flicking through channels, “if you need some money to cover the utilities while Roy figures out exactly where he spent it, it’s not a big deal. Just as a loan.” Dick’s offer was faced with absolutely silence, and when he glanced over at Jason, his expression was furious.

“Fuck off, Dickie,” he snapped, his hands tightening around the mug as if he’d like to break it. “I don’t need your pity money.” And, god, of course that was how Jason was going to take an offer like that. Well done, Grayson. 

“That’s not what I meant at all,” Dick exclaimed, turning to face Jason directly. “I’m not offering because I don’t think you can take care of yourself. You’re just in a tight spot, and I wanted to help. I thought -” I could do that sort of thing, now, were the words on Dick’s tongue. I thought you would let me help you when you needed it. But money had always been a sore spot for Jason, and the fact that their relationship had changed significantly from “reluctant ex-kind-of-brothers” to whatever it was now evidently did not alter how Jason felt about charity.

“You thought wrong,” Jason sneered, and any other time Dick would be impressed with how scary Jason could be while he was also very ill. “Drop it. I’ll let you play nurse tonight if it makes you feel better, but this is not a fucking trend, Goldie. I can handle my own shit. I don’t need you.”

Dick’s heart plummeted in his chest. “Yeah,” he said, voice tight and sad, because he couldn’t hide the way Jason’s words made him feel if he tried. “I know you don’t.” There was silence for a moment as Dick stared at his carpet, before he cleared his throat and stood up. “I’m just going to go - get some air,” he explained despite the fact that Jason had pointedly not asked. “I’ll bring back some soup.” Dick made it all the way to the door and was shoving on his shoes when he heard Jason sigh noisily. 

“Dick,” Jason said, his tone defeated. “Come back?” And Dick - Dick was never going to be strong enough to deny Jason something like that. Jason so rarely asked, asked for anything, that Dick nearly always gave in instantly when he did. It was not a great sign, how quickly he bent over backwards for Jason the moment he asked him to. But Dick couldn’t help it. He had always been a sucker when it came to the Robins - if Tim, or Steph, or Damian called him, he’d be there. 

It was just that Jason was a lot more dangerous with that power now that Dick was in love with him.

Dick walked back to the couch and sat down, expecting nothing but awkward silence for the rest of the evening, but Jason surprised him - he shuffled over a little, massive pile of blankets moving with him, until he could just touch Dick’s forearm. “I’m sorry,” Jason said, and he sounded gruff but sincere. “I was being a - well. Can I still get away with this apology if I say “a dick”?”

Dick couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t think so,” he told Jason, before he softened his smile and put his hand over Jason’s on his arm. “But that’s okay. You don’t need to apologize.”

Now, Jason looked angry again, but it was more frustration than rage. “Yes, I do,” he told Dick pointedly, squeezing his arm for emphasis. “I don’t get to be a prick to you because you - you care about me, or whatever. Fuck that. Hold me responsible for my bullshit, Grayson.”

“Money is a touchy subject,” Dick argued. “I should have known better than to bring it up.”

Jason huffed out an angry breath. “Everything is a fucking touchy subject with me,” he told Dick. “That doesn’t give me an excuse to fucking - to treat you like I don’t give a shit about you. No, I’m not going to take any money from you - and yeah, you probably shouldn’t have offered. But you did, and I don’t get to be an ass because you’re a generous person. I mean…” But Dick had stopped listening, had stopped everything after treat you like I don’t give a shit about you. Because that - that implied that Jason did.

He cut Jason off by pressing his hands to his face, and Jason actually shivered and moved closer, leaned into the touch. You care, he wanted to say, wanted to shout as loud as he could. You care about me. Instead, he just whispered, “Okay, okay. Apology accepted.” 

Jason grunted in agreement and leaned in a little more, so his head was tipped against Dick’s chest with his cheeks still bracketed by his hands. He shivered again, the motion moving down his tight muscles in jerky motion, and let out a little noise. “Fuck, I’m still fucking freezing.”

Ideas of all the ways Dick could warm Jason up flooded through his mind, from the innocent to the absolutely filthy, and he felt the warmth that always seemed to be simmering in his belly around Jason flare up. God, this was so not the time, so Dick grit his teeth for a moment and tried to remember that Jason was sick, not in the right place to be doing anything other than resting. "Look," Dick offered, when he had composed himself a little, "why don't I run you a bath? It'll help you warm up. I promise I'll stay out here. No peeking." Dick tried to keep his tone light, but it was hard to see Jason like this, cold both physically and emotionally, and not start to worry about him.

Jason huffed and pulled away a little from Dick’s chest. "If it'll get you off my back," he muttered, but it was somewhat playful instead of angry, and Dick jumped up and clapped his hands together like a total loser

"Great!" he declared, already moving to the bathroom. He started the water in the tub, testing it with an index finger until it was nearly hot enough to burn, before stopping the basin and letting the tub fill up. The water swirled as Dick rocked back on his heels, trying to decide how far to take this. Would Jason like bath salts, or bubbles, or that really nice shampoo? Dick was only mildly ashamed to admit that when it came to bathing, he was a sucker for all the frills and fancy add-ins - but would Jason like them? Would he find it too romantic and laugh in Dick's face, or worse, walk out? Dick's face flushed a little at the potential embarrassment. He didn't know what to do, but he just wanted to make Jason happy -

Get your life together, Grayson, Dick steeled himself. It's just Jason. Keep it simple. That was at least half a lie - Jason hadn't been just Jason to Dick for a while, now - but the advice he had given himself was good. Keep it simple.

Dick turned to grab a fresh towel and found Jason slouching in the doorway, still wrapped in one of his ten blankets. His frown had turned into half-curiosity as he stared at Dick, and Dick felt his face flush red. "All ready," he said, feeling for all the world like he owed Jason an explanation despite the fact that this was Dick's apartment. "Hopefully not too hot." Dick turned off the faucet and went to leave, squeezing past Jason before pausing awkwardly and offering, "If you need anything..."

Jason huffed out a pained sigh and rolled his eyes in Dick's direction. "You can stay," he told Dick hoarsely, and Dick felt his chest light up with joy. Jason cleared his throat and added, "Can you just turn away while I..." 

"Sure, of course!" Dick exclaimed, spinning around and covering his eyes. God, what was it about Jason that made him feel the need to act like a stupid kid with a crush? Dick could hear Jason taking off his clothes, the soft rumpling of discarded fabric, and it sent a spark shooting up his spine. Jason was going to be naked in Dick’s bathroom, and Dick was not nearly too proud to admit that that fact really, really appealed to him. In some, uh, very specific ways. 

Obviously, everything Jason and Dick had done so far had happened at Jason’s safehouse - his turf, his terms. Dick knew that Jason was comforted by familiarity, and it was such a small thing to spend all their time together at Jason’s place, such a tiny sacrifice to make Jason that little bit more confident, relaxed. It didn’t bother Dick, not really. But there were nights when he came home in the dark, fell into bed and hated that it didn’t smell like Jason, might never smell like Jason. Or stood in his kitchen and tried and failed to imagine Jason sitting at the counter, hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, head titled as if considering what to do with Dick. Dick knew, from his discussions with Roy and from common sense, that he was way deeper into this thing between them than Jason was. He knew that he had to go slow, make progress incremental, or Jason would run so fast Dick would never catch him. But it burned, occasionally, to have to hold back the flood of emotion in his chest whenever Jason laughed at something he said, or grabbed his hand while they were making love, or turned over in the dead of night to just look at Dick, as if checking that he was still there. Dick wanted to open the dam and drown Jason in his love, smother him with enveloping affection until Jason couldn’t breathe without inhaling Dick’s devotion in the air surrounding him - but he knew he had to wait. Had to slow down, take things easy, let Jason decide at what pace their relationship developed.

It was hard, but Dick was trying.

“Shit,” Jason hissed, and Dick jumped around, peeking between his eyes to watch as Jason slowly lowered himself into the bath. “This is fucking hot, Dick.” Dick said nothing, just observed with his mouth slightly open, as Jason sank into the water until just the tops of his shoulders were exposed to the air. Already, his skin was flushing lobster-red from the heat, the colour creeping up his neck to the underside of his jaw.

“Sorry,” Dick offered eventually, when his mouth caught up to his brain, but Jason didn’t seem to hear him, eyes closing slowly and body going still beneath the water’s surface. His face was carefully guarded, but Dick could see the thick knots of tension in his shoulders start to unravel, the muscles releasing inch by inch. Jason’s body was relaxing despite itself, and he sank down a smidgen more and let out a little noise of satisfaction.

And Dick - Dick could see all of Jason, warped through the rippling water, bright red over pale skin and healing wounds, and it was making Dick dizzy. Jason’s face was heating up now, too, his cheeks flushing, and the colour was so pretty, looked so good next to his slightly chapped lips, bleeding pink into them. Dick wanted to trace into Jason’s mouth with his tongue, follow the lines of his body down over his hips and thumb over his tattoo, straddle him in the bath and wrap his legs around him, ride him hard until the water sloshed over the edge of the tub and Jason got that blown-out look on his face when his own intense pleasure surprised him. Dick wanted to make Jason feel so good, and he so rarely got to see him like this - Jason was always trying to hide his body, insisting on crawling beneath the sheets, or turning off the lights, or, on the not-so-great nights when Dick could tell that Jason’s skin was crawling but couldn’t convince him to actually stop for his own sake, refusing to remove his shirt, clutching the fabric around his own waist even as he kissed Dick violently. Jason’s self-image was one of the mines in the field that was his psyche, and Dick knew that he couldn’t disarm it within mere months - might never be able to, at all. But it seemed faintly ridiculous, as he tilted his head to peer at the tight muscles of Jason’s abs, the sharp jut of his hipbone, the soft hollow connecting it to his thigh that was Dick’s absolute favourite piece of skin to mark up. It seemed crazy to Dick that he walked around with an absolute tidal wave of love for Jason kept just beneath the surface, barely contained, and Jason didn’t know any of it, wouldn’t believe it if he was told. 

Dick eventually managed to stop staring and moved to perch on the edge of the tub, dipping a finger in the water to feel that it was still hot. He swished the surface a little, skirting his hand gradually further towards Jason’s arm, until he was just a hair-width away from touching him. Jason let out a soft sigh, and Dick looked up, met his eyes and prepared to apologize for pushing his boundaries when he was supposed to be helping Jason relax. But Jason’s eyes were only half-open, the lids looking heavy, and he managed a quirk of a smile as he moved his arm to bump into Dick’s hand.

“It’s fine, Dickie,” Jason rumbled, and Dick let out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding and let his fingertips run up Jason’s arm to smooth over his chest. He pressed firmly into the top muscles of Jason’s shoulder and rubbed a little, smooth circles, and that made Jason react, made him tip his head back and open his mouth, just barely. The way Jason’s eyelids fluttered was like catnip for Dick, and he dug his fingers in slightly harder, targeting the spot where Jason’s neck met his shoulders, a muscle that Dick knew usually ached from Jason’s helmet.

“If you turn around, I can massage you properly,” Dick mentioned offhand, not expecting much of a response. But Jason opened one eye and peered at Dick, looking thoughtful, before he shrugged the shoulder under Dick’s hand and slowly turned so his back was to Dick and his legs were bent in half, pressing against the other side of the tub. And even in this, there was a vulnerability that made Dick’s pulse race - Jason didn’t turn and reveal his back to people he didn’t trust, people he didn’t think had his best interests at heart. The position in the bath couldn't have been terribly comfortable for Jason, either, but he had moved because Dick had suggested it. God, Jason was constantly giving Dick power in ways that he would have never imagined wanting but couldn’t help but enjoy, couldn’t help but shamelessly use as opportunities to thoroughly love Jason up.

Dick let muscle memory be his guide as he worked the tension out of Jason’s shoulders, keeping his touch relatively light as he worked out where Jason was the sorest. The answer was generally everywhere, Jason’s muscles clenched tight from stress and overwork and his cold. Dick tried to keep the massage gentle, soothing, but it was hard not to apply more pressure to that spot right below Jason’s left shoulder blade when it made Jason huff out a breath that rose into a groan. Or work out the knot at the base of his skull when Jason pushed his head back, hard, into Dick’s fingers as he loosened the muscle. “Good?” Dick asked, voice a little throaty, and Jason shivered under Dick’s fingers, pressed closer into the warmth of Dick’s hands.

Dick had no idea how long he had been massaging Jason for, lost in the blissful feeling of being allowed to touch him unhurriedly, when Jason moved away. He stretched back out lengthwise in the tub, ducking his head underwater quickly to soak his hair. He gasped when he came up, face beet-red and hair dripping into his face. “Did you really need to make the bath this hot?” he demanded, rubbing water from his eyes, and Dick tried to ignore his intense desire to lean forward and kiss the drops he’d missed from his eyelashes.

“You were cold, Little Wing,” Dick teased, letting a bright smile warm his face as he leaned forward to push Jason’s hair up off his forehead. “Want some help with this?” Jason looked confused, titling his head a little, but his eyes widened when Dick picked up his shampoo - the good quality stuff Babs had bought for him years ago and he had never stopped using, screw it, Jason deserved nice things - and squeezed a liberal amount into his hands.

“You don’t have to -“ Jason started, but his mouth snapped shut when Dick got his hands in Jason’s hair, rubbing with his fingertips along his scalp. Dick took his time, working a lather through Jason’s mess of a wavy mane, and Jason stayed absolutely silent and still until Dick took a moment to pay special attention to Jason’s white streak, enjoying the difference in texture between it and the rest of Jason’s darker mop of hair.

Something about that, about Dick washing Jason’s trauma-stripe with a smile on his face, made Jason moan loudly, his face shocked even as the noise left his mouth. Dick couldn’t help but grin wider at the sound, realizing that this was maybe turning Jason on, and god, Dick loved nothing more than figuring out which little things made Jason really lose it.

“Rinse, Jay,” Dick directly cheerfully, patting his shoulder, and Jason did as directed with wide eyes, as if he couldn’t figure out why on earth he was obeying. Dick wondered idly, as he watched Jason scrub the shampoo out of his hair, if anyone had ever taken care of Jason like this, loved him in ways that were intimate but not necessarily sexual. Dick had known from that first night, when Jason confessed to liking praise as if it was a crime, that Jason received intense sexual pleasure from being treated well, being treated as if he were worthy of love. It was a kink that Dick tried not to push too far, because he knew that it usually left Jason vulnerable and shaking, hating himself for giving in to it - but sometimes he couldn’t help it. All the things that Dick had discovered tapped into that heady, mindless, self-hated part of Jason were things Dick wanted to do anyway - tell him how handsome he was as he ran his hands over Jason’s body, note how good he looked in those jeans, spend time kissing his face everywhere but his mouth, crawl into his lap like a cat and look up at him with warm affection and love in his eyes.

When Jason sat back up he was silent, watching Dick only slightly apprehensively as he doled out conditioner into his palms. Dick watched carefully to see if Jason would wince as he moved his hands back to Jason’s hair, but he was resolutely still, barely even breathing. Dick smoothed his fingers through Jason’s hair, coating it with conditioner, and asked Jason, “Okay?”

It had become something of a habit - Dick had skimmed the last chapter of those stupid Hunger Games books that Jason had been reading one day, and had taken note of the “Real or not real?” exchange that the, uh, Katie and Peter characters - okay, so he wasn’t into reading, sue him - seemingly used to check boundaries, make sure things were alright. Jason and Dick had had a formal boundary discussion before the second time they made love, at Dick’s insistence and despite Jason’s extreme discomfort, but it was still nice to check. It was important to Dick to check, make sure that he wasn’t accidentally pushing Jason too far, forcing him to do something he didn’t want to. Dick knew now that Jason didn’t care for role play, restraints were a no-no, and he was absolutely, without a doubt, not going to bottom, but Dick knew that were probably other things, too, things that weren’t firm lines for Jason but that still made him uncomfortable.

It took Jason a breath to answer, but his voice was steady enough when he did. “Okay.”

“Great,” Dick said, genuinely enthused. “Now rinse again.” Jason was still bewildered enough, thrown enough by Dick’s affectionate care (and maybe his own sickness), to obey and not comment on Dick’s bossiness. Dick, on the other hand, was loving this. He loved the intimacy, loved the closeness, loved the feeling of being needed by someone else.

Dick rose to grab a new bar of soap from beneath the sink. When he turned back, Jason was watching him, and he shook his head upon seeing what was in Dick’s hands. “I can do that myself,” he said, but Dick frowned and moved back to his perch on the edge of the tub.

“Please?” he asked Jason, trying not to sound as desperate as he was. God, but he wanted to run his hands all over Jason, soaped up and slick. It was nearly beyond a fantasy, at this point. “You can say no. You always can. But I really want to." 

Jason bit his lip, turning his head to study the bathroom wall for a moment. Finally he glanced back and shrugged, looking a little nervous. “Yeah, alright.” Dick grinned as Jason cleared his throat, rocking forward a little before looking at him. “Can you, uh, turn around?” 

“Sure,” Dick told him, pivoting to face the sink and covering his eyes again for good measure. It wouldn’t be anything he hadn’t seen before, but he understood Jason’s vulnerability. Eventually, Jason cleared his throat again, and Dick peeked between his fingers over his shoulder.

And, holy crap, there was Jason’s ass and his thighs.

Dick would probably feel lecherous later, be embarrassed that he acted like such a sex-obsessed lunatic while Jason was sick, but god, did Dick love Jason’s thighs. They were outrageous, strong and thick from all of Jason’s intense training, scarred up like the rest of him over ropes of tough muscle that Dick distantly wanted to trace with his tongue and then bite. Dick couldn’t believe that anyone bothered to mention the first Robin’s ass when the second Robin’s legs looked like that.

“Alright there, Dickie?” Jason asked, some of the familiar smugness leaking back into his voice, and Dick actually shook his head to try to clear it. Focus, Grayson, he’s sick. You can be a perv later.

“Just fine,” Dick half-squeaked, wincing at the sound of his own voice and Jason’s quiet laugh. He tried again, with a little more confidence, “I’m fine. Can I… Touch you?”

Jason froze, silent for a long moment before he finally spoke. “Yeah. Okay.”

Dick reached out one hand, leaned forward with the other braced on the edge of the tub so he could just skim the back of Jason’s right knee. Jason nearly flinched away, body moving of its own accord, before he carefully leaned back into Dick’s hand. Dick curled his fingers around Jason’s knee, palm pressed close to his damp skin, and brushed his thumb over the sensitive skin there. “Okay?” he asked again, and he looked up to see Jason nod, soaked hair bobbing over the back of his neck. Dick couldn’t help but smile, his chest all lit up with gentle intimacy. “Good."

Dick dipped the bar of soap in the tub and then rose to his knees, steadying himself with a hand on Jason's shoulder. He ran the sudsy bar over Jason's back in broad strokes, lathering him up slowly. He took his time, getting his sides and arms, before he leaned down to wash Jason’s legs, moving his hand to Jason’s hip so he could reach Jason’s thighs -

Jason did flinch this time, but it was accompanied by an uncharacteristically high whimper that Dick had never heard before. Dick stilled, the bar of soap pressing against Jason’s inner thigh, as Jason panted out his breaths above Dick. “Just,” Jason said, and his voice was absolutely wrecked. “I just, I - Fuck, Dick, I can’t. I’m sorry. So fucking sensitive,” and then the rest of his words were lost in a moan as Dick’s hand slipped on Jason’s thigh, dragging the soap down a little more.

Sometimes, it took Dick a while to connect the dots. “Hey, it’s okay,” he told Jason, not pulling away his hands but not moving them, either. “Do you want me to stop? Am I making you uncomfortable?”

“Not,” Jason said, before he grunted in frustration and shook his head. “Not uncomfortable. Just - shouldn’t be liking this. Don’t want - don’t want to fuck this all up. You said just us as people, and I -”

The pieces snapped together in Dick’s head. “I said that because I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable,” he said, slowly, “but that doesn’t mean we have to stick to that the whole night. Are you… Are you enjoying…?” Jason said absolutely nothing, but Dick was sure, felt confident that he wasn’t wrong. He tried again, changed his approach a little. “If you’re - if you’re aroused by this, then that makes two of us, okay? It’s absolutely nothing to be worried about. It’s okay, Jason.” The tension drained a little from Jason’s shoulders, and he hung his head forward. Dick couldn’t help but smile and lean forward, pressing his lips to on of the dimples just above Jason’s ass. “Can I touch you? I mean… Do you want me to?”

Yes,” Jason hissed out, and Dick smiled against Jason’s skin. “Please,” Jason actually begged, and man, this was going to go down as one of Dick’s favourite days ever. He was never going to be able to go in this bathroom again without getting hard.

Dick began to move a little, just small circles of the soap over Jason’s inner-thigh, but Jason was panting again almost instantly, flexing the muscles in his legs rhythmically. “I didn’t know you were so sensitive here,” Dick hummed out, thoughtful. He moved his other hand from Jason’s hip to the inside of the thigh of that leg, scratching his blunt nails against the skin experimentally. When Jason actually yelped at the sensation, Dick did it again.

“Good,” Dick soothed, back to just light presses of the pads of his fingers. “More okay?” Jason nodded his head emphatically, and yeah, Dick was going to need him to turn around soon so he could see the expression on his face, figure out exactly how much this was getting to Jason -

Although, there was more than one way to find that out.

Dick slipped one soapy hand up around Jason’s waist, and he rose on his knees again so he could snake it down Jason’s stomach. Jason’s breath hitched as Dick paused, just for a brief second, before he pressed downward -

And came in contact with Jason’s very interested, very hard cock.

“Jesus Christ,” Jason groaned, and Dick smirked a little as he gripped and stroked Jason. “C’mon, Dick, please.” And, well, when Jason asked so nicely, how could Dick say no?

“Turn around?” Dick asked, still stroking slowly, and Jason grunted in response. “It’ll be so worth it,” he promised, in a sing-song voice. When Jason moaned a little, Dick grinned and put pressure on Jason’s thigh, encouraging him to twist. His smile widened even more when Jason did, putting Dick right at eye-level with Jason’s… Well. Dick. 

And, yeah, this was awesome. Jason was definitely, ridiculously hard, and the sight of his cock flushed because Dick had taken care of him made Dick lean forward, put his other hand on Jason’s hip to balance himself. He paused to grin up at Jason, catching his pupil-blown eyes, before he pressed on further to swallow Jason down in one go.

Jason swore and lurched forward, hips thrusting towards Dick, and Dick had to remember to relax his throat to avoid choking. He gripped Jason’s hipbones tighter, trying to make him stay still as he pulled back a little, running his tongue along the underside of Jason’s cock, slow, teasing. Jason was panting by the time Dick slid back down far enough to press his nose to Jason’s stomach, and the idea that Dick had gotten Jason so turned on, so close just by massaging him and washing his hair made Dick moan around Jason.

“Jesus, c’mon, please,” Jason muttered, hands fisting in Dick’s hair, leaving it damp. “Fuckin’ please, Dick, just, fuck.” If Dick were capable of speech, he would have had a smart quip for Jason - but as it were, his mouth was occupied with sucking on Jason hard, picking up the pace, bobbing up and down with a heady desire to make Jason snap, feel him unravel in Dick’s mouth.

Dick had known before Jason that he loved giving head, but giving head to Jason was something else entirely. It was one of the things that Dick had discovered Jason really liked, came from relatively easily, and didn’t usually feel guilty for enjoying afterward. Dick figured part of that was because he couldn’t talk to Jason like this, couldn’t babble out the praise that Jason both loved and hated, and that made this a little easier for Jason to take, made it a little easier for him to let go. Dick also knew that Jason was sick, and cold, and tired, and this simple relief would be good for him, help him unwind and relax without facing too many of his demons. They could deal with that another time - for now, Dick just wanted to make Jason come, wash him off, and then wrap him in warm clothes and send him to bed. 

Step one was nearly complete. “God, yes,” Jason was panting out above Dick, hands fisting in his hair and pulling a little, the way Dick liked. “God, just, that again.” Dick obeyed, swirled his tongue over the head of Jason’s cock again, and Jason actually shuddered. “Please, c’mon, I’m so fuckin’ close.” Not quite close enough, Dick thought, and he swallowed down again, humming a little so Jason could feel it as he nudged the back of Dick’s throat. Dick ran one hand over Jason’s tattoo, tracing the design from memory, now, cupped Jason’s balls with the other, and looked up to meet his eyes as he smiled and hummed around the very base of Jason. 

That was all it took. Jason came hard, letting out a strained noise as his hips rocked forward and his fingers gripped Dick’s hair tight. Dick swallowed around Jason easily, taking it, making soothing little strokes over Jason’s thighs with his fingers. He stayed still, letting Jason come down slowly, until Jason pulled away with a soft shudder. “Jesus Christ,” Jason rasped, when he was capable of speech. “You are fucking outrageous, you know that?” 

Dick just smiled, preening a little at Jason’s praise. “The water’s getting cold,” he told Jason, slyly. “How about we rinse off in the shower?”

Forty-five minutes later, after Dick had stripped, joined Jason in the shower, and jerked himself off unashamedly while Jason kissed him, slow and surprisingly sweet, Dick and Jason were curled up in Dick’s bed, blankets piled on top of them. Jason was in sweats and a t-shirt, trying to keep all his precious body heat in, while Dick wore just boxers. Dick nudged at Jason until he rolled over, let Dick play big spoon and wrap around his back like a vice. “Warm enough, Jay?” he mumbled, his post-orgasm sleepiness betraying him as always, and Jason squirmed a little closer, nodded his head so his hair tickled Dick’s nose.

“Warm enough,” he replied back, voice low and nearly as sleepy as Dick’s. Dick let Jason’s breath lull him towards unconsciousness for a moment, easy and slow, before he hummed out a breath.

“What are your plans for Christmas?” he asked, and it was a testament to Dick’s excellent relaxation techniques (and also all the cold medicine) that Jason didn’t tense up. “Did you celebrate with Roy last year?”

“And Kori,” Jason reminded him. “We just hung out, had Chinese food. Probably do the same thing this year.” Jason titled his head to the side a little so he could see Dick out of the corner of his eye. “You’ll go to the Manor.” It wasn't a question.

“Alfred makes the best shortbread,” Dick replied, and Jason hummed and turned his head back. Dick paused, running his hand in circles over Jason’s chest through his shirt, before he said, “You know, you could… Come with me. Roy could, too. I know things with Bruce aren’t great, but he would be happy to have you there. I would be… Happy to have you there.”

Jason sighed, deep and slow, before he responded. “Maybe,” he hedged, and Dick smiled because that was something. “Y’know… I do miss those fucking cookies. And, it might be, uh, nice. To spend… The holidays. With you.” 

Dick was sure his grin could have powered every Christmas light in Gotham. “Sap,” he teased, affectionately. “I should drug you up and get you off more often.” Jason laughed, the sound low and sweet in his throat.

“Worst nurse in the world,” he muttered, but the racing of his heart beneath Dick’s palm indicated he felt otherwise.