Without Using Your Hands
I fell in love with the way you touched me without using your hands.
Prompt: Jason, when was the last time anyone touched you?
Dick only notices it because Bruce holds a mandatory culture conversation at Wayne Enterprises about abuse and recognizing the signs following the termination of five employees who’ve abused their position of power over oblivious summer interns. It’s nothing Dick doesn’t know, nothing he hasn’t recognized before, but it’s so much more obvious with the bullet points of signs of abuse fresh in his mind. God, how many times did Officer Grayson or Nightwing look at someone and immediately know they were being hurt?
Red Hood flinches so badly when Nightwing touches his wrist to get his attention that he drops a bag of crystal meth onto the floor. Pale blue shards rolls across the floor, and Jason curses. He stiffly bends over the clean up the drugs. Half of his helmet is missing, neatly split down the middle. His eye is already swelling shut and his lip is split. Nightwing just stares. It had been a hard fight; neither of them are unharmed, but their injuries are minor. Dick can’t help but replay Jason pulling away in pure instinct, out of fear, in his mind over and over and over again while gloved hands carefully pick up the bits of meth that look like rock candy.
“What?” Red Hood snaps once he’s upright and the drugs are on the table.
The domino might hide Nightwing’s eyes, but the mask still moves with his muscles.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Red Hood demands when Dick’s eyebrows raise and then fall.
Nightwing sighs. It’s a sad sigh, and Red Hood can’t imagine why, because they’ve just busted what is arguably the second largest meth lab in Gotham in about an hour and a half without any causalities or maiming anyone. The rest of the vigilante community is out rounding up loose ends, dealers and smugglers and pimps, but the base of operations is done. GCPD is on their way, but Nightwing looks like someone just ran over his puppy. Twice.
“Jason, when was the last time anyone touched you?” Nightwing whispers.
Jason’s jaw falls open. “Excuse me?” he only just manages to spit out in shock. “What the fuck did you just ask me?” He’s not even concerned about no-names-in-the-field.
“When was the last time someone touched you?” Nightwing repeats in the same gentle voice.
“Like ten minutes ago?” Red Hood replies a tad unsurely as he motions to a number of unconscious bodies spread out on the floor who are securely restrained. “Someone decked me in the face.”
Nightwing shakes his head. “Not like that.”
Red Hood scowls. “I am not telling you the last time I got laid,” he snaps. “The hell type of pervy question-“
“When was the last time someone touched you?” Nightwing asks. “Not pat you down for weapons, not stitch you up somewhere you couldn’t reach. Just touch you.”
Red Hood doesn’t stop frowning. He also doesn’t answer.
Dick’s knows he’s a tactile person; he likes physical contact, craves human touch. Likes when Wally sits next to him on the couch so that they can play video games, flush from hip to ankle. Likes when Tim comes to visit and Tim puts his feet on his lap while they scroll through tablets while working on cases and Dick just rests his wrists on Tim’s ankles. Likes when Bruce squeezes his shoulder or just gives up on his dark and brooding motif and just hugs Dick.
“When was the last time someone touched you and it didn’t hurt?” Dick simplifies.
Jason’s lips thin. He turns his head to avoid looking at Dick and then just shrugs.
“Whoa, no,” Red Hood snaps as he holds his arm out to catch Nightwing in the chest as he goes in for the hug. “We are not going to hug it out.”
“Because we’re in a meth lab?” Nightwing asks quietly.
“What? No- well, yes.” Jason shakes his head. “But also I don’t need to hug anything out. You’re a touchy-feely type of guy, which is fine, but I’m not.”
“I touched your wrist and you startled so bad you dropped meth,” Nightwing deadpans.
“Yeah, well…” Red Hood leaves very quickly after that.
“That’s it,” Nightwing snarls once Catwoman is upright from her backbend to avoid a wild haymaker from Red Hood who makes it seem like he’s been snuck up on instead of simply pat on the back for a job well done. “You’re either coming over to my place to get some human contact or you’re booking yourself a massage to remember that not everyone who touches you wants to hurt you.”
Red Hood just scoffs and wanders a bit down the alleyway. “We going to do our nails?” he mocks. “My hair is too short to braid, but-”
Catwoman doesn’t try and stop Nightwing from grabbing her whip. She just watches with interest as Nightwing grabs the handle and then snaps the whip with a crack like a gunshot; that gets Hood’s attention, and he turns around while Nightwing grabs the length of black taunt between his hands.
“This isn’t negotiable,” Nightwing says firmly.
Red Hood just cocks his head. “Going to spank me?” he asks. Hood holds one out and makes a “shoo” motion. “Go find someone else to cuddl- Hey!”
The end of the whip wraps around Red Hood’s wrist, and Nightwing pulls. Red Hood doesn’t have time to unwrap himself before he’s within arm’s length of the older vigilante.
“I said this isn’t negotiable,” Nightwing growls. “You spend so much time getting punched and pat down that your brain is starting is associate human contact with pain and danger.”
“Like you’ve never accidentally flipped someone for sneaking up on you,” Hood replies venomously.
“I haven’t tried to punch Catwoman for giving me a nice gentle pat on the back,” Nightwing counters while Catwoman stands and watches the exchange with her arms crossed and one hip cocked. She looks very amused and invested in the outcome.
“I’d listen to him,” Catwoman murmurs with a smile. “He’s quite good with a whip.”
Red Hood unwraps his wrist with a hiss. “I’m out.” He throws the end of the whip onto the ground.
He only manages a few feet before something wraps around his throat and jerks him back. Hood gets his legs swept out from below himself winds up with Nightwing sitting on his chest, whip handle held in one hand, escrima stick in the other.
“I’ll taze your ass right now and drag you back to my place,” Nightwing threatens.
Red Hood bucks him off, storms away, and stops when the whip catches his ankle.
“I can do this all day,” Nightwing says.
“He can,” Catwoman assures with a little smile.
“I don’t fucking need cuddle therapy or whatever!” Hood shouts.
“Come over and play video games with me for a few hours,” Nightwing says. “I’ll buy you as much pizza as you can eat.”
Red Hood considers it. “And wings.”
“And wings,” Nightwing agrees.
“This is… weird,” Jason says slowly from Dick’s couch.
There’s almost empty pizza boxes on the low table Dick’s propped his bare feet up on alongside containers of chicken bones and dressing. The paper plates haven’t been touched, but there’s a pile of greasy napkins gathering between cans of soda.
“Hm?” Dick hums while his eyes remain glued to the television screen.
They’re playing Mario Kart because Dick isn’t allowed to play Wii Sports without supervision, and Jason doesn’t count as supervision.
“This is weird,” Jason repeats, and he almost regrets saying it.
This is what he always imagined high school sleepovers would be; hanging around in sweatpants and tank tops and playing videos games. Endless pizza and wings. Too much soda. Spending time with his friends just doing nothing. Except he’s sitting next to Dick with just a foot of space between them, and they haven’t really said much to one another except “pass the blue cheese.” They’ve hashed out some things over the years, and Jason knows they should probably talk more about some things neither of them want to, but for the moment there’s just comfortable silence.
“Weird?” Dick repeats, but he doesn’t sound upset, just curious and confused.
“It’s just… I’m…” Jason pauses the game and puts his controller down.
Dick does the same turns to face him, brings one leg up onto the couch and lets his knee press against Jason’s hip.
“I’m the Red Hood,” Jason says slowly, and he can’t quite keep eye contact with Dick.
“And I’m Nightwing,” Dick counters with a smile.
“I was a drug lord. I murdered people.”
Dick’s smile falters. “We’ve all done bad things. Had bad days. You’re better now.”
“Rubber bullets,” Jason jokes.
“Rubber bullets,” Dick agrees.
Jason’s happy. Safe. Sitting with someone he’s known for years, only tried to maim a few times. He’s close enough to see the faint scars on Dick’s face that aren’t visible unless you’re within striking range. Close enough to notice how long Dick’s eyelashes are. The faint lines around his eyes. And Dick’s just sitting there playing games with him like they’ve never been apart.
Jason leans in and closes his eyes. Bumps Dick’s nose before he touches his lips. And Jason has a few seconds of bliss before he realizes what he’s done. He opens his eyes to find Dick staring at him, eyes comically wide. And then Jason tries licking into his mouth, and Dick pulls back and puts his hands on Jason’s shoulders. Jason’s too horrified to speak, to bolt. He’s just… for God’s sake, Dick’s almost his brother, is clearly into women, and he’s just-
Dick laughs just a bit. “A little warning next time,” he says while one hand slides up Jason’s neck to his face to so that he can cup Jason’s cheek. His thumb rubs against Jason’s chin and Dick dips his head. Grins. “You need practice kissing or something?” he asks teasingly.
Jason doesn’t know what to say; Dick’s trying to brush the kiss off like it isn’t some huge violation and Jason hasn’t all but crawled into his lap. Jason frowns; when did he…?
Dick other hand drops down to Jason’s side and slips around to his lower back. He settles his palm under Jason’s shirt, right above the waistband of his sweatpants, and fingers the nearest dimple of Venus.
Jason can’t manage any words. He just shakes his head apologetically. “I… I…”
“Want a drink?” Dick asks suddenly, and Jason can’t nod fast enough.
It’s probably something cheap and potent, vodka maybe, or whiskey- Jason frowns when Dick leans over and removes his hand from Jason’s face to grab a soda. He cracks it open one-handed, drains half of it, and then offers it to Jason.
“No alcohol?” Jason asks dumbly.
“I do not want to be drunk for this conversation,” Dick replies. “And neither do you, despite what your panic-brain is telling you.”
Jason finishes the soda. Dick’s hand remains warm and gentle on his lower back, and Jason gasps and fails to squirm out of Dick’s grip when he grabs Jason by the waist and physically picks him up and settles him comfortably on his lap. Jason’s knees land on either side if Dick’s hips, and Dick loops his hands around Jason’s back, keeping him in place.
“I didn’t think,” Jason blurts. “I wasn’t thinking.”
“I do not think we should be talking about this while I’m in your lap,” Jason continues.
“You know what the word ‘platonic’ means?” Dick asks.
“Don’t think me trying to lick into your mouth is ‘platonic,’” Jason mutters.
Dick just sighs and shakes his head. “You need human contact that isn’t sexual or violent,” he says while he lets Jason slip onto the floor.
“I just wasn’t thinking,” Jason tells Dick’s knees. “I’m sorry. I’m so-”
“You don’t need to apologize,” Dick interrupts. “I’m not… mad at you. Or anything like that. Just a bit surprised.”
Jason looks up to see Dick smiling down at him; he’s far from pissed or disgusted or anything Jason expected.
“Let’s try this again.”
Jason gets situated back on the couch and raises his eyebrows when Dick spreads himself out on the cushion and stretches his legs across Jason’s lap.
“Um, yeah. Sure.”
Dick resumes their game.
“So, we’re not going to talk about… this?” Jason asks sometime later.
“About your severe need for intimacy that doesn’t end up in sex or blood?” Dick asks.
“About me kissing you,” Jason corrects. “We’re not going to… unload that?”
Dick just shrugs. “I wasn’t going to. Not unless you wanted to.”
Jason shrugs. “You won’t hold it over me?”
Dick just rolls his eyes. “I’ve done much worse than just kiss someone because I wanted to feel. It’ll be our little secret.”
It takes some time for the adrenaline to fade from Jason’s system. Sure, the excess sugar and caffeine from all the soda probably doesn’t help, but Dick keeps cracking them open and sharing with Jason, and Jason can’t say no even though there’s more than enough cans for him to have his own. There’s a faint aftertaste of buffalo sauce on the aluminum, and it takes Jason more than a few seconds to realize that he’s tonguing at where Dick’s mouth had been on the can. Dick’s still focused on their game, but he’s too well-trained not to notice; Jason hopes he’s just too kind to mention anything.
Dick sets his controller down and does a full hands-above-his-head-toes-curled-gentle-groan-stretch that sends his foot straying dangerously close to Jason’s crotch. He flops back against the armrest and slowly starts to melt onto the floor hands first.
“Bed?” Dick asks while Jason puts his own controller aside and then hesitates before grabbing Dick’s ankles to keep him from sliding entirely off the couch.
“Is that the polite way of telling me party’s over and it’s time to piss off?” Jason teases while his thumbs rub against the rounded bones of Dick’s ankles while Dick adjusts his hands on the floor and sinks onto his elbows.
“You’re not getting off that easy,” Dick replies as he pulls his legs free and rests in a perfectly balanced forearm stand. “This isn’t a party, it’s a sleepover. Go get your jammies.”
Jason pulls at his tank top. “Uh, I’m in them?”
“Perfect!” Dick tips his legs back, lands on the balls of his feet, and stands up. “I have to go put mine on.”
“Then?” Jason dares to ask.
“Then we’re going to curl up on the couch and cuddle.”
Jason balks. “We’re going to wha-”
Dick’s already gone. Jason cleans up some of their mess and barely acknowledges Dick when he returns and starts to help.
“You going to put some pants on?” Jason asks, trying not to sound too serious and accusatory but failing.
Dick looks down at himself with a frown; his boxers are long and a solid black and navy blue print. The tank top is flimsy, pale orange, and barely reaches past his hips. “No? Why would I?”
Jason doesn’t know how to put, “you’re walking around in your underwear and it’s making me feel things, none of which are horny exactly, but it’s still weird and I don’t know what to do with these emotions,” into words. He just shrugs.
“Come on, cuddle time.”
Dick turns the lights off once Jason’s on the couch, turns the air down, and then wraps each of them in a fuzzy throw blanket. Jason squirms when Dick slides up close to him and lays his head on Jason’s shoulder.
“Dick, I don’t think… I can’t sleep like this,” Jason says in a rush.
“That’s okay. You can sleep in my bed. Let’s just sit here for a few minutes.”
Jason’s mind is still stuck on the kiss, about if Dick’s still thinking about it, what it means-
“I can hear you thinking,” Dick says gently. “Just calm down.”
“This is really intimate,” Jason just manages to choke out. This is so far beyond his comfort zone, and Dick’s knows it.
“It can be intimate and platonic.”
Dick nuzzles the back of his neck as if to demonstrate. Jason goes rigid.
“I’m not sure if I want to fight you or fuck you,” Jason admits into the dark room while his face floods with blood. Dick isn’t going to let him just walk away, not from this, which means Jason needs to Talk. Capital T. “Which is really, really weird, because I thought I was over trying to maim you. And I… I thought I only liked girls.” Jason makes the mistake of reaching back and grabbing onto Dick’s hip beneath the blanket. “You’ve got really feminine hips.”
Jason waits for Dick to shove him off the couch, to call him a freak, pervert, and demand he leave. But all Dick does is start to laugh until he’s breathless.
“You know, I’ve been told, many, many things about my physique,” Dick says once he’s got his breath back. “But saying you think I’m pretty because I’ve got matronly hips is a new one.”
“I like your mouth, too,” Jason blurts. “Your lips are soft.”
Dick just pulls himself closer to Jason. “It’s call Vaseline, you should really try it some time.”
Now Jason’s equal parts hot and sweaty from his embarrassment, and his brain can’t decide if this horrifying conversation is considered a turn-on or not.
“I know you’re freaking out,” Dick says softly. “Why don’t you go take one of my sleeping pills, go to bed, and we’ll see what you decide to do tomorrow?”
“Decide?” Jason repeats.
Dick nods. “We can explore this further, or leave it alone. It’s up to you.” Jason tamps down on the urge to cry when Dick cups the side of his face in one hand and pulls him in close so that he can kiss the top of Jason’s head. It’s the epitome of a parental kiss, soft, gentle, and just the right amount of linger. It feels like Catherine Todd. “Goodnight, Jason. I love you.”
Jason knows what he’s supposed to say in return: I love you, too. But there’s a lump in his throat, and maybe Dick was right, maybe he does need some human contact that doesn’t end in sex or blood. Humans are pack animals, aren’t they? Isn’t that why isolation is considered torture and is only allowed in limited stretches?
“Um, uh… yeah.” Jason gets off the couch, can’t bring himself to tuck Dick in, but he does dawdle for a few seconds. “I can make breakfast?” he offers awkwardly.
Dick just wraps himself in blankets, flops onto his opposite side, and holds a thumbs-up for a moment. “Thanks, but I got breakfast handled.”
Jason frowns. “Are you even allowed to cook? Didn’t you set the kitchen on fire in the Manor?”
“That was one time, and I was eleven,” Dick corrects.
“Right, right.” Jason nods. “Um, well, goodnight then.”
Dick offers a little wave. Jason heads for the bathroom. He’s not a fan of pills in general, but Dick’s got some over the counter sleep aid that’s gentle enough that Jason gives in and takes one tiny blue pill with a gulp of water. Jason takes a moment to look at the circus tent shaped nightlight in the hall and then debates whether or not he should shut the door; it’s not like Dick snores, but Jason would hate to wake him up if tonight decided to be one of those rare nights that he wakes up screaming from a nightmare. Jason decides on leaving the door open.
He pulls Dick’s half made covers back from the bed and tries not to feel guilty as he crawls onto the mattress; Dick offered, and it’s not like Dick hasn’t spent some nights sleeping in weirder places than his own couch. Jason rolls around in the soft sheets until he’s comfortable and then pulls the blankets up to his chin and forces his head down onto the pillow. Dick’s unique scent seems to be ingrained in the bedding, and after twenty minutes of dozing and letting the pill kick in, Jason thinks he might just find the smell comforting.
Jason wanders into the living room wrapped in a sweatshirt with the hood pulled up. He can see Dick in the kitchen plating something onto two ceramic plates. The smell of coffee is already in the air, and Jason sits himself down on the couch, pulls a blanket over his lap, and watches Dick walk over with two plates in one hand, a mug in the other, and a second mug balanced on his head. This must be something Dick usually does, because he sets the plates down on the low table that had been filled with pizza and wings the night before, offers Jason the mug from his hand, all without bending his neck. Dick grabs the second cup off his head and then sits down. He’s already dressed in a worn hoodie and sweatpants, and he stuffs his feet under Jason’s thighs to keep them warm.
“You make this?” Jason asks once he’s had a few sips of coffee and can properly admire his sandwich.
“God, no. There’s this deli a few blocks away that makes the best Taylor ham, egg, and cheese on everything bagels.” Dick cups his mug in his hands and pops his knees open just enough so that he can lean through to peck Jason’s cheek. “Good morning.”
Jason nearly chokes on his drink. Dick pats his back. “You know, in a normal family that isn’t compromised of emotionally stunted vigilantes, that would be considered normal.” Dick cocks his head. “Sorry, too much?”
Jason knows he’s red in the face; he puts his drink aside and busies himself with his sandwich. “No, no, just… pleasantly surprised.” He takes a huge bite and wonders if he was supposed to kiss Dick back. He chews and swallows. “Good morning.”
Dick just brightens and grabs his own plate.
“Are we supposed to talk about our feelings?” Jason asks thickly a few minutes later.
Dick glares at him. “I’m in the middle of a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese, salt, pepper, ketchup, and you want to talk about feelings?” He sounds deeply offended, but there’s a twitch to his mouth that suggests Dick’s just playing.
Jason shrugs and then takes a deep breath and grabs Dick’s napkin to wipe a smear of ketchup dotted with sesame seeds from Dick’s nose. “You said I could decide if I wanted to explore this.”
Dick rolls his eyes. “I did, but not in front of my sandwich.”
They finish in silence, Jason gets up to refill their mugs once he’s rinsed the plates, and then he sits back down on the couch and squirms so that he can wedge his feet under Dick’s butt. Dick looks like he’s ready for a nap already, but Jason knows he looks no better; there’s nothing better than a post-breakfast nap following a huge ass sandwich that consists mostly of carbs, grease, and sugar.
“This was nice,” Jason says lightly, hoping for casual.
Dick rests his mug against his bottom lip and raises his eyebrows. “Nice enough to do it again?”
Jason contemplates the offer and then nods slowly. “But only if you pay again.”
Dick starts to laugh. “There’s something else I think you might enjoy.”
“If you say therapy-”
“No, no, it’s much more carnal.”
Jason scowls. “I am not paying a prostitute-”
“No, Jason!” Dick shakes his head. “A massage. Not some skeevy hole-in-the-wall-happy-ending one, an actual massage.”
“I’m not getting naked and having some stranger stand over me,” Jason mutters.
Dick winks. Full on winks. “I thought you’d say that.”
“This can’t be legal,” Jason deadpans.
Dick’s already curled up in a chair in the corner of Selina Kyle’s penthouse suite with a book in hand and martini in the other. He’s got earbuds in and stops bobbing along to his music just long enough to offer a beaming smile at Jason.
“I am licensed,” Selina reminds before shrugging. “You’re enough of an animal that I don’t think I’ll be breaking too many laws.” She smirks; Jason smiles back and then starts pulling his shirt off; he left his shoes at the front door, and he’s already got his comfiest pair of sweatpants on.
“Upper body only,” Selina says as she pats the massage table. “Any other places you don’t want me to touch?”
Jason’s hands ghost his neck and scar on his throat. “Not my neck. Well, maybe just a little. Just don’t grab it.”
Selina nods. “Any sore spots?”
Jason shakes his head. “Not that I know of.”
He reluctantly plants himself face down in the soft towels and lifts his head to see Dick watching him out of the corner of his eye; he’s there solely for moral support. It’s not surprising, but Selina’s got wicked upper body strength and enough of a repertoire with Jason that he’s willing to strip down just a bit for her. She’s only licensed for animals, but considering she’s worked on horses, Jason doesn’t think he can be much different; he likes to think he’ll be more behaved at the very least. Probably smell a whole lot less.
“Do we get pulled pork when we’re done?” Jason asks as he looks at the big metal crockpot sitting on a side table.
Selina shoves Jason’s face back down into the towel. “You’re an idiot.”
“That was a serious question,” Jason counters. “And I thought this was supposed to me about me and making me feel good?”
“It is, and we are, but you’re also an idiot.” Selina taps Jason’s lower back with her fingers. “Remember, if you don’t like something, tell me before you try punching my lights out.” She folds the waistband of his sweatpants down, and Jason can’t help but squirm, because, wow, that is really, really low. “And I know you’re very, very manly, but you’re getting coconut oil. It’s good for your skin.” Selina turns on some type of spa music, and then Jason loses track of her on the plush carpet. “Now think happy thoughts. Remember, we’re doing this at my place so that if you fall asleep, I can leave you alone for a few hours.”
Jason can’t help but tense up when Selina just lays her palms on his shoulders. “Sorry.”
“Don’t apologize.” Selina’s voice is gentle. “I know this is way out of your usual comfort zone.”
“Thanks for doing this.”
“Thank me after we’re done.” Selina pats Jason’s shoulder. “Thanks for trusting me to do this.” She leans over Jason, trails her hands down his spine with just her nails to where his pants are, and then drags them back up. Jason shudders. “I’m going to start off nice and slow, add some oil, and then we’re going to do a hot stone massage. That’s what’s in the crock pot.”
Jason feels himself loosening up the longer Selina continues; it’s definitely an unusual sensation, but it’s far from unpleasant. In fact, Jason starts to doze off, and then Selina grabs the basalt stones.
“Fuck,” Jason swears when warm hands run down his spine followed by the smooth press of a rock. “That is good.”
“You like?” Selina’s grin is obvious through her voice.
“Yes. So much.”
“Any chance I can coax you to take a little more off?” Selina asks. “You can leave your boxers on.”
“Or we can just stick to this” Selina reminds gently. “No pressure.”
Jason thinks it over, lifts his chin, and sees Dick making encouraging motions with one hand. “You can roll my sweatpants to my knees. That’s it.”
Selina pats his back. “Got it. Your feet ticklish?”
“I’ll be extra gentle.”
Jason conks out soon after Selina lays a row of warm stones down his spine, settles some on his lower back, and goes after his calves. Selina covers Jason with a blanket, turns off the lights, and escorts Dick out of the room to let Jason sleep.
“What year is it?” Jason mumbles when he stumbles out into the living room to find Selina and Dick curled up on a plush couch and sharing a tray of mozzarella sticks.
Dick’s got a mouthful of cheese, so he just shrugs. Selina points a stick at Jason and beckons him closer.
“Good nap?” she asks while Jason sinks onto the couch and accepts a cup of lukewarm marina sauce.
Jason just nods, grabs a stick, and stuffs it into his mouth dry. He considers Dick’s words about intimacy and platonic relationships; he moans around his food, grabs another, and dunks it before cramming it into his mouth. “These are amazing.”
“Thank you.” Selina offers a half-bow. “I reheated them in the oven.”
“Where are they from?” Jason continues.
“A box,” Dick supplies thickly. “I helped make them, thank you very much.”
Jason continues to inch himself closer to Dick until Dick finally takes the decision out of his hands and lays himself across Jason’s lap. Jason hesitates and then eventually settles one hand on Dick’s lower back beneath his shirt. Selina just smiles.