Jason was beautiful. Dick knew this, and Dick had known this for years, but he couldn’t help but realise it again as he watched him with the sun setting behind them, Jason’s uncombed hair and impossible cheekbones lit up by the day’s final rays. Like a run-on sentence, the thought Jason is beautiful turned into the thought I am in love with Jason and that realisation was new, sudden, and hit Dick without warning, hard like one of Jay’s angry punches, soft like one of his sleepy smiles. Dick lay back on the blanket, hands folded under his head.
They had spent all day at the beach, down the steps from one of the countless properties Bruce owned, all of which Jason would make fun of at a moment’s notice and yet he’d always steal a set of keys so he could visit. Dick hadn’t hesitated when Jason had asked him to come with him, the explanation that he had to stay low for a while ringing hollow and delivered with a slanted grin. Jason Todd only stayed low if he wanted to, never because he had to.
Dick had packed a bag and didn’t bother to chide Jason when he drove up in one of Bruce’s cars: a vintage Jaguar convertible, the interior a lush cream and the exterior an alluring racing green. (Dick wasn’t sure if this was a real memory, or one he made up after the fact, but Jason’s Robin costume had always been a deeper green than his, and he thought he remembered Jason, young and vibrant, touching that same convertible with reverent fingers.) The heavy metal on the radio was replaced with mid-century showtunes, Jason’s fine baritone singing along with snatches of song as he headed towards Maine. Jason saw the speed limit as a recommendation, not a rule. He took tight turns going far too fast, and somehow Dick wasn’t scared at all.
Dinner had consisted of gas store hot dogs and packets of crisps eaten at 85 miles an hour. When they arrived, Jason threw the keys onto a hook in the hallway and pulled Dick close, chasing kisses over his jawline, scraping teeth down his neck. They stumbled to the bedroom and Jason fell onto the bed. Propped up on his elbows, he looked up at Dick, his sneer inviting and irresistible.
Afterwards, they’d shared a bottle of wine, eschewing the glasses. Jason had lain perpendicular to the pillows, reading snatches of pentameter from the book of sonnets, head hanging off the edge of the bed. Dick watched his throat, exposed and pale, and when he leaned down to kiss him, brushing his lips over his carotid artery, over his Adam’s apple, Jason had shivered and dropped the book to the floor.
In the morning, Jason had padded naked around the beach house and Dick had watched, loath to leave the bed. When Jason pulled off the top sheet and withheld the duvet, Dick rolled out of bed and got dressed.
‘We’re going to the beach,’ Jason declared.
Half an hour later, they had walked down the path to the beach and spread a blanket over the sand. It hadn’t been intended to be a picnic blanket, the fine wool blanket draped over the papasan in the living room corner, but its fate was decided when Jason shoved it into the wicker basket he’d found in the closet by the stairs. Books, crackers, strawberries, and wine rounded out the basket’s contents. The ancient Coca Cola cold box contained water, cheese, charcuterie, and beer.
It had been a perfect day.
‘What were you reading all day?’ Dick asked.
Jason turned to look at him, putting a strawberry in his mouth and chewing slowly. In the dark his eyes were more green than blue.
‘What’s it about?’
‘A lying man in a big house.’
Dick laughed and Jason responded by straddling his hips and running his fingers down Dick’s sides.
‘Is this where I ask if you’re just describing Bruce?’
‘Your words, not mine,’ Jason grinned and kissed him.
It felt too perfect, too much like one of the romantic comedies Dick refused to feel bad about liking. Any minute now, while Jason planted soft pecks down his chest, the sky was going to open up and drench them both. Dripping with raindrops, Jason would say something self-assured but lovable. Dick would say the words he was thinking without even intending to, and Jason’s eyes would soften, the crow’s feet around his eyes deepened by the delight in his exhale.
‘As much I’m enjoying this,’ Jason said and brushed his nose over Dick’s hipbone, ‘we should go back to the house. I hate sand.’
Dick pushed himself up and kissed him, catching his lower lip between his teeth, biting down before soothing the bite with the tip of his tongue.
‘You’re right. It does get everywhere.’
‘Of course you know that, you little slut.’ Jason nuzzled his cheek against Dick’s and kissed his nose, an apology for the insult.
They gathered everything, making a half-hearted attempt to get the sand out of the blanket, and made their way back to the house. It started pouring three seconds after they closed the door. Rain drizzled down, puddling by the back door and under the deck and in their footprints in the sand.
Just like a damn movie.
Jason looked up from where he was unpacking the cooler, his hair messed up by the beach wind and Dick’s fingers.
‘I’m in love with you.’ There, Dick had said it, and they had said I love you before but loving someone was different from being in love. Dick bit his cheek.
‘God, you’re fucking slow.’ Then Jason was in front of him, hands on his cheeks, lifting his face so their eyes met. His eyes were the blue of the Atlantic. His smile was a lighthouse, and Dick was a boat seeking land. ‘I wondered when you’d get around to that.’
Jason kissed him with purpose, with intent.
‘Yeah?’ Dick managed the word as an exhale between kisses, the sound almost caught in their mouths.
‘I love you,’ Jason said and walked them backwards to the kitchen, where he jumped onto the kitchen island and kissed Dick again. ‘And I’m in love with you.’ Jason rubbed his nose against Dick’s. ‘And I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for you to say that.’
‘I’m sorry.’ Dick said, and he was sorry for taking so long, for being so slow, but he wasn’t sorry for how Jason was touching him, how his calloused fingers felt under his thin t-shirt.
Jason hooked his feet behind Dick’s back and brushed a thumb over Dick’s forehead. Dick remembered the time they had joined Jason for an Ash Wednesday service. He hadn’t understood it, and he didn’t feel anything when the priest smudged a cross on his forehead. But, now – there was something holy in the way Jason touched him and Dick sank into the touch, Jason’s fingers on his face. Jason’s faith in him was all the faith Dick needed.
‘After all,’ Jason said and kissed him again, ‘we’ve still got the rest of forever.’