Title: Subtleties
Pairing: Dirk x Jake
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters!


The first thing that registered in Jake English's mind was warmth. Consciousness blurring between reality and the surreal, he inched closer to that warmth, breathing in the soothing scent of pine and cotton. Something light tickled his nose, making him squirm and realize that whatever was under him was certainly not his soft mattress. It was firm and plastic-like. The corners of his lips tilted downward before heavy eyelids cracked open curiously. Light blue greeted him. He stared, taking in the sounds of the forest and the steady breathing and the small spot on his arm that he suddenly needed to scratch, and the whole picture fell into place.

Right. Roxy, Jane, Dirk, and himself were camping in the woods. After a day filled with swimming in the lake, hiking up mountains, instigating fisticuff matches, hearing Roxy complain about her nail breaking, roasting marshmallows over the fire and making smores, Roxy getting a bit too tipsy off the alcohol she secretly stashed even though she was told not to bring it and ending up falling right into the second tent meant for the girls, the four friends were forced to squeeze into a single tent for the night. Jake realized the light blue thing in front of him was Dirk's shirt, lit by the moonlight seeping through the blue fabric of the tent.

He inclined his head, greeted by a freckle-faced Dirk, sleeping peacefully. The raven-haired male tensed when he realized just how close they were. Sure, they had to be close due to the limited room in a single tent, but an arm was slung over his waist, accompanied by a leg nudged between his own. It was rather... intimate. The only thing separating their chests were Jake's arms cradled between them. He held his breath, wide eyes shooting between the arm around his waist and Dirk's face, hoping he wouldn't wake up with them in this position. But the younger male didn't budge.

Letting out that breath, feeling his own chest deflate and realizing he was safe for now, Jake looked at him thoughtfully. Though he'd seen it before, it was still odd to encounter the Strider without his ridiculous pointy shades on. Jake supposed it'd be even odder if the man slept in them, though, so he digressed. Something shifted behind him, surely one of the girls turning in her sleep, but he didn't feel the need to exert the energy needed to turn and inspect the situation. Instead, his gaze traced patterns between Dirk's freckles, noticing the subtle way his eyelashes curved and how his lips looked chapped from not being moistened in his sleep. He couldn't think of a time he'd ever been seen Dirk up-close like this. Well, other than during their tussles, but it was in those moments that Jake had to concentrate on things much more important than how soft his hair looked. He supposed he shouldn't be thinking those kinds of thoughts at all, but yet here they were.

They were so confusing, these feelings. Both Dirk's and his own. Living on an island for the majority of his life, Jake never had much human contact that extended beyond family. He hadn't had the chance to experience the butterflies and excitement that accompanied high school crushes, instead building an understanding of such things based on his movies. In those movies, it was always a heroic, dashing man getting the girl. Jake had pictured himself in that role a thousand times. Dirk was most certainly not a girl. He didn't need to be swept off his feet or saved in the nick of time. The damn Strider acted like he didn't need anyone, and Jake was fairly sure he really didn't. But needing and wanting were two different things, and when a confession revealed the stoic man wanted Jake those five months prior, it was rather unsettling. To be told that another man had feelings for him was... peculiar. Different. For the life of him, Jake couldn't say 'disgusting', though. Dirk was the best friend he could ever hope for. Nothing about Dirk could ever be 'disgusting'.

Especially when he was blue.

Jake found himself grinning at this fact, glancing up at the sheer blue covering. The way the moonlight soaked through made it look like the roof was sparkling. Looking back down, he felt the subtle thumping against the back of his hand. He slowly flipped the hand over, resting it gently over Dirk's heart, feeling the steady pulse beneath his palm. He closed his eyes, daring himself to imagine, if only for a second, that this wasn't some accident. That laying down with Dirk, legs tangled and torso captive by his arm, was a regular occurrence. He wasn't sure whether he should be surprised or not at the fact the thought didn't bother him at all. What on earth was gender, anyway? Just a matter of anatomy. It seemed frivolous when placed next to personality. And as far as personality went, sure Dirk could really piss Jake off at times, or have those moments where he seemed a million miles away, but didn't everyone have their faults?

He opened his eyes again, the green irises falling back on Dirk's lips. They were thin and pale, so unlike one of his all-time favorite women, Angelina Jolie's. Jake had never been kissed., and found himself wondering what it would be like to be kissed by Dirk Strider. Immediately after, he felt his cheeks grow hot. Blimey, that was an embarrassing thought. Dirk wouldn't find it embarrassing, Jake knew. He wondered if Dirk had ever kissed anyone before.. if Dirk would want to kiss him..

His face grew hotter.

Maybe... tomorrow. Maybe he'd tell Dirk how he was feeling about all this tomorrow.

The thought made his stomach do flips.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when something plopped itself on his side.

"Janeyyyy... kwetiiiie..mmphr.." Roxy's slumber-filled voice muttered into the air of the tent, dissolving into a snore, and Jake realized the object that hit his side was her hand. He huffed a quiet laugh, but it was cut short when he found orange eyes staring down into his own. There was a brief moment of connection, an unspoken 'yes I've noticed the position we're in', and Jake pulled a nervous smile.

"Mornin' bro," Jake said with what he hoped passed as nonchalance.

"The sun hasn't even risen yet. If your adventure-happy ass is ready to start the day, you're on your own," Dirk whispered, rubbing at his eyes. Jake grinned at not only the words, but the fact Dirk deliberately used the hand not connected to the arm still slung over his form.

"Nah. I'm still rather tired," Jake replied, resting his head on the pillow. He watched as Dirk pulled his hand away from his eyes, blinking his lids a couple times to get the sleep out, and then Jake averted his own eyes when those orange irises were back on him. He stared blankly at the collar of Dirk's t-shirt, wondering if the fact he'd made no move to leave Dirk's hold was going through the blond's mind. A bout of disappointment hit him when he felt the arm around him lift, but he then realized Dirk was merely pushing Roxy's hand off of his side. The arm went right around him again.

"Thought you said you checked her bag before we left," Dirk spoke.

"I did! I swear I did. She must have stashed the liquor bottle with ninja skills," Jake replied earnestly.

"You mean Roxy bested you."

"No one bests Jake English."

"No comment."

Jake knew he was playing. The small upward tilt on the corners of his lips told everything. It also made Jake's heart beat a little faster.

"Jerk," Jake claimed, half-heartedly hitting him in the shoulder. Dirk snorted and rested his head down on his folded arm, eyelids slipping shut. Jake was actually surprised he hadn't mentioned a thing about their position. Normally Dirk loved to make things as uncomfortable as possible. It would figure the one time Jake would have liked for him to mention something, the asshole doesn't do it. Dirk Strider somehow knew every move to trolling, even the unconscious ones.

This left Jake to act. It was something he never thought he'd do, but he guessed in some ways, he owed it to Dirk. He was brave enough to approach him in the first place, so Jake could do the same! Like he'd just said, no one bested him!

Except this was entirely too nerve-wracking, and if he was truly honest with himself, Dirk did best him.

So there would be no bold confessions of love in a crammed tent tonight. Instead, Jake plucked an arm from the warmth between their chests and twisted it back to take hold of the hand on his waist. He didn't dare look to see if Dirk was watching him, merely focused on bringing the pale hand between their bodies and with one last bout of courage, linking Dirk's fingers within his own. He closed his eyes, smelled the soothing scent of pine and cotton, heard the steady breathing of the occupants behind him, felt the beat of Dirk's heart accelerate beneath his palm, and when the hand inside his own tightened its grip, Jake figured everything was going to be alright.

My first Dirk/Jake :3 Just a little fluffy thing!