Title: "How Long Is Forever?"
Warnings: underage kissing, mentions/hints of underage sex
Word Count: +10,000
Pairing(s): Jaime/Bart (BluePulse), mention of Wally/Artemis (Spitfire)
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Tragedy
Summary: It took ten kisses for Bart to stop counting.
I would like to thank windona, my beta, and all the bluepulse fans out there. Also, Greg, for answering those wonderful questions and torturing my soul.
Alternative title, "Besame Otra Vez." The most repeated song while writing this is "Mine," cover by Tyler Ward. The song actually describes the story pretty well.
/I was a flight risk, with a fear of falling
/Wonder why we'd bother with love if it never lasts?
(It took ten kisses for Bart to stop counting.)
Bart is curious of kisses. He likes the idea of it, the deliberately slow movement of mouth against mouth, tongue against tongue. He likes that you have get really close to the other person to kiss, how you feel their body against yours, how you sometimes have to go on tiptoes or bend your knees.
He may have only begun fantasizing it when he became friends with Jaime, but shhh that'd be telling.
He's never been kissed before.
His cheeks warm at the thought, and Bart ducks his head, aware of Jaime sitting up on the hospital bed, spooning down jello. But Jaime doesn't notice, and Bart resumes his fidgeting, clenching and unclenching his fists on the white sheets and staring out the window at the Earth rotating slowly on its axis. It's greener and prettier looking than the one in his future.
The mountain blew up. Without a headquarters, the team had relocated to the Watch Tower. He still remembers the way his Watch Tower had cut a jagged ugly scar in the sky, falling down like a vengeful angel and destroying half of New York City in its path. But he wasn't worried about that. All he could think of was Jaime. JaimeJaimeJaime. How, for a long frightening moment, Bart had thought they had left Jaime behind to die when they evacuated the Reach's base, but here Jaime was, only a little worse for wear.
Bart can remember a time when the whereness of the Blue Beetle, his solid presence, the whir of contracting and retracting blue metallic plates, used to be frightening instead of comforting. Now when he thinks of the name 'Blue Beetle,' the feelings of both danger and fondness clash violently in his mind with a recoil that sends Bart into a confusing silence. Bart never wanted to get this worked up on the ramifications of his trip into the past. But Bart's not the only one who's changed. Lately, Jaime has been getting nicer and more nervous around him, and it's freaking Bart out.
Not that Jaime is ever not a nice and nervous person; he is one of the bravest, most selfless people Bart has ever met before and anyway, he had learned to tune out the way Jaime would argue with himself out loud when he thought Bart wasn't looking. But this brand of awkwardness, this heated tension, this is different. Or maybe it's Bart that's different.
He wants to kiss Jaime.
Jaime's voice is hesitant, and Bart's distantly aware that he's staring. But his mind is reeling. He wants to kiss Jaime. He wants to kiss Jaime. HewantstokissJaime. The idea rolls in his head; one - two - three seconds.
Should he do it? Now? Jaime's still looking at him, setting down the jello cup on his lap, a frown beginning to form on his lips. Bart turns away, feeling the heat of his blush spreading across his cheeks to the tips of his ears. He shifts, hiding his face in his hands, elbow propped up on the hospital bed. Forces himself to breathe. But he still can't force his body to quit fidgeting, his leg jittering incessantly.
Bart never expected for the trip to turn out this way. Trying to act inconspicuous in the past was- Bart doesn't even know how to word it. Exhausting. Nerve-wrecking. But it was also the best thing Bart's ever done. Not all of his smiles were fake. Not all of his personality was forced. Especially around Jaime.
"You brood even worse than Batman, you know, when you think nobody's looking. What's wrong?"
Jaime's hand reaches over to gently touch his own. Hesitantly, in disbelief of his own daring, Bart nudges Jaime's fingers until they intertwine with his own. He squeezes it firmly and watches as the concern in Jaime's eyes changes into dawning realization.
"Jaimelisten-" Bart licks his lips, stops, counts to ten in his head. He scoots closer to Jaime with a whispered, "canIjusttrysomething-" before his breath catches in his throat.
Jaime's face, frozen, except for his widening eyes. There's shock there, but he doesn't flinch away, letting Bart take his time. Deliberately slow, Bart remembers, but he can hear his heartbeat roaring in his ears. Time winds backwards, his heart beating slower and slower to a stand-still, and he's watching the moment in super slow motion. He's stuck on how close Jaime is. How Bart can feel Jaime's breath on his lips. He's getting drunk on their proximity, on the sound of his own heartbeat.
Bart hesitates half an inch away from Jaime's face. "Look, Jaime," he licks his lips again. Nervously. "you don't have to do this if you-" he trails off.
Jaime's eyes flicker downward onto the lower half of Bart's face, and Bart feels Jaime's hand resting on the back of his neck, fingers tangling in his hair. Gripping the loose auburn strands. Preventing him from leaning back. The smile comes unbidden on Bart's lips, shy and genuine. Jaime's eyes are warm like melting chocolate, his answering smile fond.
They meet each other at the same time. Bart parts his lips slightly, leans in closer to Jaime, shifting on his position leaning on the hospital bed. Jaime grip tightens on the back of his head as he returns the kiss, firmly but gently. Bart yields to the quiet strength of the kiss, feels his entire body shiver in reply, their hands still intertwined, gripping each other like an anchor.
His first kiss, Bart thinks in wonder, and then he stops thinking altogether.
Jaime doesn't ask about the future. If Bart is honest with himself, he regrets telling him. He can still remember the expression on Jaime's face. He was terrified.
Bart wishes he could take it back. He wants to wipe that look off of Jaime's face because it had no right to be there. Jaime doesn't deserve such an ugly premonition, especially one that came straight out of Bart's nightmares.
Guilt is a feeling Bart's long acquainted with, and it's easy to bury it under, and easier when Bart's focusing on the budding relationship he has with Jaime.
There's a lull in the tension. The alien threat is still there, plastered on TVs and spoken about on every radio station. But the adrenaline is fading, a weight lifting slowly from his shoulders.
Bart doesn't worry about as much. He likes that the nightmares don't come as often anymore. He likes not waking up in the middle of the night, fist in his mouth and shaking uncontrollably. More often than not these days, Bart finds himself falling asleep with a phone cradled in one hand, texting Jaime back and forth until his eyelids grow too heavy to keep open.
The transition from 'bros' to 'boyfriends' is not big of a change. They still hang out together on patrol, patrolling Jaime's desert-like city El Paso from the occasional mugger. When the sky's clear, they retreat to the winding dunes and lying on their backs on the sand to stare at the stars, a bag of Chicken Whizees propped up between them, shoulders touching.
The rough desert terrain of El Paso is a lot like what Bart experienced in his timeline. Bart loves racing on the sand, feeling the sand kick up behind his boots, laughing as Jaime rockets beside him, struggling to match his speed. The familiar feeling of cold biting into exposed skin. He breathes in small inhale-exhales, avoiding the dirt and grit that whips past his face and into his hair.
Then the end of a tease-turned-desert game of tag, both of them breathing hard from exertion. Bart is grinning so hard his cheeks ache, exuberant from the chase, and Jaime reaches out, pulling Bart towards him. Bart laughs, even as Jaime says, teasingly, 'tag, you're it' and pulls Bart a little closer. Right up, bodies flushed together, near enough to breathe the same air.
The second kiss is different, the height difference so obvious with both of them standing. Jaime wraps his arms around the small of Bart's back, lifting him up slightly as Bart stands on tiptoes, closing the gap between their lips.
Bart starts researching kisses. The internet proves helpful and provides a lot of sources. He learns how to trace his tongue over lips, teeth, another tongue. How and when to breathe, come apart, and come back together. The difference between keeping his eyes half-lidded and keeping eye contact with closing his eyes in full blown pleasure. How kisses aren't restricted to lips, that he can kiss the ears, neck, throat.
He absorbs all the words, soaking in the knowledge with an almost professional air.
When his phone vibrates on the bed, Jaime's text popping out on the bright screen: 'movie at my house?,' Bart snatches it up, grinning like a teenager as he starts to text back.
'be der in a flash' he types out carefully, making sure that his fingers presses the buttons right. Too often in the past had he texted so fast that the buttons didn't register his touch. Half from his own daring, half from newly bubbling confidence, he adds a sideways heart at the end, pressing send before he changes his mind.
';)' Jaime texts back a second later, making a happy thrill go up Bart's spine.
Minutes later, Bart arrives at the front of Jaime's house. The front door is slightly ajar, and Bart slips off his muddy boots, locks the door behind him, and sprints up the stairs to Jaime's bedroom.
Jaime's waiting for him, a pack of Chicken Whizees in one hand, laptop propped up on his lap. He pats the space beside him on the bed and laughs when Bart jumps into the bed, snuggling into his side.
"You took your time, cariño," Jaime says cheekily, bringing the blanket up to cover the both of them. Bart squirms a bit to get comfortable; they're two bodies on a single sized bed, and there wasn't a lot of room. Jaime brings an arm around Bart's shoulders and pulls him closer. The smell of Jaime wraps around him, and he breathes it in, his body relaxing.
"What movie're we watching?" Bart chirps, entranced as Jaime pulls up a tab on the laptop screen.
"A Nightmare Before Christmas," Jaime murmurs back. "Figured you never watched that movie yet. Heh, hope you don't mind spanish subtitles."
Bart has never heard of the movie before, and for a long while, he becomes transfixed by the odd talking skeleton in a pinstriped suit as they watch in companionable silence. But he's not a speedster for nothing, and his mind starts to wander to different places. The many posters and picture frames decorating the wall. Jaime's arm slung over his shoulders. The steadily decreasing supply of Chicken Whizees.
Actually, the now very worryingly small amount of Chicken Whizees. But Bart only scarcely has the thought before Jaime pulls out another one from out of nowhere, an exasperatedly fond smile on his face.
Oh, Bart thinks. Wonderful kind Jaime who's really nice despite Bart eating all his Chicken Whizees all the time and then offering him more like as if he got speedster baiting tips from Wally because Bart's never been more in love with him than in that very moment.
Bart sort of tackles into Jaime's chest, craning his neck and crashing his lips on Jaime's. Jaime makes a muffled noise of surprise, but his arms wrap around Bart's waist as if by its own accord. The kiss, however, remains chaste and Bart's not having any of that.
'A "kiss with the tongue" stimulates the partner's lips, tongue and mouth, which are sensitive to the touch,' Bart recites word for word in his mind and darts his tongue across the bottom of Jaime's lip. The small noise Jaime makes is expected and Bart purrs low in his chest. What Bart did not expect, however, was the startling taste of Chicken Whizees on the tip of tongue.
That was not warned in any of the websites he searched in.
Jaime takes advantage of Bart's surprise and kisses back, coaxing his mouth open. When their tongues meet, it's wet and slick and warm. The taste of Chicken Whizees intensifies, and Bart hums, leaning forward and deepening the kiss.
Jaime tightens his hold on Bart's waist with a low moan. Their bodies shift and the laptop falls to the ground unnoticed with a loud clatter. Bart wants to kiss Jaime longer but his ears pick up the sound of footsteps in the hallway and he breaks the kiss, shifting back.
Except Jaime's lips chases after him, his eyes half-lidded as he leans forward with a heated murmur of, "Bart."
Bart's eyes widen at the same time there's a knocking at the door. Jaime's stops, frozen.
The doorknob rattles. "Jaime?" a voice says from the other side of the door. "It's dinner time. Come downstairs."
"I-I'll be down in a second, Mom!" Jaime calls back, flushing to the tips of his ears. Bart clasps both hands to his mouth to stop the giggling, but a squeak comes out anyway. Jaime shoves him on the shoulder, making a cutting motion with the other hand, and Bart has to pinwheel his arms to regain his balance before he topples off the bed.
"I know your friend is there, too, mi'jito." The voice says, and Bart can almost imagine the eyeroll. "I'm expecting the both of you downstairs in twenty seconds."
They sit there, motionless until the sounds of footsteps fade away.
"You... She..." Jaime hides his reddening face with both hands, but his shoulders soon shake with laughter. "Dios mío. My family." Jaime raises his head again and his eyes are bright. He takes Bart's hand in his own. "C'mon, let's go downstairs," he says.
They run out the bedroom door and down the stairs. Jaime's family all look up when they come together into the dining room. Bart quickly lets go of Jaime's hand before they see it. Across the table, Jaime's mother gives Bart a secret smile. He returns it sheepishly, ducking his head with sudden shyness before taking a seat next to Jaime's younger sister, Milagro. She doesn't bat an eye at his presence, only poking him with a tiny finger to get his attention before passing him the mashed potatoes.
Bart accepts the bowl with a exaggeratedly gracious nod and Milagro grins toothlessly back at him. He scoops a couple ladles on his plates, drizzling it with gravy. The first spoonful is creamy smooth, and removes the last lingering taste of Chicken Whizees on his tongue.
When he feels the brush of toes against the soles of his feet under the table, Bart smooths his face into a politely pleasant face, giving Jaime a quick glance. Jaime doesn't return his eye contact, cutting up his steak, but the toes nudge his foot again, lingering just a bit longer.
Bart's confused, incredibly confused, but he thinks he gets the idea. Maybe. He nudges back, running his toes up the back of Jaime's calf and watches Jaime's face carefully for a reaction.
Jaime's eyes flicker briefly to his, a mischievous light in his eyes.
It's just a look, barely a second.
A flicker of emotion.
Only Bart stares.
He stares because it's barely a second, but Bart can slow down that one second until time seems to wind down to a standstill. He stares because he can slow down that second until he can drink in the pure affection in Jaime's brown eyes without interruption and hold onto that breathless squeezing feeling in his chest for as close to forever as he can.
The longer Bart stares, the worse the feeling gets. Bart can continue staring, but if he does, he'll be struck by just how goddamn surreal this moment is, like a fairy tale, a dream, a happy ending where he wakes up at the ending because the feeling Bart is having right now can only be described as happiness.
His eyes sting, and Bart lowers his eyes and spends the rest of the dinner trying not to blink.
there'snohopeleft,helaughed-tt-whoareyoukiddingyouknowsomething'sgonnagowrong.somethingalwaysgoes wrong wrong wrong WRONG
"You don't have to go so soon. We can still finish the movie if you want."
"Depends." Bart replies, drawing out the word. "Does Sally get together with Jack in the ending?"
"Why?" Jaime leans against the doorframe, hands in his pockets. "You a sucker for happy endings?" he teases.
Bart scuffs his muddy boots against the welcome mat. Bienvenido, it reads. "Yeah, I suppose I am."
"Cariño?" Jaime tilts Bart's chin up to his, concerned brown eyes scanning his face. Bart tries hard not to blink. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I'm fine." Bart musters up a smile. "Just, uh, tired."
He steps closer, one awkward shuffle and then another. Kiss number four is a chaste kiss, barely a brush of lips as Bart leans up towards Jaime on the front steps of the house. Jaime reaches to touch his shoulder, but Bart's already speeding off.