The Proposal Proposition
Summary: Tim knew getting involved with a scheme that required him to be in any form of pretend romantic relationship with Jason Todd was a terrible idea. He'd had a crush on him since they'd met during his first year of college and now they were going to get married to win more financial aid. Tim was an idiot for doing this and he knew the fallout would kill him when it came but he was finding it hard to care when it meant he got to have Jason pressed against his side as they walked across campus and matching rings decorating their fingers.
A/N: My prompt fill for day four of jaytimweek: vegas wedding/college. I had a lot of fun smashing these prompts together and have wanted to write a fic with this premise for a long time so I'm happy to finally share it with all of you!
Also on AO3!
Jason: Okay, so I know this may seem kind of weird and I know you don’t exactly need the money, but have you ever considered those schemes where people get married to get extra help with their financial aid?
Tim stared at his phone, eyes wide and trying to make sense of the text that he’d woken up to. The text that was timestamped at 3:45 that morning.
He didn’t even bother typing out a response and called Jason instead. He didn’t know if he would be up, but he didn’t have a class, so any loss of sleep was his own fault because you didn’t just text people talking about getting married for financial aid and in the middle of the night no less.
He tapped his finger against the back of his phone as he walked across campus, mug of coffee held tightly in his hand. The air had a bit of a chill to it. The cooler fall weather would be coming soon. He’d need to remember to unbox his countless hoodies that he’d managed to collect over the years to keep warm on his way to class.
“Hello?” Jason finally answered, sounding groggy. “Is this…? Tim? Why are you calling so early?”
“Maybe because you decided to text me in the middle of the night asking about people who get married to get additional financial aid benefits for college,” he answered, taking a sip of his coffee. “And I have one question in response to that: what the fuck?”
“Oh that,” Jason said, sounding more awake and Tim could almost imagine him flopping onto his back in bed, one hand resting on his stomach as he stared at the ceiling with his phone pressed against his ear. “Yeah, I found out that you can get added financial aid if you’re married and I know you don’t really need it, but I’ve kind of been struggling with finances and figured that the less debt I have to pay, the better.”
Tim froze, coffee halfway to his mouth. “Jason,” he asked slowly, “are you asking me to marry you for financial aid?”
“Kind of?” he said. “I mean, I guess, yeah. There’s no one else I can really ask, and I know it’s kind of stupid, but I thought…I mean if you don’t want to that’s fine…”
“Okay here’s what we’re going to do,” Tim said, fighting down the butterflies in his stomach. “I’m going to go to class and you’re going to go to class. And then tonight when we’re both done with class, we’re going to order a pizza and sit in your dorm room and talk about this because I’m still really confused.”
“Oh, sure,” he agreed. “We can do that. You want pepperoni and mushroom?”
“Duh,” Tim said with a grin as he rolled his eyes. “And don’t forget the breadsticks.”
“What kind of monster do you take me for?” he scoffed. “We can’t order pizza and not get breadsticks.”
“Is five good?”
“Not today. I have to meet with my advisor after my afternoon class. Make it six?”
“Sure, works for me,” Tim said, finally getting his feet to move again.
“Cool. See you later.”
“Later,” Tim said, ending the call. He slipped his phone back into his pocket and adjusted the straps of his backpack on his shoulders. Today was going to prove to be an interesting day and he knew that his curiosity over what Jason was proposing was going to make his classes nearly insufferable to sit through.
“So, what you’re saying is that you want me and you to get married so that you can get more financial aid benefits for college?” Tim asked around a mouthful of pizza.
“Yeah, basically,” Jason said, finally getting over his initial embarrassment at having to explain the whole situation.
Tim nodded and continued to chew. He was a little amazed at how much work Jason had put into the whole idea and the research that had gone into it. It also explained why he’d gotten the text in the middle of the night and not a more reasonable hour.
The idea wasn’t terrible, and they could get a divorce once college was taken care of. They’d been friends for years so getting along wouldn’t be a problem, even if Jason kind of deplored Tim’s living habits when he didn’t clean for a few weeks.
The only hiccup that could happen would be Tim’s problem. Which could prove to be difficult if he was in close proximity to Jason for a long time.
“You do realize we’re going to have to live together to make this work, right?” Tim asked, trying to make Jason reject the idea instead of him since he liked the thought of them being married a little too much.
Jason shrugged, and Tim squinted when he thought his cheeks turned a light shade of pink. “Yeah, I thought about that. But I don’t have a roommate right now, so you could always move into my dorm with me. I’m sure it won’t be too difficult to work around with housing, especially when we show them our marriage certificate and all that,” he explained, reaching over to swipe a breadstick from the box.
Tim nodded. “Our friends are going to lose their shit.”
Jason nodded. “Yeah, I assumed as much.”
“The media probably will, too. Are you prepared to deal with what comes with being with a Drake?”
Jason shrugged. “I’m sure it’s nothing I can’t deal with.”
Tim nodded. “Okay.”
“Okay?” Jason asked. He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. “You’ll do it?”
He nodded again, trying to push down the sour feeling that none of this would mean anything to Jason, but it would mean the world to him. “Why not? It’ll help you and I’ll get some benefits, too. And I think it could be fun. We just have to figure out who’s doing holidays.”
“We’ll probably have to do Christmas with your parents since they throw that big party every year,” Jason said, finally sitting back to munch on his breadstick.
“Yeah,” Tim sighed, rolling his eyes. “Plus, all of the socialites are going to want to see my new husband.”
“Am I allowed to scandalize them?” Jason asked with a grin.
Tim grinned. “Stumble out of the coat closet with our clothes rumpled to make them think we were doing things?” he asked.
“That’s not a bad idea,” he mused. “I was thinking more of sticking my tongue down you throat under the mistletoe.”
“That would give them the chance to take more pictures, but the closet would really get them talking. So, if you want to be the hot topic of all the gossip circles, that’s how it’s going to be done.”
“Sounds good to me,” Jason said, snagging another breadstick. “And for Thanksgiving we can chill here and watch ridiculous movies while we eat takeout in our pajamas.”
Tim groaned. “That sounds so much better than the four-course meal my family usually sets up for the holiday. I have to wear a suit. There’s three of us and I’m expected to wear a suit. It’s ridiculous.”
Jason made a face. “Ew. I’m surprised your parents don’t host a whole charity gala since it’s the perfect time to be thankful and help others be thankful too or some shit.”
“That’s Bruce Wayne’s thing,” Tim said, waving his hand. “And my mother and father don’t want to seem like they’re copying or trying to compete with him. Even though everyone who’s rich is actually competing with each other to hold the best parties and have the best houses and belongings, there’s this unspoken rule that it can’t look like they’re competing. Although we might win Christmas this year thanks to you.”
“We could probably win Thanksgiving too if the media scandal doesn’t die down enough.”
“Speaking of,” Tim said, straightening. “When are we doing this?”
Jason hummed and twisted around, grabbing his planner from his bed. He flipped open to the current month. “We’ve got fall break coming up. We could fly out then and make this happen if you’re good with that.”
“That’s just a couple weeks away, right?” Tim asked, pulling his laptop from his backpack.
“Yeah,” Jason said with a nod.
“Let me pull up flights to Vegas to see what we can do…”
Jason chewed on another slice of pizza while Tim skimmed the flight times and prices to get out there.
“Hey Jay?” Tim asked, looking up with a smirk pulling at his lips.
Jason raised an eyebrow in silent question.
“How do you feel about flying first class?”
Jason grinned. “I think it’s only appropriate for a pair of newlyweds.”
“And the honeymoon suite?” he asked, pulling out the credit cards his parents had given him to keep him occupied and out of their hair.
“Could we really stay in anything less?” Jason scoffed.
Tim snickered. “We can fly out there on a Tuesday morning and fly back on Saturday so we have time to settle in. We’ll have to start working out the legal stuff as soon as we’re back though.”
“Sounds like a great vacation,” Jason agreed. “Do we have to make reservations at Vegas chapels?” He opened the lid of his laptop and started on a quick search of Vegas wedding chapels. He grinned when he clicked on the first service that popped up. “Hey Tim, how do you feel about getting married in a Gazebo at sunset?”
Tim raised an eyebrow. “Fancy.”
“We can get the cheapest package since we’re not going to have any guests. What are we going to wear?”
“Tuxes, duh,” Tim mumbled, reading over something on his computer. “We have to make it look good.”
“Oh my god,” Jason breathed, feeling glee fill him.
“What?” Tim asked.
“You can live stream other people’s weddings,” Jason said, mirth shining in his eyes.
Tim frowned and set his laptop to the side, crawling over to him so he could look at his screen. “You mean you can just watch a complete stranger get married?”
“Yes,” Jason said, laughing. “We should totally do this! The media would go crazy!”
Tim grinned. “I can tweet out the video link before our wedding.”
“We even get roundtrip limo service to the venue from our hotel through this package,” Jason continued.
“What do they have open?”
Jason hummed and clicked on the dates for when they’d be in. We could do that Wednesday at 8?” he asked, looking at Tim who nodded.
“Sounds good. Let me get my wallet and we can reserve it.” Tim grabbed his wallet from where he’d been sitting and leaned against the bed next to Jason, their thighs pressing together as Tim took Jason’s laptop and continued to the booking page.
He typed in his personal information and paused when it asked for a phone number. “Do you want this under your name or mine?”
“Do you know anything about wedding decorations?” Jason asked.
“No. Do you?”
“Nope,” Jason said, crossing his arms. “But you do have more experience with fancy parties and shit.”
“Okay,” Tim sighed and shrugged, putting in his phone number. He waited as the screen refreshed and their package page was brought up. “Do you want to change any of these details or are you fine with the default?” Tim asked, scrolling down the page.
“How do you feel about red roses?” Jason murmured.
Tim shrugged, changing the color scheme and the rose petal choice to red. “Works for me. Anything else? We aren’t exactly going to have any guests unless a sudden influx of reporters show up.”
“What about a cake or reception?” Jason asked. “We can’t not have wedding cake. You only get married so many times.”
Tim chuckled. “We can order champagne and dessert from the hotel. I’m sure they’ll have lots of options that are ten times better than whatever grocery store cake these people buy.”
“Fair enough,” Jason agreed.
“We don’t need their tuxedo rental either,” Tim said. “I have my own and I know a place here in Gotham we can get you fitted at.” He clicked through the rest of the options, confirming the details before he was brought to a payment page. He selected to pay in full and pulled his credit card out of his wallet, filling in his information.
The mouse hovered over the ‘Pay’ button and he looked up at Jason.
“Last chance to back out,” he said.
“Do it,” Jason agreed.
Tim hit the button and the screen changed, wedding bells and confetti floating down over the screen as a large ‘Congratulations!’ flashed.
“You are the one who’s going to carry the bouquet, right?” Jason asked.
Tim rolled his eyes and shoved at Jason’s shoulder as he laughed. “I’m so going to be the one who proposes the divorce,” Tim muttered.
“Damn, we haven’t even gotten married yet and you’re already planning on pulling the plug.”
“I would say I’m marrying you for your money, but you don’t have any,” Tim said, sticking his tongue out at Jason.
“Why you little…” he grabbed Tim around the waist as Tim screeched, kicking out his legs to try and get away from the merciless dig of Jason’s fingers into his sides.
He dissolved into giggles, bucking and squirming in Jason’s arms during the relentless attack.
“Jason noooo,” he cried around gasps for air. “Let me go!”
“Haven’t you realized it yet, Tim?” Jason said, voice low and dangerous in his ear. “We’re about to be married. You can’t get rid of me that easily anymore.”
Tim hoped his shiver was hidden while he continued to try and extricate himself from Jason’s grasp. He didn’t need the lick of heat in his stomach to get the better of him and make him do something stupid.
But he was already doing something stupid. Because he’d agreed to marry his best friend for financial aid when he was already practically in love with him.
School helped to keep Tim’s mind off the countdown to the wedding. What sent him spiraling back into horrified acceptance as he tried to deal with his little problem was the phone calls from the wedding chapel.
“Hello?” he asked, picking up his phone that was vibrating for attention in his pocket.
“Hello is this Tim Drake?” a woman asked.
“Yes,” he hedged.
“Hi Tim, this is Debbie with Chapel of the Flowers. I’m going to be your complimentary wedding planner as we approach you and your fiancé’s big day,” she explained brightly.
Tim’s steps faltered. “I thought that everything was already taken care of through the booking on the website.”
“Oh most of it is,” she reassured. “But in case you want to change any arrangements we can take care of that over the phone. And we’ll also confirm your hotel details to make sure the limousine picks you up at the correct place and time. Now, I noticed that you didn’t include a wedding cake or reception in your service. Is that correct? Because I can assure you the cakes we supply are absolutely to die for.”
Tim smiled wryly at the statement. “We’ll keep that in mind, but at this point we weren’t planning on a reception. This…ceremony,” he said carefully, “is more of a private matter between my fiancé and I. We don’t have any other guests who will be attending the wedding.”
“I see,” Debbie said, sounding unhappy. “Well, if you do change your mind, we have a staff that can come and act as guests for your wedding if you do decide you would like other people present.”
Tim practically gaped, trying to find something to say. “Um, thanks,” he said slowly. “I’ll let you know if that’s an offer we’d like to take you up on.”
“Of course the pricing for that arrangement is dependent on how many guests you would like, but we can work out the details of that later.”
Tim nodded even though he couldn’t see her and rubbed his finger against his temple, wondering what the hell he’d gotten involved in. “Well, if that’s all…” he hedged.
“Right, of course!” she said. “I will mark down that you would like everything as you’ve already specified. I’ll give you another call when we get closer to the date of the wedding and if there’s anything you’d like changed before then or if you’re anxious about the big day you’re more than welcome to call me back at this number.”
“What do you mean anxious?” Tim couldn’t stop himself from asking.
“Oh you know, we have some couples who’ve had anxiety with something that’s such a big commitment and they might have a little bit of doubt after making the deposit. Small cases of cold feet and things like that. I help counsel couples through it.”
“Okay, well if I need to talk to you about any of that I will certainly let you know,” Tim said, starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
“Certainly! Have a good day, Tim!”
“You too,” he mumbled before hanging up the phone. He shook his head and shoved it into his pocket, hurrying up the steps to the dining hall where he was meeting Jason for dinner.
He swiped his student ID as he walked in and slipped around the corner to get to the back corner of the dining hall. The table he usually occupied with Jason was empty. He dropped off his bag and made for one of the food stations, grabbing a burger and fries for dinner.
Tim sat sideways in the chair closest to the wall so he could lean against it and prop his foot up on the chair next to him. He swiped a fry through his ketchup and looked up to find Jason stomping over towards him, fists clenched at his sides and scowl gracing his face like he was on the verge of murdering someone.
“You okay?” Tim asked.
Jason dropped his backpack in the free chair across from him and held up a finger. “I need food first. Maybe dessert before anything else.”
“Grab me a brownie if you’re going over there,” Tim called as he spun around and made his way to the meal lines.
Tim managed to finish his burger and was almost done with his fries before Jason made it back with his own bowl of stir-fry and a generous plate of desserts in tow. He set the plate in the middle of the table and angrily scooped up a bite of stir-fry with a spoon, shoving it into his mouth.
“What happened?” Tim finally asked.
Jason glanced up at him and sagged against his chair. “My fucking science professor has a paper due next week and we were supposed to get the assignment for it two weeks ago and he expects all of us to write this eight-page paper with graphs and an appendix by Monday even though he just gave us the assignment. And that doesn’t even count the fact that he hasn’t returned our last papers so none of us have any idea if we’re on the right track with what he wants as far as writing style goes.”
He huffed and stirred the food in his bowl. “I wouldn’t even be in this class if it wasn’t required. I don’t know anything about science,” he mumbled, finally losing steam.
Tim frowned. “So, he’s making this paper, that he just gave you, due right before Fall break?” he asked.
Jason smiled ruefully. “I’m going to die.”
“I’ll mourn you.”
“You’re going to be a widow.”
Tim smirked and swiped a brownie from the plate. “Can’t be a widow if we’re not even married yet.”
“Hopefully the police won’t come after you.”
“If they do, I’ll just tell them what happened: you had a heart attack from the stress of having to write a paper.”
Jason raised an eyebrow. “So, you already know how I’m going to die? That’s not suspicious at all.”
Tim grinned, his teeth glinting dangerously underneath the dining hall lights despite the flecks of brownie stuck between his teeth. “I know how to make things look like an accident.”
Tim shrugged. “Maybe a little bit. But I can’t be that evil if I agreed to marry you for a scam to get more federal loan money.”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Jason said, some of his good cheer returning. “It’s not a scam. We’re actually getting married. We’re not lying about anything.”
“Except our undying love for each other,” he muttered, even though it wasn’t exactly a lie for him.
Jason waved his hand. “That’s what marriages of convenience are all about. By the time senior year rolls around, the stress will have become too much for us and made our marriage fall apart.”
“Now who’s being suspicious and planning things ahead of time?” Tim asked.
Jason scoffed. “You love it.”
Tim rolled his eyes. “Whatever.” He swiped another brownie from the plate just to make a point.
Tim carefully cradled one of the two coffee cups in his elbow to free his other hand to knock on the door. He heard a muffled groan come from inside before something creaked. A shout sounded and a loud thump.
Tim stared at the door when the lock and handle started to rattle. It was pulled open to reveal an exhausted and messy Jason in the doorway. He fought to keep his gaze off how Jason’s hair stuck up in four different directions, wondering how it would feel to run his fingers through it and comb it back into place.
“Oh my god, is that coffee?” he asked, staring at the drinks in Tim’s arms. “I fucking love you if one of those is mine.”
“One of them is,” Tim said, holding out the right cup. “I didn’t buy two coffees for myself.”
“You have before,” Jason mumbled against the lid as he proceeded to chug half the cup. He stepped to the side and let Tim inside. He walked over to the beanbag in the corner of the room and sat down while Jason closed the door behind him.
The coffee table was covered with books and papers, Jason’s laptop sitting open in the middle of it all. Jason sat down in front of it, legs splaying out over the carpet.
“What was that thump earlier?” Tim finally asked when Jason was slowing his coffee intake.
Jason coughed and wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, cheeks turning pink. “I um…I tripped and fell.”
Tim stared at him for a minute before he broke out into hysterical giggles, hand clutching his side as he fought to keep from spilling his coffee.
“Oh my god,” he gasped when they finally started to subside. “How tired are you that you tripped in the middle of your own dorm room?”
“I’m exhausted okay?” Jason snapped, setting his cup down on the coffee table. “I’ve been working on this paper all weekend and haven’t even touched the reading I have to do for my three literature classes.”
“How much do you have left?” Tim asked, taking a sip from his cup.
“I just told you I hadn’t started on it! It’s 600 pages of-“
“Not the literature reading,” Tim said with a roll of his eyes. “How much of the paper do you have left.”
“Oh,” Jason said. He grinned, and it looked as manic as he was probably feeling after foregoing sleep and busting his ass to write a paper over the weekend. “I just have the conclusion left to write and then I need to slap together a works cited page.”
“Then don’t let me stop you,” Tim said, waving his hand. “Get it done.”
Jason looked at his computer and grimaced. “I think I’ll finish my coffee first.”
“Yeah, but the sooner you get done, the sooner you can nap,” Tim pointed out.
“This thing isn’t going to get edited.”
Tim snorted. “Do college papers ever?”
He grinned. “Nope.”
Tim kicked off his shoes as Jason bent over his computer and started typing. It wasn’t long before the last paragraph was done and he was flipping through the articles he’d borrowed from the library to take down his source information.
“There,” Jason said, clicking something on his computer before he sat back. “I’m finally done.”
“Time for a nap?” Tim asked.
“I think I might be too wired from sleep deprivation and caffeine to sleep. Movie?”
He shrugged. “Sure. I don’t have anywhere else I need to be.”
Jason pushed himself to his feet and grabbed his computer. He climbed onto his bed, pushing all the pillows against his headboard as he pulled up Netflix on his computer. Tim didn’t hesitate, climbing into bed next to him and fluffing the pillow behind his head as Jason rested the computer on both of their thighs.
Tim sighed, relaxing into the unforgiving university-distributed mattress as best he could as they settled in for what was probably going to be a t.v. show binge or mini movie marathon as Jason fought to forget the horrors of the past few days.
Jason pushed through the door to Tim’s dorm room, stomping angrily across the floor. Tim raised an eyebrow where he was seated on his bed, shoving a handful of cheeseballs into his mouth while sitting around in one of Jason’s hoodies that he’d stolen and his boxer briefs.
“What’s up?” he asked, setting his business ethics textbook to the side.
“So you know how my professor assigned that stupid paper that he made be due today and I busted my ass all weekend to get done?”
Tim felt his stomach sink. “Oh no.”
“Oh no is fucking right,” Jason snarled, staring down at the floor. “He decided to postpone the deadline until after fall break so now I’ve got this monster paper done and haven’t done any of my literature reading for my classes today or tomorrow.”
“On the bright side…at least it’s done?” Tim offered, knowing nothing he could say would be enough to cool the fury that was consuming Jason. And which had every right to consume him when it was caused by shitty professors and a stupid educational system.
Jason deflated and walked over to his bed, leaning against the edge next to him. “Yeah,” he sighed. “You’re right, but it’s still so frustrating.”
“Cheeseball for your sorrows?” Tim asked, holding out the bag.
Jason gave him a soft smile and reached into the back, pulling out a handful.
“And on the other bright side,” Tim continued. “Tomorrow night you get to leave on an awesome fall break vacation with me that’s going to let us fool the student loan system so we can get more money.”
Jason laughed as he chewed on his snack. “Yeah, you’re right. And at least I don’t have to worry about interrupting our vacation with stupid homework troubles.”
Tim’s stomach twisted at the word ‘our.’ “See?” he asked, trying for a smile that didn’t feel like it was concealing his rolling emotions. “Now you’re thinking!”
“What are you doing anyway?” Jason asked, finally changing the topic.
“Some class reading for business ethics for tomorrow,” he said with a shrug. “It’ll be my last class of the day and I know it’s going to drag, especially with the topic.”
Tim smiled, knowing it was as ugly as it felt. “Ethical management systems of course.”
Jason made a fake gagging noise and Tim nodded, completely in agreement.
Tim took a shaky breath and held up his phone, his camera open.
“You ready to do this?” he asked, glancing around at the few people in the seats around them at their departure gate.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Jason said, scooting closer despite the armrest separating them. He threw an arm around Tim’s shoulders and pulled him against his side.
“Smile,” Tim said, holding up the camera. He tilted his head towards Jason and snapped a picture of them leaning close, obviously in the middle of the airport.
“Is that going on Instagram or Twitter?” Jason asked as Tim lowered the phone to inspect the picture.
“Both,” he answered, opening Instagram first. “Might as well cover all the bases.”
He typed out a quick caption. “At the airport with the fiancé! Can’t believe we’re finally headed to Vegas to tie the knot. Been waiting for this for so long.”
He swallowed and added a bunch of heart eye emojis.
“Seems kind of cheesy,” Jason commented over his shoulder.
“Then it’s perfect for you,” he shot back.
“Hey…” Jason said, pulling Tim against his side.
Tim chuckled and switched to Twitter, posting the same photo and message. It had barely been posted before his notifications started to climb.
“What the hell?” Jason asked, looking at the bottom of his screen.
Tim bit his lip, thumb hovering uncertainly over the icon before he opened them. A string of likes and frantic comments appeared. There was a mixture of incredible excitement and shock. More than one person was desperate to know if it was true or not.
“You’re going to have so much damage control to run,” Jason muttered.
Tim smirked, trying to feign more confidence than he actually felt. “Don’t speak too soon. You’re going to have to deal with as much of this as I do. Be glad I didn’t tag your accounts or your stuff would be blowing up. Although they’re probably going to track you down anyway.”
“You can’t be serious?” Jason asked. “That’s kind of creepy.”
Tim shrugged. “Check your phone.”
“I swear to god, I’ll never forgive you if you basically ruin my social media experience.”
Tim laughed. “What experience?” he asked. “You barely post and even when you do it’s pictures on Instagram. You hardly use Twitter.”
“Shut it,” Jason grumbled. He sighed after checking both of his accounts. “Okay, I’m safe for now,” he said, sagging back in relief against his chair.”
“Now boarding for flight 2335 for Las Vegas, Nevada.”
“Well, that’s us,” Tim said, standing up. “Time to get hitched.”
“Don’t sound like you’re dreading it,” Jason said, pulling him over to the gate.
“Are you kidding?” Tim scoffed. “Being married to you is probably going to be a nightmare,” he said, the statement going soft because of the grin pulling at his lips.
Jason laughed and pulled out their tickets, both of them completely unaware of the pictures some of the other travelers were sneaking of them as they passed.
The heat of Las Vegas smothered them when they stepped through the door to the line of taxis waiting outside the airport. The air was cleaner than what they were subjected to in Gotham, but the humidity pressed down on Tim’s chest.
“Are we sure an outdoor wedding was a good idea?” Tim asked as Jason helped the driver load their suitcases into the trunk of the taxi.
“We’ll make do,” Jason said. “If anything, it’ll prove to be a very interesting ceremony.”
“Ah, you two are getting married, how splendid!” the driver interrupted with a grin. “I’ve had many, many couples ride in my car and all of them have stayed together many years! My taxi is very good luck.”
Tim and Jason shared a skeptical look as they climbed into the back of the car, both knowing there was no way he could know the people who’d come here to get married were still together.
“Now, where am I taking the beautiful couple?” he asked, looking in the rearview mirror.
Tim rattled off the name of their hotel, glad it was immediately recognized. He squinted against the bright sunlight when they pulled out from underneath the overhang. He took a deep breath, his heart gaining speed in his chest now that the wedding was on the horizon.
He hoped he wasn’t about to destroy his life with a colossal mistake.
Tim fell back heavily on the mattress of the resplendent bed of the honeymoon suite. The air conditioning was a sweet relief from the few seconds of oppressive heat they had to walk through to get through the sliding doors of the hotel. He could feel the beads of sweat pressing into his back, making a face at the ceiling.
“So,” Jason said, falling onto the covers next to him. “What are we going to do until tomorrow?”
“Hell if I know,” Tim said, rolling his head to the side to look at Jason.
Jason grinned. “Think we can fuck with the concierge?”
“Isn’t there a pool here too?”
Jason nodded. “Think so. Did you bring swim trunks?”
“Nope,” Tim said. “Shopping?”
“Meh,” Jason said.
“Yeah,” Tim agreed.
Tim tugged at Jason’s tie, securing it around his neck as he shifted in front of him. “Stay still,” he admonished.
He let out a long-suffering sigh. “I feel like I’m being suffocated.”
“Well get used to it,” Tim said. “You’re going to have to wear ties at least every other month from now on.”
“Only if you promise to take them off for me,” he said, waggling his eyebrows.
Tim rolled his eyes. “Keep that up and you’re sleeping on the couch over there.”
“Not even married yet and you’re kicking me out of our bed.”
Tim felt himself flush and didn’t say anything. “Let’s just…get going,” he muttered. “The limo is going to be waiting downstairs for us and we don’t want to be late for our own ceremony.”
Jason chuckled and slipped the hotel key into his pocket. Tim stalked past him, valiantly trying to keep his mind off what was coming. And that his first kiss with Jason was going to happen because they were getting married for financial aid and not because Jason harbored any sort of feelings for him.
“Hey, you need to tweet out the link to the livestream, right?” Jason asked as they stepped into the elevator.
“Oh shit, yeah,” Tim said. He pulled out his phone and pulled up the wedding chapel website on his phone, scrolling through the weddings from that day until he got to his own. He copied the link and opened Twitter, typing out a quick message for all his followers before hitting send.
He let out a shaky breath before he shoved the phone into his pocket, knowing he’d have a million notifications before the ceremony even started.
They stepped out of the elevator when it reached the first floor and strode through the lobby. A white limo was waiting in front of the steps of the hotel. A man in a suit holding a sign with Tim’s last name on it smiled at them.
“Welcome,” he said, pulling open the rear door. “Are you excited for the big day?”
“You have no idea,” Jason said genially, placing a hand on Tim’s lower back to guide him into the backseat.
“There is champagne and snacks in the fridge and you’re welcome to help yourself, although I would recommend waiting until after the ceremony in case your nerves get the best of you,” he said with a lowly chuckle.
The statement left Tim knowing that he’d probably witnessed more than one couple spew chunks before or during the ceremony.
Tim took a shaky breath as the driver climbed into the front seat and pulled away from the curb. Jason’s hand found his on the seat and gave it a squeeze. He looked over at him and Jason offered a small smile that Tim returned.
“We can still back out if you want to,” he whispered.
Tim shook his head. “No, we…we already agreed to do this, and I wouldn’t want you missing the chance to get more financial aid. Besides, it’ll be fun. An adventure of sorts.”
Jason chuckled and squeezed his hand again. As they drove through the streets, Tim belatedly realized that Jason didn’t pull his hand away.
Tim was valiantly trying to keep his breathing under control and stave off a panic attack as the officiant made it to the vows. Jason was holding his hands in a death grip as they stood under the wooden canopy of the gazebo. White string lights wrapped around the rafters and the sky was pink and purple above their heads because of the sunset.
He hoped the camera that was carefully sweeping around them to capture the video from all the right angles wasn’t picking up on his inner turmoil because he didn’t need hundreds if not thousands of people picking up on his panic and questioning what he was doing getting married to Jason if his heart wasn’t really in it.
Jason met his eyes, gaze soft and supportive and Tim knew if they were anywhere else, he would’ve been asking Tim if he rally wanted to go through with this. Tim gave him a small nod, hoping the reassurance would be enough to counter the panic in his own eyes.
Jason squeezed his hands tighter as he began to repeat the words the officiant said to him. He released one of Tim’s hands to reach for the silver band resting on a velvet pillow on the pedestal beside them.
Tim swallowed, straining to hear over the blood rushing through his ears and discern the words being said aloud.
The kiss of metal that slid over his finger was shocking and Tim looked down, hoping it didn’t look as jerky as it felt. He wiggled his finger, catching the movement of the light from the string lights as it wiggled and waved over the curved top of the band.
“Tim?” the officiant prompted.
Tim swallowed and nodded, slowly repeating the words that Jason had just said. He picked up the other ring, holding it tightly between his shaky fingers. Jason’s hand was warm under his touch and he slid the band on his ring finger, leaving it to settle into its new home.
As soon as his hand fell away, Jason gripped his hand, linking their fingers together.
The officiant smiled at them both, closing the book in front of him.
“I now pronounce you, husband and husband. You may kiss the bridegroom.”
Tim tried to smile but knew it was shaky. Jason lifted his hand and cupped Tim’s cheek, stroking the soft skin with his thumb. He stepped forward and ducked his head, pausing long enough that Tim’s thoughts started to run in a panic. This was his first kiss with Jason and it was because they were getting married, not because they were actually in love.
It made his heart ache.
The ache didn’t last long when Jason’s lips pressed against his. His eyes slid shut, but they broke apart quickly, Tim mourning the loss of contact. Their first kiss was their wedding kiss. Their first kiss was their wedding kiss that had just been livestreamed over the internet to an unbelievable number of people.
“Congratulations Tim and Jason. I wish you the best in your marriage.”
Tim smiled. “Thank you.”
Jason squeezed his hand and the man held out his hand, directing them back into the main building. Tim was glad to see the camera had been lowered and they were given their privacy once again.
“We can take a few wedding photos inside now that the ceremony is complete,” he continued, walking behind them.
“Sounds great,” Jason said, and Tim wondered if he was imagining the tightness in his voice.
Tim swallowed then the photographer arranged them in front of a tasteful backdrop, directing Jason to keep an arm around Tim’s waist which he apparently had no trouble doing. They were arranged in five different poses, subjected to the click of the camera as they smiled, trying to seem as relaxed as possible.
“Now kiss for me,” he said with a grin.
They both froze.
“Just one little kiss,” he prodded.
Jason was the first to move. He turned to face Tim, placing a warm and comforting hand on his hip. He cupped Tim’s cheek with his other hand, giving the camera an open view of their profiles. Jason’s eyes searched Tim’s and Tim rested a hand on his chest.
Jason ducked his head and then they were kissing again. It was different from the first kiss and he knew in the back of his mind he’d have to get used to this if they were going to make everyone believe they were ridiculously in love.
Jason’s lips were soft, and the kiss lasted longer than the one during the ceremony, the shutter clicking several times as the photographer took their pictures.
Jason pulled away and it took a minute for Tim’s eyes to flutter open. He met Jason’s sharp gaze watching him intently, searching his face for…something.
“That looked wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. If you’d like to head to the front of the building, your limo should be waiting to take you back to your hotel. I can have these developed tomorrow and delivered to your hotel before the day is over.”
“Thank you,” Jason managed since the words stuck in Tim’s throat. He was still watching the side of Jason’s head, trying to capture every moment and movement and feature of him.
He knew they’d be stuck together for three years at least. They had to get through the rest of college and he wasn’t sure how long they had to stay married after they graduated to make sure it stayed legit, but once that day came and they were no longer tied together, Tim was sure he wasn’t going to be the same.
He’d break, coming apart at the seams. He just hoped that Jason could stand to be around him and stay friends once it was done. Because torturing himself for three years was one thing, but torturing himself and then losing one of the few good people in his life would drive him insane.
“Tim, you okay?” Jason asked, meeting his gaze when Tim hadn’t made a move.
Tim forced a smile on his face, aware the photographer was still standing close by, listening to their conversation with intense interest.
“Of course,” he said, making his voice light and airy. “I was just wondering how I managed to snag the best man in the world for a husband.”
He saw the photographer grin out of the corner of his eye and Jason’s expression softened but he could still see the question lurking behind his eyes.
“Come on,” Jason said. “We should get back to the hotel and start celebrating.”
Tim grinned, his stomach tightening as he wished that he was actually going to get a true wedding celebration.
“So,” Jason said as he clacked away on his computer while Tim sat next to him and fiddled with his phone since his Twitter notifications hadn’t slowed down at all. “I’ve already emailed housing to let them know what happened. Once they get back to me you’ll probably be moving in with me in the dorm. Unless they decide to make special arrangements. Now we just need to take care of the financial aid paperwork to get this finished.”
“Do you know what we need to fill out?” Tim asked absentmindedly as he scrolled through several tweets that featured screenshots of the wedding ceremony. Most of them included their kiss.
“Yeah, I’ve got all that pulled up. We just need to change our marital status and submit the forms for review to get more aid. It shouldn’t take too long and if they need proof, we can scan our marriage certificate and send them a copy when we get back on campus and can access a printer.”
Tim nodded. “Okay. You want to get your stuff done first and then I can do mine?” he asked.
“Sure,” Jason said, clicking and typing in the silence between them.
Tim glanced up at him and found all his attention on the computer where he was reclined on the bed of the honeymoon suite that was eagerly provided for them. Although knowing Vegas and this hotel, there were probably a hundred more just like it so everyone could experience their honeymoons at once.
He pursed his lips and looked back at his phone, clicking the link to one of Gotham’s online tabloids that was constantly posting stories about him. They had several screenshots of the wedding video and were making their own suspicions as to the purpose of the wedding, but no one had tried to get in touch with him for a comment and he was more than a little grateful.
He’d already been put through a major emotional step the night before and he wasn’t ready to play the part of the newly married husband yet. He’d get enough of that when they returned to school. The isolation that came with their hotel room was the biggest comfort he had.
Tim’s phone vibrated in his hand and he swallowed when his dad’s name flashed across the screen. He winced and slid his thumb across the screen.
“Hello?” he croaked.
“Timothy, we need to have a talk,” his father said, voice low and stern.
“Yeah, sure Dad. What’s up?”
The sounds of Jason’s typing stopped, and Tim glanced at him. His eyebrows were drawn down in concern and Tim grimaced, catching his thumbnail between his teeth to chew on it lightly. Jason sat up, setting the computer to the side so his focus was on Tim.
“I’m…concerned,” he started.
“Oh?” Tim asked, hoping he sounded innocent.
“Is there a reason that the tabloids are covered with pictures of you getting married and that I’ve gotten calls from more than one socialite asking why you haven’t introduced your now husband at any of the social functions you’ve attended in the past year?”
Tim swallowed. “He’s not exactly partial to social functions and we were aiming to keep things discreet,” he lied easily.
Tim wasn’t sure where his ability to lie was coming from. Maybe from the years of distance he already had with his father. He could say anything, and it would probably sound believable. Most of his antics were overlooked because his father failed to pry into his life, they never came because he needed to make up an excuse for what he was doing.
“And it never occurred to you, or him, to share the little bit of information that you were engaged? He never thought to ask for my blessing or I don’t know, meet me in person before you decided to fly off to Vegas to tie the knot?” his father asked, voice filled with disappointment and what Tim was sure was anger for the trouble their recent nuptials were sure to cause.
Tim winced, trying to pick his next words very carefully. Jason’s long fingers wrapped around his free hand, pulling it from his mouth so he wouldn’t do even more damage to his nails.
“Look, Dad. I’m sorry that this seems sort of backwards and confused. This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision as much as it seems to be. We didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and getting married in Vegas seemed like the best option,” Tim explained, his fingers wrapped tightly around Jason’s hand to try and ground him.
“And you didn’t think that I might want to be there for this? You only get married once if you’re lucky.”
Tim blinked. His relationship with his dad hadn’t always been the best one. There had been times when they’d gone days without talking simply because his dad hadn’t taken an interest in his life. It had never occurred to him that his dad might feel hurt over not being included on such an important day.
“I’m sorry, Dad,” he admitted, a potent sense of guilt weighing down his stomach. “I’ll introduce you as soon as we get back to Gotham. We can go out for dinner and you can sufficiently question and threaten Jason since you missed out on all those opportunities in the past.”
Jason huffed a snort and Tim glanced up at him, offering him a small smile.
There was a pause on the line. “I’d like that. When are you set to get back?”
“We’re flying back on Saturday. Does Sunday dinner work for you?”
“I’ll make the reservations,” he agreed.
Tim nodded even though he couldn’t see him. “Okay. See you then.”
“Bye, Dad,” he said, ending the call. He sighed and dropped his hand to his lap.
“You okay?” Jason asked.
“Yeah,” Tim sighed. “Yeah,” he said again, voice stronger. “Dad wants to have dinner with us when we get back. Sunday dinner. He wants to meet with you since we kind of bypassed all of that.”
“Meeting my father-in-law already. We’re moving fast, aren’t we?” Jason asked, raising an eyebrow. “We’ve been married less than a day.”
Tim huffed a laugh, feeling himself relax. Things were going to be fine. Jason was his friend and they were going to work through all of this together. Tim might struggle with his feelings and Jason was completely oblivious to it all, but they had each other.
“Moving’s going to be a bitch when we get back,” Tim mused.
Jason squeezed his hand where he was still holding it. “You’re the one who has to move, but I guess I can help you to make it more bearable.”
“People might question it if you didn’t. We wouldn’t want to seem distant in our relationship,” he drawled, rolling his eyes. “You done with that paperwork yet.”
“Oh,” Jason said, pulling his hand away to turn back to his computer. Tim missed the warmth of their hands together. “Almost,” he said, typing a few more things on the computer. “There. Now it’s your turn.”
Tim took the computer and set it in his lap, logging into his account. Jason waited patiently next to him as he went through the necessary forms, getting everything filled out.
“You haven’t heard back yet from housing, have you?” Tim asked as he skimmed over his information to recheck the necessary changes. He’d never get used to being listed as married. And certainly not being listed as married to Jason.
Jason leaned to the side and pulled out his phone, checking his email while Tim was using the computer.
“Nope,” he sighed. “I just emailed them a few hours ago so should hopefully be hearing back soon. It’s break so I would think they wouldn’t have too much on their plate. Unless they’re making special arrangements for us,” he muttered.
“I don’t know why they’d need to. I’m perfectly fine moving into your dorm room. It’s not like we need our own apartment or anything.”
Jason shrugged. “Who knows? We’ll find out soon, so no use worrying about it.”
Tim nodded and saved the changes in his information as he submitted the new forms for financial aid. “There,” he said, passing the computer back to Jason. “Now, we wait.”
Jason grinned and closed the lid of his computer. “What do you say we have some fun?”
“Might as well. We have the rest of the week.”
Jason slipped off the bed and held out a hand to Tim. He swallowed, trying not to focus on the silver band wrapped around Jason’s fingers as he let himself get pulled to his feet.
“Oh hey, I got a response from residence life,” Jason said as they lounged on the deck chairs next to the pool.
A large umbrella was keeping the sun off Tim and despite the layer of sunscreen he put on earlier, he was glad to have the added protection.
“Really?” Tim asked. “What did they say?”
“They said that they can put us in one of the on-campus apartments if we’d like that, but you can also move into my room. Normally they wouldn’t allow a room change in the middle of the semester but considering we have pretty specific circumstances, they’re allowing it with no added charge. We can get you moved within the next week. I’m sure it’s going to take more than one day to get everything packed up and moved over,” Jason said, typing out a reply email on his phone.
Tim sighed, thinking about everything that would have to get packed up and then he’d have to unpack it again. “I’m not looking forward to this.”
“Don’t worry,” Jason said before locking his phone and tucking it away. “I’ll help you out and it won’t be that bad. At least you’re only moving from one room to another.”
Tim groaned. “That almost makes it seem worse. I won’t even get to ignore the boxes for a few days because I’ll need everything that’s packed up.”
Jason hummed. “You could always put the essentials in a duffle bag to make it easier to live out of and get the rest unpacked as you go.” He smile turned into a smirk that immediately put Tim on the defensive.
“What’s that look for?” he asked, crossing his arms.
“You could always share my bed if you don’t want to make your own.”
Tim huffed even as his chest tightened at the thought of getting to be wrapped around Jason as they slept. They were kind of already doing that, but this would mean it wouldn’t have to end.
“I doubt the two of us could fit in one of the twin beds we get blessed with by the university,” Tim muttered instead.
Jason shrugged. “People do it all the time.”
Tim swallowed, trying not to think about all the implications that statement held.
“Excuse me, sir?”
Tim looked up, blinking in surprise at the hotel waiter that stood in front of him, holding a tray.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I have a bottle of champagne and two glasses for you and your companion. They were purchased as a gift from the pair across the pool.”
He set down the drinks without another word and Tim looked across the pool to see two men with their chairs pushed together. They had their own bottle of champagne and one of the men raised a glass towards them, his other hand twined together with the man next to him.
Tim caught the glint of gold on their fingers. He cleared his throat and tried to ignore the flush that flooded his face as Jason had no issue pouring them each a glass.
“Cheers,” Jason said, handing Tim one of the glasses.
Tim clinked their glasses together before taking a large gulp of the champagne.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get this all packed,” Tim groaned, scrubbing a hand over his face. He was surrounded by piles of clothes. His bed had already been stripped of its bedding and Jason was nice enough to take that back to his room and make Tim’s bed for him.
“You’ll get through it. You have a couple of days to get everything moved over so just worry about the most important things first,” Jason said, rubbing Tim’s shoulders where he was standing over his kneeling form.
Tim swallowed and glanced over at his roommate who was studiously working at his desk and ignoring them. He hadn’t had much of a reaction when Tim had told him he was moving out and Tim didn’t know if it was because of the photo of his wedding that was plastered everywhere on the internet that kept him from being surprised, or because he was never the type of guy to put up much of a fuss.
Tim’s gaze dropped to the piles of clothes in front of him and the suitcase he was valiantly working to stuff them with. He knew that some of his added stress was because he’d be going to dinner with Jason the next night, but nothing could make packing up his life much better.
Especially when it was because he was getting ready to fool the federal loan system with Jason for the next few years to make college expenses easier on them.
He grabbed a stack of clothes and shoved them into the last available space in his suitcase before he let the lid fall shut and yanked the zipper around the edge.
“I’ll take this over,” Jason said, reaching over him for the handle.
“Do you mind taking my backpack too?” he asked, looking up at him and trying not to jerk back at their proximity.
“Sure. Is it ready to go?” Jason said, straightening and navigating the suitcase around where Tim was sitting on the floor.
Tim nodded. “Yeah. It’s got my computer and my schoolwork and books inside. Well, most of my books. I’ll have to shove the other ones that don’t fit into another box.”
Jason slung Tim’s backpack over his shoulder. “I’ll be back in a few. Try to have some more stuff packed by then. We might be able to get this done tonight if you keep going like you have been.”
Tim pursed his lips as they twisted into a smile. “If I do get this done, don’t expect me to have all of this unpacked by tonight.”
Jason chuckled. “Wouldn’t dream of it. I’d have to seriously bribe you with something and since we’re having dinner with your dad tomorrow, I don’t think there’s anything I could use.”
Tim watched as the door shut behind him. He checked the heavy sigh he wanted to heave when he glanced over at his roommate. He went back to studiously packing and was glad when the piles started to shrink and his side of the room looked less like a warzone.
Tim tried not to pace across the floor of Jason’s dorm, but he knew it was futile. Having moved to a new dorm in the span of a day and now being faced with dinner with his father was wearing him down. His nerves were on edge and he’d seen more than one man with a camera hiding out in the bushes on campus.
“Tim, it’s going to be fine,” Jason huffed from where he was sitting on the edge of his bed, tracking Tim’s movement across the floor.
Tim sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He wasn’t ready for this. He wasn’t ready for anything even remotely close to this.
Jason stood from his bed with a squeak and stepped in front of Tim. He wrapped his hands around Tim’s wrists and kept him in place. “Look, I know you’re worried about how your dad is going to react, but it’s going to be fine. He’s met me before and liked me well enough. This isn’t going to be the end of the world.”
“I know, but we’re going to meet him and have dinner as a married couple and he’s already hurt enough that he didn’t know about the wedding let alone that we had to supposedly date before this and I just…I don’t know how this is going to go.”
Jason sighed and threw an arm around his shoulders, pulling him into a tight hug. “It’s going to fine, alright? I promise. And if it all blows up then we don’t have to worry about having dinner again and we can just come back here and goof off and watch movies before we have to go back to class tomorrow.”
Tim slumped against him, his head coming to rest on Jason’s shoulder. “Okay,” he muttered. “I hope you’re right about this.”
“Just trust me on this. What could possibly go wrong?”
Tim made a noise in the back of his throat and Jason chuckled. “I could list about ten different things that could go wrong,” he muttered.
“Think positive, Timbo. Think positive.”
Tim bit his lip as they stepped out of his car in front of his father’s house. He shut the door and Jason walked around to meet him and grabbed his hand, linking their fingers together. Tim jolted and stared down at his hand.
“Married couples hold hands,” Jason murmured next to him.
Tim swallowed. “Right,” he agreed, squeezing Jason’s hand as he took a steadying breath.
Jason took the lead while Tim reluctantly followed and knocked on the door.
It was pulled open moments later to reveal one of the manor staff in all black.
“Welcome home, Tim. Your father is waiting for you in the dining room,” she said, standing to the side as they stepped in.
“Thank you,” Tim said as she shut the door and walked away. He led Jason through the hall to the dining room, surprised to the find the door had been propped open.
His father was sitting at the head of the table with the two adjacent spots having waiting place settings for them both.
“Welcome home, Tim,” his dad said, standing. “I’m eager to hear all about your trip. And Jason,” he said holding out a hand. “Nice to see you again.”
“Mr. Drake,” Jason said, shaking his hand politely.
“Let’s have a seat and we can get our evening started,” Jack said, taking his seat again.
Tim and Jason slipped into their chairs and Tim took a sip of water to steady him as the first appetizer was brought in and set before them.
“So,” Jack started. “How long were the two of you dating before you decided to run off and get married?”
Tim checked a sigh and picked at the vegetables on his plate with his fork.
“We’d been dating for about a year,” Jason supplied smoothly, punctuating the sentence with a bite. He watched Jack as he chewed, and Jack did the same.
“And why didn’t you think to tell me about this little arrangement? The fact that you were dating or that you’d decided to get married?” Jack asked, gaze sliding to Tim.
“I wasn’t sure how you’d take it,” Tim hedged. The statement wasn’t a complete lie but would give them something to work with.
“Were you afraid I’d react badly? Because of how soon it’s been or were you worried because Jason’s a boy?” Jack asked.
Tim hesitated, it was the perfect opportunity. The only opening that would make sense in the grand scheme of things.
“We never really talked about my sexuality or the other politics surrounding the queer community,” Tim said slowly, keeping a careful eye on his father. “And I always thought there was a part of you that would prefer me to marry a socialite who was prominent in Gotham’s business venues.”
Jack sighed and when Tim looked at him he was startled to see he looked older than he’d ever seen him before.
“Tim,” he started, sounding exhausted and hurt. “I know that my views on business have always been intense. But I never wanted you to feel forced to have to comply with my life in who you married. Sure, I had dreams of you marrying someone prominent who attended our fundraisers and that you’d take over the family business one day, but I never would’ve wanted that at your own expense.
“Now I see that I probably should’ve talked to you about other options, but I’d hoped that you never would’ve felt the need to hide something like this because you were afraid of how I might react.”
Tim swallowed, losing his appetite as guilt coiled in his stomach. “I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t realize how important this was to you.”
A little bit of sadness cleared from Jack’s eyes as he looked between Tim and Jason.
“Thank you, Tim. But I’d like to see you both more often. We should have dinner once in a while,” Jack said.
“I wouldn’t mind having dinner once a week,” Jason broke in. “I know that I’d like to get to know you better now that you’re my father-in-law.”
Jack smiled softly. “Then I’ll expect you here next week at the same time.”
“Sure thing, Dad,” Tim said, meeting Jason’s gentle gaze across the table. He couldn’t help but smile and ducked his head to stare at his food.
“Tim! Wait up!”
Tim looked up from his phone and glanced over his shoulder, finding Jason running after him. He grinned and turned to face him.
“What are you doing here? I thought you didn’t have class until later.”
“I have to get to a meeting with my advisor. I have a few questions about the courses being offered next semester and want to make sure I can take what I want,” he said, falling into step beside Tim.
Tim opened his mouth to reply when he saw a couple of people watching him on the other side of the quad, looking inquisitive. Before he could second guess himself, he shoved his phone into his pocket and moved his coffee cup to his left hand. He grabbed Jason’s hand and linked their fingers together.
Thankfully, Jason kept from looking down at their hands and gave him a curious look instead.
“A group of people are watching us,” Tim whispered. “We have to keep up appearances.”
Jason chuckled and squeezed his hand. The warmth of his palm and the slide of Jason’s callouses across his skin made his stomach swoop and Tim quickly took a drink of his coffee to hide the smile that pulled at his lips.
He was in deep shit with their idea to get married, but he couldn’t find it in himself to really complain while he was walking across the quad to class.
“Are we still on for lunch later?” Jason asked as they reached the main cluster of academic buildings.
Tim nodded. “Yeah. Meet in our usual spot after class?”
“You know it.”
“Cool. Since I get out an hour before you, I’ll probably head to the library to get some work done on my research paper.”
“Don’t work too hard,” Jason muttered. “I don’t need to come and drag you out of the library because you forget to eat.”
Tim rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about it. It’s only October, there’s no reason for me to fall down that hole yet.”
Jason narrowed his eyes. “I wouldn’t be so sure. You’re always on the verge of pushing your boundaries even when you don’t need to.”
Tim huffed and tried to pull his hand back, but Jason tightened his grip. “Are you going to let me get to class?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jason hesitated, looking a little uncertain as he glanced to the side. Before Tim could follow his gaze, Jason ducked his head and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
“There are a couple people staring at us,” Jason murmured.
“Oh,” Tim said, hoping it didn’t sound as forced or strangled as it felt.
“See you later?” Jason asked, looking like he was about to be drop-kicked across the quad for offending Tim.
Tim let his expression relax and smiled. “Yeah. Meet you at lunch.” He squeezed Jason’s hand and let it go, turning towards his academic building. His eyes did a sweep of the quad and he saw the people who were watching them, clearly interested in their relationship.
He didn’t look back as he hurried up the steps and pushed through the double doors to the building. Several gazes followed him through the hall and Tim was really starting to regret the huge media spectacle he’d made of their marriage.
Tim slipped into his classroom and made his way to one of the tables in the back. He set up his computer in front of him and curled up in his chair, eyes flicking around the room to gauge the reaction to his presence.
People kept glancing in his direction while talking to their friends and Tim ran a hand down his face, feeling the cool metal of his wedding band. He just had to trudge his way through class and in a couple weeks, no one would even remember that he was married to Jason. And if they did, they would probably stop caring.
He hoped they would, anyway. He really hoped they would.
The door to his private study room burst open and it still took Tim another five seconds before he was able to tear his gaze away from his computer screen.
“Jason?” he asked, brow furrowing. “What are you doing here?”
Jason huffed and crossed his arms. “We’re supposed to be meeting for lunch remember?”
“Yeah, but don’t you still have class?” Tim asked, gaze flicking down to the time in the corner of his computer screen. “Oh,” he said softly.
“Yeah, oh. I knew you wouldn’t be able to pull yourself away from your work once you got started.”
“Sorry,” Tim said, rubbing the heels of his palms against his eyes. “Guess I lost track of time.”
“What am I going to do with you,” Jason muttered. “Let’s go. I’m sure you’re starving and just haven’t realized it yet.”
Tim nodded and packed up his things, tossing them into his backpack with less grace than he normally would. He slipped his arms through the straps and Jason pulled him through the door, keeping an arm around his shoulders as they walked.
Tim fought down a shiver, wanting to lean into Jason’s warmth and plaster himself to his side. Anyone looking at them wouldn’t question it, but he wasn’t willing to have that conversation later when Jason inevitably called him out on it.
“Are you cold?” Jason asked as they crossed the quad from the library towards the dining hall.
“Not really,” he mumbled, burrowing further into his hoodie. The temps had only dropped slightly so it wasn’t bad enough that Tim was at the point he couldn’t get warm no matter what he did.
“You get cold when the temps drop though, don’t you?” Jason asked, tugging him up the steps to the dining hall.
Tim ignored the warmth that spread through his chest that Jason knew that. It was from their years of friendship and not because he cared enough to remember that.
“Yeah…” he muttered.
Jason directed him inside and he relaxed at the warm air that surrounded them. He pulled out his student ID and handed it to the woman working the sign in for the dining hall. Jason did the same and they slipped through the lines of students towards the back where they usually sat.
He caught sight of a few glances that were shot in their direction but ignored them. They would go away soon enough and he didn’t have the energy to worry about it.
“Grab me a soda?” Jason asked once they set their backpacks down in the extra chairs.
“As long as you get me dessert,” Tim countered with a grin.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jason said, throwing an arm around Tim’s shoulders as they moved back towards the lines of food. They split off, going to their favorite food stations. Tim grabbed his food quickly, glad to have missed the lunch rush because of his focus on his homework.
He gripped his plate tightly in his hand and stopped by the soda fountain, filling a cup for him and Jason. He pressed one into the crook of his arm and carried the other one. He made it back to the table before Jason did and set the second drink in front of Jason’s seat.
Tim tucked into his burger, glad for the warm food. Jason offered him a smile when he set the dessert plate between them both and started in on his own food.
“Follow my lead,” Jason hissed next to his ear.
“What-“ he started when Jason pressed a quick kiss to his lips. He kept the shock off his face when Jason pulled back, keeping his head tilted up towards Jason, letting the question seep into his eyes.
“Paparazzi,” Jason explained.
Jason put on a small smile despite their conversation and let his features soften. “Behind you,” he said, the geniality from his expression not seeping into his voice. “They can’t see your face, but other people are watching too since it’s not a small group of people toting cameras around.”
Tim nodded, snaking his arm around Jason’s waist. “Are they following?”
“Not right now. I think it helps that it’s late. Although we are headed back to our dorm so that’ll get them talking.”
Tim sighed, ducking his head against any possible scrutiny. Jason’s arm tightened around his shoulders and pulled him tighter against his side.
“Almost there,” Jason whispered.
Tim nodded and smiled. “You know, you’d think from your attitude, you’re the one with experience dealing with the cameras instead of me.”
Jason chuckled. “Yeah, but I’ve been around you long enough that I know how to handle it without making it into a big deal. We just have to put on a show for them.”
Tim nodded even though his stomach sank at Jason’s words. He didn’t need another reminder that for Jason this was still just pretend and something he was only doing to make sure he didn’t suffer crushing debt for years to come.
Jason trotted up the steps to their building quickly, pulling Tim along until they were safely inside the doors of their building.
“You okay?” he whispered, pulling him into the stairwell.
“Fine,” Tim said, feeling more exhausted then he had in a while. “Just tired.”
“Sounds to me like a night of Netflix in bed is just the thing you need.”
“You know what? I think you might be right,” Tim said.
Jason grinned and pulled his arm from around Tim’s shoulders to unlock their shared room door. He pushed inside, and Tim shut the door behind them. Jason pushed Tim’s backpack from his shoulders much to Tim’s amusement and dropped his own on his chair.
He pulled out his laptop and shoved Tim onto his bed, grabbing his own pillow before he settled down on top of the covers with him.
Tim watched as Jason pulled up Netflix and pulled up a show they’d both been watching, loading the next episode.
Tim wiggled around on the bed as it started, getting comfortable. After a moment of hesitation, he rested his head on Jason’s shoulder, curling into his side slightly. Jason pulled his arm out from in between them and shoved it under Tim’s head, giving him another pillow to lean against.
Tim smiled and lost himself in the show, ready to enjoy an hour or two of relaxation time before he’d be forced to return to the realities of his life and school.
“Tim. Hey, Tim.”
Tim groaned and squeezed his eyes shut, curling into the warmth against him.
A chuckle washed over his head, warm breath ruffling his hair.
“You have to get up Tim. You’re going to miss your class if you don’t get out of bed.”
“No,” he grunted. “Fuck class.”
“You’ll miss breakfast. You won’t get any coffee once breakfast is over.”
“Lies. The dining hall always serves coffee and if they didn’t I could just go to the campus Starbucks.”
Jason heaved a sigh, causing Tim to be jostled where he was suddenly very aware he was leaning against him.
“You can’t stay in bed and avoid class all day, Tim. If I have to go to class, you do too.”
“Noooo,” he whined.
“You can stay if you want to, but I’m getting out of bed.”
Tim made a strangled sound in the back of his throat as Jason pushed him off his shoulder. The bed shifted as Jason swung his legs over the side and stood up.
Tim tried to find a comfortable position and settle back in for a longer bout of rest, but he tossed and turned, rearranging the blanket over him and the pillow under his head, unable to relax now that the warmth against his side was gone.
He huffed a sigh and stared at the ceiling for a moment, listening to Jason in the bathroom brushing his teeth before he shoved off the covers and climbed out of bed.
“So, you’ve finally decided to join the land of the living?” Jason asked behind him.
“Shut up,” he grumbled. “I couldn’t get comfortable.”
He pulled out a change of clothes and was about to push into the bathroom when Jason stopped him with a hand.
“You going to the library later?”
Tim nodded. “Yeah. I’m going to get some work done on my paper later this afternoon after lunch.”
“Mind if I join you when I get out of class?”
Tim raised an eyebrow. “Since when do you need to ask? You usually just come and sit down and tell me to deal with it.”
Jason shrugged, his cheeks turning a light shade of pink. “Sorry, just thought I’d ask.”
Tim cleared his throat and slipped into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He took several breaths to calm down his heartbeat as it hopped and skipped joyfully.
This was bad. This was so very bad.
Tim didn’t look up when the chair across from him was pulled out and someone took the seat across from him. He assumed it was Jason but when no books were set on the table he paused his own work to look up.
He blinked at the strange, smiling woman sitting across from him.
“Uh…can I help you?” he asked eloquently.
Her smile widened into a grin. “How’s married life treating you?”
Tim raised an eyebrow. “And why would I tell you that?” he asked. “I don’t even know you.”
She rolled her eyes. “You can’t blame someone for being curious. You’re the talk of all the tabloids. Everyone’s dying to know all about your new husband and the things you do together.”
Tim narrowed his eyes and shut his laptop. “None of that is any of your or anyone else’s business,” he said, grinding his teeth as he shoved his computer into his backpack.
“Look, you really don’t need to leave,” she stared, putting up her hands.
“No, I really think I do,” he growled, shouldering his backpack.
Her gaze slid past him, face lighting up with delight. She slapped her hands on the table and stood up.
“Just the person I was hoping to see.”
Tim turned and found Jason standing behind him, eyes narrowed at the woman.
“I really think I’m not who you want to see,” he said. “It looks to me like you’re bothering my husband.”
“I wouldn’t really say I was bothering him,” the woman said, raising a hand.
Jason rolled his eyes and wrapped his arm around Tim’s shoulders. He guided him away from the table even as the woman called for them to wait.
Tim glanced up and saw Jason’s face set in a scowl. They were out of the library before Tim worked up the courage to say something.
“Are you okay?” Tim whispered.
Jason stiffened before he let out slow breath, the tension seeping from his shoulders. “I think I should be asking you that. She wasn’t too much of a nuisance, right?”
“She was just searching for information about us. Wanted to know more about you and our relationship. I’m thinking she was probably a reporter posing as a college student,” Tim explained.
“Sorry,” Jason muttered.
Tim shook his head. “How about we just go back to our room? We can worry about this later.”
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“At this point I’d rather order in than deal with all of the stares we’ll get otherwise. Not to mention the paparazzi that are going to be hanging around campus. Especially after that last encounter.”
“Sounds good to me,” Jason agreed, dropping a kiss onto the top of Tim’s head.
Tim’s heart stuttered, and he forced himself to keep walking and stay calm. Jason was relaxed beside him and Tim glanced around trying to find any paparazzi or students that might have been watching them but couldn’t find any overt gazes staring at them.
He swallowed and forced his feet to keep moving.
Tim’s stomach grumbled as Jason unpacked the bag of Indian food that had been delivered minutes ago. The floor was covered with books and papers and both of their laptops sat open with half-written papers on the screen.
Tim pulled up Netflix and scrolled through the list of movies he had saved that he hadn’t gotten to watch yet.
“Does this look good?” he asked, turning the computer to face Jason.
He glanced up and nodded.
Tim left it to play and took a spoon and the container of curry he’d ordered. Jason pulled two sodas from the mini fridge next to his bed and crawled around to sit next to Tim, their sides pressed together as they leaned against Tim’s bed.
After a moment, Tim let himself relax against Jason, soaking up his warmth and the comfort that came with being together.
Jason stared into his food, stirring it around.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Tim froze and looked over at him. “What?”
“This is all my fault. People are bugging you because of my stupid idea.”
Tim shook his head before Jason even finished talking. “I didn’t have to go along with it. I chose to do this with you. It’s not your fault that people can’t keep their business to themselves.”
“Are you sure?” Jason asked. “I’d understand if you wanted to call it quits and stop.”
The thought made his stomach turn. “Do you want to?” he asked instead.
Silence fell between them. It stretched on, the only sound was the soft dialogue from the film.
“No,” Jason finally admitted.
“Then I’m okay with keeping this going,” Tim agreed, looking down at his food. “Besides,” he said trying for a smile as his tone lifted, “my dad already approves of you.”
Jason grinned. “He hasn’t seen me at any of his fancy parties yet, though.”
“I might never forgive you depending on what you’re planning,” Tim said.
“So what would you forgive me for then?”
“I don’t know. It depends on what you’re planning and how much entertainment I get from it.”
“I will start plotting with gusto.”
Tim chuckled and scooped up a spoonful of his curry, shoving it into his mouth. His earlier anxiety was gone. He was happy. As happy as he could be while trying to pretend his feelings weren’t so real.
“What do you think about a rainbow tuxedo?”
Tim choked and coughed, trying to clear the food from his throat he’d just inhaled. Jason thumped him on the back and offered him his soda.
“What?” Tim asked.
Jason chuckled. “A rainbow tux. It would make any black-tie event I go to with you more fitting for the two of us.”
Tim grinned. “Only if I get to wear one that’s hot pink.”
“I knew there was a reason I married you.”
Tim kept his grin steady even as his heart skipped a beat. The words felt too true to be meaningless, but beyond that Tim knew Jason couldn’t mean he held anything more for him than friendship. Life didn’t work out for him like that.
Tim skirted around the refreshments table. He’d been pulled away from Jason twenty minutes ago and although both of them were wearing black, they’d still been stared at by Gotham’s elite because of their newfound reputation.
He had no idea where Jason had gone and was hoping that being around him would offer a reprieve from the questions being directed at him and the sadness that the parents had exuded over him not being able to marry their daughters. Not that that was ever an option anyway.
He jumped when an arm wrapped around his waist and a low voice chuckled in his ear.
“Looking for someone?”
Tim sighed, relaxing into Jason’s hold. “Just you, you ass,” he grumbled.
He grabbed Jason’s hand that was around him and tugged him towards an array of potted plants, hiding behind the leaves. He glanced back over his shoulder to make sure no one had followed them.
“I swear I need a break from being paraded around this ballroom.”
Jason hummed. “I think I could offer a pretty ample distraction.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked, raising an eyebrow as he turned to face Jason. “By doing what?”
Jason grinned, and Tim blinked, his heart jumpstarting from a mixture of arousal at the heady look in Jason’s eyes and slight fear at what he was about to do.
Jason looked around before walking him backwards. Tim swallowed, feeling heat lick underneath his skin when his back hit the wall. He sucked in a breath and Jason cupped his face. He tilted his head back and covered Tim’s mouth with his own.
Tim grabbed Jason’s shoulders, nails digging into the soft fabric of his suit jacket. Jason bit down on Tim’s bottom lip before he swiped his tongue over the soft skin.
Tim unconsciously parted his lips, letting Jason’s tongue into his mouth. Tim’s eyes closed in bliss and he sucked greedily on Jason’s tongue, earning a low groan from Jason.
Jason pressed closer, covering Tim’s body with his. Their proximity made him squirm as he tested the boundaries and learned how little room he was given to move.
A throat cleared, and Jason pulled back harshly. Tim’s eyes flew open and he tightened his grip on Jason to keep him from moving away. His father was standing a few feet from them.
“Sorry to interrupt but you were drawing quite the audience from your antics Timothy,” he explained.
Tim’s face flamed, and he saw several older women behind his father’s shoulder who were watching them curiously and one camera that had snuck into the mix.
“Sorry, Dad,” he mumbled.
He smiled. “Socialize for a bit longer and I’ll let you leave early if you’re that impatient.”
Tim slowly dragged his gaze up to meet Jason’s eyes. Jason grinned at him.
“Care to dance?” he asked.
“You know how to dance?” Tim asked, quirking an eyebrow as the heat in his veins started to dissipate.
Jason chuckled and tugged Tim away from the wall and towards the couples dancing along to the string ensemble.
Tim sighed and opened his eyes when his alarm went off. He stretched his arms over his head and groaned as his muscles tensed and relaxed. Something heavy was draped over his waist and Tim reached down to shove it away.
He froze when his hand touched skin and became aware of the warmth pressed against his back.
“Jason?” Tim asked, voice soft.
“Go back to sleep,” he groaned, burying his face in the back of Tim’s neck.
Tim forced himself not to shudder at the feeling. This early in the morning, Jason had stubble prickling his chin and cheeks, giving Tim beard burn on the back of his neck.
“Jason, I have to get up for class.”
“Since when do you care about going to class. Sleep. Sleep is good.”
Tim couldn’t help himself, he giggled. The change was so different compared to the other morning they’d woken up together. Jason’s grip tightened around his waist.
“Come on,” Tim said, patting his arm. “Let me up and we can go have breakfast before my class.”
“Fine,” he huffed, pulling his arm back.
Tim pushed himself up but Jason didn’t make any move to get out of bed. Tim rolled his eyes and made to climb over Jason, but an arm snaked around his back and pulled him down. He sprawled against Jason’s chest, arms splayed out to the side.
“What are you doing?” Tim grumbled, his face smashed against Jason’s chest and muffling his voice.
Jason heaved a sigh and pulled his arm back, releasing the pressure on Tim’s back.
Tim felt his face heat up and climbed off the bed. He kept his gaze away from Jason and dug around in his dresser, pulling out a fresh pair of jeans and a tee. He slipped into the bathroom and shut the door behind him, shivering as the warmth in his limbs started to dissipate.
He stripped out of his pajamas and shoved his legs into his jeans, jumping in place to tug them up his thighs until he could button the front. He threw his shirt on and quickly brushed his teeth.
Tim stared at his reflection and met his own gaze. He took a deep breath, trying to center himself when all he really wanted to do was throw himself back in bed with Jason. The pull to him never waned and one of these days it would become too much and he’d crash.
He nodded and forced himself towards the door. He pulled it open and blinked when his eyes met Jason’s chest.
Jason made a noise in the back of his throat and shuffled around him.
“Give me a minute and I’ll go with you to breakfast,” he said, shutting the door behind him.
Tim blinked and shook himself. He stuffed his books and laptop in his backpack and tugged a hoodie over his head.
The toilet flushed in the bathroom before the door was pulled open.
Jason sighed as he stepped out. “Much better,” he said, sounding more awake than he’d been a minute ago.
“Ready to go?” Tim asked, shouldering his backpack.
“Yup,” Jason said, shoving his feet into his shoes. He plucked his leather jacket from the back of his desk chair and grabbed his backpack, following Tim out of their room. They’d barely made it a step before Jason’s arm settled around his shoulders and pressed him close to his side.
Tim smiled and settled into his warmth.
Tim groaned and buried his head in his crossed arms on the table in the study room he’d snagged. The research paper he was working on was killing him even with the head start he’d gotten.
The door opened to his room and he expected someone to splutter out an apology for walking in on an occupied room.
He huffed and raised his head, finding Jason standing in the doorway with his arms crossed.
“Time for a break?” Jason asked.
“Only if I get to take a break from the rest of this semester. This research paper is killing me,” he sighed, letting his eyes slide shut.
“Come on,” Jason said, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Pack up your stuff and let’s head back to the room. You’re going to feel like shit if you fall asleep at this table.”
Tim grumbled but did as Jason suggested. He shoved his things into his backpack and lethargically pushed his chair back, getting to his feet.
Jason grabbed his hand and linked their fingers together, pulling him from the room.
Tim felt heat flood his cheeks and ducked his head, hoping to hide it. Jason squeezed his hand, looking perfectly content as they walked through the main doors of the library.
Tim shivered at the sudden chill of the late autumn air. He stepped closer to Jason, hoping to steal some of his warmth. Almost as though Jason was on the same wavelength as him, he pulled his hand from Tim’s and draped his arm around Tim’s shoulders, pulling him tight against his side.
Tim smiled, finding comfort in the silence between them. Whatever was going on between them, Tim was finding it less heart-wrenching then he had when they’d first gotten married. He was starting to think that maybe he could make it through the next couple years of their marriage regardless of the paparazzi and the other people who made their relationship into a spectacle.
Tim hesitantly slipped his arm behind Jason’s back. Jason tightened his hold on Tim’s shoulders and he slipped his fingers gently into Jason’s back pocket.
He let Jason direct him towards their dorm. He caught sight of a few people giving them curious looks, but he was starting to think their attention was beginning to wane.
They climbed the stairs sluggishly and Jason unlocked their door before manhandling him inside. Tim pulled away from Jason once they were inside and let his backpack drop to the floor next to his bed. He stared at his rumpled sheets, wanting to toss himself onto it, but a hand on his hip stopped him.
He furrowed his brow and turned to look up at Jason who stood over him.
“Jason?” he asked.
Jason pressed their chests together, fingers tangling in the strands of hair at the back of Tim’s neck. He ducked his head and covered Tim’s lips with his own.
Tim gasped, eyes going wide as Jason kissed him. Jason’s tongue slipped between his lips and a high noise sounded in the back of his throat. Jason groaned and wrapped his other arm around Tim’s back and Tim clutched at his shoulders, nails digging into the fabric of his hoodie.
Jason broke the kiss with a sigh, pressing their foreheads together as Tim sucked in desperate breaths, trying to calm his pounding heart.
“Jason?” Tim asked, feeling more raw and vulnerable than he thought he’d ever be with him.
“Sorry,” Jason apologized. He stepped back, releasing Tim from his hold and Tim felt cold.
He turned on his heel and stalked towards the door.
Before he could finish the question, Jason pushed through the door to their room and disappeared. Tim stood frozen next to his bed as he tried to figure out what had just happened.
The door slammed shut with a finality that chilled Tim to his core.
It took him too long to snap out of it before he was crossing the floor of their room. He threw the door open and looked up and down the hallway, but Jason was nowhere in sight.
“Fuck,” he cursed under his breath.
He slipped back inside and the let the door shut behind him, pulling his phone from his pocket. He dialed Jason’s number, pacing back and forth across the small floor space they had around their furniture.
It rang five times before going to voicemail. Tim growled and ended the call before he redialed. The same thing happened and he huffed, waiting for the beep to come.
“Jason, I don’t know why you decided to kiss me like that and walk out but you need to get your ass back here right now.”
He hung up and tried calling him again. It didn’t even make it to the second ring before he was sent to voicemail.
“You fucking idiot,” he hissed under his breath.
Tim opened their text message thread and angrily tapped against his screen.
Tim: Jason get the fuck back here.
Tim: Jason I know you’ve got your phone and you’re seeing this.
Tim: We need to talk about what just happened so don’t fucking ignore me.
Tim: Jason I need to talk to you.
Tim: Answer me you asshole!
He stared at his phone, waiting for a reply even as the read receipts kept coming back to him. But Jason never started typing.
“He has to come back sometime,” Tim fumed, gripping his phone so tightly that if he was thinking clearly he almost would’ve worried about breaking it. “And I’m going to be ready for him.”
Tim made sure his ringer was on so he wouldn’t miss any text or call, as unlikely as they were. He tried to find a comfortable spot on the floor and pulled out his homework, determined to get something done while he waited for Jason to get back.
He managed to last through five frustrating minutes of homework before he gave up and pushed it away, too distracted by what had happened and the lack of response from Jason. He pulled up Netflix and left something to play, not really focusing on what happened on the screen, mind still too preoccupied with thoughts of Jason but needing the background noise.
Tim stared at the door, eyes locked on it as he waited. He crossed his arms. He’d outwait Jason. He could do it. He would do it. And when he did, he was going to get to the bottom of whatever the fuck was happening.
Tim groaned when he woke up. He blinked his eyes open and found his face smashed against the floor. He’d fallen to the side after passing out. He straightened and stretched his arms over his head, feeling his muscles and neck pop from sleeping in such an awkward position. He rubbed the back of his neck, wincing at the kink and the soreness.
He didn’t feel rested at all and going to class was the last thing he wanted to do, both because of how awful he felt and being away from the dorm would give Jason a chance to sneak in and out without him knowing about it.
He sighed and pushed himself to his feet. He grabbed a change of clothes and slipped into the bathroom, turning the water on as hot as it would go in the hopes of washing away the gross feeling that was overwhelming him.
Tim stared at his reflection before the steam eclipsed the mirror. He had bags under his eyes and looked exhausted, face and hair rumpled. He sighed and stripped out of yesterday’s clothes, leaving them in a pile next to the door.
He stepped into the shower and braced his hands against the wall, letting his eyes shut as the hot water beat against his back. He could get lucky if he went to breakfast and Jason ended up being there too. It wasn’t a guarantee that he would catch him, but there were so many places on campus that Jason frequented that there was no telling where he’d be hiding out.
Tim reached for his shampoo and lazily popped the cap, squeezing some into his palm to wash his hair. He didn’t come back during the night which meant Jason had no intention of coming back to the room while he was here.
But most of the time Jason was a stickler when it came to class. There had been more than one day when Jason had dragged Tim from his room to make sure he got his ass to class and got his homework done.
Tim tilted his head back and let the water run through his hair, washing the soap down his back until it swirled down the drain. He was going to fix this. He was going to make it better even if Jason decided to be an idiot about it.
Tim felt like his skin was too tight. He was seated in the middle of the dining hall for once, giving him a view of both entrances. He did a walkthrough of the hall when he got there to make sure that Jason wasn’t already there and found their usual spot empty. His eyes kept shifting, waiting for Jason’s familiar figure to walk through the door but he hadn’t shown up yet.
It was getting close to the start of Tim’s class and breakfast continued for another hour after he’d have to leave. Jason would have plenty of time to sneak in after he was gone to get something to eat and the knowledge that Jason was avoiding him made his stomach twist.
“Hey, aren’t you Tim Drake?”
He stopped chewing and glanced away from the door he’d been watching to find a boy standing in front of his table.
“Yeah?” he asked, raising an eyebrow and fighting not to let his eyes flit to the entrances of the dining hall again.
“Didn’t you just get married or something? Where’s your husband?” he asked, bracing a hand on the table across from Tim.
“He’s got class,” Tim lied, pushing his chair back. “Which is where I need to be in five minutes.”
He slipped his backpack on and grabbed his dirty dishes, heading for the return line as the boy spluttered behind him and tried to call after him.
Tim tossed his dishes onto the belt with little care what happened to them. His stomach was twisting in on itself and his heart felt tight. He swallowed, trying to clear his throat but something was stuck, lodged there and making it difficult to breath.
He glanced behind him and when he didn’t find anyone giving him much attention he slipped around the corner from the doors and into the blessedly convenient single stall bathroom. He locked the door shut behind him and pressed back against it before sliding down to the floor.
Tim tried to even out his breathing, but everything hurt. He wanted it fixed. He wanted Jason.
He hugged his knees close to his chest and tried to let his breath out, but it hitched and stuck, sounding on the verge of a sob.
Tim’s eyes burned, and his vision became blurry. He buried his face in his knees, heart clenching with every hitch in his breath and the first few tears that slid down his cheeks.
“I hate you so much, Jason,” he whispered into the tile around him. “I hate that I love you so much.”
Tim stayed in the bathroom until someone came knocking on the door asking if it was free.
“Just a minute,” he croaked, voice sounding raw.
He pushed himself onto shaky feet and stumbled over to the sink. His eyes looked red and sunken, irises dull in the low light of the bathroom and his cheeks adorned with a splotchy flush. He turned on the tap as cold as it would go and cupped the water in his palms, wiping it over his face to cool his overheated skin.
Tim patted his skin dry with a paper towel and tossed that into the trash. He was steadier on his feet when he moved to open the door.
“Sorry I took so long,” he apologized, unable to meet the next person’s eyes.
“No worries,” she said, voice bright as Tim moved out of her way.
The door snapped shut behind him and Tim wrapped his arms around his stomach. He felt drained and was already late for class. He didn’t have the energy to show up late to his first class and couldn’t even contemplate going to his second one.
What he needed was Jason. Jason, who’d consumed his every waking thought for months. They’d laughed over movies and eaten takeout together and worked to fight off the stress that came with school. And now he was going to lose him.
Tim bit his lip, twisting his wedding band around his finger.
He took a shaky breath before finally forcing his feet to move. He was sluggish at first as he made his way down the stairs to leave the dining hall, but his desperation made itself known when he hit the sidewalk and started sprinting towards the academic building Jason had his morning class in.
Tim checked his watch. He had ten minutes before Jason’s class started and if he was lucky, he could catch him before he went inside. If he wasn’t lucky, maybe he could convince Jason to step out of class to talk to him.
Unless he was done pretending, they still needed to look convincing in front of other people and Tim knew Jason wouldn’t want to jeopardize that my ignoring his supposed husband when he came to talk to him.
Tim took the stairs two at a time and reached the second floor in seconds, bearing a sharp right and barely managing to avoid a couple of tired college students on their way out of their early morning classes. He caught a few looks of pity from them and they were most likely thinking that he was incredibly late for class.
Tim turned the corner, his breath catching in his throat when he spotted Jason stepping onto the second-floor landing. He looked exhausted, hair disheveled and bags under his eyes, movements sluggish as he shuffled along.
He glanced up and froze and Tim took that as his chance, barreling down the last distance between them until he skidded to a stop in front of Jason, chest heaving. Jason’s hands instinctively reached for him to keep him from crashing into something or tripping over himself.
They retracted a moment later as Jason’s eyes became guarded and he stepped back.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, voice cold and accusatory.
“Looking for you, you dumbass,” Tim huffed.
“I…what?” Jason asked, his defense falling away.
“You’re a dumbass,” Tim said. He stepped into Jason’s space and wrapped his fingers around the back of his neck and pulled him down, smashing their lips together.
Jason made a sound in the back of his throat, arms snaking around Tim’s waist to pull him close.
Tim broke the kiss and Jason made a low sound in the back of his throat, trying to follow him.
“Why did you run off last night?” he asked.
Jason blinked his eyes open, processing Tim’s words before he sighed, looking tired. “I thought you wouldn’t want me like this,” he admitted, voice low.
Tim huffed, feeling the anxiety that had lingered in his frame since the night before finally disappear. “Jason, I’ve had a ridiculous crush on you that’s probably bordered on love for at least two years now. I’ve been dying to kiss you since I first saw you. I agreed to marry you. Of course I wouldn’t be against this.”
Jason’s eyes widened, and his lips parted as he struggled to find something to say. Tim laughed and pressed closer, wrapping his arms around Jason’s shoulders.
“So, does this mean you’ll finally come back to our room tonight?” he asked.
“Why wait until tonight when we could go back now?” Jason asked instead, grip tightening around Tim’s waist.
“Aren’t you concerned with missing your class?” Tim asked.
“Nope,” Jason said. “I’d much rather be with you.”
Tim chuckled and pressed a quick kiss to Jason’s lips, stepping back and forcing Jason to release his hold on him before he could get any ideas.
“Go to class,” he said, keeping a hand pressed against Jason’s chest when he tried to close the distance between them. “I’ll be in our room when you’re done. You made me stress since last night. It’s your turn to agonize over being separated and you only have to struggle through an hour.”
“An hour and fifteen minutes,” Jason grumbled.
“Well too bad,” Tim said, smirking at him. “Time for you to learn some self-control.”
“I have plenty of self-control,” Jason argued, trying to get closer even as Tim took a step back for every step forward he made. “I’ve kept myself from kissing you senseless for months. And then from ravishing you in bed these past few weeks.”
Tim grinned. “Go to class. And you can ravish me all you want when you get back.”
He turned on his heel and walked away as Jason groaned behind him. Tim glanced over his shoulder and shot a wink at Jason where he pouted after him.
He felt so much lighter than he had since the night before. He was happy. And he could finally enjoy himself and everything he was going to be lucky enough to have.
Tim bit his lip as he started down the stairs to the first floor. He was giddy and couldn’t wait for Jason to get out of class. There were so many things he could do now. So many things he could do with Jason that he’d wanted to do for so long. And now he finally had the chance.
Tim scowled at his computer when he heard the room door open. He clicked several times, trying to get the program for one of his classes to work properly instead of what it was currently doing shitting all over his efforts to get his homework done.
His laptop disappeared from under his hands and he opened his mouth to shout something accusatory at the culprit when Jason’s smiling mouth pressed against his.
Tim made a happy noise in the back of his throat, arms automatically going around Jason’s shoulders as Jason crawled onto the bed, forcing him backwards.
Jason swiped his tongue along Tim’s lower lip and he parted his lips eagerly, letting his tongue slide inside to brush against his own.
“And to think we could’ve been doing this for years,” Tim grumbled when Jason pulled back to kiss across his cheek and down under his chin.
“Well we’re doing it now,” he mumbled into Tim’s skin, dragging his teeth along his pulse.
Tim shuddered, tightening his hold on Jason’s shoulders.
“You better not try and leave again,” he said, voice low and serious despite the arousal that was starting to flood his veins and cloud his mind.
Jason pulled back, meeting his eyes and Tim wanted to mourn the loss of contact but Jason’s gaze held him in place.
“I agreed to stay by your side in sickness and in health, Tim,” he said, reminding him of the vows they’d shared in Vegas mere weeks ago. “I meant those words with every fiber of my being even if you didn’t think I was serious. I’m not going to leave you again. Not now that I know you feel the same. You’re stuck with me the rest of your life so you better get used to it.”
Tim beamed, smile nearly painful as his eyes crinkled in happiness. “I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he whispered before he pulled Jason’s lips back to his.
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