Two mornings later, after waking up early to take a morning stroll on the promenade deck to see the sunrise, returning to the suite for the first cup of coffee of the day (Thank heaven for the premium coffee station) and then taking a shower with the wonderful view in front of him, Jason finally feels a little more acclimated to being on the ship. He would like to say that these three days on the cruise have been terribly bad (with the company of these pretentious suckers, and adding to it having to coexist with Dick and Damian every minute of the day) but honestly, he couldn’t find that many reasons to complain. Yeah, there were already two times where he had a sparring match with Damian in the living room to cool out from the anger or too many times where he had to count to 20 so he wouldn’t lose his patience with Dick. But that wasn’t something out of the ordinary. And the truth is that they had also good times, like last night when they had a good chat on the veranda, until Jason’s mouth ached from trying not to laugh and Dick was crying because of laughter. They’d been through so much together, so many years of trying to rip each other’s throats and then fighting side by side against madmen in ridiculous suits. They were family, after all, maybe quite dysfunctional, highly dysfunctional, but Jason felt comfortable enough to let his guard down around the two of them.
They accepted him for who he was, so he didn’t have to wear a mask around them anymore.
The three of them were adapting to sharing a space together, although honestly, he was the intruder. Damian and Dick coexisted all the time, to such an extent that Damian used to live with Dick half the year, and the other half was spent in the manor. That’s why seeing their everyday routine no longer surprised him, even though sometimes he couldn’t help feeling jealous of how well they got along. Every morning without exception, Damian would leave a cup of tea or chopped fruit for Dick, with the excuse that he wanted the blue-eyed to start the day with something healthy. It was a little cute, really. Seeing someone like Damian, the biological son of Batman, grandson of the Demon’s Head, 5’7, with a piercing green gaze, ending up being a complete softie for Goldie.
They were suckers, for fuck’s sake. Bruce might be the Dark Knight, but when Dick was around he behaved just like any overprotective father would. Dick just had that face, Jason couldn’t say no to him. Damn puppy eyes and its undeniable power. Like this morning, when Dick had convinced him to go to the pool on the Sun Deck to sunbathe with the excuse of seeing if they could find Kai Beck skulking around, which was a terrible excuse, but Jason ended up going with him anyway. He tells himself he only did it because Dick asked nicely and not for other reasons, like he actually wanted to go. But when Dick gave him a lopsided smile full of mischief, Jason just puffs a breath regretting his decision.
“You got to be joking.” Is the first thing Jason says, but no, of course, is not a joke.
“Please, you’ll have done worse things for me, like keep my organs inside my body and not out of my belly. Don’t be a drama queen.” Dick replies raising an eyebrow.
“Dammit, I’m not a drama queen, Dickface!” But yeah, he’s got a point.
“Sure,” Dick answers with a knowing look on his face. “Then just do it already!” When Jason still doesn’t make any move to do it, Dick shrugs. “Well, I’m going to ask some hot guy to help me then. Hey! You—” Dick chirps to a shirtless guy passing by and Jason doesn’t think twice before lashing out at him and covering Dick’s mouth with his hand before the guy could hear them. Dick wriggles out from his grip with a triumphant smile and Jason reluctantly snatches the sunscreen from him.
“Ok, fine!” Dick giggles while Jason applies a generous amount of product on his hands. Okay, maybe he did was being a bit dramatic, but that was better than admitting he was a bit shy about putting sunscreen on the back of his kinda brother-former-crush. Dick takes off his shirt flexing his muscles, making a show of it, of course, and then he lays on the recliner. His skin looked radiant with the little sunbeams reflected on it. Jason leans close and he begins to spread the product efficiently on his skin. As Jason spreads the sunscreen, he can’t help but be distracted by the moles scattered around his back, so much that Jason almost missed Dick’s words.
“Your hands feel so nice, Jase,” Dick says with a moan and Jason feels the tip of his ears getting red. “Have you considered giving erotic massages? Because you would be—”
“What the fuck man?” Jason interrupts him with an embarrassing high-pitch tone that just makes Dick giggle stupidly.
“Did I say something wrong?” Dick still has the nerve to ask. “I’m just being honest, Jase.”
“Don’t say weird shit like that! And stop calling me that!” Jason snaps and sits on his recliner trying to hide his red cheeks with a sour face. He spreads the exceeding of sunscreen on his arms trying to get out of his mind the sound Dick made. Jesus.
“Ok, peaches,” It takes him a second, and then Jason grabs the closest thing he has (that being Dick’s sandal) and throws it at his face, listening to the satisfying sound of his projectile hitting the target. Dick makes a noise between laughter and pain and Jason doesn’t hide his grin, but the satisfaction is short-lived when Dick tosses the projectile back to him, hitting him on the cheek.
“Shithead!” He yells at him trying not to laugh, but feeling rather humorous Jason doesn’t hold back a genuine laugh, attracting attention to both of them. After a few minutes of laughter, Jason grabs his stomach feeling loose and in good spirits.
“I wish we were always this sappy,” Dick whispers and Jason tries to ignore the sting he feels, completely forgetting the laughter. Thanks for bringing out how miserable we are, ass. He thinks to himself.
“We would be if we didn’t have the constant concern about dying before turning 30,” Jason comments bitterly.
“Or dying from fear toxin overdose,” Dick adds gloomily.
“Or be blown up in an explosion, which I don’t particularly recommend.”
“Would you stop making jokes about your death? You aren’t funny!” Dick grunts.
“It’s not a joke, those are facts.”
“Whatever, it’s not funny,” Dick announces with a sad puppy expression on his face, so Jason changes the subject.
“You think the dwarf is causing trouble? Maybe starting a fire or something? Should I worry?” Jason half-jokes. The punk did have disappeared like a ninja a while ago. Jason was almost certain that Damian was a vampire, he hated sunbathing (despite he spent the first years of his life living on a forsaken desert) he had the gothic style and he had evil eyes that promised danger.
“First, Damian is no longer a dwarf, he’s taller than me, probably he will be taller than you,” Jason chuckles dryly at that. Yeah, sure. “Second, Damian hates public areas, he wouldn’t hang around here unless it was strictly necessary. He’s probably lurking somewhere or maybe terrorizing some passengers. He’s fine.” Jason gives him a look of ‘seriously?’ under his sunglasses and Dick just shrugs.
“He’s probably sneaking at every cabin searching for evidence.” Jason comments. “I wouldn’t be surprised, not at all.” Dick seems to ignore his words and when Jason glances at him he finds the blue-eyed softly singing the background song. Jason pays attention and recognizes the melody of Island In The Sun by Weezer. “Isn’t that one of your favorite songs?”
“You remembered,” Dick gives him a surprised look so Jason shrugs like if weren’t a big deal.
“You put it on repeat all the time. When I borrowed your Spotify account it was always on your playlists, I assumed it was one of your favorites.”
“Yeah, it is.” Dick smiles softly and a second later he frowns. “Wait, you borrowed my Spotify account?”
When Jason ignores his question, Dick sighs and begins to read a Vogue magazine while getting a nice tan. The blue-eyed was only wearing his swimsuit, and apparently, it was a pleasant sight for everyone, as Jason could notice the discreet and not-so-discreet glances in their direction from time to time. Dick as freaking usual was oblivious to the looks he was getting, humming the pop songs sounding on the speakers and gently moving his feet to the rhythm of the song. Jason was tempted to throw a towel over him, but that would only make him look like if he cared about Dick, and Jason didn’t want to look like such a killjoy either. If Damian were here, he would definitely throw a towel over Dick and growl like a dog at anyone who dared to look at his brother. As there was really nothing to do for now, without feeling too guilty Jason flexed his arms behind his head while nipping at his drink. From their spot on the Sun Deck, they had a good view of the pool and the people gathered around. Jason felt so cozy that maybe he could take a nap, yeah, it sounded good, too bad his brain wasn’t cooperating with the idea of relaxing. Deep down Jason knew he couldn’t lower his guard.
Their first days of traveling the Pacific Ocean hadn’t been very enriching for the case, which was pretty disappointing, the thought of this whole show being in vain made it so bad.
Jason had just managed to gather what a crew employee had told him at some point yesterday morning. According to the lady, Monica, a ship of the same line had been attacked a few weeks ago but the incident wasn’t made public to not cause panic among the tourists. The pirates allegedly hijacked the entire cruise and took it off its original route. Apparently, there weren’t casualties, but Jason still questioned that. Monica had decided to be honest and share that information with him on the condition that Jason didn’t go gossip with the other passengers. She had assured him that Celestial Seas was safe. Regardless of the almost non-existent reasons to suspect about pirates on-board, they had installed a little device that spied the incoming and outgoing ship phone calls. Yes, it was quite illegal but Bruce didn’t seem to care about privacy anyway. From the Clock Tower, Oracle was monitoring in case a suspicious conversation happened, but so far, nothing yet. The bearded hipster was still in their sights, but they couldn’t prove anything until Kai did something incriminating, which he still didn’t do. Jason was a little resigned to thinking that maybe Kai wasn’t an undercover pirate, neither Tim nor Barbara had found anything in him yet, but Jason couldn’t stop thinking that no matter how clean he seemed, for some reason he still suspected about him. Sometimes the people who looked the least suspicious were the ones who ended up surprising you.
Jason was starting to think that maybe there weren’t any pirates on-board. They have been acting in the spotlight, being loud, making their presence known. Jason had seen almost every passenger face to face at least once, and no one seemed out of place. But if Jason was beginning to lose hope about finding pirates in their way, Dick, on the other hand, wasn’t losing hope. He kept saying that he had a hunch, that he was almost certain that there was something strange with the few passengers who didn’t leave their cabins. Dick always followed his instincts, and this time it wasn’t the exception.
“You know what I been thinking?” Dick asks suddenly and Jason spares him a look.
“Blackjack,” Dick says with a grin, changing his position on the recliner and choosing to lay on his back, the new pose brings out his abs and slim hip. Jason tries not to stare too much.
“Blackjack?” Jason repeats not following.
“Yeah, blackjack, craps, roulette, does it ring a bell? We haven’t set foot in the casino. Maybe we’re looking in all the wrong places. There’s a lot of money moving around there, as well as gamblers, and it’s a lot more serious than the piano bar, isn’t it?” Jason considers it for a moment, Dick has a point. Maybe they’re indeed looking in the wrong places, Jason doesn’t want to get any ideas about finding something, but maybe it’s not a bad idea.
“Well, we should go tonight, but don’t get your hopes up, okay? I doubt we’ll find anything. It’s been days and the only solid thing we have is that their last move was close, maybe the trail is warm. When we get to Tahiti we can ask questions to the locals, maybe stay a few extra days or something.”
“Okay, but I’m just asking for a little optimism, yeah? Maybe we’re looking for the wrong people, what if they’re not muscular or tattooed as we think? It’s like Damian said, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll keep my eyes open if you do the same.” Jason mumbles the last and Dick tilts his head like a confused puppy.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Dick wrinkled his nose.
“I’m just saying we should all keep our eyes open, ok? Maybe one of your buddies organizes fancy club yachts parties by day and by night is a ruthless pirate, how can you know?”
“Jason. Whatever Bruce said to convince or recruit you to come with me, bear in mind it’s an exaggeration. Bruce is too much of a control freak and you know it. I’m very much capable of taking care of myself, okay?”
“I’m just here for the free drinks,” Jason crosses his arms trying to end the conversation without spilling the beans about how he actually cares about him in an unselfishly way. Dick is about to contradict him as usual, so Jason smirks wickedly at him. “So you can take care of yourself pretty well, uh?”
“Jason, I’m offended by the question. Do you think all my years in pixie boots and green panties were made-up or something? I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you have, goddamnit.” Dick snaps and Jason raises both hands in a gesture of peace.
“All right, all right, jeez. So you’re saying you can see an attack before it happens? You telling me you’re that good?”
“By all means,” Dick replies with a frown and Jason smirks broader. “What’s this about, Jason?”
“Just curious,” He answers plainly. Dick puffs a breath but takes his magazine and begins to read it again. Jason waits for a few minutes and then he touches Dick’s shoulder insistently.
“Now what?” Dick says with a stern tone and Jason points to a spot near the lift access.
“Shit, isn’t that Damian talking to a girl?” Dick immediately straightens up looking at the place he just pointed mumbling a ‘where?’ and Jason tries to hold back a chuckle, he adds. “Don’t you see? It’s right in front of your face, moron!”
“I don’t see anything!” Dick puts a palm above his eyes trying to see better, so Jason seizes the moment to in a swift move take Dick and put him over his shoulder. Dick yelps in surprise and tries to escape, but Jason is stronger than him so he can’t get out of his grip around him that easily. “Jason! Put me down!” Dick protests but Jason doesn’t lower him. “What are you doin’?” Paying no mind to him he races to the pool maliciously and without hesitation, he throws Dick into the water seeing with satisfaction how Goldie splashes water everywhere. Jason can hear the whispers and the discreet giggles around, but he decides to ignore them while a big grin spreads across his face. Dick pulls his head out of the water pushing aside the now messy wet hair away from his eyes with a fuming gesture over his face.
“So you can see an attack before it happens huh,” Jason makes fun of him. “I see your guard’s a little low, Wonder Boy.”
“You caught me by surprise,” Goldie answers while swimming towards him slowly. “I was distracted.”
“Well yeah, obviously,” Jason chuckles and gazes suspiciously at the extended hand that Dick pulls out of the water, asking for his help to get out of the pool. Jason should have known better when Dick grabs his wrist with an iron grip and tugs him towards the pool. Well, shit. He curses as he has the uncomfortable feeling of his clothes sticking to his body. “You moron!” Shit, his sunglasses also disappeared with the splash.
“You were asking for it,” Goldie was still laughing.
“This ain’t over!” Jason swims at Dick and dips his face into the water with a loose grip, after a few seconds Dick kicks him in the stomach and takes a deep breath when he pulls his head out of the water, but with a wide grin over his wet face.
“Be careful what you wish for!” Jason smirks back at him.
If they both started a water war, no one commented on it afterwards.