Author: Lune Nightingale (with help from oliverhood )
Pairing: Jason Teague/Oliver Queen (Jason/OFC)
Genre: Angst, Pre-slash, Comfort, Childhood Memories
Warnings: Underage (teenagers), Teenage cruelty, Pre-Slash
Notes: This switches back and forth from Jason's past to current events that take place during his time at Excelsior with Oliver. I had help from my awesome Oliver on this installment as well. (I'll name the verse someday...)
Summary: Jason's not all that sure what real love is. He's never really had the best examples to go by... but there is one type of love he knows is right.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Smallville. So depressing...
Word Count: 4,704
Love don't leave me.
Take these broken wings...
I'm going to take these broken wings
And learn to fly...
And learn to fly away.
Gunning Down Romance – Savage Garden
“Why did the emperor lock the nightingale in the cage?” Sad green eyes traced the Asian ink drawing on the page before lifting to the dark haired man sitting beside him. His father turned his head and regarded the child's book in his hand before looking back out the window of the train.
“Because its song was beautiful and he wanted to keep it always.” Edward Teague didn't like these trips. “Stop asking foolish questions, Jason.” Resting his elbow on the arm of the seat, he looked back out the window while his son's wide eyes stayed on him.
“Father... am I in a cage?” Jason's words were soft as he flipped a page between tiny fingers.
Silence filled the cab as the child waited for an answer. When he finally saw his father shift, the words made him frown. “Why don't you ask your mother when we get there?”
Little hands gripped the edge of the book as he tipped his head down. Closing his eyes, he sank deeper into his seat and drew his knees up to his chest. He didn't like it when his father's voice got like that. But then, it was only ever when they were alone. Reopening his eyes, he looked at the little bird in the cage and then at the emperor. And he couldn't help but wonder if that was what love was.
“Is mother your nightingale?” Jason's voice got tinier as he edged away from his father just in case. What he'd not expected was the book to be ripped out of his hands sharply and thrown across the train compartment to slam into the wall.
“No more than you are hers. Stop reading stupid children's tales and comparing reality to them.” Edward's terse voice made him flinch and he looked away, Lifting his hands, he rubbed at his arms where the sting on his skin hurt worse.
“Yes, sir.” Lifting his hand, he looked at the tiny cuts from where the pages cut skin like little razors and watched the blood bead on his flesh. Scooting further away from the angry man, he curled up tighter and closed his eyes. Yes, maybe that's exactly what love was.
“So... I was thinking... we could totally visit the beach on spring break. My parents have this amazing beach house and it could be all ours for the entire week.” Dark hazel eyes lifted to his and he slowly looked away. The subject broached not for the first time couldn't be avoided for long.
“And what exactly are you planning for us to do all alone for a week?” Turning his head back to his book, he wasn't quite ready to tell her he'd made plans for at least part of the week with Patricia and Oliver. Even though they'd done the dating thing for a month and he was getting used to one more person in his life, he still put them first. “I actually had plans for the last half...”
“Jason! I told you I wanted the entire week! You made plans?” The slender form yanked away from his side and rose to her feet in a flourish. “Those plans better be with your parents.”
“I don't spend spring break with my parents.” Keeping his voice even, he turned his eyes back to his book only to jump back when she slammed it shut. One of her small hands pressed onto the cover and when he lifted his eyes, she was right in his face. “Kat...”
“You're going off with that trouble maker and the Swann girl aren't you?” His chest clenched at the words and he found himself flipping back through his memories for any other time she might have shown ire to his best friends.
“Kat...” His voice bordered on warning but she didn't listen.
“Don't 'Kat' me, Jason Teague. Either you cancel with them and spend the week with me, or you can just say goodbye to us.” Her voice was sharper than he'd ever heard it before... and it cut deep. The rarity of doing anything with anyone other than the two closest to him made this even more difficult. She'd been the quiet, elegant type... how did it end here?
“Good bye.” Words that he didn't want to say came on impulse. And he didn't actually regret them. No, not really.
“What?” Surprise etched over her face as she leaned back.
“I said, good bye.” The inflection stayed smooth and low as Katherine took a step back and let it sink in. Jason liked the relationship. He thought he even considered it possible to last. But there was only one line he wouldn't let her cross. And she just tried to cross it.
“You're.... you're going to pick two delinquent friends over me? Me?”
“I guess I am...” Folding his hands over the book, he watched her carefully as she narrowed her eyes. He knew that look. That look was fresh on his mind from many fights he'd seen in the past. “You see, I don't believe in lying in relationships. I wasn't going to lie to you. But obviously, you can't handle the truth. I'm sorry, Kat, but if you're going to make me choose, you're going to lose.”
“This isn't over, Jason.” Her jaw went tight before the brunette spun on her heel and marched for the door. He didn't even turn when he heard the door slam. Slowly lowering his head, he rubbed at his eyes and let out a long sigh.
“It never is...”
“What are you doing, darling? You might get hurt.” Looking down at the concerned call, he lowered to sit on the ledge of the ruins he'd been climbing up. There were scrapes on his knees from missteps, but it didn't deter him.
“Patty said that the Mayans were stargazers... I wanted to see what I could find to take home to her.” Wide green eyes stuck on his mother as she shielded her eyes from the sun to look up at him. The sun glinted on her light brown hair and almost looked red. Tilting his head a little, he saw her lips down turn just slightly at his words.
“Don't be foolish, Jason... come down here. Come along.” Genevieve made her way up the ruins slowly, intent on dragging him back down. He knew this. Knew that his mother did everything she could to keep him close by. Sometimes he imagined an invisible leash running from her hand to him.
“Father told me to go away and play.” After all, it was Edward's idea for him to go play on the ruins, and it wasn't like he had anything or anyone else to play with. “There's no one to play with...”
“Jason...” Her voice was exasperated as she started to step up another tier on the Mayan pyramid only to slip. Moving quickly, he caught her arm before she could lose her balance completely. The hazel nut eyes rose to his in that moment and slowly her smile grew brilliant. “Thank you, darling.”
A strange warmth ran through him. It always did when she was smiling at him. Like he was the only thing in the world that mattered for just a few moments. But at the same time, it felt suffocating. “You ok, mother?”
“Wonderful, dearest.” Sitting down on the ledge with him, she curled her arms about him and pressed her lips into his hair. “My little hero.”
“Mom...” Groaning at this, he pushed at her to get her off, but she didn't budge.
“You know, Jason... I'll love you always. I'll never leave you or betray you... You know that, don't you? You're what's most important... remember that for mother?” That smile stayed sweet even as her eyes seemed to change. Furrowing his brow a little, he nodded once. Even if he didn't understand, he pinned it off on just being a kid. It wasn't like he understood...
“Genevieve! What are you doing up there?” Two sets of eyes lowered to the man at the base of the pyramid and Jason stiffened.
“Why, simply spending time with my son, Edward. Stop being so jealous.” A lilt of laughter was in her voice as Jason stayed quiet.
“We had plans!” Even this high above his father, Jason saw the hard glare that set his jaw tight in disapproval. “We're going to be late.”
“Don't be ridiculous, cancel them. I think I'll stay here and do a little exploring! Right, darling?” Genevieve's eyes moved back to Jason and it felt like his blood froze in his veins. Dark eyes from the ground below were boring into him like fire as he finally looked away from his mother.
“Genevieve!” And the fighting never ended. Especially not when he stood in the middle.
“You dumped her... just like that? Did you tell Oliver?” Patricia sent him a curious look. He knew what she wanted to ask, but she carefully avoided it.
“No.” Because there would be something like... disapproval? And it was Oliver that pushed this in the first place. He'd gotten tired of being shoved at every pretty girl that walked by them that hadn't scored an evening with his taller best friend. If nothing else, he'd approached Katherine only because she'd been so out of that loop of partying and chasing after Oliver.
“Ok, I can't take it anymore... What happened?” Turning his head at her question, he furrowed his brow and soon shook it in a negative. He really didn't want to talk about it.
“It's not important.” Jason sent her a small smile before shifting his bag on his shoulder.
“Hey, Teague!” Both he and Patricia stopped as he looked over to the familiar voice of Alden. The blonde was snickering evilly as he tossed a paper airplane at him. “Special delivery.”
Snatching it out of the air, he watched the other teen laugh as Geoffrey stood beside him laughing as well. Surprisingly? Oliver was no where to be seen. Looking down, he unfolded the airplane and something coiled up in his chest. Large black letters proclaiming 'Jason Teague is gay' and in slightly smaller font a list was made as to why it was true. Clenching his fingers on the paper, he didn't move even when Alden draped an arm about his shoulders.
“So... you dated that girl for a month... and didn't sleep with her once? Seriously? You really are gay.” The guy laughed and only jumped back when Patricia swatted him hard on the back of the head.
“I thought that was obvious.” Even Geoffrey and Alden went silent at that voice. Four sets of eyes rose to the girl in front of them. Katherine crossed her arms over her chest as she straightened her perfect posture that much more. “All that time I was trying to take it one step further, you were just saving yourself for a particular trouble maker, weren't you, Jason. Too bad even he doesn't have the time for you. I guess there are some morals even he won't bend. You poor dear.”
Jason's hands tightened on the paper as his eyes seemed to slide out of focus. It was the same disconnection he used when his parents would fight over him. The same when thing got out of hand and rather than face them and react, he hid in plain sight. What snapped him out of it was the loud sound of fist hitting flesh. At first, he flinched away, giving a telltale hint of his fears as he almost expected to see his father in front of him.
Only, as his eyes went into focus, he stared in awe as Patricia Swann had a hand full of brown hair as she hit the other girl again. “Don't you ever talk to him like that again! You bitch!” Blinking a few times, it took him a minute to really believe what he was seeing... and when he snapped to it, he pushed forward to pull his friend off of his ex-girlfriend as Patricia showed no signs of stopping. “Tramp! Get a guy with morals and you want to ruin him?!”
Katherine staggered to her feet, glaring daggers as she covered her bruised cheek and split lip. At first her ire was on Patricia, but it soon shifted to Jason and he met her eyes with pure ice. When she opened her mouth to say something, he cut her off calmly. “Walk away.”
Seconds ticked by as the girls shared another fiery glare just before Katherine stormed off. Curling his arms slowly around the redhead he'd been holding back, he pressed his face into her shoulder. “Did you just get in a cat fight in my honor?” Jason grinned in spite of himself.
Tricia only smirked as she reached up to pat his head. “No one gets to call you gay but me.”
“Gee... thanks.” Huffing a laugh, he closed his eyes. “With friends like you and Ollie, who needs enemies, right?”
“So glad you have it all figured out.”
“So you're saying he tripped and fell down the stairs?”
“That's correct. Jason's always been a little clumsy.”
“All right, keep a better watch over him, Mr. Teague.”
Jason faced away from the door on the starch white hospital bed with his arm in a sling. Picking quietly at the edge of the cast, he let his eyes drift up to the bedside phone. After a few more exchanges between the police officer and his father were made, the voices drifted off as though they were walking away.
When he was sure he couldn't hear the voices any longer, Jason edged to the side of the bed and picked up the phone. Reciting numbers in his head, he fumbled with the phone punching the numbers in one handed. Pressing the phone into his ear, he listened to it ring that dull tone.
“Can... can I speak to Oliver, please?” His voice cracked a little as he pushed back the tears that were threatening to fall. Crying wasn't allowed. He would not cry.
“May I ask whose calling?” Jason felt his heart sink. He knew that tone.
“I'm very sorry master Jason, but... OW!”
“Stop bein' a pompous windbag!” The boy blinked a few times as he heard that voice in the background before a few bumps and clicks sounded as the receiver on the other end moved to another person. “Hey, freckles!”
“Don't call me that.” Huffing softly, just like that he forgot he wanted to cry.
“Just be happy you're not a red head like Patty.” He could nearly hear the smile in his voice.
“You know she'll punch you if you call her a ginger.” Smiling slowly, Jason curls up in a ball on the bed about the phone in his hands.
“It would be worth it!” Closing his eyes, he could picture Oliver's hand on his hip as he straightened up all self-righteously.
“Just like the time you cut all the hair off her doll saying it needed a new hairstyle? It took you a week to get the permanent marker off your face.” If he wasn't in so much pain, he probably would laugh at the memory for not all that long ago.
“It's not my fault she can't take a joke.” A loud dramatic sigh poured over the line. “What'cha call for?”
“Distract me?” Jason's voice got small as he clutched a little tighter at the phone. “Please, Ollie?”
“Ok...” There was a short pause before the voice burst over the line again without missing a beat. “Oh, guess what I got, Jay! Paintball guns! You shoulda seen the look on Norman's face when he came home and...”
Jason closed his eyes just listening. He laughed softly when necessary and just got lost in his best friend's voice. Thirteen years old... and he still couldn't fight back against the big time lawyer, Edward Teague. But he found that sometimes... all he needed was this. That bright voice talking about nothing and everything all at once.
And if Oliver showed up in the hospital the next day to sign him out early with some fancy forging? Well, it made him realize... that not all love had to be through the bars of a gilded cage.
After the fifth nasty email, he'd expected it would keep happening. It wasn't until she'd called Patricia a harpy that he'd sent her one in return telling her in fancy terminology that it took one to know one. He'd considered going further, but after watching Katherine sport a black eye the last few days, he felt he could just let it go. Girls like her didn't take such bruising to their ego all that well. And he had to say, Patricia didn't have a mark on her and Jason was beyond proud.
Moving down the halls to his geometry class, he stopped at the sight of everyone crowding around a bulletin board. The first thought was the flier from before, but no one really even gave him a second glance making it unlikely he'd be the focus. Slipping closer, he found a notice that Mr. Grady had been dismissed for inappropriate relations with a student. One Katherine Malloy.
Just underneath that letter, which he knew had originally been a letter head from the Dean that got altered, was a photo. A very illicit photo. One that Jason almost wanted to lose the last three meals he'd eaten over and possibly drink Listerine straight and hope he died from the poisoning. All he knew was he did not like where her mouth was... and that he'd actually kissed it before.
Staring in slight shock, he barely heard the chatter around him as his mind arranged that knowledge in his head. Mr. Grady had been a middle aged professor notoriously hard nosed and refused to pass anyone with anything higher than a B on his tests. He also spent the last month grading Jason like a college student and assigning extra work. Half of the last month had been spent agonizing over geometry books and extra papers to keep his GPA up all for this one class.
Jason took a few steps back away from everyone as it all started to click together. Pressing his lips into a thin line, he turned to walk back the other way down the hall. A slow, shadowed smile pulled at his lips as he ditched his bag in his room and headed up onto the roof of the school. With that particular exam canceled for the time being, he felt no remorse cutting out on the class. And only one person knew the hell Grady had put him through on top of Katherine's little stunt.
Stopping just as he pulled himself onto the ledge, he could see the person he was looking for hiding just back behind one of the large statues decorating Excelsior's architecture. Oliver's shoulder was resting into the back of Marc Antony's marble form, shirt untucked and hands in his slacks pockets. One foot was crossed over the other ankle as the blonde head was dipped to watch the students below. This had become a favorite spot for his best friend when he wanted to evade the fast paced environment and the reputation he created to precede him.
“A little bird told me that you'd be up here.”
“Funny, same bird told me that you’re ex-girlfriend wound up with a black eye and kicked out of school. Gotta say, you really know how to pick ‘em, Jay..” Jason had to smile at that retort as he moved closer to the taller across the roof.
“I think that memo got lost in delivery when I was supposed to get it.” Slipping down to sit on the base of the statue just behind Oliver's feet, Jason let his head fall back to rest against the cool marble. “So... mind taking me home with you tomorrow morning or wherever you're going?”
“Maybe. But it's gonna cost ya.”
“Oh yeah? How much?” Turning his head to look up at the blonde, he found dark brown eyes locked on his. There was a reason he couldn't date blonde's or girls with brown eyes. That reason was smirking at him like a cat that just caught the canary.
“Let's start with teaching you how to date girls that aren’t crazy, and don’t have a disturbing resemblance to a certain socialite women.” Sending the taller a flat look for that remark, he shifted aside as Oliver slid down to sit next to him, their thighs knocking together and not moving away. “The rest you'll just have to wait and see.”
“Ha ha. You're hilarious. I'll be sure if I decide to date again that they are stamped ‘Ollie approved’. And I don't mean literally. If I ever see anything saying that on a girl I date, I'm putting green food coloring in your shampoo.” Arching a brow, he slowly smirked as he elbowed him softly in the side. Oliver snorted softly over a laugh and ducked his head just a little. He could see the amusement in his profile before the blonde dropped his head back against the statue behind them so he could send Jason a smirk.
“If only to see your face when she sat across from you with my name inked on her forehead, freckles? It would be worth waking up with green hair one morning.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Jason broke into a laugh and shook his head. Sometimes, he didn't mind the torture or the jokes... because it was the smiles he got in return. The hardest part was looking away. But right now? Right now he didn't care about that sort of protocol as his eyes softened along with the smile on his lips. Tracing Oliver's features slowly, he finally looked away ducking his head shyly. “Thanks.”
Snorting softly beside him, Oliver slid an arm about Jason's shoulder and pulled him closer with a low chuckle. “Eh, it wasn't anything. Was actually easier to get the pictures than I thought it would be, and she should’ve known better then to try that.”
In spite of himself, he closed his eyes and leaned into the other teen. A slow smile touched his lips before he shifted just a little to lean into Oliver's side and just barely touch the side of his head to the taller's. “Yeah well, I would've stood up for myself, but she wasn't entirely wrong. I mean, I do lean toward bisexual.”
He could feel the vibration of the beginnings of a laugh as he opened his eyes. Oliver's lips were slightly curled upward as he rolled his eyes. “I think I kinda noticed that after the first few drunken makeouts. Cause it’d take more then a few mojitos to make me look like a woman even with alcohol poisoning.”
Grinning slowly, he tilted his head to look at Oliver with feigned thoughtfulness. “Dunno, dandelion... little glitter, sequins, makeup and lack of contacts and you might just be a stunning lady.”
When Oliver smirked down at him with an arched brow, Jason's heart skipped a few beats. “Why, Jay, you say the sweetest things! But careful, or I may test out your theory, and I don't think anyone wants to see me in glitter and sequins, and to get the full effect you know I'd have to snag your contacts and your glasses just so you can't cheat.”
Laughing softly, he knuckled him softly in the side only to jump a little when Ollie got him back. “If I didn't know better, Ollie, I'd say you wanted to get me in bed with you. Is this where you're going to tell me Trish won't be there till Thursday so we'll have the place all to ourselves? I have to say, never been held hostage by my poor vision before. I give you kudos for originality.”
Voice dry, Ollie simply raised a brow looking down at him, “Damn, you found me out. Now how else will I get you to my place and put my evil plan into motion.” Dark eyes rolled as his lips twitched slightly into amusement. “I try. Do I get a gold star for effort?”
“Gold star, dandelion... maybe two. There's always next time that your evil plan may work.” Tipping his head back, his eyes slid up to the partly clouded sky. Even if his lips were still holding that amused smile, underneath he was thinking ninety miles a minute. Because only Oliver could make the week from hell feel all right in just a few sentences. Seemed that never changed. And maybe it got a girl's life ruined, but Jason would do that and more for Oliver. It just struck him as mildly pathetic that his 'jokes' sometimes bordered on what he wished would happen.
Finally turning his head back to rest his chin on Oliver's shoulder, he let his eyes linger on his profile just a little longer than was really necessary. If Oliver noticed... he didn't let on. So Jason didn't move away, not this one time. Reaching up, he softly curled his fingers into the tail of the other teen's untucked shirt as he closed his eyes. His voice went soft as he murmured in his ear words he was pretty sure made no sense to anyone but himself... but if anyone understood, he hoped it would be Oliver. And if he didn't... he only hoped the other teen would just ignore his crazy antics. “You wouldn't have to keep me in a gilded cage for me to keep singing to you...”
That careful guarded expression slid over Oliver's face. The one he came to identify with anything dealing with his own parents... or the parent's that the other teen lost. A look he learned to hate a long time ago. But at the same time, he could tell how much the words must have gotten through as the arm about his own shoulders tightened and the taller's head dipped down to press against his own. In the end, those softly spoken words were what made him feel like he was coming undone inside. “If I have my way, one day you'll never have to be in a cage again...”
Smiling softly, little by little it widened before he slid his arms about Oliver's waist and hugged him close. Exhaling slowly in relief, he somehow managed to contain the explosion of butterflies in his stomach and chest for now. Just for now. “I know...” Voice a low whisper, Jason had known a long time. That was why loving Oliver was beyond all that. “How 'bout we cut class... and blow this joint tonight?”
Snorting softly, Oliver's movement seemed just a touch off to him when he turned to look at Jason with a wry twist to his lips. “We going to run by a bank on the way home and rob it? Or are you just looking to head by the drugstore to grab a milkshake we can share with matching bendy straws.”
“Like either of us need the money, Clyde.” Rolling his eyes, he smiled slowly, green eyes sparking with mischief. “And who says I'd share?”
But even if he was Oliver's nightingale? He knew he'd never want to fly away.