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Brett slaps the inside of his thigh. “Spread’em. Further. Come on.”

The gift of any good quarterback is to be able to get out of trouble quickly. To see it coming, so to speak, and side step or drop back or throw away or run. Aaron is good at all those things.

But Brett – Brett was great. You can’t hear his name these days without the preface Future Hall of Famer. Once, Aaron heard him introduced as Living Legend, not a trace of irony in the interviewer’s voice, and Brett – he had just smiled. Perfect pearly-white, All-American grin.

Brett was the best.

If Aaron closes his eyes, he can feel every draft in the room, cold air on exposed skin. Brett’s fingers are focused points of heat. A great quarterback dictates not just the play, but the game itself. Sets the clock, controls the tempo, flings the ball free of gravity’s pull. He tells every human on the field where to be, tells the wind how to blow, tells the sun when to shine. Aaron shifts his weight, on hands and tired knees, head loose and hanging. He shuffles his legs farther apart. Brett drags his nails across the curve of Aaron’s ass. Aaron’s fingers flex in the sheets.

Brett sees it. Even now, Brett doesn’t miss much. “Really, really into girls, huh?” Brett’s hovering just beyond the edge of his peripheral vision. A quarterback’s perfect awareness of space, but Aaron doesn’t need to see him to know what face he’s making.

Aaron’s had years of practice watching Brett: three years from close in on the sidelines, where he could see him sweat and grimace, hear him growl and shout. But long before that, Aaron could have picked #4 out a crowd based on how his shoulders moved alone. For years before that, Aaron watched him where everyone watched him: on the TV.

On the TV, his movements were smoothed out into perfect arcs and speedy lines, the rough edges of a man smoothed into America’s handsome blue-eyed hero.

“Well, look at that,” he remembers his father saying, a distant sort of wonder in his voice. “The Packers actually made the playoffs.” And Aaron, curled on the carpet in the light of that blue glow, watched curious about this miracle-worker, all of ten years old.

Brett had been perfect back then. Perfect.

Up close, of course, you can see all kinds of cracks in that façade, lines that started to emerge long before Aaron got there. He knows how all the dark things in Brett had bubbled up to the surface, and started to bleed through – despite America’s best effort to turn her face away. America wanted to watch the best. The sun and not the shadow. Brett gave them that for years. Aaron swallows. “Oh, and you’re a real media guru.”

Brett pinches him. Hard.

“Ow, motherfucker – ” Aaron arrests the impulse to turn around, to pull away, because Brett’s already rubbing rough little circles into aching flesh, erasing the sting. He reaches between Aaron’s legs to give his dick a firm tug. And Aaron’s already hard, has been since before he got his clothes off, since before they were in the room, since before they were in the fucking elevator, Aaron mentally counting seconds and measuring the inches between their bodies.

Aaron’s been ready for this since the season ended, since January 5th and a 23-20 loss that meant they were done. Come close and fell short. Again. Every morning since then started with staring at the ceiling, a weight and an ache that only started to get better when Brett called to name a time and a place.

Brett always gets to say where. Brett always gets to say when.

He’s got both hands on Aaron’s hips now, sliding up and down, nails digging in. Aaron closes his eyes. Brett’s hands work up his back, thumbs digging into muscle. When he leans forward, Aaron can feel the scratch of the fabric of Brett’s pants, the rough press of the zipper when he grinds his hips against him. Aaron says, “You even gonna take your goddamn pants off?” Hiding breathlessness under bravado: something else every good quarterback needs to know.

“Maybe.” Brett runs a knuckle along the tendon that runs the length of the back of Aaron’s neck, pressing just hard enough to hurt. “Maybe not.”

Brett could fuck him fully dressed. Aaron could be naked, bent over the edge of the bed, and Brett not even mussed, so when it was over he’d just zip his fly up and walk away. Brett could leave him spread out on the sheets, wet and messy, and spent – Brett could be just on the other side of the door, buttoned up, laughing and signing autographs, while Aaron was still scratched up, stretched out, and panting. “Fuck.” It’s breathed out, drawn out, just barely audible. Aaron squirms under the weight of fantasy, uncomfortable, exposed, and he needs to rub up against something. Anything.

One of Brett’s hands grabs his hip, stilling him. Flex of his fingers more a warning than real control. Aaron swallows. Brett’s other hand is still up at his neck, and he traces out a route up his nape and across his scalp. “You should grow your hair out.”

Aaron hasn’t had long hair in years. “Why? So you can grab it?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, exactly.”

“No.”

“Why not?” And when Aaron doesn’t answer, Brett laughs. “Grow it out – it’s the offseason.” He grinds his hips against Aaron’s ass again, hard enough Aaron has to brace himself to keep from rocking forward. “Thanks to you it’s the offseason.”

That hurts – too fresh, too raw – a sick cold dread in his stomach and a tightness in his throat. “Fuck you.”

Brett slaps his ass. It stings – sharp and clean and perfect. Aaron pants, and Brett hits him again before he can catch his breath. Aaron goes down for a second onto one forearm.

Brett pinches the skin on the inside of his thighs. “Listen to you. You’ve gotten mouthy.”

It hurts; there are going to be bruises. Aaron bites his lip, swallows back the noises. Brett slaps him again, and then his nails are there, dragging across skin that feels like it’s radiating heat, and this time Aaron does moan, wordless and low.

Brett laughs. “You’re lucky I don’t wash your mouth out with soap. That’s what I do with my kids.”

“Oh, fuck.” Aaron lets his head loll. “Don’t bring up your kids.” Aaron should not be here, and he should not need to be here. One of those is an easy fix: don’t get in the car, don’t get in the elevator. Don’t follow the Packers’ Golden Son – a husband and a father – down the hall when he looks at you. Don’t take your clothes off when he tells you to.

The second is more complicated, because how do you not listen when he calls? And how do you not get in when the door opens? And how do you not follow Brett Favre – a man who spent more than a decade perfecting the art of leading men – down the hall? How do you not do each and every last thing he tells you?

“I can barely remember their names.” Brett sounds uncharacteristically thoughtful. An unusual sort of attentiveness to the way his fingers are digging into the flesh of Aaron’s ass, massaging and squeezing, too much and not enough. “You’ll be here one day. Just wait.”

Aaron frowns down at the sheets, wary. “Fucking my former backup?”

Brett positions the pad of his thumb directly over Aaron’s asshole, rubbing in circles, shivery and electric. Aaron’s abs tense up with the effort of not pressing back. “Do you want to fuck me?” Brett asks.

That throws him out of it, hard. “What?”

Brett takes his hand away, leans back so he’s not touching Aaron at all. “Do you want to fuck me?”

Aaron blinks at the sheets, pale blue and gray and offering exactly no insight. “That’s not what we do.”

“What do we do?”

Aaron’s mouth works. They do a lot of things. They don’t talk about them. And it’s suddenly so quiet, Aaron’s convinced he’s alone, naked in an empty room, dizzy even with his eyes open. He lets out a shaky breath.

Brett touches him, a single finger to the base of his spine, single point of contact like a lifeline. “What do we do, Aaron? Tell me.”

Everything in the world is squeezed into that growl of voice and the square inch of skin under that contact. Aaron swallows, hates himself for being thrown. “We – you say horrible things to me. And then you fuck the shit out of me.”

“Yeah.” Brett’s hands are back, running up and down his sides, constant firm pressure. “Yeah, that’s what we do.” He strokes absent patterns into Aaron’s skin. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’, then.” He pauses. “Or, at least – not this year.”

Aaron relaxes, closes his eyes. “Maybe if I win another ring.”

“When.”

“What?” Back to staring at the sheets, thrown again.

“When you win another ring.” He squeezes Aaron’s hip, and then he leans over him, placing all his weight on Aaron, until Aaron has brace himself to stay up. He’s close to Aaron’s ear when he says, “How’s the shoulder?”

“Fine.” Aaron grits his teeth. “It’s fine.”

Brett traces out the line of Aaron’s collarbone. “You know, when I broke mine I played through it.”

“There he is.” Aaron shifts, trying to balance under the added weight. “There’s the asshole I know and love.”

The weight’s gone all at once. Brett’s moving and he smacks Aaron’s ass, hard enough for his palm to make a solid, ringing clap, and again before the sting even starts to fade. And then just as fast, his mouth is there, tongue sliding over the skin, the prick of teeth against sensitized flesh.

Aaron’s gripping the sheets, and he is pressing back against Brett, seeking more – more of the wetness of his mouth and the scrape of his beard – more pressure, more heat. Brett catches hold of the flesh between his teeth, bears down just hard enough to force a gasp out of Aaron, to hold him still.

He’s rasping by the time Brett lets go, panting by the time he starts with the quick, flat swipes of his tongue across Aaron’s skin. He uses his hands to spread Aaron open, tongue stroking across his hole, pressing in, teasing the flesh. Aaron can feel spit sliding down his crack, and he can feel Brett taking advantage of it, tugging on his sack, spit-slick grip sliding up and down his shaft, fingers playing with the slit. Aaron swallows hard.

Brett pulls away, and the air is cold on raw, wet skin. Brett drags his fingers across Aaron’s ass slow, and then he slides one into him, easy, all in one smooth motion. Then he just stays there, motionless. Aaron’s still trying to catch his breath, body tensing up around him, hips pressing back automatic.

“Fuck yourself.”

His face burns. He can feel the throb of the blood rush, and he rocks back and forth on Brett’s finger, heaviness like gravity gathering in his balls, a burn, a need, and there’s never been much dignity when Brett’s involved. Aaron bites down on each exhale.

Brett rubs a second finger against his asshole, but he’s just teasing the rim, not going inside. Aaron bites the inside of his cheek, eyes squeezed shut.

There’s a roaring in his ears like a distant crowd, and the cold burn of adrenaline kicks in, nerves tight, on edge. Aaron breathes out slow, forcing his body to quiet. He breathes into the tight spaces in his back and his shoulders, blows the air out between pursed lips. He can’t quite see Brett, but he can feel him, the sensation of movement in his periphery. Brett takes his hand away – and for one moment he’s isolated, alone again in the stillness.

The blunt, blind press of Brett’s cock is up against his ass, and then gone again, replaced by his fingers, stretching and hooking inside him. Brett brings his mouth down, tongue riding alongside his fingers, Aaron’s body jumping and twitching, and what Brett wants – what Aaron knows Brett wants – is for him to be unsure what to expect next. And for him to get loud. Aaron bites down, eyes squeezed shut, swallowing back the noise.

You have to fight, to keep him interested. Play dead and he’ll walk away.

Brett subsides, a tactical retreat. He rubs the head of his dick across Aaron’s asshole, pressing into him just the smallest bit. Aaron leans – but he’s caught by Brett’s grip on his hip, holding him off, not letting him fuck himself. Aaron can feel muscles twitching, spasming, and Brett fingering the stretched tissue, lighting nerves on fire. Aaron groans. “Fuck.”

Brett’s fingering pauses, without being able to see he knows Brett is smiling; Brett knows he won.

The dam’s broken now. “Come on, come on.” Aaron rolls his hips, tries to arch his back for leverage. He squeezes his eyes shut. It should be impossible, how implacable Brett is. “Oh, come on – ”

Brett holds him still. “How long have we been doing this?”

Aaron twists to try to look at him. Brett’s grayer now, more lines around his eyes, but he’s still smiling the same crooked grin. Brett’s built like he was made for stacking hay, rough hands and an aw-shucks face. A tendency to mumble and play up his twang – all designed to hide the fact that as you’re standing there he’s already measuring you, he’s already seen right through you. “You want to talk.” With sweat standing out on Aaron’s skin, with Brett just hovering inside him. “You want to talk now?”

Brett strokes his hip, crooked fingers, calloused palms. Stubborn as a mule; patient as a saint. He looks back at Aaron steady, eyes like shadows moving in tall grass. And no one’s going anywhere without Aaron’s answer.

At twenty, Aaron was fresh off the Draft, and Brett was already fading. Fading, but by no means gone. At camp, he stood next to Aaron, arm around his shoulders, mouth close near Aaron’s ear, and pointing out at the defense. “You have to figure out where they're weak, and that's where you go at them. That’s all this game is, you just have to figure out where they’re soft.” Wisdom from the NFL’s canniest survivor. An ironman who had to fight his way into the game in the first place, and then held on with both hands.

It had taken Aaron years to realize Brett wasn’t talking about the defense at all. Brett was talking about him.

Aaron wasn’t the first heir they’d brought in to replace him, but Brett had outlasted them all. Brett had seen them all coming, and watched them all go, and under the sun, red-faced and beaded with sweat, Brett had looked right him, and grinned.

At twenty, Aaron remembers being a wet-behind-the-ears rookie, stumbling drunk in a hotel room from hazing that officially never happened. A dozen still-unfamiliar faces funhouse-twisted and looming in and out of focus. “Brett’s not here,” Aaron said, mouth heavy and awkward.

Someone laughed, a high loud cackle, just out of sight. A hand on the back of his neck, shaking him. “Go find Brett,” they said. “Go find Brett and ask him why he’s not at the party.” They were laughing, but he wasn’t sure why.

Aaron remembers standing in the hallway outside Brett’s room, holding the wall to stay upright, the details of the carpet lurid and distinct, but the trajectory of how he got there unclear.

Brett had answered his door looking vaguely amused, lounging against the frame. “Hey, Rookie.”

“You’re not at the party,” Aaron said, trying to smile around words that felt obvious and stupid before they even left his mouth.

Brett grinned, the tips of his teeth showing. “The NFL has a thing,” he said. “About me drinking.”

“Oh,” Aaron shivered, feeling like an idiot. “Right.”

“You lost your shirt, Rookie.” Brett tapped his shoulder once, and Aaron swayed.

“They took it.” There’s stupid shit written all across his chest, too. Worse shit probably written across his back where he couldn’t see.

Brett smiled again. “Come in and I’ll give you one of mine.” He stepped aside.

The rest of his memories from that night are blurred and piecemeal, but he remembers the weight of Brett over top of him, pressing into him, holding him down. Off balance, drowning in the dark, and Brett’s hands on him, tracing out whatever was written on his back and laughing softly. Aaron remembers waking up, naked and sore and alone.

“Fuck, ten years,” Aaron says. It’s hard to believe how much time has passed. “The first time was ten years ago.”

“We had fun, didn’t we?” He can hear the smirk in Brett’s voice, a little kernel of happiness that is not so much about making him re-live this humiliation as it is about the fact that he took without asking. That he won.

If he closes his eyes, Aaron can see the flicking, grainy image of Brett on the screen, throwing the world’s most perfect pass. His smile and his wave up at the crowd, decked in gold and green so dark it’s almost black. And he can see Brett who had grabbed his hair and fucked his mouth until he wasn’t sure if he’d ever breathe again. “I was drunk out of my mind. I barely knew what was happening.”

Brett rubs his back. “Trust me. You had fun.”

Brett Favre says jump, you jump. Brett Favre says wait your turn, you stand on the sideline. Brett Favre says you had fun, you close your eyes. You believe him. Maybe Brett believes it, maybe he doesn’t. Brett’s fraying around the edges these days, impossible to miss in his trailed off sentences and half-finished thoughts. He’s slipping. He’s getting old.

Aaron’s heart beats rabbit fast. “I bled,” he says. In that hotel room, he doesn’t say. That I barely remember. That you may or may not recall, with your blessed, selective, cobwebbed memories. Denial or deliberate loss, and if he could just see Brett’s face when he answers, maybe Aaron would be able to tell. He turns around: What do you say to that? What do you say to that?

But Brett just says, “It’s football. Everybody bleeds.”

Aaron goes back in forth in his head constantly about whether Brett cares about him. About whether this man, who spent years instilling everything he knows into Aaron’s head, would so much as blink if Aaron disappeared. He wonders if Brett really acknowledges other human beings at all. About whether he can.

“You want it now, though.” Hand still on Aaron’s hip, close in. Always close in.

Aaron closes his eyes. “Yeah.” It comes out rough, guttural.

“Say it.”

A great quarterback is in control of every moment, every motion, every breath. He sits center stage, and when he fails, he does it before seventy thousand pairs of eyes.

They came so fucking close this year. “Please,” he says. “Please.”

Brett is a man who has never bothered to be gentle with anything, as no one was ever gentle with him. Brett is a man who bullies his way through things. A man who takes what he wants, a man who set records through genius and determination, and could list you off every one.

It’s a wet, chaotic slide of flesh on flesh. A burn that leaves the corners of his eyes stinging, an end of need that leaves him gasping, choking on air.

And it’s perfect.

 

 

Aaron ends face first in the sheets, a gasping, drowning fish. Brett places firm hand on the center of his back, and he presses Aaron down. Blood singing up and down, and Aaron is himself and a rookie and a wide-eyed kid in front of a flickering screen.

“Easy,” Brett says. Low, calm. The way you might address something with wide, white-rimmed eyes.

Aaron stills. Soaks in the heat and the weight. By tomorrow, Brett will be on a plane back to Mississippi. Aaron will be packing up his shit in Wisconsin, debating how soon is too soon to take off for California. Another season gone, another waiting to happen. OTAs and Camp and training and games again and again and the pressure, all too soon –

“Breathe,” Brett says. And the weight is gone, just five fingertips. Five points of contact.

Aaron breathes.