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Baseball Fever

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As Charlie watched Don run out onto the field for his first game with the FBI team, for his first day back in baseball uniform, Charlie realized that this had been a very bad idea.  Charlie should absolutely not have encouraged Don to get back out on the diamond.  Don in a baseball uniform put all sorts of bad thoughts back into Charlie’s head.  And pinstripes…  The FBI baseball uniform had pinstripes, leading Charlie’s eyes everywhere they shouldn’t go.   Charlie had gotten good at keeping his eyes up, gotten good at just thinking of Don as his brother, gotten good at ignoring Don’s incredible sexiness.  Now Don was standing at second base, stretching and warming up, and Charlie’s body was warming up as well.  Charlie needed to get up right now and leave.  He needed to come up with some excuse to get away from here and put that particular demon back in its box.   He needed to move … move … move … Instead he sat there, watched Don, and everything came rushing back.

When Charlie was 13, he’d realized he was gay.  He’d been sitting in the bleachers at a baseball game just like he was now, but then he’d been innocently admiring the college players.  The men had seemed so grown up and masculine in comparison to boys his age.  He’d watched them stand and bend in those revealing baseball pants, step and throw with their muscular arms, take off their hats and fan their sweaty necks.  By the seventh inning stretch, Charlie had needed to go to the bathroom and fumble his way through his first masturbation.  When he’d gone back to the bleachers, he’d explained his flushed face to his parents as just overheating.  Then he’d seen a group of busty college girls, only wearing bikini tops, soaking in the sun.  Charlie had pointed them out to his mom, asking when they’d arrived.  His mom had laughed and said they’d been there the whole time and that his Dad had been pretending not to stare at them.  Charlie had mulled over this for an inning, then abruptly turned to his mom and said, “Mom, I think I’m gay.”  She’d smiled and said that he still had plenty of time to figure out that sort of thing, but Charlie had been sure from that point on.

He’d lost his virginity as soon as possible, once he’d gotten to college and could sneak away from his mom.  He’d started out with a geek like himself but very quickly moved on to jocks.  His mom had figured things out pretty fast, she’d been no one’s fool, and had a long talk with him.  Margaret Eppes had been an unreformed flower child, though, and after making sure that he knew how to protect himself, physically and emotionally, she’d said he could do whatever felt right.  As for the fact that he’d been a minor, she’d reasoned that if everyone was expecting him to be an adult intellectually, then he had the right to expect them to treat him like an adult sexually.  Charlie had been pretty sure, however, that she’d never told his dad these things.

In college, Charlie had discovered that there were many men who wanted to fuck little boys like him, just as long as he stayed quiet about it.  Soon he had been shared by an unspoken fraternity of big, muscular men who kept his mouth and ass as occupied as he wanted.  And he’d wanted it a lot.  It had been such a glorious respite from his work of the mind, and he’d sometimes even had breakthroughs during sex.  He’d gotten the idea for the Eppes Convergence while he was being ‘bridged’ by two huge football players, one in his mouth and one in his ass.

When he was 15, Charlie had another realization, also at a baseball game.  He’d been admiring a new player– at least he’d assumed it was a new player because the jersey number wasn’t one used by anyone on Don’s team.  Charlie couldn’t see the man’s face as he lined up in the batter’s box, but he was much more interested in the man’s backside anyway.  The team outfit this year had pinstripes and they made the players’ asses look heavenly.  That particular player had sported the most perfect ass, and Charlie had just wanted to lick up the pinstripes and bite those ass cheeks. 

When the player had hit the ball and run to first base, Charlie had realized that it was Don, apparently using some backup jersey and number.  Charlie had tried to erase the lustful thoughts from his memory, but it was too late.  He’d realized that his big brother was growing into the man of his dreams.  There had been no going back from that, so he’d just accepted Don as a dream – a fantasy as remote as a Russian cosmonaut.  He had reasoned that people had fantasies about movie stars and celebrities all the time, and no one thought it was weird.  He had known enough, however, to keep this particular fantasy to himself, though he had managed to justify putting a poster of Don up on his bedroom wall.  He would gaze at it dreamily and jerk off.

Not long after that realization, Charlie had first fucked a man, and had discovered that he was a total ass man.  From that point on, he’d searched for jock partners that would let a scrawny kid fuck them.  That had been a much smaller pool of candidates, but he’d still managed to get plenty of action and get himself totally hooked.  His first sort-of boyfriend at 17 had been a big, blond swimmer, and Charlie had bet that everyone had assumed Charlie was the bottom.  On the contrary, the swimmer had enjoyed being fucked in every possible position and Charlie had learned a great deal from experimenting on him.

When that boyfriend had left to train for the Olympics, there had been tears on both sides but Charlie had known he hadn’t loved him.  As the years went by, there had been many more men.  Charlie had even dated women, at his mother’s encouragement, and fucked a few.  He’d found women too soft and wet, even fucking them in the ass gave him little pleasure.  He’d stopped dating women and his mother had understood.  When he’d finally come out officially as gay, no one had been very surprised.  His choice in men hadn’t seemed to surprise anyone either, though he bet that everyone had made the old assumption that he’d been the bottom in the relationships.  No one probably imagined these burly men would bend over for him, offering their gorgeous asses for Charlie’s use.  If he’d wanted, though, he could have had a new ass every night, because he was very good at making bottoms feel absolutely amazing.  Still, there was something missing, something beyond the pleasure, something that Charlie never could find or even define.   Until he saw Don heading back out onto the baseball field after all those years.

The first few innings of the FBI baseball game passed for Charlie in a haze of lust and memories.   Charlie had watched over the years as Don’s body had grown, matured, hardened.   One glimpse of that body had been enough to fuel Charlie’s masturbation for months.   When Charlie hadn’t seen Don for a while, the feelings faded, but when he saw Don again, they would rushed back tenfold.   Charlie had to wonder if every other teenager who had a poster of their crush on their wall also felt so depressed at times.  He felt like he would die when Don was too busy for him or left without saying goodbye.

 

When Charlie’s mind finally cleared and he looked around him at the FBI baseball game, he realized that he wasn’t the only one with his eyes on Don’s ass.  The rest of the FBI crew was sitting around him, and while the women were laughing and joking over the game and David was chatting up some chick, Colby was watching Don.  Watching him in a distinctly sexual way.  Charlie hadn’t known that Colby was into men, but perhaps that was the cause of Colby being ‘unable’ to get dates with girls.  Charlie had to smirk to himself, though.  Colby definitely had hold of the wrong side of the equation with Don.  Charlie was proud, in an odd way, of Don’s reputation as a ladies’ man.  It was appropriate that Don could have any woman he wanted.  Charlie was sure that Don could make any woman feel incredible.  With that smile and those hands...  Also, Don was good at everything, except maybe long-term relationships.  Charlie wasn’t much better at those, but mostly because he had never seen the point.  He could always find someone to warm his bed, if he wanted it.  Don seemed to think he needed to do the long-term thing, but Charlie was secretly pleased that Don never kept a particular girl around for long.  He preferred it when it was just Eppes around the house.

The baseball game went by and Charlie mostly watched Don, but he couldn’t help glancing at Colby as well.  Charlie had never seen Colby look at anyone like that before, let alone Don, and the intensity of it unnerved Charlie.  Charlie couldn’t decide whether to feel annoyed at or sorry for Colby.   On the one hand, he was looking at Charlie’s brother like he was a prime steak– well, Don was prime steak but that didn’t give Colby the right to look at him like he was his next meal.  At least Charlie could feel smug in the knowledge that Colby was going to go hungry. 

The game seemed to go on forever, but it was finally over.   It was obvious to Charlie that Don was rusty but he still contributed to an FBI win.  After the game, everybody left except for Don and Charlie.  Don started running laps around the park, which didn’t surprise Charlie at all.  Charlie sat on the bleachers and watched Don pass by.  After about an hour, Don slowed down, walked for a little while, and then turned into the clubhouse.  Automatically, Charlie followed. 

Charlie was halfway down the stairs when he realized what he was doing – he was hoping to catch a glimpse of Don undressing, maybe even taking a shower.  His feet kept moving forward even as he tried to rationalize it, but there really was no rationalizing it.   He was about to feed an old, sick obsession of his, and maybe he wouldn’t be able to stuff that demon back in the box this time.

Managing to stay quiet, Charlie crept around the corner of the lockers, looking for Don.  He saw him at the end of a row, but Don didn’t appear to see him.  Don was standing in front of a locker, wiping sweat from his forehead.  If Charlie kept still and stayed in this shadow, Don would soon start undressing and Charlie could watch.  If Don noticed Charlie just standing there, Charlie could play the old ‘distracted genius’ card.  Always worked.

C’mon, Don, take it off.

Don was about to pull off his shirt… when Colby came out of nowhere and slammed Don up against the lockers.

 

Chapter Text

Part 2: Charlie is torn and Don is split -

Charlie stood, frozen in shock, as the sound of Colby slamming Don into the lockers echoed through the locker room and in Charlie's ears. Charlie waited for Don to push back or yell at Colby.

Don did neither.

"Were you been, Eppes?" Colby demanded.

"Running," Don replied, his voice deferential.

"Running what?"

"Sorry, sir," Don said quickly. "Running, sir."

Charlie's mouth dropped open.

"Why?" Colby said, pinning Don against the locker with his hands. "Avoiding me?"

"No, no, sir, not at all. I always run five miles after I make an error."

Colby frowned. "I don't remember an error."

"Fifth inning, that pop fly."

"That was a scored as a hit."

"I should have caught it. I would have, if I was more on my game."

"Hm," Colby said then pressed his big body fully against Don's. "I've been waiting for forever."

"Sorry, sir," Don said. He spread his arms out against the lockers and spread his legs, so that Colby's thigh could push between his thighs.

Colby rubbed roughly against him. "You look damn fine in those pants, Eppes. Now, pull them down."

"Yes, sir," Don said and Charlie could see that Don's face had grown flushed and his breath was coming more quickly.

Colby stepped back and started to unbuckle his belt.

"Shall I, sir?" Don asked, nodding towards Colby's crotch.

"No need, Eppes," Colby said with a predatory grin. "I'm more than ready for you."

Don nodded and started unfastening his pants. In the shadows, Charlie was having trouble remembering to breathe. Don quickly pushed his pants down to his ankles, exposing his cup and strap. He jerked those off and pushed down his underwear. His cock sprang out, semi-hard, and Charlie just stared.

Colby had pushed his jeans to his thighs and - Charlie gave a hard swallow - released the biggest cock that Charlie had ever seen. It's like a goddamn third arm. Colby stroked it a few times, but Charlie couldn't imagine it getting any bigger or any stiffer.

While Charlie had been staring at Colby, Don had turned around and bent over, bracing his hands against the lockers and spreading his feet apart. Charlie's body throbbed at the sight. Don's perfect ass was exposed, ready, and just like Charlie had fantasized so many times.

"Where's your plug?" Colby demanded.

"I was afraid it would show through the pants, sir," Don said, not turning his head.

"You should have asked first."

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."

"I'm disappointed, Eppes."

"Yes, sir," Don said, and seemed to brace himself more firmly.

"You know what's coming, right?"

"Yes, sir."

Charlie didn't know, so he jumped and squeaked when Colby's big hand came down with a loud smack on Don's ass. Neither man looked in Charlie's direction, so the sound he'd made must have been covered up by the sound of open hand hitting flesh. Colby spanked Don on the other ass cheek, then back to the first, hitting each side three times. Colby had a frightening grin on his face as he raised his hand again.

"Is that enough punishment, Eppes?"

Don's voice was hoarse. "Your call, sir."

"Damn right it's my call," Colby said, but he lowered his hand. "You're lucky I'm ready to get on to the fucking."

"Thank you, sir."

"But you'll wear the big blue plug all week."

"Yes, sir."

"And never remove the plug again for anything other than a shit without my permission."

"Yes, sir."

Colby stroked Don's pink ass. "Okay, Eppes. You can have a minute to prep yourself."

"Thank you, sir," Don said fervently.

"No more than a minute."

Don quickly straightening up and fumbled open a nearby locker. He pulled out a big bottle of lube and squeezed a large amount into his hand. Charlie stared, panting with arousal, as Don contorted himself to push his fingers into his own ass. He stretched and lubed himself until Colby's impatient, "Enough."

"Thank you, sir," Don said, wiping his wet hand on a towel. He put himself into position again, braced against the lockers, legs spread as wide as possible. Colby stepped closer and lined up his cock with Don's hastily stretched asshole. Charlie realized with a jolt that Colby wasn't wearing a condom.

Charlie bit down on his cheek, just barely keeping back a protest. Not only was that unsafe, it was unhygienic and would take away a possible layer of comfort for Don.

Don didn't seem surprised, though, and only grunted when Colby pushed that huge cock far too quickly into his ass. Charlie could see Don's face had gone white and he'd bit down on his lip so hard a drop of blood rolled down his chin.

"Ah, Eppes," Colby said with a wide smile, his eyes half-shutting with pleasure. "You're so tight, like the first time. Feel so goddamned good." Colby gripped Don's pink ass cheeks tightly and began to rock.

Slowly, the color returned to Don's face, and he began to look like the pleasure might be outweighing the pain. Colby fucked him with deep, powerful strokes, taking no care to adjust his pace or angle to better suit Don. Charlie was horrified to see Don's ass treated so badly.

The fucking seemed to go on for hours, but maybe that was just Charlie's time perception. Colby certainly had impressive stamina to go along with his impressive cock, too bad he didn't have one ounce of finesse. Don just held on to the lockers, his own cock bouncing with each thrust.

Finally, Colby said in a strained voice, "Okay, Eppes."

Charlie watched, dismayed as Don freed one hand from the lockers and started to stroke his own cock. Colby didn't even help with that? Charlie shook his head in disgust.

That didn't mean his eyes weren't riveted to Don's hand, watching every twist and stroke. Very quickly, Don grunted and cum shot out between his fingers.

Colby growled and thrust even harder into Don. Soon his thrusts turned wild and irregular and Charlie imagined him pumping his orgasm into Don's abused ass.

When Colby finally gave a satisfied sigh and pulled his cock, still large even afterwards, out of Don's ass, Charlie realized he'd been holding his breath. He loudly gasped for air, but Don and Colby were doing their own gasping and no one seemed to hear Charlie.

Colby pulled his pants back up, a smug, content smile on his face. "You're going to be sore for a few days," he said, not unkindly. "Wait 48 hours before starting your week with the big plug."

"Thank you, sir," Don gasped.

Colby gave him a friendly smack on the ass. "See you tomorrow, Eppes." He turned and left Don still standing there. Charlie heard the sound of Colby washing his hands, then the bang of the locker room door closing. Charlie took a shuddering breath and started to back up towards the door himself.

"C'mon out, Charlie," Don said quietly. "You can't hide in the shadows all night."


Chapter Text

Part 3: Don is all wet and Charlie throws in the towel

“Charlie,” Don said tiredly.  “I know you’re there.”

Charlie didn’t move or breathe.

“Chuck, c’mon,” Don said.  “I could use a hand here.”

Charlie realized that Don hadn’t moved from the position that Colby had left him in.  Don’s head hung between his arms and he seemed stiff and sore.  Righteous fury rose in Charlie and he marched out of the shadows.

“What the hell are you doing?” Charlie demanded.

Don’s head snapped up.  “What?”

“You just…how could you…” Charlie stammered as the many things wrong with this situation overwhelmed him.  He finally focused on, “You didn’t use a condom!”

Don relaxed.  “Oh, yeah, it’s okay.  It’s part of the deal.”

“Deal?  What deal?”

“The deal where he fucks me.”  Don spoke over Charlie’s next question.  “Now, could you give me a hand, please?  I stiffened up from the run and really need to get into the shower.”

Charlie frowned and stepped closer.  Don reached out and grabbed Charlie’s arm with the hand that was covered in cum.  Charlie stared at the hand and Don said, “Oh, sorry.”

Don slowly straightened up and, to Charlie’s horror, the cum that began to run down Don’s legs was tinged with blood.

“You’re bleeding!”

“Oh,” Don said dismissively.  “It’ll stop soon.”  It was obvious that this wasn’t an unusual occurrence. 

“Don, you shouldn’t be bleeding after—”

“Give me a hand with my clothes?  Then into the shower?  We can talk then.”

Charlie pressed his lips together and nodded.  Even he could see that Don really needed hot water to loosen his muscles. 

Don gave him a weak smile and began to pull off his pants.  It wasn’t very effective since he was still wearing his shoes.

“Wait,” Charlie said.  “Can you sit down?”

“Maybe,” Don said and let Charlie lower him carefully onto the bench.  Don grimaced as his ass hit wood but he didn’t say anything.   Charlie quickly kneeled before him and took off his shoes, socks, then his bunched-up pants. 

“Just like when we were kids,” Don said. 

Charlie blinked up at him.  He was sure that there had been no undressing of Don in his past.

Don said, “Remember when I was twelve and I broke my arm?  You helped me get dressed and undressed every day and take a shower so my cast didn’t get wet.”

“Oh, right,” Charlie said with a smile.  That had been well before his sexual awakening or else it would have been an entirely different memory.  “I remember that you were really heavy and you always complained.”

“I did not!” Don laughed, and Charlie was happy to hear strength and normalcy returning to Don’s voice.

Charlie helped Don off with his shirt, trying to maintain a clinic detachment against the urge to run his fingers through Don’s chest hair. He managed to get Don’s arm around his shoulder, and they limped together towards the showers.  

Don’s body was hot and sweaty against him, and Charlie was sweating heavily as well by the time they reached the showers.  Charlie pulled back a curtain on one of the showers and helped Don into it.  The showers were made up of a series of tiled enclosures, sort of like a row of toilets, with walls only as tall as an average man’s shoulders.  Charlie sat down on the bench in the handicapped stall next to Don’s and watched as Don painfully straightened up then turned on the water. 

Don turned his face up toward the showerhead and let the water pound against his face for a full minute, before turning around and letting the water hit the back of his neck.

“I didn’t want you to find out like this,” Don said, his eyes closed.

“Find out what?” Charlie asked carefully.  This was going to be a hazardous conversation.

“That I’m… a switch hitter.”

“The proper term is ‘bi-sexual’, Charlie said.

“Yeah.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?  I mean, I’m gay!”

Don shook his head.  “I’ve found that gays are some of the least understanding people on being bi.”

“What do you mean?”

“Most think that ‘bi’ just means you’re too chicken to really commit to being gay.”

 “That’s silly.  In the spectrum of human sexuality, bisexuality is a completely legitimate position.”

“Yeah, well, that’s not what people say.”

Charlie frowned thoughtfully. 

“And sorry about Colby,” Don added.

“What about him?”  This was particularly dangerous territory.  There were a lot of things Charlie wanted to say about Colby at the moment that Don would not want to hear. 

“I know he’s your type.  Didn’t know if you had your eye on him.”

“Not really.”  Charlie had checked out Colby’s ass more than once, but it was hard to see anyone else when Don was in the office.  Charlie would have been mildly interested if he’d found out that Colby was gay, but now that he’d seen Colby’s ‘technique’, he had no interest at all.

“C’mon, he’s gorgeous,” Don said. 

“Sure,” Charlie replied.  “Don’t really like soldiers, I guess.”

“You have to have at least looked.”

“Why do you care?” 

Don shrugged.  Charlie wondered if Don was trying to rationalize his choice.  There was a brief lull in conversation as Don rubbed soap down his body and Charlie tried not to picture below the partition.

“You think he’s gorgeous,” Charlie said at last.  “That’s why you’re… with him?”

“And he’s not going to tell anyone and I know I’m safe with him.”

“Very safe,” Charlie agreed with heavy sarcasm.

“You know what I mean, security clearance and my job.”

“Right, sure.”  Charlie was finding it very difficult not to just stare at the water pouring down Don’s body.  He forced his eyes away and asked, “How long have you… been together?”

“Couple of months.”

Charlie frowned.  “But you and Robin only broke up recently.  You were cheating on her?”

“Well, it wasn’t really cheating, but she thought I was seeing another woman.  Actually, it was Colby who broke it up.  He got sick of me being too tired to get it up for him, so he told me to choose.”

“And you chose Colby over Robin?”

“Yeah, less complications.”

Even Charlie could see through that weak excuse.  The ‘relationship’ with Colby seemed fraught with complications.  “What is this ‘deal’ you referred to earlier?”

“Could you get my shampoo from my locker?” Don asked.

Charlie went and got the shampoo then handed it around the curtain to Don, not coincidently on his part being rewarded a glimpse of Don’s wet body. 

Charlie went back to his seat and watched, mesmerized as Don massaged shampoo through his hair. 

“The deal?” Charlie reminded him, because if he didn’t keep Don talking, Don would clam up and never talk about it.  Also, if Charlie didn’t distract himself, he was going to need to go jerk off somewhere.

“Right,” Don said with obvious reluctance.  “The deal is pretty simple.  We both keep it secret and I wear a plug so that I’ll be ready whenever and wherever he wants to fuck me.”

“And you call him ‘sir’?”

“Right, that marks this… interaction as different from normal work interaction.”

“He chooses whenever and where?”

“Right.  Sometimes it’s at my place, sometimes he has me come over to his, or sometimes it’s in the janitor closet at work or in a surveillance van or even in the middle of the woods if he wants.  He often comes over in the middle of the night, just to fuck me, then lets me go back to sleep.”

Charlie shook his head in amazement.  “And in return?”

“What do you mean?  I get fucked by him a lot.”

“That’s all you get out of it?”

“Are you kidding?  Didn’t you see the size of his dick?”

Charlie grimaced as he remembered Don’s un-ready ass getting stretched around that dick.  “So it’s all about size?”

“What’s the point of getting fucked if I don’t feel it in my teeth?”

Charlie blinked.  “It’s not just about size.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say.”

“No, really, it’s—”

“I don’t have to tell you not to tell anyone, right?”

“Right,” Charlie said with a huff.  “I wouldn’t rat you out.”

Don gave a forced-sounding laugh.  “You make it sound criminal.  It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong.”

No, you just let Colby brutalize you whenever he wants.   Charlie steered away from that dangerous territory with, “So, do you like both ways?”

“Both… Oh, no, don’t see the point.”

“Huh?”

“I mean I can always fuck a woman in the ass, Robin even likes it occasionally.  There’s only one thing I want from a man.”

Charlie stared at him.  “Are you, are you serious?  It’s completely different having intercourse with a man than a woman!”

Don shrugged. 

“Don, do I need to give you a physiology lesson?”

“Oh, I know the difference, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.”

Charlie shook his head at the craziness of the statement.  Women’s asses were all round and squishy and they didn’t moan when you hit their prostate. 

Charlie continued, “And you always like to be on the bottom with men?”

“Charlie, do we really have to talk about this?”

“Would you prefer to talk about your inappropriate relationship with your co-worker?”

“Ha.  Fine.  It’s okay fucking men, but I prefer fucking women.”

Charlie gave a grimace of distaste.  “And blow jobs?”

“Giving or receiving?”

“Either.”

“Doesn’t matter who’s giving me one, just as long as they’re good.”

Charlie reluctantly nodded in agreement, though it was always a trip to see a man stroking himself as he sucked Charlie off. 

“And giving blowjobs…  Well, it’s okay.”

Charlie shook his head.  “I’m surprised at you.”

“What?” Don said defensively. 

“I’ll bet you… go down on a woman because she enjoys it.”

“Well, yeah, but—”

“It turns you on when she really enjoys it?”

“Yeah, sure—”

“Then you must not be giving good blowjobs.”

“Hey,” Don said, glaring over the wall at Charlie.  “I’m good.”

“Hmm,” Charlie said, trying for a disdainful tone when all that he could think of was Don’s familiar, lush mouth on his cock.

“Charlie, can we stop talking about this now?  It’s weird.”

“Just one more question,” Charlie said, and then had to think of what he really wanted to ask.  It all came back to Colby and why Don let—no, why Don wanted Colby to treat him that way.  Don could have any man he wanted, just like any woman he wanted.  Didn’t he realize that?  He didn’t need to settle for an uncaring but ‘safe’ co-worker.  Charlie took a moment to formulate his question.

Finally he asked, “Do you always like your sex fast and dirty?  Or just with Colby?”

“Fine, fine,” Don grumbled under his breath.  “With women, I like it all different ways, depends on the woman, you know?  But with men, it’s just… it’s just like that.  That’s how guys like it, not all hearts and flowers.  It’s guy sex.”

“Are you kidding?” Charlie said in disbelief.  “Men run the whole spectrum of tastes, just like women do.  Just because all the men that you’ve had sex with are rough and ignore foreplay, doesn’t mean all men are like that.  I’ve been with men that like all sorts of things, including hearts and flowers.  When I’m with a man, I make sure that he really enjoys himself, not just get myself off.  If I took Colby’s place, I could make you feel amazing.”

There was a moment of startled silence then Don said, “Charlie, did you just suggest what I thought you did?”

Charlie swallowed.  “Well, not intentionally, but yes, I guess so.”

“Ick!”

Charlie flinched.  He’d offered himself to the man of his dreams, and that man had said, ‘ick’.  “I’m not that ugly!”

“You’re my brother!

“So?  It’s not like we’re going to have two-headed kids!”

“What?  No, Charlie, just ick.”

“Thanks for the compliment.”

“God, Charlie, you’re my brother.”

“Sorry, yeah, I understand,” Charlie lied.  “I just hate to see you think that all sex with men is rough and quick.  You really need to get a different boyfriend.”

“Colby’s not my boyfriend,” Don said, sounding relieved to change the subject.  “Just friends with benefits.”

“Doesn’t look very friendly to me,” Charlie grumbled.    

“It’s not always like this,” Don said defensively.  “Get me my towel?”

Charlie got the towel, waited for Don to turn off the water, and then handed it over the wall.  He asked, “So, how does your usual interaction differ?”

Don turned away from him to dry off.  “Well, I usually warm him up first, you know, with a blowjob.”

“Who warms you up?”

“I’m wearing the plug so that I’m always ready.”

“It’s not the same.  God, Don, it’s like jumping right to the answer of a math problem, 143.  What’s the fun in that?  The fun is in working through the proof, taking your time to really understand the problem, getting closer and closer to the answer so that you can almost taste it.  When you get to the answer, it’s the culmination of a lot of work and effort and it’s so much more satisfying than just 143.”

Don stepped out of the shower, towel wrapped around his waist.  “I like 143.”

Charlie shook his head as he followed Don back to his locker.  Charlie kept his eyes modestly turned away as Don got dressed.  Charlie said, “You’ve got to know this with women, that the longer you take, the better it can be.”

“That’s because women take a lot to get started, and they can … ‘143’ multiple times.  Guys are almost always ready to go.”

“You’ve never had sex with another man that was slow, took your time, explored each other and was, God forbid, even loving?”

Don snorted.  “You’re such a girl.”

“Hey!”

Don tossed his wet towel at Charlie.  “Colby would laugh his ass off if he heard that.”

“Colby isn’t the only guy in the world.”

Don rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, there’s you. Nooo thanks.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Charlie protested, even though that was exactly what he’d meant.  “Just that, now you’ve broken up with Robin, maybe you could search for a man who could give you both what Robin did—I mean emotionally not physically—and what Colby can?”

“Now you’re beginning to sound like Dad.”

“Is that so bad?”

Don snorted again.  “A girl and an old fogey.  Zhesh, I’m not trying to settle down with Colby.”

“Then why be with him?”

Don began to roughly shove his clothing into his bag.  “Shit, Charlie, why is this so hard for you to understand?” 

“I’m trying to understand,” Charlie said, and this time he wasn’t lying.  He really did want to understand why his wonderful, sexy brother would allow himself to be used in that way.

“Okay,” Don growled.  “I’ll try one more time, then this conversation is ended.  Okay?”

Charlie nodded slowly.

Don zipped up his bag then slung it over his shoulder.  “It’s this simple: I like how Colby has a really big dick and that he fucks me a lot.”

“But—”

Ended, Charlie.”  He turned and walked away.  Charlie watched him turn the corner then listened until he heard the door open and shut. 

Charlie sat down slowly on the bench next to Don’s locker.  Don’s wet towel was still on the floor where it had landed after he threw it at Charlie.  He leaned over and picked it up.  Then he saw, on the hard concrete floor nearby, a little puddle of cum and blood. 

He closed his eyes and pressed the towel to his face.

Chapter Text

Part 4 - Don is worn and Charlie is warned

After the world-shaking discoveries in the baseball clubhouse, Charlie didn't see Don for two weeks. Charlie didn't know if Don was really busy or if Don was avoiding him. Charlie fretted and then had to avoid his father's probing questions about his mental state.

When Charlie brought to mind images of Don being fucked by Colby, it made Charlie both aroused and nauseous. And angry, definitely angry. And frustrated. The memory of that observed sex and the conversation that followed it rarely left his thoughts, so he walked around in a muddled state. Even his students noticed it, and his students didn't usually notice anything.

He finally saw Don - coming out the door of Charlie's house as Charlie was going in.

"You leaving?" Charlie said, trying ineffectually to block Don's exit.

"Work," Don said tersely. He walked around Charlie and went to his car. Charlie had turned and just taken a step towards the car when Don zoomed backwards out of the driveway. Don drove away as Charlie watched helplessly, hugging his bag of groceries so tight that the milk split open.

That was the pattern over the next two months. Charlie either saw Don rushing somewhere else, or the two of them were in the same room with lots of other people. Don's job had to be especially stressful as well, because Don was looking more and more haggard. Charlie felt terrible that Don might not be calling him in to help because of his embarrassment over Charlie's discovery. Charlie tried to tell Don that helping the FBI solve cases was more important than any awkwardness, but Charlie had the feeling that Don deleted all Charlie's voicemails without listening to them.

But did Charlie want to see Don, knowing what he knew now? Charlie wasn't good at hiding his feelings, and didn't know what part of his muddled emotions - hurt, arousal, anger, frustration - would come to the surface and further damage his relationship with his brother. It's probably just as well that Don doesn't call, he told himself, but still checked his phone hopefully at every class break.

Regardless of his other feelings, Charlie mostly felt great relief when Don finally called. Don sounded reluctant himself, but he had a case that dovetailed perfectly with Charlie's skills and previous work for the FBI.

When Charlie walked into the conference room where Don was sitting alone, looking at a file, Don didn't look at him, just said "Hey, Charlie."

"Hey," Charlie said, with as much casualness as possible. Don looked horrible. He had dark bags under his eyes and his skin had an odd cast, like all his meals lately had been liquid, i.e. beer. Charlie swallowed hard, then cleared his throat. "What's the latest on the case?"

Don looked up at him then and, while he didn't smile, he nodded and began talking about the case.

They quickly settled into their old routine of conversation, the give and take that made them such a successful team. Charlie was starting to relax, when Don suddenly stiffened. Charlie looked up, and indeed, Colby had just walked into the room.

Colby didn't walk as much as strut. And Don shrank into himself. Charlie wondered if he'd strayed into an alternate universe. David and Liz came into the room looking normal, however.

"Charlie!" Liz said, giving him a big smile. "Where've you been?"

"Same places I've always been," Charlie said, forcing a smile in response. "School, home, school, home."

"Well, we could really use you," David said and gave Charlie a friendly squeeze on his arm. "We've missed you."

"Likewise," Charlie said, his smile growing a little more real. Then he glanced at Colby and his smile vanished.

"Hey, Charlie," Colby said.

Something caught in Charlie's throat, and he coughed.

Colby patted him on the back and Charlie's coughing only worsened. The touch of Colby's hand made Charlie's skin crawl. Finally, Liz handed him her bottle of water and he drank a few gulps.

"Thanks," he gasped out. He gave a weak wave of his hand. "Too much chalk dust." He started to hand the water bottle back but she gestured for him to keep it.

Clenching his hand tightly around the water bottle, Charlie forced himself to smile at Colby and say, "Hi."

Don stepped between Colby and Charlie and thrust a case file at Charlie. "Look at this one first."

Charlie took the file automatically and opened it. Colby moved away. Charlie took a long swig of water then got to work.

As the afternoon progressed, Charlie's sense of split reality grew. Don, who used to lead his team confidently, deferred to Colby over and over. Once, Charlie saw Don even flinch when Colby stood up too quickly. Liz and David didn't seem to notice any oddness.

The case was complicated and urgent, so they worked through the afternoon and late into the evening.

Charlie had no idea what time it was when he finally straightened up from his computer and rubbed his eyes. He looked around to find that he was alone in the conference room with piles of file folders and David.

Charlie cleared his throat and David looked up.

"Umm," Charlie started, then had to pause and think of how he could broach the topic that was never far from his mind.

David stretched his shoulders. "You find something?"

"No, the program's running right now, using an new algorithm -" Charlie cut himself off. He looked through the office wall, but didn't see anyone else nearby. "Have you noticed any… change in Don over the last few months?"

David gave his one-shouldered shrug and headshake which meant nothing at all.

"I haven't seen him a lot," Charlie pressed. "He seems… worn down."

David shrugged again.

"Have you noticed changes also in… Don's relationship with his… co-workers?" Charlie leaned forward. "Especially, Colby?"

David looked at him, expressionless.

Charlie floundered. "Like maybe is something is going on between Don and Colby, you know, um, romantically?"

Without any change of expression, David said, "As in, they're sleeping together?"

Charlie gaped at him. "You know?"

"Of course I know," David snapped, irritation finally breaking through his reserve. "Colby's my partner."

"You mean you and him are...?"

David rolled his eyes. "No, I meant work partners. I like women, just women."

"Okay, sorry. But I didn't even know that Colby, you know, likes men!"

David gave a two-shouldered shrug. "Don't ask, don't tell."

"He's not in the army anymore."

"You get used to hiding it."

"Hmm." Charlie continued, "And Don, I didn't know about Don! My own brother!"

"Didn't know either."

Charlie took hold of his coffee mug and fiddled with the handle. "How do you think their… relationship is progressing?"

That old David shrug again.

"Don doesn't seem to be… thriving."

David pressed his lips together and rubbed his chin. Then he sighed loudly, put his hands flat on the table in front of him and fixed Charlie with a laser stare. "Look, Charlie, I don't want to get involved in this, and I sure as Hell don't want to talk to you about this, but you need to know what's going on."

Charlie leaned forward eagerly.

"Don't ask any questions, just listen," David said. His voice lowered and he spoke quickly but clearly. "You need to understand Colby. He joined the army when he was really young and naïve. He caught the eye of this guy way up the food-chain, a general. This general took Colby and made him his personal secretary and boy toy. He was a total hardass and control freak, but Colby worshiped him, loved him. When the friendly fire incident happened, Colby was hung out to dry and his general totally turned his back on him. Colby found himself out of the army and alone, when he'd planned to be in the army for life. When he finally pulled himself out of the bottle and joined the FBI, he was ready to try again."

David paused and eyed Charlie as if to test his reaction.

"Go on," Charlie encouraged.

David nodded. "He got involved with a guy at his gym, Alek. Things were pretty good for a while with him. Colby tried to be a good boyfriend, you know, equal partner, romantic, all that shit." He grimaced. "Then he finds out that his 'boyfriend' is sleeping around on him and has been for a while. He… went crazy. Colby has a really long fuse, but when he goes, it's huge. Alek ended up in the hospital and Colby ended up with me having to talk him out of eating a bullet."

Charlie stared at him in horror.

"Yeah," David agreed grimly. "Alek recovered but Colby… I don't know. Obviously he didn't shoot himself, but…" David shrugged, looking sad. "When this thing started with Don, I hoped that things would work out, but…"

David continued, "If I was a shrink, I'd say he was following the example of his father, who was a vicious bastard that kept his family in line by threats and whippings. But I think it's more that Colby is just trying to hold on to his boyfriend, the only way he knows how. He's so afraid of Don cheating on him. The things he makes Don do to prove that he loves him…" David shook his head. "He doesn't see how much he's hurting Don. He's hurting himself, too, but he won't listen to me."

David stopped talking and ran his hands over his shaved head.

"My God," Charlie said faintly.

David nodded. He looked tired and Charlie changed his earlier assessment that everything was normal with David. David was very worried, or else he wouldn't have talked to Charlie about such personal things at all. David had just been doing a good job of hiding it. Maybe Liz was aware that something was wrong as well.

Voices sounded from outside the office and Charlie saw that Don and the others were about to return.

"Charlie," David said quickly, before the office door opened. "I don't know what you can do, I don't know what anyone can do. But it's bad, and it's getting worse, and I really don't see how the team is going to survive it."

Colby pushed open the door and Charlie stared at him and Don, who was following deferentially behind Colby.

"Charlie's got his new algorithm running," David said, his voice sounding perfectly normal. "Tell them about it, Charlie."

Charlie blinked, swallowed, and looked down at his computer. "Algorithm, right." He began talking about the computer program, gaining composure as he went. Keeping his eyes and thoughts away from Don, from Colby, from anything personal, Charlie dove back into the safe, cool world of math and crime.

 

Chapter Text

Part 5 - Charlie gets grilled, because Don is in hot water

The next night, Don was 'too busy' for supper, as usual, and it was just Charlie and his father trying to saw through rubbery pork chops. Charlie poked at his pork chop, still mulling over what David had told him. Don had said that he and Colby were just 'friends with benefits' but David was talking about love and being boyfriends. Had things changed or did Don and Colby have different views of the relationship? Whatever it was called, it was obvious that the relationship was toxic to everyone.

Trying for a casual tone, Charlie asked, "Dad, what would you do if you thought a friend was in harmful relationship?"

Alan put down his fork and fixed Charlie with a stare. "You're talking about Don, aren't you?"

"What? I wouldn't-" Charlie gulped, and then stammered, "No, of course not, somebody at school."

Alan shook his head. "I know the signs, Charlie. I've seen them too often not to recognize them in my own son."

"Umm, I don't know what you mean."

Alan held up his fingers and counted off items one by one. "He never comes over anymore. When he does drop by, he's jumpy and checking his phone constantly. And that phone rings half a dozen times."

"That's hardly-"

Alan continued, "If we try to get him to stay and do something with us, he has to 'check with work'. He never had to do that before. He goes away elsewhere to use his phone. When he comes back from making that so-called work phone call, his shoulders are down and he's suddenly 'too tired'. When I reach out to pat him on the shoulder or back, he flinches, like he expects me to hit him. And I've seen strange bruises on him."

Charlie stared at him, horrified that the situation was bad enough to be so obvious to Alan.

"Also," Alan continued relentlessly, "he apologizes for every little thing, even things that aren't his fault. He's lost his swagger. He looks like he doesn't ever get a good night's sleep. He has mysterious 'car problems' that only seem to happen when he's trying to go somewhere other than work and his apartment."

"Wow," Charlie said.

"Yeah," Alan agreed. "There's more." He'd obviously been saving up his worries on this subject for a while. "Don thinks I don't notice when he borrows cookbooks and stuff from my kitchen. He brings them back clean, but I've discovered that several plates and bowls now have chips or cracks, like they'd been dropped… or thrown."

"You're kidding," Charlie said, almost begging for him to be kidding, but Alan's face was anything but mirthful.

Alan shook his head slowly. "Just goes to show that you can't always know people. I didn't think Robin had it in her."

"Yeah… No, what?"

"She seemed very sweet, not overbearing at all. Just goes to show..."

Without thinking, Charlie said, "No, Robin's nice."

Alan shook his head sadly. "That's what I'd thought to. I wonder if that's why Don didn't tell us that he'd gotten back together with her."

Charlie's brain caught up with the subject. "Oh, Robin, yeah, of course, Robin."

Alan frowned at him. "Did he meet someone new? That's another sign - someone who pushes for immediate and exclusive involvement."

"Oh, I don't know," Charlie said, looking down at his plate. "Must be Robin, of course."

"Charlie…" Alan said, warning in his voice. "What are you not telling me?"

"Nothing, nothing!" Charlie said, backpedaling urgently. "Hey, these pork chops are great."

"Forget the pork chops," Alan snapped. "You're saying it's not Robin?"

"Never said anything like that. Pass the salad?"

"Charlie, you will tell me right now who this person is."

Charlie gave up trying to evade the question and just said, "I promised I wouldn't."

"Who? Who did you promise? Did you promise Don? Don't you know that is the last promise in the world you should keep?"

Charlie shook his head.

"Why, is it someone I know?" Alan demanded. "I don't care if it's Mother Teresa-"

"She's dead."

"-Then Mother Teresa's ghost. How can I help Don if I don't even know who this woman is?"

Charlie stared down at his plate, wanting desperately to tell his father and have him deal with it, but surely this was one secret he needed to keep. How would Alan feel knowing he had two gay sons?

Out of the corner of his eye, Charlie saw Alan sit back and fold his arms. That meant business.

"Charles Edward Eppes," Alan said, steel in his voice. "You will tell me right now what you know about this situation, or God help me, I will put you over my knee and paddle you, no matter how old you are."

Charlie grimaced. Alan was strictly anti-corporal punishment and had never carried out his threats of 'paddling' when he and Don were kids, but Alan knew how to make a boy's-or man's-life a living Hell until that boy would break down and punish himself, just to get it over with. After a few days of 'loving treatment', grounding yourself for a month didn't sound too bad.

"I can't," Charlie said again. "This isn't something you want to know." He looked up and pleaded, "Just give me some suggestions on how to talk to Don about it?"

"Tell me who she is," Alan said relentlessly.

Charlie sighed and knew he was only delaying the inevitable. Alan would get him to tell him eventually.

He steeled himself, then said quietly, "Dad, it's not a she."

"What?"

"It's a man."

Alan squinted at him. "What, what?"

"It's a man that Don is involved with."

"A man? Charlie, you're getting confused - you're the gay one."

Charlie winced. "I was stunned when I found out, too. But I guess Don is bi."

"Bi?"

"Yes, bisexual."

"I know what it means!"

"Or the slang is something like he likes to date women but see men 'on the down low'."

Alan threw up his hands. "I can't believe I'm hearing this! Why would you make up such an awful thing?"

Stung, Charlie shot back, "Is being gay or bi so awful, then?"

"No, no, if that's what you are, but Don isn't."

"He is." Charlie flushed but continued, "I know because I walked in on him and his boyfriend having sex, that's how I found out."

Alan stared at him, some belief starting to show in his face. "When?"

"Don's first game with the FBI."

Alan nodded slowly. "I thought you looked pretty freaked out that night." Then he shook his head like he was shaking ideas out. "I just can't believe it, not after all this time."

"I don't think it's new."

"All this time!"

"He was playing sports, not an area of endeavor where they welcome gays."

"I don't believe it," Alan repeated.

Charlie put his head in his hands. "Dad, I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but I didn't know what else to do about it!"

"To do about it?"

"Yes! About this bad relationship that Don's in!"

"Oh," Alan blinked, as if he'd forgotten the conversation of 27 seconds ago. "Right." He scrubbed his hand over his face and took a big breath. "Okay, have you talked to Don about it?"

"Yes, I talked to him that night, after… the other man left." Charlie leaned forward and, in a low voice, said what he didn't want to, "The sex was really rough, rough on Don at least, and he called the other guy 'sir'. That's a bad sign, right? I mean, he was bleeding afterwards and acted like that was normal."

Alan stared at him, horror now on his face. "Bleeding?"

"Yes, and I tried to make him see that he didn't need to be with someone who was so awful to him, but he just said that he liked it and that the conversation was ended."

Alan was shaking his head again, but Charlie could tell he was starting to believe him. "I don't understand. How could Don, of all people, let someone treat him like this?"

Charlie hesitated then ventured a hypothesis, "Maybe he thinks he should be punished for having a relationship with a guy?"

Alan's eyes suddenly were laser sharp on Charlie. "Who is it? Tell me."

"No," Charlie said as firmly as he could. "I don't think I should tell you that."

"Why not?" Alan snapped.

"Because he can't know that anyone knows."

"Well, why not?" Alan asked. "Secrecy is his tool. It's got to be how he controls Don. I say 'out' them both and see what happens."

Charlie shuddered. "What if you happen to know that the guy's last relationship when it ended, he put his ex-boyfriend in the hospital?"

"WHAT?" Alan roared, jumping to his feet.

"Dad, dad," Charlie said, waving his hands. "Calm down."

"WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH SHOULD I?"

"Because…" Charlie searched for an answer other than his father's blood pressure. "Because Don needs us to be level-headed."

Alan stared at him, and then, trembling, sat back down. "I've got to talk to Don."

Charlie shook his head. "He's made it very clear that he doesn't want to talk about it further. I'm afraid that he'll stop talking to me, to us, at all."

Alan nodded slowly. "Y-yes, that's a tactic of an abuser, to cut them off from family."

"I can try again, but I don't think that he'll listen to me," Charlie sighed. "Not when he's… being kept on such a tight leash. If I could just get him somewhere where he has to talk to me."

They sat silently for a moment. An idea burst full-blown in Charlie's head. It was a very bad plan, but… His heart began to pound. It was definitely an all-or-nothing gamble. The odds of success were almost as poor as winning the lottery but…

"I have an idea," Charlie said carefully, trying not to let his racing heart affect his speech, "But I'll need your help."

"Of course, what is it?"

"Maybe if Don and I went away somewhere, for just a brother's weekend, somewhere where he'll be cut off from him. Maybe he'd be willing to talk to me and maybe I could get him to see how he's heading to be one of his own cases."

Alan grimaced terribly. "You really think he's headed for that?"

"Yes," Charlie said, though he actually thought Colby would stop before that point. But maybe he wouldn't? Colby was frighteningly well-versed in how to kill a man quickly. What if his training took over? What if rage and training did more than send Don to the hospital?

"Yes," Charlie said again, with real conviction.

Alan rubbed his eyes. "And here I worried about you getting into this sort of situation."

"Me?" Charlie said with a surprised laugh.

"Well, those men you like to date…"

Charlie laughed again. Alan had no idea that the big strong men Charlie dated were usually pussycats just wanting a little stroking.

"Okay, we can try it," Alan said. "An intervention, of sorts."

"Yeah," Charlie said, returning to seriousness. "An intervention." But his father had no idea the sort of intervention Charlie had planned. Charlie didn't know why Don felt that he deserved how Colby treated him, but maybe Charlie could address the related problem that Don believed that 'guy sex' was always fast and rough, that Colby's 'technique' was normal. If Charlie could just show Don how real sex with a man could be, that it can be loving and amazing… Charlie's whole body was heated with the idea, his cock throbbing.

"How are you planning on doing it?"

Charlie blinked, then realized Alan was referring to the 'getting away' part, not the specifics on how Charlie planned on getting Don to have sex with him. Not that Alan could ever, ever know. Or that Charlie really had a plan at all. He just had a strong desire. Oh, how he had a strong desire…

"I'm not sure, Dad," Charlie said. "But let me think about it."

"I will, too," Alan said. "Because I have the bad feeling that we need to do this right away, before it's too late."

"We'll make it happen," Charlie replied, the seriousness of the situation sinking into him alongside the desire. "We have to."

 

Chapter Text

Part 6 -- Don turns the other cheek and Charlie sees red

Charlie had the idea, but he wasn't sure what to do next. Once again his dad helped him by breaking down what needed to be done into steps. Step One was get Don to agree to some time away. Charlie would try first, but Alan would bring his convincing skills to bear, if needed. Step Two was to pick a day and make reservations. Then make a second set of reservations somewhere else, because they were both concerned that Don's boyfriend would try to bust up the brothers' getaway. Step Three was to stop Don from cancelling or backing out, which he would inevitably try to do. Step Four was to get Don out of town without his cellphone or any other way that work - or his boyfriend - could contact him. Step Five Charlie only added to himself. Alan could never know that he was going to do his utmost to seduce his brother.

Charlie got a chance to start on Step One the next day. The case they'd been working on had some fresh leads - mostly thanks to Charlie's algorithm - and Don asked Charlie to come in after he was done teaching.

As Charlie drove to the FBI office, he mumbled opening lines to himself, trying out various approaches. He'd never been able to find the algorithm to figure out Don, though God knows he'd tried, so he was just going to have to wing it. He hated winging it.

He walked into the office, still mumbling to himself, and looked around for Don. He was in a conference room with his team and more stacks of files. Charlie paused for a moment to watch, and his previous evaluation still held true - Colby announcing possession of Don by body language that even Charlie could read, and Don acknowledging it with body language of his own. Charlie clenched his teeth and marched across the office.

"Oh, hey, Charlie," Don said as Charlie entered the conference room, and Don's voice was so normal and welcoming that Charlie just gaped at him. "We're getting some really good leads from the program you wrote."

"Great!" Charlie said, forcing himself back into motion. "Can I talk to you alone for a minute?"

"Sure, sure," Don said. "In a minute."

Colby loomed over Don and said to Charlie with a frown, "Something wrong?"

"No, no, nothing urgent," Charlie said, trying for casual tone when his chest tightened painfully at the sight of Colby's hand on Don's shoulder as he leaned over him. "Just family stuff. We can talk about it later."

Colby's nod was friendly, but Charlie could see Don wince as Colby's hand squeezed Don's shoulder. Charlie looked away, only to meet David's tired brown eyes.

"Hey, Charlie," David said. "Got some more computer magic for us?"

"It's not magic," Charlie said automatically. "It's just the use of smart filters against a dataset that…" Charlie continued on, talking about groupings and analysis until his chest loosened again and he could breathe normally. He gave David a grateful smile that only they knew the meaning of and continued on with the work for the FBI.

The rest of the morning passed without any opportunity to talk to Don privately. Colby always seemed to be at his side. The group broke for lunch, Don and Colby going off on an 'errand' while David, Liz and Charlie got a quick sandwich downstairs.

When they joined up again after lunch, Don did not look refreshed from the break. His movements seemed a little more labored and his face - if it was possible - even a little paler. When Don turned his back, Charlie's eyes were automatically drawn to Don's ass, and Charlie stiffened. On the back of Don's jeans, over his lower left buttock, was a spreading red circle. For a brief moment, Charlie thought that Don had been shot, and then he remembered the last time he'd seen Don bleed.

Charlie stepped quickly up to Don, using his laptop bag to shield anyone else from seeing the blood stain.

"About that family thing?" Charlie said. "Let's go talk about it now before we dive back into the case."

"We don't have time," Don snapped. "Later."

Charlie lowered his voice so only Don could hear. "Don, your ass is bleeding."

"Dammit," Don said under his breath. Louder, Don said, "Good idea, Charlie. Let's go someplace and talk about that private family matter now." He turned to his team and said, "Be back in a few."

Colby frowned but didn't say anything as Don and Charlie left the conference room. Charlie walked behind Don, his laptop bag held at the level of Don's ass.

Don went straight to his desk, pulled out a gym bag, and then walked towards the bathroom. Charlie followed right behind him.

When they got to the bathroom, Don took his gym bag and shut himself in the handicapped stall. Charlie heard the sound of undressing then of Don swearing.

The stall door unlocked and Don said, "Give me a hand?"

Charlie hurried over and got in the stall with Don.

"Shit!" Charlie said as he saw the state of Don's beloved ass. Bloody gouges were scattered over both buttocks, a particularly deep one where Charlie had seen the blood stain. Don was contorted, trying to put a bandage on it.

"What did he do to you?" Charlie demanded.

"Oh," Don said dismissively. "He forgot he was wearing his Army ring."

"He just decided to hit you with it?"

"No, no, just put this bandage on?"

"Only if you talk to me afterwards," Charlie said firmly. "Really talk to me."

"Charlie," Don groaned. "We're in the middle of a case."

"We're always in the middle of a case. Promise. We'll get coffee downstairs."

Don sighed, nodded and held out the bandage.

Charlie shook his head. "I'll be right back."

Charlie hurried out of the bathroom, ignoring Don's protests, and went back into the office. He picked up his bag and said to the others, "Don and I are going to go get a coffee."

"Something wrong?" Colby said sharply.

Charlie made himself smile at Colby. "No, not really. It's just that my dad has this girlfriend and it's all…" He waved his hand and rolled his eyes, trying to indicate some unnamed drama.

Colby nodded, looking calmer, and Charlie left quickly.

Back in the bathroom stall, Don was still trying to put the bandage on.

"Stop," Charlie snapped. He rummaged in his bag and got out an antiseptic wipe.

"Ow!" Don complained as Charlie carefully cleaned all of his wounds. All but the large one had stopped bleeding already. Charlie placed the bandage over it, and then stepped out of the stall.

He washed his hands as Don put on fresh underwear and jeans. Not bothering to keep the anger from his voice, Charlie said, "This happens often enough that you have spare clothes and bandages handy?"

"Just once was enough," Don said from the stall. "It wouldn't happen at all if I didn't make him."

"What?"

Don came out of the stall, zipping up his gym bag. "It's my fault, I was just feeling tired this morning."

"And?"

"I didn't feel like… messing around."

"And that 'made' him hit you?"

"You don't understand," Don grumbled.

"Explain it to me, then," Charlie said tightly.

"Downstairs."

Charlie held his tongue as Don washed his hands, and then they went out to the elevator. As they rode down, Charlie concentrated on calming and centering himself. This was a crucial moment, and he couldn't risk driving Don away by letting him know how much he hated Colby right now.

At the little coffee place downstairs, Charlie found them a quiet spot in the back while Don got two coffees. Charlie put his bag on the floor next to his chair and gripped his hands together in his lap.

Don put sugar and cream in both coffees and brought them over. As he sat down in the chair next to Charlie, he handed Charlie his coffee. Don took a careful sip of his hot coffee and smiled. "I don't know why I keep drinking the stuff they brew upstairs."

Charlie held his coffee without drinking and said, "Please explain what made Colby hit you earlier so that you were bleeding heavily."

"It wasn't heavily," Don scoffed, and then he leaned forward. "You have to understand. Colby's last boyfriend cheated on him, I mean for as long as they were together. He only finds out that his boyfriend, who he was thinking about asking to move in, is sleeping around on him when he finds him in bed with another man. Turns out that he'd been seeing this other man, and the other man's friends and their friends, even though Colby thought they'd been 'exclusive' for over a year."

"Okay…" Charlie said, not letting on that he knew some of the story.

"And his relationship before that ended with another big betrayal as well, so you can see why Colby has a hard time trusting people."

"Okay."

"So when I tell him that I just 'don't feel like it', he has a hard time believing that it's not because I've just had sex with someone else."

Charlie snorted. "You'd been with all of us, all morning."

"I know, I know. It's not a rational fear. But I understand that when I say 'No' that he worries, and that forces him to spank me. He felt terrible when he realized he'd been wearing his ring."

"That 'forces him'?" Charlie spit out. "Are you even listening to yourself?"

"It's just for now," Don said calmly. "Until Colby learns that he really can trust me. I would never sleep around on him. I may be a hound, but I've made a promise."

"Like the promise you made to Robin, while you were sleeping with Colby?"

Don shrugged uneasily. "The thing with Robin was over, really. She'd said so. We just hadn't made it official."

Charlie shook his head, bewildered. He'd never understood why victims of abuse stayed with their abuser, and now he was looking at the unfathomable in his brother. Charlie cleared his throat. "Do you love him?"

"Yes," Don said quietly.

"Really? No more 'friends with benefits'?"

"No, and he loves me."

"He loves you," Charlie replied flatly.

"Yes! He says he's never felt like this about anyone before and that he wants us to be together forever."

Charlie's stomach twisted. Don in this relationship forever sounded like a close approximation of Hell.

Don continued, "So he just needs to learn to trust me, too, and it'll be good. I know that he'll never leave me. God, the man was a triple agent for years, just because he is so loyal to his country. He'll never leave me."

Charlie eyed him, noticing the repeat of phrases. "You're worried about people leaving you?"

Don rolled his eyes. "Don't psychoanalyze me, Chuck."

"The bandage, Don, remember your promise. To really talk."

Don grumbled under his breath and took another sip of his coffee. "Okay, okay. Bradford, my shrink, says I have 'abandonment issues'."

Charlie blinked. "Why?"

"Why?" Don said angrily. "Why? Because everybody keeps goddamned leaving me, that's why!"

"Who's ever left you?"

"Kim, Coop, Robin, Mom, you."

"What? I've never left you."

"What do you call going away to college, as far as you could get from me? Always taking visiting professorships and lecture tours on the other side of the country, or planet."

Charlie stared at him. "I always thought that you wanted me to go away."

"No!" Don said, slamming his coffee cup down on the nearby table. "No, you're always leaving!"

"I didn't know," Charlie said softly. "I won't do it anymore, if you don't want me to."

"So you say," Don grumbled. He picked up his coffee cup and took an aggressive swallow of it.

"I didn't know," Charlie repeated. He was floored that Don wanted him around. He was also very pleased. Maybe now was the right time to bring up the topic he'd been waiting for.

Charlie fiddled with his cup. "Don, we haven't been communicating in a little while. How about we go away together for a few days, a brothers' getaway?"

"C'mon," Don scoffed. "I'm way too busy."

"You'll always be too busy." Charlie leaned forward. "How many cases in the last two months could you have used my help on but you didn't call me?"

Don gave a half-shrug.

"Seriously, Don, how many?"

"A few," Don admitted. "I'd gotten used to having you on my team."

"I am a part of your team, so if things are bad between us, we need to fix it."

Don frowned thoughtfully at his cup and Charlie held his breath.

"Maybe next month," Don said at last.

"No, next weekend."

"I can't just leave - "

"I know you have a ton of vacation time saved up that you will never use unless someone makes you."

"I have cases - "

"There will always be cases, always be crime. Give someone else a chance to run the team for a few days." Charlie added, "Besides, you need a break. You look like Hell."

"Thanks," Don said wryly. "I've been a little tired lately."

Charlie bit down on the reply he wanted to make. Because you have a sadistic boyfriend who never lets you rest. "Yes. David is concerned about it, too."

"I wondered what you two were whispering about the other day."

"Yeah," Charlie said, letting the misunderstanding lie. "Dad's worried, too."

"Dad is always worried," Don scoffed.

"True, especially worried."

"He's always 'especially worried'."

Charlie grunted in agreement. "But I think he has good reason this time."

"I don't know…"

Charlie played his trump card. "Dad agrees with me that you need a break and that we should do an Eppes Brothers trip, so if you don't say yes, I'll sic Dad on you."

Don groaned. "You wouldn't."

"I would," Charlie said firmly.

"Okay, okay, so what do you have in mind?"

"Just some ski resort or something. Out of the area."

"You don't ski," Don said.

"No, just someplace nice and remote. We'd both have to leave our cellphones home."

"No way, Charlie, I can't-wait, Colby, I can't just take off on him like that."

"To spend some time with your family?" Charlie pressed. "Why would he need to be jealous about that?" Now Charlie was holding his breath for a different reason. He didn't know if Don remembered Charlie's slip-ups in their shower conversation about how things would be different for Don if Charlie was his lover, or if Don had even realized that Charlie was sincere in his offer.

"Yeah, okay," Don said. He rubbed his tired eyes. "A break does sound really nice."

"Great," Charlie said. "I'll make all the plans and let you know."

"I need to talk to Colby first."

"No, talk to him after the plans have already been made. Tell him I sprung it on you - "

"You did."

"- So he won't have a chance to object."

Don eyed Charlie suspiciously. "You aren't taking me out of town so that you can spend the whole time saying why I need to break up with Colby."

"No, not at all," Charlie lied.

"Because that's not going to happen."

"I understand," Charlie lied again.

Don blew out a long breath. "Okay, Chuck. Just one night."

"At least two."

"Okay, okay," Don said, with a short laugh that was the first time Charlie had heard him laugh in months. "Make it someplace nice."

"Of course!"

Don nodded and they sipped their coffee in silence for a moment. Charlie was trying not to grin like an idiot.

"So if I'm supposed to pretend I didn't know about this beforehand," Don said. "What should I tell Colby that this 'family matter' was?"

"Oh!" Charlie said. "There actually is something else."

"What?" Don said uneasily.

"Penny, you know Dad's girlfriend?"

"Yeah?"

"I think they're getting really serious."

"You think?" Don smiled, a real smile, and Charlie let his grin come out in reply.

"He's actually talking about getting a little apartment up in Santa Barbara, so he doesn't have to drive back and forth all the time."

"Whoa."

"He's not talking now about moving out or anything, but he might, at some point."

"Good for him," Don said, still smiling. It lit up his tired face in a way that made Charlie's heart beat just a little faster.

"Yeah, so could you run like a little check on her?"

Don chuckled. "Like a background check?"

"Just to make sure she's not an escaped felon or anything."

"Okay," Don said. "A high-level check, not a deep one."

Charlie smiled. "Though I can't really imagine Penny committing any serious crime. Golf fraud, maybe."

"Or Scrabble larceny."

"Black market crossword puzzles."

"Death by organic whole wheat bread."

Don and Charlie laughed together. Charlie got that old familiar skip-flutter of his heart and started to feel a little bit hopeful.

"We should get back to the office," Charlie said.

"Right," Don said, putting down his coffee quickly.

They stood up and put their cups in the dirty dishes stack.

"So I can go ahead and make the arrangements?" Charlie asked.

"Yeah," Don said, with a crooked smile. "I'll just claim you blackmailed me."

"Great!" Charlie beamed.

They turned to head outside and Don said over his shoulder, "Two beds, though, right?"

Charlie stumbled a little, and then caught himself. "Right!" he said brightly. "Of course!"

"Good," Don said with a laugh. "Wouldn't want you to get any ideas."

"Now that I've seen your scrawny ass?" Charlie shot back, proud of his quick response. "No way."

Don laughed again and continued out of the coffee shop.

Charlie followed automatically, his mind leaping about like a hyper chimpanzee. So much to do, plans to make, boyfriends to ditch, brothers to seduce …

Charlie grinned all the way back to the office.

Chapter Text

Part 7 – Charlie pitches a fast question and Don remembers his first slowball
 
Charlie worked feverishly during the next few days, trying to get ahead on his teaching duties, finish a paper he was working on with Larry, solve a case for Don, and figure out how to hide a weekend trip from an FBI agent.  With lots of coffee and some very vivid fantasies, Charlie felt on Thursday evening that he was starting to get to the point where he could ‘spring’ the trip on Don.  A few questions kept bothering him, though.  How long had Don known he was bi?  Had he first gone with a man or a woman?  Had his first fucking by a man been by choice or had he been coerced?  Charlie had a hard time picturing his macho brother willingly bending over for anyone, at least before Don knew how good it could feel.  If he’d been coerced, there was someone that Charlie needed to thank – and kill.

“I never asked,” Charlie said quietly one day when he and Don were alone, “When did you figure out you were bi?”

Don eyed him.  “Why?”

“I’m just trying to reframe my understanding of you,” Charlie said, trying not to sound defensive.  “You know I have trouble understanding people.”  Especially you.

Don shrugged.  “High school, a little, but mostly college and baseball.”

“Your first was another baseball player?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you… date?”

Don rolled his eyes.  “No, Charlie, we did not ‘date’.  Guys do not ‘date’.”

“Sure they do!”

“You are such a girl.”  Don snorted and turned away.  “Now can we get back to the real world, as in triple homicide and robbery?”

Charlie nodded reluctantly, some questions answered but many more unanswered.  At least Don was still talking to him.  And now Don had a little smile on his face.

 
Don knew everyone in the FBI thought he was a hound, sleeping with anything in a skirt, even when a particular woman was against regulations.  What ‘everyone’ didn’t know, and Don planned to keep it that way, was that Don didn’t stick to skirts.  He had seduced many men in his life, focusing on closet gays who were as uninterested in a relationship as Don was.  Beyond not wanting to be tied down, Don was embarrassed that he always wanted to be the bottom, embarrassed about how much he loved to be fucked. 

His first experience with a man – a boy really – had been late one night after baseball practice.  He’d known that Reggie had been watching him for a while, and hadn’t minded, but hadn’t been sure what to do about it.  He’d known how to date girls, how to romance them and wow them and get them to spread their legs for him.  But he hadn’t known what to do about Reggie’s appreciative eyes, so he had tried to signal his own interest and had waited for Reggie to make the first move. 

That first move had been in the men’s shower, perhaps a cliché but with bodies already naked and soap oh so handy.  Reggie had pinned him against the tiled wall and asked if he’d ever been fucked.  Don’s moaned ‘No’ had told Reggie all he needed to know, and Reggie had quickly but thoroughly prepared Don, then slowly and even more thoroughly fucked him.  Don still vividly remembered the first sweet burn of Reggie’s probing fingers, how it felt strange and wrong to have someone else in his ass, how Reggie had coaxed him to relax and let him do all the work.  Even after the stretching, Don’s ass had still burned when Reggie had pushed his naked dick past Don’s instinctive resistance.  But oh the glory when Reggie had gotten moving, sending new and amazing sensations through Don’s body.  Years later, Don could instantly remember what it had been like to come just from being fucked, to hear Reggie’s wild laugh in his ear and feel Reggie’s dick pound even deeper.  His own dick had continued to spurt, and pleasure from his prostate had still rushed over him in waves.  Don had cried out when Reggie came in his ass, then Don cried out again when Reggie’s softened dick had slipped out of his soapy ass.  Reggie had checked that Don was okay and had laughed again when he’d seen Don’s blissed-out face.  He’d left Don in a grinning heap on the shower room floor.

Don could still remember just how he’d felt at that moment.  It was like the first time he’d kissed a girl, touched a girl’s breasts, had her mouth on his dick, buried that dick into her pussy – He’d had the sense that the world had changed, had just become brighter and more fun, and he was never going back. 

Reggie had fucked him a few more times after that, and each time had been incredible, but Reggie had moved away and Don had started his own prowling.  He’d fucked men himself, just to try it, but ass never felt as good as pussy.  He learned the secret body language of the closeted gay, learned how to tell if a man was a top or a bottom.  He’d been wrong a few times, or the man hadn’t been willing to risk exposure, and he’d gotten black eyes and kidney bruises for the mistake.  He’d also been wrong about the top versus bottom thing a few times, and gotten less than he wanted then as well. 

The whispers at the FBI office were half-right – he was a pussy predator and could have any woman, married or not, that he wanted.   He turned on the charm and made her feel amazing, not just with sex but he could romance a woman beyond her wildest dreams, but something always ended the relationship.  If she didn’t break it off first because of his roving eyes, he would get bored and tired of her anyway.  He had to be Boyfriend Don all the time and it got old.  Besides, no woman could give him the ass-fucking he craved.  

That was the other half the FBI could never know and allow Don to keep his credibility – that he was an ass whore.  That he could use his charm and smiles to get the male side of the population to give him what he wanted as well.  Often he would be sleeping with a woman and a man at the same time – though in different beds.  He’d expected his sex drive to cool down as he got older, but he still was as horny as a teenager.  So he kept up his seductions of both genders.  Women were fun and adoring, men gave him mind-blowing prostate orgasms.  He liked hanging out with women and pretending to himself that they could have a life together, but he knew he’d have to find a man as well.  But men weren’t designed to be paired off together.  There was too much biological drive to spread their seed around.  And men were lousy at working through issues without the common sense of a woman to help.  So neither women nor men would satisfy him for long.   The best situation was when he had a good woman on one side and a good man on the other, but it was always temporary. 

He tried to tell himself that he had the best of both worlds, but goddamned Bradford had made him see how lonely he really was.  How he sabotaged relationships because he knew they’d end anyway.  How there was no one in his life he could really trust to not leave him.  He’d be a pathetic stereotype case file that any even he would scoff at, if it wasn’t so goddamned true.

And then Colby had come along.

Chapter Text

Part 8 - Charlie delays the future and Don revisits the past

It was Friday morning and Charlie had reservations that night for a nice suite in the mountains. He hadn't 'sprung' the idea on Don yet though. He was waiting for just the right moment. Okay, he was delaying. He'd worked the situation up so much in his mind that he was now afraid of Colby's reaction to him taking Don away for a long weekend. And he was sure that Don would try to get out of it. The clock was ticking, though, and Charlie was going to have to break the news sometime. It was a fairly long drive, especially on a Friday evening, and Charlie wanted to arrive at the resort in time to eat dinner.

Charlie was fiddling with a program on his computer while Don talked on a phone nearby. Don hung up the phone and ran his hand tiredly through his hair. The warrant was out for the arrest of his triple killers, but even Charlie knew that there was nothing Don could do to hurry it along. The murderous pair was on a houseboat off the Mexican coast, and the FBI could only wait until the Mexican authorities decided to pick them up.

"Mexican cops still 'assessing the situation'?" Charlie asked Don and Don nodded, his frustration almost palpable.

They'll probably pick them up after they've finished spending their robbery money, Charlie thought wryly. Then the local authorities will move in. The timing worked alright for Charlie, though he would prefer that Don didn't have any pending cases on their weekend away. Charlie might as well wait for the sun to go out, instead of waiting Don to be completely free of his all-consuming job.

Charlie looked around but Colby must be still downstairs logging in evidence. Normally Charlie would enjoy the absence of Colby and his smug ownership of Don, but Colby needed to be there to see Don's 'surprise' at Charlie's travel plans.

Not one to waste an opportunity, Charlie decided to ask Don one of his remaining burning questions.

"Don," Charlie said. "Can I ask you something?"

Don gave him a sharp look. "What?"

"I was wondering how you and Colby got together, since neither of you are, you know, out."

Don's eyes softened and he smiled. "It just sort of happened one night, at my place. You know how it goes - too many beers, something sexy on the TV…"

Charlie nodded. He'd figured it had been something like that, but he was still searching for ways into this unfathomable relationship between Don and Colby. "And when you sobered up the next day?"

Don shrugged and smiled one of his adorable, half-bashful smiles - #5 on Charlie's list of Favorite Don Smiles. "Since the box had been opened, we thought a few more times wouldn't hurt."

"And 'a few more times' turned into 'a lot more times'?"

"Yeah," Don said, that smile still on his lips. "Never would have thought it would turn into this."

That makes two of us - no, that makes everyone who's ever known you - no one would have thought you'd be in a sick relationship like this.

Charlie was about to ask more, but Don picked up the phone again. He didn't dial, however, just held the phone and stared off into space, smiling dreamily. He was obviously thinking about that first time with Colby.

Charlie grimaced and wished he'd never asked.

 

 

Don had known that Colby had a boyfriend for a while, but he'd respected the other agent's privacy, since Colby had obviously wanted to hide the fact he was gay. Then David had told him about the bad breakup. Don waited what he thought was a respectable period of time then let himself start thinking about Colby in a whole new way. Don was undecided if Colby was a top or bottom, but there was only one way to know for sure.

Don prepared his approach carefully. He picked a night on which he knew David and the others had something planned to invite 'the team' to his apartment to watch a game. Colby accepted before he realized that it would be just him and Don. Colby didn't seem to mind so Don moved onto the next step.

Beers, pizza, TV with a game on. Two normal guys just hanging out. The game dragged on, though, and Don got impatient. He'd been stealing glances at Colby's gorgeous body all evening. Colby was wearing a simple black T-shirt that was tight across his chest and a pair of well-worn jeans that stretched around his strong legs. Colby's short hair, his profile, his neck, his hand around the beer bottle… everything turned Don on. He'd never let himself look this lustfully at his junior agent before and Colby was even more attractive than Don had realized.

Colby turned to look at him, smiling slightly. "Losing interest in the game?"

Don flushed and said, "It's kind of a blowout."

Colby nodded. "Want to watch something else?"

Don wanted to say, 'You, undressing,' but instead he said, "Yeah, what are you in the mood for?"

Colby smiled. "Got anything… sexy?"

Don's pulse jumped and his mouth was suddenly dry. "Yeah, sure, you mean like, porn?"

Colby's lips quirked up in the corners and he nodded.

Don went over to his cabinet and rifled through his small collection of porn on DVD. It was all bisexual or gay. He took a deep breath and picked out one of each type. He showed both to Colby. "Either of these look good?"

Colby took the gay video, his eyes dancing. "Didn't expect to see this in the great Don Eppes's collection."

Don cleared his throat. "There's a lot you don't know about me."

"Apparently." Colby held the DVD up. "Shall we?"

Don took the DVD back, then fumbled it into the DVD player. Where was his usual charm and cool? He hadn't expected Colby to be the driver here, but the fact that he was driving fed into Don's hopes that Colby was a top.

The video started with a slow seduction by college professor of his male student. Don didn't usually go in for the romantic porn, but he loved the turn-around in this one, that the professor-seducer ended up being the bottom to his 'innocent' student.

Don sat down on the couch again, with a large gap between him and Colby. After just a few minutes of watching the video, even though the professor and student hadn't even touched yet, Don regretted wearing his tightest jeans. He shifted, trying to ease his cock into a more comfortable position. It didn't work and he shifted himself again.

"Go ahead," Colby said quietly, a smile in his voice. "I don't mind."

Don jumped, guiltily realizing he had his hand on his crotch.

Colby grinned and ran his hand down his own crotch, over a large bulge. "Didn't want to be first."

Don gave a breathless laugh and unbuttoned his jeans. He pulled his zipper down and freed his cock with a sigh of relief.

Colby made his own sound of relief and Don looked over. Then Don stared.

Colby had just pulled out of his pants the biggest cock that Don had ever seen. It was thick, long, perfectly shaped, and would make any porn star proud. Colby gave an uncomfortable laugh. "Genetics, what can you do?"

"Huh," Don said vaguely and tore his eyes away from that gorgeous, massive cock. He settled back into the couch, took his cock in his hand, and tried to focus on the video. But it didn't hold his attention, even when the professor gave his student his first kiss, and the student turned the professor around and pinned him to the wall for his return kiss. Why should Don care when he had a more attractive man on his own couch?

Don's eyes kept going back to Colby, who was now leisurely stroking himself.

Finally Colby said dryly, "Want a closer look, Eppes?"

Don's heart jumped, and Don couldn't actually say if it was the prospect of getting closer to Colby or the gravelly, masculine way that Colby said 'Eppes.'

Giving a quick nod, Don scrambled to his feet, completely failing to look cool and casual. Colby spread his knees wide and Don slid between them. He ran his hands up Colby's thighs then carefully down his stomach until his fingers reached that amazing cock. He licked his lips and leaned forward.

For Don, blowjobs had always been a means to an end - to get a man hard enough so he could fuck Don. Colby was making encouraging noises though, calling him 'Eppes' in that low, hoarse way, and Don became entirely focused on the task in hand - or in mouth. He had a reasonable technique and soon had Colby rock hard and pulsing under his lips. Colby was rubbing his hands up and down his own thighs, his fingers stretching and clenching with each move Don made.

Abruptly, Colby pushed Don's head away. Don looked up to see Colby panting heavily, his fair skin flushed. Colby took a breath then grinned down at Don. "Damn, Eppes, you've got a fancy tongue there."

Don wiped his mouth and grinned back.

"C'mere," Colby said, grabbing Don's shirt. He pulled Don up until he was laying against Colby's body, stomach to stomach, their open zippers and naked cocks bumping against each other. Colby put his hand on the back of Don's neck and gave him a demanding, intoxicating kiss. Then he put his mouth near Don's ear and murmured, "Tell me you want to be fucked, Eppes."

Don almost came right then, with Colby's hard body against him, Colby's commanding voice in his ear, and the thought of Colby's cock in his ass.

"Uh-huh," Don said faintly.

"Say it, Eppes."

Don swallowed, struggling to get himself back under control. "Yes."

"Yes what, Eppes?"

Don said, as steadily as he could, "Yes, I want to be fucked."

"By who?"

"You, by you," Don said, finally pulling himself together. "I want to be fucked by you, sir."

"Sir?" Colby chuckled. "Yeah, I like that. And I've been wanting to fuck your ass since the first time I saw you. Never figured you'd want it, though."

"Surprise!"

"Yeah." Colby pushed him gently up. "Now I bet you have some lube somewhere."

"In my bedroom," Don said, getting to his feet. "C'mon."

"Naw," Colby said with a smile. "I want to ride your ass right here."

Don blinked then smiled back. "Yes, sir."

Colby gave him a wide grin and nudged him again. "Hurry up, Eppes."

Don hurried, tucking himself back into his pants as well as he could, and went to his bedroom. He stripped off all his clothes and threw them on the bed, then grabbed lube and a condom from a drawer.

As quickly as he'd moved, however, he found Colby sitting on the couch, already stark naked. Don stopped and drank in the full sight of Colby's gorgeous body, his equally gorgeous cock ready and waiting.

Colby eyed the condom in Don's hand. "Latex-free?"

"Um, no."

"I'm allergic to latex," Colby said.

"I have some-"

"Most latex-free are too small or break anyway," Colby said, looking uncomfortable. "I usually go without."

"Oh," Don said, disappointed.

Colby gave him a hopeful smile. "C'mon, Eppes, you know I'm clean. FBI blood tests are thorough."

"We shouldn't…" Don said, but he was far too gone to stop now. He tossed the condom aside.

Colby broke into a huge grin. "Alright! Now, get yourself ready, I want to watch."

Don raised his eyebrows but squirted some lube into his hand. He set the bottle aside and self-consciously turned his back towards Colby. He began to lube and stretch his asshole. He knew that he was going to have to prep himself very thoroughly for that size of cock.

He was still working three fingers awkwardly into his ass when he heard Colby stand up. Before Don could turn around, Colby was pressing himself against Don's back, pushing Don's fingers farther into his own ass.

"Fuck, that turns me on," Colby growled into Don's ear. "Watching you get that sweet ass of yours ready for me. I can't wait one second longer."

"Okay," Don said, though he wasn't sure he was ready yet.

Colby turned Don around and leaned him over the side of the couch. Don pulled out his fingers and wiped them on his leg. He heard Colby squirting some more lube out and slicking up his cock.

Don took a deep breath and released it slowly. Colby pressed the head of his cock against his asshole and Don struggled not to tense up. Colby gave him a smack on the hip, more loud than painful. Don jumped, temporarily distracted, and Colby pushed into him.

"Fuck," Colby groaned. "Fuck, you feel good."

Don could only whimper, stretched more open than he'd ever been. Colby didn't give him time to think, just pushed in further until Don felt like he'd been split down the middle. Colby started moving, and pain stabbed through Don. He whimpered again.

"Relax," Colby said, smacking him on the hip again.

To Don's surprise, that worked and Don's burning body started to adjust. The anticipation of pleasure began to overwhelm the immediacy of pain.

"There you go, Eppes," Colby said warmly, then moaned, "God, fuck. I can't wait…" Colby went straight into hard fucking and, though it hurt, Don felt triumphant that he'd made the normally calm agent lose control.

Then it started not hurting Don so much, then maybe even feeling a little good, then it began to feel really good. Don moaned, his feelings mixed, loving the pleasure but sure that it wouldn't last long.

Colby surprised him again by pounding long past the point that Don thought he'd have come. Instead, Colby continued to send wave after wave of pleasure through Don, making Don's knees give out so that the only thing keeping him up was the couch and Colby's hands gripping his hips.

Don was a mass of rubbery Jell-O except for his throbbing cock.

"Come," Colby said, sounding like he was clenching his teeth. "Jerk yourself off, don't want to take my hands off your ass."

Don directed one shaky hand towards his own cock, and, with two strokes, was coming hard against the side of the couch.

"Fuuuck," Colby growled and slammed into Don even stronger than before.

Stars danced behind Don's eyes as Colby slammed and slammed until heat burst inside Don's ass and Colby's pounding turned into a jackhammer.

Both men were gasping loudly when Colby finally trembled to a stop.

"Fuck, Eppes," Colby gasped out. "Best ass I ever fucked."

"Yeah," Don replied breathlessly, though he meant the other way around. Best ass fucking ever.

They crumpled to the floor together and lay there panting for a long moment, while Colby's cock softened.

Finally Colby groaned, "You weigh a ton, Eppes."

"Sorry," Don laughed and crawled out of Colby's lap. He only made it a few feet, before collapsing onto the carpet.

Colby lay on his back next to him and they companionably caught their breath.

"God, that was amazing," Colby said at last. "I could do that five times a day and never get tired of it."

"Me, too," Don mumbled.

"I mean, really, I could."

"Me, too. Maybe not five times a day but two or three, yeah."

A moment of silence, then Colby said, "Well, why not?"

"Hmm?" Don said sleepily.

"Why not two or three times a day?"

Don blinked awake again. He turned and propped his head up on one elbow and looked at Colby. "You serious?"

Colby smiled at him, looking almost shy. "If it was as good for you as it was for me-"

"It was."

"Then why not-Oh right, you've got a girlfriend."

Don shrugged. "Robin and me are winding down."

"Okay, I can wait."

"No," Don said, the still-pulsing pleasure in his body overriding his brain. "I don't want to wait. I want to do it again right now and five times after that."

Colby chuckled. "That's my Eppes."

A frisson of unnamed emotion went down Don's spine. "Yes, sir."

Colby moved closer, and the warmth of his body made Don wonder if maybe he could do it again right now. Naw, not after those beers. But soon.

Colby curled his fingers around Don's chin. "Let's be clear. I want to fuck you again, a lot. You want me to?"

"Yes, sir," Don said, a breathless at the thought.

"I'm not talking every once in a while, I'm talking every day."

Don grinned. "That sounds great."

"I've been told I have a high sex drive, think you can keep up with me?"

Don's grin widened. "I've never found someone who can keep up with me."

"Hmm," Colby said, running his hand down Don's chest, his fingers combing through Don's sweaty chest hair. "I like a challenge."

Don returned the favor, his fingers swirling over Colby's wide chest. "Me, too."

"So if I said, just out of the blue at the office, to come to the hall closet and fuck, would you?"

"Yes, sir," Don said, thinking how wonderful a break that would be in his long days.

"If I woke you up in the middle of night, would you be ready?"

"I'll give you a key." Don thought how nice it would be to be woken up by something other than nightmares, or the ring of his phone, calling him out to see new nightmares.

Colby pressed his body right against Don's, legs to chest, and wrapped one strong hand around the back of Don's neck. His mouth was just inches from Don's.

"Please don't let me down," Colby said softly. "And if it's over, tell me, don't pretend otherwise or sneak around on me."

"Never." Then Don winced. "At least after I end it with Robin. I should have already but it's going to break my dad's heart."

"Okay," Colby said and pressed his mouth to Don's, plunging his tongue deep into Don's mouth, pushing Don's head back with the force of his kiss. Don moaned into the kiss. It felt so good to have someone else take charge for once. He was always expected to be the predator, the one making the moves. Now Colby was here, with his firm touch and husky commands, and he was promising to take care of Don's needs in a way that no one ever had.

When Colby released Don's mouth to suck on his neck, Don mumbled, "I've got an ass plug. I can wear it so I'll always be ready for you. Though maybe I should get a bigger one."

Colby pulled back and stared at him. "Wow, fuck, really?" A big grin blossomed on his face. "Damn that's hot, knowing you'll always be stretched and ready for me. It'll be hard to not just bend you over your desk and yank down your pants."

Don groaned softly at the image, but said, "Maybe we should try to make it somewhere more private."

"Yeah," Colby replied, still grinning. His fingers slid up Don's scalp and tugged playfully on his hair. "Damn, Eppes, I'm dying to fuck you again right now."

Don's eyebrows shot up then he felt Colby's cock against his leg, already recovering.

"I know you've got to be sore," Colby said, "So I won't ask, but I want to."

Don grinned at him. One of the many wonderful things about being fucked was that it could go on as long as the fucker could. Don had been chain-fucked to oblivion once and, while he could hardly walk the next day, it had been incredible. Colby had already demonstrated his stamina, and now was demonstrating an equally superhuman recovery rate. A one-man chain-fucker, Don thought and stifled a giggle.

Colby rolled away from him. "I should go," he said. "Before I say or do something embarrassing. You going to be okay?"

"Oh, yeah," Don said.

"Want me to help you into bed or anything?"

"Naw, I think I'll lie here for a moment and contemplate the universe."

"Want a blanket?"

Don shook his head. "I think my temperature is still up in the stratosphere."

"Okay."

Don watched lazily as Colby got to his feet and got dressed. God, he's gorgeous.

Colby finished dressing and smiled down at Don. "Looking forward to seeing you naked a lot more, Eppes."

"Yes, sir," Don replied, and didn't care how eager he sounded. "Me, too, sir."

Colby chuckled and moved out of Don's field of vision. Don heard him gather his wallet, badge, keys and gun. Don heard Colby's hand on the door of the apartment then Colby paused.

"I'll give you some days to recover-"

"Two days."

A low chuckle. "Okay, Eppes, two days, then we'll see just who can keep up with who."

"Want to make a bet?"

Another chuckle. "No bets, Eppes. Just get ready for many, many long rides."

"Hell, yeah."

Colby chuckled again, a sound so full of sexual promise that it sent a shiver through Don - and through his already reawakening cock. "Bye, Eppes."

"Bye, sir," Don said back, trying to infuse his voice with his own promise.

The door opened and shut, then it was just Don. In the quiet, Don realized that the porn video was still playing. Now that is definitely my favorite video.

It was hard to take in what had just happened in less than an hour. Don had gone from wanting Colby to having Colby to an odd sort of committed relationship and the promise for much more sex in the future.

Don had dated and broken up with co-workers before, and most of the time managed to continue working with them, but they had all been women. Would it be different with a man? Would he and Colby still be able to work together once Colby realized what an ass whore Don was? How could anyone respect him after learning that?

Don tried to shrug off the concern. It was about time he got something just for himself, not because his Dad wanted him to date or because his reputation made women expect certain things from him.

He lay on the floor, naked and sore, but exhilarated. Whatever had just been started between him and Colby couldn't last for long, nothing ever did, but it was going to be hell of a lot of fun while it lasted.

 

 

Back in the present, Charlie was watching Don's face flush. It would have been very sexy - except for the fact that Charlie knew memories of Colby were causing Don to flush. He wished futilely that the flush could be for him, that it could be Charlie making the blood rise in Don's cheeks. Maybe Don would even be panting, his eyes dilated with pleasure.

Dammit, Charlie said to himself. He was getting so far ahead of himself that he was going to really mess everything up. He needed to go slow, keep things cool and brotherly, and hope that his opportunity would come. No, he needed to make the opportunity come. He was only going to have a small period of time to act and the odds of success were… Charlie shuddered.

Do not think about the odds. Statistically, I'm about to take the biggest risk of my life. I'm probably throwing away my relationship with Don forever and driving him more towards Colby. This idea is mathematically contra-indicated, uses flawed game theory, and is just a monumentally stupid thing to do. But I can't think that way. I have to suppress the analytical side of my brain and focus on the plan.

Today, I can't afford to be rational.


Chapter Text

Chapter 9 - Charlie speaks the truth and Don hears a lie

Charlie delayed and delayed until it was late Friday afternoon and he couldn't delay any longer. He surveyed the conference room, where Colby was sitting at the table with Don and David. Liz was on the phone nearby.

Charlie walked over to the table and cleared his throat. "Have a surprise for you, Don, and I'm not taking no for an answer."

Don looked up, confusion on his face. "What?"

"You and I are going away for a brother's weekend, and we're leaving right now."

"What? No, I can't."

Charlie summoned up his firmest voice. "Yes, Don, get your jacket. We have reservations at a great resort and we're going right now."

Don blinked at him. "Charlie, I can't just take off like that! Are you nuts? I said that we could do something sometime, but not now!"

Charlie couldn't decide if Don was playing his part very well or if he had genuinely forgotten about his promise to come. "You and I haven't been communicating well for a while now and we need to fix it." He swept his hand to indicate the room and the FBI in general. "For everyone's sake."

Charlie had been avoiding looking at Colby, but Colby shifted and Charlie automatically looked his way. Colby's green eyes were narrow and suspicious and he snapped, "What are you talking about, Charlie?"

"Don needs a break," Charlie said, suddenly angry. "From… everything. We're going away for the weekend and no one is going to stop us."

"How can you-" Colby started.

David's quiet voice cut through the heated air. "I think it's a great idea."

"Me, too," Liz tossed out, before going back to her phone call.

"Don, we're in a holding pattern in this case," David continued, apparently unfazed by Colby's glares. "Go get some rest and relaxation. You're no good to us if you work yourself sick."

Don shook his head. "I can't go just like that."

"Yes, you can," Charlie said. "Do you need me to call Dad and have him tell you?"

"God, Charlie," Don snapped. "Don't be a jerk."

"Okay, sorry, low blow," Charlie relented. "I just really want to get you away from your job for a few days." He added slyly, "I packed the Scrabble game."

Don rubbed his eyes and laughed. "Wow, that's desperate."

"I packed the chess board, too."

"Of course," Don said, smiling. "Maybe I can-"

"Don," Colby interrupted curtly, "Can I talk with you privately somewhere?"

Don's smile faded and he nodded.

Colby got up and, putting his hand under Don's arm, practically dragged him out of the conference room.

Charlie watched them go, dread in the pit of his stomach. David came and stood next to Charlie.

"It's a good idea," David said quietly. "Liz and I will back you up as much as we can."

Charlie nodded thankfully but he kept his eyes on Colby and Don, now in another office. Charlie couldn't tell what they were saying, but their expressions were clear.

Colby angry, Don explaining. Colby furious, Don growing defiant. Don turning to leave, Colby grabbing his arm. Don turning back angrily, Colby apologetic. Colby looking sad and speaking quietly, Don completely changing to apology and understanding. Don nodding and walking out of the office, towards Charlie.

He pulled Charlie aside and said quietly, "I know I promised but I can't go this weekend. It's the anniversary of Colby's dad's death and he shouldn't be alone."

"No, it's not," Charlie said without thinking.

"What?"

Charlie nodded slowly, checking his memory. "I've read his file. His father's death's anniversary isn't for months."

Don's eyes narrowed. "Are you just saying that to get me to go?"

Charlie shook his head quickly. "You know me, I remember numbers. I remember the date in particular because it was the same day that Galileo died - several centuries removed, of course."

Slowly, Don said, "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Absolutely positive?"

"Well, um, yeah, I am."

Don's face darkened. He spun on his heal and marched back towards the office where Colby was still standing. Charlie watched, holding his breath.

Don asking Colby something, Colby nodding. Don curtly asking again, Colby nodding again. Don snapping something, Colby surprised. Don angry and in Colby's face, Colby apologetic and pleading. Don turning and storming out of the office.

Don came straight at Charlie and grabbed his arm. "We're going, now."

"Yeah, yeah," Charlie said, scrambling to grab his laptop and briefcase.

"Don!" Colby called from doorway, "Wait! Let me explain!"

"Now!" Don snarled and practically towed Charlie across the office to the elevators. Charlie dug in his pockets for his car keys and pressed the elevator button. The door opened and Don stalked into the elevator, Charlie on his heels.

Charlie's last sight as the elevator door closed was Colby, his face murderous.

Chapter Text

Part 10 - Charlie hopes things have just gone sour, but Don ponders the sweet honeymoon

Charlie drove with one eye on his route and the other on Don. Don had gotten into Charlie's Prius without another word. They'd left Don's car in the FBI parking garage and driven out. Don was now just staring out the window. He hadn't asked where they were going, and had only nodded when Charlie told him that he'd gone to Don's apartment and packed a suitcase for him. Don seemed quite shaken by Colby's lie, but Charlie had no idea how that betrayal would play out in Don's unfathomable psyche. For the first time, it occurred to Charlie that Don might have never told Colby that Charlie had found out about them. What did that mean? What did this latest lie mean? For now he'd just have to keep a careful eye on Don's mood - all the while putting his own deceptive plans into motion.

 

The first few weeks with Colby were wonderful, Don thought as he stared unseeing at the passing landscape. He had never wanted someone at the same level that they wanted him. There was always a disconnect of desire, but not with Colby. They fucked every day, most days multiple times. Colby's body continued to delight Don, and he was just as hooked on the possessive, commanding way that Colby took him. Colby's stamina was a little bit diminished with all the sex, but it was still outstanding. Don found his sex drive growing even more demanding, as if it had been waiting for the right partner to really show its teeth.

There had been no problems at work in the beginning as well. Colby had seemed fine with the two separate relationships, always treating him like a boss at work - except when he dragged Don into a private area and started unzipping his pants. Following Colby's example, Don had found himself able to give orders to Agent Granger and melt into putty for 'sir'.

For obvious reasons, they couldn't reveal their relationship to anyone. Don had to admit it was unprofessional and unwise, but he couldn't find it in himself to care. When he formally broke up with Robin, it was like a weight had been taken from his shoulders. He didn't have to deal with her many disappointments and disapprovals, just Colby whispering in his ear about how good he felt, how amazing he was.

The first discordant note hadn't sounded until at least two months into their relationship. Don had been nursing a cold and had called in sick to work. Colby had come over to check on him, but it had felt more like a boss coming over to make sure he was sick than a concerned lover. Colby had inspected Don's apartment like a crime scene, eyeing the pile of tissues in the trash as if he was considering checking them for real snot. Finally, Colby had seemed satisfied - and then he'd started unzipping his jeans.

For once, Don hadn't wanted sex and he'd told Colby so. That's when Colby had told him about his previous boyfriend and how he'd given the man his heart and a year of his life, only to discover that the man had been sleeping around the whole time. Colby had said that he should have noticed how often the man was 'too tired' and realized something was up. He had strongly implied that the only way Don could 'prove' he hadn't had some lover over earlier for chicken soup and sex was to get it up for Colby. Don had been too drugged out from cold medicine to debate the point, and had wiped his nose and bent over the couch.

The next day, when his head had been clearer, Don had felt a little uneasy about Colby's attitude, but had decided that it was just old relationship baggage that Don and Colby would need to overcome together. Don certainly had his own baggage from bad relationships. One day when Colby had needed to fly out to Idaho for a family funeral, Don had felt almost sick with worry that Colby would never come back. That had happened with one of his former girlfriends, when a 'quick visit home' had turned into a permanent move. Colby's sexual fervor when he returned had reassured Don that Colby had missed him equally.

After that, they had started spending non-sex time together too - watching sports, playing video games or cards, though they still had to keep it quiet. There had been a rumor at work that Don had a new secret girlfriend, and Don had subtly encouraged the story. Colby had made a point of hanging out with David and Don had tried to spend occasional time with his family. As the days went by, however, Colby had wanted to spend more and more time with him. Don hadn't minded. With the situation, it was difficult to make plans in advance, so Don gradually stopped going over to his family's place or about anywhere else, just in case Colby wanted to do something.

One night, Don had come back to his place from a rare family event. Charlie had been honored with some sort of prestigious math award and his dad had made it extremely clear to Don that attendance was required. He'd even made Don wear his tux. Don had come walking into his apartment, to find Colby sitting there in the dark.

"Where have you been?" Colby had barked out. "Why are you wearing that?"

Don had stuttered out an explanation. It hadn't been until he had given Colby the event program - and Colby had determined that it wasn't a clever forgery - that Colby had calmed down.

"Next time," Colby had said, "let me know when you're going to be late."

"I thought I had told you," Don had replied.

"I was worried about you. And you could have had men falling all over you with you looking like that! You should have warned me. And worn something less handsome."

"What are you going to do?" Don had asked tiredly, "Spank me?"

Colby had gone very still then said, "Yes."

Don had laughed, and then stopped laughing. "You're serious."

Colby had given a slight nod.

Don had stared at him, but he'd been too tired to argue. Instead, he'd shrugged - whatever got him to sleep fastest - and had begun to pull down his pants.

Colby had taken his hands and gently led Don to the couch. He had positioned Don lying down on his lap, his naked ass in the air. Colby had caressed his ass for a long moment, then smack, smack, smack.

It had been over quickly, and to Don's deep shame, he had realized that he hadn't really minded. It hadn't turned him on, but it hadn't really hurt. And if it had made Colby feel better, what had been the harm? Don remembered thinking, Besides, I'm already the pathetic bottom in this relationship, why not make it official?

Colby had fucked him after that, right there over the side of the couch, Don's tux pants pushed to his thighs. It had been as good as it always was. Yes, I'm so much of an ass whore that I don't mind if he spanks me, as long as he still fucks me.

In the car now with Charlie, Don tried to pull his thoughts away from the past, but the fight with Colby had opened a flood of remembering. He rubbed his throbbing forehead.

Colby hadn't mentioned the spanking after that night, but Don had learned too much. He had learned what made Colby forgive him.

Their relationship shifted then, but it didn't at first seem like a bad thing to Don. The next time that Don had done something wrong - helping an old girlfriend move - Don had pulled down his pants before Colby even asked. It was just easier than arguing, and it made Colby feel better. It was the simplest 'relationship fix' Don had ever known and even he couldn't mess it up. It was so nice to know exactly what was wanted of him. With girlfriends he'd always done something wrong and not known how to fix it. With Colby, a few swats and a fuck and everything was okay.

The interrupted sleep - Colby woke him up most nights - and the intense physical activity had begun to weigh on Don. But he knew he couldn't ask Colby to stop coming over. Besides, on the rare nights that Colby didn't visit, Don stayed awake anyway, thinking every sound was Colby arriving. Don drank more so that he could go to sleep quickly. He ate less because he just wasn't hungry.

It had been annoying and awkward when Charlie had found out. Don had gotten careless, too comfortable being fuck buddies with Colby. At first, it had been kind of fun to shock Charlie, but the nosy little shmuck had soon been asking hard questions. Don had tried to explain that he and Colby weren't in a 'thinking' relationship, they weren't really in a relationship at all. Charlie couldn't understand. Everyone was so accepting of Charlie being gay, and with those buff men he dated, made the perfect image of a gay couple - big, hunky top and slight, small bottom. Charlie couldn't understand what it had been like for Don, trying to be strong and in charge in his professional life, yet craving what had to be the ultimate subordination. What Don had with Colby was as good as it was possible to for Don to get. Why would Charlie want to mess things up?

In a way, it was a relief for Charlie to find out. Charlie had seen Colby spanking Don, had learned that his admired big brother was just a weakling. Don didn't have to pretend around Charlie anymore, didn't have to talk about his female conquests, didn't have to keep up his usual swagger. Charlie now knew Don's humiliating secret and was no doubt looking at him with new eyes.

Don didn't think there was any reason to tell Colby about the conversation with Charlie. Colby didn't want anyone to know about them, but Don was reasonably certain that Charlie would keep his mouth shut, even if he'd lost all respect for Don that night.

It hadn't been long after Charlie found out that something had happened. It had been completely unexpected, completely wonderful, and had changed everything.

Chapter Text

Part 11 - Charlie drives up into the mountains and Don looks down into the depths

Charlie drove out of the city and into the mountains. Any attempt at small talk was turned away by a grunt from Don. Like so many times, Charlie wished he could read Don's mind. Then again, maybe what Charlie might find there would be more than he could handle.

 

One night, after a grueling day which involved a gun battle with kidnappers, Don and Colby had gone directly to Don's apartment and undertaken a particularly long and frenzied sex session on Don's couch. One or the other of them could have had easily lost their lives that day. The fact that neither was injured and the little girl had been saved had just added to their intensity.

Afterwards, Colby had unexpectedly wrapped his arms around Don and they had rested quietly together against the couch.

Then Colby had whispered into Don's ear, "You're everything I've ever wanted."

Don had tried to twist around to see Colby's face, but Colby had held him tight and pressed his forehead to the back of Don's head.

"Yeah?" Don had replied weakly.

"I'm so afraid of losing you. You understand, don't you?"

"You don't need to worry-"

"I can't help it. With our dangerous jobs, anything could happen. And then you could find someone else-"

Don had protested, "I won't-"

"I'm going to say something now but I don't want you to make any sort of reply, ok?"

Don had braced himself.

Colby had whispered, "I love you."

Don had gaped and tried to turn again.

"No response right now," Colby had reminded him. "I just needed to tell you."

"Colby-"

"I gotta go," Colby had said, embarrassment plain in his voice. Then he'd gotten himself back together and left.

Don had pulled up his pants and crawled up onto the couch. He'd stared into space for a long time. He loves me. He said that I was everything he'd ever wanted. Isn't he everything I've ever wanted? He's smart and sexy and so loyal to what he believes in that he was a triple agent for years. He won't leave me. He loves me, even though he knows how weak I am. He loves me, even though he knows what an ass-whore I am. How could I ever do better?

That night everything had changed. They hadn't been just fuck buddies any more. They had become lovers, secret boyfriends.

At the next opportunity, Don had told Colby that he loved him back. Colby had been very happy and for a short while, things had been really good. Then Don had messed up again - talking to an old boyfriend this time - and Colby's jealousy had come raging back. Don had kept telling himself that Colby would relax eventually, once he felt completely sure of Don. Don had continued to try everything he could think of to reassure Colby but nothing had been enough.

With every failed attempt to soothe Colby, every spanking he endured, Don had begun to feel more and more detached and hopeless. He was constantly reminding himself of how good he had it, how wonderful it was to have a lover like Colby, how happy Colby made him feel. He had reminded himself this through gritted teeth the first time that Colby had forgotten to take off his Army ring before he spanked him. After that, he had been too numb and tired to notice the pain. After that, he'd loathed himself a little more every day.

 

Don stared out the window of Charlie's car and tried to swallow. His throat was full of bile and self-hatred. This is the simplest relationship I've ever been in, and I am still messing it up. He couldn't even hold up his end of a very simple bargain. His body was starting to fail on him more often, and with each unsuccessful erection, Colby grew more suspicious and controlling.

Don knew that someday Colby would leave him. Colby might claim that he respected Don, but no one really respected a bottom, especially one as needy as Don. Eventually, Colby's disgust at Don's many weaknesses would overwhelm any other feelings. Just the thought of Colby leaving made Don's stomach churn. Even with Colby's incredible loyalty, he would leave. Everyone did in the end. Wow, no abandonment issues here, Don thought bitterly.

He couldn't even be a man about everyday life. He had teased Charlie by calling him 'a girl' about relationships, when it was Don that suffered and broke a little bit more with the end of each relationship. This relationship with Colby… When that ended - and that end might come much sooner than Don expected - Don didn't think there would be anything left of him to break.

And there would be no one who cared about picking up the pieces.

 

Charlie spotted the sign for the lodge and breathed a sigh of relief. He'd navigated here just by a memorized route, not using the navigation system because he'd been worried that Don would change his mind when he saw how far away they were going. That turned out to be an unfounded worry.

Charlie glanced over at Don for the 67th time in the last hour. Don was still staring unseeing out the window. Then Charlie checked the rearview mirror for the 59th time in the last hour, the 315th time since they'd left Don's place. They didn't seem to have been followed. On the highway he'd been sure a white Toyota had been following them, but he'd slowed down and it had zoomed past. In planning this trip, Charlie had taken every lesson he'd learned at the FBI about tracking fugitives and applied it into making him and Don disappear. He'd used public computers to find the hotel, called them on a Physics department phone, and told no one of his plans but his dad. Then he had used his own computer to book a weekend for 'Dr. and Mr. Eppes' at a nice place in San Diego, including a rental car that would be picked up in LA and driven down. Two of his students were now enjoying a free getaway.

His car had been a problem, since he knew that it could be tracked. Taxis or rental cars had their own difficulties. Finally, he'd settled for arranging that the lodge valet would drive his car down the mountain and park it in another hotel's parking lot for the weekend. He was paying for everything in cash. The lodge hadn't asked, but Charlie had told them that he and Don were hiding from a violent ex-boyfriend. Charlie had not told the lodge that he and Don were brothers. He was hoping for some unbrotherly behavior, after all.

Now they were arriving at the lodge and it would be Charlie's careful planning versus Colby's determination. Because Charlie had no doubt that Colby was already searching for them, no doubt at all.

Chapter Text

Part 12 - Don tries to rediscover himself while Charlie tries remake himself

It wasn't until Charlie pulled into the parking lot of the lodge that Don seemed to come out of his funk and look around.

"Where are we?" Don asked.

Charlie said cheerfully, "A little out-of-the-way place where no one will find us."

Don's lips twitched with an almost-smile. "Sounds like the punch line to a joke, somehow."

"Never heard that joke," Charlie said. "Maybe the valet has." He pulled up to a man in a crisp, burgundy uniform and got out of the car. He looked around the front entrance of the place he'd looked so hard for and decided that it looked as good in person. A small hotel hidden in the mountains, with a discreet staff and excellent restaurant. A place that didn't have to advertise, because the right people just knew about it.

He handed his keys to the valet as Don climbed out the car and stretched. Don drew a deep breath, and - maybe it was wishful thinking on Charlie's park - seemed to relax a little. Charlie knew Don loved the outdoors, the mountains in particular, but never seemed to have the time to experience them.

Don patted his waist and his budding smile vanished. He looked back in the car. Charlie waited as Don searched around his seat. "Charlie, have you seen my phone?"

"Yes," Charlie said. "It's back in your car at the FBI garage."

"What?" Don said, standing up quickly and almost banging his head on the car's door frame.

"Along with mine," Charlie said. "This is a break, remember?"

"I can't be without my phone, Charlie!" Don said, and Charlie couldn't tell if he was more angry or panicked.

"Dad has the phone number here if anyone really needs us," Charlie said, keeping his voice calm and soothing. "Let the world save itself for a few days."

"Charlie, I can't…" Don said, then leaned back to look in the car, as if it would suddenly appear.

Charlie let him look around for a moment, while he got the bags out of the back and gave them to the waiting bellhop. Then Charlie tugged at Don's arm.

"It's not there," Charlie said. "The man wants to park the car now."

Don looked up in surprise, as if the valet had just popped into existence.

Yes, panic is definitely winning out over anger, Charlie thought. He kept a hold of Don's arm and pulled him towards the front door.

A smiling woman was holding open the door. "Welcome, Mr. Wallis, Mr. Euler."

Don blinked at her.

"Hi," Charlie answered her. "My friend here is not finding it easy to cut the electronic leash."

"Ah," she answered understandingly. "Most people find it difficult at first, but then it is very liberating."

"Hope so!" Charlie said.

"We have no phones or internet available to guests. The rooms all have televisions with access to our extensive library of free on-demand programs." She handed him a paper envelope with a keycard. "The concierge is open 24 hours. Please make use of his services."

"Thank you," Charlie said.

"I need to use your phone," Don said.

The woman's smile didn't waver. "I'm afraid that's only for emergencies, sir."

"It is an emergency," Don said. "I work for-"

"You don't need to call anyone," Charlie snapped.

Don glared at him. "Of course I-"

"When's dinner?" Charlie asked.

"Dinner is already being served," the woman said. "The special tonight is roasted venison with juniper berries."

"Sounds great," Charlie said and began to pull Don into the lobby and towards the first hallway he saw.

"On the right," the woman called, and Charlie turned in that direction.

Charlie walked down the hallway, ignoring Don's steady litany of reasons why he needed a phone, why he needed internet access, why he needed to turn around and go back to LA right now. Charlie realized he didn't know where he was going and opened the envelope the woman had given him. Room Number 4.

They had stopped directly in front of the right door.

"Four," Charlie murmured. "A lucky number, according to Vedic numerology."

"What?" Don said, breaking off his complaints.

"Our room," Charlie said and opened the door.

The room was everything Charlie hoped it would be. Decorated in cool blues and greens, it felt both masculine and luxurious. There were two queen-sized beds on one side, a couch and stuffed chairs on the other side, facing a huge screen flat-screen TV. The curtains on the wide picture window had been pulled open, showing a spectacular landscape of endless trees and snow-capped mountains.

"Whoa, Charlie," Don said, coming in behind him. "How much did this cost?"

"Don't worry about it," Charlie said and stuck his head in the bathroom. It was huge, bigger than Charlie's first apartment, including a multi-person hot tub, glass-walled shower and something Charlie thought might be a bidet, though he'd never seen one before. A separate vanity area held piles of thick, fluffy towels and lots of little bottles of shampoos and such. Next to the vanity was a mini fridge that Charlie knew was stocked with all sorts of goodies.

"Really," Don said, "This has to have set you back a ton."

"What else am I going to spend my money on?" Charlie said lightly. If this weekend went well, it would more than pay for itself. If not… well… drinking myself into oblivion doesn't cost much.

Their luggage was already sitting on one of the beds, though the bellhop must have broken at least two laws of physics to drop it off before they got there.

Charlie took off his coat and tossed it on the nearest bed. "Let's go to dinner, I'm starving."

Don looked around the room, rubbing his cheek as he took it all in. "Two beds," he mused. "Good thing, or else I would think I was expected to 'put out' for a place this nice."

Charlie gave Don a smile he hoped looked innocent. "My motives are purely selfish. I like to travel nice."

"I'll say," Don said but his eyes lingered on Charlie's for a long moment, as if he was trying to decide if Charlie was telling the truth.

"Venison," Charlie reminded him. "Let's go eat."

After another long look, Don nodded, took off his coat, and followed Charlie back out into the hall.

Dinner was amazing. Not only was the food and wine delicious, but Don seemed to be relaxing again. As they enjoyed fresh bread with goat's cheese butter and a salad with cranberries foraged from the nearby woods, Charlie began to see flashes of the old Don. Less jumpiness and more smiles, though his tiredness now showed even more. While they worked their way through a wonderful dish of venison with juniper berries (though they didn't taste like any berries Charlie knew), accompanied by honey glazed carrots and mashed sweet potatoes, Don smiled more than Charlie had seen in a long time. By the time that they got to the almond chocolate crème brulee, Don seemed almost like himself again - though a ragged and tired version of himself.

The food and company was almost too good. Charlie would forget himself, forget his purpose here, and relax. Don had always been his favorite person to talk to, and their conversation ranged from sports to math, though there was an unspoken moratorium on anything FBI or Colby. In the middle of some interesting discussion, Charlie would remember and then have to try to get into the mindset of seduction.

Charlie wasn't used to having to seduce his target. He usually just talked and let his excitement about life charm the man into his bed. Don was a totally different matter. Don knew him too well, and Charlie was trying to fight against that familiarity, to redraw himself in Don's eyes as a possible lover. He did everything the books suggested - light touches, lingering looks, suggestive wordplay. Until he forgot and became himself again.

He felt almost as exhausted as Don looked by the time the meal was over, yet he had no idea if he'd made any headway.

They walked back to their room in a suddenly awkward silence. Before Charlie had even shut the door, Don was turning on the TV. Don looked through the offered programs until he found a replay of last year's World Series finale, then settled into the couch and didn't look at Charlie again. Even Charlie could read Don's body language. It said 'leave me alone'.

Charlie sighed and opened his suitcase. He unpacked his things, arranging his side of the room just like he wanted, then sat down on his bed with the latest issue of Fibonacci Quarterly.

Sometime later he looked up from an interesting article on public-key crypto functions to find that Don had fallen asleep on the couch. He put down his book and climbed off his bed.

Don's eyes snapped open as Charlie approached, and his eyes were wide with confusion and alarm as he looked around the room. Then, he rubbed his face. "What time is it?"

"Don't know," Charlie admitted. "Late. Go to bed."

"Ok," Don mumbled and shuffled over to his unpacked bag. He started to open the bag then - with a look at Charlie - he grabbed the whole bag, went into the bathroom and locked the door.

Charlie frowned in frustration, but took the time to get into his own sleepwear - a t-shirt and shorts instead of his usual pajamas.

Don came out of the bathroom, wearing boxers and an old t-shirt. He tossed his bag aside, mumbled "good night", and crawled into bed. He pulled the covers over himself and turned on his side, away from Charlie.

Charlie stood, uncertain as to his next move, then decided that sleep was probably what Don needed most. He turned off the television and the lights, except for his bedside lamp, and got into bed himself. He finished reading the article, though he couldn't really get back into it, turned off the lamp and tried to sleep.

 

Charlie woke, blinking in the bright moonlight shining through the window. After rubbing his eyes, however, he realized it wasn't the moonlight that had woken him, but sounds from the other bed. Don was tossing and turning, groaning quietly.

Charlie sat up in his bed and wrapped his arms around his knees. In the moonlight, Charlie could see that Don had thrown off all his covers and was lying on his back. There was something else that Charlie could see as well…

Charlie stared at the bulge that tented the front of Don's boxers. A hot flush went over him, settling right into his groin. As Charlie watched, Don's hand slid over that bulge then twitched away. Charlie swallowed hard, and he had to shift his own awakening cock in his shorts. Don's hand returned to the bulge, then jerked away again, all the while groaning softly. Charlie watched this happen several more times before he couldn't stand it anymore.

Charlie crawled out of his bed, crossed the room, and sat down on the edge of Don's bed. The bulge in Don's boxers was even more pronounced up close.

Don stirred. "Charlie?" he mumbled.

"Yeah," Charlie said, his eyes going guiltily up to Don's face.

"What…" Don cleared his throat. "What are you doing?"

"Watching you."

"Watching me sleep?"

"Well, that and you keep…" Charlie pointed at Don's boxers. "You keep… touching yourself."

"I do?" Don groaned and thumped his head against the pillow. "Sorry."

"Don't be."

Don shifted and the line of his hard cock showed clearly against the silk of his boxers. Charlie's hand moved by itself, heading towards that so-close temptation, and he had to yank it back.

Don's eyes narrowed.

"Let me..." Charlie whispered, hesitated, then pushed out, "Let me help you."

"Charlie!" Don said, though there wasn't a lot of surprise in his voice. "You know I can't, we can't."

"Why not?" Charlie asked huskily.

"You're my brother!" Don snapped. "How can you say 'why not'?"

Charlie's hand began to move again, and this time he let it. His hand moved across the small gap of space between them and settled on Don's right upper thigh, just below the hem of Don's boxers.

Don stared at the hand - but he didn't shift away.

Charlie slid a finger along the underside of the hem. "There are lots of things that I missed out on as a kid, and I've always regretted never having played 'Doctor' with you."

"Charlie!" Don protested. "We're not nine!"

"No," Charlie admitted. "But what could be wrong with a little game of doctor?"

"I don't think Colby would see it that way!"

"He doesn't have to know," Charlie said, trying to keep his voice low and hypnotic, but still louder than his hammering heart. "Like he doesn't know that I saw you two together."

"Not the same."

"Why not?" Charlie slowly slid his hand upwards, further into Don's boxer leg.

"'Why not' again?" Don snapped. "Zhesh, Charlie, it's worlds different.

"Would you tell him if you jerked off yourself?"

"No, there's no reason to-"

"Just think of me as your extra hand."

Don gave a dry laugh. "Hardly the same."

"No different." Charlie's fingertips reached the bottom of Don's balls and he brushed them lightly.

Don sucked in his breath and a shiver ran down Charlie's back.

"Tell me to stop," Charlie said softly. "And I will. Though I hope to God that you won't."

"I doubt God has anything to do with this." Don's throat sounded tight.

"This?" Charlie said, tickling the base of Don's erect cock.

"Charlie, we can't do this," Don said shakily. "We're not kids and we're not playing doctor. It'll ruin our relationship forever. We can't go back from this."

Time to make your move, Eppes, Charlie said to himself. Or else he's going to talk himself out of it.

Abruptly, Charlie pulled out his hand and climbed all the way onto the bed. "I'm sick of talking," he said and straddled Don's legs.

"Char-" Don started then "Shit!" as Charlie leaned forward on his hands, his lips a mere two inches from Don's cloth-covered cock.

Charlie blew lightly on the cloth and Don shivered. He flicked his tongue out, though still not touching. It was time to use a line that had worked many times before. Charlie looked up. Don had propped himself up on his elbows and was staring down at Charlie with wide eyes.

"You've heard me talk," Charlie said. "Let me show you what else my mouth is good at."

"Charlie…" Don said faintly.

"Let me…" Charlie begged.

Don dropped his head back to his pillow. Charlie held his breath.

"I'm drunk," Don muttered.

Charlie blew out his breath in surprise and shook his head. "No way. A few cups of wine are nothing to you."

"Drunk," Don repeated. "Very, very drunk. That's what I'm going to say when I wake up in the morning and realize how monumentally stupid this is."

Charlie's pulse jumped. "Then I can…"

"Go ahead," Don said huskily. "Show me what your mouth can do."

For a second, Charlie's mouth could only hang open as he gaped at Don, astonished that this might actually work. Do it, he told himself. No mooning around, just get going and give him the best blowjob of his life.

Then Charlie leaned forward and pressed his lips against Don's waiting cock.

Chapter Text

Part 13 - Don wants a suit of armor, but Charlie wants a suite of amour

During dinner, Don might have found Charlie's attempts at romance amusing, if Charlie hadn't been so goddamn earnest. The two of them had just arrived at a remote, discreet hotel, were sitting at a fancy meal, and Charlie was trying to… Don wasn't really sure what Charlie was trying to do.

The whole situation was surreal - cut off from the world, surrounded by luxury, his baby brother behaving like a stranger. A stranger who wanted to get into Don's pants.

Don was used to being chased. With his reputation, his sexy job, and a face that some people thought handsome, women - and a few men - often threw themselves at him. He tended to think pretty poorly of such people, to assume that their self-esteem was low and their prospects limited. But Charlie suffered no lack of self-esteem and no lack of prospective lovers. Don found Charlie's pursuit baffling and unsettling. His relationship with Charlie was been one of the few core relationships in Don's life, had been since Charlie was born, and Charlie was trying to change it.

From a detached standpoint, Don could say that Charlie was attractive, in a geeky, professor sort of way. He wasn't Don's type though, as much as Don had a type. Don was attracted to a whole range of people, but with men Don usually went for powerful, large men - stereotypical tops. Charlie was in every way a bottom, and now that Charlie knew Don was a bottom as well, they weren't compatible. Not to mention the whole thing about being his brother.

Incest , Don succinctly told himself as he ate his dessert of crème brule.

Of course, Charlie would think a simple thing like one of the oldest taboos in the world shouldn't stand in the way of whatever he wanted. Don knew that Charlie wasn't really serious, not in a romantic way. Charlie was just trying to prove a point - that guy sex didn't have to be quick and dirty.

Charlie had gone to extreme lengths to prove a point before - usually involving nearby burning down the house - but this was crazy.

Still, Don was enjoying the dinner. The food was great and Charlie was going out of his way to be entertaining. There had been a few moments where Don actually felt a little like himself again - which hadn't happened in a long time.

He couldn't truly relax, though. As the big brother and apparently only sane one at the table, Don needed to walk the fine line between enjoying himself and giving Charlie any encouragement about his bizarre seduction. Don had the feeling that he'd have to be walking that line the whole weekend, but that seemed a small price to pay for the great food, luxurious hotel room and a break.

After supper, Don hurried back to the room and turned on the TV before Charlie could get any ideas. He found a replay of last year's World Series finale and started watching it, though he knew the ending would bum him out all over again.

Inevitably, he fell asleep on the couch, not even making it to the second inning. He was always so tired these days. It made his brain foggy and his mood sour.

Much later, he woke from a dream where he was running around the baseball diamond, chasing the second baseman with his gun drawn and yelling about murders and rapes.

Charlie was standing right next to him. Don mumbled something and dragged himself off the couch and over to his suitcase. He started getting out his sleep clothes, but thought better of it and took the whole suitcase into the bathroom.

In the bathroom, he pulled on his silk boxers - then wished he'd brought something a little less romantic, like a suit of armor. At least the t-shirt he pulled on was old and stained.

He almost fell asleep again while brushing his teeth. He threw his dirty clothes into the bag and left the bathroom, nothing but sleep on his mind.

The clean, soft bed felt heavenly and Don fell quickly asleep.

Sometime later, Don was dreaming again. He was chasing Colby around the baseball diamond, yelling about murder and rape. This time, instead of a gun, he was holding onto his cock, but it was cold and hard like a gun.

Don woke to the dull, throbbing pain of a long-denied erection. Through some quirk of fate, he and Colby hadn't had sex in the last two days and his body, accustomed now to multiple orgasms a day, was complaining loudly about the 'dry spell'. He shifted and tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't close his eyes for long. Even though the room felt cool, he was sweating heavily. He pushed aside the covers and stretched out, trying to ease both the heat and the erection.

A few more minutes of attempting to sleep, he sighed and opened his eyes - to see Charlie kneeling by the side of his bed. Charlie's eyes were fastened on the bulge in Don's boxers.

"Charlie?" Don said in confusion.

"Yeah?" Charlie said, looking up at him.

"What…" Don started to ask, then the memory of Charlie's silly seduction rushed back to him. He asked suspiciously, "What are you doing?"

"Watching you."

"Watching me sleep?"

"Well, that and you keep…" Charlie pointed at Don's boxers. "You keep… touching yourself."

Of course, Charlie would choose tonight to be observant. "Sorry."

"Don't be," Charlie said, his voice husky. His hand started to creep towards Don's boxers.

"Charlie," Don groaned under his breath.

"Let me..." Charlie whispered, then looked up at Don's face "Let me help you."

"Charlie!" Don said. Help me or help you? "You know I can't, we can't."

"Why not?" Charlie asked, as if he sincerely didn't understand.

"You're my brother!" Don snapped. "How can you say 'why not'?"

Charlie's hand crept forward again and this time settled on Don's upper thigh. The hand was warm and very close to Don's boxers. Don's cock twitched unconsciously.

Charlie started talking about how it would be just like playing 'doctor' and how Colby wouldn't need to know and Don replied automatically, but most of his groggy attention was focused on that hand. He had never looked at Charlie's hands before. They were nice.

Charlie kept talking. It would be no different than jerking off, Charlie argued, and Don could hardly hear his own response over the roar of his body's agreement.

While they talked, Don struggled to wake up fully, marshal his arguments, but the moonlight and Charlie's unusually hypnotic voice kept trying to push him back into the dream world. He was used to arguing with Charlie, sometimes at close range, yet he'd never been so aware before that Charlie had a warm, male body. And Charlie almost always won arguments...

Charlie's fingers tickled the bottom of Don's balls, and Don snapped into full awareness. This is crazy!

"Tell me to stop," Charlie said softly. "And I will. Though I hope to God that you won't."

Don said with difficulty, "I doubt God has anything to do with this."

"This?" Charlie said, tickling the base of Don's erect cock.

"Charlie, we can't do this," Don groaned. "We're not kids and we're not playing doctor. It'll ruin our relationship forever. We can't go back from this."

Abruptly, Charlie pulled out his hand and climbed all the way onto the bed. "I'm sick of talking," he said and straddled Don's legs.

"Shit!" Don said as Charlie leaned close. Charlie's tongue flickered out and almost touched him. Don's body shivered in protest at the close-but-not-close-enough.

Perched over him in the moonlight, Charlie looked like some sort of fey creature, strange and magical. And how moonlight-Charlie was looking at him? God, no one had looked at him with such open desire in a long time, even Colby.

"You've heard me talk," Charlie said, his voice sexy and strange. "Let me show you what else my mouth is good at."

"Charlie…" Don said faintly.

"Let me…"

I'm drunk , Don thought helplessly. I've got to be if I'm even considering this. But even Charlie knew that he wasn't drunk and shot down that idea.

Charlie was so close. He could feel Charlie's breath through the silk boxers. Charlie was so close and so willing and what could it really hurt after all…

"Go ahead," Don said huskily. "Show me what your mouth can do."

Don almost laughed at the flash of surprise at crossed Charlie's face, but the laugh quickly turned into a gasp as Charlie's lips pressed against his cock.

Oh dear God.

Charlie's mouth was warm and soft, familiar yet unfamiliar. His tongue wet the silk boxers, making it cling to the front of Don's cock.

Don fought a surge of panic. Don't worry, he told himself. I'm so hard that I'll probably come in five seconds, and I can just pretend it was a dream.

Charlie must have also realized this because he slid his fingers under Don's shorts and with a couple of quick pinches - "Hey!" Don protested - brought Don back from the edge. His cock was still hard but it was no longer painfully throbbing.

So much for keeping it quick.

Charlie continued to lick and nuzzle him through the silk and Don knew he'd never be able to put on these boxers again without thinking of Charlie's mouth.

Don closed his eyes and pictured a gorgeous woman between his legs. That didn't do much for him, so he tried imagining Colby, but that was ludicrous. Maybe a big, buff man?

Maybe your little brother?

Don opened his eyes and watched Charlie outline every inch of Don's cock and balls in silk. He looked up at Don with one of his gleeful grins and Don found himself smiling back. Realizing what he'd done, he quickly dropped his head back to the pillow and squeezed his eyes shut again.

He felt Charlie peel down his boxers, then take them all the way off, leaving Don fully exposed. Charlie blew on Don's wet skin and Don shivered, feeling the shiver all the way up to his nipples.

Charlie made a little eager sound, something that Don had only ever heard from Charlie in relation to math before, and began to work in earnest. Don quickly lost track of what was fingers and what was tongue, and what exactly those parts of Charlie were doing, but all that mattered was that it felt amazing.

Oh dear God, this can't be happening.

Don tried to tell himself that it felt so wonderful because he hadn't had a blowjob in so long, but he knew that Charlie was actually very good. I shouldn't be surprised. Charlie was usually good at whatever he wanted to be, as long as it didn't involve sports. Besides, any bottom knew that he'd better get damn good at blowjobs if he wanted to get fucked regularly. Tops could never resist a man on his knees in front of him.

Don wanted to say, "Sorry you're wasting your efforts on me, because nothing is going to get me to fuck you," but Charlie tickled Don's balls and the words got stuck in Don's throat.

Don reached down and dug his fingers into Charlie's hair. That hair… Soft, curly, praised by girls, synonymous with Charlie's endless energy and cuteness... With that hair between his fingers, Don couldn't even try to imagine that anyone but his little brother was giving him the blow of his life.

A wave of queasy arousal washed over him. God, this is so fucking wrong.

"Char-Charlie," Don gasped.

Charlie looked up, Don's cock secured between his white teeth, and another wave of feverish arousal swamped Don.

Charlie released Don's cock and asked, "Something wrong?"

"Everything," Don groaned. "God, where did you learn…" The sight of Charlie's moist lips ready to take him in again was just too much. "I didn't tell you to stop," he gasped.

Charlie grinned and returned to blowing Don's mind.

Don's fingers combed through Charlie's curls, reminding him constantly who was swallowing his cock, tugging at his balls, kneading his ass.

Charlie would allow him no quick release from this situation. Charlie brought Don to the edge over and over, never letting him get quite the traction to get over that edge. Don's swearing went from under his breath to fully out loud, interspersed with the name of his tormentor. He gave up on keeping his eyes shut and propped himself up on his elbows, watching Charlie, feeling the reoccurring throbs of arousal of the wrongness of what they were doing.

He saw Charlie reach down to shift shorts over his crotch and realized that Charlie must have a raging hard-on by now.

"Take it out," Don managed to say between pants. "Show me your dick."

Charlie's head jerked up. "God, Don," he mumbled, "Don't just say things like that. I almost bit you in half."

Don chuckled at his brother's discomfort - and the reassurance that the old Charlie was still in there. "C'mon, Chuck, shy?"

"No, I…" Charlie looked up at him uncertainly.

"You must be teeny-tiny," Don teased.

"Ha," Charlie said and shoved down his shorts to reveal a perfectly normal - and very stiff - cock.

As Don stared, Charlie wrapped his own fingers around that cock and began to stroke. Charlie closed his eyes and rubbed his cheek against Don's cock. His panting turned harsh and his face flushed and, with a moaned 'Don', he came, spurting between his fingers.

Don's body throbbed in time to Charlie's orgasm. Charlie's face was red, his eyes squeezed shut, his mouth open and panting, and for the first time in his life, Don thought that his little brother was beautiful.

After Charlie finally finished jerking and his breathing eased, he looked back up at Don with huge, brown eyes and a sort of surprised awe.

Then Charlie shoved his cock back into his shorts and attacked Don's cock with his mouth. Don gave a yelp followed by a groan as Charlie brought him back up to that edge that he'd kept Don on for so long.

But this time, Charlie kept going - his right-hand fingers dug into Don's ass and his left-hand braced him against Don's hip and he swallowed Don's cock all the way down.

Don gave a garbled moan of surprise and warning. Not even Charlie was going to be able to pull him back from the edge now. Indeed, Charlie held on tight and began to hum. Don moaned again then he was over the edge and slamming through a killer orgasm. Charlie held on and Don pumped his cum down Charlie's eager throat, and Don thought he might black out from the release that his body had been screaming for.

Charlie sucked and sucked him until he was soft and tingly. Charlie finally released Don's cock then ran his tongue over Don's spent balls. He rubbed his scratchy cheek against Don's hip.

"Thank you," Charlie murmured.

"Thank you," Don said, his voice sounding as wobbly as he felt.

"Anytime."

Don gave a breathy chuckle and they lay silently together for a long moment.

Damn, that was amazing. Don shook himself and tried to get his head back together. It had been so amazing because he hadn't had an orgasm in what was a long time period for his body. It wasn't because Charlie was so good. It wasn't because he'd felt that sick arousal for having sex with his brother. It wasn't because of the intense desire he'd seen on Charlie's face or felt in Charlie's touch. It was just a matter of time delayed equals bigger orgasm. Simple math, Don thought with a shaky laugh.

With a sigh, Charlie got out of bed and got a towel from the bathroom. He cleaned himself up, then gently cleaned Don as well, though Don was pretty sure not a drop of cum had escaped Charlie's mouth. Charlie picked up Don's boxers, but they were too wet to wear, so Don shook his head and Charlie tossed them onto the floor. Don pulled the covers over his bare lower body. It felt too odd to be half-dressed, though, so he took off his t-shirt as well and tossed it aside. Charlie got up from the bed, looking at him wistfully, then turned to go to his bed.

"Stay here," Don said, before he'd even realized he was going to say it. "Sleep with me."

Charlie blinked at him, then his face bloomed with that familiar hopeful eagerness that Charlie had once reserved for times when Don let him tag along with him and his friends.

"C'mon," Don said, pulling the covers aside with a crooked smile

Charlie quickly climbed into bed and settled into Don's waiting arms. Charlie gave a happy little sigh and snuggled close against him. His back was to Don and his ass pressed against Don's crotch. Don thought wryly, Sorry, Buddy, that's as close as you're going to get with that. I'm not even sure I could fuck a man now if I wanted to. I'm too much of an ass whore.

Don smiled as Charlie's curls tickled his nose. Charlie smelled familiar, and, in some crazy way, his warm body felt familiar and comfortable in Don's arms. There was no sane reason why Charlie should feel so right nestled against him. It was probably just that Don hadn't slept with someone in so long. Colby never stayed and, before that, Don hadn't asked anyone to stay in a long time.

Tomorrow Don would worry about the implications of what they'd just done. He'd probably need to leave and go back home, though Colby could never know about this. No one could ever know about this… fit of madness. He might have to burn those boxers.

Tonight, though, he could just relax and enjoy Charlie's cozy, contented presence.

"Goodnight, Buddy," Don murmured, but Charlie was already asleep.


Chapter Text

Part 14- Don dozes while Charlie is dazed

“Goodnight, Buddy,” Don whispered, but Charlie pretended he was asleep. Charlie didn’t trust his voice at the moment not to shake.

In fact, Charlie felt like his whole body must be shaking. He mimicked deep breathing while his mind went insane.

I just sucked off Don. I just gave Don a blowjob. I just put my mouth and hands on his cock until he came down my throat.

It was such a familiar fantasy for Charlie that it was almost impossible to comprehend that it had just happened. Don had even asked Charlie to jerk off while he watched. Charlie had buried his face in Don’s groin and come harder than a quick hand-job should ever justify. Charlie had then looked up at Don’s face, and Don had been smiling with a sort of surprised pleasure. It was all Charlie could do to stop himself from saying something really stupid. Swallowing Don’s cock prevented any romantic words coming out of his mouth. It was a very effective distraction as well.

‘Sleep with me’, Don had said – another fantasy that had come true. He’d undressed, giving Charlie a quick look at his fine chest, then gotten back into bed. Charlie was acutely aware of Don’s naked, warm body pressed against his back, Don’s strong arms wrapped around him. Charlie wanted to turn in those arms and kiss Don. He wanted to feel Don’s mouth against his, breathe Don’s breath. He focused on pretending to sleep like his life depended on it.

Soon, Don’s breathing evened out, his arms relaxed and Charlie knew Don was asleep in truth. Charlie gave up pretending and opened his eyes.

He had no real idea why Don had agreed to the blowjob. He could only assume that Don didn’t think it was a big deal. That it really was like masturbating, like Charlie had ridiculously asserted.

To Charlie, it was a big deal. To Charlie, it was everything. In one white-hot moment, that one act had burned away all of the barriers that Charlie had put up in his life. It had burned clean all the pretense, all the justifications, all the self-lies. Charlie now saw, with shattering clarity, that there was really only one man for him, had always been. He loved Don. He loved Don, with all the singular focus of a photon beam. He knew Don’s faults and loved him anyway. He’d seen Don at his best and his worst and loved him anyway. Not just like a brother. Like a lover, like…like everything. It was simple and obvious in retrospect. But right now, it felt like he was standing at the end of a 500-mile linear particle accelerator and a hyper-accelerated near light-speed particle of Truth had just smashed into his chest.

Charlie gulped for air and Don stirred against him. Charlie closed his eyes and practiced his breathing exercises. He tried to focus on his heart rate but all he could think of was that it was his heart that had gotten him here, to this moment of bliss, discovery and…fear.

Looking back, Charlie could see that he’d always had two driving motivators in his life – his love for math and his love for Don. Sometimes those two had been in conflict and he’d usually chosen math. It was easier to explain than his unspoken attachment to his brother. But his love for Don had always been the tether that pulled him back, the magnetic core that drew him inexorably into Don’s orbit. He’d fought it, consciously and unconsciously, but one touch of Don’s hands in his hair, one moaning ‘Charlie’ from Don’s lips, and all his battles were lost.

He’d never be able to have sex with another man. Ok, no, he could have sex, but that other man would undoubtedly be able to tell that Charlie wasn’t fully present, that Charlie would prefer another lover.

This weekend had supposed to have been an opportunity to help Don break from Colby, and maybe let Charlie get in a few long-craved touches. Instead, it felt like the end of the universe, like he’d been casually walking along then tripped and fell into the next Big Bang.

The Big Bang was the beginning too, not just the end.

Charlie listened to Don’s breathing, felt the warm exhale on his neck, and felt a glimmer of hope. The odds of Charlie having gotten this far were so slim that maybe luck was favoring his forbidden desires. He didn’t believe in luck, but here was Don and here was he.

The morning was going to be bad, ugly. Don would be furious or disgusted, or probably both. Charlie wanted to hold onto this moment of peace as long as he could.

One of Don’s hands was resting on Charlie’s stomach and Charlie carefully placed his own hand over it. There were so many things he wanted to say to Don, to explain, but they could wait. Charlie fixed into his memory every sound, smell, even the taste of Don’s cum in his mouth. He imprinted on his skin the sensation from every point of contact between his body and Don’s.

Charlie closed his hand around Don’s and prayed that his universe-shattering luck would continue.


Chapter Text

Part 15 - Don teaches Charlie another reason to love Baseball

Charlie woke to a mouth pressing at his neck, a hand snaking up his shirt and an erection rocking gently against his tailbone. He froze, sure that Don was mistaking him for someone else.

"Char-lie…Char-lie…" Don murmured in a singsong voice.

Charlie jerked in surprise and his eyes opened wide.

"I know you're awake," Don said, nuzzling the back of Charlie's neck. "It's not morning yet, is it?"

Charlie looked over at the window. The moon had gone down, but the sun hadn't risen yet. He automatically calculated that it must be about 5:30 AM. Charlie didn't bother to ask the significance of it still being night, because he was afraid he knew - Don had put off thinking about what they'd done until morning. But if Don continued to touch him this way, Charlie felt the sun could damn well never come up and they could lay forever in the dark.

"Um, no, not morning yet," Charlie said shakily.

"Good," Don purred, then begin to lightly nip Charlie's shoulder. His hand continued to make its way up under Charlie's shirt, combing fingers through his chest hair.

"I love hairy men," Don said, in the same low, sexy voice that made Charlie tremble. "I miss that with Colby."

"Mm," Charlie said vaguely. The last subject in the world he wanted to talk about was Colby.

Don pressed his erect cock more firmly against Charlie's tailbone.

"Already?" Charlie asked, then instantly regretted it.

"Already," Don replied. "It must be waking up, wrapped around you…I mean wrapped around someone."

"Ah," Charlie said. His heart was pounding so hard, he was sure Don could feel it through his chest.

Don's hand left Charlie's chest and slid downwards…right over the growing bulge in Charlie's shorts. Charlie shuddered with pleasure and surprise.

"I'm not the only one, I see," Don said with warm chuckle.

"Well, it's you," Charlie said, then bit his lip.

"Me?" Don said sharply.

"I mean, it's what you said," Charlie stammered. "About not often waking up with someone wrapped around you."

"Ah," Don said, returning to that low, sexy tone that was doing 30 to 40% of the arousing. "I'd forgotten how nice it is. I should do it more often."

Charlie bit his lip again, holding back words like, 'yes, please' and 'any time' and 'every night as long as it's with me'.

Don slid his hand back up over Charlie's stiffening cock. "Take off your clothes."

"What?" Charlie gasped.

"Take off your clothes," Don repeated.

"Why, what do-"

"Just take off your clothes, dork," Don laughed.

Charlie thought he might come right then, with those words said in Don's familiar banter.

"Ok," Charlie said, breathlessly. He reluctantly pulled out of Don's hands and got out of the bed. It was chilly outside the body-warmed covers, so he quickly stripped off his clothes and got back under the covers.

There he stopped, unsure what to do next. What did Don want from him? How far would Don go, here in the darkness?

"Lay the way you were before," Don said.

Charlie complied, pressing his bare skin against Don's. Don's chest hair tickled his back. Don's pubic hair tickled him much lower down. Don's cock pressed lightly against his ass and Charlie shivered. Would Don fuck him? While that wasn't what Charlie wanted the most, it would still be beyond his wildest dreams.

"It's been a long time since I last did a hand-n-hump," Don said, his left hand sliding over Charlie's hip.

"A wh-what?" Charlie stammered.

Don's hand kept moving, over Charlie's hip bone, until that warm hand slid over Charlie's cock.

"Oh, God," Charlie gasped.

Don chuckled. "Nope, just me."

There's no 'just' about you, Charlie thought to himself, but mostly his brain was going, Don is holding my cock Don is touching my cock Don-is-holding-my-cock Donistouchingmycock Donishold-

Charlie took a deep breath, trying to pull back from that brink that Don had instantly brought him to.

"H-hand-n-h-h-hump?" Charlie reminded Don.

"Yeah," Don said, his fingers lightly playing over Charlie's cock. "Old baseball trick."

"Huh?" Charlie replied, and his confusion was enough to finally calm his impending orgasm. "Baseball?"

"Yeah," Don said, kissing Charlie's neck.

Charlie waited but Don didn't say anything more. "But what is it?" he asked.

"Mmm," Don said, nuzzling Charlie's hair. "Your hair really is soft."

"Don…"

Don paused in his kissing, stopped his light touch on Charlie's cock, and then sighed. "You've gotta understand, it's like the Fight Club thing. You know, how you're never supposed to talk about it."

"But-"

Don continued, "But I've never been able to deny a man when I'm holding his dick."

Charlie laughed breathlessly, mostly because Don had called him 'a man' instead of his brother.

"So," Don said slowly, "When you're in a pro team, you do a ton of travelling. So much that you tend to lose track of where you are."

"I always knew what city you were in," Charlie said.

"Well, guys are almost always away from their girlfriends, their wives, and they-we-get horny."

"Okay…"

"So there are you naked in the showers and horny. I tended just to jerk off-"

That gave Charlie a very clear and very intoxicating image, so that he almost missed the next thing Don said.

"But there's another way to deal with it - The team captain introduced me to it, the hand-n-hump."

"Which is?"

Don made an uncomfortable sound and returned to slowly drawing lines up and down Charlie's cock. "What it is - it's a guy comes up behind another in the shower, and asks if he 'Needs a hand'. If the guy in the shower wants to, he soaps down his dick. Then the guy behind strokes the man's dick while getting himself off against the man's ass."

"Whoa, really?" Charlie's mind filled with images of group showers full of stroking and humping men. "This happen…a lot?"

"Yeah," Don said, suddenly sounding nostalgic. "And if the guy coming up behind the other guy wants to fuck him, he holds out his hand to get soap from the guy in front. If the second guy is okay with being fucked, he puts soap in the first guy's hand and bends over."

"Whoa…" Charlie said faintly.

"And if the guy in front wants to be fucked instead of humped, he can put soap in his hand, and offer it to the guy behind him. If the other guy takes it, the first guy bends over. If not, it's just a hump."

"Wow," Charlie said, the images in his head almost enough to distract him from Don's warm body.

"It's a simple system," Don said, and Charlie felt him shrug. "Few words have to be exchanged, so the guy in front might not even know who's in back. Works out nicely."

"That is astonishing," Charlie said.

"Eh, no big deal," Don said dismissively. But Charlie knew Don too well and heard the tension in Don's voice. It had been a big deal, at least to Don.

"No big deal," Charlie agreed awkwardly.

"But why are we talking about it?" Don said with a cheerfulness that felt forced. "When we can do it?"

Charlie didn't know what to say - then he couldn't have said anything if he wanted to. Don slid his free hand past Charlie's neck and held him around the shoulders. Don took his left hand, spit on it, and then began to stroke Charlie in earnest. Don's cock rocked against Charlie to the rhythm of his strokes. Charlie settled back against Don and let Don's sensuous, familiar hands work their magic.

Don must have done a lot of 'hand-n-hump'ing in his baseball days because his stroke was perfect. Charlie held on with both hands to the arm that was around his shoulders.

Too soon, Don brought him back to that sweet precipice that just thinking about Don had brought Charlie to so many times. This was exponentially better, though, since it was Don's hands and not his own.

Charlie held back his orgasm with all his might, just for another few seconds of Don's hands on him. His teeth clenched and his fingers dug into Don's arm.

"Relax," Don gasped, "Let it happen."

Charlie groaned and let go. His orgasm surged under Don's fingers and, with a painful ecstatic shudder, he came, moaning Don's name with his release.

Don gave a guttural growl and slammed his pelvis against Charlie's ass. Don slammed faster and faster until, with another growl, sprayed hot cum across Charlie's back. He continued to bounce against Charlie for a long moment. Finally he slowed to a gentle rocking, like he'd been doing when he first woke Charlie up.

Charlie blinked spots from his eyes. His whole body ached because of how tight he'd been clenching all his muscles to stop from orgasming.

"Much better than in the shower," Don gasped, and they lay wrapped together for a long, breathless moment.

Don stretched, and then draped his arms more loosely around Charlie.

"Sorry, Buddy," Don mumbled against Charlie's neck. "That's as close as you're going to get to me fucking you."

Charlie opened his mouth, but no words came out. Don had actually sounded regretful. Did that mean…what in the hell did that mean?

"Why not?" Charlie asked before thinking.

"C'mon," Don said, idly running his fingers over Charlie's cum-covered belly. "You know."

"Huh?"

Don sighed, something which Charlie seemed to make him do often. "You saw me with Colby."

"Yes, and?"

"And I'm a bottom, for god's sakes."

Charlie blinked. Don had said the word 'bottom' like it was a foul word. He protested, "It's not a bad thing."

Don's sigh was deeper and he wiped his hand off on Charlie's chest. "That's easy for you to say. People expect you to be a bottom, with your looks and your job and everything. Me, I'm supposed to be a top, an Alpha male. If people knew I was a bottom, I'd lose all credibility. Colby has totally lost respect for me."

Charlie bit his lip hard to stop a torrent of words welling up inside him. Who cares if you're a bottom? Colby's lost all respect for you because you let him treat you like garbage. You let him treat you that way because you think 'bottoms' deserve it? Where in the hell did you get that stupid idea? I never would treat a bottom that way. Charlie took a breath then let it out slowly. This was obviously a sore spot for Don, and equally obviously, Charlie couldn't let Don know that he himself was a top. It would make Don feel even more terrible.

"Don," Charlie said carefully, "Bottom or top is just a sexual preference, what you think feels best, not some sort of moral statement."

"Ha!" Don responded bitterly and Charlie knew that he better drop the topic.

"I have to tell you," Charlie said, reaching back and running his hand down Don's hip. "I really love baseball. Great game."

Don chuckled, and his good humor seemed to be restored. "It's my second favorite game," he murmured, placing a kiss on Charlie's shoulder.

"Great game," Charlie repeated softly, once again wishing he had the nerve to turn and kiss Don.

"Now, get up," Don said cheerfully. "And get us some towels, or we're going to be stuck together all night."

"Doesn't sound bad," Charlie said, but he reluctantly pulled himself out of Don's arms and made his way on wobbly legs towards the bathroom.

Charlie wiped himself down and carried another towel to the bed. He stood, staring at Don, who had thrown aside the covers and was lying naked and relaxed on the sheets. Don looked like a satisfied sultan.

"Hey, Chuck," Don said, in a tone of voice that implied he'd called Charlie's name more than once. "Towel?"

"Oh," Charlie said, jerking back into motion. He handed the towel to Don and watched Don slide the towel over his body.

Don smiled at him. "Not used to being woken up in the middle of the night, eh?"

Charlie blinked. "Um, no, and twice."

Don's smile widened as if he was remembering the earlier blowjob. "C'mon back before you fall asleep standing."

Not likely, not as long as I can see you naked, Charlie thought, but he climbed back into bed.

Don quickly pulled the covers back over them and settled Charlie into his arms, a position that already felt wonderfully familiar.

"I could get used to this," Don muttered.

"Me, too," Charlie responded, hoping his voice sounded more casual than he felt. Inside, he was jumping up and down and yelling, Yes, yes, yes! His brain was just starting to catch up with what had just happened, and he felt like he was going to jump out of his body with happiness.

"See you in the morning," Don said sleepily.

And Charlie's interior gymnast tripped and fell, smack, onto the cold floor of reality. 'In the morning' felt like a death sentence. Maybe it even was. Maybe Don would wake up and walk out of the hotel and never allow Charlie near him again. Would he hate Charlie? No, it would be more like Don to hate and to blame himself.

Don didn't realize that denying Charlie at least some sort of interaction with him would be like denying a plant the sun or denying an electron its charge, like denying a chalkboard its chalk or denying an animal its food or…

Like denying me my Don.

Charlie pressed his lips together to hold back a whimper. He squeezed Don's hand tightly, closed his eyes, and calculated the probabilities of some sort of freak astronomical or meteorological event that would delay the dreaded morning.


Chapter Text

Part 16: Don looks inside while Charlie lurks outside.

Don woke slowly, making a leisurely way out of sleep. He woke on his own terms, with no blaring alarm clock, no ringing cellphone, no demanding lover. He felt happy and well-rested, two feelings that he hadn't experienced for a long time.

His mind reluctantly pieced together recent memories. Hotel in the mountains, delicious supper, incredible blowjob, sleeping naked with his arms wrapped around…

Oh God.

Don's eyes snapped open and he looked around. Charlie was sitting on the bed nearby, reading a book. He was fully-clothed, thank God. Charlie had taken a shower and his curly hair was not quite dry. That hair that had softly brushed against Don's belly, while Charlie sucked his…

Don sat upright and stared at Charlie.

Charlie looked up from his book and gave Don a shy smile. "Sleep well?"

Don continued to stare at him, having difficulty reconciling this normal, day-time Charlie with the Charlie that whispered and gasped and shuddered against him.

"There's breakfast over there," Charlie said, waving to something behind Don. "French Toast with lots of butter, your favorite. It's almost lunch time, so it's probably cold. But the chef promised that he'd make a fresh batch for you whenever you woke up, even it was midnight."

Don blinked. Breakfast? Charlie was talking about breakfast?

"Do you want me to call the chef now?" Charlie asked.

Don made a garbled sound and bolted out of bed. Then he realized he was naked, and grabbed a pillow to cover himself. Not that Charlie hasn't closely inspected everything already. Don backed quickly away from Charlie and bumped up against the table. Cutlery rattled and Don looked over his shoulder. Four thick slices of buttery French toast were on a plate, along with fruit and orange juice.

Don's stomach abruptly roared to life. He was starving. Don grabbed behind him with one hand and found the juice glass. He drank the fresh-squeezed orange juice in three gulps, still watching Charlie out of the corner of his eye. He set the glass back down and snagged to two slices of French toast. He stuffed one slice into his mouth… then realized what he was doing. I'm always starving after a night of spectacular sex.

The orange juice tried to crawl back up his throat and he choked. He backed up quickly until he stumbled into the bathroom. He slammed the door closed. Then locked it. Then put a trashcan in front of it.

He turned to the sink and spit out everything in his mouth then tossed the other slice of French toast into the trash. He looked at himself in the mirror, taking in his wide, shocked eyes and scruffy chin, and gripped the sides of the sink to hold himself up. He was shaking, shuddering, his entire body rejecting the memories of last night that kept intruding into his consciousness.

There was a soft knock on the door. "Don?" Charlie called. "Are you okay? Can we just-"

Don shook his head as if he could avoid Charlie's voice and swung open the glass door to the huge double shower. He turned on the water and the spray slammed ice-cold into his face. He gasped and put his head down so the water pounded on the top of his head. Quickly the water warmed, until it was painfully hot, but Don still let it pour over him.

He braced his hands against the tile wall and waited until his body adjusted to the temperature. It was a very familiar position. He'd stood in this position many, many times, waiting for someone to join him…

His thoughts were bouncing around his head, like hundreds of bullets ricocheting back and forth, so he seized on this one small, slightly less insane thought - I can't believe that I told Charlie about the hand-n-hump.

It had been strongly impressed on him - both with words and fists - that he could never talk about what happened in the shower stalls of his minor league baseball team. But maybe it wasn't so strange that it was Charlie who he finally admitted it to. When Charlie was very young, Don used to tell him everything, and Charlie would listen attentively, staring at him with adoring eyes.

You know, that same look that he gave you when-

"Hand-n-hump," Don mumbled to himself. "Focus on that."

When the team captain had introduced Don to the practice, Don had thought it was just a joke, hazing for the brand-new wide-eyed rookie. But after Don had agreed to do it with the team captain - a big man with huge, talented hands - other players had approached him. Don had been surprised, but had liked it. Nothing like a physical release after the tension of a pro game. The team captain had then taken Don to the next level, fucking him with a cock as big as his hands, and explained the signals to use. At first, Don had been uncomfortable that this was a condom-free practice, but with each fucking, Don had cared a little less.

News had soon spread around the clubhouse about the rookie who never said no. Don had usually gotten one or two 'visitors' every day in the showers. Sometimes he had stood in the shower until he had been wrinkled and pruny, hoping for someone to come along and give him his daily dose of hand-n-hump.

At that time, Don hadn't been just getting sex in the showers, he had been also taking up the many offers of baseball groupies - usually young, athletic women. He'd once shared a bed with five lovely ladies and been able to keep them all happy.

I was much younger then, though, Don thought to himself as the hot water poured over him. Now I can't keep one man happy.

In the clubhouse, Don's range of visitors had grown. Sometimes the hands that circled his cock had been old and gnarled, sometimes they looked barely out of high school. Don had enjoyed being fucked by a range of cocks, with a range of skill. His sex drive had been sated and happy. Too bad his baseball hadn't been going as well.

Don had known he was talented at baseball, talented enough to make the Bigs if he had focused on it. But during a game, Don's mind would stray to who might be his sexual partner or partners after the game. He had looked at men's hands and forearms and determined which men were his frequent humpers or fuckers. Then he had gotten lost in remembering how each man felt.

One day, the hitting coach had praised him for being such a great 'team player' - with a glance at Don's crotch that had made it clear what he was referring to. The coach had said that such great team players could make it to the Bigs on that particular talent alone.

For a little while, Don had been pleased by that idea. Once he got to the Bigs, he would be able to concentrate more on baseball.

Then had come that fateful day, his last day in pro baseball. They had been playing a day-night double-header - a morning game followed by an evening game against the same team. Don had done well in Game 1 and must have caught everyone's eye, because after the morning game, it had felt like he was humped or fucked by most of the team, half of the coaching staff, the janitor, and maybe even the popcorn vender. By the time the second game started, Don had been stiff and sore, with contact bruises on his tailbone, finger bruises on his hips, and an asshole that had been inflamed and raw. He just couldn't ever say 'no' to anyone.

In Game 2, he had been up to bat late in the game, facing a gassed pitcher who was lobbing fat juicy pitches. Don had made good contact with the ball and it had shot into this stadium's 'triple's alley'. The outfielder had just been jogging towards the ball and if Don had been even half of his normal, he could have easily turned it into an in-the-park home run - touching all four bases before the outfielder could get the ball back into home plate. As he was, Don had barely made it to second base, where he had stood wheezing and hunched over.

As he had straightened up, Don had looked towards the dugout and seen his team clapping and cheering for him anyway. In that moment, he'd had a perfectly clear vision of his future - mediocre player, but used by hundreds of men to get their rocks off, so he was a team favorite. Don had realized with crystal clarity - I'm the Team Whore.

He'd left baseball the next day, ignoring all pleas to stay.

In the shower at the hotel, Don shook his head and turned off the water. Those had been dark days for him, haunted by the fact that he could have stayed in baseball and succeeded, but only if he kept saying 'yes' to all those men who asked, 'Need a hand?'

After a while, he'd come home to LA, and found solace in the familiar places and in his family.

Family , Don thought with a jolt and looked at the locked and barred bathroom door. On the other side of the door was his little brother. The same little brother that had let him hand-n-hump him. Something that seemed so natural in the middle of the night, he know realized had been unnatural, perverse.

He had forced himself on his little brother. He knew that Charlie could never say 'no' to him about anything, so he'd taken advantage of that willingness and humped him. He'd destroyed one of the few real relationships in his life for just another round of quick sex.

He hated himself more at this moment than he'd ever had before.

Wait, wait, Charlie had asked for it… Oh, is that going to be your lame excuse? I molested my little brother because he 'asked for it'?

Don shook his head. He'd gone too far this time. He had to go out there, apologize to Charlie - though no apology would be enough, and get out of this place. Maybe he'd take Charlie's car and drive east until he found a police station and turn himself in. Or, better yet, drive the car off a nearby cliff and end his miserable existence. That's the only way he could stop disappointing the ones he loved. He'd long ago accepted that he would always be a disappointment to himself.

He looked around the sumptuous bathroom and sighed wistfully. He'd hoped to spend more time at this luxurious hotel, but he'd screwed that up, just like he'd screwed up so many things before.

Slowly, Don dried himself off, and then pulled on a plush bathrobe from the shelf. He straightened his shoulders, moved the trashcan blocking the door, and put his hand on the doorknob.

Time to face the music.

Chapter Text

Part 17- Don runs from himself

Don steeled himself and opened the bathroom door. Charlie was standing a few steps away, clutching a book, his eyes wide and anxious.

Don stopped and stared.

Sense memories shot through him - how Charlie had smelled, the sight of Charlie perched over him in the moonlight, how Charlie's hair had felt against his cheek, the moaning sound Charlie made when he touched him in a new place, how Charlie's shoulder had tasted when he kissed the skin.

Panic took a tight grip on Don's throat. He had to get out of here right now before he did something stupid - something stupid again. In Don's stomach, panic fought with the urge to take Charlie into his arms and reassure him.

Frantic, he looked around the room and his eyes lit on his bag. He remembered seeing his running shoes in there.

"I'm going to go running," Don blurted out. He grabbed his bag and went into the bathroom. He quickly changed into a tee-shirt and shorts then pulled on his socks and running shoes.

He came back out of the bathroom and Charlie was still standing in the same spot.

"Don, please!" Charlie said. "We really need to talk."

"This place has an exercise room, right?" Don snapped.

"Uh…" Charlie said, "I don't remember for certain, but there's a high probability."

"Good," Don said and strode out the door. He hurried down the hallway, not knowing where he was going but desperate to put distance between him and Charlie. He was never going to be able to look at his little brother the same way, never return to their familiar friendship. It would affect his whole life, even his other relationships…

A thought struck him, struck him with such force that he staggered and grabbed the wall.

He'd cheated on Colby.

After all Don's promises of fidelity, after all the reassurances he'd given Colby that his jealousy was misplaced, he'd cheated on him. And with his brother, someone who Colby should be able to completely trust Don with.

Self-loathing washed over him. Colby had been right all along. He'd known that Don was a cheating piece of trash and couldn't be trusted. No wonder Colby watched over Don like a jealous hawk. Don was a hound and always had been.

Somehow Don managed to get back to his feet, down the hall and into the elevator. He stared at the buttons until the words 'Exercise Room' penetrated his brain. He pressed the button and watched the lights blink down. On automatic, Don left the elevator, found the empty exercise room, got on a treadmill, and started it up.

He fiddled with the treadmill settings for a moment, but he wasn't able to keep his thoughts tamped down for long and the truth rose up in its full ugliness.

He was a hound, a whore, an out-of-control sex-fiend with no morals or boundaries. He ran and stared out the glass wall, at a pristine panorama of woods and mountains, and thought about when he joined the FBI.

He'd taken the FBI psych evaluation like everyone else, but he was sure he was the only applicant in his class that was told to meet the FBI shrink afterwards. Somehow this lady shrink had seen through his answers to the sex fiend underneath. She was concerned that he was a sex addict and, since Don worried the same, he opened up more to her than he might have otherwise. He didn't tell her about the hand-n-hump, of course, but enough.

She quizzed him for an hour but finally decided he wasn't an addict. He only occasionally watched porn, never did computer sex or phone sex. He had interests other than sex and rarely masturbated. He didn't like anonymous sex, had engaged in group sex only a few times, and had never had financial problems because of sex. Another sign of a sex addict that Don didn't have was a lack of emotional connection with a sexual partner. If anything, Don had too much of a connection with his partners. He put himself into every encounter, left a little piece of himself behind with every partner.

With the sex in baseball showers, Don wouldn't have liked it as much if he couldn't later match up the hands that had held his hips with the hands of his teammates and coaches. He felt such a thrill when he recognized an earlier partner and could match a face to a cock. He loved repeat partners and if they got traded to another team, felt the loss like a breakup. More than once he'd fallen in love with such a man and followed their careers after that like old boyfriends.

Don gave a bitter laugh. He'd really honed his detective and observation skills in figuring out who had met him in those showers, never knowing he'd be making a career with those skills.

So the FBI shrink had decided that Don wasn't a sex addict, just 'very friendly' with an 'unusually high sex drive' but recognized boundaries and honored the word 'No'. She scheduled him for an extra Sexual Harassment seminar and cleared him to join the FBI. 'Besides,' she had told him, 'your sex drive will mellow as you get older.' Little did she know.

Even though Don had been convinced he didn't fit the criteria of a sex addict, he had known that there was still something abnormal about him. Bradford, his current shrink, probably said it best when he had called Don a 'connection junkie'. Don loved that moment of connection when his partner lost control and turned into a pure, orgasmic creature. There were no lies at that perfect moment, no agendas, no miscommunication. He could connect with another human being on the most direct level possible. When he'd gone too long with it, Don craved it, hungered for it. An odd thing was that he'd been feeling that craving lately, even though he got tons of sex with Colby.

So you went and made a 'connection' with your brother.

Don stumbled on the treadmill and had to right himself. There it was, the reason that Don had panicked when he'd seen Charlie, the reason that Don had ran away to the treadmill. Don had made an incredible connection with his little brother, better than with Colby, better than with anyone he'd had been with in a long time. And it hadn't even involved fucking.

He'd had sex-committed incest-and loved it. He'd had sex with his brother, but much worse than the guilt of having done it was the shame, the utter shame, of wanting to do it again.

Don stared out at the peaceful landscape and longed for ignorance. He could never unlearn what he had learned last night. He could never look at his brother again and not know how good Charlie felt against his body, how wonderful his mouth was, how his eyes shined when he made Don come.

Most of Don was horrified at what he'd done, furious at himself for being so stupid, and certain that he needed to leave the hotel right now, then leave southern California. But there was a small part of him, a very vocal and insistent part, which wanted to make that terrible mistake again and again. He would now be forever torn between his brain and his desires. There was no finding ignorance again.

So he ran and ran and ran. He ran on the treadmill until his legs trembled, he ran until his head was swimming and he had to hold on to the rails, he ran until his body just gave out and he collapsed. The treadmill dumped him onto the floor, wheezing and nauseous.

He lay there, staring up at the distant ceiling, his heart hammering against his chest.

He wanted peace.

He wanted quiet.

He wanted freedom from the aching emptiness of his life.

He wanted his gun.

Someone opened the door to the room and gasped, "Are you okay?"

Embarrassment gave Don the jolt of adrenaline needed to get him to his feet.

He gave the man in exercise clothes a weak smile. "Just overdid it, thanks."

"Do you want me to call someone?"

"Just need a shower."

"They have a sauna, you know. It works great on overtired muscles."

"Sounds good," Don said. "Have a good workout." He limped out the door.

That jolt of adrenaline carried him a few steps down the hall, then he had to hold onto the wall and shuffle along on trembling legs. Doggedly, he made his way towards his hotel room. It wasn't until he was fumbling his key card into the door that he remembered he'd now have to face Charlie again.

The door swung open under his hands. Charlie stood gaping as he took in Don's sweat-soaked appearance. Don pushed past him into the room… then stopped, swaying, at a loss for what to do next. Across the room from him was the vast panoramic window. The mountain landscape beyond the glass promised peace, quiet, and an end to the unceasing ache in his heart.

He took a step forward.

"Don," Charlie said hoarsely.

Don's eyes automatically swung to Charlie. His little brother stood beside him, and his face was awash in with some strange emotion.

"Don," Charlie said. "I need to tell you something."

Chapter Text


Part 18 - Charlie gives weights to his options

Charlie woke early, the sun barely over the horizon. At first he was afraid to even twitch, worried he'd wake up the man next to him. But not just any man…it's Don next to me…

Charlie shivered in delight that the night before with Don hadn't been just a dream. For a while, he just watched Don sleep. Don was lying on his back, his left arm over his eyes. His right hand was resting palm up on Charlie's pillow, fingers touching Charlie's hair. Don's bare chest rose and fell with deep, even breaths.

God, he's so beautiful, Charlie thought, his own chest tightening with something like pain. He'd always thought Don handsome, gorgeous, attractive, and any other similar appearance-related adjectives. But it wasn't until last night, when he saw Don laying naked on the bed, his face and body relaxed post-sex in a way that Charlie had never seen before, that words like 'beautiful' and 'Adonis' had come to mind. Charlie desperately wanted to see Don like that again, happy and unburdened. Not that it's likely, once he wakes up and realized what I tricked him into doing.

Charlie lay still and watched Don for as long as he could, but he eventually needed to get up. He eased himself out of bed and used the bathroom. When he came back into the room, Don had turned onto his side, exposing his perfect ass. Charlie stared, walking slowly towards the bed. His hands itched to squeeze those round cheeks, his mouth watered as he thought of pulling those cheeks apart and exploring Don's asshole with his tongue. He wrapped his arms around himself. He didn't think Don would appreciate that kind of awakening, not after making it clear last night that things would be different in the morning.

Charlie shuddered in dread. He wanted to just crawl back into bed with Don, but he forced himself to take a shower. As the water poured over him, he listened for any sound that might be Don coming to join him, but no such luck. He finished his shower, combed out his hair - particularly knotted from rubbing against Don - and got dressed. He shaved carefully, trying to make his face as smooth as possible, just in case.

Back in the room, Don was still heavily asleep, though he'd pulled the blankets back over himself. Charlie sighed a little at the loss, but Don was still beautiful and still in Charlie's bed. Charlie got a book out of his bag and pulled the desk chair over next to the bed. He opened the book, but just sat and watched Don sleep.

Before long, however, Charlie's stomach began to rumble. He had expended a lot of energy last night, after all. He took the hotel phone into the bathroom and called room service. He asked for two orders of French toast, fruit and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Then he called them back to make sure he could have another order of hot French toast if Don didn't wake up soon. The chef was happy to agree and Charlie was smiling as he went back out to the room. He knew Don loved French toast.

The morning went slowly by. The food came and Charlie ate his share. Don snored on. Tired of the desk chair, Charlie carefully climbed onto the bed next to Don. He sat up, on top of the covers and opened his book again, but his eyes were on Don.

Eventually, near noon, Don began to stir. Charlie held up his book and quickly started to read again.

Don yawned, mumbled, stretched - and then sat bolt-upright.

Charlie looked up from his book to see Don staring at him, a stunned expression on his face. Trying to project calm, Charlie asked, "Sleep well?"

Don continued to stare at him, expressions flashing over his face too quickly to read.

Charlie pointed at the room service tray on the table, hoping Don didn't notice that his hand was shaking. "There's breakfast over there. French toast with lots of butter, your favorite. It's almost lunch time, so it's probably cold. But the chef promised that he'd make a fresh batch for you whenever you woke up, even it was midnight."

Don's expression flickered again then settled on horrified.

Swallowing his dismay, Charlie casually asked, "Do you want me to call the chef now?"

Don made a garbled sound and scrambled away from Charlie, out of bed. He glanced down at his naked body, and then grabbed a pillow to cover himself. Charlie hid his disappointment while Don backed quickly away from him. Don bumped into the table, then, as if on automatic, chugged down a glass of juice and ate a slice of French toast, all the while keeping his horrified eyes on Charlie.

He grabbed a second slice and backed into the bathroom and slammed the door closed. Charlie heard the lock click and a sound suspiciously like something being dragged in front of the door.

Charlie jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom door. His hands were still shaking as he knocked on the door. "Don?" Charlie called, his voice shaking like his hands. "Are you okay? Can we just try to talk a little? Please?"

Charlie started to knock again when he heard the shower turn on and he slowly lowered his hand.

"Okay," he muttered to himself. "It could have been worse." Don could have run screaming from the room, he could have hid behind the couch and thrown things at Charlie. Instead, Don had eaten and taken a shower. "Could have been worse," Charlie repeated out loud.

Charlie stood and listened to the shower for what felt like hours. Eventually, though, it turned off and Charlie tried to steel himself for the fight to come. After another moment, the door opened and Don stood there, steam puffing around him.

He was in wearing one of the plush white bathrobes, his hair still wet and spiky, and looked so desirable that Charlie's body ached. Then all thoughts about desirability vanished when he met Don's eyes and saw the panic there.

Charlie tried to say something, but his mouth wasn't working. They stared at each other for a painful moment, then Don's eyes darted away, sweeping over the room as if he was looking for an escape. His eyes settled on his bag, which Charlie had carefully stocked with anything Don might want.

"I'm going to go running," Don said quickly, grabbing the bag and holding it against him like a shield. He dashed back into the bathroom before Charlie could form a reply.

Don emerged in a t-shirt and running shorts and didn't look at Charlie as he pulled on socks and shoes.

"Don, please!" Charlie finally managed. "We really need to talk."

"This place has an exercise room, right?" Don snapped.

"Uh…" Charlie said automatically, "I don't remember for certain, but there's a high probability."

"Good," Don said and strode out the door.

He slammed the hotel door behind him and Charlie was left alone, words finally coming, now that it was too late.

"Please, Don," Charlie whispered, "I never meant to hurt you…"

Charlie watched the door for a moment, until it was clear that Don wasn't coming back any time soon. Charlie sighed and sat down heavily in a nearby padded chair. He realized he was still holding his book and let it fall with a thump to the floor.

He banged his head against the back of the chair and muttered, "Now what?"

He obviously hadn't handled that well. At least Don was still at the hotel. Unless he decides to literally run away… Charlie reassured himself that they were miles away from anywhere and that it was freezing outside, so Don probably wouldn't leave on foot. Taxis, on the other hand, would be easy to call.

Charlie sighed again, staring up at the ceiling. What about his huge self-revelation last night? That he was in love with Don and had always been? That Don was the only man on the planet for him? Should he tell Don?

A year or even six months ago, Charlie would have assumed he could predict Don's reactions to any stimuli with a small margin of error. In the last six months, Charlie had seen a new and frightening side of Don, and he now knew any probability analysis would have been fatally flawed. At this moment, Don was so fragile and miserable that Charlie couldn't even predict Don's reaction to a baseball game with certainty, let alone predict his reaction to such a revelation from Charlie. Six months ago, Don would have been pissed at Charlie's attempts at seduction, probably taken a swing at him. Six months ago, Charlie would have never even thought of telling Don about his feelings. Six months ago, Don wouldn't have let Charlie anywhere near his naked body.

But after they had experienced such intimacy? Had things fundamentally changed? Charlie was still Don's brother, his little brother, and that fact still weighed heavily in every analysis.

Charlie settled into the chair and tried to think logically. He thought of each possible outcome of a revelation of his feelings - disgust, surprise, fear, running away, happiness, totally cutting ties with Charlie, nonchalance, turning Charlie and himself in for the crime of incest, etc. Charlie tried to put a weight on each possibility, though he lacked data, or really any understanding of how Don's brain worked. Should all of the experiential data he had collected on Don over the years be discarded? Charlie's model of Don Eppes couldn't be reconciled with the reality of a Don who let Colby abuse and control him. Charlie needed to construct a whole new understanding of Don, and to do that, he needed to be close to Don, not exiled by Don's revulsion.

Charlie sighed yet again. It's settled, then. There was nothing to gain by telling Don now that he loved him. It would only confuse things, when Charlie needed to focus on his immediate goal - getting Don away from Colby. Later, when Don was better, maybe Charlie would tell him, or maybe Don need never know. Certainly he didn't need to know today.

Decision made, Charlie picked up his dropped book and tried to read. Don's panicked face kept blocking out the words and he found himself rereading pages several times before he even noticed what he'd done. It was a really interesting book too, about a new approach to longitudinal data analysis, and could really help Charlie's work with the FBI. That's if I ever get to work with them again after this weekend. After 15 minutes, he realized he hadn't progressed past the same page and tossed the book aside in disgust. He jumped up and began to pace the room.

After what felt like an endless, anxious wait, Charlie finally heard Don at the door. Don seemed to be having difficulty with the lock, so Charlie rushed over to open the door.

The Don that stood outside the door looked like he'd aged 10 years. He was soaked with sweat, grey-faced and trembling. He pushed past Charlie - then seemed to have used up the last of his energy. He stood there swaying, staring out through the window to the winter landscape beyond.

Charlie came around to Don's side - and what was on Don's face sent a cold stab of fear into Charlie's chest.

Charlie had seen the look on Don's face before. It had been just a few times before, but each time was imprinted deeply on his memory. It was the look of a suspect who had stopped caring about anything, who saw no escape, no hope, no future. It was the look of a suspect who was about to raise his gun, force the FBI's hand. It was the look of a suspect who was about to deliberately walk into a bullet.

"Don…" Charlie said hoarsely.

Don's hopeless eyes swung to look at him.

All of Charlie's carefully constructed arguments collapsed. There were no longer any other factors in the analysis, only Don, and the only outcome that mattered was getting that doomed look out of his eyes. Even if that meant Charlie bringing a massive weight of derision and revulsion down upon himself.

Charlie steeled himself then said, "Don, I need to tell you something."

Chapter Text

Part 19 - Charlie fights Don's numbness with numbers.

Don waited numbly for Charlie to say whatever it was, so that he could go back to the window and its beckoning oblivion.

Charlie cleared his throat then said, "Don, I… I love you."

Don dredged up a slight smile from somewhere deep inside. "I know." It had been a while since Charlie had said that to him, and usually only when one of them had almost died.

"No," Charlie said his hand waving in a familiar sign of frustration. "You don't know, because I didn't know until last night. I love you."

"Okay," Don mumbled. "I got it." He began to turn away.

Charlie grabbed his arm. "I'm not talking about as a brother, though of course I love you as a brother and I always will, even if you don't love me as a brother anymore after this."

Don began to feel irritated. Charlie was stopping him from ending his pain, and wasn't even making any sense. "What are you talking about?" he snapped.

"I'm talking about…" Charlie released his arm and stepped around in front of him. "I'm talking about how I feel about you, that you are the most wonderful man I've ever met and I want to be with you, in every way."

Don's irritation shifted to uneasiness. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that I finally realized why I could never find the right person to share my life with, why I could never find what is sometimes called 'The One'. I had already found my One but I just refused to see it. You are my One. You are everything I've ever wanted in a man, in a partner, and I am 100% in love with you."

Don's jaw dropped. "Uh?"

"You heard correctly," Charlie said, looking perfectly calm. "I love you, Don Eppes, I love you equivalent to the highest degree that any person has loved another. Romantically."

Don took a step back from him. "Charlie, I'm your brother!"

"I had noticed," Charlie nodded. "But this is separate from that-no, on top of that. Give me any definition that people use to decide if they're in love and it will describe the feelings I have for you."

Don just stared at Charlie for a long moment, his overwrought brain struggling to take in this wild revelation. Charlie loved him? As in, love love? His little brother was in love with him? He couldn't seem to connect what Charlie was saying with any sort of reality.

Don stammered, "This whole weekend was about you… and me?"

"No. Well, yes, but not really. I just wanted to get you away from Colby, try to show you that sex could be gentle, caring and still be fantastic."

"But sex with you?"

"I had big hopes," Charlie said, and Don thought he could finally hear tension leaking through that calm façade, "Though I knew it was a highly risky gamble, definitely counter-indicated in terms of desirable outcome."

"You think?" Don snapped. "Charlie, what am I supposed to do with… this?"

Charlie smiled softly. "That's the thing, Don, you don't need to do anything. I will love you regardless of what you do. You don't need to 'win' or 'earn' my love. I know your good sides and bad sides and I still love you. I love you regardless of your job, your haircut - though I prefer it long, or your batting average."

Don grimaced. It was an unpleasant jolt every time Charlie said the word 'love'.

"Look," Charlie said, "No one will ever love you more than me. I can show…" Charlie looked around, his hand shaping like it held chalk. "I wonder if the concierge could find me a chalkboard." His eyes landed on the big picture window. "Okay." He rubbed his hands together.

He looked so much like the Charlie that explained things to his team at the FBI that Don blinked a few times to try and clear his vision.

"Now," Charlie said in a professorial tone. "If you take into account years of acquaintance…" He huffed on the window and started writing numbers in the condensation with his finger. "Weighting those numbers on the age we met, coinciding with the formative years of your life, adding in how many different eras of experience you went through while my feelings for you continued unchanged…"

Don watched Charlie write out numbers with his usual speed, having to breathe on the window over and over to create his 'chalkboard'. Charlie's usual patter flowed out with his numbers, Don catching phrases like 'duration of emotional state', 'inverted absence ratio', and 'upward trending intensity'. Charlie added in more numbers, representing things like 'familial ties', 'equivalent cultural upbringing', 'shared experiences', and even 'how much I like to watch you play baseball.'

Charlie finished the equation with a flourish and turned back to Don, a triumphant grin on his face. Don couldn't help smiling back. Charlie looked so normal, radiating delight with proving his point. He also was red-faced and breathing a little hard from all that blowing on the window.

Abruptly, Don remembered the last time he'd seen Charlie red-faced and gasping and all of Don's blood went straight to his cock. He wanted to grab Charlie and… molest him again. Fucking sicko, he growled at himself.

"So you see," Charlie said, still smiling, "No one can love you as much as I do."

Don shuddered. "Charlie, how can you even say that any more, after what I did to you last night?"

Charlie blinked at him. "You mean the hand-n-hump?"

Don grimaced at that phrase coming again out of his brother's mouth. "Yes," he said with gritted teeth. "That."

Charlie frowned. "What about it? It was good, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was good," Don snarled. "Damn good when I force myself upon my little brother."

"F-force?" Charlie stammered.

"Groping you while you're asleep, rutting against you like some sort of animal, molesting you like the sick bastard I am."

Charlie had been staring at him while he talked, his mouth open. "B-but Don, I came over to you, remember? I talked you into the… first thing we did."

Don frowned, he'd sort of glossed over that in his self-disgust.

Charlie continued, "Just one touch from you was worth… Last night was better than the best fuck I ever had."

Now it was Don's turn to stare. It was finally penetrating his brain how much his little brother wanted him. He remembered how Charlie had looked, perched over his body, and the utter longing he'd seen in Charlie's eyes. He wasn't sure that anyone had ever looked at him like that before, ever wanted him so much that it he could almost feel the desire radiating from his skin. At that moment, Don had known on some level that Charlie was in love with him. That was part of the horror he'd felt when he came around this morning.

"Don," Charlie said firmly. "If there was any forcing, it was me. I set up this situation, I made all the first moves. Hey, I was the one first doing the 'groping you while you're asleep'. I put you into a heavily-weighted situation so you'd say 'yes' to me. I was being selfish, but I was also desperate to help you from this… deep pit you've fallen into."

"Deep pit," Don echoed under his breath. That was a severe understatement and if Charlie only knew how close he was to…

Don looked at Charlie, at the hope and fear on his familiar face, and a flash of heat and recklessness swept over him.

"You say you love me," Don said in low, dangerous voice.

"Y-yes," Charlie said, then "Yes" more firmly.

"You say you really love me, more than anyone else can."

"Yes, I do."

Don grinned fiercely. "Then prove it."

Chapter Text

Part 20- Don aims for the deep end and Charlie tries to keep his head above the water

"Uh," Charlie said, warily. Don using that voice usually meant bad things for Charlie. "How do you want me to prove that I love you?"

"I want you to-" Don started to rise from his chair, then crumpled back down again. "Ugh. I think I might have over done it a little on the treadmill."

"You might have?" Charlie said. "Have you looked in the mirror? You're a wreck."

Don gave him a crooked smile. "That didn't sound very loving to me."

Charlie felt a little frisson of excitement with that word coming out of Don's mouth. "Then you don't know much about love." Charlie's heart was thumping hard. He had told Don, and Don hadn't thrown up, hit him, or stomped out. Not that he could do much stomping at the moment.

Don shrugged one shoulder. "Then maybe I don't know much about it." He tried to rise again and this time Charlie caught his arm and helped him up. Together, they shuffled over to the bed. Don sat down heavily then flopped on his back on the bed.

"Ugh," Don commented.

Charlie looked down at him. "You're going to stiffen up if you just lay down like that. Let me give you a quick massage."

Don raised his eyebrows.

"A non-sexual massage," Charlie said quickly.

"There is no such thing," Don mumbled but rolled over onto his stomach.

Charlie rubbed his hands together to warm them up. He'd actually taken a series of massage and physiology classes - once he discovered that nervous bottoms were more likely to give their ass to him if he'd loosened them up first.

Charlie climbed onto the bed and tried to calm and center himself. Still, when he touched Don's sweat-soaked shoulders, he felt a tingle of electricity. He bit his lip and went to work, focusing on each muscle group, instead of the fact it was Don's muscles he was kneading.

The fact that it was Don - and this was supposed to be non-sexual - came back to him with a jolt when he almost started on Don's ass. The major muscles there really needed to be worked through also, but Charlie didn't think he could his hands on that glorious ass - even through clothing - without losing his calm. He already had a growing erection at being able to touch Don at all. He skipped over the ass and moved instead to Don's upper thighs. Beneath him, Don gave a low chuckle.

Charlie thoroughly warmed up the back of the leg muscles then had Don turn over.

Don did without complaint, a relaxed smile on his face, and Charlie worked over Don's arms, chest and legs. Don had his eyes closed, but there was a definite smirk on his face when Charlie skipped over his groin area.

Charlie finished and sat up, feeling relieved that he hadn't made a fool out of himself.

"Damn, you have nice hands," Don mumbled.

Charlie flushed. "Thanks." He resisted the obvious rejoinder that Don also had very nice hands - especially when they were jerking him off.

Charlie's cock gave a warm throb and Charlie quickly climbed off the bed. He clenched his hands at his sides. He'd never been so close to his wildest desires and yet so far away. Don's face and words this morning had made it clear that Don felt regret and horror about their activities last night, and would never let it happen again. Charlie's hands clenched so hard that he dug his fingernails into his palms. God, I want to suck his cock again…

Don sat slowly up on the bed and gave Charlie a mysterious smile. "Go change into your swimsuit and get yourself one of those bathrobes."

"Okay…" Charlie said cautiously. Was Don going to send him out into the snow or pose some other sort of chilly challenge to 'prove' his love?

Grinning at Charlie's hesitation, Don waved his hand towards the bathroom.

Charlie grabbed his bag, went into the bathroom and fumbled his way into his swim trunks. "Are we going swimming?" he yelled through the door.

"No," Don yelled back.

Charlie frowned and pulled down a super plush white bathrobe like Don had been wearing earlier. Charlie came out of the bathroom to find Don in similar attire - no shirt, but swim trunks and a fuzzy white bathrobe. The bathrobe was open and Don's thin swim trunks clearly showed he also had an erection. Don quickly tied his bathrobe closed, but Charlie began to feel a little more hopeful.

"Now what?" Charlie asked. "If we're not going swimming …"

"Actually a quick swim would be a good idea."

Charlie eyed him. "As opposed to…?"

Don grinned again at him - that grin that was a little too eager, a little too manic. "C'mon, let's find out what this getaway of yours has for a pool."

Charlie followed Don out the door and down the hallway. The signs directed them to the second floor. They emerged from the elevator into a breathtaking area of white and crystal blue. One entire wall - the one facing out to the snowy landscape - was floor to ceiling windows. The pool had steam rising from it, with a separate whirlpool on the far side. The space continued around a corner, presumably to the dressing rooms. There was no one else in there.

Don whistled appreciatively and hung his bathrobe up on a nearby hook. Charlie's admiration of the pool area was cut short by his admiration of Don.

Don's body was strong and firm, lightly haired, and perfect. Charlie had seen many male bodies that were more muscular than Don, with broader shoulders or longer legs, but Don was the body that Charlie had - unconsciously for the most part - compared all other men's bodies against. Charlie had seen Don naked before, but only in the faint light of the moon. The bright crisp light of the pool area illuminated Don's every muscle and curve, except for that ass which was frustratingly covered up.

Charlie just watched Don walk across the tile floor, watched the muscles move under his firm skin. Don reached the edge of the pool and smoothly dove in. He resurfaced and looked back for Charlie, who was still just two steps into the room.

"Gonna join me, Chuck?" Don laughed.

Charlie nodded jerkily and pulled off his robe. He hung it next to Don's and headed towards the pool. Under Don's gaze, he felt awkward, ugly, just like a gawky fifteen-year-old again.

However, Don's eyes narrowed with appreciation as he watched Charlie walk towards him. Trying to look casual, Charlie slipped into the pool feet first.

"You can dog-paddle around while I swim," Don teased.

"I can swim!" Charlie protested.

"I'm going to go a few laps to get the last of the stiffness out."

"And then what?" Charlie asked, but Don was already swimming away.

Charlie followed and they both swam laps for a few minutes. Charlie stopped first, and just hung out on the edge of the pool, watching Don powerfully cut through the water and remembering how those muscles had felt under his fingers. The massage had been so tantalizing. He so wanted to explore Don's body with hands and mouth, discovering all the ticklish spots, all the arousing spots. He sighed, knowing that last night's encounters were as much as he would ever get. Still, he could watch. And remember.

Charlie was so focused on watching Don's mostly-naked body that he didn't realize at first that Don was swimming towards him. Don dove under the water then, almost skimming Charlie's body, and he resurfaced very near him.

Don shook his head to get rid of the water and moved even closer to Charlie, until there were just a few inches of water between their bodies. Charlie could feel Don's exhale on his face.

"You like to watch me, don't you…" Don said huskily.

"Yes," Charlie whispered. He was sure that if he moved forward to kiss Don that Don would move back.

"You want to touch me, don't you..."

"Yes…"

Don gave that low sexy laugh that sent tremors over Charlie's body. "You're never going to be able to forget what it was like, are you…"

Charlie's grip on the pool edge was weakening, and he was floating centimeter by centimeter closer to Don. "No…"

Don pushed back from Charlie and laughed again. "Swim time's over, Chuck." Then he turned and swam over to the stairs.

Charlie dropped his head back against the pool's edge and groaned. It was going to be a very long weekend.

"Oh, Charlie," Don called singsong from nearby. Charlie looked over and Don was standing a few feet away, wet and dripping, his swim trunks clinging to his body.

When Charlie's eyes finally got to Don's face, Don flashed that wild grin. "You still haven't proven yourself to me."

Chapter Text

Part 21 - Don turns up the heat and Charlie gets burned

"B-but…" Charlie stammered. "You're the one who wanted to go for a swim."

"I told you I was a little stiff," Don laughed. "Now, get out of the pool, Chuck. I'll get your robe."

Don turned and walked towards where they'd hung their white bathrobes. Charlie scrambled out of the pool, grateful that Don's back was turned while he made his ungraceful exit. He hadn't felt so self-conscious, so sure that his physique was lacking, since he'd been a teenager. Don pulled on his robe then brought Charlie his. Charlie quickly pulled it on and tied it shut to cover himself up.

Don didn't comment, just turned and walked over to a button on the wall that said: 'Call for an attendant, for any reason.'

Charlie then noticed for the first time that a few other people had come into the pool area, and were now relaxing in the far whirlpool.

Don pressed the attendant button and waited, smiling his strange smile at Charlie. A uniformed man quickly arrived and Don spoke quietly to him, then offered him a twenty. The attendant waved off the money but nodded in agreement.

"C'mon, Charlie-boy," Don said, and walked around the corner of the L-shaped room. Charlie followed and found himself facing a dizzying number of doors marked things like 'Massage', 'Cleansing' and 'Facials'. He had forgotten the hotel had a full spa.

Don headed towards a door marked 'Sauna'. He held open the door and waved Charlie in. Then he shut the door behind them, and they were alone in a dimly-lit, hot room with wooden benches and a wooden floor.

As Charlie's eyes adjusted to the low light, Don tossed his robe onto the far bench and headed towards the heater. There were several pitchers of water sitting nearby, and Don took one pitcher and poured it over the heated rocks. Steam billowed out from rocks and quickly filled up the room, obscuring everything.

Nervously, Charlie removed his robe and sat down on a bench. Would this 'test' that Don was setting up for him require long hours in wet heat? Charlie heard Don moving around but couldn't tell what his brother was doing.

When the steam started to thin, what Charlie saw made his jaw drop. Don was standing in front of him, completely naked. His fine body was wet and glistening, and his cock was fully stiff and upright.

Charlie stared, open-mouthed, at the cock and then slowly brought his eyes up to Don's. Did this mean…?

Don chuckled. "As much as I appreciate the invitation, not this time."

"Huh?"

"Close your mouth and take off your trunks. The attendant will make sure that no one comes in until we leave."

Charlie closed his mouth and reached out for Don, but Don shifted away with a grin. Charlie fumbled out of his trunks, struggling to get his very erect cock out of the wet suit.

He tossed it aside - then jumped in surprise when Don gracefully sank to his knees and moved between Charlie's knees.

"I thought…what are…do you want…? Why…" Charlie stammered.

"Relax."

"Relax? With you…what are…? Is this my test?" Charlie finally managed.

"Yeah," Don said, scooting close enough that Charlie could feel his breath on his thighs.

"How is…? You wanted to see if I would let you?"

Don didn't reply, just nuzzled Charlie's inner thigh, inches from his cock.

Charlie continued, "Of course, I would let you! I'd do anything you ever wanted, and I do mean anything, but how does this prove I love you?"

"Just shut up, Charlie," Don said and buried his face where Charlie's thigh met his torso, rubbing Charlie's balls and cock with his cheek. Don inhaled noisily. "You smell so good."

Charlie blinked. "Like sweat and chlorine."

"Like you," Don said hoarsely, then he licked up the side of Charlie's cock.

Charlie whimpered and put his hand on Don's hair.

"Hands to yourself," Don chuckled, and Charlie could feel Don's laugh against his skin.

"Why?" Charlie gasped. "Is that my test, not to touch you?"

"Just relax," Don said. "And let me work."

"Work? Is this onerous? Because I could-"

Don made a negative sound and sucked Charlie's cock into his mouth.

"Oh God," Charlie groaned. Those lips were around his cock and that tongue and those fingers were sending shivers of pleasure through him. Don's mouth was as sinful as it had always looked. Charlie struggled against being overwhelmed by the sensations.

"I don't understand," he gasped. "I thought you regretted what we did last night. Why are you doing this now? How does this prove anything other than… Oh God…that you're amazing?"

Don pulled off Charlie's cock and glared at him. "Will you just shut up and let me blow you?"

"Yeah, yeah," Charlie stammered. "Sure."

As soon as Charlie let go of worrying about what this meant, the pleasure washed over him. Don was very good at his 'job' and watching that familiar face and those familiar fingers doing such things was overwhelming. Charlie breathed shakily and tried to keep his eyes open and focused on Don, when his eyes wanted to close in enjoyment.

Between Charlie's knees, Don was making happy noises. His fingers left off their teasing of Charlie's cock and balls and Don ran his hands up and down Charlie's thighs. He seemed to like the feel of Charlie's ugly leg hair. His hands then ran up Charlie's torso, as high as he could reach while still keeping Charlie's cock in his mouth. More wet body hair was rearranged by Don's touch and Charlie tried not to feel self-conscious.

Don's mouth let go of Charlie's cock with a pop and Don shifted around. He put one hand on the base of Charlie's cock to hold it steady, and the other hand on his own cock and began to stroke.

Charlie moaned and dropped his head back against wooden wall, finally giving into the experience.

Don's tongue and lips were rapidly bringing him to orgasm.

"Slow down," Charlie begged.

Don didn't reply, but did ease off a little, allowing Charlie to gulp down some much needed air. The heat of the sauna, added to Don's incredible 'test', was making Charlie feel a little light-headed.

As if Don could sense his distress, he eased off even more, pulling off and nibbling Charlie's thighs and balls. Charlie looked down and just the sight of Don's familiar head between his thighs was enough to make Charlie light-headed all over again.

Don sat back. "Charlie, you have to breathe."

"I'd rather… not breathe," he gasped. "Then have you stop."

Don smiled, looking pleased.

Charlie ventured more. "Just to have you who I've wanted so much for so long be doing this would be enough to make me breathless, but so is the fact that you are…wow, spectacular at it."

Don's smile dimmed. "I've had a lot of practice. Tops expect it from me."

Charlie winced, then put on a smile. "By all means, then, continue practicing on me. Though I can't imagine you getting even better."

Don smile returned. "I still have a few tricks."

"Can't imagine," Charlie said, opening his knees wider in invitation.

Don's smile became his radiant one, the smile that was #1 on Charlie's list of favorite Don smiles, and then he dove back into Charlie's groin with gusto.

"Unghhh," Charlie said incoherently.

Don said-very quietly against Charlie's skin so that he hardly heard it-"You can touch me, if you want."

"Yes, yes," Charlie murmured and his hands were instantly on Don's hair and face, stroking every inch of Don he could reach. He only wished his arms were a foot longer so that he could grab hold of Don's cock. Instead, his hands slid over Don's skin and Don's own hand returned to lightly stroking himself.

Able to touch Don however he wanted, Charlie inexplicably found his light-headedness vanishing. It was like Don was acting as delightful counterweight.

Don began pulling out his promised 'tricks' and Charlie just held tight to Don's shoulders and moaned, "Don, yes, Don, yes, Don…"

Abruptly, Don wrenched away from him, tearing himself out of Charlie's grasp, and scrambling backwards.

"Wha…?" Charlie said, blinking.

Don was looking at him with a stunned expression, his eyes desperately searching Charlie's face, as if Charlie had just shouted out the answer to some insoluble question.

"What's wrong?" Charlie asked, but Don only continued to stare at him, with fear in his eyes and a slight smile on his lips.

"Nothing," Don answered hoarsely. "Everything. Charlie…"

"What?"

But Don didn't reply, just abruptly returned to what he'd been doing, his mouth again around Charlie's cock.

Charlie didn't have time to try and figure out what had just happened, before his brain was overloaded again by Don. Charlie's orgasm was rising fast and, even though he'd come twice last night, he could tell it was going to be a big one.

He pressed his lips together against calling out Don's name again, in case that was what he'd done wrong before, and just moaned his appreciation. Don started a series of half-second pauses, followed by increased speed each time. Charlie's fingers dug into Don's shoulders as his thighs began to shake uncontrollably. With a muffled groan, Charlie burst through into a mind-blanking orgasm.

Don gave a similar groan and began to shudder himself. The room was suddenly filled with the sharp smell of semen, and Charlie sucked in air as he continued to pump his orgasm down Don's throat. He slowed down, but still his cock kept jerking. Don pulled back his head, so that the end of Charlie's cock was balanced between his red lips and the last spurt from Charlie's orgasm dripped sinfully down his chin.

Charlie would have come again at that sight, if he hadn't just emptied his entire body and mind down Don's throat. Don pulled Charlie's cock back in and gently sucked it until it grew too soft and slid out from between Don's lips.

"Oh, God," Charlie whimpered, feeling like he was made of jelly.

Don grunted in agreement and laid his cheek against Charlie's thigh. His fingers slid idly through Charlie's leg hair, his eyes on Charlie's face.

They simply looked at each other for a long time, as if relearning each other's faces. Don reached up towards Charlie, as if to touch his lips, then dropped his hand and pulled entirely away from Charlie. He slowly shook his head.

"What's wrong?" Charlie mumbled. "Did I not pass the test?"

"With flying colors," Don said, and his voice was suddenly bitter. "Better than I ever imagined."

"Then why…"

"That's a good question, Charlie," Don said, his mouth hardening. "Why? Why now?"

"Why what?"

"Why this getaway now? What tell me about your feelings now?"

Charlie struggled to recover a few brain cells. "Well, this relationship with Colby made things more urgent-"

"A year ago, yes, I could see it. I appeared to be this strong, sexy guy, but-"

"You are a strong, sexy guy," Charlie protested.

Don spoke over him. "But now you know the real me, you've seen me bend over for Colby any time, day or night. You know what I'm really like."

Charlie straightened up, alarm bells ringing. "Please," he said, reaching down to Don. "Please come up here with me."

Don's face darkened. "You just don't get it, do you," he snapped. "This is me, what I am, down on my knees, with another man's cum on my face. I belong down here."

Charlie stared at him, horrified. "Don't say that, you don't belong on the floor."

"Oh, yes," Don said bitterly. "I am the scum of the earth, Charlie. That big brother that you say you love-"

"I do love."

"Is just a hound, Charlie, someone who can only think with his dick." Don's eyes were strange and dark. "I have no shame or morality, just lust. I'm a whore, Charlie, an ass-whore to anyone who'll stuff their cock up my ass."

"No!" Charlie protested. "You aren't-"

"Oh, yes I am, Charlie." Don laughed hollowly. "Look at me now - my boyfriend can't even trust me to go off with my brother without cheating on him. He knew I was a whore and he knew I'd be dropping my pants for any warm-blooded male in the vicinity, even my brother. It's illegal, immoral, and sick, but I can't help myself. Colby's right to keep such a short leash on me."

"No, he isn't," Charlie said, struggling to stay calm. "And I like to think myself as just any warm-blooded male. I seduced you, remember? Besides that, I love you. I would never treat you like Colby does."

Don shook his head grimly. "I deserve it. And you? All those years of being in love with me, you're just in love with your idea of me." He started to stand. "Just get the fuck over this thing, Charlie. I'm not worth it."

"But-"

Don pulled on his shorts and grabbed his robe. "I always thought you were so smart," he said harshly. "If you still love me now, you're a lot more stupid than I thought."

Don pushed open the door to the sauna and slammed it behind him.

Charlie stared, stunned, his knees still splayed wide. He'd known Don was struggling, but he'd had no idea that Don believed such hateful things about himself. And Charlie, with his seduction, had only added fuel to the fire of Don's self-immolation. Maybe this whole weekend had been a terrible, terrible mistake.

Then he remembered that moment when Don had abruptly stopped sucking him and instead looked at Charlie with a look of frightened yet joyful discovery. That look had been an exponential improvement over the doomed look on Don's face when he'd gotten back from exercising.

Charlie got himself cleaned up and dressed. He tied his robe closed with a hard yank and set his mouth in a firm line.

If he'd just driven Don over the cliff, he was damn well going over with him.



Chapter Text

Part 22 – Don tries to drown his perversion, while Charlie offers a life preserver


Anger propelled Don out of the sauna, through the pool area, and out to the elevator. He jabbed the elevator button. How could Charlie be so stupid? How could he keep seeing his fantasy Don instead of the real one? Charlie’s irrational adoration grated on his nerves. He was supposed to be getting a relaxing break from the world, not a whole new set of problems. How could Charlie dump this mess on him, when he just needed one good, uncomplicated relationship in his life?

Don managed to get downstairs and almost to the room with these angry thoughts, before the impact of what he’d done hit him. He leaned against the wall in the hallway and shuddered.

It had been a test, a goddamned stupid experiment, to prove that the connection he’d felt with Charlie last night was just a fluke. If he could show that was just the strangeness of the situation or his recent lack of sex, he could get through this.

But the experiment had gone horribly wrong. Never mind that Charlie’s body had appealed to him on a visceral level. Never mind that it had been deliciously fun to tease Charlie in the pool. Never mind that he’d enjoyed that blowjob more than the giver ever should. Even if he ignored all that, he knew the experiment had backfired terribly when he’d felt that ever elusive connection before either of them was anywhere near orgasm. That sense of flow, of shared truth and emotional nakedness, had always been attached to bodily release, so that Don had simply assumed they were one thing. Instead, it had happened with just Charlie’s cock in his mouth, Charlie’s hands on his skin, and Charlie’s voice begging for more.

When it had happened, Don had pulled back in shock and, he admitted now, more than a little fear. He had known that he should get out of there, out of the whole crazy situation, but Charlie’s draw had been too much to resist and Don had returned to his task. Now he realized that he’d taken the step that they could never return from – deliberate, wide-awake sex. Just so he could prove some point to himself. Well, you’ve proved your point – you’re not only a whore, but also a sick pervert.

“Don?” Charlie asked softly.

Don’s head jerked up and he realized he was still in his bathrobe, in the hallway. He turned away from Charlie and hurried towards their room. He fumbled his way through unlocking the door and dashed inside – straight to the bathroom.

Locking himself in the bathroom, Don knew he was the worst of cowards. He stared at himself in the mirror, wondering if his perversion showed on his face. He’d violated a natural law, destroyed a sacred trust. Had the capacity for incest always existed in him, or had he just degenerated so far that he didn’t have any more barriers? Next he’d be molesting children. Nauseous, he grabbed the sink and held on as the room wobbled around him.

“Don?” Charlie called from outside, his voice soft and concerned.

Don gritted his teeth. Would Charlie just stop saying his name like that? It made him want to comfort Charlie, take him in his arms and… Oh God, I’m not going to be able to stop. I’d thought I’d hit the lowest point in my life, but it was just a waypoint to now.

“Don, please,” Charlie said quietly. “I was trying to help, but all I’ve done is made you feel worse.”

No kidding. He shivered and remembered he needed to get out of his wet clothes. Out of my wet clothes and into Charlie’s bed… He closed his eyes in despair. Oh Charlie, what have you done to me?

“Don, are you okay? I mean, I know you’re not okay— I mean, I know you don’t feel okay, though you really are still worth admiring, even if you don’t think so. I just wanted to see if there was something I could do—Not that I haven’t done enough, and I didn’t mean that sort of help, I just meant if you needed a towel, although the towels are in there with you, or if you needed your clothes or something.”

Don smiled faintly at Charlie’s familiar babble. How could he reconcile that familiarity with this new lust?

He cleared his throat. “Clothes, please.”

“Sure, sure!”

Don waited until he heard Charlie move away, before unlocking the bathroom door. Opening the door, he grabbed the clothes from Charlie’s hands then quickly shut the door again. He shed his robe and swimsuit then pulled on underwear, jeans and a shirt. He stood in the middle of the floor and gazed at the big hot tub. It could fit two people and just think of the teasing he could do to Charlie in private. They might even be able to think of interesting uses for that bidet…

Don shuddered once more, then remembered that he’d seen a mini fridge in the vanity area just outside the bathroom.

He yanked open the door, startling Charlie who was getting dressed himself, and went straight for the fridge. He yanked open the door and stared determinedly into it while Charlie finished dressing.

When he could finally focus on the fridge, he saw a wide variety of alcoholic beverages. He grabbed a fancy-looking beer and tried to open it by hand, but ended up having to use the nearby bottle opener. Hope this stupid beer has enough alcohol in it. He pushed past Charlie and headed to the couch.

Don sat down heavily on the couch facing the TV, propped up his feet and took a long pull from the beer. A few long swallows and his shivering faded. He sighed heavily then said, “Charlie, come over here?”

Charlie appeared instantly, his face as anxious as Don had ever seen it.

“Have a seat,” Don said, motioning next to him.

Charlie sat down carefully, as if he expected Don to start screaming at him again.

Don sighed again, put his arm around Charlie and pulled him close. He rested his head against Charlie’s soft curls and said, “Sorry about that, before.”

“How could it have gotten so bad without me noticing?”Charlie asked plaintively.

“I’m good at hiding my perversions.”

Charlie turned his head so quickly they almost bumped noses.

Don jerked back.

“Don’t say that,” Charlie protested. “You’re not perverted!”

“Most people would consider having sex with your brother perverted,” Don said wryly.

“It’s an antiquated taboo,” Charlie replied. “It’s not like we’re going to produce two-headed offspring!”

“No, Charlie, it’s just that ‘family’ is supposed to be…about something else, something more… special.”

“Don,” Charlie said firmly. “You are special and our relationship is special, this doesn’t change that. Don’t you remember my calculations that showed how much more I love you because of who we are?”

Don couldn’t help an ironic snort. “So you think all brothers should fuck?”

“Of course not!” Charlie said, looking shocked. “Statistically, very few brother pairs, or sister pairs for that matter, would be attracted to each other.”

“Sister lesbians,” Don mused. “That’s kind of hot.”

“And ‘gay brothers’ isn’t?”

Don sighed and ran a finger through Charlie’s hair. “It is hot, that’s the problem. I’m never going to be able to look at you again without getting a hard-on.”

“Really?” Charlie said, looking pleased.

Don rolled his eyes. “You are so shallow.”

Charlie gave a half shrug, and Don had to laugh again, this time with less irony. Don almost leaned in and kissed Charlie then, but that would be another line he couldn’t uncross. Instead, he pulled Charlie close against his side and reached for the remote. “Let’s see what’s on TV.”

“Well, since it’s entirely on-demand programming, anything we want could be on it.”

“Including gay brothers having sex?”

Charlie frowned, as if he was actually contemplating the question. “That would probably not appeal to a large enough population group to include it in their library.”

“Oh, Charlie,” Don said, without any irony this time. Damn, I’d missed just spending time with you.

Don turned on a sports show, pulled Charlie even closer, and poured more beer down his throat.



Chapter Text

Part 23 - Don struggles for normalcy and Charlie has his normal struggles

Don went through the rest of the afternoon in a pleasant alcoholic haze. There were sports on the TV, no possibility of a call from work, and Charlie right next to him, reading some indecipherable math book. He ran his fingers through Charlie's hair and thought how perfect the day was. A time or two or twenty he thought about running his fingers farther down to Charlie's crotch. He knew that Charlie would immediately open his legs and push up into Don's hand.  With just the lightest of teasing touches, Don could bring that delicious flush to Charlie's face. He bet that Charlie's mouth on his cock would feel even better in the daytime…

No, no, no. Right now he needed normalcy. He needed to be able to pretend that the hotel bed at nighttime and the sauna where both special, sequestered places, that this new lust between them - new for him, at least - wouldn't overflow into regular life. Not that this posh hotel was regular, but sitting on the couch with Charlie was regular and normal, even if he hadn't been doing much of it lately.

As for Charlie, a couple of times Don looked over and found Charlie staring at him, an unmistakable hunger in his eyes. Every time he saw that look, he felt a thump in his heart and a jolt straight to his cock. But for some strange reason, that didn't make Don want to jump Charlie right then, though he enjoyed the thought of it. It was just warming to have someone next to him who he knew would instantly respond to any sexual favor Don wanted. And each time Don saw that hunger in Charlie's eyes - and Charlie flushed and looked back at his book, Don felt an odd comfort in knowing that Charlie wouldn't make any demands.

Unlike Colby.

Don immediately chastised himself for that traitorous thought. Colby loved him and it was reasonable for him to expect certain things. But Charlie loves me and doesn't expect me to jump to his demands. Don shook his head to get those thoughts out.

"Everything okay?" Charlie asked.

Don looked over at him, sprawled on the other end of the couch, concern in his eyes. How easy it would be to crawl on top of him, kiss him while they rubbed-

Don shook his head again. "Just trying not to think about work."

"Oh," Charlie said, still looking concerned.

Don continued to look at him, remembering how Charlie looked in the sauna post-orgasm, all flushed and spent.

Under Don's gaze, Charlie began to flush again now. "Um, Don?"

"Yeah, Charlie?" Don replied and his voice came out low and husky.

"Do you…" Charlie said then trailed off.

Don shook himself and stood up. "Want to get more beer? Yes. Yes, I do."

The fridge only had one beer left and it was a horrible flavored one, but Don took it anyway. Drinking the beer, he walked over to the hotel phone. He picked up the phone - then felt a flush of guilt. Surely Colby wouldn't be mad at him for not calling, because he'd had no access to an outside line…

'Come on,' Colby's voice sounded in his head. 'You could have gotten to a phone if you really wanted to.'

Don put the phone down with a bit more force than necessary and stomped away. He took another slug of the horrible beer and remembered what he'd gone to the phone for. He returned to the phone, dialed the front desk, and requested more beer- basic Sam Adams, please.

He went back to the couch, sitting as far as possible away from Charlie, and looked for an old movie to watch.



By the time Don was finished watching Bringing up Baby with Hepburn and Grant - one of his mom's favorites, he felt calm enough so that he could go back to enjoying his day. Charlie had fallen asleep on the other end of the couch, snoring so familiarly that Don got the urge to tickle him - or wake him up with a blowjob. He resisted both urges and just tried to relax into the body he'd overworked in the gym this morning. He hadn't been working out lately as much as he needed to. Maybe because Colby always fucks me when I put on running shorts? No, he knew it was more because he was having a hard time caring about himself. Being a step slow on a confrontation may not kill you, but one of your team instead. He resolved to get back to a regular exercise routine… soon.

Don was hungry early for dinner, as that partially-eaten French toast was a long time ago. He poked Charlie with the TV remote to wake him up. Charlie came to, snorting and blinking and looking so much like his annoying baby brother that Don wanted to jump him. Damn it, damn it, damn it…

Don somehow managed to wake Charlie the rest of the way up without molesting him. "Dinner?" he asked.

Charlie blinked at him. "Is it that late?"

"I'm hungry," Don said. Then added unnecessarily, "For food."

"Oh, okay," Charlie said, eyeing him uncertainly. "Are you leaving after that?"

"Leaving?" Don said. "Why would I…" Right, I should leave. I should get away from him, get back to Colby…and get a harsh beating for taking off on him. Don winced. "I'd rather stay."

"With… me?" Charlie asked, his voice cautiously hopeful.

"Yes, with you. I mean, not with you, but yes."

"Not with me?"

"No, Charlie," Don snapped. "Can we just go have dinner like normal people?" Instead of perverts? Charlie seemed to hear Don's mental comment, since he nodded sadly and stood up.

"No moping," Don grumbled.

Charlie flashed him a sudden, unexpected smile. "Moping? I never mope."

"Hah," Don said, smiling in response. Charlie had a nice smile.

"How could I mope in this place?" Charlie replied, waving his arm to indicate the room, and the whole resort.

"Don't know," Don said and looked around for his room keycard, pretending he hadn't been moping at all himself.

Dinner was as delicious as the night before, though the vibe was very different. Charlie wasn't trying to seduce him this time, rather he just seemed uncertain. Now that he'd succeeded in his mission to show Don what good sex was like - Oh, how he succeeded - Charlie seemed much less sure of himself and what he should do next. His careful attempts at totally neutral topics of conversation reminded Don of when they were kids and Charlie approached him after an argument and tried to get back in Don's good graces. Well, that's pretty much what is happening, I blew up at Charlie and he desperately wants us to get back to being friends again. Friends? How were they going to even be brothers, now that they were lovers?

Don cut off his own thought. They weren't lovers, they were ex-lovers, awkward one-night-stand ex-lovers. Because it couldn't ever happen again.

Don cleared his throat and Charlie looked up from his meal hopefully. It made Don think of the stunned joy on Charlie's face when Don said he could give him a blowjob. Don reached for his glass of wine and said, "How's the grilled red snapper?"

"Good, really good," Charlie replied, "I mean, there's probably better, but maybe I should say that, statistically, um… How is yours?"

Don had to smile. "Good prime rib, but the fancy potatoes are even better. Can you imagine Dad putting thyme and a little tomato in his famous bland potatoes?"

Charlie chuckled and mimicked their father, "'Now, now, you don't mess with perfection.'''

Don laughed too and took another sip of wine. It felt so bizarre for them to be acting normally, like nothing earth-shattering had happened in the last 24 hours.

Don set down his empty wine glass and someone quickly came by to refill it. Don didn't know much about wine, but whatever Charlie had picked had matched his meal perfectly, and not been too sweet or showy. Charlie had picked a different wine for himself and seemed to be enjoying it. Don marveled that Charlie had somehow become a wine connoisseur without him noticing. It was too easy to look at the adult Charlie and see just the gangly, brainiac teenager. But I sure know now that he's a fully sexually mature adult…

"Good potatoes," Don repeated, trying to end the exchange, but on a neutral note.

They finished their meals in companionable silence. The waiter took their plates away and offered them a dessert menu. Charlie picked it up immediately and began studying it.

"You thinking about dessert?" Don asked idly.

Charlie started and looked up at Don, a flush spreading over his face.

Don felt an answering flush over his whole body. "That's not what I meant," he snapped.

"You don't want… dessert?" Charlie asked, the tantalizing flush still glowing in his cheeks.

"No, Charlie," Don said firmly. "I do not need dessert or… dessert."

"Maybe we could get some to take back to our room?"

Don shook his head, reaching for his now-vanished wine glass. Don grabbed the dessert menu and found the listings for alcohol. He waved a waiter over.

"Johnny Walker blue," he said.

"But you hate whiskey," Charlie protested.

"Do I, Charlie?" Don asked sharply. "Are you so sure you know what I want?"

Charlie shut his mouth and looked downward, hunching his shoulders.

Don sighed. He hated hurting Charlie, but his brother was so goddamned sure he knew the answer to all of Don's problems. The fact that the answer was taboo, perverted, and fucking wrong didn't matter to Charlie.

Charlie set down his menu and mumbled, "Nothing for me," to the waiting server.

They waited in tense silence while the waiter brought back a thick glass tumbler and poured a dark gold liquid into Don's glass.

"Double," Don ordered and the waiter poured yet more in.

"Can I take the glass back to my room?" Don asked.

The waiter looked surprised then nodded. Don stood up, grabbed the glass and stalked out of the restaurant. Charlie could deal with the check, since he was footing the bill for this whole ridiculous escapade.

Don had 'sipped' half the whisky before he even made it to their hotel room, and the world blurred pleasantly around him. He stumbled over to the bed, set his whisky glass on the side table, took off his shoes and his pants, and collapsed across the bed. I'll get up in just a minute and put on some body armor, he thought, and closed his eyes.



It took Charlie longer than he wanted to get back to the hotel room, but he couldn't let an arithmetic error in his bill go unchallenged, even if the error was to his advantage. By the time he opened the door, Don was already snoring. Charlie wasn't surprised, giving the amount of alcohol that Don had consumed today. At least the whiskey glass still looked half-full.

Charlie shut the hotel room door and set about getting Don settled for the night. He tried to approach it dispassionately, like he was just dealing with a friend that had crashed at his house after a party, but every time he touched Don, he got shivers. Finally he'd wrestled Don's shirt off and got Don himself under the covers. Charlie took the whiskey glass and hid it on the mantel. He wanted to dump it down the toilet, so that Don couldn't get any more drunk tonight, but he didn't want to make Don mad about it.

Make him mad… Charlie thought. I never thought he would be mad at me for loving him. Charlie shook himself and briskly pulled the covers up to Don's chin. Too bad, Donnie, because I'm not going to stop.

Charlie sat on the couch and watched TV for a while, but soon he also grew sleepy. He hadn't gotten much sleep last night, with the sex then the worrying about the sex. Yawning, he changed into his sleep clothes and brushed his teeth. He turned out the lights then stood by Don's bed, uncertain. Don had made it very clear that sex between them would never happen again. Or at least his words had been clear, though his body language and the looks he gave Charlie implied another thing entirely. What had he said? That he gets a hard-on whenever he looks at me? Well, Don, welcome to my world. Charlie had been getting 'Don hard-ons' since he was a teenager.

Charlie looked down at the sleeping Don and thought about snuggling up against him, maybe even triggering another round of 'hand-n-hump'.That would be low, even for you, Charlie, he told himself. Don would be very angry, and rightly so, that you took advantage of him while he was drunk.

Charlie sighed in frustration. Don was infinity - it didn't matter how much closer Charlie got to him, Don was always out of reach. He turned to go to the other bed.

"Churrrlie," Don mumbled. Eyes still closed, he reached out and caught Charlie's arm. "C'mere."

Charlie happily complied, climbing into bed next to Don. Don pulled Charlie's arm around him then he scooted closer, up against Charlie's side. Charlie could feel Don's breath on his cheek.

"Night," Don mumbled and he quickly settled back to sleep.

"Night," Charlie replied softly, then he reached across infinity to touch Don's cheek.

Chapter Text

Part 24: Don tries to chill out, but ends up taking Charlie for a ride

Don woke, hung-over but relieved. He still had his underwear on, and Charlie was dressed enough as well to indicate that nothing must have happened, even though they were tangled together and sweaty. That all made him fairly certain that he hadn't humped Charlie last night. This morning he felt stronger, more able to resist the siren that his little brother had suddenly become. He let himself run his hand down Charlie's chest then pulled away and got out of bed.

He quietly ordered breakfast - they even agreed to make his nasty-but-effective hangover cure, then stepped into the shower. As the water poured over him, he stroked his morning hard-on and thought about how amazing Charlie's mouth felt on his cock. His memory wandered to Charlie in the sauna, sweaty and splayed above him. It's just like remembering a really good one-night stand, Don told himself, and replayed every moment until his cum joined the spray of hot water.

As he dried himself off, he remembered that his one-night stand was still here, in his bed, and would love a morning quickie. Don wistfully smiled to himself as he got dressed, then went out to see if breakfast had arrived.

He emerged just in time to hear a knock and the words 'Room Service'. He opened the door and the man came in and set down the tray. The man didn't even ask him to sign anything, just said, "Enjoy," and left. What a place this is…

Don looked over at Charlie. How much had he really paid for this? Was it all just a setup for sex?

Charlie opened his eyes and mumbled, "Whozdat?"

"Room service," Don said. "My turn to order."

"Mm," Charlie said, rubbing his face clumsily. He sat up, and Don watched him stretch. How warm and strong those legs felt when I rubbed them. I bet his arms feel the same.

Don turned away from the bed and busied himself with getting the food ready. He set the tray down on the coffee table and opened up the plate covers.

"Ooh, Belgian waffles," Charlie said eagerly and climbed off the bed. Don's eyes immediately went to the long, thick bulge showing through Charlie's thin shorts. Guess Charlie gets morning wood, too. I could…

Don flushed and looked down at his plate. If Charlie came within reach, would he be able to resist grabbing that ready cock? Would he be able to resist pulling Charlie closer, sucking him through his shorts just like he had Don?

"Put on some pants on," Don mumbled.

There was a pause from Charlie, a half-spoken word, then shuffling noises as he got dressed. When he sat down next to Don, he was fully clothed and much less tempting.

Don pointed out a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream and Charlie dug into it happily.

Don slowly cut one bite from his waffle, then set it aside. Time to pay the piper. He picked up his specially-ordered drink with reluctance.

"What is that?" Charlie asked.

"My own cure for hangovers. Tomato juice with lime, fennel, garlic, ginger and apple and banana puree."

"Eww!"

"It's disgusting," Don agreed, then held his nose and drank the whole glass of thick, red liquid. Charlie was watching him with morbid fascination. Don then turned to a large mug of lukewarm peppermint and chamomile tea.

"Whew," Don said, wiping his face. He already was feeling better, his headache receding. His body seemed to have learned over the years that it would soon recover with this foul concoction, so just the taste of it started helping right away. He grinned at Charlie's bemused expression and started on his waffle.

Charlie eyed Don's empty glass thoughtfully, and put another bite of strawberry syrup-covered waffle in his mouth. A line of syrup dripped down his chin.

Don then discovered something else his body knew - and had learned in a very short time. His groin had started heating up before Don was even aware of his desire to lick that syrup from Charlie's scruffy chin.

He wanted to smear whipped cream on Charlie's lips, then…

Don stood up abruptly and walked over to the window. The snow outside looked fresh and thick. I need to cool down.

He turned to Charlie. "Hey Chuck, let's go cross-country skiing!"

Charlie choked on his coffee.

"Or snowshoeing. Or better yet, snowmobiling!"

"Go ahead," Charlie said, wiping his mouth. "I've got three back issues of Fibonacci Quarterly that I need to review."

"No, this is 'our' weekend, remember?"

Charlie's eyes flickered over to the bed.

"No," Don snapped. "Safe brotherly bonding."

"But-"

Don strode over to the phone and picked it up. "Hi," he said to the desk clerk, "Is there a place we can rent some snowmobiles?"

An hour later found them bundled up and riding in a big van with a snowmobile on a trailer behind it.

Charlie sunk his chin into his scarf and grumbled.

"Don't mope, remember?" Don said cheerfully. The hotel actually owned a snowmobile that it could loan to guests. Don was hoping for two machines, to keep a safe distance from each other, but this one was at least a snowmobile meant for two riders. The hotel had also lent them heavy coats, scarfs, hats, and gloves. The van was taking them to a designated recreational area where they could ride. They'd been given a restricted-use cellphone to call for the van when they were done. Once again Don gave silent thanks to the thoroughness of the hotel - there was no way that he could call Colby, even if he wanted to.

But he didn't want to. He didn't want this getaway to ever end. Even though I'm never going to touch Charlie again.

He looked over at Charlie, with a knit hat pulled down all the way to his eyebrows, and tried to remember what he'd felt about Charlie before this trip. Brilliant, annoying, endearing, selfish, helpful… 'Sexy' and 'infatuated' had never made the list. Don wished he could go back to that ignorant state, back before he knew how amazing Charlie's mouth felt, how Charlie moaned when he touched him, and, most damningly, how he could experience a stronger connection with him than anyone else, ever. I can't forget the first two, but the last one… Certainly the connection was just because it was new and unexpected.

Charlie looked over and met Don's eyes. When Don continued to look at him, those big brown eyes softened into longing. Had that desire always been in Charlie's eyes and Don just hadn't noticed it? Or had this weekend, by turning the impossible into possible, made it much worse? One thing Don was certain of was that he would see that longing in the future and he would know he was the only person who could satisfy it.

That realization brought on unexpected warmth. He'd never been the only answer for anyone. He'd never had a lover who, to some degree, hadn't been looking past Don to whatever might be better. Even when he'd gotten engaged to Kim, he'd wondered if it would be just a 'starter marriage' for her. Someone else would eventually be smarter, sexier, and wealthier than him and she'd move on. But Charlie had started young with wanting him and to this day, he still wanted Don the most.

Don broke Charlie's gaze and looked away. Why hadn't Charlie's ardor faded in the months since he'd seen Don debase himself for Colby? How long could Charlie hold on to his old fantasy? Maybe he wouldn't be 'the One' for Charlie much longer. Don knew he should feel relief at the idea, but all he felt was sadness that Charlie's eyes would soon not shine at him like they did now. Maybe he should take advantage of it while it-

The van slowed and turned into a snowy parking lot, thankfully cutting off Don's treacherous thoughts.

"Here we are, Mr. Wallis, Mr. Euler," the driver said. He got out of the van and began removing the tie-downs from the snowmobile.

Before Don was really ready for it, he and Charlie were standing next to a snowmobile and waving farewell to the van.

"Wallis and Euler?" Don asked Charlie. "Mathematicians?"

Charlie nodded vaguely, his eyes fastened on the snowmobile.

"Ever been on one?" Don asked with a smile.

Charlie gave a short shake of his head and wrapped his arms around himself defensively.

"Good, I'll drive," Don said.

"I'll watch."

"No way, Mr. Euler," Don said and climbed on to the snowmobile. "Sit behind me." He grinned at Charlie. "You can hold on to me, if you want."

That got Charlie moving and he straddled the wide seat awkwardly. He lightly gripped Don's torso.

"You want to fall off?" Don asked and Charlie scooted closer.

Don started up the engine and moved slowly onto the trail. As soon as he got the feel for the steering, he sped up - causing Charlie to hold on tightly to him with arms and legs and even his teeth, perhaps.

Don laughed with delight as he rediscovered his snowmobiling skills and soon they were blasting over hills, jumping into the air to drop into the snow beyond.

After a while, Charlie seemed to get into it as well, slightly easing his death grip on Don.

Finally, Don had to pull to a stop to catch his breath. His whole body was trembling from the effort of controlling the massive machine, all keeping them both on without seatbelts. He leaned his arms on the steering wheel and lowered his head.

Then he realized that maybe the trembling wasn't all from exhaustion. Charlie was still holding onto his back so his groin was right up against Don's ass. And Charlie had a hard-on that rivaled the steel bars of the steering wheel. If I just leaned over slightly…

Don closed his eyes and tried to get control of himself. Yes, he wanted a fuck - no make that aching, needing, dying for a fuck. But not with Charlie, no way. Even forgetting the whole incest thing - as if I could - Charlie was a bottom, just like him, so they were sexually incompatible. Sure didn't feel incompatible yesterday...

Don sat up straight, trying to create a little space between him and Charlie. The move brought to his attention that his own cock was throbbing and ready. Ready for what, hmm?

"Getting off, Charlie," Don said, then winced internally at the word choice.

"Okay," Charlie said, his voice strange and hoarse.

Don climbed off the snowmobile, into snow that came up to his knees, and stretched his arms and back. "You okay?"

"Depends on your definition of…" Charlie said and trailed off, his eyes on Don's visible erection. His eyes came up to meet Don's and Don involuntarily jerked back. In full daylight, as opposed to a moonlight bedroom, the desire and desperation in Charlie's eyes was shockingly clear.

Don felt a warm flush from his head to his toes, though he was standing in deep snow. Charlie's lust was intoxicating, made Don feel light-headed yet powerful. To have anyone look at him like that would be heady, but for it to be Charlie, his super-smart, often-praised little brother, the one who had overshadowed Don for most of his life… Don tore his eyes from Charlie's and looked around. They were in a clearing, surrounded by trees, and their snowmobile tracks were the only sign of civilization around.

Don let Charlie capture his gaze again and soaked for a moment in that intoxicating mix of adoration and desire, then he strode towards the snowmobile and threw his leg over the seat backwards, so that he was facing towards Charlie. He pulled off his gloves and tossed them aside.

"What are-" Charlie started as Don leaned towards him.

Don took hold of both sides of Charlie's face. Charlie was shivering, or maybe it was trembling.

For a still, breathless moment, Don's mouth hovered inches from Charlie's. Charlie's lips were parted mid-word and Don could almost feel Charlie's struggle to hold back and wait for Don to cross that last distance.

Don gave himself a little shake, then tilted Charlie's head up and aside and began to kiss his neck.

"Don…" Charlie gasped. "I thought we weren't…"

Don pulled aside Charlie's scarf to get better access to his neck. "Yeah," Don mumbled. He ran one hand down Charlie's heavy jacket to his jeans. Charlie whimpered as Don slid his fingers along the long, hard shape of Charlie's erection. With his other hand, Don pulled open the collar of Charlie's jacket, wanting more access.

Charlie shivered as his wet skin was exposed to the sharp cold. "Why don't we go back to the hotel?"

"Can't wait," Don said. Or rather, can't think about what I'm doing. Don leaned back and rewrapped Charlie's neck in its scarf.

"That's it?" Charlie protested.

"Lay back," Don said. The tandem snowmobile had a long seat, plenty of room for Don's purposes.

"Here?"

Don pushed him lightly and Charlie grumbled, but lay back along the seat, his legs dangling awkwardly to each side.

Don didn't waste time explaining, he just started unbuttoning and unzipping Charlie's jeans.

"Whoa, I-" Charlie began, but Don continued, jerking down the waistband of Charlie's underwear to get access to his rigid cock. Don grabbed it with both hands and sucked it into his mouth.

Charlie made an incoherent noise and pushed up into Don's mouth. Don mumbled encouragement. While Don was dying for a fuck, having a cock in his mouth was the second best thing. He sucked feverishly. Maybe if this happened quickly enough, Don could pretend it hadn't happened at all.

Trying to reach down to touch Don's head, Charlie wobbled on the seat and Don had steady him. Charlie then threw his legs around Don's neck and held on tightly.

That's right, Don thought. Squeeze my neck, choke me. I deserve it for sucking my little brother's cock.

Instead, Charlie bent his knees over Don's shoulders, his heavy boots resting on Don's back. The position allowed Don to suck Charlie's cock even deeper.

However, Charlie's shivering was getting worse and Don didn't want him to get frostbite on sensitive areas. He awkwardly stuffed Charlie's wet, rigid cock back into his underwear and did up Charlie's jeans.

"Wha huh?" Charlie said, lowering his legs.

Don helped him sit up. "It's too cold."

"Like Hell," Charlie grumbled, and he pushed Don in the chest, forcing him to lie back against the handlebars. Then it was Charlie who was unzipping Don's pants and wrestling out his cock. Charlie lay down on his stomach on the seat, sucked that cock deep into his mouth and Don let out a long, low groan.

He'd been right - Charlie sucking his cock in the daylight was even more spectacular than in the dark. Charlie's head bobbed up and down and Don dug his fingers into those soft curls and watched Charlie's every move avidly. Charlie felt so good, better than any blowjob he'd ever gotten. On top of that, humming through Don's body was that sick arousal, that perverted delight in doing something so wrong. He pushed upwards, wanting every possible inch of him inside Charlie's amazing mouth. Before long, however, a different sensation made itself known - his exposed skin was freezing.

Don gently lifted Charlie's head up. Charlie's eyes were glazed over in a way that Don had never seen. When the head of Don's cock slipped out of his mouth, Charlie whimpered in protest. As soon as Don released him, he sucked Don all the way down again.

Don groaned in frustration. He'd happily let Charlie suck him until he came, but he was also quite certainly that frostbite of the balls would be particularly painful.

"Charlie," Don said hoarsely, "I'm freezing."

Charlie sat up then, blinking awareness back into his eyes, and Don forced his aching cock back into his pants.

"But I want to finish!" Charlie protested.

"Me, too," Don said, "C'mere." He pulled Charlie so that they were right up against each other, chest to chest, Don's legs on top of Charlie's thighs. Their mouths were so close that they shared the same cloud of exhalation.

Charlie leaned forward… and Don turned his head. He rested his cheek against Charlie's.

"Why do you do that?" Charlie whispered, his lips next to Don's ear.

Don reached down and began to unzip Charlie's pants again. "Too weird."

Charlie grabbed Don's hand which was sliding into Charlie's underwear. "And this isn't?"

Don tried to push his hand free, but Charlie's grip was surprisingly strong. Don sighed. "I see your mouth every day. It's going to be hard enough to not think about your mouth… doing what you were just doing to me. If I kiss you, then kissing will always be there as a possibility."

Charlie tried to pull his head back, but now it was Don's turn to hold Charlie in place. He didn't want to look Charlie in the face right now, didn't want to see the hope and confusion there.

"Please," Don said. "I just want to jerk you off, and you do me."

Don heard Charlie's grunt of frustration, but he did let go of Don's hand and began to unzip Don's jeans.

As soon as they both got a good grip - their cocks now kept warm between their bodies, Don gave a groan of relief. He just wanted Charlie to shut up and have sex, okay? Don almost giggled to himself at the absurdity of the thought, but fortunately, Charlie's hand jobs were as good as his blowjobs and Don was soon incapable of thought.

They stroked each other in rhythm. Their free arms were wrapped around the other's back, holding their bodies tightly together, with their free hands tucked under the other's scarf. Their occupied hands bumped together, Don's knuckles scraped against Charlie's zipper and his wrist ached from the awkward angle, but nothing felt more right to him than their circle of warmth in the middle of the cold, snowy landscape.

Don wanted it to last, but Charlie's mouth had done its job too well and his orgasm was rising. Don rubbed his cheek against Charlie's to distract himself, but that didn't help. Charlie's beard stubble only reminded him even more of who he was with. So did Charlie's harsh breathing in Don's ear. It sounded like Charlie was reciting numbers under his breath, probably trying to distract himself as well.

"Five," Don murmured in Charlie's ear, while nuzzling his cheek. "Eight, twelve, twenty-six."

"What?" Charlie said with a laugh, losing his rhythm on Don's cock.

Don chuckled. "Just seeing if it would work for me, too." He gave a little squeeze to Charlie's cock.

"No primes allowed," Charlie replied and returned to his task.

Don returned to his task as well, but unfortunately, the familiar teasing exchange just made Don think even more about whose cock was throbbing in his hand. He pulled away a little, encouraging Charlie to do the same.

"Wanna see," Don said. To that end, he tipped his head, leaning his forehead against Charlie's, and pulled Charlie's cock fully out of his jeans. Charlie did the same, and though the cold air rushed into the space between their bodies, Don felt hot and feverish. He was mesmerized by the motion of Charlie's familiar hand on his cock. Charlie seemed equally captivated and they stroked each other towards inevitability.

"Don..." Charlie whispered. "You… don't know…" He began to thrust urgently against Don's hand and that set Don off as well.

Don felt Charlie jerk wildly, his cum surging over Don's hand like hot wax. Don shuddered and grunted as his orgasm broke through. His vision blurred as he pumped himself over Charlie's wrist. Both of them continued to stroke and stroke until every last drop was gone. Even then, they continued to slide their hands gently over each other's softening cocks.

Don breathed out happily, and began to slowly realize that his ever-sought-for connection had been there so long he didn't even know when it started.

They continued to lean against each other's foreheads, their breathing slowing down together.

"You don't know how many times I've jerked off thinking of you," Charlie said, his voice rough. "Usually I think about-" Charlie stopped then said, "I mean, sometimes I think about your gorgeous hands and how you would do it just right. It's better than I ever dreamed…"

"I like your hands, too," Don said thickly.

"I thought… I thought that we weren't going to do this again."

"Snowmobiling?" Don asked, glad he didn't have to look Charlie in the eye.

"You know what I mean," Charlie said.

"Do we have to talk about this?"

"Yes," Charlie said, his voice imploring. "You're driving me crazy. You're saying no and yes at the same time and just when I think it's over, you let me sleep with you but nothing happens. Then all the sudden you start this and, God, I'd never say no to anything and it feels wonderful but now what should I think?"

"I don't know, Charlie," Don said helplessly. "I don't know. I didn't have any intention of this, but then you look at me…"

"Look at you?" Charlie echoed.

"Yeah," Don said. "And you make me feel…" Don shook his head and quickly climbed off the snowmobile. He cleaned his hand in the snow and tidied his clothing.

He took a deep breath and turned around. Charlie was licking Don's cum off his wrist.

"Shit!" Don said, arousal jolting through him.

Charlie gave him an impish smile and continued to clean his skin with his tongue. It made Don want to put that tongue to better use.

Don looked away. How am I ever going to stop wanting him? He picked up his discarded gloves.

"You were saying something about how I make you feel?" Charlie said in a triumphant voice.

"Frustrated," Don snapped, still looking away from Charlie. "Because this is insane and it can't go on. And angry that you don't seem to see it."

There was a pause and Don heard the rustle of clothing being put back together.

"I'm glad," Charlie said quietly.

Don stopped with one glove half on and stared at him.

"Anger is better than no feelings," Charlie continued in that calm, soft voice. "I'd sacrifice anything to never see that look on your face again. That you'd given up and didn't want to live anymore."

Tears sprung to Don's eyes and he busied himself again with his gloves. He had no doubt which look Charlie was referring to. Yesterday, Don had been ready to end his life. He hadn't realized that Charlie had seen that so clearly. He was used to Charlie being self-absorbed and oblivious. But maybe he hasn't actually been that unaware, at least of me. The timing of this 'friendly getaway' and Charlie's shocking revelations began to make more sense. To think that his little brother had been looking out for him all along… More tears came to his eyes and he rubbed them away.

"Don?" Charlie asked, his voice full of concern.

"I'm fine," Don snapped, embarrassed. "You ready?"

"For?"

"Snowmobiling," Don said flatly.

"Um, yeah."

Don climbed onto the snowmobile, all the while avoiding meeting Charlie's eyes. He settled himself onto the seat, and attempted to settle his jumping emotions as well. He had just caught his breath when Charlie scooted up against his back and hugged him tightly. Charlie's arms felt so right, so natural, yet so stimulating. Just like sex with him felt both perverted and completely normal at the same time. Together with him at this place, sex seemed the most unlikely, yet the most inevitable thing of all. Charlie knit his gloved fingers together around Don's waist.

I've been rescued and doomed at the same time.

He shakily patted Charlie's hands and started up the snowmobile.

Chapter Text

Part 25 - Don begins to warm up and Charlie tries not to melt

Charlie stared out the window of the van carrying them and their snowmobile back to the hotel. His mind was spinning and drifting like the snow now falling through the air.

"We just missed the snow," Don said. "Good timing."

Charlie nodded vaguely. On any other day, Charlie might argue that they hadn't missed the snow, in fact had spent too much time plowing through said snow on an unsafe, over-powered pseudo-vehicle. The light snow now falling would have hardly changed the discomfort of the ride. But he didn't argue today, because he would have ridden a tank into battle if it meant that Don would stop the tank, turn around, and start sucking on his cock.

Charlie shivered, remembering that moment of shock as Don leaned towards him, close enough to kiss. But he hadn't kissed Charlie, dammit. Though he'd said later that he didn't want to kiss Charlie because that would mean it would always been a possibility. What did that mean? That Don wanted to continue this new physical relationship past this weekend? But he had most definitely said it couldn't continue, even at this secluded place. Then he had initiated another round of sex - quick, cold and wonderful. When they had jerked each other off together… Nothing so simple and inelegant should feel so amazing.

But what did it all mean? Charlie felt utterly adrift, blown this way and that by Don's whims. Don looked happier than he did yesterday. Did that mean that he was farther back from that cliff or that he just didn't care about anything now? What about that moment, just after the sex, when Charlie had told Don that he knew how self-destructive he was yesterday and Don seemed to get emotional? Was it emotional in a good way or a bad way?

Charlie sighed.

"Everything okay?" Don asked.

"I don't know, Don," Charlie said tiredly. "You tell me because I'm lost here."

"Yeah," Don said quietly. "Me too." He reached over and put his hand on Charlie's leg.

Charlie carefully put his hand over Don's, and Don didn't pull away. However, Don also turned his face away from Charlie, looking out the window. Charlie curled his fingers around Don's hand and, sighing with frustration, looked back out into the whirling snow.

By the time they got back to the hotel, returned the heavy winter gear and got to their room, Charlie was about to burst. He closed the door behind Don and got ready to badger Don into clearly delineating the parameters of their new relationship.

"Hey, check this out!" Don said with exaggerated enthusiasm. "They think of everything!"

Charlie looked past Don to see that their little table had been set with a pot of coffee, hot water, a box of different kind of teas, and several tiny pitchers of cream, honey, etc. Next to that was a plate with warm cookies and pastries. Don strode across the room and began to pour himself some coffee. Charlie followed slowly.

"Don," Charlie began. "We really need to establish the parameters-"

"Cinnamon rolls!" Don picked one up and bit into it. "Hey, know what sounds good right now? A hot bath."

"Don!" Charlie said, "That can wait a few minutes until-"

"I'm still chilled," Don said. "A good long soak in that huge bathtub will do wonders."

"Wait!"

"Don't eat all the cinnamon rolls!" Don said over his shoulder as he hurried into the bathroom and shut the door.

Charlie stared at the closed door then sank into a nearby chair. How was he going to get Don to talk about this? Don could be incredibly stubborn.

Charlie squared his chin. I can be stubborn, too. As soon as he comes out of there, I'm going to sit him down and… Charlie's mind helplessly wandered off into thoughts of what he would like to do with a wet, naked Don, sitting or otherwise, and that made him think about sucking Don's cock while Don sat back against the handle bars of the snowmobile.

With lovely images and sense memories pouring through his mind, Charlie automatically made himself some tea and ate a warm chocolate chip cookie. He sat down on the bed and realized he had a definite erection. Already? It had only two hours ago when…

"Charlie!" Don called from the bathroom.

Charlie stood up quickly and went over to the bathroom door. It was unlocked and he opened it a crack. "Yes?"

"You must be chilled, too," Don said. "Come in where it's warm."

Charlie opened the door immediately and went into the bathroom. He shut the door behind him and was engulfed in warm, humid air. Don was lying in the bath like a porn fantasy, even down to the bubbles hiding most of his body. The tub was designed like an old fashioned stand-alone tub, except much larger. It stood away from the walls, almost like their tub at home. Charlie stared at Don, feeling actual drool dribble out of his mouth.

"Join me," Don said, in a low, husky, porn-star voice.

Charlie needed no more encouragement and began to strip.

"Slow down," Don ordered.

Charlie flushed and began to remove his clothes more slowly. Don watched him avidly, like Charlie was the fantasy instead of him. Finally, Charlie pulled off his socks and climbed into the bathtub.

Don didn't wait for Charlie to sit down, but grabbed Charlie's legs and pulled him down. Charlie wobbled and slid to land right on top of Don.

Don pulled him closer and ran his soapy hands over Charlie's skin. "You're so different than my usual type," he murmured. "I usually go for guys with lots of muscles."

Charlie jerked away. "Thanks a lot!" He slid backwards off of Don and retreated to the other end of the tub.

"Hey, wait, I didn't mean it like that," Don said, his hands and voice placating. "I just meant…" Don shifted and moved over to Charlie, skimming up his body just like he did in the swimming pool the day before. But this time he started kissing Charlie's neck and rubbing his palms over Charlie's nipples.

"I just meant," Don continued between kisses, "that I don't understand why you turn me on so much."

Charlie smiled and ran his hands over Don's shoulders. "I do?"

"Hell, yeah," Don said and took a hold of Charlie's nipples and began to knead and twist them.

Charlie arched his body into Don's touch, moaning happily.

Don said, his lips still against Charlie's neck, "I don't know if it's because of the incest and how very fucked-up this is or what."

"I'd choose the second option," Charlie said.

"What, love?"

Charlie got a lump in his throat. "I don't know, Don. What do you think?"

"I think that whenever I look at you, I want to strip-search you. Very thoroughly."

Charlie chuckled breathily. "I'd strip for you any time, no probable cause needed."

"Oh really," Don said, his voice gaining some of his old playfulness. "No threats of sexual harassment or undue ..?"

"Zero probability. Well, unless I had to strip and you didn't."

"That would be police brutality - I mean, brutal to the policeman, me."

"Mm…" Charlie said as Don rubbed his whole body against him, "I have had police fantasies where you arrest me and then I-" Charlie stopped himself just in time. Most of Charlie's fantasies ended up with him fucking Don, but Don couldn't know that, not in his current fragile state. Maybe someday he could tell him, though not yet. But would there be a 'someday' after this weekend? He needed to push Don about…

"Hey!" Don said, "You're thinking too much. I'm gonna fix that." He grinned, making Charlie's heart do a little flip. He pushed away from Charlie, returning to the other side of the tub and leaned back.

"That's not-" Charlie started but forgot what he was going to say. Don lifted his body and looped his legs over the side of the tub, so that his pelvis was floating right at the level of Charlie's face. His thick cock lay invitingly against his firm stomach.

Charlie paused for a second to take in the delicious porn-star picture of his brother, then leaned forward and licked a stripe up Don's waiting cock.

"There you go," Don murmured. "No chance of frostbite this time."

Charlie grunted in agreement and set to enjoying Don's cock and balls. He sucked and blew and licked and mouthed and everything else he could think of, keeping his eyes on Don's face as much as he could. Don was watching him with eyes slitted in pleasure, like a cat, and a soft smile on his face.

Charlie daringly ran a finger down below Don's balls, brushing lightly against Don's asshole. Don shivered and raised his hips slightly.

"Can I?" Charlie asked hoarsely.

Don pressed his lips together, then nodded. Charlie grabbed for the soap.

Coating his right index finger with soap, Charlie tried to take a deep breath, but found himself unable to. He was finally going to get to touch that long desired asshole, too bad it was out of sight under the water and bubbles. He started slow, kneading the tight opening until it began to relax. He pushed his finger in carefully, watching Don's face for any sign of discomfort. On the contrary, Don gave soft moan and closed his eyes, his head lolling back against the tub edge.

Charlie twisted his finger, found Don's prostate, and began to rub it. Don's abandoned cock twitched with every stroke of Charlie's finger. Charlie's own cock ached, envious of that lucky finger. He'd happily indulge that finger for the next hour, but Don's breathing was getting choppier.

Charlie leaned again to take Don's cock between his lips and began to suck in earnest. Charlie worked his finger in time to his mouth and Don started to moan and shake, making little waves in the bathwater.

Abruptly, Don levered himself up on one hand and grabbed Charlie's hair. He pulled Charlie's mouth off his cock just as his orgasm hit and he shot cum all over Charlie's face. His ass spasmed around Charlie's finger. Don continued to spurt, rubbing his cock against Charlie's cheek and nose and eyes. Eventually, still shaking, Don let go of Charlie's hair and collapsed backwards, pulling away from Charlie. He brought in both arms so his torso and head slid under the water. His legs, still shaking, soon followed the rest of him under the surface.

Charlie, trying to catch his breath, just sat there and watched Don disappear into the water. His own stiff cock ached with a near-painful throb, but he didn't move to ease it.

With a surge of water, Don broke the surface, then flipped around and crawled over Charlie's body. He grabbed Charlie's head and licked a drop of his own cum off Charlie's nose.

Laughing in surprise, Charlie leaned back and let Don continue. Don's agile tongue flickered over Charlie's eyelids and nose, even his lips, only occasionally intersecting the mess on Charlie's face. Instead, Don wiped off the cum and smeared it through Charlie's hair. He scooted closer and bumped into Charlie's rigid cock.

"Whoa," Don said, giving a surprised laugh. "You didn't get off?"

"It wasn't my primary objective," Charlie replied, a little breathless because Don was rubbing his body against Charlie's ready cock.

"I'd have come just from that finger in my ass," Don murmured, sliding his stomach over the very tip of Charlie's cock. "How did you get so good at that? I haven't known many tops who wanted me to finger them."

Charlie bit his lip against the explanation. Don had a strange view of sexual roles but this wasn't the time to go into it, not when his own cock was screaming for attention.

He nudged Don backwards. "Your turn."

"Good," Don grinned and moved back to his side of the tub.

Charlie propped himself up the way Don had - arms and legs hung over the side of the tub, pelvis floating near Don's face. Don hardly waited for Charlie to get settled before he sucked Charlie's cock into his mouth. He also began to rub Charlie's asshole.

"Want it?" Don asked.

"Sure," Charlie said. He preferred to do the fingering, but he still liked a good prostate massage.

However, Don didn't give him a good prostate massage. His fingers were fumbling and awkward. Charlie wondered when he'd last been inside a man's ass. Charlie gritted his teeth against the poking for a moment, but it was making it hard to pay attention to Don's incredible mouth.

"Umm," Charlie said. "A blow on its own might have greater effect."

Don pulled his fingers out and Charlie breathed a sigh of relief.

"That bad, huh?" Don chuckled. He seemed just as relieved to stop. He cradled Charlie's left ass cheek in one hand while his other hand and mouth focused on Charlie's cock. The fumbling did have the positive effect, however, of backing off Charlie's orgasm, so he was able to settle in and really enjoy what Don was doing. It was so intoxicating to see Don between his legs, one of his piano player hands wrapped around his cock while his lush lips slid up and down.

Don also seemed to be enjoying the view, his eyes and free hand roaming up and down Charlie's body. Charlie wanted to tell Don how amazing he was, how beautiful he was, but he kept quiet. He didn't want to trigger another strange reaction like he'd done in the sauna.

Soon, Charlie felt himself getting close. Don seemed to know as well, and took away the hand holding Charlie's cock so he could take Charlie deep - even deeper than Charlie could imagine from that angle. Charlie gripped the edges of the tub and started to thrust upward into Don's mouth. At the last possible second, Don abruptly pulled off - and rubbed Charlie's pulsing cock against his cheek.

Charlie erupted, shooting cum all over Don's face, even into his hair. Don licked and nuzzled his cock as he pumped himself out, making Charlie whimper his name helplessly. When Charlie finally finished, trembling, Don tenderly licked his softening cock clean. Don then wiped Charlie's cum from his face and began sucking it from his fingers.

Whimpering, overwhelmed by what he'd just seen and felt, Charlie closed his eyes and let his body sink into the water. The water had cooled down considerably, but that felt good on his overheated skin. Don scrambled over him and stopped his head from disappearing into the water as well.

"Uh?" Charlie said as Don held his head up.

"Don't get your hair wet, not yet," Don said mysteriously and climbed out of the tub. Charlie was pleased to see how much Don was wobbling.

"Don't move! I'll be right back," Don said and stumbled out of the room.

Chapter Text

Part 26: Don gets Charlie into a lather, then bursts his bubble

Don returned to the bathroom, all naked, wet and gorgeous, so Charlie almost didn't notice that he was carrying Charlie's shampoo.

"Oh, right," Charlie mumbled. "I need that."

Don stood behind the tub, right at Charlie's head. "I'm going to wash your hair," he said, his voice low and strange.

"You don't have to!" Charlie said, alarmed. Was this another subservient demeaning behavior that Don felt 'bottoms' had to do?

But Don continued, in that same husky voice, "Your hair, Charlie Eppes hair, all those curls your students are in raptures about."

"I don't think-nobody is…" Charlie said, but Don wasn't listening to him. Don picked up a cup from the counter and filled it with tub water, then began to slowly pour water over Charlie's head.

"I can't grow curls like that," Don mused. "My hair just curls a little. Those curls belong to you alone."

"Umm…"

"It's one of the things that reminds me who I'm messing around with. And when you talk."

"So it is a problem when I talk during-"

Don spoke over him. "Why does knowing it's you turn me on so much when it should disgust me? Would I want you as much if it wasn't totally sick? Are my tastes so warped that I need to break laws to get off?"

Charlie held his breath, hoping for a negative answer to the question.

Don was quiet for a moment, scooping more water over Charlie's hair then working in the shampoo.

"No," Don said at last, almost too soft to hear. "It's you I want, not just a taboo. The way you look at me like I'm Christmas and all the holidays rolled into one. It's kinda going to my head."

Charlie frowned thoughtfully. That was the second time Don had mentioned how Charlie looked at him, that it was his look that was somehow special, instead of the person he was looking at.

Don continued to work the shampoo through Charlie's hair, giving attention to every strand. It was beyond sensuous, and Charlie was starting to get heated up again.

At last, Don began to rinse out the shampoo, lingering long after every bubble must have been washed out.

"Don?" Charlie asked.

"Hmm?" Don said, almost dreamily.

"Your hair got messy too, can I wash it?"

"Oh," Don said, shaking himself. "It's probably all dried by now."

"So come back in the water," Charlie said, using what he hoped was a seductive voice.

Don came around the side of the tub and climbed in. "Ready for round two already?"

"Umm, no," Charlie admitted, though his body really wanted to be ready again. "Where's your shampoo?"

"Use yours."

Charlie hesitated and Don teased him, "Think it's too good for me?"

"You always call it 'fancy-shmancy' and 'overpriced'," Charlie replied.

"Well, it is," Don said and looked over to the vanity counter. "There's the hotel shampoo you could use."

Charlie took his shampoo and slid over to Don. "There's nothing in the world too good for you," he said firmly and began to pour water over Don's hair. Don didn't reply, he just let Charlie practically sit in his lap to reach his hair and only occasionally running his hands over Charlie's skin.

For his part, Charlie soon discovered the sensuality of washing another's hair. He couldn't recall ever doing it to anyone before, though this experience may have been blotting out any memories of washing a lesser man's hair. Don's hair was at middle length right now - between crew-cut short and trying-too-hard long - and just how Charlie liked it. He happily took his time wetting, shampooing and rinsing it.

"Charlie," Don said hoarsely. "If you ever want to get out of this tub, you need to finish soon."

Charlie grinned down at him. "Or what?"

"Or else I may subject you to another strip search."

"I'm not wearing anything."

"Even better."

Charlie laughed but gave Don's hair one last rinse and got out of the tub. He dried himself off with one of the ridiculously lush hotel towels while Don got out.

He looked over when Don grabbed another towel and saw that Don had yet another erection.

"Wow," Charlie commented. "Are you usually…" He waved towards the erect cock. "Or is it just me?"

"Both," Don snapped and began to towel himself roughly. When he was done drying himself, he tossed the towel aside and started to pick up his clothes. He paused, then smiled wryly at Charlie. "Besides, you can't expect me to be completely immune to you giving me a lap dance."

Charlie flushed and ducked his head, embarrassed but pleased. Don finished dressing and went out of the bathroom. Charlie hurried up and followed behind.

"You saved the cinnamon rolls," Don said, smiling and put them on a plate. He poured himself some coffee and plopped with a happy sigh on the couch. "Join me."

Charlie got his tea and a fresh cookie and came around the side of the couch. Don took Charlie's cup and plate from him and set them aside, then pulled Charlie to sit on his lap.

"Round, um, six?" Charlie asked.

"Has it been that many?" Don asked, huskily. "Well, not enough."

Charlie mentally steadied himself, then said, "How many times is enough, Don? Six, seven, twenty? How long is this going to go on?"

"Charlie…" Don said, pulling him closer. "Not now."

"No," Charlie said, climbing off Don's lap. "I can't handle this."

Don leaned back and looked over at Charlie. "So you want me never to touch you again?"

"No! I want you to keep touching me for the rest of my life, but only if it's good for you."

"Good?" Don said, laughing hollowly. "It's good for me, alright."

Charlie clenched his fists. "That's not what I meant, and you know it. I need to know if… engaging in sexual behavior with me is… causing further damage to your… mental state."

Don relaxed a little and gave Charlie a small smile. "Charlie, I never thought you'd be worrying about me."

"No?" Charlie said, the word coming out in a squeak. "I worry every day you go to work, every time you draw your gun, and have what feels like a heart attack every time you're shot at. And when you get shot I have to bury myself in my work and not come out until I can cope. If you were killed…" He swallowed hard. "I don't think I'd ever come out."

"Sure," Don said dismissively. "That's normal for families of agents."

"Normal?" Charlie snapped, anger rising in him. "How dare you say what I feel for you is just 'normal'! You are my brother and family and love of my life all rolled up into a person who thinks he's above the laws of probability!"

Don held up a hand. "Okay, I get it. You worry."

"It used to just be guns and bombs and other things that FBI agents deal with, but since that… baseball game, I worry every time that Colby lays a hand on you. He doesn't care about you, Don. He's just using-and abusing-you!"

Don growled and jumped up from the couch. "He loves me! And if you loved me too, you'd be happy for me!"

Charlie stood up slowly. "It isn't love when keeps you on a short chain, doesn't let you see your friends and family, and leaves you bloody and sore whenever he feels like it!"

"He loves me!" Don repeated with a snarl. "Maybe you're the one trying to control me, bringing me out here, isolating me and tricking me into sex!"

"I'm trying to help you," Charlie snapped, shaking with anger at the accusation. "You need to get away from him."

"Ha," Don said flatly. "I should have known that this whole 'getaway' was about getting me to break up with Colby. Is he cramping your fantasies? Want to get me back up on that pedestal again? I should have known. Charlie Eppes never looks out for anyone but himself."

He strode over to the door and yanked it open.

"Where are you going?" Charlie demanded.

"To find a bar!" Don snarled. He stomped out the door and slammed it behind him.

Charlie started to go after him… then stopped. There was really nothing more he could say. In fact, he'd probably said too much, shown his hand. He'd known that if he brought up Colby, Don would get defensive and angry. But things had been going so well, it just slipped out…

Sighing, Charlie turned around and went to clean up the mess in the bathroom.

Chapter Text

Part 27 - Don seeks obscurity but finds clarity

Don strode down the hotel hallway, seething with anger. Just when he thought Charlie was really looking out for him, it turned out that Charlie just wanted to separate him from the one good thing in his life. He felt an internal twinge at the unfairness of the statement, but pushed it aside.

He stomped into the hotel restaurant and headed to the bar. "Sam Adams," he barked out to the bartender.

Don hoisted himself on a barstool and looked around. The bar and the restaurant beyond were mostly bare, since it was too early for lunch.

"Here you go, hon," said a tall, attractive woman, her brown ponytail streaked with grey. She had a pleasant Southern drawl. "Want some bar nosh?"

Don eyed her. "Bar nosh?"

"You know, peanuts, pretzels, sushi, whatever."

He felt a slight smile on his face. "I've never heard of a bar that serves sushi."

"Anything that makes you more thirsty," she said cheerfully.

"Heh," Don said, and took a sip from his beer. "Pretzels would be fine."

She put a bowl next to him of warm, freshly baked hard pretzels - something that Don had never seen before - and left him to his beer.

Don sipped at his beer and tried to watch the TV over the bar, which was playing something like 'The 100 Best Sports Moments in History', but he couldn't really focus on it. His last conversation with Charlie kept swirling around in his mind.

That 'your family worries about you speech'? Don had been hearing it since he joined the agency, so Don had automatically brushed Charlie off when he'd mentioned it. But Charlie had gone onto say that Don was not only his brother and family, but also the love of his life. Don hadn't really known how to respond - so had almost felt relief when Colby's name had come up. There he was on well-travelled ground.

He didn't understand why people kept saying Colby was bad for him. He was finally in a committed relationship, like everyone had always told him he needed, but were they happy? No, they kept focusing on stupid stuff - Colby's possessiveness, how he didn't like Don to hang out with friends or family, and how he interrupted Don's sleep. Oh, and Charlie now knew about the bareback, the spanking and the occasional blood. That was all stupid stuff that Don could handle, was handling just fine. Colby loved him. Don had failed again and again to live up to that love, but that was his problem, not Colby's.

I should be calling a cab right now to take me back to Colby. To apologize and take my lumps. Once he spanks me and fucks me, maybe just a little harder than usual, it will all be back to normal.

But did he want 'normal'? He sighed and stared at his beer.

"Something on your mind, hon?" the bartender said, in her smooth drawl.

He looked sharply at her, but she was watching the TV, casually cleaning a glass.

"Just…stuff," Don mumbled.

"Sad to pay the bucks to come to this place then be moping in the bar," she replied, her voice still casual but with a hint of mild curiosity. "As nice as my bar is, any room here is loads better."

Don narrowed his eyes. "You fishing?"

She smiled at him wryly. "Only being friendly. You want me to put something else on the TV?" She moved off down the bar, apparently in search of the remote for the TV. "Just hate to see a handsome guy like you down in the dumps."

Don grinned. He was more comfortable with this sort of exchange. "If you're going to say such nice things to me, at least tell me your name. I'm Don."

"Happy to meet you, Don," she said with a smile. "I'm Sandy, but you'll get nowhere with me."

"Oh?" Don said, offering his patented winning smile. "You say such sweet things to every man who comes in here?"

Sandy chuckled. "That's the problem, darling. You're a man, so you've got the wrong plumbing."

"Oh," Don said, flushing.

"But I get the feeling," she said, lowering her voice, "that I'm not your type anyway. I've seen you in here two nights with that tasty brown-haired honey who can't seem to keep his hands to himself."

Don flushed deeper, but he had to laugh. He'd never heard Charlie called anything like a 'tasty brown-haired honey' before. But tasty he is. That's the problem.

"Why are you here, talking to me, then back in your room, getting friendly?" she asked.

Don frowned and looked back at his beer. "It's complicated."

"Ain't it always," she chuckled. "Ain't it always."

Don glared at her, stung that his dilemma would be so lightly dismissed. "It's more complicated than most," he snapped.

"I'm sure it is, hon," her tone faintly condescending.

"He isn't my boyfriend - I left my boyfriend at home."

She shrugged. "Most folks here are not with who they should be."

"I'm not surprised," Don replied. "It's really a hideaway sort of place."

"Thank you," Sandy smiled. "We do our darndest to keep the world out."

"Wouldn't that be nice," Don grumbled under his breath. While he'd left most of the world and its problems behind, one really big problem had come with him. One really big, cute, tasty, seductive problem… With a mouth that I'm never going to look at again without thinking about it wrapped around my cock…

Sandy chuckled. "Well, maybe he's not your boyfriend, but he certainly gets your motor revved up."

Don put his hand on his cheek and his face felt hot. "That's no excuse to be running around."

Sandy shrugged. "We all stray sometimes."

Don pressed his lips together and shook his head. "That was my old thinking, I'm trying to be the new me with this relationship."

"So your boyfriend just let you come up here with another guy?"

"No, he tried his best to stop me, even lied about…" Don shook himself and smiled slightly. "This trip was more like a kidnapping, I got grabbed and brought here."

"Grabbed? Against your will?"

"No, no. I just had to be convinced that work could manage without me for a while."

"Why did your boyfriend try to stop you if all you needed was a break from work?"

Don shifted on his chair. "Well, it's kind of a getaway from him too, just a break."

"I bet he didn't take that well."

"No, he didn't." Don shifted again, uncomfortably. "We just always…spend all our time together. He didn't want me to be so…out of reach."

Sandy scoffed, "He just didn't want you going off with your other honey."

Don glared at her. "I don't have an 'other honey'. This getaway was a surprise and I would have never dreamed that it would turn out so…" He stopped himself. He wasn't sure why he was talking to this bartender, she was just good at getting a rise out of him. He picked up his beer, trying to signal that he didn't want to talk anymore.

However, Sandy wasn't getting the hint. She obviously had something on her mind. "So, this boyfriend who likes to keep you 'in reach'," she said, with a casualness that didn't quite hide the tension underneath. "Is he going to be…mad when you go back?"

"Mad?" Don snorted bitterly. "He's going to be so furious with me, I probably won't be able to sit for a week."

He immediately regretted his choice of words as Sandy looked at him sharply. He tried to act nonchalant. "Just a figure of speech. Sure, he can be possessive, but, hey, no."

Setting down her washcloth, Sandy leaned forward. "Does he hurt you?"

"Naw," Don said, but he couldn't look her in the eye.

"It's always your fault, isn't it?" Sandy asked harshly. "Your mistakes force him to do it?"

"Well, sometimes I…"

"He does hurt you, doesn't he," she snarled. "Saying it's your fault is just his excuse to be an abusive bastard."

Don jerked back. "What? He isn't... What?"

Sandy growled under her breath, grabbed her washcloth, and began furiously wiping the counter.

"Hey," Don said uneasily. "Didn't mean to hit a nerve."

Sandy mumbled something forcefully to herself, but slowed her wiping. In the awkward silence that followed, Don drank his beer, pretending to watch the TV.

Finally, Sandy said gruffly, "At least tell me that the cutie you came with doesn't hit you."

Don laughed hollowly. "No, he never would. In fact, I just learned that what I thought was a friendly getaway up here, his whole plan was to talk me into breaking up with my boyfriend and take up with him instead."

"Good for him!"

"No, no, not good," Don snapped. "He's just put me in a worse situation."

"What could be worse than a boyfriend who beats you up?"

"He doesn't beat me up," Don scoffed. "It's never a big deal, just a little reminder."

Sandy's eyes flashed up at him, fury radiating from her. She threw down her washcloth and retreated to the other end of the bar. Don sighed. It wasn't enough to piss off Charlie, now he was infuriating total strangers as well. He drunk his beer for a moment, then said clearly, "I'm sorry, Sandy. I shouldn't have aired my problems here. It obviously brought up something for you."

Sandy turned towards him, looking slightly mollified. "I still say that there is no worse situation than an abusive boyfriend, unless it's an abusive husband. You just need to listen to your cutie and be with him instead. He looks like a sweetheart."

"Ha!" Don snapped. "He's a manipulative bastard. I thought he was just being helpful because he could tell I need a break, so we came up here to just get away from everything and clear my head. Now it's all, 'I love you' and let's have sex."

The corner of Sandy's mouth twitched. "Awful."

"It is awful because I'm never going to look at him the same way again and we can't go back to before."

"So you move on and have a new good thing."

"No, not possible."

"Why not?"

Don shook his head sharply and Sandy held up her hands.

"Not my business," she said. "Though I can't see what could be so bad about the cutie."

Don growled and stared at his beer until she moved away.

What's so bad about the cutie? What about a taboo that's been around as long as humans have?

He sighed and picked at his beer label. How dare she call Colby abusive? She was just projecting from her own experiences. But Charlie had said the same thing, that Colby was just using and abusing him...

Everyone was making snap judgments about his relationship with Colby. Even total strangers like Sandy. He really should just stop talking to her, though it was almost a relief to talk to someone that didn't have a stake in his choices, someone who might be more neutral. Though she wouldn't be if she knew who Charlie really was. In her mind, Charlie was simply the man who didn't hit him.

He mused thoughtfully on the ridiculous idea that Charlie would ever hurt him. Though Charlie would probably spank him if he asked him to - Charlie had made it very clear he'd do anything Don asked. However, spanking from Charlie would never be done as punishment, done to teach him a lesson. But I need that lesson from Colby, right? Look how I can't be trusted, even with my brother. They kept crossing lines they couldn't uncross. He thought about how Charlie's finger felt so amazing in his ass. If only that would be enough for him. But it wasn't and never would be. He needed the fucking, needed that cock inside him, needed that absolute intimacy. He knew he'd return to Colby, waiting out the pain, until that moment when Colby would shove his massive cock into him and he could feel connected and complete again.

He slowly drank down the rest of his beer. Considering how much he was dying for a fuck, he should have been in more of a hurry for a reunion with Colby. Yeah, it'll hurt at first, but then I'll get what I need, right? But he stayed, lingering over his last few drops of beer. Because the only urgency he was really feeling was towards returning to the hotel room.

It was true. What he really wanted to do was go back to the room and mess around with Charlie again. What would be so wrong with that?

What wouldn't be wrong with that?

He thought again about getting a taxi and going home to Colby. His shoulders hunched involuntarily. But he knew what he had with Colby, and it worked. He always knew what Colby wanted, so he could always make him happy.

But did it make him happy? What did 'happy' feel like, anyway?

Like Charlie and a snowmobile and quick, cold hand jobs.

Sighing, he signaled Sandy for another beer.

"You're still moping," Sandy said wryly, as she popped open another Sam Adams. "By the sound of those sighs, you're going to need something harder than beer."

"Just stuck," Don mumbled.

"Between an abusive boyfriend and a man who takes you to a place like this? Rough choice."

Don glared at her. "You don't know anything about it."

"I know enough," Sandy drawled dryly. "Choosing between those two is as easy as sliding off a greasy log backward."

Don muttered under his breath. How dare she reduce his intractable problem to a simple quaint expression?

"You have no idea," he growled. "It is so much more difficult than that."

She folded her arms. "You're the one making it difficult."

Don felt a hot rush of anger. Everyone was judging him, everyone was telling him what he should do, like they knew everything. Even this bartender thought his problems had a simple solution. He'd show her.

Don looked around the bar. There was no one within 30 feet of them. He leaned forward and said, in a low, harsh voice, "You think it's simple? That 'brown-haired cutie'? The one who stole me from under the nose of my boyfriend and brought me up here? Who told me he'd loved me since we were teenagers? Who talked me into having absolutely amazing, mind-blowing sex? Repeatedly?"

"Yes?" Sandy said, also leaning forward, her eyes bright with interest.

"He's my brother."

Sandy jerked back and put a hand over her mouth. "Oh God… Your brother brother?"

Don nodded grimly.

"Son of the same father and mother?"

Nod.

"And you grew up together, in the same house?"

Another nod.

"And you're having sex?"

"Yes, Ma'am," Don said, darkly pleased at her shock. "Still think it's an easy choice?"

"Wow," Sandy said. "Wow."

He smirked. "Yeah, wow."

"I need a drink," Sandy said, her southern drawl mysteriously absent. She reached over the bar and pulled up a shot glass. Turning around, she looked at her wall of alcohol and picked up a tall gold bottle. She brought it over to the bar and poured herself a shot. Then she looked around to make sure no one was watching, and tossed the shot back.

With a gasp, she slammed the shot back on the counter and without preamble, asked, "Do you like it that he's your brother? Does that do it for you?"

"Uh," Don said, drawing back. "It's not…"

"Because I think of my sisters and…" she shuddered. "It's just so…unthinkable."

"I know," Don said with a sigh. He saw shock and disbelief in Sandy's eyes, and suddenly wanted her to understand. He leaned forward again and said quietly, "I'll admit there's a little bit of thrill to the forbidden aspect, but it's more about who he is, not just my brother."

Sandy raised an eyebrow.

Don looked down at his beer bottle. "All my life he's been the family star, the world-class famous genius. Everything was about what he needed to reach his potential and stuff. My parents tried to not favor him, but he's just so needy. He can't seem to function by himself - he lives with our dad - and is so goddamned self-centered." Don rolled his beer bottle between his fingers, then said with a rush, "So when out of the blue he tells me that he's always been in love with me and wants to be with me and, God, the way he looks at me, like I'm the center of the universe and not him and he makes me feel better than anyone ever has, until I remember that this can't really be happening." Don stopped and, with shaking hands, took a long drink of his beer.

"Wow," Sandy said quietly.

"Yeah," Don said, not raising his eyes from his beer bottle. "When he first came on to me, it was in the middle of the night, so I just thought he was being selfish as usual. Trying to prove some stupid point about how guy sex didn't have to be fast and dirty." He looked up and met Sandy's interested eyes. "He's done crazier things to prove a point, you know. He once set the garage on fire trying to prove that it wasn't flammable."

Sandy gave him a small smile of encouragement.

"But now he's saying that he wants to be with me and get me away from C - my boyfriend - but it can't work, it shouldn't work!

"Because it can't be public?" she asked.

He stared at her. "Because it's fucking wrong!"

Her lips twitched. "Interesting choice of words. But, is part of the 'can't work' because it would have to be kept secret?"

"Just a 'little' secret?" he sneered. "If anyone found out, we'd be crucified!"

"True…"

"You're not helping."

"Oh, is that what I'm supposed to be doing?" Sandy said with mock surprise. "I thought we were just jawing."

Don shot her a dirty look, then sighed. "At least no one is going to suspect what we've been doing here. Nobody knows I'm-very few people know I'm bi."

She eyed him. "You're in the closet? So you're already keeping a big secret. That makes the abusive boyfriend make more sense."

"Will you stop calling him that?" Don snapped.

"Don't expect me to call an alligator a lizard," she said, her Southern drawl returning full force.

"But it doesn't matter anyway," Don grumbled. "Because me and my, um, honey, we're not going to, after this."

Sandy scoffed, "Don't pee down my back and tell me it's raining. You boys opened Pandora's Box and it ain't never gonna be closed again."

Don glared at her. "No, this doesn't go beyond here."

She leaned on the bar towards him and said quietly, "But you want it to, don't you?"

"Damn it," Don snapped. "Now that you know who he is, how in Hell do you still think I should be with him?"

She stared at him. "Is that what I was saying?" She straightened up and moved away from him. He watched her clean a glass over and over.

Don took a sip of his beer and was suddenly sick and tired of the whole mess. He wondered wistfully what Charlie was thinking. It would be so easy to go back to that room and start peeling Charlie out of his clothes…

Don shook his head. Charlie had asked if he was doing further damage to Don's mental state, and the answer was 'Hell, yeah'. Don was so confused. He just couldn't understand Charlie now. He thought he'd had his brother figured out - Charlie was brilliant, selfish, only loosely connected to the real world. He worked for the FBI because it offered him interesting problems and more immediate adoration then the academic world could. It wasn't that Don had thought that Charlie had anything but a good heart, he was the child of Alan and Margaret Eppes, after all. It was just that he spent so much time inside his own head, that people around him became only variables, to be manipulated inside computations.

But apparently not me. Don had known that Charlie had always looked at him with a large dose of hero-worship. After all, it was normal for younger brothers to adore their big brothers. But Charlie had taken it to another level, a sexual level, a romantic level. Don couldn't reconcile the Charlie that he knew with the Charlie who worried about Don's emotional state, with the Charlie that even spent considerable effort and money in an attempt to repair that emotional state. And to reconcile the Charlie he thought he knew with the Charlie who loved him…

Don took another drink of his beer, and noticed that his hands were still trembling. The beer wasn't helping at all. The last few days had shaken him to the core. From the moment he realized that Colby had flat-out lied to him, to the moment that Charlie had first touched him, to the moment when Charlie had said those words that couldn't be unsaid. Don's reality had been upended, and one of the truths that had come tumbling out was just how very fucked up he was. He'd known he was damaged goods, known that his experiences in pro baseball had split him into two warring halves - a man who tried to be good and an animal driven by his basest urges. He'd thought he'd found in Colby someone to hold on to, someone to give him clarity, simplicity. Colby knew both halves of Don and accepted him, with what felt like reasonable limits. But instead of simplicity, Don had felt like he was running up a sand dune - no matter how hard he tried, he kept slipping backwards. He could never please Colby for long. He always did something wrong eventually, forcing Colby to tighten his leash.

But Charlie… Don had done so many things wrong to Charlie over the years, but Charlie had always continued to love him. Charlie had forgiven Don offenses both small and large, as well as ugly secrets and sudden and lengthy disappearances.

Maybe there was something to the equation that Charlie had written with his finger on the picture window. Something to the idea that no one could be as close as people who'd grown up together.

So everyone should be fucking a family member?

He shuddered.

No, it just doesn't work that way. It couldn't work at all. At the end of this vacation, he'd go back to Colby and beg for forgiveness. His relationship with Colby might be flawed, but at least Don understood it. Except the part about why Colby loved him. Colby was so gorgeous, so amazing, that it made no sense for him to want Don. He tried to be worthy of it, but kept failing, like the whore he was.

What if…what if only someone who has a family bond as well as romantic interest could really love someone as messed up as I am? He thought of that look, that addictive look of desire that shone from Charlie's eyes. And his touch, so delighted, so joyful… It made Don remember when looking in another's eyes and feeling that first simple touch was as exciting as the sex that came after. It almost made him feel…clean.

Don shook his head sharply. 'Clean' was the last thing having sex with his brother was. It was filthy, wrong, and… really, really fun. Don sighed. Regardless of anything else, regardless of the morality of it, regardless of how unfair it was to Colby, there one inescapable fact -- he really loved having sex with Charlie.

Don's body throbbed at the memories. His sexual desires were once again winning in their never-ending battle against his sense of morality. Suddenly, he was very conscious of the fact he was here and Charlie - accepting, loving Charlie - was just a hallway or two away. It was a shame to leave him all alone…

How many times had they messed around? Six, Charlie had said? And seven is sounding awfully good right now. So much better than moping out here.

"What does it matter?" he murmured to himself. He was already damned, one more time wouldn't make a difference. One more time tasting Charlie's skin, feeling his amazement, one more time with Charlie moaning my name…

He set the beer bottle down on the bar with a thump. Sandy looked up.

He smiled faintly at her. "Sad to let that nice hotel room go to waste."

Sandy smiled carefully back at him. "Good for you."

Don's eyebrows shot up. "So you still think I should dump my boyfriend and be with him, even though he's…you know?"

Sandy gave a helpless shrug. "It's a mess, I'll agree. But I just can't believe that being with someone who treats you like garbage is better than someone who really cares about you. Maybe he can help you recover from your boyfriend then you can move on?"

"What if I don't want to move on?" Don retorted, shocking himself.

"I don't know, but at least let him help you get away from that bastard."

Don gave her a non-committal nod and got up from his barstool. Suddenly, the whole of the conversation came back to him… and he realized it had a very familiar feel to it. Sandy's questions, taunts, pauses, body language - she had just walked him through the stages of a confession, using well-honed interrogation skills.

He eyed her sharply. "You aren't really a bartender, are you…?"

Sandy raised her eyebrows. "Pardon?"

"You've had training in something other than making a martini."

She shrugged. "I also have a PhD in psychology and another in Criminology."

"And…?" Don asked, using his best interrogation glare. "Perhaps some government work…?"

She snorted. "Not everyone who can get people to talk works for the CIA."

Don frowned. It was starting to dawn on him how much he'd told a total stranger, and how damaging the information she now had. "Why are you 'getting people to talk'? What's your agenda? Blackmail?"

Sandy shook her head sadly. "No agenda. I just like talking with people, and maybe helping them with their problems. Though your situation is one I've never heard, I'll admit. I'll be chewing that one over for a while."

"Great," Don grumbled.

"Don't worry about me," she said gently. "Bartender/client confidentiality, ya know. Now, go find your honey. While you still can."

Don nodded and laid a twenty on the bar.

She smiled and said, with an exaggerated drawl, "Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit, ain't you a sweetheart."

Don couldn't help but smile at her, then he turned away and headed down the hallway. His step quickened. He'd wasted too much time already.

Chapter Text

Part 28 - Don changes his direction and Charlie is turned around

It didn't take long for Charlie to clean up the bathroom - much shorter time than it had taken to get it messy. He sighed, remembering how wonderful it had been to sit on Don's naked lap and wash his thick, soft hair. And when he had his finger in Don's ass… His cock throbbed with the memory of how Don looked, flushed and moaning from that one intimate contact.

God, I want to fuck him…

Charlie sighed again, at the insurmountable barriers between him and his dream. He didn't even know if he'd see Don again at the hotel. He was probably taking a cab back to civilization and his beloved Colby. Charlie shuddered. Don would be more than a little bloody after that homecoming. He would be so torn up that he-

Charlie abruptly shut off the thought and went out to the main room. He'd done what he could to convince Don to dump Colby, but he'd failed. He knew the moment he'd used the word 'abuse' that he'd lost the argument. Don might have rock-bottom self-esteem, but he still had enough male pride that he'd never admit to being a victim of domestic violence.

Charlie turned on the TV and searched through the offerings until he found something sufficiently mind-numbing - cycling - and forced himself to open his book and start reading.

He'd finally gotten engrossed in the book when the hotel door opened, startling him.

Don walked in and Charlie's mouth fell open. Don's eyes locked on Charlie, he shut the door behind him, and strode over to the couch. He turned off the TV, and then took Charlie's book and gently set it aside.

Then Don started pulling off his own shirt.

"Whoa, what?" Charlie stammered. "I thought you were going to find a bar."

"I did," Don said. "And got a bit of a talking to."

"Talking to?"

"Made me realize something," Don said, kicking off his shoes and unzipping his jeans.

"W-what?" Charlie asked, struggling to make sense of Don's hands peeling down his always tight jeans.

Don stripped off the rest of his clothes until he was only in his underwear, then he sat down on the couch and put his arms around Charlie. "I realized that, while I don't know where we're going or what we're going to do about this thing, what I really want right now is just to be with you." He ran his hands over Charlie's neck and chest. "To be with you, with you, for as much and as long as I can."

With a tremendous act of willpower, Charlie pushed Don back. "But what about…"

"With you, Charlie, and no one else."

"Then why…"

Don took Charlie's hand and kissed it. "Please, Charlie, I don't know how much time we have left and I don't want to waste any of it."

"It doesn't have to end when we…"

"Please…" Don said softly, and Charlie melted.

"Of course," Charlie said, his throat a little tight. He ran his hands over Don's bare chest. "Of course…" He started taking off his shirt and Don helped him, then quickly shed the rest of his clothes. Don stood off and pulled off his own underwear. His cock was hard and ready and Charlie knew his own was the same.

Don led Charlie over to their bed and, as Charlie lay down, climbed on the bed to lie next to him. Don pulled Charlie close and his hungry mouth was all over his face, hair, neck - everywhere but his forbidden lips. Charlie shook off the frustration and instead put his lips to use himself. He kissed and rubbed his face in Don's hair, loving the smell of his own shampoo in that hair. It was like he'd placed his mark on Don. He wished he could leave more visible marks, but that was far too dangerous. What did it mean that Don had come back, and so quickly? He'd sounded less definite about this - whatever 'this' was - ending after this weekend then he'd ever sounded before. Could he be changing his mind? To what? And who'd given him a 'talking to'?

"Charlie," Don said, nuzzling his neck. "Stop thinking so much. I want you to be here, with me, okay?"

Charlie pulled away and looked at Don's face. He put his hand on Don's cheek, traced Don's lips with his finger, watched as Don opened his lips and begin to suck on his finger. "Of course," Charlie whispered.

Don smiled and bit lightly on Charlie's finger.

"Are you hungry?" Charlie asked huskily. "I am." He pulled out his finger, pushed Don to lie on his back and began nibbling and kissing Don's chest. He took Don's left nipple in his mouth and sucked hard. Don arched up, moaning, and grabbed a handful of Charlie's hair. Charlie kept at it until the skin around the nipple began to turn white. Then he released the nipple - to a cry from Don - and treated the other nipple the same.

"Shit, shit," Don said, his fists deep in Charlie's hair, his eyes closed.

Charlie released the second one and watched Don writhe as blood rushed back into his nipple.

"God," Don whimpered, his voice strange and passion-soaked.

Charlie looked down at him and murmured, "You are so beautiful."

Don opened his eyes and gave a breathy chuckle. "Never thought I'd heard that sort of thing from you."

Charlie smiled wryly and said, "There are many words that I've never said to you. Let go of my hair and I'll share a few more."

Smiling, Don carefully removed his tangled fingers from Charlie's hair. Charlie didn't even mind the little pricks of pain as Don inadvertently pulled his hair.

Charlie began to kiss his way down Don's chest. "Handsome, sexy, haunting," he said between kisses. "Exasperating, desirable, cute, strong."

"I'm not…"

Charlie ignored his protest. "Smart, commanding, gentle, dedicated, understanding, pig-headed…"

"I think you've said that one to me," Don said, his breathing shaky.

Charlie reached the line of hair leading to the pubic area and he nuzzled and licked circles in the hair. "Perfect…" he said softly, then kissed the head of Don's waiting cock.

"Charlie, I'm not perf…" but that was as far as Charlie let him get before he sucked in Don's cock and began to demonstrate his admiration more directly. He fondled Don's balls, imagining them swinging loose as Charlie fucked him on all fours… Stop it, he chastised himself. How can you be thinking about more when you have Don's cock in your mouth? He loved the warm, throbbing feel of Don in his mouth, and Don's breathy little sounds, but the truth was he did want more. He wanted all of Don, in every way, forever and ever. He would never be satisfied until-

"Charlie…" Don said huskily. "I want more."

Charlie lifted up his head and stared at Don, hope rising in his chest that Don was beginning to feel the same way.

"Turn around," Don instructed. "So I can suck you, too."

A little disappointed that Don was referring to sex, Charlie turned around. They arranged themselves into the '69' position, settling easily into what can often be an awkward position yet with Don was completely comfortable. But Charlie had to wonder if this was all Don meant when he said he wanted more.

Charlie's thoughts and concerns melted away as he squeezed Don's ass and worked Don's cock, while Don was doing the same to him. He moaned loudly to show Don how much he was enjoying the arrangement. They both took their time with the other's cock, backing off whenever the other seemed near the edge.

Charlie was just debating whether he could maneuver his finger into Don's ass, when Don abruptly pulled off and pushed Charlie away.

Charlie looked down at Don, fearful that Don had suddenly changed his mind, but the look on Don's face said anything but 'stop'. Instead, Don turned around and pushed Charlie to lie flat on his back. He propped himself on his elbows over Charlie, lining up their cocks perfectly, and began to move. Charlie gripped Don's upper arms as their hard, saliva-wet cocks slid against each other.

"Want to see that look again," Don whispered throatily. "Want to see your face."

"What look?" Charlie asked breathlessly. Don didn't reply, just watched Charlie's face with an eagerness he usually reserved for the solution to a crime.

"What…" Charlie started, then his orgasm suddenly caught up with him. He dug his fingers into Don's arms and pushed his pelvis up, twisting and moaning as he shot cum between their bodies. He pushed up again and again until collapsed back to the bed, shaking.

Charlie looked up at Don, who seemed to be breathing almost as hard as Charlie was.

"That's the look I wanted to see again," Don murmured. "You are beautiful."

Charlie blinked at him dazedly. "Wh-what?"

Don shifted slightly, so that his hard cock now slid through Charlie's fresh cum, and began to thrust urgently against him. Charlie just watched as Don's face flushed, his eyelids fluttered, his lips pressed together. A last groan and Charlie felt the heat of Don's cum splatter across his stomach.

Oh, that look, Charlie thought, reverently taking in Don's blissful expression as he pumped through his orgasm.

Don came to a shuddering stop, and his eyes were gloriously heavy-lidded, his lush mouth was open and panting, his lower lip trembling.

Charlie realized that he was still gripping Don's upper arms tightly. He pried open his hands, and saw that he'd nearly impressed his fingerprints into Don's skin. He smiled to himself. Marked him after all…

Don collapsed on top of Charlie, his face buried in the bed next to Charlie's head.

"Ooof!" Charlie complained, though it was only for show.

"Mmph…" Don commented.

"Yeah," Charlie agreed.

They lay that way for a long moment, their gasping chests pushing against each other. Charlie stroked Don's back and their cum sealed their skin together. Charlie enjoyed the opportunity for the first time to bask in the afterglow - assuming that Don didn't start yelling at him again.

"Seven times," Don said, his voice light and musing. "It keeps getting better. Got to be a statistical anomaly."

"No," Charlie said firmly. "We're still defining the vector."

"All hail the vector."

Charlie snorted at the bad pun and peeled Don off of him. Don rolled aside, chuckling, then snuggled up against him, nosing his ear. "Hey buddy."

Charlie flushed with pleasure at the old nickname. "Hey," he responded warmly.

"I love hairy men," Don said, sliding his hand across Charlie's chest.

Charlie smiled ruefully. "I have a disproportionate amount to love."

"Just right," Don murmured.

Don's hand swept down to Charlie's torso, where cum was drying uncomfortably in said hair.

"Ouch, need a towel," Charlie complained.

"Or a shower?" Don asked hopefully.

Charlie groaned. "I'm tapped out for now."

"OK, OK," Don said with a mock grumble. "Didn't know you were such a lightweight."

"Lightweight?" Charlie retorted. "This is my third orgasm and it's only lunch!"

"You're keeping count on that too, what a surprise," Don teased.

Charlie sat up with a groan. "I'm going to need a shower anyway."

"Me, too."

They climbed off the bed, grumbling good-naturedly and went into the two-person shower. They each stood under a shower spray and watched the other soap down his body. Charlie felt his cock attempting to stir but he was far too spent. Don's cock, on the other hand, was already half-hard. Charlie considered going down on his knees and coaxing Don through another orgasm, but then he might end up orgasming as well, and that would probably kill him.

Charlie rinsed himself and turned off the water. Don quickly followed suit and opened the shower door first. He grabbed a towel and began wrapping it around Charlie. He had to stand very close to do so, and Charlie felt Don's breath on his wet skin.

Don got the towel around Charlie…then froze. His eyes were riveted on Charlie's lips. He took one wet finger and traced the line of Charlie's lower lip. Then he took a deep, shuddering breath and turned away.

"Don…" Charlie groaned in complaint.

"There's got to be a line we don't cross, Charlie," Don said tiredly. He picked up a towel and started drying himself.

"Why?" Charlie asked. "Why does there have to be lines?"

Don shook his head. "Just drop it." He walked out of the bathroom.

Charlie closed his eyes and tried to remind himself of everything he'd had been able to do with Don. Just days ago, sucking Don's cock would have been more than enough, but now that he'd had been able to do that several times, he wanted everything. However, he did understand Don's need to draw a line, to put some boundaries on this wonderful madness. Charlie just wanted to draw the line somewhere way past kissing and fucking.

Drying himself the rest of the way off, Charlie forced a smile on his face and exited the bathroom.

That smile quickly turned into a real smile when he saw Don, sitting on the couch, and patting the spot next to him. Charlie sat down and Don put his arm around Charlie's shoulders and pulled him close.

"How about we order room service," Don said huskily in Charlie's ear while handing him the room service menu. "And work on building your strength back up."

Charlie agreed eagerly and opened the menu.

They ordered room service - steaks and oysters - and enjoyed a relaxed meal of playfully feeding each other and arguing about baseball, the most attractive Olympians, and whether bacon should ever be paired with chocolate.

They finished lunch and set the dishes outside the room. Don turned on the TV to an old black & white movie and Charlie straightened out the crumpled bed sheets. They climbed together onto the bed and propped up pillows against the headboard to watch the movie. Charlie leaned up against Don and sighed happily. Don started to lightly run his fingers over Charlie's hair and face, no doubt wanting to warm Charlie up for the inevitable next round of amazing sex, but moving slowly and leisurely, if as they had all the time in the world.

Then the phone rang.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: Don opens one door and Charlie listens behind another

Don and Charlie lay frozen on the bed. The phone rang again, sending shivers of fear through Charlie. "It's probably just the chef, making sure we liked the oysters," he said shakily.

Charlie climbed over Don and picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"I'm sorry," said a man's voice, "But he showed his badge and I didn't realize until he left that…"

Someone pounded on the door. "Eppes! I know you're in there!"

Charlie's heart sank to his knees. At least they both still had their clothes on.

Don got slowly up from the bed. His shoulders hunched as he walked towards the door.

"Eppes!" Colby yelled again, pounding on the door.

Don unlocked the door and pulled it open.

Colby stormed into the room, pushing Don aside. "Who else is here?"

"No one," Don said. Charlie was surprised to hear Don's voice so calm. Don shut the door behind Colby. "Just Charlie and me."

"Mr. Wallis?" someone said, and Charlie realized that he was still holding the phone to his ear. "Do you need me to send security?"

Charlie hesitated. Colby's face was red, his fists clenched as he checked throughout the room and into the bathroom.

Charlie opened his mouth to ask for security, but Don caught Charlie's eye and shook his head.

"Not yet," Charlie said reluctantly and hung up the phone.

Colby sniffed the air. "I smell sex!"

Don shrugged. "I jacked off. It's been awhile. Sir."

Colby spun on him. "Damn right it's been a while, what the hell where you thinking, disappearing like that?"

"I just needed a break, sir," Don said.

"A helluva 'break'," Colby snapped. He stabbed a finger towards Charlie. "You wouldn't believe what Charlie did to make it hard to find you. He's been spending too much time thinking like a criminal."

"I didn't want anyone to find us," Charlie said, raising his chin. "So you can just leave now."

Colby ignored him and stepped closer to Don. "Damn, Eppes, you wouldn't believe what I've been going through, not being able to find you." He took hold of Don's upper arms.

Don winced. Colby frowned and pulled up Don's sleeves. On both forearms was the fading imprint of Charlie's fingerprints, imprints from when Charlie was holding on to Don while he orgasmed against him.

Don said smoothly, "We went snowmobiling. Charlie had a grip like a vice."

"Huh," Colby said. "While you've been snowmobiling and living it up at this place, I've been driving to San Diego and searching everywhere for you. How was I supposed to feel when you just took off like that? You had me worried sick!"

"I'm sorry that I worried you, sir," Don said quietly.

Colby's eyes widened and his face reddened again. "Sorry? Sorry?" he snarled. "I'll make you…" He pulled himself up short and took a deep breath. "Don, look, I-"

Abruptly, Colby seemed to remember that Charlie was there. He eyed him. "So I guess you know."

"Yeah," Charlie said flatly.

"Okay, fine," Colby said. "But could you give us a minute?"

Charlie didn't move, just stood there and crossed his arms.

"It's alright, Charlie," Don said. "Just step into the bathroom, okay?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, buddy," Don said firmly.

Pressing his lips together, Charlie nodded and went into the bathroom. He shut the door and quickly calculated the room's acoustical pattern to maximize what he could hear from the next room. The first hint of violence and he'd be out there in an instant.

"Eppes," Colby was saying. "When I couldn't find you, it made me realize something. I realized that I never want to be without you, never want to be away from you. I want… I want to ask you something. Don't say anything right away, okay?"

Don made a noise of agreement.

"Don, I want you… Will you marry me?"

Charlie's jaw dropped.

"Married?" Don said, his voice sounding faint. "You want to get married?"

"Yeah," Colby said. "You and me."

"With…a wedding?"

"Not a big one, I mean, it doesn't need to be anyone but the two of us."

"But my family-"

"I'm talking about a real commitment between you and me, a private commitment."

A pause. "Private?" Don asked. Charlie wished he could see Don's face.

"Yeah."

"So we wouldn't tell people?"

"Who needs to know? Certainly not my family or my Army buddies. And we couldn't let the FBI know or they'd never let us work together. We'd have to keep it just between us."

"So how is that different than what we have now? Sir?"

"Well," Colby said, sounding irritated. "Obviously you couldn't go taking off on me like you did if we were married."

Charlie pressed his ear to the crack of the doorway, but he couldn't hear Don's reply.

"I said don't answer right now," Colby said. There were sounds of rustling. "But while you're thinking about it, I think you need a reminder of how good we are together."

Charlie realized he was hearing Colby start to take his clothes off. Would the spanking come next? Charlie bunched his hands into fists. If Colby raised one hand to Don…

"No," Don said quietly.

Charlie held his breath.

"What?"

"No, sir."

"What? 'No' what?"

"No, thank you, sir. I need time to think."

"Think later," Colby said. "We'll have to get some soap from the bathroom or something."

Charlie heard Colby start to come towards the bathroom and he jumped back from the door.

Don must have said something, because Colby suddenly stopped.

"What the hell, Eppes?" Colby snapped. "It's been almost a week since I had your ass. Is there some reason why I can't fuck you right now? No, not unless you've been messing around with… Charlie?"

"That's sick," Don said clearly. "He's my brother."

Charlie's stomach twisted.

Don continued, "I just don't want to right now. I'm on a break."

"C'mon, Eppes," Colby said, his voice rough. "I know you need it. Unless you've been getting fucked by the bellhop, you're as desperate as I am. Stop stalling and get those pants off."

"No, sir," Don said.

There was a moment of tense silence, then Colby snarled, "I knew it! You've been bending over for someone else! All that about a break when you've really been letting some other fucker pound your ass. I'll break your neck and whatever bastard you've been-"

Charlie yanked the bathroom door open. "You're leaving now!"

Colby turned on him, fists raised.

"I'll think about your proposal, sir," Don said quietly.

Colby stiffened then stared back at Don, his mouth working. Then he slowly lowered his fists. He began to zip up his pants and refasten his belt.

Charlie strode over to the phone. "I'm calling security."

"No need for that," Colby snapped. "I'm leaving."

Charlie hesitated.

Colby grabbed Don and kissed him hard, forcing Don's head back with the strength of the kiss. Don put his hands flat against Colby's chest, but Charlie couldn't tell if Don was trying to push Colby away or not. Colby continued to bend Don back, pressing his body against him.

Charlie stood, paralyzed with indecision.

Finally, Don made a sound of protest and Charlie jumped for the phone. Before he could lift it, Colby released Don, who staggered backwards.

"I'll be waiting for you when you get back, Eppes," Colby said curtly. "We'll talk then."

Colby left the room, slamming the door behind him. Charlie stood holding the phone, shaking, and looked over at Don.

Don seemed to be frozen in place.

"Don?" Charlie asked softly.

For a long moment, Don didn't move or even blink. Then slowly, very slowly, he sank to his knees.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: Don answers a question and Charlie makes a revelation

Over the rushing in his ears, Don heard Charlie ask, "Don? Are you okay?"

Charlie's voice was far away. In his mind, Don was standing on second base, looking towards the baseball dugout, seeing his teammates and coaches cheer his pathetic, limping double. I'm the Team Whore.

That memory flashed by and he was stuck in a new memory. On some level, Don knew Colby had left the hotel room, had made some threat and slammed the door on his way out. But most of Don was still frozen in the moment that Colby had talked about their 'private' marriage, and for the second time in his life, he had been gifted with a moment of perfect clarity. When Colby had said, 'Obviously you couldn't go taking off on me like you did if we were married,' Don had seen his future.

And it had terrified him.

"Don?" Charlie asked. Don found himself on his knees on the rug. He sensed that Charlie was kneeling next to him, but he couldn't look at Charlie, couldn't turn his eyes away from the vision of his future. It was a long, dark tunnel, suffocating and inevitable.

Charlie put his hand on Don's shoulder. "Don?"

Don blinked and turned his head to look at Charlie. His worried face was close.

Very close.

Don leaned over and pressed his lips to Charlie's.

Charlie squeaked and fell backwards. He instantly scrambled back to his knees and his mouth was back on Don's.

Charlie's kiss was urgent, almost desperate. Don's lips opened and welcomed Charlie's tongue in. Charlie's hands were in his hair and his mouth was the perfect firmness. The kiss twined between them, each giving and receiving pressure and touch in equal measures.

It was worlds different from Colby's kiss.

Charlie abruptly jerked away and he stared at Don. "What… what was that?" he panted.

Don reached for him, wanting that warmth to return, but Charlie scooted out of reach.

"Don," Charlie protested. "You just got a marriage proposal from your boyfriend. You shouldn't be kissing me."

"Don't you want it?" Don asked, moving towards Charlie.

"Oh, I do," Charlie said fervently. "But what are you doing?"

"I just want to kiss you," Don said. "You've been begging me to."

"But that was before!"

"Charlie…" Don pleaded.

Charlie stood up and went around behind the couch. "No, you're being confusing again."

Don stared at him, and the true horror of his future as Colby's husband closed around him. Not only would he be prisoner of Colby and his jealousy, but he knew Colby would make sure that he was cut off from Charlie completely. Maybe he could survive never touching Charlie again, but to never even see him, to have him be far away, to be gone...

Don reached out to Charlie, and he must have made some sort of sound, because Charlie's face softened and he came back over.

"Don," Charlie said, grabbing hold of his hand. "Come on, come sit on the couch. Talk to me."

Don let Charlie lead him to the couch. As they sat down, Don reached for Charlie and Charlie let him pull him close and kiss him again. It was sweet and warm and Don tried to drown himself in the kiss.

Charlie pulled back, breathing hard. "Don," he whispered. "Please."

"Please what?" Don said, kissing Charlie's cheeks and eyes and back to his lips.

"Talk to me," Charlie said against Don's mouth.

Don sighed and sat back against the couch. "About what?"

"About Colby and marriage and kissing and…"

"I'd rather kiss than talk about it," Don said, running his fingers along Charlie's lips. He'd been wise to avoid kissing Charlie for so long - now that he'd done it he knew that Charlie's mouth was as addictive as the rest of him. His warm lips, set off by the scruffiness above and below them... He leaned forward again.

"Don, please," Charlie whispered.

Don dropped his hand in frustration. "Never knew you were so into talking."

"Are you going to marry Colby?"

"I don't know," Don said, closing his eyes. "Probably."

"Probably?" Charlie said. "That's… fairly definite. Are you sure?"

"We both knew I'd go back to him eventually," Don said, keeping his eyes closed. "We knew this couldn't last."

"Why?" Charlie asked plaintively. "Why can't it last?"

Don sighed. "You know why."

"Because I'm your brother? Because it's sick?"

"No, no. 'Sick' seems to do it for me."

"Because that's what you said to Colby, that the idea was sick."

"I said a lot of things. Like the smell of sex wasn't from you and me."

"True. So you don't think it's sick?" Charlie pressed.

"It is sick, Charlie," Don said. "But I think we're way past the point of thinking about that."

"Okay, so why can't it last?"

"Because I'm a whore, Charlie," Don said tiredly. "I'm an ass whore. Colby was right, I am desperate for it."

"Then why didn't you let him?"

"You know what would have come first."

"You mean the beating," Charlie said harshly. "You don't get the fucking until after he beats you up."

Don didn't bother to correct Charlie that it just would have been a spanking. Then again, Colby had been a lot angrier than he'd ever been before…

Charlie continued fiercely, "That's why you didn't want it from him? But what's going to happen when you get back? After you told him no today? He's going to beat you bloody!"

Don could only shrug.

"But, Don," Charlie pleaded. "You don't have to go back to him. You don't have to marry him."

"I need him," Don said. He opened his eyes to look at Charlie and said softly, "You don't seem to realize, little brother. I'm broken. Being a baseball whore broke me. I can't go without it. I've tried and tried since then, but eventually I always give in and search out someone who will treat me like I need to be treated, bend me over and fuck me to the ground.

Don touched Charlie's cheek wistfully. "I'm a pervert, I'm fucked up. I need someone like Colby to keep me under control. I've been heading for this ever since I left baseball. I'm an animal and I need to be put in a cage."

Charlie's eyes were impossibly wide. "No…"

"Charlie, please, don't ruin the little time we have left." Don stroked Charlie's cheek. "Please, let's just go over to the bed and forget Colby ever came, at least for a little while."

"No," Charlie said, grabbing Don's hand and holding it tightly. "I'm not going to let you say that about yourself, it's not true."

"It's…"

"No," Charlie said forcefully. "Your logic chain is flawed. You think because, A- the only way that you've satisfied your need had been bastards like Colby, that B- that's the only way to satisfy your need. You need fucking, fine, there are people who will fuck you without beating you."

"Maybe I need the beating, too."

Charlie shook his head angrily. "You do not! So, you're a bottom. Like I said a few days ago, being a bottom or a top is just a sexual preference. It doesn't say anything about you as a person."

"Charlie…" Don grumbled.

"You're going to listen to me this time," Charlie snapped. "Somewhere you got this stupid idea that being a bottom meant that you were a lesser man, that you couldn't be a strong man, an Alpha Male, as you said, and still like to be on the receiving end of a fucking. I wish I could go back and find that person who convinced you of this and… pulverize him."

Don had to smile at Charlie's fierceness.

"I would never treat someone like that. I would never let a bottom think that. Good sex is a partnership, an equal partnership, and for me a bottom gives me a gift."

Don frowned in confusion.

"Yeah," Charlie said roughly. "Your weakling pathetic brother prefers to be on the giving end of a fuck. Does that mean anything about me morally? No, unless I treated my sexual partners the way yours do."

Don blinked, trying to process what Charlie was saying. "But you date tops, jocks."

"I date jocks that like to be fucked," Charlie said firmly. "I don't mind being fucked, but you called yourself an ass whore? Well, so am I, but for me it's the man in front of me and his ass that I want. See, I need it just like you do, but I don't think I have to be hit to get what I need."

"God," Don said faintly. Charlie's face was wavering in front of him. Nothing made sense any more. First, Charlie loved him, and now Charlie was a top?

"Don," Charlie said, and his voice was husky, tight with emotion. "You need to be fucked? Well, there is nothing in the world I want to do more."



Chapter Text

Chapter 31: Charlie tops off the conversation and Don bottoms out

Don whimpered in disbelief. Charlie? Fucked by Charlie? Could it really be possible?

It might hold off the desperation for a little while. He'd still go back to Colby, of course. He had to. But it would give him a short reprieve, and Don could soak a little in the way Charlie was looking at him, like Don was holding the key to an impossible math question, and he could savor the way Charlie held himself tightly as if to keep himself from bursting in anticipation.

"You really want to fuck me?" Don asked. He knew the answer, but asked just to see the hope jump in Charlie's eyes, to see the flush spread over Charlie's face. "But you were saying 'we shouldn't kiss' and 'we should talk'?"

"Screw it," Charlie said hoarsely.

Don grinned his answer.

Charlie whooped in joy then he was grabbing Don, pushing him back against the couch, kissing him fiercely. Don laughed around Charlie's mouth then sunk into the kiss, reveling in Charlie's fervor.

Never breaking contact between them, Charlie half-climbed on top of Don. It reminded Don of when he had first told Charlie that he could give him a blowjob and Charlie had gone after him with gusto, as if he expected Don to change his mind at any second. Now Charlie seemed ready to ready to fuck Don right this instant, fully-clothed and on the couch.

Charlie broke off, panting harshly, and said something completely unexpected. "Do you need a clean-out?"

Don grimaced, pulling a little away from Charlie. How did Charlie know that? Whether it was his terrible beer-based diet, his lack of exercise, or that damn plug he always wore when Colby was around, Don was chronically constipated. But that was not the sort of thing that lovers usually asked him.

"I thought so," Charlie said, nuzzling his neck. "You've seemed uncomfortable. I notice everything about you, you know."

No, Don hadn't known. "Still," he said, "It doesn't matter…"

"I brought an enema you can use, then we can wait until you're feeling better."

Don pushed Charlie up until he could see his face. "But, I would have thought…"

Charlie smiled wryly. "I've waited for you since I was fifteen, I can wait a few more hours."

At an uncomfortable thought, Don eyed him. "You want to… do it to me? Is that your thing?"

Charlie shrugged. "Not really. I can, if you want. I've had lovers who liked me to do it to them. But I'd only do it to make them more comfortable. I'm not into it. In fact…" Looking away, he played with Don's hair for a moment before continuing. "In fact, I had to break it off with one guy when he wanted me to have a dump on him."

"Yuck, why?"

Charlie met his eyes, saying carefully, "He thought he deserved it. He thought he needed to be punished for his desire to be fucked."

Don grimaced and turned away, his mood plummeting. It reminded him that Charlie was the one in charge here, Charlie was the top, the one who was going to give Don what he needed so desperately. How had he arrived at this point in his life, when his cerebral little brother was his sexual superior? At least when Don was fucked by a big muscular man, someone who could physically overpower him, he only felt somewhat pathetic. Charlie was a weakling and Don was going to humiliate himself in front of him, overlook incest and every other natural law, just for a fuck. Because that's who he'd become.

He got up from the couch. "Let get this over with." He hoped Charlie thought he meant the enema, when he really meant the fucking.

Charlie silently got up and went over to his bag. He pulled out a narrow box and handed it to Don.

Gripping it tightly, Don went into the bathroom and shut the door. He sat down on the side of the bathtub, stared at the box, and wondered how he'd sunk so low.



Charlie stared at the door of the bathroom. Once again Don was on the other side of that door from him, a physical barrier along with all the other barriers between them. He should never have mentioned that old boyfriend and his stupid poop fetish. Before that, Don had been excited about the idea of Charlie fucking him.

Charlie started to shake. He was going to get it, he was going to get what he'd wanted for over half of his life and what had always seemed so impossible. He was going to get Don's ass.

He rubbed his hands against his legs. Why did it have to be like this, though? Why couldn't he have suggested it in the heat of sex? Instead, he'd managed to remind Don of all that stupid baggage and made things supremely awkward. He hadn't planned to mention the enema. He'd brought the supplies because he'd known Don needed it, but of all the foolish, mood-killing things to do…

"Stupid, stupid," he muttered to himself. He'd just wanted it to be perfect, just like his fantasies.

The room phone rang, making Charlie jump half out of his skin. He grabbed it.

"Hello?" he said, his heart racing.

"Mr. Euler?" someone asked. "Is everything alright there? We escorted your visitor out of the building."

"Fine," Charlie said, trying to gather himself. "We're fine."

"I'm glad to hear it. I'm Mike East, the hotel manager. I can't tell you how sorry I am that you had an unwelcome visitor. We pride ourselves in being a respite from the outside world and protecting our clients' privacy is our first duty. The desk clerk who gave out your room number will be disciplined-"

"No, no," Charlie protested. "I'm… glad that the clerk gave him the number without problems because he's, well, the man who came is usually armed and a very dangerous person. I tried to cover our tracks getting here but didn't quite manage it. Once he found the hotel itself, there was no way he wasn't going to find us."

The manager paused. "Are you certain? The desk clerk should have just called security. I don't know why he didn't."

"Well, he's probably never been confronted by an attractive ex-army interrogator turned FBI agent before."

"Uh."

"Charlie?" Don called from the bathroom. "Who is it?"

Charlie pulled the phone away from his ear and put his hand over the mouthpiece. "It's just the manager, apologizing. It's okay." He put the phone back to his ear.

"Mr. Euler, we'd like to try to make things right, with dinner on us tonight. Just let us know if you'd like room service or to come to the dining room."

"Oh, ok, thanks."

"Is there anything else you need?"

"Um," Charlie thought furiously. "How about some beer, some craft beer? Sent to our room?"

"Right now?"

"Yeah."

"Certainly! And once, again, I am so sorry for what happened."

"Me, too," Charlie mumbled and hung up the phone.

He raised his voice and called towards the bathroom. "They're going to pay for dinner. And send us some beer right now."

"Good," Don called back distractedly.

Charlie looked at the bathroom door and sighed. He was going to have to figure out a way to turn this mess around. Beer would be a good start, it usually was with Don, but a drunk and morose Don wasn't want he wanted.

Charlie sat down on the bed, stared at the door, and forced himself to approach the problem logically. He needed to factor in all his knowledge of love-making, what he knew of Don, and what he'd learned in the last few days about what Don liked, and come up with a plan, so that he could restart his approach. So that by the time the moment came, there would be nothing on Don's mind but Charlie.

And Don would be begging him to fuck him, just like Charlie always dreamed.



Chapter Text

Part 32: Charlie delays Don with Baseball

When Don came out of the bathroom, queasy and weak-kneed but successful, he found Charlie on the couch, watching a show about baseball. Charlie didn't look up as Don made his way gingerly over to him. On the table nearby was a big champagne bucket full of ice, but instead of champagne, there was an array of micro-brews. Next to it was an extravagant platter of fruits and cheeses.

Don grabbed a beer at random and popped off the lid with the beer opener. "Hotel manager feeling guilty?" he asked.

"Yes, definitely," Charlie said, looking down at his own plate of cheese and grapes. "This place has built its reputation on privacy."

"Hmm," Don said, sitting carefully on the couch. "Wouldn't have stopped Colby."

"That's what I explained to him. I'm just glad that he found us - and left - without violence."

"Colby wouldn't have hurt anyone," Don said, but knew it was a pro-forma protest. That look on Colby's face when he'd come through the door… Don shuddered and turned to the television for distraction. It was showing a special on the 1981 LA Dodgers World Series Championship.

"Baseball?" Don said. "Found something you thought I might like?"

"I like baseball," Charlie said.

"Right," Don laughed. "The most statistically driven sport there is."

Charlie hesitated, then said, "Sure, that's why."

Don eyed him but Charlie seemed focused on his plate of food. Don shifted his position to ease the discomfort in his ass.

"Success?" Charlie asked, obviously referring to the enema.

Don grunted an embarrassed affirmative.

"Good," Charlie said, then seemed to be interested in the television show.

Restlessly, Don got up to get some food. He stood, holding an empty plate, and watched Charlie watching TV. A week ago, he would have said he knew exactly what was going through Charlie's head right now. A week ago, Don would have been certain that Charlie would have thinking about math, Charlie and more math. He'd been comfortable with the Charlie who was focused on his own brilliance. He understood that Charlie. He didn't know what to do with the Charlie that had orchestrated this weekend, that talked about sex being an equal partnership, that had packed an enema because he knew Don needed it.

He wished Charlie hadn't packed that enema and he wished he hadn't used it. Yes, he'd really needed it and would feel better--was already feeling better for it. But instead he could be bent over the couch, Charlie giving him the fucking he needed, giving it to him hard and urgent and Don could believe that it was just another way that Charlie looked after his own desires first.

Charlie had said that he'd wanted Don since he was fifteen. Why hadn't he taken what Don offered immediately? If Charlie had just fucked him and been done with it, Don could have gotten his own perverted needs taken care of and be well on his way to being drunk right now. Instead, the strain of knowing that what he needed was so close and Charlie wanted to give it to him so much…

Don set down his empty plate and went back to the couch. He took Charlie's plate away from him, put it aside, then leaned over Charlie.

Charlie's mouth met his halfway and he was immediately pulling Don closer. Don half-climbed on top of Charlie and kissed him deeply. Don's hands went to Charlie's shirt, bunching it up to Charlie's arm-pits so Don could run his fingers through all that wonderful chest hair, then find each buried nipple and tease it to hardness. Charlie pulled Don's shirt up as well, running the flat of his hands over Don's back, then down, over his jeans, gripping his ass.

Charlie broke the kiss. "Wait," he panted. "You need to recover."

Don pulled Charlie close again, and kissed him harder, with more urgency. He shoved one hand down into Charlie's crotch, feeling his hardening cock through his pants. He ruthlessly kissed and stroked Charlie, needing to get Charlie past the point of thinking.

"Don, please," Charlie groaned. "Just give yourself some time. It will be so much better."

Don yanked himself away, growling in frustration.

"Please," Charlie said. "Let me do it right. I want the first time to be amazing. I've been thinking about it so long."

Don sighed and moved off of Charlie's lap. He sat down on the other end of the couch and rubbed his face. He stayed with his face in his hands for a moment, trying to calm his heartbeat, then sat up and looked over at Charlie.

Charlie met his eyes with an uncertain smile.

Don tried to smile back.

"I know you're not used to people saying no to you," Charlie said with forced cheerfulness. "Even for just a short delay."

Don's smile froze on his face and he jerked his head to look at the TV, as if something on it had caught his eye. He watched the show with grim determination for a few minutes, trying to push Charlie's last words out of his mind. When he felt he could breathe again, Don glanced over at Charlie to see his brother seemed to be engrossed in the show. He supposed that the narration had enough numbers to keep Charlie's interest.

The show couldn't keep Don's attention, though, because his body was still throbbing and heated. He realized his beer bottle was still sitting nearby, mostly full. He picked it up and drank it down with single-minded determination. After emptying it, Don got up and got another. He opened that one and drank half of it before his body had finally quietened down. He looked over at Charlie, who suddenly seemed a long distance away. Maybe it would be okay if he just touched him a little.

Carefully, Don leaned over and, keeping his eyes on the TV, lay his head down on Charlie's thigh. Charlie began to run his fingers through Don's hair, but in a soothing, non-sexual way.

Don knew he could just turn around and start nuzzling Charlie through his jeans. He didn't think Charlie had the willpower to push him away a third time. He'd seen how much Charlie wanted him, how Charlie fairly radiated with the desire to kiss him, how his eyes lit up when Don agreed to crossing yet another line with him.

Crossing… Don gave a silent, bitter laugh. Just yesterday he'd been concerned about incest, about the wrongness of having sex with his brother, about not crossing too many lines. Now all he could think about was how to maneuver that brother into fucking him sooner rather than later. Sin, taboo, perversion didn't matter anymore. As soon as he found out that Charlie was a top, that Charlie would fuck him, there were no more uncrossable lines. He would debase himself in any way possible in order to get what he needed. It had been too long, and he would stand in that locker room shower for as long as he had to.

"Don?" Charlie asked softly. "Are you okay?"

Don didn't trust himself to answer, just closed his eyes.

Don must have slept, because when he next opened his eyes, the light in the room had changed, a show on the '82 Milwaukee Brewers was on, and his hand was cramped from how it was bent under Charlie's leg. He yawned and stretched.

"Hi," Charlie said. "Have a good nap?"

"Yeah," Don muttered. "Getting soft with all this good food and sleep."

"You've not been getting a lot of either," Charlie said reproachfully.

"Mother hen," Don said, but it was without rancor. It was kind of nice to have someone worry about him, care about his well-being, bring an enema to his seduction… Don sat up and stretched some more. The nap had done him good, including pushing back some of the sexual desperation. But that wouldn't last long without distraction.

"Hey," Don said. "Doesn't this setup have some video games?"

"Yep." Charlie stood up and opened a cabinet next to the TV. "Xbox, wanna play something?"

"Sure, what do they have?"

Charlie held out a list of games and Don came over to investigate it.

"No shooter or fighting games," Don said. "I'm on vacation. No strategy games, either. You'd cream me."

"No word games listed," Charlie said, reading over his shoulder. "Thank God."

"Wait, I thought you said that you packed the Scrabble game."

"Um," Charlie said. "I must have left it in the car."

Don laughed. That was more like the Charlie he knew. "Well, how about a sports game, baseball? Seems to be the theme today."

"Baseball," Charlie said, sounding odd for a moment, then said brightly, "Sure! The randomness, assuming they implemented a reasonable algorithm for randomness, should make the game fairly even."

"No way," Don teased. "Your statistics aren't going to help here."

"But my intimate knowledge of physics should."

Don grinned. "Intimate?"

Charlie flushed and Don stopped himself just in time from leaning down to kiss him. He didn't want Charlie to have to reject him again for his own good. Not reject, delay… Then Charlie would…

Don grabbed for the video game controllers and turned on the Xbox. If he couldn't play his favorite game, he'd settle for his second.


Chapter Text

Part 33: Don begs the question and Charlie questions the beg

They had a pleasant afternoon playing video games, then going down to the pool for some lap swimming. Charlie got a fresh bucket of ice for the remaining beer, but Don didn't open another. Despite himself, Don began to enjoy the buildup, the expectation of what was to come. Charlie broadcast his own anticipation in every glance of his eyes, every light touch. Don basked in the glow of being wanted so fervently, of feeling Charlie's gaze often straying to his ass.

They went to supper in the dining room, but Don doubted either of them paid much attention to their excellent free meal. There weren't a lot of words exchanged between then, but instead there were many warm smiles and lingering touches. Don's body already ached with readiness, his cock pressed tight against the zipper of his jeans. Don could tell Charlie had the same problem, by the frequent adjustments to his own pants. At this rate, both of them wouldn't make it through a couple of kisses without going off. Don grinned at the sight of Charlie gulping his water and raised his own water glass in agreement.

Somehow they finished supper and made it back to their room. They'd hardly shut the door before they were kissing and trying to take off each other's clothes and their own clothes at the same time.

They separated, both laughing breathily, and quickly stripped out of their clothes. They came back together, all mouths and hands and naked skin rubbing. Charlie's cock poked against Don's hip, hard and ready. Charlie squeezed Don's ass cheeks and Don moaned against Charlie's hair.

Charlie stepped back and gave Don a wild grin. Don found himself grinning back. He headed for their bed.

"Over there," Charlie said, pointing to the bed that had only been used for half of the first night. Don shrugged and moved towards that bed, rubbing his hand against his thighs to calm himself down. He climbed onto the bed and lay on his stomach with his ass elevated, the pose that Colby preferred when they were in bed.

"Hands and knees?" Charlie asked hoarsely.

Don complied and heard Charlie move away.

Away?

All the confidence and anticipation of the afternoon suddenly leaked away. He couldn't see Charlie without moving out of position and was abruptly certain that Charlie wouldn't fuck him if he didn't follow his instructions exactly.

Don heard Charlie get some things from his bag and the bathroom then come over to the bed. He hoped Charlie wasn't going to use a condom, but couldn't make that feeble request out loud. He couldn't say anything. He was now in that horrible subservient mode, where he couldn't make demands or requests, just wait and hope. He silently begged, Please, please do it. His body was on fire and his ass ached. He felt like was standing in the shower after a baseball game, hoping desperately that some anonymous body would come along and take him, make him feel whole and connected again.

Don hung his head between his shoulders, waiting that agonizing wait. That was another good thing about Colby - no foreplay, just straight to cock in ass. Don knew intellectually that foreplay was enjoyable itself and that it made the orgasm better in the end, but his animal side, that side that he constantly fought and lost against, wanted fucking now. That side loved how Colby would grab him without warning, yank down his pants, pull out his anal plug, and shove that massive cock deep into him. There would be no chance to worry about whether someone would see him in the showers and want him, then when he was approached, whether he'd get fucked or just humped. Or if he'd go back to the hotel without it and have to drink himself into oblivion because, God, he needed someone to show him he was worth wanting…

Don felt Charlie's hands on him at last. Charlie carefully positioned Don near the foot of the bed, then climbed up behind him. He began to stroke Don's legs and ass with trembling fingers.

Don's mind skipped oddly to his recent conversation with that bartender. He had thought then about the absurdity of the idea that Charlie would ever hit him, would ever physically punish him. With Colby, Don got what he needed twice - first the hitting then Colby's massive cock pushing into his never quite prepared asshole. He wished abruptly that Charlie would spank him, hold him a little too hard, hurt him in some way. It would be so much more comfortable than this eager yet tender touch.

"Just do it," Don said and hated how whiny and desperate he sounded, but if that would hurry Charlie up…

Charlie hesitated, then said, "No rush. I want you to enjoy this."

"You aren't going all soft and girly on me, are you?" Don snapped, trying to provoke him. "Show me 'guy sex' isn't just fast and dirty? Bring on the hearts and flowers!"

"It's okay, Don," Charlie said, his voice gentle. "We'll get there, I promise."

"Charlie," Don growled. "I thought you wanted to fuck me."

"I want to make love to you."

Don groaned. "Don't you get it? I need it hard and fast and…"

"Painful?" Charlie said harshly. "Like you deserve to be hurt? Like you need to be punished?"

Don closed his eyes and didn't reply, though he knew his silence was its own answer.

"God," Charlie said in a strangled voice. "I want to kill them, all of them. All those people who hurt you and made you feel like you weren't worth anything because you enjoy being fucked."

Don bit his lip and stayed silent.

Charlie sat back. "I can only imagine what you thought about me when you thought I was a bottom. Did you believe that I deserved to be hurt and punished? Did you hope that I had bruises and gashes for bending over for a man?"

Horrified, Don turned to look at him. "No, Charlie, please. If I ever found out you were getting beat up, I would gone after…"

"And I can't feel the same way?"

Don closed his eyes. "It's not the same."

"Why not?"

Don shook his head, unable to put into words what he knew deep in his soul. Instead, he said, "Please, Charlie, just fuck me?"

Charlie took a deep breath. "I'd wanted you to beg me to fuck you, but not like this."

Don heard Charlie start to get up from the bed. Panicked, he turned and grabbed for Charlie.

"Please, don't, I'm sorry," he begged. "Please don't leave me!"

Charlie's face was pale, his eyes wide with what could be shock. "I'm not leaving you, Don. I just don't understand what's going on."

Holding on to Charlie's arm, Don closed his eyes and struggled to regain his composure. "It's just been a while, that's all. For some reason, Colby and I hadn't… for almost a week now."

"A week?" Charlie's voice was faint. "You…freak out because you haven't had it for just a week?"

"Yes," Don said. He opened his eyes to see Charlie looking skeptically at him.

"That's it?"

"Sure," Don said firmly, trying to convince them both. "That's it."

"Don, I…" Charlie began to pull away from him.

Don loosened his grip on Charlie's arm and was horrified to feel his eyes fill up with tears. "Even you, Buddy?"

Charlie froze. "Even I what?"

Don shook his head mutely.

Charlie sat back and folded his arms. In a voice that was determined even though it shook, he said, "The last thing on earth I want to do right now is get on my clothes and walk out of here, but I will if you won't talk to me."

Don squeezed his eyes shut, keeping the tears inside. He struggled to find something to say that would make Charlie go back to his plan to fuck him. All he could find to say was the truth.

"After all that talk," Don said softly, his eyes still shut tight against the tears. "After that math on the window and saying you love me and…I thought you'd seen me how I am, seen me with Colby, so that you knew how pathetic I am. And you said you still wanted to fuck me and the way you look at me, like I'm worth something…" Charlie made a pained sound but Don continued, "But then it came down to it, to actually fucking me, and you couldn't do it. You saw me waiting for you, wanting it and you couldn't do it. You were disgusted."

"No! I was just trying to take it slow, to enjoy the first time…"

"But now you see me, don't you. God, you finally see me."

"What do you think I see?" Charlie asked softly.

"A whore," Don said tightly. "A…pervert who needs it so bad that I'll do anything for it. Where's all my talk about how we shouldn't be having sex because we're brothers? Because family is supposed to be special and separate from that sort of thing, because it's wrong? As soon as you say you'll fuck me, I forget all that."

Charlie sighed heavily. "That's not how I remember it at all."

Don cracked his eyes opened and looked towards Charlie. "No?"

Charlie shook his head. "I remember me telling you how much I want you and have always wanted you, and that sexually we're supremely compatible. That I said I wanted to show you how you should be taken care of, respected. I still want you, Don. I still want to fuck you." His face and voice turned fierce. "I wish I could make you understand that there is nothing you can do to make me not want you. Nothing that you can do to make me not love you. I may not understand you - that's abundantly clear - but I love you and I want you. Now, right this minute, and the next minute and the next day and next year and the rest of my life, and even beyond, if there is such a thing."

Don stared at him, wishing he could believe him. He knew that Charlie believed it to be true. Maybe that would be enough for now, maybe today he could hold on to Charlie's desire for just a little longer. Long enough to get his perverted needs met.

"Okay," Don said quietly.

"Okay, what?" Charlie grumbled.

"Okay, we'll do it your way," Don said and forced a smile onto his face. "I'll try not to beg."

Charlie smiled crookedly. "Beg all you want, I'm still going to treat you right."

Don sighed with relief as Charlie went back to stroking his thighs and ass. Charlie gently pulled Don's ass cheeks apart and Don imagined he could actually feel Charlie's hungry gaze. One of Charlie's hand left his skin, then Don felt a cleansing wipe being pressed against and into his asshole. Don's breath hissed out at the slight burn from the wipe but he let Charlie clean him thoroughly - the wipe, followed by a wet washcloth, then a dry washcloth.

Charlie tossed those things on the floor and Don expected next to feel the cool slickness of lubricant. Instead, he felt the warm firm touch of Charlie's tongue. Don moaned in surprise. Charlie licked and teased his asshole, then the tip pressed a little inside, twirling around and twisting in unexpected ways and making Don shiver with pleasure. Don had only been rimmed a few times before - it was not something tops normally liked to do. But those times had only been a few cursory licks, not this intense assault.

Charlie pulled back for a moment and said in a husky voice, "Don, look towards the bathroom."

Don automatically looked in that direction - and realized how Charlie had positioned them perfectly to be seen on the mirror on the wall near the bathroom. He saw himself naked, on his hands and knees, and Charlie crouched naked behind him. Charlie met his eyes in the mirror, then took the flat of his tongue and gave Don's asshole a long lascivious lick. His little brother, familiar curls and all, licking his asshole like it was a lollipop. It was easily the most heart-thuddingly obscene thing he'd ever seen.

"Oh, God," Don whimpered and closed his eyes.

Charlie didn't return to licking him and after a second, Don opened his eyes again and looked at the mirror. As soon as Charlie saw Don looking, he began to do things with his tongue again, that both looked and felt incredible. Struggling to keep his composure, Don closed his eyes again. Charlie stopped. When Don opened his eyes yet again, Charlie continued his attentions.

Lesson learned, Don kept his eyes on Charlie and watched while Charlie enjoyed his ass to a shocking degree of intimacy. Charlie's tongue and lips and fingers teased and probed and penetrated him until he was almost shuddering with arousal. He had never known how good rimming and fingers could feel, since men who topped him always went straight for the fucking. He was discovering after all this time that he was an ass-whore in more ways than one. Charlie had said he was an ass-whore in a way too, but for him it was enjoyment of the ass of the man in front of him. Don was just beginning to understand how much Charlie loved asses - and his ass in particular.

Watching Charlie enjoy his ass so intimately ratcheted Don up another level of arousal. Don could see Charlie was wholly focused on his task, completely ignoring the rigid cock that Don saw jutting out from Charlie's pelvis. Surely Don was wet enough and warmed up enough that Charlie could just get to his knees and drive that cock into Don, drive it with deep, pulsing thrusts just like Charlie's tongue was doing now…

Don groaned and made fists in the blankets. He was about to come, just from being rimmed, though there was no 'just' about it. He wanted to come, wanted to let loose with Charlie's tongue still in his ass, but he needed…he needed…

Don groaned again, his body rigid with the effort of holding his orgasm back. He could hold out, he had to hold out, just a little longer, until Charlie stopped with his tongue and finally pressed in with his cock and…

Charlie reached between Don's legs and grabbed his aching cock. Don moaned helplessly and with a few strokes, Charlie took him over the edge and into orgasm. Charlie's tongue stayed in his asshole as Don shuddered and bucked and shot between Charlie's fingers. He came to a shaking stop at last.

Charlie sat back, wiping his mouth and looking quite pleased with himself.

"Charlie!" Don protested, his arms and legs trembling. "I wanted to... Why…"

Charlie ran one finger over Don's still tinging asshole, a gesture full of promise and possessiveness. His face was lit up with the sort of excitement that Don had only seen when Charlie was standing at a chalkboard, chalk in hand.

Don caught his breath.

"Don't worry," Charlie said, and his voice was same sexy and strange voice that he'd used when first asking if he could suck Don's cock. It was all open desire and seductive promise and like nothing he'd ever expect from his little brother.

"Don't worry, Don," Charlie said with sly smile. "I'll fuck you back to life again."


Chapter Text

Chapter 34: Charlie puts Don in the driving seat

Charlie didn't immediately follow through on his promise to 'fuck Don back to life again'. Instead, he slid off the bed and padded across the room. Don stayed where he was, watching Charlie's very stiff cock bounce against his naked stomach as he walked. Charlie looked back over his shoulder at him.

Charlie's eyes widened and he made a choking sound and grabbed for the ice bucket. He plunged both hands in the bucket then splashed ice cold water over his cock and heated body.

"God," Charlie said, wiping his forehead with a wet, shaking hand. "I just about lost it to see you like that."

Don supposed he did make an interesting picture - naked, on his hands and knees, and his cum on the bedspread underneath him. He grinned and wiggled his ass.

Charlie groaned and reached for more ice water. "Don't do that. Not unless you want to have to wait for it longer."

Don schooled his face and shook his head.

"Okay," Charlie said, still breathing hard. He turned back towards the bathroom and continued on his way. Don heard him use mouthwash and wash his hands. He came out with a wet washcloth and cleaned up the bed and Don's stomach.

Don kept himself in the same position, watching Charlie. He noticed that Charlie's cock was still very erect, even though it was dripping water. He wanted to turn around and suck on it, discover whether the water was still cool or whether it was now warmed by the heat of Charlie's skin, but he stayed where he'd been put.

Finishing his cleanup, Charlie tossed the washcloth aside and climbed back on the bed. He put more lube on his fingers than stretched Don again. Don bit his lip in impatience. Finally Charlie wiped off his fingers, but instead of pressing into Don right then, he crawled up beside him and lay flat on his back.

"C'mon up," Charlie said huskily.

Don raised his eyebrows. He'd only done this position a few times in his long and busy sex life. Tops usually preferred to be, well, on top and in control. Mentally shrugging, Don straddled Charlie's torso with his knees and guided Charlie's cock to his well-prepared asshole.

He sank down, driving Charlie deep inside him, and all was finally right with the world again. He adjusted himself to feel the fullness to the maximum, then looked down at Charlie.

Charlie was lying stiffly, his eyes tightly closed and his hands clenched into fists at his sides. "Fuck, fuck, fuck…" he repeated over and over in a sort of whining pant.

Don stared at him. "Charlie, you okay?"

"No, Don," Charlie said through clenched teeth. "I'm fucking wonderful."

Don laughed in surprise and Charlie's eyes opened a crack.

"Been a while for you?" Don guessed.

"Only my whole life," Charlie ground out.

Don blinked down at him. Charlie was like this - rigid with the fight for control - because of him?

Don moved experimentally, rising a little then sinking again on Charlie's cock. Charlie moaned and his eyes snapped closed again. Don grinned and did it again. Charlie moaned again, a helpless, desperate sound that went straight to Don's cock. It was stiffening again, just as Charlie promised.

Don reached behind him and pushed Charlie's knees into a better position, driving Charlie's cock as deep inside him as possible. Then, with deliberate pace, began to ride Charlie.

Charlie moaned louder, grabbing handfuls of the blanket as if that could steady him. His head tossed from side to side and the panting "fuck, fuck, fuck…" returned. Don had never seen Charlie like this, so desperately out of control. Hell, Don couldn't remember seeing anyone like this before - except himself when he looked in the mirror while being fucked.

Heady with power, Don slowed down, allowing Charlie a small gasp of breathing space, before speeding up again. He slowed then sped up several times, then started breaking up the rhythm when it was clear Charlie wasn't going to last much longer. Charlie's eyes were still clenched closed, his whole body rigid with tension.

"Charlie, look at me." Don heard his own voice as from a distance, surprisingly even.

"Can't," Charlie responded tightly.

"Open your eyes, Buddy."

Charlie's dark brown eyes opened and his gaze slowly made its way up Don's body to his face. Their eyes met and Don stopped his motion. He looked down at Charlie, at those familiar eyes now wide with amazement, and it was almost as if the room shifted. It was Charlie underneath him, it was Charlie struggling against his body's screaming demands, it was Charlie that was powerless.

Don swallowed against a suddenly dry throat. Charlie was still staring up at him, his jaw clamped tight.

"What is it?" Don asked.

Charlie shook his head, his eyes widening even more.

"Talk to me," Don commanded hoarsely. He rocked his pelvis slightly, causing Charlie's cock to slide inside him just a little.

Charlie groaned, opened his mouth, and the words came tumbling out. "I'm inside you, God, I'm inside you finally. I've wanted it so long and the odds on it…the odds on it happening are…"

"Astronomical?" Don smiled, rocking again.

"I could calculate the odds, I could, but I don't want to think about anything but, God, how good you feel and how can you possibly feel so good, it's the same basic anatomy for any man but you feel so good and so perfect and I feel like a teenager about to come at any second and embarrass myself."

Don grinned down at him, loving Charlie's flushed face and dazed eyes.

"How could you feel so much better," Charlie continued, "when it's the same physical act as I've done before so maybe there's a more of an emotional component and psychological component than I'd ever thought and because it's you and I've always wanted you but it's more than that…"

Don decided that was time to distract Charlie. He rocked a little more on Charlie's cock and reached down for his own. Charlie batted Don's hand away and grabbed Don's cock himself.

"No way I'm letting you do that," Charlie said breathlessly and began to stroke Don firmly. Don raised and lowered himself in rhythm to Charlie's strokes.

Charlie's breathing grew choppy. Don stopped moving and concentrated instead of the feel of Charlie's hand on his cock. Even without the sensation of Charlie's cock inside him, Don could tell he was heading towards orgasm quickly. He pushed himself towards the edge, wanting to arrive there ahead of Charlie.

It wasn't going to be difficult to come first - Charlie had the perfect grip and rubbed his palm and fingers just right. Charlie must have practiced on hundreds of men to get the feel and angle so flawless. Don felt a sudden sharp jealousy against every man that Charlie had ever touched. He began to fiercely ride up and down on Charlie's cock, driving himself towards detonation.

Charlie cried out his name and Don exploded with the white hot pleasure that he could only find in being fucked. Charlie cried out again and Don felt Charlie pulsing inside him, and Don rode him and rode him and rode him until his whole body was shaking and he saw spots in front of his eyes. Finally, they were both spent and he sank slowly down to lie on Charlie's chest.

"Oh, God, Don," Charlie moaned and wrapped his arms around Don and whimpered into his hair. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Something bubbled up inside Don, sharp and hot and shot through with fear. He pushed it away ruthlessly, then closed his eyes, held on to Charlie, and waited for the world to shift back to the one he knew.



Chapter Text

Part 35: Charlie talks about what baseball means to him

Eventually, they both stopped shaking. Don rolled off of Charlie and they lay side by side, staring at the ceiling. Don's ass had that pleasant just-stretched feeling and the air he breathed was tinged with the smell of cum. He wished that he could stay here, in this hotel, in this room, in this bed, forever.

Charlie sighed at last and got up. Don watched him make his wobbly way to the bathroom and return with a towel. He cleaned both of them up while Don gazed at his face.

"What are you thinking?" Charlie asked.

"That's what I was going to ask you," Don said.

"I'm thinking…" Charlie ran the towel over and over Don's stomach. "I'm thinking about what happens when you get what you've wanted all your life."

"What happens?" Don asked softly.

Charlie met his eyes and smiled wryly. "You want it again."

Don laughed then asked, unable to resist. "Was it everything you imagined?"

Charlie grinned. "Even better - though in my dreams, I lasted a lot longer. That was embarrassing."

Don chuckled and ruffled Charlie's hair. "I did get to come twice, you know."

Charlie looked at him shyly. "So it was good for you?"

"Yeah, Buddy, it was," he said with feeling.

Charlie beamed at him.

Don looked away as words threatened to pile out of him, like everything I do with you is good and you have no idea what you do to me and don't leave me. Don got out of bed and took the dirty towel. He threw it in the corner of the bathroom, along with the rest of the dirty towels, then went searching for his clothes that he'd peeled off not too long ago.

Charlie got up too and got dressed. He straightened out the bed and found the TV remote. Tossing some pillows up, he climbed onto the bed and turned on the TV.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Don watched as Charlie flipped through the offerings. Charlie searched through the sports choices until he landed on yet another baseball show. He hesitated, though, instead of selecting it.

"You're not the only one who has baseball and sex all mixed up together," Charlie said.

Don turned to look at him.

"The first time I realized I might be gay was at a baseball game, at one of your college games." Charlie smiled crookedly. "Mom was annoyed that Dad was ogling these college girls in tanks tops but I didn't even notice them. She had to point them out to me. I was watching the college boys on the field warm up - stretching and bending and looking all strong and firm in those baseball pants. I had an erection before I really realized what it meant."

Don smiled, remembering all the times he'd watched other baseball players move in their tight pants, how he had a near constant erection in the locker rooms.

Charlie ran his finger down Don's nearby back. "My first masturbation was in the bathroom at a ball game. I still get turned on whenever I see a guy in a baseball uniform, especially one with stripes. And a guy wearing a cup?" He gave a pleased little shudder. "Instant arousal."

Don let out a surprised laugh. "You wouldn't say that if you actually had to wear a cup. They're not exactly comfortable."

"And you in a baseball uniform, God in Heaven."

Don raised his eyebrows. "From the beginning?"

"Not at first," Charlie said and gave an uncomfortable shrug. "Even I knew that was weird. But there was this one game - It was your Junior season and you guys were playing Washington. I was charting the game as usual, and a player came up to bat that I didn't recognize the number. But I noticed his ass, oh yes. He was facing away from me but what I could see was just gorgeous. I just wanted to run my hands over his arms and down his legs. And then he hit the ball and ran to first base and I realized it was you from the way you ran."

Don frowned. "I wasn't wearing my usual number?"

"No, or I never would have looked at you that way - or at least maybe not that day. I doubt I could have not noticed how sexy you are forever."

"Oh yeah," Don remembered. "I left my jersey in my room and had to use a backup number. Coach gave me hell for it."

"I went back to school and convinced the guys that were fucking me to let me fuck them instead."

"Whoa!" Don turned to stare at him. "You did what? 'Guys who were fucking you'? How old where you?"

"Too young," Charlie said, flushing. "I went to college too early in a lot of ways."

"Shit, where was Mom?"

Charlie grimaced and stayed silent.

Don swore under his breath. He calculated Charlie's age and swore again. The idea that his baby brother was getting fucked at fourteen made him sick to his stomach. He'd been eighteen his first time with a man, though just sixteen with a girl, but both had been with partners his own age. Charlie had been having sex with grown men since he was fourteen? Where the hell had his mom been? Don was afraid he knew the truth of that, based on some oblique things his dad had once said. Don hoped that at least she screened the men or helped Charlie deal or oh god...

Don stood up and got one of the lukewarm beers.

"Don?" Charlie called. "It's okay, I'm okay now. I've spent a ton of time with a therapist about it, okay?"

Don grimaced. Where the Hell had he been, after all? When he should have been protecting his baby brother from sex-crazed college boys, he was one of those sex-crazed college boys. He'd become an object of lust for his baby brother because some goddamned bastards thought it would feel good to fuck a fourteen year-old. Don squeezed the beer bottle so hard that he hope it would it shatter.

Charlie got off the bed and came towards him. He gently pried the bottle from Don's death grip and set it on the table next to him. "I had a professor who looked out for me."

"A profess…Larry?"

"Yeah."

Don stared at him. "You and Larry?"

Charlie snorted. "No, not like that. Can you imagine?"

"I'd rather not," Don snapped. "He helped you?"

"Yes, he kept me grounded."

"Grounded?" Don said with a dry laugh. "Larry?"

"I know it sounds unlikely, but I had to work hard to keep Larry tethered to reality, so it forced me to be, as well. But it was more than that. Larry might have his mind in space, but he's always been able to tell when something is not right with me, when something is… blocking my math."

"Yeah," Don said. He picked up his beer again and took a swig.

"So if someone was… bothering me, he always knew. And I don't know how he did it, or even what he did, but that person would suddenly stop being around."

"Larry did that?" Don said skeptically.

"Yes, on four separate occasions."

Don's hand tightened involuntarily on his beer bottle again. "You had four different… botherers?"

"It worked out," Charlie said with a shrug. "I don't even know how we got on this subject."

"Baseball," Don said flatly.

"Right," Charlie said with a sigh. "It always comes back to baseball." He reached for his own beer bottle, but didn't open it. "I used to turn on the radio to a game, stare at your baseball poster, and masturbate."

Don raised his eyebrows.

"Yeah, and…" Charlie flushed but continued, "There was this trophy you won in High School, Senior year MVP, that had this big statue on it of a ball player. I used to… fondle it while I… fondled myself."

"Wow, you're right," Don said shakily. "We're both fucked up about sex and baseball."

Charlie gave him a bright smile, like he'd just figured out the answer to one of Charlie's logic puzzles.

Don eyed him. He had the feeling that Charlie was adding lines in his mind to the 'relationship equation' he'd written on the window the day before. Something about how they were equivalently sick in the head.

Don smiled wryly. Charlie could try but there was no way Charlie could balance out Don's side of the equation on that score.

"Here's to finally getting what I always wanted," Charlie said with deliberate cheerfulness and clinked his beer bottle against Don's.

Don shook his head slowly, but he gave Charlie a smile. "And here's to getting it again."

Charlie's grin nearly split his face.

"But," Don said, picking up the TV remote. "While you recover, how about something other than baseball?"

They settled on watching Terminator and snuggling up together on the bed. Don felt surprisingly comfortable with his arm around Charlie, with Charlie's hair tickling his nose. He'd never snuggled with Colby or with any other man that he'd ever been with. He'd only ever snuggled with women post-sex. He reminded himself very deliberately that Charlie had just fucked him, that Charlie was the top, that Charlie was the one who was in control. But still he was here, tucked under Don's arm, his fingers tracing patterns on Don's leg.

I could get used to this, came the treacherous thought.

Don grimaced and reminded himself that there was nothing real about the situation. They were in a hotel, away from reality. Tomorrow they would go home and things would return to normal, had to return to normal. There was not future in this insanity with Charlie. It would stop tomorrow.

But what had Sandy the bartender said? Something about opening Pandora's Box? Don looked down at Charlie and knew how true it was. He would never able to forget what Charlie felt like, looked like. That image of Charlie with his face buried in his ass was seared across the back of his eyelids.

He pushed his thoughts away. There would be enough time to remember in the future. Tonight he had Charlie and Charlie had him. Don wondered how long Charlie would wait until he fucked him again. Maybe Don could even suggest the idea. Maybe instead of waiting, hoping that he'd get fucked, he could actually ask and not fear that Charlie would ridicule him for being so pathetic and needy.

He pondered that revolutionary thought for a while, his cheek resting against Charlie's hair. At least for tonight, maybe he could actually ask.



Chapter Text

Chapter 36: Charlie waits on the question and Don questions the waiting

Don and Charlie lay together for the whole movie, not talking. Charlie opened his beer but never drank any. He just drew equations on Don's nearby leg and wondered when his body would be ready for another round. He'd never had so much sex in his life, but he wasn't about to call it a night. Because tomorrow it could all be over.

The enormity of that fact sat on his chest like a metric ton weight. How could Don just give this all up and go back to the way things were before? Was Don planning on giving it up? Of course he was. He'd made that clear many times.

Then again, he'd also made it clear that they'd never have sex again - before each time they had sex again.

Charlie smiled in spite of his worry. He'd fucked Don. He'd fucked Don. And it had been even better than he'd imagined, and he'd imagined it a great deal. Don's ass squeezing around his cock while Don shot his cum across Charlie's chest…

Charlie felt his cock twitch and he smiled again. He was going to pay for today, for this weekend, in many ways and for a long time, but he was going to wring every last iota of pleasure from it before it was over. He tried to calculate how many more times they could have sex before they had to go home in the morning, but he lacked data about his own body. He knew that Don could keep up - Don seemed to be in a constant state of readiness - but Charlie had never been in a relationship like this.

Charlie almost laughed out loud at that thought. There was no other relationship like this. It was unique in human existence. It felt like the time for hyperbole.

As the credits for the movie rolled by, Charlie eyed Don. It was probably too soon to gauge the effect of his revelations about his own strange relationship with baseball. There weren't many people who know that he had, in the nomenclature of sexual categorization, a baseball 'kink'. He'd never told anyone before about the baseball trophy aspect, not even his therapist, but it seemed right to tell Don. It was his trophy, after all. Charlie had miscalculated by not realizing that Don would pick up on how very young Charlie had been when he'd started having sex. It was something that Charlie looked back on in horror - though at the time it felt just like a series of reasonable scientific explorations into human sexuality. It had seemed normal in part because his mother had been involved in her own series of scientific explorations, with her own set of lusty college boys. That was something Don didn't need to know.

"Another movie?" Charlie asked. "Terminator 2, perhaps?"

Don smiled at him, a smile full of sexual promise, a favorite smile of his that Charlie had never dared hope would be directed at him.

"Let's get ready for bed," Don said, his voice so low it was almost a purr. "Then start the next movie."

Charlie nodded jerkily and climbed off the bed. He went into the bathroom and brushed his teeth, then changed into the shorts and t-shirt he'd brought for pajamas. It felt strangely arousing to be putting on clothes that he hoped he'd be taking off again very soon. He went out of the bathroom and let Don do his own prep. Don also put on a t-shirt and shorts.

They lay together again on the bed, and Don started Terminator 2. Charlie watched it without much interest. Even the most fantastic movie in history would have a hard time holding his interest right now, with Don warm and available next to him. He dearly wanted to jump Don right that moment, but he waited, just leaning on Don's chest.

Charlie didn't know why waiting was important, but he felt it, like he felt the answer to a math equation tingling at the end of his piece of chalk. He'd let Don make the first move.

Over the next half-hour, Charlie found his patience sorely tested, and had almost given up waiting, when Don cleared his throat.

"Do you want to fuck me, Charlie?" Don asked huskily.

Charlie held back his smile and raised his eyebrows. "Of course I do, but that's not the right question."

Don frowned at him, and Charlie hated the uncertainty on his face. "What's the question?"

"Figure it out."

"Charlie," Don groaned. "I just want you to fuck me. Now, are you ready or what?"

Charlie grinned. "That was the right question."

"Bastard," Don said, his voice warm.

"I think you'd know about my parentage," Charlie teased. "Since it's the same as yours."

Don punched him lightly in the shoulder and began taking off his shirt. Charlie rolled off the bed and got the bottle of lube. He looked back at the bed, at Don now naked and smiling, and felt a surge of anticipation so sharp that it took his breath away. He squeezed the lube bottle to counteract the rush of blood away from his brain that threatened to make him pass out before anything even got started.

 

Don saw Charlie's eyes widen as he turned to look at him and his smile of anticipation was everything that Don could wish for. He'd been struggling for the last half-hour with doubts that made no sense. He'd been wondering why Charlie wasn't starting something, whether Charlie didn't want to fuck him again. Charlie had told him and shown him repeatedly how much he wanted him. When it came to a blow-job or some stroking in the tub, Don had felt no hesitation in just going ahead and starting it, knowing that Charlie would eagerly follow his lead. He didn't know why fucking was so different. Charlie had obviously enjoyed doing it before - in fact, it seemed like he'd enjoyed it more than anyone that had ever fucked Don - but somehow Don had struggled with instigating it. It was something that he was used to waiting for, hoping for, but never asking for. And now he'd finally gotten up the nerve to ask and the world hadn't ended. On the contrary, Charlie's look of excitement was promising him that the world was going to be a very happy place, very soon.

Charlie set the lube bottle on the table next to the bed and, still clothed, climbed onto the bed. Don grinned and ran his hands over Charlie's chest. Charlie was wearing an old Cal-Sci T-shirt that Don had seen fade to a muddy grey over the years. He never thought he'd be sliding his fingers over it, feeling the wiry muscle underneath, and contemplating the best way to get it off. He leaned forward and Charlie's lips met his halfway and all contemplation vanished in a rush of arousal.

One of Don's hands slid under Charlie's shirt and tangled in his chest hair as his tongue tangled with Charlie's. His other hand slid downwards and found the bulge covered by Charlie's thin shorts. Charlie moaned against Don's mouth as Don teased him through the material. Charlie pushed him away and quickly pulled off his own clothes. Then he returned to kissing him and both of their hands went back to roaming over each other's skin.

"What's your favorite position?" Charlie asked huskily.

Don's mind went immediately to standing up, hands braced against the tile wall, legs spread wide, sound of shower, smell of soap… He cleared his throat. "Whatever."

"You've got to have something you like best," Charlie said, running his fingers over Don's shoulder. "What do you want?"

"I want you to fuck me," Don said tightly.

"I know, but how? Do you like it bent over or facing or…?"

Don's jaw clenched. These weren't questions that men asked him. Men just did it, however they liked it best, and Don just took it. When he was with a woman, it was him that was asking the questions, finding out what she liked. This wasn't how it was supposed to be with a man - using words and asking preferences. Reality was threatening to tilt on him again.

"I want you to stop talking and fuck me," Don snapped.

Charlie hesitated and Don's jaw clenched tighter. Then Charlie nodded and reached for the lube. Don didn't relax until Charlie had turned him to lay on his stomach and started to stretch him. Don took a shuddering breath and closed his eyes. This was how it was supposed to be - Charlie moving him around wordlessly, setting the stage for his own maximum pleasure. It was just a side effect of the other man's needs that Don got what he needed too. Only when he revealed to another man how much he needed it that things got bad, that the scorn and derision started, that the shame became too deep to bear. He silently urged Charlie to hurry.

Charlie refused to go by the script again, however, and his fingers lingered in Don's ass much longer than needed for just stretching. Charlie's fingers stroked Don's prostrate with just the right pressure and rhythm. Soon Don was moaning and writhing on the bed, all thoughts washed away in pure, agonizing pleasure.

"Do you like that?" Charlie said hoarsely.

Don couldn't do anything but moan.

Charlie laughed. "I think we can safely place that on the list of things you like."

Charlie withdrew his fingers and Don lay, panting, and trying to remember what he'd been wanting Charlie to do. Oh, right - Hurry.

Instead, Charlie began humming softly and stroked his lube-wet fingers over the small of Don's back, sending shivers along his skin. He then slid on top of Don, rubbing his cock in between Don's ass cheeks and kissing the back of Don's neck.

Don bit his lip in frustration.

As if he was reading his mind, Charlie said, "There's no hurry, Don."

Don grunted a protest.

"Just let me enjoy you," Charlie murmured, kissing his neck some more.

Don started to relax. That sentiment he could understand - the other man taking his enjoyment from Don's body, taking what he wanted. That was how things were.

Then Charlie spoiled it by saying, "I want to make you feel so good."

Don gritted his teeth. He'd said - and meant - that exact same thing to many women. That was how sex was with a women, building pleasure on pleasure so that she would reach orgasm as well. Men didn't need that, it was straight to the pleasure, with no emotion required. Didn't Charlie understand the rules?

Suddenly, Don smiled to himself. Of course Charlie didn't understand the rules. 'Rules' never applied to Charlie, they never had all his life. Charlie had always been an exception to every rule. Why should the rules regarding sex be any different? And if Charlie didn't bother with the rules…?

Feeling oddly liberated, Don rolled over so Charlie was dumped off. He nudged Charlie to lay flat on his back and, without preamble, leaned down to suck hard on Charlie's nearest nipple. Charlie gave a little moan of surprise and Don lingered on that hard nub - licking, sucking, and rubbing his face against it. He made wet swirls in the curly hair around it and returned again to tease it. When it started to get too red, he moved to the over nipple and started again. Charlie let him take his time with this, where most men would be urging him on for the main event. Charlie just ran his hands through Don's hair and over his ears and made occasional soft gasps.

Don relaxed more into the moment. Sex with men had always meant going from start to finish by the most direct route possible, with none of the rises and lulls that were a part of sex with women. Don lifted his head to look at Charlie, who smiled languidly at him. Encouraged, Don made a slow exploration of Charlie's body, from his elbows to his knees, discovering spots where he was ticklish or especially sensitive. He ran his hands down over Charlie's calves and nuzzled his balls. Finally he gave Charlie's cock a long lick then sucked it back to hardness.

Feeling strangely sated, Don moved off Charlie at last and lay flat on his back. He ran one finger over Charlie's face, until Charlie turned his head and took Don's finger into his mouth. Don smiled and took that saliva-wet finger and drew a line down his own body, around his cock, and towards his asshole, which was still wet with lube. He lifted his knees and held them up and to the side.

"Fuck me, Charlie," he said softly.

The grin that lit up Charlie's face made Don's asshole throb with anticipation. Charlie got some more lube for his fingers and re-stretched Don's ass. When he was satisfied with his work - and Don was again shaking with arousal - Charlie positioned himself between Don's legs. He braced himself over Don with one hand and with his other guided his cock into Don's ready ass. Don groaned in relief and looked up at Charlie's face. Charlie had that closed-eyed, blissed-out look that Don had only ever seen on someone right after an orgasm. Don grinned and Charlie opened his eyes.

"You feel amazing," Charlie groaned.

"That's what I was going to say," Don teased and Charlie smiled down at him.

Charlie began to move, slowly, and Don gave himself over to the sweet sensations. Charlie's eyes locked with his, but it didn't feel awkward, like Don might have expected it to. Any other man and Don would have looked away or closed his eyes. Instead, it seemed completely natural to watch Charlie's face as Charlie continued to stroke him deep inside. Charlie rocked and thrust for a long, heavenly while and Don felt himself relax, bone by bone, vertebra by vertebra, at Charlie's rhythm and touch.

Was Charlie extraordinarily skilled or was it something more? What 'more' could it be?

Charlie stopped as if he could feel Don's sudden tension. Don gave him an uncertain smile and Charlie raised his eyebrows. "Don?"

Don shook his head mutely.

Charlie sat up and pulled out of Don. Don groaned at the loss.

"I want to hold you," Charlie said quietly. He nudged Don to roll on to his side then lay down behind him, his chest against Don's back. He pushed one arm under Don's torso then pressed his cock back into Don's ass. Wrapping his arms around Don so that he held him close, Charlie pressed his cheek against the back of Don's neck as Don's hands gripped Charlie's arm. Charlie then began to rock with the same unhurried motion that he used before.

One of Charlie's hands began to rub Don's chest then make its way down his stomach. Finally, the hand slid over the head of Don's cock then closed around the shaft, holding it loosely.

Don sighed in happiness. He felt wrapped in… surrounded by…

Gradually but steadily, as if Charlie was following an internal metronome, his thrusts began to speed up. Charlie's hand slid lightly up and down Don's cock - enough to feel good but not enough to push Don too close to orgasm. Charlie's legs were entangled with Don's and Charlie rested his cheek against the back of Don's neck. Don felt part of… enfolded in…

Don melted into Charlie's embrace, riding the waves of pleasure from his prostate. Charlie seemed completely at ease and his rhythm never faltered. It had already lasted longer than any fucking Don had gotten before. The only signs that Charlie wasn't quite under control were an odd breathing pattern and the constant stream of numbers that Charlie murmured against Don's neck.

Don began to shake. He wondered if it was possible to get fucked to death and hoped that he would soon find out. Charlie gave a sharp gasp and suddenly began to thrust in harder. His grip tightened on Don's cock and drove them both towards orgasm. Charlie's other arm tightened around Don's chest and soon they were crying out together, Charlie's cum hitting Don's interior walls at the same time Don was pumping himself between Charlie's fingers. They rocked together for an endless moment until both of them were spent and trembling. He felt…

"Oh Don," Charlie gasped, his words almost a sob. "I love you so much."

That was it - Don felt wrapped in love.

They lay together, Charlie still tight around Don, long after Charlie's cock had softened and slipped out of Don's ass. Don was warm and at peace and drifting in the afterglow of the best sex he'd ever had.

Panic washed over him, sweeping his sense of peace away with the realization that this was indeed the best, most satisfying sex he'd ever had, with a man or a woman. With his brother, with his brother, with Charlie…

He clamped down tightly on the panic, but not fast enough.

"Something wrong?" Charlie mumbled.

Don struggled for something to say that wasn't Everything, My whole life, or Oh my God, I'm screwed. "Just wish we could stay here forever," he replied tautly.

"Yeah." Charlie sighed and tightened his arms around him.

Don closed his eyes and tried to imprint Charlie's touch on his skin, on his memory. He had to gather together the shreds of his scattered peace, gather every ounce of the moment into himself.

It would be all he had to carry with him into the darkness which lay ahead.



Chapter Text

Part 37 - Don wakes up hungry and Charlie suggests an appetizer.

They slept the night through wrapped tightly around each other. Neither wanted to get out of bed to clean up, so they ended up sticky with dried cum and lube. Late in the morning, Charlie finally had to get up to use the toilet. He came back with a wet washcloth and a towel. Don grumbled as Charlie wiped him down, but stopped complaining when Charlie climbed back into bed and curled up in his arms, his back to Don's chest. Don made a humming sound and tucked his chin over Charlie's shoulder.

Charlie gave up sleeping after a while and just rested in Don's arms. He could tell that Don wasn't asleep either.

Eventually Don said, "Charlie, I'd love to stay here forever, but I'm hungry."

"Me, too," Charlie admitted.

"Breakfast in bed?"

"Yeah, then I'm thinking back to the sauna again." Charlie wasn't sure where that idea came from, but it felt right.

"Okay," Don said, "As long as we don't just sauna."

"Is that a verb?" Charlie asked.

"We'll make it a verb," Don purred.

Charlie grinned in anticipation. He got up and went over to get the room service menu. Turning back towards the bed, Charlie almost dropped the menu. Don was lying there naked, smiling at him, and Charlie's body immediately woke up. Don had an obvious erection and he was looking at Charlie like he was on the breakfast menu.

"Okay," Charlie said. "How about breakfast down at the restaurant? Or else we'll never get to the sauna."

"Do we have to?" Don said, reaching out to him. "Or we could do both."

Charlie swallowed and said softly, "I'm not sure I can do both, not sure if I can keep up with you, not that I don't want to. I'm just… weaker than you are."

Don's eyebrows shot up and he looked like he wanted to argue. After all, it seemed to Charlie that in Don's warped view, since Charlie was the top and Don the bottom, Charlie must be strong and Don weak. Instead of arguing, Don just gave a small shake of his head and said, "Okay, breakfast down at the restaurant."

"Then sauna."

Don's smile returned. "Then sauna."

Charlie looked at Don's naked body and swallowed. "How about I take the edge off?"

"What about the sauna?"

"We'll get there," Charlie said and moved back to the bed. He climbed onto it next to Don and kissed him deeply. Their naked bodies rubbed together pleasantly, but Charlie only let that continue for a moment before moving away. He began to make his way down Don's body, leisurely enjoying him with lips and fingers. Don's hand rested in Charlie's hair. He didn't beg Charlie to hurry or ask him why he wasn't getting to the main event right away, so Charlie thought he might be making progress.

When Charlie reached Don's cock, he took it slowly into his mouth, sucking lightly. He looked up at Don's face and Don's languid smile warmed him. He seemed less frantic this morning.

Charlie took his mouth off of Don's cock and wet his middle finger. "Shall I?" he asked.

Don nodded approval and bent his knees. Charlie went back to sucking on Don's cock and found Don's asshole with his fingers. He rubbed and sucked then slowly pushed one finger in, all the while watching Don's face. Don's smile didn't slip and Charlie felt even more encouraged. Don's hand stroked Charlie's hair. Charlie pushed the finger in farther and expertly found Don's sensitive spot. Don's eyelids fluttered and his lips parted. Charlie continued to rub and suck for a long while, never raising the urgency but waiting for Don to do that.

Finally, Don's fingers dug into Charlie's hair and he began to thrust up into Charlie's mouth. Charlie held his head steady while keeping his finger moving in Don's ass. Charlie's own neglected erection throbbed in time to Don's thrusts.

Don shoved his cock in deeper, holding Charlie's head tightly. "Charlie," he groaned and unloaded into Charlie's mouth. Charlie swallowed and swallowed as Don emptied himself, his ass spasming around Charlie's finger.

After Don was finished, his hand fell to the side and Charlie raised his head to gasp for air.

Don chuckled. "You okay?"

Charlie grinned at him. "Breakfast in bed, like I said."

Don grinned back and Charlie slid his finger out of Don's ass. Don gave a little sigh as it came out.

"Sauna," Charlie reminded him.

"Okay, Chuck, if you insist."

"I insist," Charlie said. They would be heading back to the real world afterwards and Charlie needed their last encounter at the hotel to be as memorable as the rest.

They got out of bed and got dressed. Charlie rinsed his mouth out with mouthwash, though he had the strange impulse to keep the taste of Don's cum in his mouth. Cum always tasted nasty, but this was Don's and he didn't know if it would be the last time…

Charlie shook himself. No need to think any farther ahead than the next hour.

When Charlie got out of the bathroom, Don was looking more pensive than the moment before. Charlie went up to him and pulled his face down for a kiss. It seemed so natural now, when just yesterday Don wouldn't let Charlie's lips anywhere near his.

"Ah, Charlie," Don murmured against his mouth. "How am I going to be able to forget this?"

"Then don't," Charlie replied.

Don sighed and moved away.

"I hope they have some of that French toast," Charlie said brightly. "That was good."

"Is it too early for a beer?"

"Yes," Charlie said. "They have wonderful fresh squeezed juices, though."

Don nodded. As they walked out of the room and down the hall, Charlie slipped his hand into Don's. Don looked startled, but didn't pull away. Charlie couldn't keep the grin from his face.

Charlie had to let go of Don's hand as they sat down, but reclaimed it as soon as Don had set down his menu.

"Charlie," Don protested, trying to pull his hand from Charlie's.

"No one here knows who we are," Charlie said. "Let's enjoy that."

Don slowly relaxed his hand. "Sandy knows."

"Who?"

"The bartender."

Charlie frowned. "You told a bartender?"

Don nodded. "When I took off yesterday." He gave a wry smile. "This place even has amazing bartenders. She got me to talk about what was bugging me."

"You told her who we are? And that we're… you know?"

"Yeah, I told her. She should work for the FBI, she's that good."

Charlie stared at him. What did it mean that Don was talking to total strangers about their incestuous relationship? "So, what did she say?"

"She said better this with you than stay with an ab… over-possessive boyfriend."

"Wow…" Charlie managed. "I think I love her."

Don chuckled. "She has a girlfriend."

"And that's why you came back? To the room? To us?"

"Partially." Don toyed with Charlie's fingers. "It was more that I realized, while this can't continue after today, that I was wasting time that I could be spending in bed with you."

"Why can't it continue after today?" Charlie asked plaintively. "We could keep it secret, you're good at keeping secrets."

"Do we have to talk about this now? On our last morning together?"

"It isn't our last morning together," Charlie said. "We're going to be seeing each for the rest of our lives."

"Pandora's Box."

"What?"

"Sandy said that we'd opened Pandora's Box and wouldn't be able to close it again."

"She's right. We can't take back things we did or said, not that I'd ever want to."

Don didn't answer for a moment, before finally saying quietly, "Me either."

Charlie smiled in surprise. "I thought you might be regretting it all."

"I am," Don said. "And I'm not."

"That's a positive and a negative."

"That's how messed up I am."

Charlie shook his head. "You're not…"

"Yes," Don said firmly. "I fucking am."

"Okay," Charlie had to agree. "But it doesn't matter to me. All I want to do is help."

Don gave him a weak smile. "Your method of help is kind of explosive, Charlie."

Charlie was saved from having to reply by the arrival of their food. He watched Don as they both started eating their food. Don had talked to someone about them? And the person had encouraged Don to choose him over Colby? Maybe there was some hope about the rest of the world after all.

Don was eating his French toast with gusto.

"You like it?" Charlie asked.

"Yes and..." Don grinned, his face suddenly lighting up with the sexual promise that Charlie still couldn't believe was directed at him. He leaned closer. "Good sex always gives me a huge appetite."

Charlie grinned back, just barely able to squash his reply of, 'So that's why you've had no appetite since you've been with Colby?' Instead, he teased, "Maybe you should save some for later. You're going to be hungry again soon." He knew that the sex between them was beyond good, but he never tired of hearing it from Don. "Or maybe we can pack a picnic lunch for driving home."

Some of the animation left Don's face and Charlie mentally kicked himself.

"Eat up," Charlie said. "We have time for breakfast and lunch here if we want. Checkout isn't until 1pm."

Don seemed to relax again at that and Charlie smiled then started to eat his own breakfast. Good sex always gave him an appetite, too, and he was planning some spectacular sex very soon.

And if this breakfast and the upcoming sex felt like the last meal of a condemned man, Charlie intended to enjoy it to the full before his execution.

Chapter Text

Part 38: Don is hot and ready, but Charlie sweats the details.

Charlie insisted on holding Don's hand on the way back to the hotel room. It felt weird to Don, but he was willing to let him. This would soon be over, so why not?

Don's gut clenched at the thought of leaving this haven - and Charlie - behind. Colby was furious with Charlie and it would probably be months before Colby let him talk to Charlie again, if ever. And Don would obviously never be able to touch Charlie again. He gave Charlie's hand a little squeeze and Charlie smiled at him. Don's gut tightened further. He pulled Charlie to a stop in the hallway, looked around to make sure they were alone, and leaned Charlie against the wall for a warm kiss.

Charlie's arms went quickly around Don's neck and he pressed his body against Don's. Don pressed back and soon Charlie was flattened against the wall, Don's mouth on his neck and his hands in his hair. Charlie's hands were on Don's ass and he moaned as Don ground his instant erection against him.

"Sauna," Charlie said faintly.

Don pulled back and smiled sheepishly at him. When had Charlie become so goddamned irresistible?

Charlie swallowed visibly and ran his hand through his hair. Don took Charlie's hand and pulled him towards their room.

In their room, they got into their swimsuits in separate rooms. They grabbed robes and towels and quickly headed for the pool area.

Once at the pool, Charlie didn't go straight for the sauna, but instead hung up his robe and climbed into the pool. Don bit back a sigh and followed him. The water helped cool his body down and he was able to smile at Charlie instead of growling at him. At least they were alone in the pool area.

"I love to watch you swim," Charlie said, so Don nodded and swam a few laps. He felt Charlie's eyes on him the whole time and it made him feel pleasantly tingly. The last time they'd been in this pool, he had still been determined that sex with Charlie was a terrible mistake and was certainly not as good as he remembered. Now he knew that sex with Charlie was a terrible mistake that he'd make again in a heartbeat, and that it was even better than he'd dreamed.

He swam up to Charlie, skimming up his body like he did last time, but this time let Charlie close the gap between them and kiss him. Don kept the kiss short and looked around after to make sure no one had seen them.

Don smiled at Charlie and said huskily, "Can we sauna yet?"

Charlie nodded quickly.

They got out of the pool and got their robes and towels. Don went over to the Call for Service button. The attendant arrived quickly. It was the same man as two days before and he just nodded when he saw Don and Charlie. Don smiled and they went into the sauna.

In the sauna, Don filled the water pitcher from the spigot then poured it over the heated rocks. The room filled with steam. Don shed his robe and swimsuit then sat down. Charlie came through the steam, naked as well, and sat next to him. They kissed slowly and deeply, their hands roaming over each other's backs and chests. Don could feel himself heating out outside and inside, and marveled at Charlie's ability to take things so slow when he must be ready to bend Don over the bench and fuck him silly.

Don's body throbbed at the idea and he kissed Charlie a little harder. Charlie pulled back and smiled at him, then got his robe and laid it on the tile floor. He got down between Don's knees and Don licked his lips in anticipation.

Once Charlie was settled on the floor, he just stayed there and gazed up at Don.

After a moment, Don laughed uncomfortably. "Going to start?"

Charlie didn't answer, just looked at him with his big brown eyes.

Don said, just to fill the strange silence, "You're on your knees in front of me. There's only two reasons to go down on your knees in front of someone, and I don't think you're going to propose. That would be two proposals in two days. Would go to my head."

"I'd marry you in a heartbeat," Charlie said quietly.

"Charlie!" Don said in a strangled voice. "We're brothers! That's illegal in every place, always and for all of history!"

"Still, I would." Charlie rested his head against Don's thigh and looked up at him. "I love you and admire you, do you know that? Nothing that I've learned or seen in the last six months has changed that."

Don shook his head and his throat felt tight.

"In fact," Charlie continued slowly, "it's only made me admire you more. You've struggled with these issues for years but have still managed to be a good brother and in the extreme percentile of FBI agents in terms of quality of work. I have the feeling that you've hid things that would have destroyed a lesser man. You are the strongest man I know."

Don reached down to touch Charlie's cheek and his hand was trembling. Charlie smiled and pressed his cheek against Don's hand.

"I wish I could believe you," Don murmured.

"It's the truth."

Don swallowed, his throat feeling like it was closing up. As if Charlie could tell that Don couldn't handle any more of Charlie's truths, Charlie began to kiss Don's thigh. Don swallowed a few more times, blinking quickly. He focused on the feel of Charlie's mouth and the anticipation of what was to come.

Charlie slid his hands up Don's calves, over his knees, and up his thighs. His mouth followed the path of his hands. He nuzzled Don's balls then licked up his cock. Don exhaled noisily when Charlie's mouth closed over the head of his cock at last.

Charlie worked slowly and smoothly. It confused Don that Charlie, who was a top, would be so good at blowjobs, but Don certainly enjoyed Charlie's skill. And it seemed like Charlie enjoyed it too. Don relaxed and reveled in that wonderful connection between them.

Don ran his fingers through Charlie's curls as Charlie's head bobbed up and down. Those familiar curls kept in the front of his mind who was between his knees. His genius, gold-plated, God's-gift-to-math brother was the one who was sucking his cock with such fervor. Charlie had already sucked him off once today, taking care of his morning wood with a wonderful blowjob and fingering, and hadn't even gotten off himself. While Don didn't know what to think about this 'new' Charlie he was discovering, he was enjoying every moment.

Every final moment.

"Charlie," Don said softly.

Charlie looked up at him, his head still bobbing up and down. Charlie could probably tell that Don wasn't in danger of coming yet, but Don wanted to move to the main event. The connection was good, now, but not as strong as when Charlie was fucking him.

"Charlie," Don said again. He couldn't say anything more, but Charlie seemed to understand. He slowly pulled off Don's cock, giving it one last lick, before sitting back on his heels. He wiped his mouth and smiled up at Don.

"You like that?" Charlie teased.

"Oh, yeah," Don said. "As if you couldn't tell."

"Never hurts to hear it."

"You have skills, little brother," Don said with a smile.

Charlie grinned, then his face grew serious. He stood up and went over to the grill with the heated rocks. He poured another pitcher of over the rocks. Steam filled the air and Don felt more than saw Charlie sit next to him on the bench. They kissed until the steam cleared.

Pulling back, Charlie looked into Don's eyes. "This is where you belong. On the seat next to me. Neither of us belong on the floor."

Don grimaced. The last time they were in the sauna, Don had explained to Charlie how he belonged on the floor, on his knees, with another man's cum on his face.

"You aren't just a hound, Don," Charlie continued. "You don't just live by your lust. You are the most moral man I've ever met."

Don turned away and started to stand up. Charlie held onto his arm.

Don sagged back onto the seat. "Do we have to talk about this now?"

"You keep calling yourself a 'whore'. I object strongly to that."

"I am a whore," Don said softly. "I can't control myself."

"Bullshit," Charlie said. "You have demonstrated a ton of control in your life, as well as this weekend. There was just no way you were going to be able to resist me, once I put my mind to it."

Don smiled weakly.

Charlie cupped Don's cheek in his hand. "You have the control now. What would you like me to do?"

"If I said, 'Let's leave right now and do nothing,' that would be okay?"

"Yes," Charlie said firmly. "Yes."

Don closed his eyes, gathered himself, then whispered, "Fuck me, please."

He felt Charlie wrap his arms around his neck and lean his forehead against Don's. "Okay, that's progress. We'll work on it."

Charlie pressed his lips to Don's and they kissed for a long moment, with Don keeping his eyes closed. Don heard Charlie stand up and felt that immediate panic that Charlie would not fuck him after all. He forced his eyes open.

Charlie was simply getting their robes.

"Stand up?" Charlie asked.

Don stood up and Charlie laid out the robes on the bench. Don looked at him and waited for instructions.

Charlie seemed to bite back a sigh, then he said brightly, "I can't get enough of your ass. How about you get on hands and knees and I'll make you feel really good?"

Don nodded and climbed onto the wooden bench on his hands and knees. Charlie got up behind him and began to massage his ass cheeks. Charlie rubbed his thumbs down Don's crack, then followed with his tongue. He began to rim Don in earnest.

Don let his head hang down between his shoulders and just enjoyed Charlie's enthusiasm and skill. He had a perfect mental picture of what Charlie was doing - thanks to Charlie's insistence that Don watch him in the mirror the first time - and that picture added to the sensations which were making Don's cock throb. Don wondered if he was going to be able to hold back or if he'd come just from rimming.

Charlie was too skilled, though, to let Don come too soon. Every time Don was close, Charlie backed off and rubbed Don's ass and thighs, then when Don was back from the brink, returned his tongue to Don's ass. Don tried not to think about how many asses Charlie must have pleasured in order to get the timing so perfect.

Finally, Charlie straightened up, stretched his neck and rolled his shoulders. He stood up and Don clamped down on the automatic fear that Charlie was done with him. He told himself that Charlie wanted to fuck him almost as much as Don wanted to be fucked by him.

Still, he watched Charlie carefully as Charlie went to refill the water pitcher from the spigot. Instead of pouring it over the heated rocks, he filled up two cups that were on the side. Drinking one, he handed the other to Don. Don just held the cup, frozen as he was in the position that Charlie had put him.

When Charlie saw that Don wasn't drinking, he said, "Drink it! You don't want to get dehydrated by sweating."

Don jerked into motion, drinking the water down. Charlie nodded his approval and refilled both of their glasses. These pauses in sex were unlike anything that Don had ever done with a man before, and rarely with a woman. He fought against the urge to hurry everything along. He knew Charlie was trying to teach him a new way of having sex, but Don's anxiety kept flaring up.

After they both emptied a second glass, Charlie took the cups and set them aside. He then poured a pitcher-full of water over the heated rocks and the steam filled the room. Before the steam dissipated, Don felt hands on his head and down over his face. Then Charlie's lips were on his face and kissing their way to Don's.

After the steam cleared, Charlie got up on his knees on the bench in front of Don. Don licked his lips at the sight of Charlie's cock, wet from steam and sweat. Don opened his mouth and leaned forward eagerly. Charlie's cock already tasted familiar and right in his mouth. He brought his own skills into play and Charlie was soon gasping above him. He dug his fingers into Don's hair.

"Always loved your mouth," Charlie panted. "Loved your lips, their shape, everything. Every once in a while, at dinner or at work or something, I find myself just zoning out what you were saying and just watching your mouth. Somebody asks me a question and I start using random math terms and everything thinks, 'It's just the distracted genius,' and they'd have no idea I was thinking dirty thoughts about your mouth."

Don chuckled and pulled off to say, "So all those times that you're spouting about math, you're actually thinking about me sucking you?"

"Or kissing me," Charlie said. "And just some of the time. Occasionally, I'm actually thinking about math."

Don grinned. "Well, I hope you're not thinking about math at the moment."

"Just one plus one," Charlie teased. "And rising vectors. And infinity."

Don smiled and went back to trying to give Charlie as good of a blowjob as Charlie had given him. Charlie's fingers flexed and tightened in Don's hair. His breathing was getting short. Don tasted the sharp flavor of pre-cum and Charlie pulled back from him quickly.

Charlie climbed off the bench and poured himself some water, then dumped it over his groin. He poured another glass and gulped it down. Don could see he was shaking a little.

He gave Don a rueful smile. "That would have been embarrassing. I just love your mouth." Then he smiled gleefully. "Not as much as I love your ass, though."

Charlie looked around for a second, then said, "Stand up?"

Don got up slowly, having gotten stiff in his position. He wondered how Charlie would pose him next. He toyed briefly with the idea of suggesting something, but a surge of anxiety wiped out that thought.

Charlie was moving the robes that he'd laid out on the bench, like he was looking for something. Don was surprised to see Charlie get a small bottle of lube from the pocket of his robe.

As if he read his mind, Charlie said, "You're too good for spit. You deserve the best lube I can buy."

Don pressed his lips together and didn't reply. The first few years of sex with men he'd used only shower soap for lubricant. So much so that he'd thought the faint burn of the soap was just one of the prices he paid for getting fucked.

Charlie smoothed the robes back out on the bench. "You okay with hands and knees for longer?"

Don nodded and got back into position. Charlie climbed up behind him. Don closed his eyes and waited.

"Don? Look at me?"

Don opened his eyes and looked back over his shoulder.

"I really want to fuck you now, would that be okay?"

Don glared at him. "Of course."

"I'm just trying to make sure you know you have a choice."

Charlie was wrong, Don didn't have a choice. All he had were needs. Don just nodded and turned his head away. Charlie sighed quietly and squeezed Don's ass.

Soon, Don felt Charlie's lube-wet fingers at his asshole. Charlie pushed in and began his agonizingly slow and thorough stretching. Don bit his lip on the urge to tell Charlie to hurry. He knew by now that it was pointless to ask. For Charlie, this activity was worthwhile in itself, and not just as preparation for the next part.

Slowly, Don relaxed and started to just enjoy the sensations. Charlie leaned over often and kissed Don's ass and back. Don wondered if Charlie was thinking about how this had to be the last time they ever did this.

Don tensed up.

"What's wrong?" Charlie asked instantly.

"Nothing," Don lied, and spread his knees a little wider.

After a moment, Charlie went back to his stretching and then finally pulled his fingers out. He wiped his fingers off on a towel, lubed and stroked his own cock a few times, then positioned himself behind Don. The head of his cock was soon at Don's hole then pressing slowly inside. Don gave a sigh of relief.

Charlie gave his own happy sigh and began to move. He gripped Don's ass and pushed in deeply, pulled out smoothly. Don reveled in the perfect sensations.

"God, you feel so good," Charlie groaned. "The best ass I've ever fucked." A few more strokes and he laughed. "Given the sample size, that's a statistically significant statement."

Don felt a strange rush of jealousy over all those men that Charlie had been with before him. He'd never pictured his brother as sexually active, even though he knew he had boyfriends. He'd just never thought of Charlie that way, though he would never be able to not think about it now. If he'd been pressed to say what he'd thought, he would have imagined Charlie as a pushy and greedy bottom, not this thoughtful lover. He'd have imagined that Charlie would be selfish and distracted, thinking about his lovers as statistical samples.

Then again, Don would also have expected Charlie to not be sexually active until he was an adult. Now Don knew that Charlie had first been fucked when he'd been 13 or 14, by an adult male who didn't see a problem with taking advantage of a naïve and needy child. Don wanted to go back and kill that man. Charlie's childhood had been unusual enough, he hadn't needed to add sex to the mix.

"Don?" Charlie said. "Where'd you go?"

"What?"

"You stopped reacting, like you weren't here anymore. Is something wrong?"

Don blinked and felt a strange trembling in chest. He'd never had a man notice when he'd gone into his head during sex, something which happened often. Men were only interested in taking their pleasure from him. Most women didn't even notice. Sometimes a women would notice, but not unless he actually paused in what he was doing. Sex wasn't supposed to be like this.

"What's wrong, what did I do?" Charlie asked and began to pull out of him.

"Don't," Don said, reaching back. "Sorry, I just was thinking."

Charlie hesitated then pushed back fully inside him. "Thinking about what?"

Don shook his head.

"Was it at least about me?" Charlie asked.

Don turned his head to look at him. "Of course, dork."

Charlie smiled crookedly. "Not good thoughts, though."

"Not now, Charlie!" Don snapped.

Charlie nodded and began to stroke again. "I think about you all the time when I'm having sex with another man," he admitted. "I may have even called out your name a few times."

Don tried not to picture Charlie fucking anyone else and calling them 'Don'. He pictured it anyway and felt another surge of jealousy. Don growled under his breath.

It wasn't quiet enough, though, and Charlie stopped again and asked, "What did I say?"

"I don't like thinking about you with another man," Don admitted.

There was a long pause then Charlie said, "I'd happily never fuck another man again, if you wanted."

Don swallowed against a lump in his throat. "You said once that you need to fuck men like I need to get fucked. I know I couldn't live without it, so I doubt you could."

"I wouldn't need to live without it if I had you," Charlie said softly.

"Charlie…"

"But even so, I'd give up anything for you."

That lump wouldn't leave Don's throat. "Charlie…"

Charlie waited for a moment, then began stroking inside Don again. His voice was thick as he said, "Now that I am really inside you, I just want to laugh and cry and fuck you forever."

Don gave a tight laugh. "I think we'd get tired eventually."

"Never," Charlie said fiercely.

And Don believed him. Charlie had amazing stamina, even better than Colby.

Don gritted his teeth at the thought of Colby.

"Don?"

"God," Don sighed. "Make me forget everything but this moment."

"Okay," Charlie said huskily. Then he shifted his grip, altered his position, and began to do just that.

Don thought Charlie was fucking him perfectly before, but he'd been holding back. Don groaned at the glorious onslaught. Wave after wave of pleasure washed over him.

"God, Don," Charlie moaned. "Beautiful, wonderful Don."

Don's legs and arms began to tremble. His breath came in short pants. Charlie reached around and took hold of Don's aching cock. He stroked it in time to his thrusts.

"Come for me, big brother," Charlie said hoarsely.

Don moaned and came, squirting between Charlie's fingers. Charlie kept hold of his cock and pounded wildly into his ass. Charlie cried out and Don felt the hot spray of cum inside him. They rocked together for a long while before coming to a panting, shuddering stop.

"Beautiful, wonderful Don," Charlie murmured, stroking Don's back over and over. "You are the most amazing, strongest man in the world and you should never doubt it."

And for that moment, for that brief breathless moment, Don believed him.

Chapter Text



Part 39: Charlie tries to solve the Don equation, but Don responds with his own math problem

Don and Charlie cleaned themselves up, then cleaned the sauna room. Charlie kept a close eye on Don, but Don didn't seem to be having any ill effects from Charlie's attempts to tell him how much he admired and respected him. Charlie doubted that Don believed him, but at least he hadn't argued with him.

They got dressed in their swimsuits and left the sauna, thanking the attendant who'd kept anyone else from coming in. Charlie headed towards the pool room exit, but Don veered off towards the pool. Charlie followed and they both cooled themselves down for a few minutes in the water. The sauna had heated them up in more ways than one.

Charlie slipped his hand into Don's as they walked back to their room. Don gave his hand a little squeeze that did funny things to Charlie's chest. As they walked, Charlie began to work up his courage for more talking. There were things he needed to know, and he had the feeling that, once they left this magical place, Don would go back to his usual closed self.

Back in the room, they got dressed, both moving slowly. They walked over to the couch and sat down. Don turned on the TV, but left it muted as he flipped through the listings.

Charlie folded his fingers together and tried to think. He felt like he had an equation that wasn't resolving, that Don's behavior wasn't adding together with what Charlie knew about Don. He had the feeling that the key to the equation was baseball. Something in Don's time in pro baseball had broken him. He'd actually called himself a baseball whore. It didn't make any sense.

"Tell me about baseball," Charlie said.

"What?"

"Baseball," Charlie said again, feeling his way towards a question.

"What about it?" Don said, sounding uneasy. He continued to flip through the TV listings.

"Did something happen to you?"

Don put down the remote and looked at him. "What do you mean?"

"Were you…" Charlie swallowed and made himself continue, "…raped?"

Don laughed, a harsh, hollow laugh that made Charlie flinch. "No, I wasn't raped. I wanted it."

"Where you coerced?"

"No."

"Because there can be many different formed of coercion, whether physical or mental or emotional. For example, what happened when you said no?"

Don didn't reply.

Charlie continued, "It would be coercion if there was some sort of punishment for not complying. What happened when you said no? Did the other person… belittle you or shun you?"

Don just looked at him.

"Was there jokes or public shaming or…"

No reply.

As Don remained silent, more and more unpleasant possibilities occurred to Charlie. "Did they bench you or hit you 'by mistake' in batting practice or…"

Don interrupted him. "I didn't."

"What?"

"I didn't say no."

"What do you mean? Never?"

"Never."

Charlie stared at him. "You always said yes?"

Don nodded.

"Even when you were tired or sore or just didn't feel like it?"

Another nod.

Charlie struggled to understand. "Because… you were afraid what would happen if you said no? That's certainly coercion."

"No, I knew what would happen."

"What would happen?"

"I wouldn't get fucked."

"But…"

Don turned fully to face him. "If I said no, they might not ask again. If they didn't ask again, maybe other men wouldn't ask and …"

"And you wouldn't get fucked," Charlie finished. "But why couldn't you just ask yourself?"

Don shook his head. "There was no way to ask. No way but to wait and… hope."

"I don't understand," Charlie said plaintively. "Why was there no way?"

"I told you how it worked, Charlie," Don said and looked down at his hands.

Charlie reviewed what Don had said about hand-n-hump. He slowly came to the realization that Don was right. Under that system, the tops were the instigators and the bottoms could only say yes or no. "All you could do was wait and hope," Charlie repeated. "I see."

Don closed his eyes and said, "Wait and hope and try to look desirable."

"And if no one approached you…" Charlie said, feeling an ache in his throat that felt like tears. "Then you believed you weren't desirable enough."

Don's silence was his reply.

Charlie shook his head slowly. "You started… Your first time was in a shower, after you went pro?"

Don nodded.

"But surely, surely there were other times with other men."

"I didn't know how to do it any other way," Don said tiredly. He opened his eyes and stared blankly at nothing. "I understood how to seduce women, but I had to learn how to seduce men. It took a while. Not until I left baseball did I even start trying."

Charlie tried to swallow against the ache in his throat. Don was in baseball for years. That meant years of being taught that his desire to be fucked was at the whims of others. That he was lesser than other men, that he couldn't say no because he may never have the chance to say yes again. It all made terrible sense.

"Who was your first, after baseball?" Charlie asked.

"Another agent, at Quantico," Don said, then laughed that harsh, hollow laugh again. "In the showers."

Charlie pushed through the tears that threatened to fall. "But it went past the showers, right?"

"Yes," Don said. "But it wasn't any different."

"Why not?"

"Because it wasn't!" Don snapped, finally turned to look at Charlie again. "It was just like that! He snapped his fingers and I spread my ass. Every. Time. Baseball taught me one way to be a whore. He taught me all the rest."

Charlie blinked away tears.

"When he got assigned to D.C. and I wasn't, I was devastated." Don's voice grew soft. "I would have followed him anywhere, but he didn't want me to."

Charlie was overwhelmed by a fierce, hot desire to find that agent and kill him. That first post-baseball relationship had been Don's chance to discover that the situation he'd been in on that baseball team wasn't normal, that gay sex could be equal, that he wasn't a lesser man for being a bottom. Instead, that bastard had used Don and left him, like so many others had.

"You better never tell me his name," Charlie snapped. "Or else I might do something terrible to him."

Don's face hardened. "Now you know how I feel about the men who raped you."

Charlie's anger fizzled into confusion. "What?"

"You were, what, thirteen or fourteen when you started having sex with adults? That's statutory rape. Four or five years of it."

Charlie stared at him. "But I wanted it! I asked for it!"

"So did I, Charlie," Don said grimly. "But I was an adult, I wasn't a lost, needy child who just wanted someone to pay attention to him and love him. You wanted someone to care about you for something other than math and be good at something other than math, and those men took advantage of that."

"I…" Charlie tried, but couldn't manage anything else. It had taken years with a therapist to get him to that understanding and Don had gotten there in a weekend.

"I think about those men using you and…" Don clenched his hands into fists. "Mom or Dad should have protected you. I should have protected you."

"You were at college," Charlie protested.

"No excuse."

Charlie swallowed. The image of eighteen-year-old Don rushing to his rescue was almost too much to bear.

"Let's get back to you," Charlie said.

Don blew out a breath and sat back. "Yeah, with all of that, you're still not as fucked up as me."

Charlie shook his head. "I still don't understand. Were there no men who treated you… gently?"

Don raised his eyebrows. "No, you're the first."

"What the hell is wrong with people?" Charlie snapped.

Don gave a half-laugh. "People want what they want, and I was happy to give it to them, under whatever rules they defined."

"What I define the rules?" Charlie said. "Gentleness and kindness and, ugh, not treating you like a walking cum-repository?"

Don's mouth twisted then he said, "I tell myself that I can get any man that I want, that I can seduce men like I seduce women, but really, they find me. Certain men know an ass-whore when they see one, and they let me know. And then I bend over for them, whoever they are, and whatever way they want it."

Charlie tasted bile. "That sounds a lot like sexual predators do when they cruise for children to molest. They just 'recognize' them and know how to manipulate them."

"Like they did you?"

"I wasn't…" Charlie pressed his lips together, waited a beat, then tried again. "As much as I could, since I recognize was just a kid, I was a willing and active participant. My partners didn't feel like adults, they felt like my peers. They taught me that sex can be gentle and loving and kind. They treated me well. If they didn't, they didn't get a second chance. As strange as the dynamic seems, I always felt like a sexual equal, even when I was on the bottom. And that's how it should be."

Don rested his head against the back of the couch. "Maybe in your world. Maybe in your ivory tower. In the real world, in the FBI, sex is about master and slave, alpha and beta, top and bottom."

"Then I'd argue that the FBI isn't the real world."

"Your world is?"

"No, maybe I've been cossetted, but there's got to be a middle ground." Charlie put his hand on Don's arm. "A middle ground that we can explore together."

"Charlie…"

"I'm not giving up on you… on us."

"There is no 'us.'"

"There has been since the day I was born," Charlie corrected him. "That relationship has just changed over time."

Don laughed hollowly. "And it changed a helluva lot this weekend."

"It did. It changed for good. I mean, it changed in a good way."

"And changed for good, as in permanently."

"That's true. I don't regret it," Charlie said, echoing sentiments from earlier in the day. "I don't regret it at all."

"Me either, though it's going to make everything more difficult."

"Or simpler," Charlie argued. "More straightforward. I know what - or who - I want in life now, and I'm never going to wonder if this guy or that guy is the apex of my experience, because you are and will always be."

"But knowing that you're the 'apex of my experience' and I can never have you again is going to be hellish."

Charlie was both warmed and chilled by Don's words, warmed by the idea that he was Don's apex and chilled by Don's certainty that life for him after this weekend was going to be a nightmare. "It doesn't have to be that way."

Don sighed and stretched his legs. In Don's tight jeans, Charlie couldn't help noticing the long bulge of an erection.

"Already?" Charlie said, then instantly was sorry he said it.

Don followed Charlie's gaze. He grimaced and looked away. "I told you I'm an animal."

Charlie touched his cheek and gently steered his face back to look at him. "You might think it's a negative, but at least today, it's a positive."

"Why?"

"Because," Charlie said, sliding his other hand over that ridge. "It means that I can give you one more blowjob before we go."

Don's lips twitched into an almost smile. "That's a positive," he agreed and pulled Charlie close for a deep kiss.

They kissed for a long moment, hands sliding lightly over each other's bodies.

Don pulled back and brushed hair away from Charlie's face. He held Charlie's face in his hands and just looked at him. Finally he sighed and said, "I'm going to miss you, buddy."

"I'm not going anywhere," Charlie said slowly. "Are you?"

"He's not going to forgive this for a long time."

Charlie grimaced. At least Don didn't use the bastard's name. Charlie forced himself to smile and say, "It's okay, Don. I'll be here whenever you're ready. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not leaving you, ever again."

Don shook his head. "You can't promise that."

"Oh, yes, I can," Charlie said, putting his full conviction into his voice. "I promise it."

Don's eyes grew moist. He leaned over and kissed Charlie forcefully, then climbed onto his lap to deepen the kiss. Charlie wrapped his arms around Don and pulled him closer. As they kissed, Don rocked on Charlie's lap and Charlie could feel his own cock trying to grow hard again.

Against Don's mouth, Charlie murmured, "If we put this off for a little while, I can join in."

Don pulled back and looked down at him, his expression one of relief. Charlie felt relief as well. There would be one more mutual encounter before this was over.

Don climbed off his lap with a smile. "Okay, Chuck, how about we give you that 'little while'?"

Rubbing his hands up and down his legs to calm himself down, Charlie said, "How about some more of that baseball video game? Now that you know about my baseball kink."

"Better be careful around you in a cup," Don said. "You might lose your head."

"I would," Charlie said, as the image woke his body up even more. "I practically rubbed the finish off that baseball trophy of yours, thinking about you in a cup. With your baseball pants around your ankles and leaning over and showing me your ass and talking dirty about bats and balls…" Charlie shuddered pleasantly.

Don laughed. "Not going to need much time, I see. Maybe we should do something a little less arousing, so you don't go off without me."

Charlie laughed too, feeling his face flush red. He'd never told anyone how far his baseball kink went. It made sense, considering his formative sexual fantasies, but it was still embarrassing. Especially talking to Formative Sexual Fantasy #1.

"Maybe we better," Charlie mumbled. He rubbed his hands over his red face. He couldn't believe he'd told Don about that… and about many other things as well. They'd talked, they'd actually talked, and Charlie felt that he was coming that much closer to understanding Don as he really was, not just as he always believed he was. It was going to take him time to process everything he'd learned. And maybe Don might understand him a little more as well.

Now he felt done with talking, and ready for some fun.

Charlie straightened up and smiled at Don. "Let's find something that won't set me off as much as baseball. After all, we have the whole morning left."

Chapter Text

Part 40: Charlie gets a drink

Charlie and Don played a silly paintball shooter game for a while. Then Don watched a show on the Olympics while Charlie flipped through one of the journals he'd brought. They sat close to each other and took many opportunities for touching. Charlie's body was moving steadily towards being ready for more sex, but a different urge was growing stronger.

Setting down his book, Charlie got up and looked towards the door.

"What's up?" Don asked.

"I thought I'd… take a little walk," Charlie said. "Maybe get a drink."

Don raised his eyebrows, then nodded slowly.

Charlie gave him a grateful smile at the permission to go talk to the bartender that Don had. Charlie just hoped that the same bartender was on duty this morning. He moved quickly, before he or Don could change their minds, and let himself out of the room.

He wondered what he was doing as he walked down the hall. He was leaving behind Don, who was in a sexy and willing mood, to go talk to some complete stranger. He just felt the need to talk to someone, after Don's devastating revelations of the last few days.

Charlie wiped his hands on his pants and went into the bar. After all, the bartender knew the most damning thing about him, that he'd seduced his brother, and hadn't, well, damned him for it.

Charlie perched nervously on a barstool and tried to look thirsty. He didn't have a lot of experience with bars. He'd certainly never needed to cruise them to find men. He always found men just by looking around in his vicinity. Kinda like Don, who been there his whole life.

A bartender came up to him, a tall woman with nearly symmetrical cheekbones. She wiped her hands on a towel as she came. Charlie was pretty sure that he didn't mistake the sharp interest in her eyes.

"Hi," Charlie said.

"What can I get you, hon?" the bartender said with a Southern accent, perhaps Georgian.

Charlie realized he should have asked Don for a description. He didn't even know if this was the same bartender. "Um… A beer?"

The bartender raised her eyebrows. "You asking me or telling me?"

"A beer," Charlie said, trying to sound certain. "Whatever you have on tap."

"We have a lot of choices. What do you like?"

"Something light. Low alcohol. Um, maybe I should just get a club soda."

The bartender grinned. "Sure thing, hon." She moved away and filled up a glass with fizzy liquid. She put in in front of him.

Charlie took it in his hands but didn't drink. He stared at it and wondered how to start.

The bartender did it for him. She asked quietly, "Is he okay?"

Charlie looked up and blinked in confusion. "What?"

"Is he okay? I know that… I heard that he had a visitor."

"Oh," Charlie said. "You know who I am, then."

"Yes, I met your…" the bartender trailed off.

Charlie looked at her and reminded himself that Don had said that she believed it was better for Don to be with him than with an abusive boyfriend. He cleared his throat and said quietly, "My brother."

She nodded, and the interest in her eyes was sharp indeed. "I was worried when I heard that that bas… his boyfriend had found him."

He grimaced. "Yeah, I tried to cover our tracks, but it was only a matter of time."

"He should have never gotten past the front desk," the bartender said darkly. "What the hell do we pay security for?"

Charlie stared at her, surprised by the real anger in her voice. Don must have made a strong impression on her. "Um, hi," he said, belatedly offering her his hand. "I'm Doctor-Charlie."

She smiled and shook his hand. "Sandy."

"Yeah," Charlie said, returning to what she said. "As I told the manager, I'm glad the front desk clerk didn't try to stop him himself. He might have gotten hurt."

Her eyes narrowed. "He normally violent with people that stand in his way?"

"Well, not usually," Charlie said, trying to be fair. "But he was really upset with Don and he's very… determined."

"The desk clerk called him, 'gorgeous but terrifying.'"

Charlie smiled faintly. "That's him."

Sandy leaned closer. "Did he… hurt Don?"

"I didn't let him," Charlie said proudly, then his shoulders slumped. "Or at least I threatened him with calling security until he left."

"If he's that 'determined', that wouldn't have stopped him. The manager said that you called him an 'ex-army interrogator turned FBI agent.'"

Charlie eyed her. "You're very well informed. Everybody been talking about this?"

Sandy shook her head sharply. "No, no way. I'm sort of the staff psychologist. We had a meeting about what happened, just the people involved. No one around here is talking about it, that's not how we do things here. If people talked about stuff here, they'd get got tossed out faster than green grass through a goose. Don't you worry."

Charlie blew out his breath. "It was embarrassing enough, without everyone talking about it. I can't even protect him from…" Charlie squeezed the glass in his hands tightly.

"What happened?" Sandy asked quietly.

Charlie nodded. He wanted to talk to someone, and as Don said, she was easy to talk to. "He banged on the door and Don let him in." He gritted his teeth as he remembered. "Don just shrinks into himself when that bastard appears. Don was always so strong and confident, or at least I always thought he was strong and confident. Now I know so much more."

He stared at his club soda for a moment, before Sandy gently prodded, "Don let him in, then…"

"They sent me into the bathroom then talked and Don… lied about stuff, about me and him, and then Colby - that's his name - actually had the nerve to ask him to marry him."

Sandy bit off a curse. "What did he say?"

"Colby said not to answer right away, but I think Don's going to say yes."

"Fuck," Sandy said harshly. "I told him that the only thing worse than an abusive boyfriend is an abusive husband."

Charlie blinked at her. "He admitted it to you? How Colby hits him for no reason?"

"In so many words," Sandy said. "I know the signs."

Charlie nodded. He knew he was normally obtuse when it came to people, but even he could tell that was something Sandy was speaking from personal experience. "When he came through that door, I was afraid he was going to…" He swallowed. "And when Don didn't leave with him… I'm terrified what he's going to do to Don when we get home."

Sandy looked grim, then she raised one eyebrow. "Don sent him away?"

"Not really, but he didn't let Colby, you know. Even though Colby was determined to 'show him how good they are together.' Colby started stripping and Don was saying he just needed time to think, but Colby just wasn't taking that answer." He clenched his hands. "I was in the bathroom and I was listening for the smallest sign from Don that he wanted me to intervene, the slightest sign..."

"And he gave it?"

"No, he just let Colby call him all sorts of things. When Don didn't bend over immediately for sex, Colby started accusing him of sleeping with the bellhop and threatening to break his neck and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I ran out and yelled at him that I was going to call security."

Sandy shook her head slowly. "You were right to try to give Don a chance to stand up to him."

"Yeah, but he didn't…"

A man and a woman came into the bar, laughing. They took seats down the bar and signaled to Sandy. She smiled at them, put her hand on Charlie's, and said, "Stay put, hon. I'll be back."

Charlie nodded and Sandy moved away. Charlie took a sip of his drink and made a face. He'd forgotten how awful plain club soda was.

What was he doing here, talking to a perfect stranger, when he could be back in the hotel room, in Don's arms? Still, he needed to talk to someone, and there wasn't anyone else he knew who wouldn't condemn his relationship with Don outright. Even Don's long-suffering psychiatrist would probably have trouble with incest.

Sandy passed by him, murmuring, "Move down the bar."

Charlie nodded, picked up his barely-drank club soda, and went to take the seat farthest away from the laughing couple. Sandy came up to him with a bowl of pretzels. She set it down next to him and he took one automatically. He chewed and swallowed it quickly.

"This weekend has been unbelievable," Charlie said. "The things I've learned…" Like how Don's kiss could light his body on fire, how incredible being in Don's ass felt, the blissful look on Don's face when he came. And how Don's whole being would relax after good sex, how it felt to be the recipient of Don's brightest smiles, how sleeping in Don's arms was the best sleep Charlie had ever had.

"Happy things, I see," Sandy chuckled. "You're grinning like a possum eating a sweet tater."

Charlie felt himself flush. "Yeah. It's been far beyond my wildest dreams."

"I can tell." Smiling, she got him a glass of water.

"Thanks." He drank a few sips, then his smile vanished as other memories rushed in. He felt himself grow cold instead. He set his glass down and held onto it.

Quietly, Sandy watched him, as if she knew that worse was coming.

"The other things I've learned this weekend…" Charlie shuddered. He forced out the next few words. "He was abused - as an adult, for years." He shuddered again, and the words came more easily. "I doubt he'd call it abuse, but he was in a coercive situation. He was taught that because of his… sexual preferences he was a lesser man and it was right that he submitted to the desires of any man who wanted him. That his desirability was entirely based on their whims. Fucking idiots."

"Charlie," Sandy said, "let go of the glass."

Charlie looked at his hands to see that his knuckles were white from the force of his grip. He gritted his teeth and let Sandy take the glass from between his hands. He gripped his fingers together instead and the words continued to spill out of him. "That situation and every sadistic bastard that found him after that. Don doesn't believe… he doesn't believe that he can ever say no, that he doesn't have the right to ever say no, that any man can have him whenever he wants because that's the way things are with men, that if he ever says no that he will be discarded and abandoned which he fears more than anything. How can he believe he can never say no? Don's so… broken and I didn't see it."

Sandy was shaking her head. "He hides it very well. Did all of this happen when he was living at home?"

"No, no, he was gone then I was gone. I didn't see him much for years."

"Don't blame yourself for not seeing it then. People can hide the biggest of scars." Sandy said, then asked carefully, "He's bi, right? I'm assuming that he's not that way with women?"

Charlie gave a dry laugh. "He's supremely confident around women, and they always say he's the world's most amazing boyfriend, but he always breaks it off."

"Not surprising," Sandy said.

"Why?"

Sandy put her hand over Charlie's clenched ones. "I could go into the psychology of it, but I don't think you really want to hear it right now. This is all so new to you."

"All so new and so horrible. God, Don…" Tightening his hands together, he looked away and felt tears come to his eyes. He'd managed not to cry when Don was talking to him, but he was going to lose it now. "I love him, I love him so much. I just want to help him, if he'll just let me. If the world will just let me."

Sandy squeezed Charlie's hands. "There's something you're overlooking, hon."

Charlie pulled one hand away to wipe his cheeks. "What?"

"You told me that Don says he can't say no, that he doesn't believe he has the right to say no."

"Yes, how could he think that?"

She continued, "But you told me that yesterday that he didn't let his boyfriend do what he wanted to him."

Charlie blinked in surprise.

"You said that Don didn't stand up to him, but you're wrong. Maybe he let him call him names and accuse him of sleeping around, but he drew the line at having sex. He said no."

Charlie's jaw dropped open. Finally, he managed, "So you think Don was lying to me, that he really does believe he can say no?"

Sandy shook her head, then said, her voice gentle. "I believe that Don doesn't think he can say no, but that yesterday he did say no, maybe for the first time ever. Why do you think he finally said no?"

"He… got tired of Colby?"

"I'm guessing he's been tired of Colby for some time," she said. "No, something else has changed for him."

"You mean… him and me?"

She nodded. "I think you're already helping him."

"I am?" Warmth bloomed in Charlie's chest. "You think so?"

"Yes. Don told me that when you first came on to him, he thought you were trying to prove some point about sex between men not having to be fast and dirty, and it sounds like you've proved that."

"That was part of it," Charlie admitted. "But are you sure I'm helping him? Don told me that I was making the situation worse, making things harder for him. That life after this was going to be hellish."

"It's not easy breaking old patterns and beliefs. What I think you're really proving to him is that he is loved for himself."

"He is."

"And that he's desirable, even when he exercises control over his own sexuality."

Charlie leaned forward. "When we're… engaged in certain activity and I stop to take a breath, he freaks out, terrified that I might not follow through with it. He'll start saying crazy things and begging me. Just the level of panic breaks my heart. As if I could ever be turned off by him."

Sandy smiled softly. "He talked to me about how you look at him, how you make him feel important and like he's the center of the universe."

"He's mentioned how I look at him to me, too," Charlie said. "Like there's something special about my look, when really it's him that special."

"It's hard for him to believe that you still think he's special, now that you know his secrets."

"He is special. He's amazing and wonderful and I tell him that but he doesn't hear me. I've tried to explain to him that nothing I've learned has made me admire him less, but more." Charlie looked her square in the eyes and said, "And I will never, ever, abandon him. No matter how hard he tries to get me to go."

Sandy nodded and Charlie was sure there were tears in her eyes. "Good for you, hon. You're a good man. A good brother."

"I'm trying," Charlie said, his voice thick. "It's not easy when you're trying to help your brother who's also the love of your life and someone the world says you can't be with."

"People like me have been hearing the same sort of thing for a long time," Sandy said. "Who am I to judge?"

"Thank you," Charlie said, his voice shaking a little. He took a swallow of his water. "It's been good to talk with you." He took another swallow. "Now I should really get back to him, while I still can."

"Hang on, hon," Sandy said. She went over to her cash register and wrote something on a piece of paper. "I don't usually do this." She paused and said, "I don't think I've ever done this before, but here's my phone number. Call me if you need someone to talk to after you go home. I want to help." She gave a wry smile. "I also want to know how things turn out between you two boys."

"Thanks." Charlie took the paper and carefully tucked it into his pocket. "How much do I owe you for the drink?"

She chuckled. "On the house. No one's gonna say I'm so cheap I wouldn't give a nickel to see Jesus ridin' a bicycle."

Charlie stared at her then begin to laugh. He got up from the bar with a smile on his face. That smile widened as he walked down the hall towards his hotel room. He was helping Don, he was! He felt immeasurably lighter. Worries of the morning fell away and left only the anticipation of being with Don again. Lengthening his stride, he hurried down the hallway. His whole body began warming up. He was helping Don with his issues, but in the near future he planned on helping Don with his clothes.

Chapter Text

Title: Baseball Fever (41/?)
Summary of the story so far
Full Chapter List
Fandom: NUMB3RS
Pairing/characters: Don Eppes/Colby Granger, Don Eppes/Charlie Eppes
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Charlie discovers some unexpected things about his sexy older brother.
Word Count: 4648
Notes/Warnings: (Spoilers) Incest, abusive relationship
Beta: Yes, thanks.




Part 41: Don tries to cool his thirst while Charlie lets in the sun

Don idly watched TV as he waited for Charlie to come back from talking to Sandy the bartender. With the time Charlie had been gone, Sandy was obviously working this morning. Either that or this place had two impossibly understanding bartenders.

Don smiled as he remembered some of Sandy's more colorful phrases. Was that southern drawl really hers or did she put it on to disarm people? Don suspected that it was a little of both. And now she was talking to the man she'd called a 'tasty brown-haired honey'. When she'd said that, Don had only begun to discover how tasty Charlie was. His mind ranged back over the last couple of days, lingering on every sexual encounter but also stopping delightfully on other moments, like playing video games, riding a snowmobile, and sleeping wrapped around each other. The image of Don's lonely bed at home rose up and blocked the happy reminiscing. Even worse, being woken up in that bed by Colby demanding his rights. Don grimaced and got up from the couch.

He began to pace the room. Where was Charlie? Why was he taking so long? Don needed his last drink of water before heading back into the Gobi Desert.

"No," he muttered to himself. "Don't think like that." Colby was not the Gobi Desert. Colby was everything that Don had ever wanted in a lover, boyfriend… husband? Don gritted his teeth against the surge of nausea that last thought brought. He needed to get used to the idea because that was his future. Colby had made it clear that getting secretly married was the cost of continuing the relationship. And Don would do whatever it took to get him to stay.

Nodding to himself, Don went over to the mini-fridge and got out one of the last beers. He opened it and drank a few large gulps. He sat down again on the couch to wait for Charlie.

It was hard to remember that just a few days ago he was trying to run himself to death to avoid thinking about sex with Charlie. Days of drawing lines in the sand and then crossing them together. He had avoided kissing Charlie, even when he'd willingly sucked his cock. It seemed strange now but at the time it had seemed so important.

Of course, once he realized that Charlie was a top and would fuck him, all lines were irrelevant. Charlie was just the latest in a long line of people that Don should not have had sex with, but bent over for anyway - two of his instructors at Quantico, his old boss, suspects, known criminals, fugitives…

But that was all over now. He had Colby to take care of his needs, even he didn't take care of them quite as well as Charlie…

Don sighed. Where was Charlie? He didn't want to be thinking about what came before this weekend or after today.

Deliberately, he returned his mind to remembering every amazing moment that he and Charlie had shared in the last few days. He was looking forward to adding one more memory to that collection. He wanted to soak in the way that Charlie looked at him, in the way that Charlie desired him.

The doorknob rattled and Don sat up in anticipation.

Charlie came through the door with a big smile on his face.

Don chuckled. "I see you talked with Sandy."

"Yeah, she's really amazing. You're right, she should work for the FBI."

"She has a PhD in Criminology and another one in something else."

"Not surprised." Charlie flopped down on the couch and patted the spot next to himself.

Don scooted over, a little nervous. "What did she say?"

"She helped me realize something." Charlie took Don's arm and pulled him to sit next to him. "You told me that you don't believe that you can say 'no' to sex with a man."

Don tensed. "You told her that?"

"It's so unfathomable," Charlie said. "I'm trying to understand it."

"There's nothing to understand," Don snapped. "It's the way the world is."

"No, it's not," Charlie said, squeezing Don's leg. "And maybe you're starting to see that too."

"What are you talking about?"

"When Colby came here, did you have sex with him?"

"Security was coming and you were right there and…"

"Do you think that's what stopped Colby?"

"Of course!"

Charlie shook his head. "You don't even remember, do you? You stopped him. You told him no."

"No, I didn't," Don protested. He tried to remember what had happened after Colby asked him to marry him and he'd gotten that terrible vision of his future as Colby's husband.

"I was there," Charlie said. "Colby started getting undressed and you said 'no' and 'no, sir' and 'no thank you, sir'. You told him that you were on a break and needed to think."

"I needed to think," Don said slowly. "I remember that part. I needed to think. He'd just asked me to marry him and I…"

"Then he threatened to beat you up and whoever you'd been having sex with and I ran out and said I'd call security, then you said you'd think about his proposal and he said he was leaving and left."

Don frowned at him. After Colby had asked him to marry him, after that crystalline moment of realization, everything was hazy.

"Have you ever told him 'no thank you' before?" Charlie asked.

Don slowly shook his head.

"Why did you tell him no?"

"I…" Don's stomach clenched as he realized what he'd done. "Oh god."

"Hey," Charlie said, putting his hand on Don's shoulder. "It's okay, Don. He needed to be told no. You had every right to tell him no."

"But I… Maybe he won't..." Don couldn't say it.

Charlie seemed to understand. "Of course he'll still want you, who wouldn't? You can say no every once in a while."

"No, no, what if he…"

"Sandy said that maybe I helped."

Don blinked. "What? By threatening to call security?"

Charlie winced. "Not much of a rescuer, I know. But she thought that maybe…" Charlie trailed off and started to pull away.

"She thought what?"

"She thought that maybe I'm helping you." Charlie shrugged uncomfortably. "You know, helping you realize how special you are and how much you mean to someone, to me, regardless of…everything."

Don got that little warmth in his chest that came whenever Charlie said such things to him.

"I'm glad you said no," Charlie said. "It was a good thing and you should feel free to say it whenever you want to. You aren't obliged to have sex with him, with anyone, if you don't want to. He doesn't have a right to your body."

Don grimaced. It sounded so simple and clear when Charlie said it that way, but in the heat of the moment, he couldn't think clearly. He lived in dread of the disgust, the turning away. He'd seen it too many times, when a top got tired of him and his pathetic needs. The only thing he knew how to do was keep saying yes whenever the other man wanted him, and maybe hold off him leaving for another day.

"You can always tell me no," Charlie said. "You've said no to me about other things all my life, you can say no about this, too."

Don looked at him for a moment. "Even if I say no right now, after all the anticipation?"

"Yes," Charlie said firmly. "Even if we're on the bed and you're all stretched and prepped and I'm ready to drive into you. Even then."

"I don't think I could," Don admitted.

"I know." Charlie held his gaze with his own. "You need to understand. You can always say no to me. Even if…" He paused, visibly swallowed, then continued, "Even if you say no to me the rest of my life, I'll never stop wanting you. Nothing you can do will change that."

The warmth in Don's chest was almost painful. He reached over and cupped Charlie's face in his hands.

"Charlie…" was all he could say.

Charlie leaned closer and pressed his lips to Don's. They kissed softly, then suddenly Charlie was pushing Don back against the couch and kissing him hard enough to bruise. Don gave it back as good as he got, abruptly desperate to have Charlie inside him. Charlie pulled Don's shirt up and ran his palms down Don's chest. Don tugged at Charlie's shirt and Charlie sat back and yanked it off. Don stood up and shed his clothes quickly. Charlie did the same. Then they were back on the couch, kissing and touching as if they couldn't get enough of each other. The knowledge that this was all that he'd ever get of Charlie made Don even crazier.

Charlie jerked away, breathing hard. "Hey, whoa. Let's slow this down." He gave Don a teasing grin. "You know how easy it is to set me off."

Don grinned back. Charlie had more stamina than anyone that Don had ever been with, but he wasn't about to admit that out loud. "You do go off easy, little brother."

Charlie's eyes lit up, like they always did when Don referred to their relationship. The kinkiness of what they were doing, the incest, sometimes gave him a little frisson of arousal, but nothing like the surge of arousal when Charlie looked at him like he was the most fuck-worthy man in the world.

"I almost wish you hadn't taken your jeans off," Charlie said, smiling at him. "The way they fit on you…"

Don grinned, got up, and pulled his jeans back on, without his underwear. Charlie's sat up eagerly and reached for him. Don sauntered within reach and Charlie ran his hands up and down Don's clothing-covered legs.

"Those jeans should be illegal," Charlie said huskily. "They show everything." He traced the shape of Don's cock through the denim. He scooted to the edge of the couch and pulled Don closer. He nuzzled Don's erection while he squeezed his ass. Charlie's face pushed the zipper into Don's skin, but the sensation somehow was exciting. He dug his fingers into Charlie's curls and let Charlie nuzzle him for a long moment. He could almost picture them at home with Charlie's face in his crotch. Almost.

"Suck me, Charlie," Don murmured.

Charlie made a humming sound, then took his hands off of Don's ass to unbutton his jeans. His hands quickly went back to Don's ass. He smiled up at Don and began to pull down his zipper with his teeth.

Don grunted in arousal at the sight. His brother's sexual confidence continued to surprise and delight him. While he begrudged every man that Charlie had ever been with to gain such experience, he was enjoying the results.

Charlie pulled the zipper all the way down, then with his nose nudged Don's cock so that it sprung out of the opening. He licked Don's cock, running his tongue down to where Don's balls were still captured inside his jeans. He leaned forward and sucked the very tip of Don's cock into his mouth. He came up and pushed down a millimeter farther, then up again and a millimeter farther again. Meanwhile, he continued to kneed and squeeze Don's ass cheeks. Don groaned at the slow pace. Charlie's lips slipped over the head of the cock and Don blew out his breath. Charlie continued to go farther and farther down, swallowing Don easily until he was finally sucking Don all the way down to the base and rising up until the tip of Don's cock balanced on his lip.

Charlie then began to speed up. Don groaned again and held on Charlie's head. He didn't protest that he was close to orgasm because Charlie would know that, didn't complain that he wanted fucking instead because Charlie would know that, too. What Don knew was that Charlie would take care of him and the realization made his heart thud and his balls tighten.

Charlie began to hum, sending vibrations through Don. Don gasped as his orgasm rose up. He tightened his fingers in his brother's hair and thrust against his mouth. Charlie sucked hard and Don emptied himself between those greedy lips.

He thrust and Charlie sucked until there was nothing left. Eventually, wobbly-kneed, he let go of Charlie's head, and collapsed onto the couch. Wiping his mouth, Charlie grinned at him and leaned back against the couch as well.

After a moment, Don stood up and pulled his jeans the rest of the way off again. He looked down at Charlie, sprawled naked on the couch with a drop of Don's cum on his lips, and knew that this one more drink of water was never going to assuage his thirst.

He tossed his jeans aside and climbed on top of Charlie, kissing away that last drop of cum. Charlie ran his hands down Don's bare back and over his ass.

"Unless you want me to put my clothes back on," Don teased.

"No way," Charlie said, lying lengthwise on the couch so that Don was fully on top of him.

They kissed for a long time, Don's fingers combing over and over through Charlie's hair. Whenever he saw those curls again, he wanted to remember this moment - body to body, recently sated but with the certainty of more to come. Charlie's hard cock pressed against Don's stomach like a promise.

"So I'm not the one that goes off easy," Charlie said against Don's mouth.

"Just wanted to think you were doing a good job," Don replied.

"And I wasn't?" Charlie teased.

"You were, no doubt. But I have the feeling that was just the first round."

"You better believe it," Charlie said, nudging Don to get up.

Don peeled himself off of Charlie and stood up. Finding his open bottle of beer nearby, he took a few swallows. Charlie got up from the couch, looking a little wobbly himself. He took the bottle from Don and took a sip. He made a disgusted face that looked so much like the Charlie of old that Don laughed.

Charlie handed the bottle back to Don and went towards the windows. He pulled the curtains open wide, letting in the bright sun. Don blinked, shielding his eyes.

"Hello world," Charlie said to the snowy landscape beyond. "Me and my brother are having sex, okay? Okay, good."

Don had to chuckle, though the words made him uneasy. "Good thing there's no one out there but some rabbits and deer."

"I wish there was," Charlie said. "I'm not ashamed."

"Charlie," Don said, pulling him a little away from the windows. "The world would not understand this. I'd lose my job, you'd lose your career. We'd lose all our friends, our Dad..." And though he hated himself, he had to add, "For what, just a weekend's fling?"

"This is not a fling," Charlie said, hurt shining from his eyes. "Why would you call it that?"

Don sighed. He'd never been able to stand seeing Charlie in pain. "Because I'm an asshole," Don said, stepping back closer to Charlie.

"Well, yeah," Charlie said.

"And I'm trying to ready my mind for what's coming after this."

Charlie grabbed hold of Don. "What's coming after this," he said fiercely, "is I'm going to fuck you so that you never forget it."

"I never will," Don said and kissed him.

Charlie kissed him back, pulling Don with him towards the window. He leaned against the window and exposed his neck for Don's lips.

"This is me," Charlie murmured. "Being kissed by my naked brother."

Don continued to kiss his neck and face. Charlie's hands squeezed Don's ass cheeks and began to slide inwards to his hole. Don pressed his reviving cock against Charlie's belly.

Charlie slid out from Don's arms and came around behind him. That left Don braced against the window, legs spread - the position that always made his pulse race. Charlie got on his knees behind him and began to kiss Don's legs. He quickly made his way to Don's ass, mouthing the cheeks before teasing the hole with the tip of his tongue. Don spread his legs farther and made an encouraging noise.

Charlie's tongue thrust in deeply, rhythmically and Don's cock hardened. He loved how Charlie seemed to genuinely enjoy rimming him.

Giving his leg a squeeze, Charlie stood up and went to the bathroom. Don was able to watch him go with only a small surge of panic. He heard the sound of Charlie using mouthwash then Charlie returned with a bottle of lube. Don knew there was little point saying that his hole was already wetter and looser than he was used to prior to being fucked. Charlie's care and attention to his ass was one of the many reasons why sex with Charlie was so good.

Charlie squeezed some lube onto his fingers and began to stretch Don's ass. Don leaned against the window and memorized the feel of Charlie carefully preparing him. He tried very hard not to compare it to his own fumbling before being driven into by Colby.

Don eventually lost his patience, though. "Charlie…"

"Sorry," Charlie said, pulling out his fingers and standing up. "I just love your ass."

"I can tell," Don said with a smile. "Now show me."

"You got it," Charlie said. He lined himself up behind Don and begin to push inside.

Don closed his eyes and gave a happy sigh. Charlie buried himself all the way inside and leaned his forehead against Don's back. He stood in that position, not moving, for a long moment.

"Hello, world," Charlie murmured. "This is me, fucking my brother, and it's all good."

Charlie's words brought up a whirlwind of emotions, from pain to anxiety to something that felt like joy. "Then get to the fucking," Don said, controlling his voice with difficulty.

Charlie straightened up and began to move. He slid in and out of Don with that perfect rhythm and angle that Don was getting too used to. Don pressed his palms to the cool glass of the window and closed his eyes. He didn't need his eyes to know the loving touch of his little brother.

As Charlie slid inside him, Don focused his mind on thoughts of Charlie - Charlie at the chalkboard, Charlie explaining something with his hands waving, Charlie in his blue bathrobe at home, spreading his knees invitingly. They could be in the solarium and Don would slide that old, worn bathrobe aside and kiss his way up Charlie's leg…

Don pushed that image away and replaced it with images of a white bathrobe and Charlie kneeling on it in the sauna, then nearly coming from Don's mouth on his cock and having to pour water over himself. Don needed to keep images of sexual Charlie confined to this place. Charlie at dinner at the resort restaurant, Charlie swimming in the pool, Charlie watching him in the stands at a baseball game and getting hard…

Don blew out a breath. Charlie slowed in his rhythm and stroked his hands down Don's back.

"I'm trying to fix this moment in my mind," Charlie said quietly. "I wish I could build a time loop and live forever in this moment."

"Maybe you have," Don said. "Maybe we can always stay here."

"Yeah," Charlie said. "I hope so." He rocked a few times then asked, "You thinking too much again?"

"Good thoughts, though," Don said, reaching behind him with one hand to pat Charlie's hip. "All good thoughts of you."

"Good," Charlie said. He ran his hands down Don's thighs. "I wish you could see how… Wait."

Charlie pulled out of him and walked away and Don bit down on the reflexive spurt of panic. He stayed in position.

"Come over here," Charlie said.

Don looked over his shoulder to see Charlie standing in front of the large wall mirror by the bathroom door. Don slowly straightened up and came over.

"Lean against the mirror?" Charlie requested.

Don braced himself against the mirror like he had been against the window. He closed his eyes.

"Open your eyes," Charlie said.

"Why?"

"Because I want you so see how amazing you look when I fuck you."

Don reluctantly opened his eyes but looked away from the mirror.

"Okay, if you don't want to see yourself," Charlie said. "Watch me fuck you."

Charlie nudged Don until he bent down more, then Charlie pushed his cock back inside him. Don could see that familiar face above his own as Charlie adjusted his position until it was perfect again. Charlie's eyes met his in the mirror and Charlie grinned. Don smiled back, never able to resist Charlie's enthusiasm. Charlie began to move again and Don watched Charlie's face. The delight, the happiness on Charlie's face made Don's heart thud. Had anyone ever looked like that before when they were in Don's ass? Had anyone ever taken more pleasure in being with him?

Charlie ran his hands up Don's back and into his hair. Don drank in the sight of Charlie's curls bouncing, Charlie's hairy chest rising and falling, Charlie's lower body pressed tight against his. His eyes returned to Charlie's face, to that flush on Charlie's cheeks and that glow in Charlie's eyes.

Charlie reached around Don's hip and took hold of his cock. He held it lightly, letting his thrusts into Don's ass make Don's cock slide in his hand. He watched Don's face with intense concentration, like he was watching a math equation being written out. Don let his eyes drop, overwhelmed by the force of Charlie's attention. Charlie ratcheted his thrusts up slowly, tightening his hand around Don's cock just as gradually. Don felt like he was inside one of Charlie's graphs, mapping a perfect arc towards completion. The graph was rising, Don's body was on fire and Charlie's breathing was growing heavy. Don pressed his hands to the cool mirror and watched Charlie's hand on his throbbing cock.

"Look at me!" Charlie cried out.

Don's eyes snapped up to Charlie's, and at that precise moment, he both felt his orgasm spike and felt Charlie began to wildly slam into him. They came together, a two-body humping beast in the mirror. Charlie was yelling his name, mixed with words Don couldn't make out or may have been not words at all. Don tried to keep his eyes locked with Charlie's but the pleasure was too great and his vision fuzzed out.

They eventually slowed down and Don could feel Charlie's shaking even through his own.

Charlie pulled Don over to the nearest bed and they collapsed on top of it together. Charlie pulled Don into his arms and rocked him back and forth, murmuring sounds of love and pleading tangled up together. Don held on to Charlie and made soothing sounds of his own, though he didn't know who he was trying to soothe.

After a while, their breathing returned to normal and Don began to feel cold where the lube still was. He started to get up from the bed but Charlie wouldn't let go of him.

"Just getting a towel," Don said.

Charlie reluctantly released him and Don went to get one of their last clean towels. He came back into the room and just looked at Charlie for a moment, naked on the bed, his body still flushed from orgasm.

Charlie was looking avidly back. "So beautiful," he said. "Afterwards. During, too. And before. But afterwards, yeah."

Don chuckled at Charlie's incoherence and came over with the towel. Charlie pulled him back onto the bed and they took turns wiping the other off. Finally there was no more cleanup to be done, and they just held each other. Don pressed his cheek to Charlie's curls, and felt tears prick his eyelids.

He sat up.

"Time to go," he said, his voice rough with emotion. "Time to go back."

"No!" Charlie protested. "Check out isn't until 1 o'clock! We have a lot more time."

Don shook his head. "We've got to go. Waiting doesn't change anything."

"But it gives us more time together! We could go swimming or eat lunch or…"

"Sorry," Don said. This was like a bandage - it needed to be ripped off immediately or else he'd lose his nerve. He got up from the bed, detached Charlie's clinging hands, and went to get dressed.

When he was dressed, he saw that Charlie was still lying naked on the bed, looking stubborn.

Don shook his head. "Buddy, we have to go sometime today."

"Do we?"

"We can't stay here forever. I have my job and you have yours. We have lives to get back to."

"I can do my job from here."

"I can't." Don came over to the bed and sat down on it. He combed his fingers through Charlie's hair, one last time. "Let's let our last memory of this place be a good one, not arguing."

Charlie sighed, kissed Don's fingers, then began to get up from the bed.

As Charlie got dressed, Don quickly packed his bag. Charlie moved more slowly, but he did move and soon they were ready to go. Charlie took all the mini bottles from the bathroom, and the pen and notepad with the resort's name on it. Souvenirs, Don supposed. He wouldn't need anything to help him remember this trip. He needed help to forget it.

Charlie called down to the front desk for them to bring the car around and they stood in front of the door, waiting for the bellhop.

"Don," Charlie said quietly. "I love you."

"I know," Don said and leaned over to place a soft kiss on Charlie's lips.

Then there was a knock at the door and a shiver went through Don. Another shiver and the beginnings of chill began to settle around Don's heart.

They opened the door and Don followed the bellhop towards the parking lot while Charlie went to the front desk to check out. Don couldn't even summon interest in how big the bill for this weekend would be.

Charlie's car was waiting, brought back from wherever it had been parked in the attempt to hide where they were. He wondered briefly how long that had helped throw Colby off the scent, then curiosity faded again.

Charlie came out of the hotel, looked at Don's face, then slowly got into the car. The bags were put in back and then they pulled out of the parking lot.

As Charlie drove down from the mountains, Don found himself growing colder, number. Charlie tried to talk to him a few times but gave up when Don didn't answer. Charlie eventually put on some music. They got back into L.A. in the late afternoon, and Charlie drove to the FBI parking garage.

Charlie pulled in next to Don's car.

"Don," Charlie said. "Please don't just…"

"See you," Don said and got out of the car. He grabbed his bag and shut the door. Charlie might have still been talking, he wasn't sure.

He opened up his car door then paused. He shut the door again, got out his badge and went into the building. He found a bathroom and went into a stall. He opened up his bag and dug around until he found out a familiar item. He stared at the anal plug for a long moment, then, with a barely-felt sigh, lubed it and pushed it inside. As it settled inside him, a sense of dread settled inside his stomach. He pulled out his phone, then his fingers trembling, he texted Colby, 'I'm back in town. When can I see you?'

Colby responded immediately. 'Come over now. I'll be ready.'

Chapter Text



Part 42: Don Pays the Piper

Don took a deep breath and knocked on Colby's door. Colby yanked it open and curtly gestured for Don to come inside.

Don said, "Sir, I'm sorry that…"

"Shut up, go in the bedroom, and strip."

Don swallowed hard but nodded. He went quickly into the bedroom and took off his clothes. Colby came in behind him and began to undress as well. No, Don realized that Colby was just taking off his belt and looping it around his hand. Don's eyes widened.

"Up against the wall," Colby commanded. "Feet spread."

Don hesitated and Colby stepped closer. "This was your choice," Colby said. "You chose to take off on me. I don't want to do this, but you have to learn."

Closing his eyes, Don nodded and positioned himself against the wall. The first sting of the belt made him cry out.

"I have neighbors, Eppes."

Don nodded again and clenched his teeth together. When the belt next came down, he was able to hold it in. The belt came down again and again and he was able to keep his quiet sobs to himself. It would be over soon. It would be over and he would have paid the price of his actions then they could move on.

He was numb and shaking when Colby finally stopped. His jaw ached and his whole back and ass were on fire.

"Oh, God," Colby said, breathing harshly. "God, Eppes, fuck."

Over the rushing in his ears, Don heard Colby toss the belt aside then take off his clothes. Don stayed where he was, waiting for permission to move.

"On the bed," Colby said hoarsely.

Don tried to move quickly, but he was stiff and awkward. After he finally lay down on the bed, shoulders down and ass raised as Colby preferred, a lube bottle landed next to him. He grabbed for it, knowing from Colby's heavy breathing that he didn't have much time. He yanked out the plug, squirted lube over his hand then managed to get some into his asshole. He shoved two fingers in, spreading them ruthlessly. Tears came to his eyes at the pain and his treacherous brain compared this to Charlie's careful preparation of him. He pushed away the thought and stretched himself more.

Colby got on the bed and batted Don's hand away. Don barely braced himself before he felt the huge head of Colby's cock at his hole. Colby pushed in with a groan. Don struggled to relax against the tearing pain, and for the first time ever, thought that maybe Colby was too big, and a smaller cock, a particular smaller cock felt so much better…

Don growled under his breath and pushed back against Colby, impaling himself fully onto Colby's cock. Colby immediately began to stroke in and out. Don waited for it to stop hurting, waited for it to start feeling good, waited for the moment of connection. With Charlie, the connection was there so much sooner, so much stronger…

Don bit the inside of his cheek and dug his fingers into the bedcovers. Colby gripped his ass tightly and pounded into him. The enjoyment came eventually and the connection soon after, just as Colby's pounding began to turn fierce and erratic.

"Do it!" Colby shouted.

Don quickly reached for his cock and, in just a few strokes, began to come. Colby grunted in approval and drove him through his orgasm, the pleasure coming for Don in a sudden spike. He felt Colby unload inside him and keep thrusting many times afterwards. Don struggled to stay upright as Colby finished off.

Colby gave a happy sigh and rolled Don onto his side so that they were laying Colby's chest to Don's back, Colby's cock still in Don's ass.

"Oh, Eppes," Colby said and wrapped his arms around him.

Don sank into Colby's arms and exhaled in relief. The worst was past and they could go on from here. Colby rubbed his cheek against Don's back. Don daringly threaded his fingers through Colby's. Slowly, Colby's cock softened and slid out of Don's ass with a burning sensation.

They lay there for a long while, breathing returning to normal. Don wondered if Colby would let him spend the night. He'd never let Don do that before, and Don was finding he really enjoyed sharing his bed.

Eventually, Colby sighed and rolled away from him. "Eppes, let's get dressed, then we need to talk."

Don stiffened then relaxed again as he remembered that Colby had asked him to marry him. What was he going to say when Colby asked again? Yes, of course. What other options did he have?

Don quickly cleaned himself up then got dressed, readying himself to sound enthusiastic when Colby asked again. Colby got dressed more slowly, as if he wasn't looking forward to the conversation. Maybe he thought Don would say no?

Finally, Colby turned to him. "Eppes, you're just… you're a drug, you know, sweet and addictive."

Don smiled uncertainly.

"I just can't get enough of you. When you took off Friday, I thought I would go crazy. I went crazy, God." Colby waved his hands. "And when I finally caught up with you, I was so mad. You do things to me, Eppes. You make me crazy."

"I'm sorry I worried you…" Don started.

Colby shook his head. "You are like a drug, and I need more and more of you until I can't get enough. I've never had a sweeter fuck and it's all I can think about, and how you're so ready for me all the time. It's not good for me."

Don felt a flash of uneasiness.

Colby continued, "I should have never gotten involved with you, knowing your reputation."

Don's eyes widened. "But I never cheated on you! I never…" Then he remembered Charlie. "No, just once, but I'll never do it again-"

"See!" Colby snapped. "I knew I couldn't trust you! I thought if I loved you enough and kept a close enough eye on you, that it would be enough, but still you slept around-"

"It was just once, just once in almost a year!" Don pleaded. "It was a mistake, I know that! I'll do better."

Colby was shaking his head. "You are who you are, Eppes. You can't change."

"But…"

"No, I've tried and tried, but you keep making mistakes, and no matter how hard I try, I can't keep you in line. You keep going around my back."

"It wasn't like that. It was just one time!"

"Either you love me and stay with only me, or you don't," Colby said. "It's that simple. Instead you're chasing every old girlfriend and boyfriend and barely have time for me."

Don stared at him, struggling for words to somehow derail this.

"God, Eppes, you make me do things that I never would have thought I'd do." Colby's voice was sad. "You keep on making me spank you, why do you do that?"

"But…"

"And God, I whipped you with my belt!"

Don held up his hands. "It wasn't a big deal! The spanking and the belt, I deserve it, I know that."

"What kind of man would let someone whip him with a belt?" Colby asked, almost gently. "What kind of man would just bend over and let me do that to him? Don't you have a shred of pride?"

"But…"

"I want you, Eppes. God, how I want you, but I need someone stronger. Someone who can keep his dick in his pants. And someone who would never, ever let me spank him. I need someone who will stand up to me."

"I…" Don swallowed. "I can do that."

"No, I don't think you can. I don't know why, but you're just not the man I thought you were when we started."

"I can be that man."

"No, you have shown time and again that you can't."

"But…" Don searched for something to say. "But you asked me to marry you!"

"I know," Colby said with a shrug. "It was a moment of weakness. See what you make me do? You're making me as weak as you are. No, I realize now that I have to get away from you, it's the only thing I can do to save myself."

"You're… leaving me?" Don said faintly.

"I have a standing invite to teach at Quantico, and I think it's time I took them up on it. I'll put in my notice tomorrow. I'll wrap up my cases and then take my vacation days until I can head out."

Don stared at him, horror starting to leak in through the shock. "Don't do this to me, sir. I'll do anything…"

"I know, Eppes," Colby said with a wry smile. "That's the problem."

Don tried to say something. Colby put his hand on his shoulder and guided him towards the door.

"No…" Don said at last.

"Goodbye, Eppes," Colby said. He opened the door, steered Don outside, and shut the door behind him.

Don leaned against the door and began to shake.

Chapter Text

Part 43: Charlie struggles with good news/bad news

With a sinking heart, Charlie watched Don take his bag and go into the FBI office. He had the bad feeling that Don was now heading for a bathroom. Why hadn't Charlie found and thrown out that horrible anal plug when he had a chance? Now Don was going back to Colby and nothing had changed…

Charlie swallowed against tears and drove home. When he got there, he just sat in the car for a moment, staring at his childhood house. He'd had sex with Don. He'd fucked Don. He'd told Don that he loved him. Everything looked the same, but nothing could be. After everything that he and Don had experienced together, Don was now back to Colby and Charlie was left alone to be haunted by memories of what he could never have again.

After a while, Charlie sighed, got out of the car, and took in his suitcase. His dad was sitting on the couch, reading a book.

He looked up and frowned at what he saw on Charlie's face. "How did it go?"

Charlie dropped his bags and went over to plop onto the couch. "Great. Terrible."

Alan raised his eyebrows.

"It seemed to be going really well," Charlie explained. "The place was perfect and I got Don to relax and he started to eat and sleep and was looking a lot better."

"That's good."

"And we even talked some, about..." Charlie stopped himself. He'd never told his dad who Don was with, and should probably still keep Colby's identity a secret. Especially now that Don was back with him. Charlie grimaced and continued with, "About his boyfriend. We had some arguments but I thought maybe I was starting to get through to him." Though his father would certainly be horrified by the methods that Charlie used to show Don he could do better than Colby.

"Then what happened?"

"I thought it was all over when he found us. Just busted right into the hotel room."

"Oh no, he did? After all your planning?"

"Yeah, but it was actually kind of good, because Don sent him away. Said he was on a break."

Alan smiled. "That is good!"

Not nearly as good as what happened after Colby left , Charlie thought. His body throbbed at the memory of that first fucking. Then he went cold at the realization of who was probably fucking Don now. After he beat him.

"But when we got back to the city," Charlie said with a sigh, "Don got ready to go right back to him."

"Got ready?"

Charlie eyed his father and decided that Alan could handle a few details. "He wears an anal plug at all times, so his boyfriend can 'assert his rights' at any time or place he wants, day or night."

Alan stared at him. "That's horrible!"

"He never gets any sleep because that bas-that man might come in at any time."

"How could he think that is okay?"

Charlie shrugged helplessly. There were a lot more things that Alan should probably know, the depths of the damage that had been done to his eldest son, but Charlie couldn't really stomach telling Alan right now. Not when Colby was doing God knows what to Don.

"Maybe we made progress, though," Charlie said at last. "Maybe he'll think of some of the things we talked about. Maybe he'll remember what it felt like to be… treated well and have someone think that he's worth something."

Alan nodded but looked unconvinced.

Charlie stood up and slowly took his luggage upstairs. He couldn't get out of his mind the memory of Don's bloody ass when Colby had spanked him with his ring on. Colby was furious at the hotel. How much worse would it be this time?

 

Charlie was staring into space, wondering if he could summon up enough energy to think about supper, when he heard someone at the front door.

He frowned. The person wasn't knocking, but they seemed to be having trouble with the door. Don!

Charlie rushed over to the door and jerked it open. The Don who was standing there looked far different than the one he'd left an hour before. He looked even worse than when he'd tried to run himself to death on the hotel's treadmill.

Before Charlie could get a word out, Don groaned, "He's leaving me, Charlie. He's leaving me!"

"What?"

Don stumbled past him into the house. Charlie tried to guide him towards a chair but Don flinched away from his touch.

Charlie's stomach dropped. "What did he do to you?"

"He's leaving me. He said that I'm a drug and he has to get away from me for his own good."

Charlie grabbed Don's shirt and pulled it up. Across his back and heading down towards his ass were lines of angry red welts.

"Bastard…" Charlie growled.

"What's wrong?" Alan said, coming into the room.

Charlie moved aside so that his dad could see the welts on Don's back. Alan gasped.

"He's leaving me," Don said again, this time to their dad. Don seemed to have forgotten that Alan wasn't supposed to know about Colby.

"Dammit, Don, what did he hit you with?" Alan demanded.

"A belt," Don said distractedly. "I made him do it, I made him."

"You what?" Alan snapped. "And who is this man?"

Charlie held up his hand towards Alan, silently pleading for his dad to follow his lead. Don would just shut down if Alan started pushing him.

Charlie swallowed hard and managed to ask, "He's leaving you?"

"Yes," Don said, his white-edged eyes turning towards Charlie. "He's going to Quantico."

Charlie was swamped by a combination of elation and fear. He was thrilled that Colby was leaving, but this could break Don permanently. "He's going to Quantico?" Charlie repeated, taking Don's elbow and leading him to the couch. Don looked like he was going to collapse.

Don winced as he sat on the couch and Charlie tried not to imagine the damage that had been done to that glorious ass.

"He has a standing invite to teach there. He said that I'm bad for him and he needs to get away from me."

"You're bad for him?" Alan snapped.

Charlie held up his hand again and Alan visibly took a hold on his temper. Charlie wanted to yell the same things, but information was more important than anger at the moment so he had to keep Don talking.

"Why does he think you're bad for him?" Charlie asked.

"I make him do things," Don said. "I made him whip me with his belt. He's right, what kind of man would let someone do that to him?"

Charlie bit back his response about what kind of man would do the whipping.

Don continued, his voice low and lost, "He needs someone stronger, someone who won't cheat on him."

"But you didn't!" Charlie protested in spite of himself.

The ghost of a bitter smile appeared on Don's lips.

"Oh," Charlie said, his stomach plummeting. "But that was just once!"

"Just once in a year," Don said. "I told him that but he didn't believe me. He said that he should have known better, shouldn't have taken a chance on me, knowing my reputation."

"That's not fair!" Charlie protested. Charlie had set Don up, seduced him. All that time with Don being faithful to Colby apparently meant nothing to Colby.

"But he can't trust me," Don said softly. "I should have known too. Even he couldn't keep me in line. He tried, but I failed. He's right to leave me. I'm only an animal."

"No, you're not!" Alan roared at last. "What the hell sort of garbage has he been feeding you?"

Don gave Alan a faint, humorless smile. "No garbage, Dad, just the truth."

"How could you say that?" Alan demanded. "How could you think that?"

"It's true," Don said, sagging into the couch.

"Dad," Charlie begged. "Please just let me…"

"It's true, it's true…" Don said, his voice going softer and more lost.

Charlie sat down next to Don. "But he said he loves you. He asked you to marry him."

Charlie heard Alan suck in his breath.

"He said it was a moment of weakness. I make him weak. He said he had to get away from me to save himself." Don sank farther into himself and a tear leaked out of one eye. "I told him I'd do anything to get him to stay. He said that was the problem…"

Charlie put his arm carefully around him. Don leaned against him.

"I said no to him and now he's leaving me. I should have known."

"No," Charlie protested. "Just because you said 'no' one time, does not mean that he…"

"He's leaving me, Charlie. He's leaving me."

Charlie held back everything he wanted to say and held Don close. "Shh, I know." He looked up at his dad, frozen in confusion and horror. "Can you get Don a beer?"

"I don't know if…" Alan began.

"Please?"

Alan nodded and left the room.

Charlie pulled Don closer. "Don, I love you," he murmured. "I will never leave you."

Don didn't seem to hear, so Charlie repeated it a few more times before Alan came back with the beer.

Don grabbed the beer and chugged it halfway down in an instant. He gave a shudder and drank the rest of the beer. He shoved the empty bottle at Alan who took it automatically.

He wrapped his arms around Charlie and buried his face in Charlie's shoulder like a child.

"Don't leave me, Charlie," Don mumbled.

"I will never leave you," Charlie vowed.

"I won't either," Alan added, sitting in the chair across from them.

"Don't leave me, don't leave me, don't…" Don trailed off with another shudder. Charlie held him for a long while, letting Don shake. He ignored the questions on his dad's face. He wasn't going to let Don go right now, and the questions that Alan needed to ask couldn't be answered with Don nearby. Finally, Don stretched out on the couch, laid his head on Charlie's lap and went to sleep.

Alan stood up slowly, looking old and frightened. Charlie gave him a wan smile. Alan pushed a footstool over so Charlie could prop up his feet and lean back. Charlie whispered his thanks then closed his eyes as well. After a moment, he heard Alan leave the room.

He kept his eyes closed and tried not to despair. To think that he'd taken Don on that getaway to help him, and instead it had hurt him, at least in the short term. He'd wanted Don to break up with Colby, but not in this way, not in the worst possible way for Don's fragile mental state.

He silently cursed Colby and all the men who had abused Don over the years. He wanted to do horrible, vicious things to them, but he couldn't find them all, and that would be more destructive to Don anyway.

Instead, he held on to the most important person in the world to him, held him close, and hoped that somehow that would be enough.

Chapter Text

Part 44: Don tries to survive hour by hour

Don left Charlie's house late that night, glad that his dad had already gone to bed. He was embarrassed that he'd shown his weakness in front of his dad. Charlie already knew how weak he was.

He lay down in his cold bed at his apartment and stared at the ceiling. Every noise he was sure was Colby come to say he'd changed his mind. Colby would spank him, maybe even whip him again, but afterwards Colby would fuck him and everything would be okay again.

But Colby never came.

He watched the hours tick by on his clock. At 5am, he got out of bed, got dressed and went into the office.

There was a pile of paperwork waiting for him and he dived into it with relief.

When 8am rolled around and David and Liz came into the office, he was sufficiently settled to be able to answer their questions about the 'brothers' getaway' with a near-smile on his face. In answer to an oblique question from David, Don told them that Colby had 'stopped by briefly' and could attest to the luxury of the place. Both David and Liz stared at him, then looked at each other, as if neither wanted to be the one to bring up Colby's fury when Don had left. Don gave them another smile that fooled no one, and firmly asked about their hanging cases.

It was like a punch to the gut when Colby strolled into the office a little later. Don squeezed his pen so hard it bent in his hand. Colby gave him a brief look-over, then called the whole office together for an announcement.

Don was able to nod and smile as Colby told the office that, while he loved working here, an amazing opportunity had come up at Quantico and he'd be leaving soon for that, probably not to return. Colby fielded the questions with ease, joking about needing to take a few vacation days before he left because he heard that Virginia's surfing was lousy.

Don's stomach twisted at every smile and word and he ignored David and Liz's concerned glances. Soon Colby would be gone, the best thing that had ever happened to him, and it would be all his fault.

Don somehow made it through the rest of the day, which had to be spent almost entirely in Colby's company, closing out cases that he'd worked on. At least David and Liz made sure that he was never alone with Colby.

There were entire minutes when Don didn't think about Charlie, didn't wish that he was nearby. If Charlie had been near, Don knew that he'd feel a little steadier, a little more capable of surviving the day. Then again, he'd probably embarrass himself by curling up in Charlie's lap again. It was just as well that Charlie wasn't there. He was going to have to learn to live without him. Charlie was far too dangerous to be around now.

After Don was able to escape the office, he prepped his hangover cure then got roaring drunk. He ignored the persistent texts and phone calls from his father and brother. He passed out on the floor, woke up around 2am and threw up in the toilet. With grim determination, he lay in his bed staring at the ceiling until 5am, then got up, took a shower, drank his hangover cure, and went into the office.

The second day was much the same as the first day until late in the day. Don stumbled through the motions, supported by David and Liz. Colby was distant and curt. It wasn't until official transfer orders for Colby arrived that Don's façade broke down. He'd been hoping, somehow, that Colby had only been boasting when he'd said he had a standing invitation to teach at Quantico. Don held the paper in his hand and began to shake. Liz took the paper from his hand and David helped him to the men's room, where he threw up in another toilet and blacked out for a moment.

David talked to him for a while, and though Don didn't comprehend a word he said, David's calm and encouraging tone came through. Finally, Don began to be aware again. David suggested that Don head home early and asked if he could call Charlie to come pick him up. Don startled him by the strength of his 'No!' but allowed David to drive him home instead.

Once again, it was a case of prep the hangover cure then drink until he passed out. He woke to knocking on his apartment door. For a brief moment, he thought it was Colby, come to tell him he'd changed his mind, then he remembered that Colby had a key and would never knock. Charlie's voice instead called out to him. Don closed his eyes and laid his head on the floor until Charlie left.

Day Three went a little better. David picked him up and they drove in silence to the office. Don felt brittle, but thought he could hold it together two more days until Colby left. He looked towards the weekend, when he could get some serious drinking done.

The day was almost over when Don looked up from his desk to see Agent James Harris coming towards him. James was a big, dark-haired agent from the Austin office who had been a regular bedmate before Colby came along. He had a smile on his face that made Don's tired body wake up. James wasn't particularly to Don's tastes - he loved to play games - but he would fuck Don and that was all that Don needed right now.

Don found a smile somewhere to offer James. "Agent Harris, what brings you to LA?"

"Joint venture with the ATF," James said. "Thought we might come by and see if an old friend wants to go out for a drink."

"We?"

Another man came up behind James, even larger and wider than James, with a pleasantly dusky cast to his skin.

"Agent Ross Boyette," said the man, holding out a beefy hand. "ATF."

Don shook his hand automatically.

James said, "Ross is an old friend of mine. I thought that he might join us."

Don's eyes shot to James. It was obvious that James wasn't referring to just a drink.

"I've heard so much about you," Ross said, and his lips smiled but his eyes did not.

There was something about Ross that immediately set off warning bells in Don's mind. But he trusted James, and he desperately needed fucking.

"Sounds good," Don said. "Let me just wrap up a few things and we can get that drink."

 

Two hours later, after dinner and beer, and talk between Ross, James and Don which was heavy with sexual innuendo, Don stepped through the door to James's hotel room. Inside, he saw that James hadn't doubted Don would be coming back with them. Whips were laid out on the bed and the stretch bar was already hanging from the bathroom door frame.

Don took a deep breath, reminded himself that James always fucked him eventually, and readied himself for what was coming next.

Chapter Text

Part 45: Don works hard for it --

Don proceeded into James's hotel room, James and Ross on his heels. He walked through the room, pretending to look around, but his attention was focused on the setup in the bathroom door.

There was a spring-loaded bar that had been secured into place at the top of the bathroom door frame. In the middle of the bar was a solid steel hook that could rotate 360 degrees. Hanging from that was a spreader bar with cuffs. On the floor, ready for use, was a separate spreader bar with cuffs for ankles.

"Maybe it should be you in the cuffs this time," Don said.

"Oh no." James laughed. "You know you love to be locked up. Nothing gets you as hard as my whip on your body."

Don gave a wry shrug, as if was admitting it. He really wasn't into BDSM, didn't enjoy pleasure/pain play. As always, however, he did what he needed to do to get fucked. There had only been a few men in his life that had given him what he wanted without anything he didn't want. Colby had been one of those men - at least until he started spanking him. Charlie had been one of those men. Even with his slow, thorough sex, so foreign to Don's experience, Charlie had given him what he needed and so much more…

Thoughts of Charlie made Don's stomach ache. He snapped at James, "You want me to just walk over there and get tied up?"

James raised his eyebrows.

Don grimaced an apology. "Sorry, it's just been a while. A man likes to be appreciated."

James laughed. "Let's get you into the cuffs and I'll show you appreciation."

"Yeah," Don said. He looked at the array of supplies on the bed. "You get a new whip?"

"Yes, I've been dying to break it in, and you're the perfect man to do it."

"Cool," Don said, feigning excitement.

Ross pulled over a chair and settled in to watch.

As Don got undressed, James eyed him in surprise. James hadn't seen him naked in over a year - and a year of poor sleep, poor diet and erratic exercise has taken its toll on his body.

"Been sick," Don said. "But I'm much better."

"Still hot," James said. He smiled at Don's always ready erection. "Already starting without me, hmm?" He tossed Don a snap-on cock and ball ring. Don put it on and tightened it. Then he walked over to the bar and held up his hands.

"Now, that's my favorite playtoy," James said with approval. He locked Don's wrists into leather-wrapped cuffs. James leaned down, pushed Don's legs apart, and locked his ankles into another pair of leather-wrapped cuffs. His legs were spread as wide as possible in the doorway. He wasn't hanging from the bar - the spring-loaded bar wasn't that strong - but he was up on the balls of his feet. James could easily turn him to any angle. Don was locked in, spread-eagled and fully exposed.

He watched, trying to look eager, as James pulled off his clothes and exposed his black leather crotchless underwear, his large cock already jutting out from his body. James's buff body had strangely no appeal for him. Don longed for someone slighter, hairier, who would know what he wanted without having to ask. James pulled on a pair of heavy gloves.

James came over, stroked Don's cheek then gave him a light slap. He turned Don, making sure that he could rotate him with a light touch. Don caught sight of himself in the bathroom mirror, trussed up like the pathetic ass whore that he was.

"Blindfold," Don said tightly.

"Of course," James said. He tied a blindfold snuggly around Don's eyes, cutting off the pitiful sight.

Then James began.

Using a variety of whips, James whipped him expertly from wrists to toes, front and back. Each touch of the whips stung but faded quickly, leaving behind only heat. Don knew from experience that James would leave his body without a mark. Don did his best to seem aroused by the whipping, since he knew that James loved it, but he was really just enduring it. He moaned and writhed and begged for more. The whipping seemed to go on forever. He listened for any sign that James was getting closer to fucking him.

James paused and Don could hear James was breathing heavily with arousal.

"You are such a naughty boy." James caressed his shoulders with the whip. "Tell me, Don, who have you been lusting after lately?"

Don knew this part of the game. He searched his tired mind for a scenario that would be sufficiently salacious, though not as salacious as the truth. He couldn't even hint to James that he'd had sex with Charlie. That was a seed of suspicion that he didn't dare plant.

Instead, he mumbled, as if ashamed, "My brother-in-law."

"Oh?" James said with a pleased laugh. "Tell me more."

Don shook his head and James gave him a few lashes with the whip.

Don gasped out. "My sister's husband. He's gorgeous."

"Yes?"

"Yeah," Don said, hanging his head. "His mouth, his body makes me think of all sorts of naughty things."

"Like?"

Don pretended to hesitate and James whipped him a few more times, down his back and over his ass to his thighs. He turned Don around and flicked his bound cock and balls.

"You dirty boy," James purred. "Confess your deep dark thoughts to me."

Don gave a visible shudder then said, "We'll be sitting at dinner with my whole family, and I'll get the biggest hard-on watching my brother-in-law eat. His mouth is so sinful." He lowered his voice. "I want to crawl under the table and over to his chair. I want to run my hands over his thighs and bury my face in his crotch."

"Oh, that's all?" James said, running the whip up over Don's chest.

"Okay," Don admitted. "I want to suck his cock while no one else at the table knows. I want to swallow his cum as he swallows my sister's lasagna."

"God, that's twisted," Ross said suddenly.

Don blinked. He'd almost forgotten Ross was here.

James ignored Ross and slid his gloved hand over Don's heated skin. "You've been watching him, lusting after your own brother-in-law, you're so naughty."

"Oh yeah," Don said. "Once he was wearing a swimsuit and it was wet and he had a definite hard-on. I think he'd been watching me. I'd been wearing a tight swimsuit and swimming close to him. His eyes kept going to my body."

"What are you going to do about it?" James urged.

"Nothing!" Don protested. "He's married to my sister!"

"Oh, you want to, don't you…" James said. He turned Don around then squeezed his ass painfully with his gloved hand. "Don't deny it. You're an animal, Don Eppes, the sexiest bundle of lust I've ever met."

That hit far too close to home and Don's moan of hopeless denial wasn't feigned.

"I've thought about…" Don began then shook his head.

"Tell me, naughty boy, or I won't fuck you."

Don whimpered and fought back real fear. He struggled to steady himself, reminding himself that James always fucked him eventually. He just had to keep playing the game.

Don made a show of trying to free himself from the spreader bars, then gave a loud sigh and said, "I've thought about inviting him over to watch baseball. Make sure he gets lots of beer. Then sort of put my hand on his thigh and see what happens. My sister doesn't have to know."

"You would do that to her?" Ross snapped.

"Quiet," James said with irritation, then turned back to Don. "You'd put your hand on his thigh…"

"Yeah, one hand on his thigh and the other rubbing my crotch. See what he does. If doesn't say anything or better yet just watches me, I'll unzip my pants and pull out my cock. It'll be hard in my hand because I've been thinking about him all day."

"I bet that cock would be rock hard, you dirty boy." James squeezed Don's right ass cheek then ran a gloved thumb between his cheeks.

Don's breath quickened. He was getting closer, he just had to work a little harder and James would give him what he needed. "Maybe he'll just let me hold onto his leg and watch me jerk off. Maybe my fingers would wander up his thigh, find the bulge that's growing huge in his pants. He'd have to let his cock free, it would be so uncomfortable. My hand would just naturally wrap around it."

"Naturally," James said and moved away.

Don swallowed his surge of panic that James was stopping and continued, "God, I think about his cock all the time. I'll stroke him for a minute, see if he's enjoying it. If he spreads his knees, I'm going to quickly get down between his knees. Maybe he'll watch the game over my head, trying to pretend that it isn't happening, but my mouth will be on his cock. He'd taste amazing." Don forced a loud moan. "I want to suck him so bad."

Don heard the lube bottle open and sighed in relief. He was going to get his reward if he continued to take his cues from James.

"Think he'll say anything?" James asked, his lube-wet fingers rubbing Don's asshole.

"At first it will be soft, under his breath," Don said. "Quiet swearing and gasps. They he'll say that I should stop, that he isn't into this stuff, that he's married to my sister, for God sakes, but as soon as I start to move away, he puts his hand on my head and stops me. I'll go back to sucking his thick cock."

"But that won't be enough, will it?" James encouraged.

"While I suck him, I'm going to unzip my pants and push them down my thighs. Then I'll stroke his cock with one hand while I wet my fingers on my other hand with my spit. I'll go back to sucking him while I stretch my asshole. I bet by then he'll be breathing hard. He'll ask what I'm doing."

"And you'll say?" James pushed his wet fingers into Don's asshole.

Don suddenly flashed to Charlie, to the big bathtub at the hotel, and Charlie's finger so perfectly rubbing his prostate. Charlie had stroked him and blew him and never demanded anything from him but his enjoyment.

James's fingers had stopped. "And you'll say?" he prodded.

Don blinked and tried to focus back on reality. This was how things were now, having to work for the fuck. Colby was gone and Charlie was impossible. He cleared his throat. "I'll say, 'I'm just getting myself ready for you.' Then he'll say, 'What? No way! I've never fucked a man before.'"

"Oh, he's a virgin," James said, "I wondered."

"I don't doubt it," Don said. "My sister would have figured out if he'd done anything with men before they got married. She's smart. Better hope that she doesn't figure me out. Figure out that I want her husband desperately, that I'll get him drinking then suck him better than he's ever been sucked before. That I'll make him start thinking about what else would feel good."

James fingers began to stretch him and slide over his prostate.

"I'll stand up in front of him and take off my clothes. His eyes will go to my cock and I'll stroke it a few times while he watches me. I'll say, 'If you've never fucked a man, then you have no idea how amazing it feels, so different than pussy. You ever fucked a woman in the ass?' He'll shake his head and stare at my cock. I'll turn around so he's staring at my ass instead. I'll stretch myself more while he watches." Don let out a groan. "Oh god, I can't believe I'm telling you this, admitting this. It makes me so hard to think about him like this."

James stroked Don's bound cock. "I can tell."

"What a lowlife," Ross said, startling them both. "How can he even think about…"

"Shut up," James growled. "If you interrupt again, you're out of here."

Don couldn't see Ross's face, but he imagined that Ross was now sulking in the corner. If Ross only knew how very perverted Don really was…

James returned to stretching Don's ass. "What do you fantasize your brother-in-law will say when he sees you naked in front of him?"

Don put himself back into the right mindset with difficulty. He was tired of the game and while he longed for a man he couldn't have, it wasn't his fictitious brother-in-law.

Don forced himself to continue. "He'll say, 'No, I can't' and I'll say, 'It'll feel so good, no one needs to know.' I'll spread my asshole with my fingers and he'll whisper, 'I've always wondered…'"

"Oh yeah," James said, and Don heard the unmistakable sound of a condom wrapper opening. "You know he's curious. He's seen your ass. Who wouldn't want to hit that?"

"I'll need to hurry, before he thinks too much," Don said. He wanted James to hurry, too, but couldn't say that. "I'll tell him to lie down on the couch. He'll look at me then very slowly lie down. His cock will be rock hard and sticking out from his fly. I want to tell him to get naked, so I can see his whole body. I want to lick his abs and suck his nipples and bite his neck. But I can see that he's balanced on a knife edge about whether he's going to let me do this, so I don't push. I come over to him and get ready to climb on top of him."

"You're going to ride him bareback?" James asked as his condom-covered cock rubbed against Don's wet asshole.

"There's no time," Don said, his breath catching as James finally began to push into him. "I can't even get some real lube. He's about to get up and leave, I can see it. No matter how ready his cock is."

"Better hurry," James agreed.

"I climb on top of him, and position myself. He just stares up at me, and I can see he can't believe this is happening. I slowly lower myself down on his cock."

"Oh yeah," James groaned, as he pushed his cock deep into Don. "He's feeling this tight ass, feels so fucking dirty, so fucking good."

"He says that," Don said, forcing himself to keep talking when all he wanted to do was focus on the fullness in his ass. "He says, 'God, it feels so good. Oh God!'"

"Then you start to move," James said, and he began to move himself, slow deep strokes.

Don shuddered in relief and pleasure. "I ride him hard, even though his jeans zipper digs into me whenever I go all the way down. I hold onto the couch with one hand, my cock with the other and give him the ride of his life. He's moaning and swearing and cursing me and tell me to never stop."

"Feels so good, so wrong but so good," James groaned, driving harder.

"I can see just what his face would look like when he's getting close," Don gasped out. He thought of Charlie's flushed face as Charlie orgasmed beneath him while their cocks slid together. Charlie had been so beautiful at that moment, the connection between them a wide, bright conduit. "I can see him. I can see his face as he comes."

"Tell me!" James commanded, and Don could feel that James was on the edge. James reached around Don's hip and unsnapped the cock ring. He stroked Don roughly with his gloved hand.

"His mouth open, his skin flushed, his brown eyes wide," Don said, panting as his own orgasm rose. "He's shocked and the pleasure just shorts out his brain and he's thrusting up into me. Coming just for me."

"Yes!" James cried. He let go of Don's cock and began pounding wildly into him.

"Coming deep in my ass, shouting my name, and I start to come too, shooting my cum…!" Don came in truth, words tumbling out of him in a jumble of sounds as his cum arched through the air.

"Fuck yeah!" James yelled and exploded into a frenzy of thrusts, the Don's cuffs banging loudly against the bars. Don felt heat inside his ass and for the first time felt the connection he'd been looking for.

When they both finally came to a stop, Don was trembling with exhaustion. He tried to lean into the faint connection, but it faded quickly. More quickly than it usually did.

"What do you think happens after that?" James said, gasping.

"He's gonna want me," Don panted tiredly. "He's gonna want me so bad and he'll fuck me all the time and I don't care if my sister wonders what's going on and he's at the dinner table with the whole family and all he can think about is me sucking his cock while he eats."

"Fuck…" James said in wonder. "Fuck, you are a dirty boy, Don."

"Me and him will become best friends and no one will wonder why we always do stuff at my place and I'll introduce him to all the ways to fuck me and maybe even get his gorgeous mouth wrapped around my cock. He'll never, ever get enough of me." Don came to a panting stop, and knew that James would never guess that it was that last sentence that tantalized him most of all.

James slowly pulled out of Don and set to cleaning them both up. He didn't unlock Don, however.

"It's Ross's turn next," James said, stroking Don's back. "Then maybe I'll take round three."

"Sounds good," Don said. He'd love an all-night session. His desperate desire for a fuck - and a connection - had hardly been blunted.

Don heard James turn away from him.

"Did you enjoy watching that?" James asked Ross.

Don didn't hear Ross's reply.

James said, "He's so sexy. Don't worry, he's good for hours more. He'll get it up again faster than any teenager."

Don heard James move around, get a drink.

"Shit," James grumbled. "Got a text from my boss. I need to call her back. I'll just… Sorry, but I need to call her in private. I'll just step outside for a minute."

The sounds of James getting quickly dressed. "Guess that's what I get for checking my phone," he said wryly. "At least I'd muted it, or else I'd have been interrupted at a very bad time. You want to stay in the restraints?"

Don tested his shoulders, wrists, strained legs. He felt a little sore, but it wasn't too bad. He didn't want to have to go through the dance again to get into the spreader bars. "Yeah."

"I know you like it there, you naughty boy." He ran a possessive hand over Don's bare back. "I'll be back in a few minutes, okay?"

"Sure," Don said, forcing an understanding tone. "I know what it's like." He did know what it was like, but he didn't want any long breaks, where his brain would start to work again.

"Don't go anywhere," James said cheerfully. "And you," he said, obviously to Ross, "don't start without me. I want to watch."

James opened the hotel room door and left. Don tried to relax his shoulders and get ready to wait.

Then he heard movement and Ross stepping up behind him.

"Just you and me now…" Ross said softly.

Don's mouth went dry.

Chapter Text

Part 46: Don is imprisoned within and without

Don waited, trapped in the spreader bars and blindfold, while Ross came close enough that he could feel the man's breath on the back of his neck.

Ross said in Don's ear, "James said you were hot, that you loved to get whipped and teased and fucked, and were good to go all night. He didn't say that you were goddamn bastard."

Don didn't reply, unsure what Ross meant and not wanting to get into an argument with him when he was in such a vulnerable position.

"No fucking answer?" Ross snapped. "There's no excuse for what you are. A fucking animal who will do anything for sex."

Don had no answer for that either. It was all true.

Ross moved away and Don hoped that Ross was done.

Instead Don heard the swish of a whip.

Ross brought the whip down on his back and Don cried out. He brought it down again and it was nothing like measured, skillful lashes from James. This was a large man whipping Don with all his strength.

It was far worse that the belt from Colby. He felt like his back was being flayed open and pain was shooting through his body.

"You're a fucking bastard, who'll steal his sister's husband if you felt like it!" Ross snarled. "Just because you wanted a fuck and you liked how he looked! Goddamn get him drunk and rape him!" Each sentence was punctuated by a brutal lash of the whip. "You can't even be a man about it, you're a fucking pervert who has to be whipped to get his rocks off! You think you're all everything because you're in the FBI when you're really just a slimy sicko. I wish I had something with edges and metal and I'd give you what you really deserve!"

Don cried out at each vicious slash but didn't say anything more. Because Ross was right, he deserved this. He had cheated on Colby. He had repeatedly had sex with his brother. He would do anything for anyone who would fuck him. Colby had said it - he didn't have a shred of pride and was weak, so weak that he poisoned the people around him.

Ross brought the whip down again and again. Don was sobbing in pain, his body shaking between each blow. He was twisting around at each strike, and the whip came down just as hard over his thighs and chest and exposed groin. Ross continued to swear at him, calling him bastard and whore and pervert.

Finally, some glimmer of self-preservation came through. "Kevlar," Don gasped out. "Kevlar!"

Ross didn't stop.

"That's my safe word!" Don said louder. "Stop!" He tried kicking out with his imprisoned legs.

"You don't fucking deserve a safe word!" Ross snarled. "If you don't shut up, I'm getting my gun, you piece of shit."

Whimpering, Don pressed his lips together. He believed him.

Ross continued with the whip. Don heard roaring in his ears and the pain began to recede into blackness.

He was jerked to one side from a particularly vicious blow and the spring-loaded bar skidded sideways. One more blow and it came loose. Don fell through the air, banged his shoulder on the toilet and landed on the tile floor. His breath was knocked out of him and he was momentarily stunned.

But the blows didn't stop. Ross was standing over him, whipping and now kicking him. Don tried to curl away from the kicks but his spreader bars were jammed against something. Pain shot through his side, sharp and focused.

Don cried out, but didn't dare beg Ross to stop again, not with the threat of his gun hanging in the air.

Pain shot through him with every kick, worse than anything he'd ever experienced, and he knew he was going to die.

He was surprised to find out that he cared.

A little.

"What the fuck?" someone yelled.

The blows stopped and Don heard the sounds of a tussle.

"What the fuck are you doing?" James yelled.

More shoving and shouts and Don's body was jarred by careless feet.

"Don!" James said. "Are you okay?"

Don didn't answer, unable to catch his breath from the pain in his torso.

"Don? Don! Fuck!" James tried to lift him up but Don was wedged between the toilet and something else. James swore and let him go.

Don tried to breathe. James returned and unlocked his wrists and ankles then pulled off his blindfold.

"Fuck, Don, I had no idea!" James said. "Are you okay?"

"I'm… fine," Don managed to wheeze.

"Fuck, I didn't know…" James stood up. "What the fuck, Ross! What the hell is that matter with you?"

"With me?" Ross snapped. "You didn't tell me your boytoy was a sicko that would rape his brother-in-law."

"What?" James said. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"You heard him! He said he'd get him drunk then start sucking his dick! Ride him before he could think straight, then carry on with him right under his sister's nose!"

"What? He didn't… Wait, is this about your wife?"

Ross snarled and threw down the whip he was still holding.

"Fuck, Ross, just because your wife was sleeping with your best friend who's a cop."

"Shut up!"

"Shit, I invited you for some fun, not so you could use him as a punching bag! I fucking hope he calls the cops! I'll back him up!"

"No," Don gasped. "Just help… me up."

"Don, you look like hell!" James turned to begin yelling at Ross again.

"Just… help me, please."

Don clenched his teeth together against the pain as James helped him to his feet. James then had to help him over to collapse onto the bed.

"Don, let me drive you home, let me…"

"No, I'll… be fine," he said. He just wanted to get away from there.

"You heard him," Ross said again. "You heard what he's going to do to that man, to his own brother-in-law."

"It was just a fantasy, idiot," James said. "He'd never actually do that to him." He turned to Don. "Right?"

"Don't… have a sister," Don said, trying to reach his clothes.

"See!" James said. "It was all a game! God, you're a fucking psycho!"

James and Ross continued to yell at each other while Don grimly put his clothes on. He hardly heard what they said, regardless of the volume, because his blood was pounding in his ears and his head was spinning.

He finally got dressed and started hobbling towards the door.

James turned to him in surprise. "Don! Are you going to be okay?"

"Fine," Don managed. "Just need some ice and rest."

"Are you sure?"

Don nodded, though that made the room spin, and grabbed for the door. James came behind him saying something. Ross came up behind James, James turned, and they started yelling at each other again.

Don limped out the door, down the hallway and around a corner. He found the elevator and pushed the button. He stood there, gasping, and staring at the little light above the elevator. He was nauseous and clammy from the pain. There was no way he was going to be able to drive in this shape. And he had the sinking feeling he needed a hospital.

He fumbled out his phone then stared at it, wondering who to call. Colby was laughable. Even if they hadn't broken up, this wasn't something he could have called Colby for. Their relationship had never been like that. David would come get him, but he didn't want David to see him like this. David might still have a few illusions left about his boss. There was Liz, other friends, his dad… No, there was really only one choice.

He braced himself and called Charlie.

Chapter Text

Part 47: Charlie bears it while Don is laid bare

Charlie sat in the emergency room and clenched his hands together. When Don had left his house three nights ago after breaking up with Colby, Charlie hadn't had any idea that the next time he'd see Don he would have been viciously battered by a stranger. Charlie had entertained the ridiculous notion that Don would be safe, now that he was away from Colby. At least Charlie assumed it was a stranger. Colby had never bothered to hide at a hotel before.

Lately it had been Charlie doing the hiding, though. The last seventy-five and a half hours had been spent hiding from his father and his questions. He told himself that he was just giving himself time to process everything that had happened, all that he had learned, but the truth was he couldn't handle any of it. He'd never felt so lost and useless in his life. He'd tried to save Don, but had ended up breaking him.

Not as much as someone else had broken him, however.

Charlie looked over at Don, sitting painfully on the edge of a chair. Charlie had been heading to bed when he got the call. Don had simply said, "I need you to come pick me up," and given him an address of a hotel. When he'd arrived to see Don in the parking lot, Charlie had immediately known something was wrong with the way Don was standing. He hadn't been too surprised when Don had flatly said, "Take me to the E.R. No questions."

Charlie had swallowed all of his questions and driven like a madman to the nearest E.R. Then they had signed in… and sat. They'd been sitting in silence for over an hour, questions piling up unasked on Charlie's tongue. The smell and noise and sheer depression of the place weighed on him.

He stood up and went to look at the vending machine. He had trouble even focusing his eyes on the assortment of junk food. He got out his phone and left a brief message for his father, who was fortunately up in Santa Barbara with his girlfriend. He said, 'Don asked me to come pick him up at a hotel and take him to the E.R. He looks hurt but nothing serious. I don't know what happened and he won't talk to me. I'll let you know what the doctor says.'

He bought a bottled water and carried it back to the waiting area. Don hadn't moved, was just staring at the floor.

"Water?" Charlie asked.

Not looking up, Don gave a tiny shake of his head.

Charlie sat and held the water. It was cold in his hands and as empty of answers as everything else. He gripped his hands around the water and calculated pi as far as he could go.

 

"Don Eppes?"

Don looked up to see an attractive female doctor. Of course it would be an attractive female doctor. Someone who he might even have flirted with in a past life. If there was any way to feel more like the lowest possible life form, the universe was going to rub his nose in it.

Don got up slowly, holding his side. He had put 'possible cracked ribs' on his intake form. He hadn't added the other damage.

"This way, please." The doctor turned and lead the way to a room.

Don followed and Charlie followed behind him - cautiously as if he thought Don might object. Don didn't comment. Charlie might as well know, too.

When they got to the room, the doctor shut the door, picked up her clipboard and asked, "So, you think you might have cracked your ribs? What happened?"

Don looked at her for a moment, and wished he had one of his trademark smiles to offer. Something bashful and endearing to soften the humiliation that was to come.

Another life.

"I was engaged in… certain activities," Don began quietly. "It was consensual."

The doctor's eyebrows shot up.

"A piece of equipment broke. I fell and hit something hard with my shoulder - the toilet I think - and then hit my side and… maybe other places as well. I've had pain with breathing since then. I don't know if there was… other damage."

"Okay," the doctor said. "It sounds like I'll need to take a look at all of you. Would you like me to get a male doctor?"

That finally brought a ghost of a smile out of Don. If only she knew… "No, that's fine."

She got a hospital gown out of a drawer. "Please change into the gown, opening to the back. I'll be right back."

After she left, Charlie asked, "Do you want me to leave, too?"

"Just step out until she comes back." He didn't want Charlie to see his body until there was someone there to stop him from asking questions. Charlie had been amazing so far in resisting asking, but seeing the damage Ross had done might be Charlie's breaking point.

Charlie nodded jerkily and stepped out the door.

Don changed in the gown and sat on the exam table. He stared at the posters on the wall. One was for a sexual abuse hotline.

Yeah, the universe wasn't done rubbing his nose in it yet.

After a moment, the door opened again. The doctor came in, followed by Charlie.

"I'm his brother," Charlie was saying. "He's told me nothing."

Charlie came into the room and stopped short, staring at Don's arms. Don followed his gaze and realized that the short-sleeved hospital gown covered up far less than the long-sleeved shirt he'd been wearing. His arms were covered with red, angry-looking abrasions. Charlie's eyes moved down to Don's bare lower legs. More deep abrasions. Don didn't even remember Ross getting that low. Charlie slowly closed the door behind him.

"Stand up, please," the doctor said.

Don got up carefully.

"Do you wish your brother to be present?"

Don nodded, but didn't look at him.

"Turn around."

Don turned and felt the gown gap open.

Charlie made a choking sound.

Don could only imagine what his ass and back looked like. That was where Ross had focused his attacks.

The doctor seemed to take a moment as well, then said, "Okay, let's see it all."

Don stripped off the gown and exposed his full body.

"Oh shit," Charlie said. Don risked a glance at him. Charlie looked like he was going to throw up.

Don looked down at his cock and balls. When had Ross taken a whip to them? After Don had mentally checked out, apparently. He brought his eyes back up quickly.

"You're saying this was consensual?" the doctor snapped.

"It was at…" Don stopped himself. He almost said, 'at first.' But that would lead to questions, investigations. "Yes."

The doctor eyed him for a moment. Don knew that she must have seen just about everything as an E.R. doctor, but she probably wasn't used to seeing such wounds on a man. She shook her head. "May I suggest improved 'after-care' in the future?"

"Yes, ma'am."

The doctor sighed. "Okay, let's look at the shoulder first."

She didn't ask him to sit on the exam table, which Don appreciated. Don stared over her shoulder and chewed on his lip as she poked and prodded his shoulder, the one that had hit the toilet when he fell.

"Just looks badly bruised," she said. "I'll give you information on bruise care. And information on dealing with all those abrasions. Mostly just keep them clean. They don't look like they'll scar."

She then moved to his left side, and he tried to keep quiet his grunts of pain as she prodded her way down. There seemed to be painful areas from under his arm to his hip, but especially midway down his ribs.

"Right here," she agreed. She probed further and Don couldn't help crying out as pain shot through his chest.

"You say that this was caused by a fall." The doctor's voice had gone flat and Don looked at her uneasily. "I've seen this sort of injury too many times, and it's usually caused by a boot to the side, as in someone kicking you repeatedly in the ribs."

"What?" Charlie gasped.

Don jerked his eyes away from the doctor's, flushing. "A fall," he repeated.

"Of course," she said, and suddenly sounded tired.

Don recognized the tone of voice. It was the one that came out of him when he'd talked to a victim that had terrible things done to him but refused to accuse the person who had done it. Don had never understood why.

But Don wasn't a victim. He had deserved it.

"Sorry, ma'am," he said quietly, meeting her eyes again. "It won't be happening again."

Her eyes widened. She looked skeptical but perhaps a little heartened. It was the only thing that Don could offer.

"Okay," she said at last. "I think you've got several cracked ribs, but nothing seems to have shifted, so they're still in place. The big dangers are pierced organs or collapsed lungs but things seem to be intact. I'm going to send you for an X-ray, but broken ribs don't always show up on an X-ray, so we'll go ahead and assume that they're broken."

She stepped back and motioned for him to put his gown back on. "I'll give you information on managing your injury, but I'm afraid that there's not a lot that can be done other than time and rest. Expect it to take four to six weeks to heal. I'll give you a prescription for pain medication, but you might be able to manage with just over the counter medication after a day or two. You need to hold an ice pack to the area for 20 minutes of every hour you're awake for the first few days."

20 minutes every hour? Don thought. How can I work while trying to do that? I can't. I'm going to miss Colby's last few days…

That so startled him that he almost missed the rest of the doctor's information.

She continued, "Though it's counter-intuitive, you need to concentrate on taking deep breaths. If you keep your breathing shallow, it can lead to lung infections. That's the reason why we don't wrap ribs any more. Avoid movements with your torso, especially lifting, and get a lot of rest and good food. Are you going to be able to do that?"

Don grimaced but nodded. She had good reason to doubt that he could take care of himself.

"I'll help him," Charlie said firmly.

The doctor looked over at Charlie and smiled. Charlie looked determined to take on the world for Don.

Don sighed and nodded again.

"Okay, good." She wrote on her clipboard for a moment then sorted through some file folders on the counter. She handed several pages to Don who passed them unread to Charlie. Charlie began to read them closely. She then wrote up a prescription and an order for an X-ray.

As she handed them to Don, she asked, point-blank, "Will I be seeing you again?"

Don met her eyes. "No, ma'am."

She smiled faintly. No doubt she heard those assurances all the time.

"No, ma'am," Don repeated. He'd disappointed so many people in his life. Surely he could avoid disappointing one random, helpful doctor.

"I hope not," the doctor said. "Take care."

She went out the door and left Don and Charlie alone.

"God, Don," Charlie said hoarsely.

"Later, Charlie," Don said. "Now go find out where I get an X-ray while I get dressed."

"Do you need help?"

"Just go," Don snapped.

Charlie nodded and went out, clutching his treatment paperwork. Sighing, Don gathered up the energy to get dressed.

The poster about abuse caught his eye again. It was bizarre to think about the Don Eppes of the past who would have probably walked out of here with the attractive doctor's phone number. Out of habit, he'd checked and she hadn't been wearing a wedding ring. That might not mean anything, but that wouldn't have stopped that past Don from angling for her number, under some flimsy pretense that they would have both winked at. He'd known - still knew - how to seduce women, how to make them agree to that first date, that first kiss, that first sex. It was kind of sickening, in retrospect, though he always treated the women well, at least at first. He could be a great date, a spectacular boyfriend, everything the woman had ever wanted, but it would never last. Because underneath he was a weak, pathetic ass whore and no one who hated himself so much could be in a successful relationship. He wished he could go back and apologize to all the women, all the girls, he had slept with in his life. It hadn't been a game for him, he hadn't meant to use women, but he'd present a fake persona for them - a solid, stable, strong image that was unsustainable for him.

The men he'd slept with, those he didn't feel like needed an apology. They'd taken from him what they wanted and left, like it was meant to be. This thing with Ross didn't change anything. It just meant that he needed to pay more attention to that initial reaction that had warned him Ross was dangerous.

As he slowly put his clothes on, a thought struck him like a blow.

If the rod hadn't come loose, if he hadn't fallen and injured himself, if Ross had just continued to whip him brutally… Don would have let him fuck him. Even after the unwanted pain, even after using his safe word and being threatened with a gun, if Ross had then shoved his cock into Don, he wouldn't have complained. Because he would have gotten what he needed. Later, he would have hated himself even more, but at that moment, with Ross fucking his whipped and bleeding ass, he would have been happy.

Don staggered over to the trashcan and threw up.

Chapter Text

Part 48: Don shuts down and Charlie takes over

Two hours and fifteen minutes after Don had seen the doctor, he had gotten his chest X-ray, been confirmed that it was just cracked ribs, and gotten his prescription for pain meds filled. Charlie had shepherded Don through each of these steps, because Don seemed to have run out of any drive to continue. Charlie had kept his voice cheerful but firm and kept a tight hold on his own panic. From the moment that he'd seen Don's battered body, he'd been determined to take care of Don in every way possible. Breaking down himself would have to happen later.

Charlie committed the treatment information to memory, then listened to the doctor, x-ray technician and pharmacist with laser focus. He picked up all the supplies that he could think of at the drug store. He handed Don his bottle of water and the first dose of the pain meds and Don downed them without comment.

Charlie left a message for his dad - 'Don has a lot of bruises and some broken ribs. All he will say is he was involved in something that was consensual and some equipment broke. I'm taking him home and I'll stay with him. We'll talk tomorrow when you get back from Santa Barbara, I promise.'

He drove a silent Don home, then pushed his way into Don's apartment. Charlie got a look at the inside of Don's apartment and winced. He wasn't surprised that it was a disaster. He eyed Don and mentally reviewed the treatment information. Don needed to get those abrasions clean.

"Okay, time to get you into the shower," Charlie said, trying for a neutral tone of voice.

Don raised his eyebrows with the first sign of life that Charlie had seen that evening.

"You need sleep," Charlie said. "Those pain meds should be kicking in soon and making you sleepy. But first you need to take a hot shower and wipe your abrasions down with antiseptic. There's a couple of spots that need gauze wrapping."

Don went to the fridge and got out a beer.

"No, no," Charlie said, quickly taking it from him before he could open it. "Didn't you hear what the pharmacist said? No alcohol on those meds."

Don just watched him as he put the beer back in the fridge. There was little else in there but beer. Charlie wondered if there was any food in the apartment.

"Shower then sleep first," Charlies said. "I bought some sauce and spaghetti that I'll make in the morning, though I probably should have gotten a more statistically typical breakfast food."

Don almost seemed ready to smile at that, but instead he turned and slowly walked towards the bathroom. Charlie put away the groceries and put the ice packs into the freezer for later. He checked the medication for when Don could take the next dose.

When he got to the bathroom, Don was just standing there, so Charlie bustled him out of his clothes, then had to swallow hard against the nausea that looking at Don's body brought him. From the smell, Don could use a shower in more ways than one. Charlie practically shoved him into the shower and turned on the water.

After Don had stood in the shower long enough to start pruning, Charlie turned off the water, dried him off and slathered antiseptic ointment over his whole body. Don was frighteningly passive, even though the ointment had to burn. Charlie wrapped a few areas around the joints where the abrasions were deeper. As he worked, he determined the weapon that had to have been used against him. It looked like a multi-tailed whip with fairly wide plaits. Charlie wished he had that whip in his hand and Don's abuser at his feet.

Eventually he got Don dressed in a loose T-shirt and sweats and sent him to the bedroom while he cleaned up the bathroom.

When he got to the bedroom, Don was standing, staring at the bed.

Charlie would bet that Don was thinking about how Colby would wake him up most nights, demanding sex, and how Colby would never again interrupt his sleep. Charlie started to take off his own shoes and Don looked at him in surprise.

"I'm not leaving you," Charlie said. "I'm staying tonight and taking care of you tonight and tomorrow and as long as it takes. Just as your brother."

Don blinked, and there might have been tears in Don's eyes. Probably just the pain.

Charlie bustled around, trying to put Don's blankets and sheets in order. Charlie wrinkled his nose at the smell of the bedding. Laundry was high on the list for the morning.

Don climbed into the bed as Charlie turned off the light. Charlie crawled into the other side of the bed, staying carefully away from Don's battered body. But Don scooted closer, not touching but close enough so that Charlie could feel his warmth.

Finally, Don spoke. "Thanks."

"Of course!" Charlie said, swallowing a surge of emotion. "Now sleep, I'll be here when you need me."

Don sighed deeply and scooted a fraction closer to Charlie. Charlie held himself back from wrapping his arms around Don, how they had slept together at the hotel. That would just cause him pain at the moment.

Charlie felt almost in pain himself. He closed his eyes but he could still see Don's body as he stood in the shower. Charlie was confused and terrified. Don had consented to be whipped like that? From what he knew about his tastes, Charlie didn't think that Don would enjoy it, but somehow he had consented to it. Did this happen often and Don just hid the evidence? Was the spanking and belt-whipping from Colby not an aberration, as Charlie had thought?

Another image came to mind - Don on the floor of the sauna of the hotel. After shocking Charlie by giving him a blowjob when he'd said the sex the night before was a mistake, Don had shocked Charlie more deeply by the things he'd said about himself. Don had called himself a hound, scum of the earth, someone who can only think with his dick. He'd said he was an ass-whore, that he had no shame, no morals, only lust. That he would do anything to get fucked.

He'd certainly proved that tonight.

For the first time, Charlie wondered if it was a good thing that Colby was gone. At least he had never broken Don's bones.

No, no, no. Charlie clenched his teeth against saying it out loud. He would not let the bar for Don be set so low - someone who would use him and beat him but not break his bones. There were plenty of people who would fuck Don without brutalizing him. Himself, of course, but if Don wouldn't take what Charlie would love to give him, Charlie would find a man who would treat Don right. Don would hate to have Charlie interfere, no doubt believed that he deserved to be brutalized, but Charlie wasn't going to let this happen again. He'd seen that E.R. doctor's expression. She had seen victims come in too often looking like Don, and saw them over and over again. That wasn't going to happen, not to his wonderful brother. He would get Don into therapy and then find him a good man, kicking and screaming if needs be. He would put his own life on hold to get Don to a better place, move heaven and earth to help Don claw back from years of abuse. He would get him to a point where he would never have to fear picking up an injured Don at a hotel again.

He would find Don happiness if he had to kill himself doing it.

Chapter Text

Part 49 - Charlie helps out and Don has a visitor

Don woke feeling a strange combination of pain, fear and comfort.

The reason for the pain was quite obvious. He felt like his body was on fire. Fear? He slowly pieced together what had happened - going to James's hotel room, James's fucking then Ross' whipping, Charlie and the E.R. doctor, realizing how so very low he'd sunk and throwing up in the trash can.

He honestly didn't remember much after that. He had just followed Charlie's orders and somehow ended up here - in his apartment, in his bed, in clean clothes and bandages.

He shifted and pain shot through him.

His gasp brought movement in the bed next to him.

He looked over and found Charlie turning and pointing to something on Don's other side. Don automatically followed Charlie's pointing finger and saw on the side table two pills and a cup with water. He swallowed the pills then the water, and decided that he'd figure out why Charlie was in his bed later. Must have something to do with the strange sense of comfort he'd woken with.

He closed his eyes and returned to sleep.

 

Don woke up and checked the clock to see that it was almost ten in the morning. He groaned and tried to sit up. Pain slammed into his side and he groaned louder.

Charlie came rushing into this bedroom.

"Charlie?" Don said vaguely. "What?"

"Hang on, don't move, though try to breathe deeply."

"What?" He gritted his teeth and took shallow breaths.

Charlie left and came back with a big ice pack. "Hold this to your side and take at least one deep breath."

Don took the ice pack and pressed it against his side. His gasp at the cold and subsequent sucking in of breath made his chest scream, but it seemed satisfy Charlie.

"Good," Charlie said. "I weighed waking you up to take another dose of pain medication versus letting you sleep. I'm afraid my cost benefit analysis was tainted by the fact that you looked so peaceful sleeping."

Don looked at him and asked, through still gritted teeth, "What are you doing here, Charlie?"

"Taking care of you," Charlie said, waving to the ice pack. "I'll set a timer. 20 minutes of every hour, remember?"

That sounded vaguely familiar then he remembered what he'd thought right after the doctor had told about the ice packs… "I have to get to work! Colby is leaving tomorrow."

"You're not going to work," Charlie said flatly. "I already called your office."

"You what?" Don tried to stand up but quickly sat down again from the pain.

"I informed them that you'd fallen in a bicycle accident and broken some ribs. You're not allowed to come into the office for at least a week, doctor's orders."

"Charlie!" Don snapped. "You can't just do that!"

"I just did."

"And I just can't do that. I have to get to work!"

"Not for one full week, then only desk duty for another three to five weeks."

"Charlie…"

"Now that you're awake, I'm going to make breakfast. Spaghetti, remember?"

Charlie didn't wait for his response, but hurried out of the room. Don looked around but didn't see his phone. He tried to get up, then sat back down again with a groan.

"Twenty minutes!" Charlie called from the kitchen.

Don almost smiled. It felt nice to have someone take care of him.

"Can you at least get me my phone?" Don called back.

"Definitely contra-indicated!" Charlie replied. "The TV remote is nearby, let me know if you can't reach it!"

Don found the remote and turned on the TV. He wondered if there was any baseball on.

The thought of baseball brought back so many thoughts and memories, some old like his minor league days, some very recent like Charlie's erotic baseball fetish confessions.

Don frowned, wished he had an ice pack to numb his brain, and turned on football.

 

An hour later, Don was sitting on the couch icing his ribs again while Charlie cleaned up… Breakfast? Lunch? It had been sauce from a can and cheap spaghetti, but it had been surprisingly good and he'd eaten more than he'd planned. Maybe it had been Charlie's pleasure with every bite that he'd taken. Charlie had been a whirlwind, cleaning up Don's apartment as well, including changing out his sheets and gathering a load of laundry to take down to the washer. Don didn't know that Charlie even knew how to clean.

There was a sharp knocking on his door and Don jerked in surprise. Could it be Colby?

Charlie held up his hand for Don to stay put and went to check through the peephole. His shoulders relaxed and he opened the door to David.

David looked anything but relaxed, though. He barged into the room and stopped short, staring at Don. Because of the ice pack, Don was shirtless and his whip-marks were stark against his skin, his bruises dark and ugly.

"I'm going to kill him," David snapped. "I don't care about how fucked up his life is and what has happened to him, I'm going to kill the jerk."

Charlie shut the door behind David, his expression showing that he agreed with David.

Don sighed. At least it was clear that there were a lot of things that he wouldn't need to tell David. They'd never talked directly about Don and Colby being together, but David had subtly let Don know that he knew - and that he didn't approve of the way Colby treated him. David also obviously knew about Colby's jealousy issues and the reasons behind them, but David had never said anything directly.

Now David was about to rip Colby's head off.

"Wait. It wasn't Colby."

"What?" David stared at him. "Then who? Because that the hell doesn't look like a bicycle accident."

"No," Don agreed. "It was an ATF agent."

"You… you were on a case?"

"No, no. Can you just sit down and let me explain?"

David sat down reluctantly, still vibrating with anger.

"Charlie," Don said. "Can you get me my pain meds?"

"You can't have your next dose for 28 minutes," Charlie said, sitting down himself and glaring at Don. "I want to hear this, too."

"Okay, okay," Don shrugged - which hurt a lot. Charlie deserved to know and he needed to defuse David now, too. Why should he protect Ross anyway?

He shifted his ice pack. "Ross Boyette, it was him."

"Who?" David asked.

"Friend of James Harris."

"James Harris… The agent out of the Austin Office?"

"Yeah, so James and me go way back, long before Colby. We used to hook up when he was in town." Don sighed and looked down at the floor. He needed to get the whole story out, but he didn't want to see David's disgust. "James is into bondage and whips, stuff like that."

"So James did this to you?"

"No," Don said, not looking up but speaking firmly. "James is very skilled, he never leaves a mark. This isn't his fault."

"But…"

"Okay, maybe it was a little his fault. Because last night he invited along an old friend of his, ATF agent named Ross Boyette."

"And he did this."

"Yes. So, James and I…" Don stared hard at the floor and clenched his hands together. "James did his thing and we… did our thing. He had me in a blindfold, and in a spreader bar braced in the bathroom door frame, a spring-loaded thing, and my wrists were attached to that and my feet were in another spreader bar. I wasn't hanging but I could only stand on the balls of my feet."

Charlie made a dismayed sound but Don didn't look at him either.

"Ross just watched. When James was done, he left me in the restraints and blindfold and went out of the hotel room to make a phone call. Ross was supposed to wait until James got back but…" He shrugged again, and the pain in his ribs reminded him that he needed to stop doing that. "Ross… picked up the whip and started whipping me as hard as he could, all over."

"Why?" Charlie demanded.

"I'm not sure but I think it was because… James likes to talk and we built up this fantasy between us about me seducing my brother-in-law."

"What?" David said, sounding startled.

"James loves me to… talk about naughty things I supposedly want to do."

"Gives him an excuse to whip you," Charlie snapped. "Because you're 'bad.'"

Don looked up at him in surprise. "Yeah, I think so. Anyway, Ross… I guess his wife ran off with his best friend recently and Ross believed my story about seducing my sister's husband."

"Who doesn't exist," David said.

Don's eyes went to David at last, but David just looked angry. Don said, "No, the brother-in-law doesn't exist but Ross didn't believe me."

"You didn't try to stop him?" David asked.

"Of course I did!" Don snapped, then honesty compelled him to add, "Not at first, though."

"Why not?"

Don looked at Charlie who said tightly, "Long story. Suffice it to say that Don has a hard time saying 'no'. One reason that Colby was able to be so horrible to him."

David looked uneasy.

Don hurried on. "So I used my safe word and told him to stop and he kept whipping me. He whipped me so hard that the bar came loose from the door frame and I fell and hit my shoulder on the toilet." He gestured to his shoulder. "Then my spreader bars got jammed, I think against the tub, and Ross started kicking me in the ribs. That's when he broke my ribs. James came back then and stopped him."

"Why didn't James take you to the E.R.?" Charlie asked. "I was happy to-not happy, but I was very willing to come get you, but why didn't James?"

"I didn't tell him how hurt I was," Don said. "And he was too busy yelling at Ross to notice. I left and called you."

"I picked him up from the hotel and took him to the E.R.," Charlie said to David. "The doctor didn't believe that his wounds were from a fall either."

"You've got to press charges," David snapped.

"No," Don said. "Too much stuff would come out. I can't… What Ross would say about me…"

"Who cares?" Charlie demanded. "He needs to pay."

"There's something else," Don said. "I might have… fought back harder, but Ross threatened to get his gun if I didn't let him beat me."

Charlie sucked in his breath and David looked thunderous.

"I'm going to go talk to James," David growled. "Maybe you're not willing to press charges, but there is plenty that I can do to make sure that this Ross Boyette gets what's coming to him."

Don smiled wanly at him. It would mean that far too many people would learn Don's true nature, but he was warmed by David's defense. "I won't stop you."

"You're right," David said. He pursed his lips for a moment then said, "Okay, here's how it will go - You and James are old friends. You and James's friend Ross went out for dinner and drinks. Afterwards, you three went back to James's hotel to watch a game."

Don's lips quirked. Ross was certainly there to watch a game - James's game with an imprisoned Don.

David continued, "So you and James were joking, like old friends do, but Ross was upset by something you said. He felt like you were mocking him because his wife had an affair with his best friend. When James stepped out to take a phone call, Ross attacked you."

Don nodded, amused despite himself. "And I didn't fight back because…"

"Because… because you were a little drunk, and Ross surprised you. You were starting to fight back when Ross threatened you with his gun."

"He didn't actually pull his gun."

"You don't know he didn't pull his gun because you were blindfolded," David reminded him. "You believed the threat to be real?"

"Yes, he was… quite sincere."

"Okay, so Ross threatened you with his gun and knocked you over then started kicking you in the ribs. James came back and stopped him from doing more."

"And I'm not pressing charges because…?"

David shrugged. "James asked you not to?"

Charlie said to David, "How about because Don doesn't want to ruin a fellow federal agent's career, so he won't press charges, but you think Ross deserves street justice."

David raised his eyebrows. "Street justice?"

Charlie flushed, probably realizing the racist overtones. "Under the table justice? Umm, covert justice?"

"Okay," David said. "Maybe." He turned to Don. "Are you sure you want to protect James in this?"

"Yes," Don said, then grimaced because he realized that he was only protecting James so he would still fuck him in the future.

"Alright," David said. "I'll tell Liz the whole truth, okay? We'll work it together."

Don nodded. Soon his whole team would despise him. Who would blame them?

David's voice softened at what he must have seen on Don's face. "It'll be okay, Don. We've got your back. I mean, Liz and me. Colby, he… He'll be gone at the end of the week, and, well, it'll be good to have him gone."

Don closed his eyes against the pain and lowered his head. David and Charlie began talking about Don's injuries and what Don needed. Don felt torn up inside - both devastated and relieved that he wouldn't be seeing Colby again before he left.

"Don?" David was standing next to him. "Charlie's got things under control for now, but Liz and me are going to help, and your dad too. We'll get you through the next week and back on your feet, okay?"

Don nodded.

"And I'm glad you're not hurt worse. I don't… I don't blame you for what happened, okay? The bastard won't know what hit him."

Don nodded again. While he appreciated David's fervor, there was nothing that David could do that would repair the damage that was much deeper and older than a few broken ribs.

"See you soon," David said, then left.

Don felt like his career was walking out the door as well. He'd always had that to focus on, but no one would respect him after this got out. Jumped by another man because he was drunk? Let him break his ribs because he was scared of him pulling a gun? It was better than the truth, but not much.

All that Don had done to hide his perversions, to keep his alpha male persona, and it was going to come apart anyway. Colby was gone, his career was gone, and there would be no one and nothing to replace them.


Chapter Text

Part 50:Don strikes out at Charlie, but Charlie fights back

After David left, Don continued to stare at the floor until Charlie came and took the ice pack from his unresisting fingers.

"That was twenty minutes of icing," Charlie said. "How is your pain level? There is some variance in the dosing restrictions, so we could move up your…"

"I'm fine."

"No, you're not," Charlie said flatly. "You were abused at gun point."

Don sighed, something he seemed to be doing a lot. "Yes, technically."

"Technically?" Charlie said. "How can you say…"

Don glared up at him. "Because I deserved it!"

Charlie stepped back. "You think you deserved it?"

"Yes, Charlie, I deserved it and more," Don said roughly. "I'm a whore who cheated on his boyfriend with his brother. I deserved everything that Ross did to me."

"No, you didn't!"

"Ross said that I'm a sick animal who will do anything for sex, and he was right."

"But…"

Don continued relentlessly, "Even after he whipped me and beat me and broke my ribs, if he'd somehow pulled me up and bent me over the toilet and fucked me, then I would have been happy."

Charlie's hand went to his mouth.

"He could have done anything the hell he wanted to me as long as he fucked me!" Don spit out the words. "Maybe the only reason I'm letting David go after Ross is because he didn't fuck me!"

Don pushed Charlie away and staggered to the fridge. He yanked it open, to find that Charlie had gotten rid of all of the beer. He turned and stumbled towards the bathroom, locked the door, and threw up Charlie's spaghetti in the toilet.

"Don, Don!" Charlie said, banging on the door.

Don continued to heave into the toilet.

The noise stopped for a moment then Don heard the bathroom door opening. He looked up blearily to see Charlie with a screwdriver.

"Leave me alone," Don mumbled.

"Never." Charlie took a towel and wiped Don's face. He gently pulled Don into his arms. Don leaned against him, gasping weakly.

"Throwing up. Seems to be happening to me lately," Don whispered. "I keep throwing up, like there's things I'm trying to rid my body of. But I can't rid me of myself. I've tried."

Charlie held him for a long moment. Finally, Charlie asked, "What is your safe word?"

"Why, want to use it?" Don said, feeling a faint spurt of amusement.

"What is it?"

"Kevlar."

"Good choice. Have you ever used your safe word before?"

"What?"

"Have you ever used it? Ever stopped someone?"

"What do you mean?"

"Because for you, it would be like saying 'no.'"

"Um…" Don tried to think. "I don't… No, I've never used it before."

"Good."

"What?"

"You said 'no' twice in one week," Charlie said. "That's an exponential improvement."

Don pulled away from Charlie and glared at him. "Didn't you hear me? I said that I would have been okay if he'd fucked me, even after I used my safe word."

"I wonder…"

"Don't!"

"Then why did you use your safe word after all?"

"Because I wanted him to stop hitting me!"

"Why? You say you'll do anything for a fuck. When you agreed to him joining you and your friend, you had to assume that he'd fuck you as well. All you had to do was let him beat you up and then you'd get what you want. So why did you use your safe word?"

Don eyed him. Charlie didn't understand just how deep Don's depravity was. But then again, he had used his safe word…

Charlie wiped Don's face again then tossed the towel aside. He helped Don to his feet and back into the bedroom. He got Don into bed, propping him up with pillows like an invalid, then handed him the TV remote. Charlie pulled a chair next to Don's bed, put his bare feet up on the bed, and began to look at some papers.

"What day is it… Don't you have a class today?" Don asked.

"Not important," Charlie said, not looking up from his papers.

"Charlie, I'm fine. Go teach your class."

Charlie put down his papers and focused on Don, looking as stubborn as Don had ever seen him. "You're not fine and I am not leaving you anytime in the near future. I already called Professor Masterson. She's been begging to address my Number Theory class about her recent paper on K-Theory."

Don had to smile. "I thought you said you'd die before letting Masterson near your students."

Charlie smiled back, looking mischievous. "Next week's class will be a discussion of how shoddy math can sound good until you take a close look at it."

Don chuckled. The reaction sounded rusty in his ears.

"I'm afraid that I am going to have to leave for a few minutes soon, though. I've got to go to a grocery store," Charlie said. "Especially if you're going to keep throwing up my cooking. It wasn't that bad."

Don's smile was apologetic this time. His insides still felt wobbly and the idea of food had no appeal. But he knew that Charlie was taking seriously the doctor's instructions that Don get lot of rest and good food.

A thought occurred to him and Don's smile vanished completely. "Where's Dad? Didn't you tell him?"

"Santa Barbara," Charlie said with a sigh. "But he's coming back tonight and… I'm going to have to talk with him, about all of it."

Don raised his eyebrows. "All of it? You and me?"

"Of course not," Charlie said. "But I mean the rest of it and not just… this latest thing. I never talked to him about when you came to the house after Colby…"

Don grimaced. "How much are you going to tell him?"

Charlie met his eyes squarely. "All of it, Don. Everything except about you and me having sex. I mean about baseball and Colby and all of these terrible things you think about yourself."

Groaning, Don closed his eyes and leaned back against his pillows. "Do you have to?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because secrecy got you into this mess. And letting people pour poison into your ears."

"I…"

"Have you ever talked in therapy?"

"You know I have," Don said tiredly. "Bradford. You even went with me."

"But I bet you never talked to him about being bi and the way you interact with men about sex."

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because I didn't want to, okay?" Don snapped. "Because I… thought I was managing it."

"Obviously not," Charlie snapped back. "Unless you consider broken ribs 'managing it.'"

"It got out of hand. It…"

"Then where will I have to pick you up from next? The morgue?"

"That's crazy."

"Is it?" Charlie said, and he was standing next to the bed, shouting down at Don. "Is it crazy? Did you see how that E.R. doctor looked at you? She expects to see you back, even worse, and I am not going to let that happen!"

"How are you going to stop it?" Don growled at him. "Lock me in my apartment?"

"If I have to!"

Don threw a pillow at Charlie, then another and another, then the TV remote and blankets and everything he could lay his hands on. His ribs were screaming in agony, but he was too angry to care.

"Get out!" Don yelled. "Get the hell out of here! It's my life!"

"Then act like it!" Charlie said as he backed out of the room. From the hallway he yelled, "I'm not going anywhere!"

Don lay on the destroyed bed, whimpering in pain from his cracked ribs. Every time he thought he'd hit rock bottom, he'd found a new deeper level underneath. Every time he thought he had nothing left, he'd found that he'd had more to lose. He hated himself with a throbbing, hopeless ache. His spare gun was in the gun safe in the front room. If he could just get past Charlie…

Charlie.

Perhaps he had something left to lose after all, because he would never do that to Charlie.

He remembered the moment when he was on the floor and Ross was whipping and kicking him and he had been sure he was going to die. At that moment, he'd been surprised to find that he actually cared, even if it was just a little. But that was before he knew that his career at the FBI would soon be over. Was there anything to Don Eppes when he was no longer Don Eppes, FBI agent? He hadn't been a good enough baseball player, he was too old and too stupid to go back to school. There was pretty much nothing for him to fall back on.

Maybe he could be a prostitute, a full-time ass whore. It wasn't much different than he was now, but he would get paid.

The idea was almost amusing, in a dark sort of way.

His near-smile vanished when he thought of how it would kill Charlie.

He lay there, breathing shallowly because of the pain, and wondered what new low he would hit next.

Maybe twenty minutes later, though it felt like an eternity, Don heard an alarm chime. Charlie came into the room, holding Don's pills and some water in front of him like a shield. His face was set in stubborn lines. Don just took the pills, swallowed them, and chased them down with water. He turned away from Charlie and closed his eyes. Charlie stood for a moment, then began reassembling Don's bed, as much as he could with Don in it. Charlie turned on the TV and the sound of a soccer game filled the room.

After another moment, Charlie slowly sat down on the bed next to Don. Don kept his back facing Charlie and his eyes closed. Don heard the rustle of papers and the scratch of a pencil - sounds so normal and familiar and so Charlie that they made Don's throat ache.

Did Charlie really mean it when he said last night that he wouldn't leave Don, that he was staying and taking care of him as long as it takes? What he had yelled from the hall a few minutes ago, that he wasn't going anywhere, no matter what Don did?

Don squeezed his eyes tight against surprise tears. God, he was pathetic, because he couldn't think of anything he wanted to hear more.

Chapter Text

Part 51: Charlie sorts through candidates, then sorts through laundry

Charlie watched Don sleep like he was watching over a slumbering bomb, which he sort of was. He never knew what would set Don off. But at least David coming over had forced Don to tell Charlie what had happened. Charlie had been right that Don didn't usually date men who injured him, and the bloody spanking and belt-whipping from Colby were an escalation, not the norm, though it was true that in the past he'd let James whip him, even if it wasn't his thing, because James was a reliable sex partner.

Charlie sighed. He had chastised himself recently for setting a low bar for Don - someone who would have sex with him without breaking his bones, but Don had set just as low a bar for himself. Charlie started running through the list of men he knew that were good guys who liked to top. Leif was an idea - no, too flaky. Dean? Possible alcohol problem, didn't want to encourage Don's own problem. Max? He would be constantly arguing with Don about politics. Marty? He was too much of a player. Lupo? Travelled too much. Ben? He was a nice guy but a lousy lover.

One by one Charlie pictured and dismissed every man he knew. Too young, too stupid, too married to his work, too in-the-closet, too crazy. Not one of them even approached Don's matrix. Not one of them deserved the most wonderful man in the world, and at the same time, not one of them could handle how damaged Don was.

There was one man who was perfect for Don - smart enough, sexually compatible, matched in humor, and loved him more than anything. Too bad that man was also his brother.

Charlie pushed that depressing thought aside. There had to be someone. He would keep looking.

After Don had been napping for an hour, and the soccer game had changed to college field hockey, Charlie decided that he just had to get some errands done. Don's laundry needed to go to the apartment's laundry room and he needed to get some food for this place, but he didn't want Don to wake up alone. He fretted for another fourteen minutes, then wrote Don and note and gathered up the laundry.

As he was about to go out the door, Don's gun safe caught his eye and his stomach clenched. He set down the laundry and went to the safe. It was a combination safe, but it only took a few tries before Charlie was able to open it with their mother's birthdate. Inside was Don's backup gun and ammunition. He took out all the bullets and put them in his pocket.

He let himself out of the apartment, balancing the armful of laundry, the detergent bottle and Don's apartment keys, and hurried to the laundry room. He was then faced with a clothes washer that required a code - one that would have been assigned to Don so Charlie couldn't guess it. He stood, staring at the washer, until someone came in.

"Forget your code?" asked a man with facial tattoos and a pierced lip.

"It's my brother's apartment," Charlie said. "He's…sick and I'm trying to do his laundry. I didn't know I'd need a code."

The man smiled, leaned around Charlie, and punched in a code on the washer. "Hope he feels better."

"Thanks," Charlie said with a shaky smile, unsure why kindness from a stranger would suddenly put him over the edge.

"Hey, you okay?" the man asked.

"He…" Charlie stared down at the armful of laundry that smelled like Don. "I had to pick him up and take him to the E.R. because yet another man had abused him and I don't know how I'm going to make it stop."

"Shit," the man said, his voice kind. "I'm sorry. That's Hell."

"Yeah…" Charlie shoved the clothes into the washer. He tried to open the detergent but suddenly his eyes were full of tears and visions of Don's whip-marked body.

The man gently took the detergent from him and filled up the cup. "My code's 5609," he said. "Use it as often as you need to."

"Thanks," Charlie mumbled.

As the man turned to leave, Charlie reached into his pocket and pulled out the bullets that he had taken from Don's safe.

"Um," Charlie said and the man paused. "I don't suppose…" He held out the bullets. "Could you get rid of these for me? I don't want them anywhere near his gun."

The man's eyes widened and he took the bullets from Charlie's shaking hand. "Yeah, sure. I don't need to call the cops or anything, do I?"

Charlie gave him a lopsided smile. "Why do you think he has the gun in the first place?"

"Oh." The man took the bullets and tucked them in his own pocket. "Uh, take care."

"Thanks," Charlie said, yet again.

The man nodded and left.

Charlie pressed the buttons on the washer for a heavy-duty cycle then watched it go around for a minute. He shook himself. It would be better if he was there when Don woke up, note or no note.

Don was still asleep when Charlie let himself back into the apartment. Charlie breathed a sigh of relief. He knew that Don must be severely and long-term sleep deprived, but he didn't know if Don would let himself sleep. Charlie gave thanks to the E.R. doctor for the good drugs.

He puttered around the apartment, making a list of things that he needed to get from the grocery store. The list made him think of vectors and relationship matrices and he doodled math on some of Don's old mail until he heard stirring in the bedroom.

"Charlie?" Don called.

Charlie rushed towards the bedroom, then remembered how angry Don had been at him the last time they'd talked. He approached more slowly.

Don didn't look angry though, just in pain. He held up Charlie's note. "You need a code for the washer."

"Oh, a nice neighbor helped me," Charlie said.

Don raised his eyebrows. "Huh, I didn't know I had any nice neighbors."

"At least one." Charlie took the note which had been written on the back of one of Charlie's papers. "What you don't have is enough writing paper. I'll have to put that on the grocery list."

Don shifted, grunted and grabbed his side.

"I'm afraid it's too soon for more pain medication. How about some water?"

"How about some beer?" Don asked with a wry smile.

"Water it is," Charlie said.

He went to the kitchen and brought back a glass of water. Don sipped at it, looking resigned.

Charlie cleared his throat and asked carefully, "Do you have any spare ammunition in the apartment?"

"What?"

"I mean, that's not in the safe."

"What? Why?"

"I may have… misplaced the ammunition in the safe," Charlie said, watching Don carefully. "I was wondering if there was any more that needed to be misplaced."

Don stared at him for a long moment, then his eyes unmistakably began to fill with tears. He turned away and shook his head.

"Okay, good," Charlie said. "Then how about a movie? Something with lots of explosions and action?"

Don didn't answer and Charlie hurried to put on a movie. He chose 'Speed' which used to be one of Don's favorites. Did he still like it? Charlie had no idea. He had no idea what Don wanted anymore, because Don had obviously thought about that gun safe and its contents. Charlie could have left the apartment and come back to…

Charlie had to work the TV remote with both hands because they were shaking so hard.


Chapter Text

Part 52: Don is hot and cold and thirsty

Don watched the familiar movie go by. Charlie briefly left to move his clothes to the dryer and Don counted the minutes he was gone. After Charlie came back, he sat on the bed next to Don. At some point, Don found that he had put his head on Charlie's lap. Charlie was sitting up, Don's head on his thigh, and Charlie was slowly running his hand through Don's hair. It was very comforting, and unfortunately also arousing. His cock ached and it wasn't just the healing abrasions. He knew, intellectually, that it would hurt if he turned and rubbed himself off against Charlie, but there was nothing more that he wanted to do - except bend over and let Charlie fill up his ass. It was a good thing that he was so injured because that could never, ever happen again. Charlie was here, taking care of him, as his brother, and it could never be more.

Charlie had known enough of what Don was thinking to take the bullets from the gun safe… Don had already promised himself that he wouldn't do that to Charlie, but dammit, since when did Charlie understand him that well? Or was he just being so pitifully transparent?

Don tried to get interested in the movie but found himself reliving every amazing time that Charlie had had sex with - had made love to him. How Charlie had shown his understanding of Don with every touch, every move. Don's cock burned with arousal and pain and he was relieved when it came time for him to sit up and use the ice pack. He took one of the cold towels off the ice pack and put it in his lap. Charlie didn't comment. Don wondered if Charlie could use a cold towel to the groin himself.

After the movie, Don was able to take some more pain meds and he dozed for a while. His dreams were hot and strange and full of Charlie's voice and searing touch.

He woke up when David called Charlie. They talked for a while about errands and cars. Charlie said that he didn't want to leave Don for longer than it took to go down to the laundry room. Don tuned the conversation out and went back to dozing.

It was getting into the evening, and Don's stomach had finally decided that food would be a good idea, when there was a knock at the door. Don's pulse jumped but he reminded himself that it wouldn't be Colby. He wouldn't knock.

Charlie got to the door and looked out the peephole. He smiled and opened the door.

Liz and David were standing there, their arms full of groceries. They came in then Liz stopped cold and stared at Don. Don was, of course, icing his ribs and he knew his whip-marks and bruises looked even worse than this morning.

"Shit," Liz said faintly.

David pushed her and she got moving again, though her eyes stayed on Don. He wondered if she was not only seeing the injuries, but comparing his body to what it had been when he and Liz had been together. Even James had noticed the decline and Liz was a much more observant person.

Charlie took the grocery bag from Liz and started emptying it, crossing each item of his list.

"I got your car from the hotel," Liz said, still staring at him. "It's parked in your spot out front." She added quietly, "David warned me but… shit."

Don found himself faintly amused at how thrown she was and gave her a ghost of a smile.

David gave the rest of the groceries to Charlie and came to sit down opposite Don. He looked angry again.

"James is a total coward," David snapped. "He couldn't agree any faster to my fake story. He turned on Ross so fast it was sickening. He doesn't care about his friend as long as no one blames him for your broken ribs."

"Who do they blame?" Charlie asked.

"Ross, of course!" Liz said, coming to sit next to David. "The whole office is scheming ways to make Ross's life hell unofficially. Maybe his wife did just run off with his best friend but that's going to be nothing compared to the misery that the LA Field Office is going to put him through for sidelining their best agent."

Don raised his eyebrows. "Best agent?"

Liz eyed him. "Yeah, of course. No one blames you. Everyone just wants you back as fast as possible. Even if you are just stuck at a desk, you're as good as it gets."

Don blinked in surprise. Liz rolled her eyes and David gave a little disgusted shake of his head.

"I don't know what garbage Colby was feeding you," David said. "But that's what it was - garbage."

"He doesn't even have the slightest idea why we're so pissed at him," Liz said angrily. "And I thought he was a smart guy."

"Did he… ask about me?" Don asked as Charlie came over.

All three other faces showed just what they thought of his pathetic question.

"Never mind," Don said quickly.

"No," Liz said. "He didn't ask about you. You dated for, what, a year, and he's just going off to Quantico with you getting beat up like it was nothing."

"When does he leave?" Charlie asked.

"Last day is tomorrow."

Charlie nodded, his face suddenly dark. Don would have thought that Charlie would be happy to see Colby go.

Liz said, in a business-like tone, "Okay, so I know you want to know what's going on with the Steve Walker case."

Don nodded and Charlie finished putting the groceries away while David and Liz filled him in on all their cases. He listened with half an ear, wondering what Colby was thinking right now. Was he as glad to get out of LA as his team was glad to have him go? Colby had said that Don was a drug that he was addicted to. Colby didn't seem to be having any trouble breaking free of his addiction.

And the rest of the LA field office? David and Liz must be putting a good face on it. The whole office really couldn't be rushing to Don's defense as Liz claimed. At least they weren't firing him right away. He had a week before he had to go back to the office and see what people really thought of him.

Some of the things that David and Liz were saying caught his attention at last. He sat up straight, pressed his ice pack harder to his side, and asked a lot of questions. By the time that they left, with David still taking notes on one of the blank notebooks from the grocery bag, Don was feeling surprisingly like himself. David and Liz were smiling too and talking about all the new ideas and leads that Don had just given them. Liz gave him a quick squeeze on the hand and David nodded his farewell. Charlie shut the door behind them and he was also smiling.

"I knew I liked those two. They said you're 'as good as it gets,'" Charlie said. "You're their 'best agent' still. And you certainly showed it just now. That thing about the panel truck? Excellent example of multi-step thinking. And I would have never thought to check in on Walker's old foster brother."

"Yeah, well, brothers matter," Don said, easing back onto the couch. His side was aching and his head was pounding.

Charlie came and took the melted ice pack, his face concerned. "I shouldn't have let them stay this long."

Don gave him a tired smile. "I would never have though that you could be such a mother hen."

"Only for you," Charlie said softly. He touched Don's cheek and Don couldn't help lean against his hand. They stayed that way for a long moment, neither speaking.

"Okay!" Charlie said brightly, pulling away his hand. "Let's get some supper going! You need lots of protein for wound healing, plus Vitamin A, C, K, B complex and both microminerals and macrominerals."

"Sounds delicious," Don grumbled.

"I hope so," Charlie said. "How about a steak?"

"Now you're talking," Don said. "Wash it down with a beer?"

"Not yet," Charlie said.

Don sighed and Charlie went into the kitchen. He didn't know how he was going to get through the next few days without beer. He wondered if Charlie had any idea how much alcohol he usually drank on a daily basis, especially in the last few months. Charlie might have to deal with someone going through withdrawal, as well as the rest of the medical issues. In the past, Don had been lucky with not having too bad of withdrawal when he went without alcohol when he was on a case or undercover. But he'd never drunk as heavily before. It was really hard to tell how much of his anxiety, nausea and shakiness was due to withdrawal, pain, or just being forced to deal with himself without the numbing effects of alcohol. He hoped that he would be off the prescription pain medications before the withdrawal really set in. If he needed to, he'd pretend that his ribs were better than they were in order to convince Charlie to let him move to over-the-counter pain meds so he could have beer.

Then he sighed again. He seemed unable to lie to Charlie about anything these days.

Maybe he would just beg.


Chapter Text

Part 53: Charlie is cooking up more than just supper

As Don watched from the couch, Charlie put Don's melted ice pack back in the freezer and began getting out dishes. Don's cabinets looked more in order than he remembered them. Charlie must have gone through there during his cleaning frenzy.

Charlie pulled out two nice-looking steaks and set a heavy pan to heating on the stove. He then started slicing vegetables. As he worked, Charlie talked about wound healing and cytokines and increased cellular activity. Don let Charlie's words roll over him while he watched Charlie carefully prepare a meal, regularly consulting his notes.

With a flourish, Charlie presented Don a meal of steak, with a side of sweet potatoes (Vitamin A for bone formation) and broccoli (Vitamin C for collagen formation) sprinkled with almonds (Vitamin E for tissue repair). Even the meat tenderizer had bromelain from pineapples for reducing edema, bruising and healing time. While Don had been sleeping, Charlie must have been studying up on medical websites.

Don had to admit that the kitchen science project was actually quite tasty, though he hadn't had a lot of quality meals recently. In fact, other than the weekend at the hotel, he hadn't eaten well in a long time.

"Pretty good," Don said with a smile as he sat back from his empty plate. "Didn't know you could cook."

"Only if I use recipes," Charlie admitted. "Jan tried his hardest to teach me to cook, by which I mean to improvise in the kitchen, but I find it too inexact a science. Human tastes vary too much, so it's impossible to be systematic with experimental output. Jan tried to get me to be more relaxed about it, but I only managed to learn how to follow a recipe that someone else - usually Jan - had perfected."

Don felt a twinge of something as he realized that Charlie was talking about an old boyfriend. "I don't remember a 'Jan.'"

"He was the Caltech Soccer coach and former pro athlete."

"Yeah, what is it with you and athletes?"

Charlie just gave him a pointed look and Don flushed. Charlie's first crushes had been baseball players, after all. But Don had to ask. "So all those… athletes and big muscle men you've dated, they've all been bottoms?"

"From the time I was twenty or so and I was sure of my preferences."

"But they…"

"Don't look like bottoms?" Charlie asked quietly. "Just what does a bottom look like, anyway? Like me?"

Don grimaced and looked away, because that's exactly what he'd thought.

Charlie continued, "It's like saying which men look gay. You must know that homosexual men are statistically spread across the physical spectrum. Preferences for different sexual activities are spread across a different, non-correlated spectrum."

"Not what I've seen," Don mumbled as he picked up his glass of water.

"Which is a shame," Charlie said. "I fully intend on remedying your lack of experience and introducing you to many men who don't have your same beliefs about bottoms."

Don nearly choked on his water. "What?"

"I'm going to find you a boyfriend," Charlie said firmly. "Not right away, of course, until you are healed, but soon."

"Charlie, I don't need your help to…"

"Your track record sucks," Charlie snapped.

"And you think you can do better?"

"It would be difficult to do worse!"

Don slammed down his glass. "I don't want a boyfriend! I don't date men!"

"No, you just let them beat you and fuck you and throw you away!"

Don snarled wordlessly and pushed back from the table. His ribs screamed in pain as he jumped to his feet. He grabbed his side and staggered towards the bathroom. Shutting the door, he leaned over the toilet, but somehow this meal stayed down.

After a long moment, Don heard Charlie at the door to the bathroom.

"Are you okay?" Charlie asked. "Do you need anything?"

Don closed his eyes and leaned against the door.

"Don?"

"I'm okay!" he shouted. "Go away!"

"Okay…" Charlie said.

Don heard Charlie stand there for a moment, then move away. Soon Don heard the sound of him washing dishes. Don kept his eyes closed and pressed his forehead against the cool surface of the toilet seat. His chest hurt so much that Don wondered if he'd shifted the ribs and punctured something. It would be ironic, after all of Charlie's diligent care.

Don leaned against the toilet and thought about that care. About Charlie helping him at the E.R. and at his apartment. About Charlie managing his work life and telling the right people what they needed to know. About Charlie getting rid of his beer and dealing with his meds and cooking him meal after meal, even if he wasn't sure if Don would keep the food down.

And about the fact that Charlie loved him so much that he was willing to find him a boyfriend, when Don knew full well that that was a role that Charlie dearly wanted for himself.

Don gave a shuddering sigh that had more than a little bit of tears in it.

Sometimes he really hated his little brother.

Chapter Text

Chapter 54: Charlie explains it all

"Dad, we have to talk Don into moving back home," Charlie said as soon as his father walked through the door to Don's apartment.

"What?" Alan said, almost dropping the notebooks he was holding.

Charlie took the notebooks from Alan, ones he'd asked his father to bring over, and shut the door. "How else can I keep an eye on him? I don't want to move here!"

"What? Why would you… I thought he had an accident and broke some ribs. That only takes a few weeks to heal, right?"

"Oh, Dad…" Charlie said. "You have no idea…"

"Well, then tell me!" Alan snapped. "You won't talk to me!"

"I will, I will," Charlie said, shushing Alan with his free hand. He looked towards the bedroom where Don was hopefully still asleep. He'd put a ring of keys on the doorknob that should warn him if Don opened the door, but they still need to keep their voices down.

"I will," Charlie said again. He put the notebooks down on the coffee table and went to listen outside out the bedroom door. Everything seemed quiet. After Don had finally come out of the bathroom, Charlie hadn't commented on the tear tracks on Don's cheeks. At least though it hadn't looked or smelled like Don had thrown up this time. Don had seemed to be in the worst pain of the day and Charlie could only hope that Don hadn't injured his ribs further. Don hadn't been about to let Charlie probe his injury with his fingers, so Charlie had only nodded and gotten the pain medication 47 minutes early. Don had taken the medication and lay down in his bed, curled up in a tight ball. Charlie had resisted telling Don that wasn't a good position for his ribs, and instead, turned on the TV. The medication plus the mindless hum of a sports news show and a hopefully still-full stomach had put Don to sleep in 17 minutes. Charlie had waited another ten minutes to make sure that Don was deeply asleep, then had called his father.

Now he was going to have to explain the unexplainable.

He went back into the front room and sat down on the couch across from his father. "Oh Dad, he's so messed up."

Alan raised his eyebrows. "I assume you're not just referring to his recent injuries."

"No, it goes way back, farther back than I ever imagined."

"What 'goes way back'?"

"All the way back to baseball."

"Baseball?"

"Yeah, if it wasn't for baseball…"

Charlie could tell his father was trying hard to be patient, but was on the edge of just yelling at Charlie to goddamn explain himself. Charlie took a breath then dove in.

"So Don is bisexual, and his first experiences with men were when he was playing pro ball. I don't know why he didn't experiment before then, because things might have turned out so differently…" He shook his head. "His team had this way of dealing with sex between men - by not acknowledging it but oddly encouraging it. A man who wanted sex would come up behind another man in the shower and ask him if he wanted a hand. The approached man wouldn't turn around. There was a little bit of negotiation possible as to whether the approached man gets humped or fucked, but nothing beyond that simple matrix. The recipient would in theory have no idea who was humping him. That gave the initiator all the power. Another important thing to realize was that a man who enjoyed being on bottom would have no way of requesting it. He had to just wait and hope that someone would approach him. It was a straight-forward system, but it was Don's first and only experience with men for a long time and he internalized every one of the implicit assertions in it."

"Like what?" Alan asked, frowning.

"One, men who enjoy being on bottom only get their desires at the whim of those who top. Two, bottoms who say 'no' may not get asked again so they have to say 'yes' all the time. Three, bottoms are lesser men who must be passive and can't express any preferences or give any feedback beyond basic consent. Four, tops are the strong ones, they make the rules. You have to at least pretend to be a top to be respected."

Alan shook his head. "I just can't see Don thinking that way."

"He's not that way with women, he's almost bifurcated. I've seen the switch when I…" Charlie swallowed. He'd almost given away that he'd had sex with Don. He needed to be more careful. "I told you I saw Don and his boyfriend having sex, right? Oh, it's Colby, by the way."

"What? Colby?"

"Yeah, he's the abusive boyfriend," Charlie said darkly. "Yes, the great American Patriot is a lowlife abusive bastard."

"Wow. I thought he was a nice guy."

"Anyway," Charlie said, though he wanted to say a lot more about Colby, "I saw Colby and Don having sex and Don goes totally passive, lets him do whatever. Their… interaction made me sick. I already told you some about it."

"Yes, he called him 'sir' and was bleeding afterwards."

"So that's what Don learned about sex with guys. He got out of baseball and seemed to find the exact same sort of men in the FBI. If the first guy out of baseball would have just been a reasonable human being…" Charlie sighed. "Instead, he took advantage of the fallacies Don had internalized and used him like every other man before him. Don just went from man to man after then. He likes to be with women, because they make him feel worthwhile, but he likes sex with men too much. He doesn't believe that men 'date' or have meaningful relationships."

"Then why has this thing with Colby gone so bad?"

Charlie shrugged helplessly. "It was a synergy of forces leading to a release of energy much greater than any of its individual contributors would ever generate. According to David, Colby had several damaging relationships where he was taken advantage of. Also, he had an abusive father who kept his family in line by threats and whippings. Colby is incredibly jealous and kept tightening down on every possible sign of Don straying."

"That's typical," Alan said. "Irrational jealousy to justify abuse."

"Well… Don, um," Charlie flushed. "Don cheated on Colby, but it was only once in a whole year. That's quite remarkable, considering Don's history of open relationships. But Colby took that as a sign that everything he feared about Don was true and Colby was right to treat him that way. Don… told me about the cheating and I guess that he admitted it to Colby when he got back in town. Now Don feels like he deserves everything that happened to him, because he slipped up once."

"What did happen to him?"

Charlie nodded and told Alan what had happened with James and Ross, the true story, and what David and Liz had said. Then he started going backwards through Don's life. Alan asked questions and Charlie answered as thoroughly as he could. He watched as his father went through the stages he had - disbelief, anger, grief, fear.

They talked late into the evening. Charlie told his father everything he could think of, except for the part about him and Don having had sex. Alan gave him an odd look more than once, especially when Charlie revealed particularly intimate details about Don, but Charlie kept saying that the environment made Don talk a lot more than usual.

After a long time, Charlie ran out of things to say and Alan ran of questions that Charlie could answer. He had many of his own questions that he couldn't answer, such as how had it gotten so bad without him noticing and how could he fix it. Also, how was he going to survive never kissing Don again.

Finally, Alan said, "I think you're right, about Don moving back home. Especially if he's as fragile as you think."

Charlie remembered Don's face when Charlie had told him he'd 'lost' his bullets. "Yeah, he really is."

"What does he need right now?"

"I'm going to stay here, for now," Charlie said. "I think he takes comfort in me being around and he's not going to take his meds or eat if I'm not here. Once he starts feeling better and gets back to work, I think that we can give him more space. That's assuming that what David and Liz said about his co-workers is accurate."

"It better be," Alan snapped. "Don has done more for his office than twenty other agents."

Charlie bit down on his selfish urge to say that it was both Eppes brothers who had done that much. Charlie had done his own helping, but Don really was the one who made all the parts of his team work together to solve the case. "Yeah, at least Colby will be gone by the time he gets back."

Alan shook his head. "I still can't believe that of Colby. He seemed like a genuinely good guy."

"Both him and Don have gotten very good at hiding their true nature."

"I guess so." Alan stood up slowly. "You going to sleep on the couch?"

"Um, in the bed with Don," Charlie said. "You know I'm a sound sleeper. That way I wake up when he needs me."

Alan gave him that searching look again but didn't comment. "I'll get together some meals so you don't have to do all the cooking. Do you think… do you think he's going to be willing to eat with me too tomorrow?"

"Yeah, Dad," Charlie said. "He needs both of us. He isn't going to be comfortable with you knowing all this stuff and he isn't going to believe that you still love him, but he has to hear it."

"You're right." Alan looked down at Charlie for a moment. "I never thought that you would be the strong one."

Charlie gave him a crooked smile. "I'm only strong for him, Dad, and you know it."

"Yes, I do."

Alan said goodnight and let himself out of the door.

Charlie tidied up a few things then got a single beer out of where he'd hid them and put it in the fridge. Don would probably really be needing one tomorrow, so he would just have to go to less effective pain killers part of the day. Charlie really didn't want to deal with withdrawal, along with the other things.

Charlie got out two doses of pain meds and some water. In the bedroom, he stood watching Don sleep. His forehead was creased in pain. Charlie checked his watch and saw that he'd been talking with his father for hours.

"Don, hey," Charlie said, touching Don's good shoulder. He was sleeping without a shirt so Charlie touched bare skin.

Don stirred and Charlie couldn't help it, he rubbed Don's shoulder then slowly stroked up his neck to his stubbled cheek.

"Whu?" Don said and Charlie jerked his hand back.

"Um, it's time for your pain meds."

Don grumbled but held out his hand, only slitting his eyes open. He swallowed the pills and chased then down with water. Closing his eyes again, he seemed to quickly fall back asleep. The pain crease in his forehead was still there. Charlie wanted to rub it away.

Pulling his hand away, Charlie quickly went around the other side of the bed. He found some spare throw pillows, put them down the middle of the bed, and lay down, safely on the other side of the wall.

After talking with his father the whole evening about how damaged Don was, Charlie didn't trust himself not to take Don into his arms. He sighed and instead wrapped his arms around himself.

Chapter Text

Part 55: Don enjoys a drink and other normalcies

Don was surprised to find just Tylenol on the side table when he woke up. He was still hurting a lot but that meant…

Don looked over but Charlie was still asleep. Charlie was wrapped up in a little ball on the far side of the bed. Don climbed out of bed as silently as he could - he couldn't help the quiet grunts of pain - then went around to Charlie's side of the bed. He pulled a blanket over him. He just barely managed to hold himself back from running his fingers through Charlie's hair. He remembered how soft it was, how it felt against his naked skin.

Don shook his head, grabbed his pills and hobbled out to the kitchen. He pulled open up the fridge… and there was a lovely, though lone, bottle of beer. He quickly opened the bottle and sucked down a few long gulps. His whole body shuddered and it wasn't just the cold. He took a few more gulps then swallowed his pills. He wasn't sure if Tylenol and alcohol were a good mix, but if Charlie had given him the pills and the beer, he was confident that Charlie would have researched it and made a thorough risk analysis. He drank down the rest of the beer, checked the fridge just to make sure there weren't more, then went back to the bedroom.

Charlie had uncurled slightly. Don desperately wanted to crawl into bed next to him and take him into his arms. There were so many reasons why that was a bad idea, including broken ribs and his inability to control his own libido. That didn't stop him from wanting.

Sighing, Don lay down on the other side of the bed and closed his eyes. His body, happy to have alcohol at last, generously let him fall back asleep.

 

Sometime later, Don woke up again. Charlie was gone and his ribs hurt like hell, but he felt more clear-headed than he had since the injury. Strange how a little alcohol made him feel more alert. Or maybe it was just being off the heavy-duty pain meds.

Holding his arm against his aching ribs, Don went into the living room. There was Charlie, notebooks spread over the coffee table, typing furiously at a laptop. Next to him were the remains of breakfast and a cold-looking cup of coffee. Don felt an unexpected twinge at the domesticity of the scene. What would it be like to have someone to share his apartment with, his life with? What would it be like to share it with Charlie?

Don shook his head.

"Hey," he said.

Charlie jumped in surprise then blinked at him. His eyes went to the way Don was holding his side. "Oh, ice! Let me get that!"

"I can get it," Don said wryly. He'd really been letting Charlie do too much. He got a towel and an ice pack from the freezer.

"In a lot of pain?" Charlie asked. "On a scale of one to ten, would you say that…"

"I really needed that beer," Don said. "Thanks."

"Maybe Tylenol during the day?" Charlie said. "And the stronger stuff at night?"

"Sounds good. You got another beer hidden away somewhere?"

Charlie shook his head in disapproval, but pointed to the fridge. Don yanked open the fridge door and found another lone bottle of beer. It was going to take a long time to get up to his usual daily dose if Charlie kept rationing them out like this.

Opening up the beer, Don also found a plate of cold scrambled eggs with cheese. He stuck the plate in the microwave as he drank down his beer.

He turned back to see Charlie watching him.

"You seem… better this morning."

"Yeah, well…" Don said and gave a one shoulder shrug. He didn't want to look too closely at his mood. It felt as transitory as a soap bubble. "Whatcha working on?"

"Preparing a brutal beatdown of Professor Masterson's paper on K-Theory."

Don grinned. "You got nervous, didn't you? That she'd steal your students?"

Charlie mock-glared at him. "Impossible. But I need to make sure my rebuttal is air-tight. And in print. Milly isn't going to be happy about me publishing a rebuttal from our own department."

"But you're going to do it anyway?"

"Of course!" Charlie said, looking shocked. "It's… it's… bad math!"

Don laughed, then gasped at the pain in his ribs.

The microwave dinged and Don got out the plate. He balanced the hot plate and the beer while tucking the ice pack and towel under one arm. He shuffled over to a chair and sat down, groaning.

"Let me help you!" Charlie said, jumping up.

Don make a grunt of protest but let Charlie settle the ice pack into position, prop a pillow behind his back, and get a fork for his eggs.

"Can I get another, jailor?" Don asked, raising his empty beer bottle.

Charlie shook his head. "I've calculated the minimum amount necessary, based on body weight, consumption habits, and estimations of your liver toxicity load. You can have another with lunch."

"Sadist," Don grumbled and took a bite of his eggs.

"Think of it as an opportunity to cut back on your drinking."

Don had to chuckle. "Are you channeling Dad now? You sound just like him."

"Good. He's coming over for lunch."

Don suddenly found it hard to swallow. He forced down the eggs in his throat and said, "Today? I'm not up for…"

"He needs to see you, make sure you're okay."

"That's it?"

"Well, no," Charlie admitted. "He came over last night and I told him everything."

"Everything?"

"Not everything everything," Charlie said with a faint smile. "But everything else."

Don groaned and put down his plate. "He's going to be impossible."

"Maybe," Charlie said. "But you're going to have to face him sooner or later."

"I'd prefer later."

"What if I upped it to two beers for lunch?"

Don sighed. He was going to have to face his dad at some point. "It's a deal."

 

After finishing his eggs, Don went back into his bedroom and tried to doze in front of the TV, but he couldn't without the grogginess induced by the strong pain medications. He was left staring unseeing at the TV and thinking about how it was Colby's last day at work. He lay there, remembering Colby's strong body and forceful presence. He had taken charge, made Don feel amazing, and fucked him as much as he'd ever wanted to be fucked. How could he not love a man like that? 'Love' was just a relationship word anyway. It meant 'I want to be with you only.' It meant something different when said about family… or about beer or a sports team, for that matter. Colby had said he loved Don, he'd committed to being with Don only. It was Don that had busted that up.

Lying there, however, his mind clear of drugs and chronic lack of sleep, he was surprised to find that he wouldn't really miss Colby. He would miss how Colby took command, made his requirements clear, without games, and left Don never doubting he would get his ass-whore needs met. Don would miss that big cock, plowing so confidently into his ass, but… he wouldn't miss the spanking, the yelling, the bruises no one else could see. He wouldn't miss being woken in the middle of the night, being dragged into the office bathroom in the middle of the day. With Colby leaving, Don had lost all chance at ever having a long-term relationship - who else could be as loyal as triple-agent Colby Granger? - but he felt strangely free. He could lie in this bed and watch TV and have Charlie take care of him forever.

Don smiled to himself and closed his eyes.

As he finally drifted off to sleep, a thought flittered across his mind.

Charlie had said he loved him, too.


Chapter Text

Part 56: Don gets some surprises from his father

Don woke grumpy from his morning nap, disoriented, and in a lot of pain. Charlie fussed over him, muttering about risk analysis and drug interactions, but Don just growled for more Tylenol. After downing as many of the pills as Charlie would give him, Don took a shower. He couldn't help thinking of standing in the double-headed shower at the hotel, watching Charlie soap down his body. He had a hard-on, but wasn't sure his cock was healed enough yet, so he turned the water down cold and quickly finished up.

Used to how he did things in his own apartment, he walked back to his bedroom naked, toweling his hair. Charlie was in the bedroom, changing the sheets on his bed. The flash of pure lust on Charlie's face made Don's cock immediately stiffen. Charlie's eyes went to Don's cock, to his chest, then to his face. His lips parted and Don could only remember how it felt to kiss those lips, slide his cock into that eager mouth. They stood, frozen for a moment, then Charlie made a garbled sound and rushed out of the bedroom. Don watched him go, speaking sternly to himself about 'brotherly boundaries' and 'it can't happen again' and 'cool the fuck down.'

Don took his time getting dressed. He heard Charlie moving around in the kitchen. That reminded him that his father was coming over for lunch and his ardor immediately vanished. He went into the bathroom and shaved. He'd gotten good over the years at not looking himself in the eye as he did so.

Noises from the front room told him his father was here. He took a deep breath and went in.

Charlie was setting the table. Alan was in the kitchen with several bags of take-out food. He immediately set down the bags and came over to Don. He enveloped Don in a gentle hug.

"Oh, Don," Alan said huskily. "I am so proud of you."

"What?" Don stammered.

"You've gone through so much but you're still strong, a survivor."

"But…"

Alan stepped back, holding onto Don's hands. "There is nothing that you've done that you should feel shame or disgust for."

Don's knees felt weak. "But, Dad…"

Alan squeezed Don's hands. "Except for maybe thinking so little of your family that you would think you need to hide from us."

"But…"

"Okay," Alan said, letting go of Don's hands and turning back to the takeout bags. He was blinking quickly. "You know kebabs are best hot, so let's eat."

Feeling dazed, Don looked at the bags. "You went to Carousel?" It was a Middle Eastern restaurant in Hollywood, and sort of a Eppes family 'special occasion' restaurant.

"Yes, I got the beef and garlic kebobs, marinated chicken, lamb kebobs, the beef kebob that has yogurt sauce, a falafel plate, moussaka, lentil soup, and lots of pita bread." Alan took the bags over to the table and started unloading them. "A veal liver kebob, too, since Charlie said it was good for wound healing. Some hummus and that flavored feta cheese and some tabbouleh salad and that wonderful yogurt dip. What else… cabbage salad and pan-fried steak and those mini meat pies your mom used to love. And some baklava, of course."

"There's enough here to eat for a week," Don said faintly.

"Well, I have the feeling that you haven't been eating well for a while. So at least you can eat well for a week." Alan waved for Don to sit down at the table.

Don sat down and Charlie set a bottle of beer in front of him. Don reached for it gratefully. Alan opened the containers and started serving out the food. Don drank the whole beer without setting it down again. Charlie had promised him a second, after all.

After they'd eaten in silence for a few minutes, kababs really were best hot, Alan said, "I heard that Liz and David have been over. Said some nice things about you?"

Don nodded, swiping his pita bread through yogurt sauce.

"But you think they might just be humoring you?"

Don flushed but nodded again.

"Well, I can't imagine Liz or David humoring anyone. David would just not say anything, versus say what he didn't believe."

Don felt a small smile. That was true.

"And Liz, she doesn't take anything from anybody. I'm surprised that the Ross guy still has his spleen."

Don snorted.

"Or Colby," Alan added quietly.

Don looked down at his plate.

Alan continued, "I wish I could remove his spleen myself, for what he put you through. Then go back through all the men before that who did more of the same."

Don grimaced. Charlie had said something similar. Didn't they understand that Colby and all the other men where just giving Don what he asked for?

He pushed the yogurt around on his plate for a moment, before looking up and asking, point-blank, "Dad, did you know that Charlie first had sex with an adult when he was 13?"

Charlie gasped.

Alan put his hand on Charlie's arm. "Of course, I knew. Well, not at the time, but later."

"How much later?" Don demanded.

Alan frowned, but it was in thought. "Early twenties?" He turned to Charlie. "About then?"

Charlie nodded uncomfortably.

Don asked, "And it didn't bother you?"

"Of course it bothered me!" Alan snapped. "It bothered me a great deal! But Charlie got to a good place a helluva lot faster than you did!"

Don flinched and Alan reached out his hand.

"Sorry, sorry," Alan said. "It… I was horrified. And I've kept a close eye on Charlie's… romantic business since then." His voice softened. "I didn't know to look out for you."

Don shook his head. "I don't…" He was about to say that he didn't need looking out for, but that was patently untrue. Look at the state he was in.

Alan smiled one of his gentle smiles as if Don had said it anyway. "I felt so guilty when I learned what happened to Charlie at college."

"Dad!" Charlie protested. "I thought we'd been through this. It was consensual!"

Alan ignored him. "And I feel guilty now for not seeing what your situation was. Maybe because I never see you. Maybe you…" he glanced over at Charlie. "Maybe you could move home again, just for a little while."

"Dad…" Don groaned, though the thought wasn't as unpleasant as it might have been once.

"Just think about it," Alan said.

"Okay," Don grumbled. He eyed Charlie. "Don't you owe me a second beer?"

Charlie jumped up and went to get another beer.

"What's this?" Alan asked.

"I have to ration his beer," Charlie said. He opened it up and put it in front of Don. "He needs to be, I believe the phrase is, 'dried out.'"

Growling, Don grabbed for the beer.

"Now?" Alan said. "Do you think that's wise?"

Don pointed the beer bottle at Alan. "Listen to him."

"It's an opportunity," Charlie said. "Since he can't drink on the prescription pain medications."

"What about the non-prescription ones?"

Charlie replied, taking about metabolizing enzymes and Don tuned them out and focused on his beer.

It was Colby's last afternoon in the L.A. Field office. Did the office throw him a farewell party, like they usually did? Did Liz and David attend? Did people wonder why Don didn't come? Did everyone stand around and smile, pretending that there was nothing strange about Colby's exit? Was there cake?

Don smiled faintly to himself and reached for more mini meat pies.

After they'd all eaten more than they imagined they could, Don iced his ribs while Charlie and Alan cleaned up.

"Dad, can you stay for a while?" Charlie asked.

"Sure," Alan said. "Why?"

"I need to… run an errand." Charlie's voice was a little strange, but he was turned away from Don so he couldn't see his face.

"No problem. When can he have his next dose of Tylenol? Or beer?"

Charlie laid out the timeline for medicine. No more beer for now, however, which was disappointing to Don but not surprising. Charlie then quickly picked up his car keys and left, as if he was afraid people would ask him about his errand.

Alan turned to Don with a smile. He rubbed his hands together. "Alright. You look like a captive audience. How about some chess?"

Chapter Text

Part 57: Charlie shares his thoughts -

As Charlie rode up in the elevator to the FBI office, he desperately ran the numbers on everything he could think of. He calculated the odds that the elevator would drop, the physical effects on his body, the acoustical patterns of the noise that the elevator would make as it hit bottom, the likely behavioral reactions and how long it would take for the responders to figure out what happened. Anything to avoid thinking about what he was about to do.

When the elevator door opened, he put a smile on his face then walked through a gauntlet of questioners. He fielded queries about Don's health, when Don would be back, what they could do for revenge against Ross and James, if he could help on a case, on and on, his smile fixed into place. He calculated the best route to his destination and kept moving in spite of everyone's efforts to waylay him.

He walked into a far conference room without knocking. David, Liz and Colby turned to him in surprise.

"Don okay?" Liz asked.

"Yes, Dad's there." He turned to Colby. "May I speak with you privately?"

Colby raised his eyebrows. "What about?"

"It's personal," Charlie said. He hoped that the smile was still fixed on his face, but he wasn't sure.

David and Liz stood up.

"We'll be right outside," Liz said and David nodded.

They went out and shut the door.

Colby turned to Charlie. Charlie opened his mouth… but nothing came out. All of the things he wanted to say to Colby choked his throat. His chest felt tight with anger.

"Do you have something to say to me?" Colby asked coolly.

"I have a lot to say to you," Charlie said at last.

Colby waited, arms folded. Charlie couldn't get his words together. He'd spent so long thinking about this moment that he was overwhelmed.

Finally, Colby shrugged and began to turn away.

Charlie's words broke free. "I thought you were such a hero. I thought that you a good man. Little did I know that you were an abusive bastard."

Colby's face went red. "What did you say?"

"You are an abusive bastard," Charlie repeated. "You abused Don repeatedly."

"I never-"

"I saw the blood, I saw the bruises. Did it thrill you to injure someone who you knew wouldn't fight back?"

Colby glared at him. "Of course Don would fight back, if he needed to, but he didn't. He agreed to the requirements of our relationship. When he broke the rules, he took the punishment. He understood."

"For a year, you broke him down, tortured him-"

"Tortured?" Colby snapped. "What the hell?"

"Sleep deprivation is a very effective psychological tool. Add to that constantly requiring him to sexually perform, regardless of his desire, and what would you call it?"

"You don't know what you're talking about. Don has a strong sex drive. There was never anything that he didn't agree to."

"Agree to…" Charlie's mouth twisted. "He can't not agree. He can't say 'no.'"

"That's crazy."

"If you had tried to learn anything at all about Don, you'd have found out that Don has been coerced and abused most of his adult life."

Colby's eyes narrowed. "What?"

"It's not mine to explain, but suffice it to say that he was trained that he can never say no. Because of his sexual preferences, men like you think he's garbage, and treat him that way. And God knows that he thinks you're right."

"I never treated him like garbage. I…respect Don."

"You can hardly say it. Because you don't respect him at all. He's a bottom so you think he deserves to be abused."

"Stop staying 'abuse.' I never-"

"You left him and he fell apart. Does that make you happy? It's a textbook abusive situation. He tried everything to please you, but you made every little mistake his fault. You told him you loved him and he tried so hard to make you happy, but nothing was ever good enough. He never cheated on you, for a year, until he was so damaged and defeated then he was put in a situation…" Charlie stopped himself and added quickly. "He told me about it on our getaway." He clenched his hands into fists and continued, "He was put in a situation that would tempt a saint and he gave in and you used it to justify every single horrible thing you'd ever done to him. You destroyed him and left him, which is his greatest fear, so he went to a man who he thought could at least give him some comfort but he didn't keep him safe from this other man who flat out beat him up, and I'm picking him up at a strange hotel and taking him to a hospital because yet another man thought he was worth nothing."

Colby eyed him. "He didn't get jumped?"

"In a way, but he didn't fight back because you and every other man Don has ever been with had trained him to believe that he deserved the abuse, because of a simple sexual preference."

Colby looked at him for a moment, then said, "It's not just a 'simple sexual preference,' it's a mindset-"

"It fucking is not!" Charlie shouted. He looked around and lowered his voice. His words came out harsh and hot. "You're a sexual predator. You saw a man who you could use, could control, and you loved it. It was only when Don actually tried to stand up to you that you decided to get out."

"You don't know what you're talking about," Colby snapped. "Don is sick and he infects others around him-"

"It doesn't matter what excuse you make. The bottom line is that you're a coward and insanely jealous and you took a man you claimed to love and destroyed him." Charlie was shaking with fury. "You might be leaving here, but you can't run away from what you are, what you did. I hope that you don't find another man at Quantico and do the same to him but odds are that you will and I hope to God that he has people who love him like Don does to try to put him back together."

Colby held up his hands. "Charlie, I'm not-"

"Just shut up," Charlie snapped. "Get the hell out of here and leave us to pick up the pieces. Never come back."

Colby started to say something else, but Charlie turned and ran out of the room. He rushed towards the elevator and everyone got out of his way. The elevator door opened as he got there. He pushed his way into the crowd in the elevator and stood against the back wall, breathing heavily. He closed his eyes. His stomach was churning, his heart racing, and his whole body was shaking so hard that he felt like he was vibrating.

He thought he would feel better after confronting Colby. He thought he would feel strong and vindicated and pleased to see Colby forced to listen to the truth. Instead he felt sick.

Someone asked him if he was okay and he nodded his head without opening his eyes. There was silence then, as if the group in the elevator assumed that since he had just come from the FBI office that he had witnessed something terrible.

He had.

He'd wanted to hurt and hurt Colby for what he'd done to Don, but he hadn't even made an impression. Colby no doubt still considered himself the victim in the situation, and if he found another man like Don at Quantico, would start the whole thing over again. Nothing Charlie had said had made one bit of difference. He'd said terrible things, told Colby secrets about Don, and failed miserably in his attempt to change things.

No.

He'd failed with Colby, but not with Don. Colby didn't matter. Don was all that mattered, and there was still hope there.

He opened his eyes. Several people quickly looked away. He shoved his shaking hands in his pockets and stared up at the ceiling. He needed to pull himself together. Don couldn't know that he confronted Colby, said things that would embarrass Don if he knew. Charlie had come here for selfish reasons, to vent his own anger, and it had been a mistake.

He was going to have to start running every decision through the filter of 'does it help Don?' And if it didn't, regardless of what it cost Charlie, he wasn't going to do it.

No one had put Don first for his whole life, and that was going to change.

Chapter Text

Part 58: Don jumps to conclusions and Charlie ignores the math

Don and his father were dozing in front of The African Queen when Charlie returned. Don loved the Hepburn and Bogart movie and it had been ages since he saw it, but he seemed so tired these days. It was like his body was trying to make up for a year's worth of sleep deprivation, now that he knew he was safe.

Safe…

Don had been contemplating that thought, the safe feeling he had when his family was nearby and Colby was gone, when Charlie came through the door.

Charlie was carrying some books and claimed to have just gone by his office at school, but his cheeks were flushed and his eyes wouldn't meet Don's. Don realized that the real 'errand' was that Charlie had snuck off to meet a lover. Don's mood plummeted. Charlie had needs that Don obviously couldn't meet, so it made sense. Still, Don was trying to be honest with himself so he acknowledged the raging jealousy that swept through him. Would to God that things were different and he could be the one in Charlie's gentle arms. Did this lover make the same connection with Charlie that Don did? No, Don knew that their connection was unique - and in the past.

Don snapped at Charlie for being gone so long. Charlie was immediately solicitous, inquiring after his pain levels, which made Don snap some more. Finally, it was Alan who got Don his pain medication and hustled him to bed. As Don waited for the pain medication to knock him out, he was haunted by images from his imagination of Charlie naked in bed, Charlie panting in ecstasy, Charlie driving his cock into a willing ass - all with a man who looked suspiciously like Colby. Don groaned and covered his head with a pillow until he could find refuge in sleep.

 

The rest of his enforced week off flew by. He was never alone - his father, Charlie, or David and Liz there. Charlie left a few times to go into work, but as far as Don could tell, he didn't go see his lover again, which Don was grateful for. Don's body healed rapidly, a fact which Charlie ascribed to his excellent care and Don couldn't disagree. They shared a bed every night, a wall of pillows between them. He saw his regular doctor, a woman who he'd been going to for years, and she read him the riot act about taking care of himself in general. She did give him the good news that his ribs seemed to be only cracked and not broken, but warned him that he needed to treat them carefully regardless. Charlie sat through the whole appointment, taking notes. The doctor didn't comment on Charlie's presence, but gave him a quick hug and murmured in his ear as they left. Charlie wouldn't say what the doctor said, but Don thought it was likely another admonition to take care of his wayward brother. Don had grouched at Charlie all the way home.

Then it was suddenly the night before the day Don was to return to work. It had been agreed that Charlie would return to his home tomorrow as well, though Don would be checked on often. Things would go back to normal, though they never could.

Don lay in bed and stared at the ceiling. His whip wounds and bruises had healed, so there was little evidence of what had really happened. He wondered if his coworkers believed the story that David had concocted. What would people think about him now? Would they treat him like glass, like a victim? He was able to look back now at the last year and realize how he'd let Colby take over his team. If he was a member of his team and his boss had behaved like Don had, Don would have no confidence in him either. Maybe it was the time for David to take over the team and for Don to fade into the background, complete the work that Colby had been doing.

Don shivered, though it wasn't cold. He had no confidence in himself. The last year had stripped away Don's illusions about his strength and leadership abilities. Tomorrow would be the test, to see if he really could return to the FBI, or if he'd be turning in his resignation and looking for work as a prostitute.

He lay in the dark, unable to sleep. He needed a beer, a little bit of liquid courage to…

No, what he needed was on the other side of a wall of pillows.

He needed that magic, understanding touch, just one more time. After tonight, Charlie would be gone and Don would start trying to put his life back together, in some ways back how things were before Colby but with a new understanding of his own weakness. He needed something to sustain him, just to get him through tomorrow.

He began removing the pillows.

Once he tossed them off his side of the bed, he just looked at Charlie for a moment. There was enough moonlight coming in the window that he could see him clearly. His brother was so familiar, so Charlie, that the sex they shared seemed almost unreal.

But his body remembered.

His pulse was already racing, his skin tingling. He carefully scooted closer and touched Charlie's shoulder.

"Wuh?" Charlie grumbled.

"Charlie," Don murmured.

Charlie's eyes blinked open. "Wuh?"

"Charlie," Don said again, squeezing Charlie's shoulder.

Charlie made a visible effort to wake up. "S'thing wrong? You okay?"

"Charlie…" Don ran his hand up Charlie's neck and over his scratchy cheek. He touched Charlie's lips.

Charlie's eyes widened and he suddenly looked wide awake. "Don? Are you sure?"

"If my ribs will hold up."

"But I… I'm not sure it's indicated for you. As much as I want it, the odds are that such an act will have a deleterious effect on you, if we use a probability density function with absolutely continuous univariate distribution that..."

Charlie stopped and stared at Don for a long moment.

"Screw the math," Charlie said hoarsely.

Don laughed in surprise and relief.

Quickly Charlie moved closer to Don. "I should probably do all the work. Let me know if your ribs bother you."

Then his lips were on Don's and their bodies were pressed together and it felt so good.

Charlie's hands lightly cupped Don's face but his lips and tongue were hungry. Don responded in kind, his hands running down Charlie's side. Charlie sat up and stripped off his shirt. He tugged on Don to do the same. After Don got off his shirt, Charlie encouraged him to lay on his back. Charlie propped his head up on one hand and ran his hand down Don's healed skin.

Charlie said softly, "When I saw those marks on your body, I've never felt so angry…or so helpless."

"Charlie…"

"I know," Charlie said with a crooked smile. "Less talk, more action."

Don smiled back gratefully. He didn't want to think right now.

Charlie leaned over and began to kiss and awaken the skin on Don's chest. He managed to be both gentle enough not to hurt Don's ribs but firm enough to make him tingle. Don buried one hand in Charlie's hair and gave himself over to the unhurried way that Charlie made love to him.

Or was this the way Charlie did it with everyone? Was the man that Charlie saw a week ago also the recipient of this slow-building lovemaking?

"Did that hurt?" Charlie asked and Don realized he'd tightened his hand in Charlie's hair into a fist. He forced his hand to relax.

"Naw," Don said. "Just my damn brain again."

"If you're still having coherent thoughts, I'm not doing my job."

Don smiled, because he knew what was coming next. And indeed, Charlie began to slowly but surely take him apart.

He sucked on Don's left nipple while his fingers caressed Don's lips and slid into his mouth. He went over Don's hip with a near-ticklish touch. His fingernails scraped across Don's stomach. His lips returned to Don's for a long kiss then he would move away again. Don kept one hand in Charlie's hair and stroked whatever part of Charlie he could reach with the other.

Soon Don was breathing hard and his untouched cock was aching. Charlie braced himself on his elbows over Don, their chests lightly touching but their lower bodies rubbing together.

Charlie looked down at him, and his pupils were dark with arousal. "Don…"

He didn't say anything else, just leaned down carefully to kiss Don. Still, it was too much pressure on Don's ribs and he grunted. Charlie immediately propped himself up again.

He watched Don's face as he slowly rubbed his groin against Don's. Through the layers of clothing, Don could feel the heat and hardness of Charlie's cock. He ran his hands up Charlie's arms and enjoyed their trembling and strength.

Don's breath hitched as his cock began to throb in warning.

That was all the communication that Charlie needed. With a smile, he rolled off of Don. He got undressed the rest of the way, then stripped Don carefully. Charlie caressed Don's skin as it was revealed. Don felt his orgasm backing off and he sighed in relief. Charlie took such good care of him.

Charlie began to kiss and explore Don's entire body, except his cock. It was like Charlie was reclaiming his body from the injuries. He looked up at Don, rubbing his cheek against Don's thigh. His smile… Don got the distinct feeling that Charlie was reclaiming Don's body for Don. That he was taking it back from Ross and James and even Colby and handing back to him.

Don shivered. Charlie's generosity and caring in sex was sometimes overwhelming. And terrifying.

Once again, Charlie read his thoughts and moved towards a more direct approach. He licked a stripe up Don's cock. Don shivered again, this time in arousal. Charlie started to work on Don's cock and balls, with a sure touch. Don tried not to begrudge every man whose cock had been in Charlie's mouth to gain such skill. Charlie's tongue knew every hot spot and teased it mercilessly. Charlie's mouth also warmed Don's balls. Don loved watching that familiar head between his legs.

When Don again found himself nearing orgasm, he didn't have to say anything. Charlie sat up and wiped his mouth. Then he gently pushed Don's knees up and to the side. "Does this hurt?"

"Uh, no," Don managed through his haze of arousal.

Nodding, Charlie openly admired Don's exposed asshole and the cock and balls above it. He slowly leaned in and licked Don's ass cheeks. He nipped at the cheeks then teased Don's asshole with his tongue. He pushed Don's knees up farther and began to rim him in earnest. Don just held onto the bed and panted as Charlie's tongue worked his hole in a way no one else had ever done. Over his harsh breathing, he could hear Charlie's hums of enjoyment.

Just when Don thought he'd come from that alone, Charlie raised his head. His eyes looked glazed, like when he was doing math, but this time the problem he was breaking into pieces was Don.

Charlie eased Don's legs back down. Don took the chance to take a few deep breaths as Charlie rinsed out his mouth and got some lube. Charlie returned to lift one knee up and with the other hand, ease one finger into Don's ass. Don shifted his muscles and welcomed the new intruder. Charlie slowly rubbed Don's prostate as he kissed and nuzzled Don's thighs. Then he leaned down and licked his cock again. Don gasped and whimpered, but he didn't worry about coming now - Charlie knew what Don really needed.

After a long moment where Charlie brought Don again to the edge, Charlie removed his finger and sat up. He wiped his mouth then came around one side of the bed.

"Can you lay on your side comfortably?" Charlie asked, his voice both dreamy and eager.

Don carefully turned on his side. Charlie got on his knees next to Don's head. Don didn't need any encouragement to take Charlie's cock into his mouth. He cupped Charlie's balls in one hand and sucked Charlie's cock thoroughly. Charlie moaned and gripped Don's hair.

Don backed off and then started again, returning the favor of bringing Charlie to the edge over and over.

Finally, Charlie jerked away, gasping. He smiled and shook his head.

He came around the other side of the bed and Don shivered in anticipation.

Charlie lay down behind Don, and kissed his back and neck for a moment. He relubed Don's ass, probably more to give himself a break then Don needing it after that thorough warmup.

Then his cock was pressing into him and Don had to bite his lip at the surge of happiness. Charlie pushed all the way in, then he just held there a few breaths.

"I love you," Charlie whispered against Don's neck.

Before Don could frame a reply, Charlie began to move.

His arms wrapped around Don and his chest pressed to Don's back. Don breathed out shakily. This is what he had needed. He willed the moment to sink into his bones, fill him with enough confidence to carry him through tomorrow and beyond. Charlie's hair tickled his neck, his cheek rested against the back of Don's head, and the fingers of one hand entwined with Don's hands. Don heard that odd breathing pattern and the constant stream of numbers that Don had learned helped Charlie's stamina.

Charlie thrust into him for a long, beautiful oasis of time. Don held onto Charlie's hands and wished for just a little bit longer.

Too soon, Charlie untangled his fingers from Don's and wrapped that hand around Don's aching cock. He held it lightly, so that Charlie's thrusts made Don's cock slide in Charlie's hand. Charlie kept to his steady thrusts until Don started to tremble. Then Charlie gripped Don's cock more firmly and began to thrust harder.

Somehow they came at the same perfectly timed moment, riding their orgasms together into joint oblivion.

They slowed together, their combined harsh breathing filling the room. They lay, joined, for a long moment.

Finally, Charlie took a breath and Don tried not to tense.

"I love you, Don," Charlie said again, his voice taut with emotion. "I need you to understand this - I love you and I will always love you, in whatever shape or form that you need me to. I know that this has to be it, for your sake."

Don's throat tightened. He didn't want this to be the end, but he knew Charlie was right.

"I love you and there isn't…" Charlie stopped and cleared his throat. "There isn't anything you can do to change that. I respect you and I always will. You can always call me, count on me. I might be moving back home, but things have changed. Not just because of…this, but because… because I'm paying attention now, finally."

Don reached down and entwined his fingers with Charlie's cum-covered hand. "I suck at saying 'thank you,' but thank you."

Charlie laughed softly and squeezed his hand. "Grab a blanket?"

Don reached over with his free hand and pulled a blanket up over them. They cuddled more tightly together. Don sighed. Now that he didn't want to sleep, he felt sleep coming. His body just felt too good, too relaxed and sated. He reached for Charlie's hand and closed his eyes.

At least tonight, they wouldn't be separated.


Chapter Text

Part 59: Don goes back to the office

As Don rode the elevator up to his office, he tried to keep close the memory of waking up in Charlie's arms. If he strained, he could still feel Charlie's warm skin, still smell Charlie's unique scent of fancy shampoo and white-board markers. They hadn't made love this morning, just held each other for a long time. Then slowly, wordlessly, Don had gotten out of bed and gotten ready for work. Charlie had just watched him.

Don didn't recognize anyone in the elevator, which wasn't abnormal for the busy office building, but it still made him nervous. Had things changed while he was gone? It had just been a week and he'd been in touch with Liz and David the whole time. Still, the edginess managed to chase away the last bit of Charlie-induced calmness.

The door opened and Don forced himself to walk out the door. The first few people that he met smiled and nodded 'hello' then went on with their business. That settled Don more than a great fanfare of return. He relaxed and nodded to people as he walked through the office. He got a few comments of welcome and a few more that they hoped he was feeling better. He reached his desk, feeling okay…

Then he saw Colby's empty desk. His shoulder's tightened as he looked at the desk of the man who had come to dominate his world. It had been cleared off, like a military man would leave it. It still shocked Don that Colby hadn't even made a cursory 'goodbye.' Not even a text as he headed out of town. Don expected that he'd never see Colby again, and dammit, he still wasn't completely sure that was a good thing. What if a relationship like the one he had with Colby was the only one he was capable of? Where was he going to find another keeper?

"Hey, welcome back, boss," David said at his elbow.

Don jumped and gave David a lopsided smile. "Good morning."

David nodded his head in the direction of the empty desk. "Got a pile of résumés on your desk for when you're ready."

Don's smile went a little more lopsided and David pretended not to notice. He started talking about the case that Don had given him leads on when he was out. The foster brother lead had panned out and they'd caught the fugitive bank robber. They'd even made progress on the missing loot by following Don's idea about a panel van. David emphasized how Don was being given major credit for breaking the case. Don nodded gratefully. He knew his reputation could use a win right now.

"Welcome back," Liz said, patting him lightly on the shoulder. "How's the ribs?"

"Improved. But I'm still not cleared for field duty."

"That's fine," Liz said cheerfully. "We have pleeenty of paperwork for you to do."

Don gave a perfunctory groan, but mind-numbing paperwork was just what he needed right now. Except for résumés.

"People around here have come up with some pretty devious plans to get back at Ross and James," Liz said. "Most of them illegal, but it's been fun to see."

Don nodded. He hoped that Liz hadn't noticed his flinch when she'd said those names. He was going to have to work on that too-telling reaction.

"How's Charlie?" Liz asked.

"He's fine. Probably happy to stop playing nursemaid." Don sat down at his desk and surveyed the pile of folders.

"Charlie looked pretty shaken up when I last saw him. Of course, he didn't look as shaken up as Colby."

"Hmm?"

"Colby looked about two inches tall," Liz said with a satisfied smile. "Didn't know he had it in him."

Don turned to face her. "What are you talking about?"

"Charlie. His conversation with Colby the day he left."

Don felt a chill. "Charlie came here?"

Liz frowned. "He didn't tell you?" At Don's headshake, Liz continued, "He came in here, asked for a private moment with Colby, then, well, we couldn't hear but it really looked like he took Colby down a bunch of notches." Liz gave a low laugh. "Served the bastard right."

Don stared at her. The time last week when he thought Charlie had gone to see a lover, Charlie had come to the office to talk to Colby? He was glad he was sitting down. He felt light-headed.

"What did he say?"

"Don't know. But it was pretty obvious - obvious to David and me - that it was about you and Colby's treatment of you."

David, who'd been standing silently by, said, "Never seen Charlie go attack dog before."

"Yeah…" Don said faintly. He'd seen all sorts of unexpected sides of Charlie lately.

At a thought, Don frowned. "I presume other people were watching."

"Of course, this place is a fish bowl," Liz replied.

"And they thought?"

Liz gave him a wry smile. "The general belief around the office is that Charlie and Colby were lovers and Charlie was mad at him leaving. That Colby wanted to continue the relationship long-distance but Charlie turned him down flat."

Don blinked. "Nothing… about me?"

"Nope," Liz said. "You're in the clear."

Don felt relieved and strangely disappointed all at once. His emotions were all jumbled up these days.

"In fact," Liz said, giving David a little wink. "Somehow the rumor got started that you engineered the transfer for Colby, since he'd become quite an ass lately."

Don blinked several times. Then he had to blink again and look away as he realized that David and Liz were already working to repair the damage he'd done to the team, and to the whole office.

"Thanks," he mumbled.

"No problem," Liz said brightly. "We're glad you're back because we saved the worst paperwork just for you." She took a pile of files off her desk and set it next to Don with a flourish.

Don had to laugh and the awkward moment passed. Liz leaned against her desk and started talking about the latest case. David chimed in with information and quickly, more quickly than Don could have imagined, they got back into the old comfortable rhythms. The rhythms that had been missing for a long time.

Maybe Don wouldn't have to quit his job and become a prostitute after all.

Chapter Text

Part 60: Charlie has a job interview

Charlie was sitting at a coffee shop, gripping his tea, and trying not to hate the man he was waiting to meet.

It wasn't like Alexei was a stranger. Alexei Kozlov was one of Charlie's oldest friends. Alexei's dad and Alan Eppes used to work together and Charlie had known Alexei since they were kids. They'd even dated for a while. When their parents had learned that Alexei and Charlie were both gay, their parents had even encouraged them to date. It was probably this encouragement that meant it was years later before they tried it out.

Charlie took a sip of his tea and made a face. He'd gotten blackberry tea, which he hated. He didn't know why he'd ordered it. He'd stood in line and scanned the coffee shop menu. When he'd seen the blackberry tea, he'd noted that it was the one thing he didn't want and looked on. But when the barista had asked for his order, somehow 'blackberry tea' had come out. He was sure there was a psychological reason but he was too anxious to think about it.

Charlie and the man he was meeting definitely would have dated earlier if their parents hadn't pushed, because Alexei was very much Charlie's type. Alexei was a steady-cam operator for a local documentary company, a job which required steady nerves and significant upper body strength to carry the heavy cameras. He kept his physique by being a serious weekend warrior in any sport he could. He loved sports and his chiseled body reflected that.

Not that Alexei couldn't talk about anything but sports. He had gotten a film degree at one of the top film colleges in the nation, American Film Institute in LA, and many of the documentaries that he ran the camera for he was also the director and editor. He was also a regular at various CalSci public lecture series, including Charlie's math ones.

Charlie sipped at his tea again, grimacing automatically. He'd seen Alexei at one of his lectures a few days ago, and he had been happy to see him. Now, he hated- no, he didn't hate him.

Alexei was a good guy, full of wry humor and easygoing attitude, a vocal advocate for gay and other civil rights without being pedantic. His family was Russian and he had the light eyes and symmetrical features of classic Russians. The sex? The sex had been amazing. In fact, that's why Charlie hadn't thought of him in his first mental rundown of men. Charlie had chastised himself when he realized that he'd classified Alexei as 'bottom'. Charlie had remembered that Alexei was a switch and one of the reasons that they'd decided to go their separate ways was that Alexei was realizing that he preferred topping. Charlie had done it for Alexei a few times before they decided, as much as they liked each other, they weren't really compatible and wasn't that spark.

Little did Charlie know at the time that he couldn't be in love with Alexei because he'd already been in love with someone his whole life - his brother.

Charlie's grip on his tea relaxed as his mind wandered happily to the sex with Don just a week ago. He'd been woken by Don in the best of ways, and had the sweetest, most wonderful Goodbye sex he'd ever had. If he concentrated, he could still remember how Don tasted and smelled.

"Charlie!"

Charlie jumped guiltily and looked up into the blue eyes of Alexei Kozlov.

"Hey, Alexei."

"I hope you were thinking about me," Alexei said as he slid into a chair across the table from Charlie. "Because you had the dreamiest smile on your face…"

"Thinking about math, of course," Charlie said with a forced laugh. "You know me."

"I do," Alexei said. "Which is why I was surprised by this coffee date."

"Oh, it's not a date…" Charlie stammered. "I'm sorry if you…"

"Chill," Alexei laughed. "I'm just teasing. I know you and me aren't gonna happen."

"Are you seeing anyone?" Charlie asked.

"Whoa," Alexei's eyebrows shot up. "Right to the point. Maybe this isn't a date… but a job interview?"

Charlie flushed. He'd planned on easing into the question, but the answer to it would determine the rest of the conversation, so… "Maybe. You seeing someone?"

"No," Alexei's eyes were bright with curiosity. "You have someone in mind?"

"Maybe," Charlie said again. "But it's a… difficult job to fill."

"How so?"

"Well, I…have a friend. He's smart, funny, gorgeous, active, loyal."

"But?"

"But he's been hurt. A lot. I didn't know until recently how much. He's bi and hasn't been in a relationship with a man where…"

Alexei waited with interest.

"He's got some damaging ideas about how he should expect to be treated because he's a…" Charlie leaned closer then finished. "A bottom."

Alexei looked surprised then his face darkened and he began to nod. "Let me guess, he's also in the closet."

"Yes."

"Yeah, I've seen that before. Some men have pretty - what did you say? - damaging ideas about that. They're usually pretty messed up. A guy would have to be very special to even think of taking that baggage on."

"He is," Charlie said fervently.

Alexei's eyebrows shot up. "They why don't you go out with him? You trying to find a boyfriend for an ex? Someone you decided wasn't worth it?"

Charlie shook his head. "I can't date him."

"Why not? Because he's in the closet?"

Charlie sighed. That was the question that tormented him. He took a sip of his hated tea then answered, "Because it's Don."

Alexei's eyes flew wide open. "Don?"

Charlie shushed him and looked about the coffee shop. "Yes."

"Don. Your brother. Is Gay."

"Bi-sexual. I just learned it recently."

"Whoa…" Then the rest of what Charlie had been saying caught up to Alexei. "He's that messed up?"

Words of explanation and anger tried to tumble out of Charlie's mouth, but he mostly held them back and said carefully, "From my understanding, Don hasn't had any sexual relationships with men that weren't… hierarchical."

"Meaning tops who treated him like dirt. Dammit."

Charlie steeled himself. "Are you interested?"

"Interested? Damn, Charlie, you know I've had a crush on your brother since we were kids. He's everything you say, and more. One of the world's true Good Guys. I would have chased after him years ago if I thought there was a chance!"

"Even with his issues?"

"Hell, yea, maybe even more. I'd love to show him how a real man is in bed. Not those bastards he's been dating."

Charlie smiled faintly. He'd wanted the exact same thing, showing Don how good sex with a loving man could be. Even if the showing did backfire on them both, Charlie took some small solace in knowing that he was Don's first real lover.

"So Don's in the closet," Alexei said. "How are we going to get him to agree to a first date?"

Chapter Text

Part 61: Charlie looks for strength, Don needs beer

Don pulled into the driveway of his family's house and found that his heart was pounding. It had been two and a half weeks since he'd last seen Charlie, since their last amazing, soul-filling sex. They hadn't talked since Don had left to return to work that morning, and Charlie had moved his things out by the time Don got home. It wasn't unusual for them to go that long without talking, but it had felt like forever. It didn't help that everything in his apartment still smelled like Charlie, and that Don could still remember how he tasted.

It was just as well that he'd been alone when he got the text from Charlie, inviting him for supper tonight. Don didn't have to explain the huge smile that came to his face. He was still on desk duty at work, though his ribs were almost healed. He could even dress himself without wincing. Pretty soon he'd be able to get his gun back and be a full member of his team again. He needed the action to keep his mind off Charlie. And Colby as well, he had to admit. There were a lot of holes in his team that he had to fill and he'd thought more than once that maybe he and Colby could have worked it out. That thought usually only lasted a brief second before he shot it down, but he always felt guilty and pathetic for the thought. It felt like a betrayal of Charlie too, in some way, after all the work that Charlie had done to salvage him from Colby.

Maybe Charlie hadn't even wanted to see Don tonight, but had felt obligated to invite him. Alan was having some old family friends over and it would have looked weird if Don hadn't been there. Though they could have always claimed that Don was too busy at work.

Charlie might have invited Don because they wouldn't be alone. Charlie might think that it would be nice to have a barrier between him and his brother. Don was a sex fiend, after all, and who knows how he'd behave around a man who'd given him the most fulfilling sex that he'd ever had? Charlie knew full well that Don couldn't control himself.

It might be a little awkward, but at least, the Kozlovs were old friends - the father was a former co-worker and pal of Alan, the mother had been a close friend with Margaret, and their son was right in between Don and Charlie's age. Alexei, the son, and Charlie had even dated for a while. Their parents had been bummed that it didn't last, but there weren't any bad feelings between Alexei and Charlie, as far as Don could tell.

Don closed his eyes and sighed at the rush of jealousy that the thought of Alexei and Charlie together gave him. He had no right to be jealous of any of Charlie's lovers. Charlie didn't belong to him. That didn't mean Don wasn't as envious as hell, though.

Shaking his head, Don reached for the six-pack of high-alcohol beer that he'd brought. If he couldn't have sex with Charlie, he at least could get drunk in his company.

 

Charlie had been puttering around the kitchen for an hour, driving his father crazy.

"Just go do some equations to calm down," Alan said in exasperation. "If you make a big deal out of this, you're going to ruin everyone's evening."

Charlie fiddled with a spatula, a portion of his brain mapping the geometries and devising food-friction ratio analysis. He hadn't told Alan about his plan to get Alexei and Don together. It almost hurt to say it out loud.

Instead, Charlie said, "We haven't seen him for weeks. How is he going to feel with us seeing him at his lowest?" And Alan hadn't even seen the worst of it.

"We're going to remind him that we're his family, regardless of what happens," Alan said firmly. "He probably needs a sense of normalcy, that we still love him, even with learning about… his problems. The Kozlovs don't know anything about it, other than he got into an argument and got some busted ribs. They don't need to know and so you and I need to act like everything is fine."

Charlie nodded, though Alexei knew more than Alan realized. He hadn't told Alexei a lot of specifics about anything, but had told him about Don's history of abusive boyfriends and that the ribs were just another in a line of abuses. It wasn't entirely accurate, but close enough. Maybe it would give Alexei a bit of a white knight mentality, but Don needed that right now. He needed someone to cherish him, care for him, and give him amazing fucking. Since Charlie wasn't allowed to do it, Alexei was going to have to do.

Charlie's fingers squeezed tight around the spatula as he was overcome with a rush of anger at the unfairness of society. Antiquated taboos were forcing him to pass his ultimate partner on to another man. He was going to have to create and foster a relationship for Alexei that he wanted for himself. There was no one in the universe that was more right for Don then Charlie Eppes was.

The wave of anger passed, though, and he released the spatula and took a deep breath. He was going to take care of Don the only way society would allow - by finding him the right boyfriend. If he and Alexei didn't connect, then Charlie would look further. If he and Alexei did work out, Charlie would find a way to be happy for them.

And if Alexei turned out not to be the caring man that Charlie thought he was, then there would be nowhere Alexei could hide from his revenge. He wasn't going to let one more man abuse Don.

Nodding firmly, Charlie went to see if the table was set.

Chapter Text

Part 62: Don gets an unexpected offer

Later in the evening, his belly full of his Dad's lasagna, Mrs. Kozlov's strudel, and surprisingly only one beer, Don sat in the sun room, his feet up on the coffee table. It was comforting to be in the family home, even after all these years. It always gave him a sense of peace. He shouldn't let tension between him and Charlie keep him away from this place.

And tension there had been. All through supper, Charlie had been barely able to look at him. Charlie had fobbed it off by saying his mind was on a math paper he was working on, but Don knew the real reason. Don was saddened to realize that he and Charlie's relationship wasn't going to recover from the double whammy of Don's disastrous choices and their mutual attraction. Don had hoped but… he should have known better. It wasn't strange that Charlie couldn't stand to look at him.

Don looked at the glass of lemonade he was holding. Why wasn't it beer? Why did it matter if he went back to being a drunk if he'd lost Charlie? In the two weeks since Charlie had moved back out, Don hadn't gone back to his old dozen beers a day habit. He wasn't quite sure why, but maybe it had to do honoring Charlie's wishes, even if Charlie hadn't known.

Don thought back to the moment in the hotel room when he'd realized that Colby was going to separate him from Charlie. That to be with Colby meant sacrificing all his other relationships. That he would not only be a prisoner of Colby and his jealousy, but Colby would make sure that he was cut off from Charlie completely. His greatest fear was that he would never see Charlie again, that he would be gone… like his mother. Gone.

Don realized he was shaking. He really needed a beer, or twenty. He was going to get the rest of the high-alcohol beers he'd brought, go home, and drink himself into oblivion.

"Hey, here you are."

Don blinked and looked up into the familiar face of Alexei Kozlov.

"Oh, hey, Alexei," Don said. "Did you bring me a beer?"

"The fresh-squeezed lemonade is really good," Alexei said, holding up his own glass. "But I can get you a beer if you want."

Don sighed. "Forget it. I shouldn't."

"Big day tomorrow?"

"Trying to cut back," Don said. "Works been really stressful lately and…" He shrugged.

"Sorry to hear that," Alexei said. "Makes my documentary about the history of gay clubs in LA seem pretty trivial."

"Naw, sounds interesting. My day to day is so full of scum of the earth, it's nice to hear about some good things that happen around here."

"Oh, there are some scumbags in the film too," Alexei laughed. "More than you'd think."

Don nodded. He took a sip of his lemonade and gazed out the window. Was Charlie going to join them? Did he want him to?

Alexei cleared his throat. "So, Don, you want to… go out sometime?"

Don stared at him. Alexei was asking him out? How would Alexei even know…

Then Don began to laugh.

Alexei flinched.

Don shook his head quickly. "Sorry..."

Alexei raised his eyebrows. "It's funny?"

Don gave him a wry smile. "Charlie said he was going to find me a boyfriend, I just didn't know it would be you."

Alexei's eyebrows were still up. "It's such a bad idea?"

"Sorry, sorry," Don held up his hand. "Alexei, we've known each other since we were babies."

"You're saying that you don't think of me 'that way.'"

"I don't know," Don said honestly. "I just…" He turned to face Alexei fully. "So obviously Charlie has talked to you. He told you I was…"

"Bi."

Don nodded, though it gave him a punch to the gut to hear it out loud in this place. "But as I told Charlie, I don't date guys."

Alexei said stiffly, "Why not?"

"Because…" Don said with a sigh. "I just never have."

Alexei's face had turned from offended to puzzled. "But you…"

"Yes."

"So you just… hookup? Go to a bar and hookup?"

Don shook his head. He didn't want to explain to this old friend that guy sex usually involved a co-worker, and Don getting shoved up against a wall, fucked hard, and left sore. If a guy ever talked to him afterwards, it was to tell Don the next time when he wanted him to strip and stand facing a wall.

"You date women, I know," Alexei said.

"Yes." Though Don wasn't going to tell Alexei that he had little desire to do so, at the moment.

"So you're not opposed dating in general. Going on a date with a guy isn't that different," Alexei said. "If it doesn't work out, we can go back to being friends."

"Like that ever works."

"Did with me and Charlie."

Don had to nod in acknowledgement. They seem to have gone back to being friends without any problems. He made himself think seriously about Alexei's offer. Alexei was very attractive - he had a multi-sport athlete's balanced physique and piercing blue eyes. His thick dark hair was no-nonsense-short on the back and sides and fun-loving-long on the top. He and Don always gotten along well and Alexei could be great to hang out with. Don had gone out with many women on a lot weaker criteria.

Don swallowed hard then put on a smile. "Okay, sure, why not. Let's go out sometime."

"Excellent," Alexei said with an answering smile. Don had to admit that Alexei had a very nice smile. Not as nice as Charlie's but still nice.

"No pressure," Alexei continued. "But it had to have been obvious that I've had a crush on you forever."

Don's smile felt a little more natural. "Oh? How so?"

"Fishing for compliments," Alexei teased. "I'd have asked you out years ago if I knew there was a chance."

"So how does it work? Who brings the flowers and who opens the doors and who pays for dinner?" Don was only half-joking.

Alexei laughed. "We'll just try it out as two equals, no chivalry required, okay?"

Don nodded, though it sounded unlikely. A man would never treat him as an equal, once he found out what an ass whore Don was. Something occurred to him - Alexei had to be a top, right? Or else Charlie wouldn't have picked him?

A wave of sadness went over him. Charlie had picked Alexei. Charlie was moving on, giving up on trying to have a relationship with him. Charlie had argued that they could be together, that they could make it work. Now he'd passed him on to Alexei.

Charlie was leaving him after all.

"How about this weekend?" Don said brightly, pushing away the sadness.

Alexei frowned thoughtfully. "Yeah, Saturday night should work."

"Presuming something doesn't come up at work, for either of us."

"Your 'somethings' are much worse than mine," Alexei said. "So hopefully nothing will come up."

"Yeah." A date could be fun. Better than sitting at home all the time.

Then suddenly Don needed more.

He'd lost Charlie's admiration and affection. Just how much of a crush did Alexei have on him anyway? Enough to drown out his loss of Charlie?

Setting down his lemonade, Don glanced towards the open door then turned back to Alexei. "How about a little advance on the weekend?"

Alexei blinked at him. But when Don leaned forward, Alexei quickly met him halfway.

Alexei's lips pressed against his and soon his tongue danced with Don's. It was eager without being pushy, and actually a very nice kiss. Probably second best guy kiss he'd experienced.

But not as good as Charlie. Everything was now going to be rated on that impossible scale.

Eventually they pulled back. Alexei's hand slowly moved off Don's shoulder.

With a huge grin, Alexei said, "Wow."

Don managed to smile back and hope that his conflict didn't show on his face. "Looking forward to Saturday."

"I give all the bad guys permission to take the weekend off," Alexei said. "So the good guys can go out for dinner, and maybe watch a game."

"Dinner and a game," Don agreed.

But the possibility hung in the air between them.

Of more than a kiss.

Of seeing how far a first date between old friends would go.

Of Don finding out if he'd be satisfied with any other man fucking him again.

Don smiled and reached for his lemonade.

He wished it was beer.

Chapter Text

Part 63: Charlie learns the hazards of eavesdropping

He'd known it would be hard.

He'd known it would be really hard.

He hadn't known it would be knives-slicing-through-his-intestines hard.

Charlie stood in the dark hallway, arms around his stomach. Dinner with Don had been hellish, even though he'd set the table so they were on opposite ends. He'd exchanged only 11 words with him, barely met his eyes. The food could have been 3-D printed protein sheets for all he noticed it. He had snuck a few looks at Don as he walked by, checking how freely he was moving, how well his ribs had healed. Even that brief moment had sent longing crashing through Charlie in hot waves. Don looked good, like he'd never been injured. And maybe, possibly, like he was eating better and getting some sleep.

Had it really been only nineteen days since they had made love in Don's bed?

Don had chatted with Alexei throughout supper, though Charlie's hadn't heard much of what they'd said with his dad's conversation with Alexei's parents between them and Charlie. Various people at the table - except Don - had tried to pull Charlie into conversation, but he'd just given them monosyllabic answers then said his mind was elsewhere. They hadn't pressed any further, they were old friends after all and knew Charlie was often a horrible, preoccupied dinner guest.

Four other people at the table would have been horrified if they'd known what Charlie had been preoccupied with tonight.

Don, of course, had known exactly what was on Charlie's mind.

For a moment, Charlie let himself close his eyes and remember. Meeting Don's eyes in the hotel room mirror as Charlie rimmed Don for the first time. Don sitting on a wooden sauna bench, sweat dripping down his skin as he sucked Charlie's cock. Fucking Don against the big picture window of their hotel room. No matter how many times Charlie relived them, the memories were starting to fade. There was nothing he could do about it.

Opening his eyes, Charlie took a few deep breaths. Don had gone into the sun room a few minutes ago. Charlie was going to have to go in and make Don believe that Charlie wanted him to go out with Alexei Kozlov. Charlie wasn't sure he was that good of a liar.

"Hey, here you are."

Charlie jumped, but the voice was in the sun room - and belonged to Alexei. He must have come down the hall the other way and not seen Charlie standing in the darkness.

Don's reply came just as clearly. "Oh, hey, Alexei, did you bring me a beer?"

Charlie frowned, but it was in thought. Not that he thought about it, he didn't remember Don having more than one beer at dinner, and now he had lemonade? That was unusual.

Alexei's voice grew a little muffled as he must have moved into the room. "The fresh-squeezed lemonade is really good, but I can get you a beer if you want."

Charlie's eyebrows rose as Don said, "Forget it. I shouldn't."

"Big day tomorrow?" Alexei asked.

"Trying to cut back," Don said. "Works been really stressful lately and…"

Charlie had to smile in surprise. Don was still cutting back on beer? That was at least one good outcome of the assault and broken ribs. Maybe he really was starting to take a little bit better care of himself.

Don and Alexei were talking about Alexei's latest documentary and Charlie begin to move towards the room himself. Maybe he could make a leading suggestion about Alexei taking Don to a game of some sort?

Alexei said, "So, Don, you want to… go out sometime?"

Charlie froze.

Then Don started laughing.

Charlie could only imagine Alexei's hurt face.

Then Charlie had to admit that he was relieved. Alexei was a good choice, but he'd be okay if Don went a little longer without a boyfriend. He got ready to go in again, this time to help soothe Alexei's feelings. He had asked him to do this, after all.

He heard Don say, "Sorry," and he hesitated.

"It's funny?" Alexei asked, anger in his voice.

"Charlie said he was going to find me a boyfriend, I just didn't know it would be you."

Charlie winced. Of course, Don would figure it out. It didn't take someone with Don's smarts to see the connection.

Alexei said, still sounding angry. "It's such a bad idea?"

"Sorry, sorry," Don's voice was placating. "Alexei, we've known each other since we were babies."

"You're saying that you don't think of me 'that way.'"

"I don't know," Don said honestly. "I just…" Don continued talking but he must have moved because Charlie couldn't hear him anymore. He frowned in frustration and scooted closer.

"I don't date guys," Don was saying.

Charlie couldn't hear Alexei's response.

"Because…" Don replied as Alexei had obviously asked 'why'. "I just never have."

Don's voice was now muffled and Charlie suddenly heard Alexei ask clearly, "So you just… hookup? Go to a bar and hookup?"

Charlie grimaced. He hadn't told Alexei the extent of Don's problems, so Alexei wouldn't know that Don was usually the one sniffed out by predators, usually co-workers, but always men who recognized that Don was broken, and could be manipulated and used.

"You date women, I know," Alexei said. "So you're not opposed dating in general. Going on a date with a guy isn't that different. If it doesn't work out, we can go back to being friends."

Don's reply was too hard to hear.

Alexei said, "Did with me and Charlie."

Charlie had to admit that was a good argument. Most times romantic relationships were never able to turn back into just friendship, but his and Alexei's had. It helped that they'd never really been in love, just in sincere 'like.' It also helped that Alexei was a relaxed, self-confident man who didn't get into games. Another big reason Charlie choose him for Don.

"Excellent!" Alexei said with a smile in his voice.

Charlie's eyebrows shot up. Had Don just agreed to go out? Just like that? He'd agreed to be seen on a date with a man in public? Or maybe he'd just agreed to go out as friends, see what happened.

"No pressure," Alexei continued. "But it had to have been obvious that I've had a crush on you forever."

Charlie had to smile. It wouldn't hurt Don's damaged psyche to hear some admiration from a man.

"Fishing for compliments," Alexei teased. "I'd have asked you out years ago if I knew there was a chance."

Alexei laughed about something Don said then added, "We'll just try it out as two equals, no chivalry required, okay?"

That sounded like an actual date. Jealousy stabbed through Charlie. He was so much better suited and loved Don more than Alexei ever could. He wrapped his arms around his stomach again, as the pain of pushing Don on another man could be felt in his gut.

"Saturday night," Alexei was saying, then talking about possible work conflicts.

Charlie held his stomach tightly.

Suddenly Don's voice was clear. "How about a little advance on the weekend?"

Then there was silence.

Charlie couldn't help it. He leaned forward and peeked around the doorframe.

Don was in Alexei's arms and they were kissing.

Charlie jerked back, swallowing a startled noise. He scooted back down the hallway, around a corner, then turned and raced down the stairs. The image of Don kissing Alexei was seared into his brain and the terrible pains in his gut were shooting up into his chest.

He turned away from the family room, where Alexei's parents were still chatting, and burst into the kitchen.

"Whoa, whoa!" Alan said. "Where's the fire?"

"Math idea! I have to get to my chalkboards!" Charlie gasped.

Alan stepped in front of him, holding his dishcloth out like a stop sign.

"I've seen you get many a math idea," Alan said firmly. "And they don't make you look like that."

"Like what?" Charlie stalled.

"I'm not sure," Alan said, eyeing him. "Is something wrong with your stomach?"

Charlie pressed his hand into his gut and blurted, "I saw them kissing!"

Alan's eyebrows shot up. "Your brother and Alexei?"

Charlie nodded.

"Well, that was quick," Alan said. "But that was your plan, right?"

Charlie stared at him and Alan rolled his eyes.

"You boys think I'm an idiot," Alan grumbled. "It was obvious that you were trying to find someone who would make a good 'rebound' after Colby."

Charlie just managed not to say, 'Other than me.' The pain in his intestines was very distracting.

"Alexei is much better than Don's usual choices," Alan was saying. "I think it was a good idea. Didn't know they'd move so quickly, but…" He shrugged.

Then he eyed Charlie again. "But why are you acting like that? You got what you wanted."

Charlie swallowed hard, trying to think. "I, um, I didn't expect to feel, um, I guess I'm not over Alexei like I thought I was."

Alan gave him a skeptical frown and looked like he wanted to say something.

Mercifully, however, he stepped aside and let Charlie continue his path out the back door.

Charlie shut the door behind him. Gasping, he leaned over a nearby bush. But in spite of the nausea and pain, nothing came up. He ran his hands over his face and turned to head towards the garage.

But his feet took him elsewhere. He found himself standing in the darkness under the window to the sun room. The room was still lit up brightly and the two men inside were clear. Don and Alexei were not kissing anymore, but they were laughing and smiling at each other.

Even Charlie, with his problems reading people, could see there was anticipation in those smiles.

Pressing his hands into his gut, Charlie staggered off to the garage and the oblivion of numbers.

Chapter Text

Part 64: Don tries out a guy date --

Don paced around his apartment. This was a terrible idea. How did he ever think that he could do this?

He'd never been on a date with a man. He'd never done anything but have sex with them. He wasn't sure that it was possible to 'date' men. The concept just seemed too bizarre. He recognized, with a bitter wryness, that many of his ideas about dating were rooted in sexism. His mother would not have been happy with him. Maybe she would have understood a little bit, though, if he'd been able to articulate what happened with men and how that had warped his relationships with women. He couldn't really explain any of it, though, and she'd have rapped him on the back of the head with her wooden spoon anyway.

A knock on his door and Don jumped. His pulse rate already too high, he went to open the door.

Alexei was outside, thankfully not holding a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. He was wearing a dressy button-down shirt, though, and smiling.

"C'mon in," Don said, stepping back.

"Nice place," Alexei said, coming into the apartment and shutting the door. "How did you score it?"

"Knew someone," Don said. He didn't add that the 'someone' was a landlord, an older man who loved to fuck Don on the floor of this very nice apartment. Two years ago, that man had been convicted of raping a male college student in the apartment across the hall from Don. Don had been forced to drink a great deal to manage the guilt for letting the man think that sex was an okay way to collect rent. The LA prosecutor had been very surprised when 'The FBI' had scheduled a meeting with her, then only Don had walked in and handed her a recording of the rape. Don had put in a hallway video camera the day he moved into the apartment and the man hadn't fully shut the door across the hall before raping the student. Don had let the prosecutor investigate his apartment and his camera setup, but told her he would not testify against his former landlord in court because it would 'compromise his job.' The truth was he couldn't look him in the eye.

"You ready to go?" Alexei asked.

Don jerked his wandering thoughts back to the present. "Um, sure, let me just get my keys." He checked that his gun and badge were locked away in his gun safe, though he would have felt more comfortable if he'd been carrying them with him - and going into a firefight.

He picked up his keys and…should he take his wallet? Would Alexei be paying for drinks and dinner? Shaking his head, Don grabbed his wallet and turned back towards the door. Alexei was standing nearby, looking at the meager artwork that Don had on his walls. Don rubbed his sweaty hands on his legs.

Alexei looked towards him and smiled understandingly. "You want to just stay here and watch the game? Order delivery?"

"No, no," Don said. "We'll go out to the sports bar, like we planned. I can do this."

"You can do this," Alexei agreed.

Feeling grateful, Don stepped closer to Alexei and kissed him. Alexei was about an inch taller than him and his lips were soft.

Don would rather be kissing someone who was several inches shorter than him and always tasted faintly of chalk.

Fighting a wave of sadness, Don pulled Alexei close and deepened the kiss. Alexei followed his lead and soon they were kissing heavily. Don pressed himself against Alexei, feeling a powerful, muscular body. He fought off the desire for someone smaller, slighter, who fit perfectly in his arms.

Alexei murmured in his ear, "The game doesn't start for a while."

"True," Don said, stroking Alexei's strong shoulders.

"And if this part isn't good," Alexei continued in a low voice. "We can do the friends thing right away."

"Okay," Don said.

They went back to kissing, hands over each other's bodies. Don had a sudden fear - Alexei was a top, right? He would fuck him?

Alexei squeezed Don's ass. "You've always had the best ass," he said warmly. "I am so looking forward to this."

Don relaxed and pressed his groin against Alexei's. "Me too."

They kissed for another moment, heat increasing, until Don pulled back and said, "Bed's this way. More comfortable than the doorway."

"I knew the Eppes boys were smart," Alexei said with a grin.

Turning his head away, Don was able to hide his reaction at the mention of his brother. He swallowed hard several times, trying to settle himself. He had to take this opportunity for itself, not comparing it to what he wanted but couldn't have.

Reaching his bed, Don forced himself to joke, "Oh good, I made my bed."

"We'll have to unmake it," Alexei replied with a smile.

They lay down next to each other and continued kissing and touching each other. Don sat up and began to pull off his shirt.

He hesitated. "I'm afraid that I've really not been taking care of myself lately. I've been so busy at work and…" And Colby had never let him have a good night's sleep, let alone spend time in a gym with other men.

Alexei smiled sympathetically. "Maybe you and me could work out together sometime."

Don nodded. "I'd like that. I've let sports slide lately and I miss them."

"That I can help with," Alexei said with a grin. "And that shirt."

Don let Alexei take off his shirt and kiss his chest and shoulders. Alexei took off his own shirt as well as his pants to expose a predictably gorgeous physique. Alexei's torso was lightly-haired and Don found himself disappointed. When had Don developed a preference for hairy men? Oh, about the same time he decided he preferred smaller, slighter men.

Pushing his jumbled thoughts away, Don showed his appreciation for Alexei's body with fingers and mouth, before standing up to remove his own jeans.

They lay back down together, mouths mated again but hands now going to underwear-covered groins. Don squeezed Alexei's cock through the fabric, focusing on the special heat of a man's cock. Soon that cock would be in his ass and Don could forget the world for a moment.

Don formed the cock out of cotton, then slowly pulled down the front of his underwear. Alexei had a well-shaped uncut cock. Not a giant like Colby's but good-sized and hard. Don had been with several uncircumcised men and he knew how to make them feel good. Don stroked Alexei's cock while kissing Alexei's sculptured chest. He scooted down the bed and took that cock into his mouth.

He soon had Alexei groaning in surprise and pleasure as he expertly teased his foreskin and sensitive head. His own cock throbbed in anticipation of having Alexei's cock in his ass.

Abruptly, Alexei pushed his head away.

"Damn, Don," Alexei said, breathing hard. "I used to fantasize about your mouth, but damn."

Don grinned up at him. "You fantasized about me?"

"Hell, yeah. When I was first figuring out that I liked boys and you were a few years older than me. I would wrap a warm washcloth around my dick and pretend it was your mouth. Looking about those lips of yours always got me hard when our families got together. Kinda awkward."

Don laughed, enjoying the idea that he'd been lusted after, even if he would have been really uncomfortable with knowing it when they were teenagers together. He moved back up the bed.

"These lips?" Don asked before pressing them to Alexei's. The other man responded with fervor, whether it was due to teenage fantasies or what Don had just been doing to his cock, it didn't matter. Don felt wanted, and it felt good.

"My turn," Alexei said after some kissing.

Don smiled and lay on his back. Alexei rubbed and nuzzled Don's cock through the underwear he was still wearing. "I used to see you in swimsuits and get so hard. Oh, and baseball uniforms. God, you were sexy in those."

Don's smile dimmed as he thought of Charlie and his obsession with Don and baseball. Alexei didn't notice, though, as he was peeling back Don's underwear.

"Here's to sixteen-year-old me as I was trying to imagine what your cock looked like." Alexei licked the head of Don's cock. "Gave me a total fixation on Jewish boys. Even like being with men who are wearing nothing but a yarmulke."

"Not wearing a yarmulke on my cock," Don laughed, his good humor restored.

"There's an idea," Alexei teased then got down to the business of sucking Don's cock.

Like often happened, Don quickly got impatient with getting a blow. What was the point if he was going to get fucked? It felt good, yes, but it wasn't the main event. Some men liked to do it, though, and Alexei obviously needed to cool down a little from Don's blow.

Don had never gotten bored during Charlie's blowjobs.

Don bit back a sigh and closed his eyes. He wished Charlie would stop intruding on his thoughts.

With the skill of much practice, Don remembered to make moans and enthusiastic noises at appropriate points. Alexei was in truth quite good at this. Don just couldn't appreciate it when all he wanted was a fuck. Alexei didn't seem in any hurry, though, and Don worked on his patience. Finally, Don said, "I think there's another part of my anatomy you might have fantasized about."

Alexei lifted his head and chuckled. "My teenage fantasies didn't usually get that far, but my adult fantasies, most definitely."

Don smiled in relief and he sat up. He got some lube from his side-table drawer. He shut the drawer then had to reopen it to get a condom. It was funny how quickly he got out of the habit. The only person who had used a condom with him in the last year or more had been James, the man who fucked him before his friend beat Don up. Colby had his overly-large cock and latex allergy, and with Charlie, Don had never wanted to use a condom. He'd wanted nothing to come between them.

Don opened the condom and resurrected some of his old skills and was able to sexily roll it over Alexei's cock. He opened the lube bottle but Alexei took it from him. Don smiled, it had been a small test to see whether Alexei would prep him or Don would have to do it himself. So far, Alexei was being an attentive lover. Not as attentive as…

Don bit the inside of his cheek until he tasted blood. He had to stop thinking about Charlie. To hide his face, he rolled over onto his stomach.

"Such a nice ass," Alexei said, squeezing the cheeks.

"Called a 'nice ass' all the time at work," Don said with forced levity. "Don't think it's meant to be a compliment."

Alexei chuckled and began to rub Don's ass. Alexei stretched and lubed Don's asshole - more thoroughly than Colby's rough handling but less than Charlie's long, loving, no-rush touch. Don clenched and unclenched his fists. He was getting jittery that Alexei would back out.

"What's your favorite position?" Alexei asked, adding more lube.

Don frowned. Why was Alexei even asking him this? He was supposed to take Don how he wanted, not pay attention to what Don wanted. Don wasn't comfortable with this.

Don tried to formulate an answer. Not too long ago, he would have said pressed up against a grubby tile wall, water pouring down his back, smell of sweat and industrial soap in his nose. This time he had the sudden flash of riding Charlie's cock, his brother laying underneath him, coming apart as Don watched.

"Favorite?" Alexei asked again.

"Doggie style," Don said, trying to make it sound like he wasn't gritting his teeth.

"Nice," Alexei said. "I can get a good grip and go deep."

Don quickly got to his hands and knees.

Soon, Alexei pushed into him and Don let out a shuddering sigh. There was nothing like that feeling, the pleasure and sense of connection that he got no other way. Alexei began to move, slowly, attentively. It felt so good and…

It wasn't enough.

Alexei gripped Don's hips and drove smoothly and deeply. It was everything that Don had ever thought he wanted - skill, finesse, power.

If Don hadn't known, if Don had just not known what it could be like…

Don's eyes burned and he felt tears slide down his face. This would have to be good enough. This was now, moving forward. He couldn't have the ultimate completion that he had discovered with Charlie, but he could have really good.

Don quickly wiped his cheeks off before Alexei noticed, and focused on appreciating a good fucking. As he settled, he felt the connection between them grow. He gave a breathless moan of relief. He'd been afraid that he wouldn't be able to find it with another man again. The soft waves of prostate pleasure began to roll through him. Don closed his eyes.

Alexei rode him slow and deep, showing excellent stamina. After a while, Alexei leaned over and wrapped his arms around Don's torso. He pressed his cheek between Don's shoulder blades. His thrusts were shorter in this position, but the warmth of his body was welcome. Don had discovered he liked being held while being fucked.

Alexei reached around and began to stroke Don's cock. Don was hard, as he always was when fucked, and soon he could feel his orgasm nearing.

"…'Lex" he gasped, using Alexei's childhood nickname.

"God, Don," Alexei said hoarsely. "Say that again. Say more."

"Fuck me, Lex," Don panted. "Fuck me, Lex. Squeeze my cock, Lex. Come in my ass, Lex."

"Shit…" Alexei moaned. He began to pound into Don's ass, his body arching over Don's. His hand jerked Don's cock wildly, almost painfully.

Don came first, the orgasm startling him and he cried out as his cum pumped between Alexei's fingers. Don waited, breathing hard, until Alexei began to shake then Don felt his ass fill with warmth.

Alexei came to a shuddering stop, his breathing harsh. He wrapped both arms around Don and kissed his back.

"Damn," Alexei said hoarsely. "That was… damn."

Don smiled. It had been good, surprisingly so. He could get used to settling-get used to having this.

After a while, Alexei sat up and pulled out of Don. He checked Don's ass, a courtesy that only a few men had ever done, then removed his condom.

Don rolled over and Alexei smiled down at him.

"I would have never left my bedroom as a teenager if I'd known how good you feel," Alexei said. "I'd have worn off my fingerprints jerking off."

Don smiled back. It felt good to bask in Alexei's appreciation. "I take it that you feel like the date can go forward?"

"Hell, yes," Alexei said. Then he eyed him. "Don't you?"

Don widened his smile. "Hell, yes, as you say."

Alexei laughed and they began to clean up.

"Nobody has called me 'Lex' in years," Alexei said as he pulled on his pants. "Don't think I want it to come back, but it was hot to think for a minute about you and me as teenagers."

"Didn't do it on purpose," Don said with a sideways smile. He didn't really like thinking of himself as a teenager, when he was totally into girls and lusting after boys would never have occurred to him. Did his experiences in baseball change him or had it been there all along?

Alexei asked, "I work out most nights, why don't you join me sometime? What do you like to do?"

"Oh, most anything," Don said. "I like a variety. Keeps things interesting."

"Me too!" Alexei beamed. "You and me, tomorrow night, the gym?"

"I could do that. My ribs are fully healed."

"Yeah," Alexei said lightly. "Someday you'll have to tell me how that happened."

Don gave a one shoulder shrug. "Someday."

Alexei began to put on his shoes. "We need to get to the sports bar before all the good spots are taken."

"And all the wings are gone."

"Hope you like them hot!"

"Only if the team's hot."

"How dare you doubt it!" Alexei said with mock horror. "Don't you know about jinxing a team? Now we'll have to eat wings so hot our ears smoke or they won't win."

Don laughed. "It all rests on us." He'd always liked hanging around with Alexei. Well, once they both got past the obnoxious teenager stage.

Both fully dressed, they headed towards the door. Don grabbed his keys and wallet and turned off the lights. Alexei preceded him out the door. Don admired Alexei's fine physique in the light of the doorway.

The night was young, maybe Alexei would fuck him again after the game? Maybe Alexei would fill his ass and also fill that gaping hole in his soul?

Feeling cautiously optimistic, Don shut the door behind him.

Chapter Text

Part 65: Don begins a fragile rebuilding

Don's first date with a man didn't go too badly. Alexei behaved like he always did, though with a few added smiles that silently referenced the sex they'd just shared. They enjoyed dinner and a great game at a sports bar, then Alexei dropped Don off at his place with a warm goodbye kiss. Don was disappointed that Alexei didn't fuck him again, but Don was able to go to bed and sleep without too long staring at the wall, wishing for what he couldn't have.

He met Alexei at his gym the next night. The workout that Alexei led them through left Don nauseous and trembling by the end, but it felt good. Even better was going to Alexei's and having Alexei fuck him on his couch. Alexei didn't comment when Don froze up when he thought Alexei might go for just hand jobs instead. Don couldn't explain that he was an ass-whore, but maybe Alexei sensed it.

The night after that, they went to a place and did kickboxing. Alexei didn't fuck him that night, though he did give Don a number of warm kisses. The next day Don worked late. He texted Alexei that he couldn't meet, and it was nice to have someone to explain his lateness to.

On Saturday, they went on a long run. Don was ashen by the end of the run, but resting at the top of the hill they had just run up refreshed him. Even more so when Alexei showed a kinky side and fucked him in the woods. On Sunday, they went on another date to a movie premiere and Don was able to laugh and joke with Alexei's friends. He critiqued the movie with a Fed's eye and gained respect in the eyes of Alexei and his group. The best ending was sex in Don's apartment again, with this time Alexei fucking him in Don's favorite position against the wall.

There was another event, another night, and another weekend, until weeks began to go by. Don's muscles began to remember what being in shape felt like. Don and Alexei settled into a routine surprisingly quickly. Workouts most nights during the week, from pilates and yoga, to weights and boxing. Biking, roller-blading, hiking on the weekends, plus any sport that caught Alexei's fancy, like water polo or racquetball. There were dates, real dates, at restaurants or movie-related events - Alexei was heavily involved in the local documentary scene. They also enjoyed just hanging out and watching a movie or game. It helped that they were old friends, with lots of shared history. Plus, Don never feared Alexei was trying to trick him or game him.

Don's work life began to get back on track as well. To replace Colby, he hired an agent named Vincente that at first seemed far too much like Colby, with a military background and muscular body. But when he interviewed him, Don had learned he had a very different personality. It helped that he was married with a kid. Don was also able to hire an additional agent - a hothead named Nikki. His team of five, with Charlie occasionally joining in, quickly jelled. Don began to enjoy his job again, something which hadn't been the case for some time.

By month four, Alexei was starting to introduce Don to people as his boyfriend. But only to Alexei's friends. Don's father was thrilled at Don and Alexei's relationship, though he never referred to them as 'boyfriends'. Don didn't bother to wonder how Alan knew they were more than friends. Alan Eppes had always been too observant. Liz and David were obviously pleased that Don had found a good guy to be with, but they kept that to themselves and his new team members didn't know. To everyone else that knew Don, except Charlie, Alexei was just a good friend and Don was still completely straight. The 'cover story' for Don and Alexei suddenly spending so much time together - even to Alexei's parents - was that Alexei was helping Don get back into shape.

And help him he did. It was hard for Don to recognize how poorly he'd let his body deteriorate since he was with Colby, but the sore muscles and aches made it very clear. Alexei was ruthless - he just assumed that Don could keep up with him and Don's pride wouldn't let him fall behind. Don made sure that they included baseball-specific workouts and practice in their exercise rotation. Baseball season was coming and Don wanted to do better than his pathetic performance for the FBI team last year. Don could feel himself regaining some of his flexibility and speed from years earlier. Alexei even helped Don keep to regular meals and a two-beer-a-day maximum, a huge improvement from his heavy drinking days.

How long, though, would Alexei stay Don's 'workout buddy' to his own family? Don knew that it rankled Alexei not to be able to tell them, but Alexei had been supremely patient. Don didn't know what Charlie had told Alexei about his history - they never talked about it - and Alexei showed no signs of demanding that Don grow a spine and come out of the closet already.

Don should have been very happy, he knew this. Alexei was all that Don could have ever wanted in a boyfriend - fun, upbeat, thoughtful, smart, compassionate. Don began to admit that many of the things that Don had always gone to a female lover for, like companionship and conversation, could be found in the right man.

Alexei was also an amazing, attentive lover. But even in the best of moments, Don would find himself wishing for something more. And when they had just had sex, Don would have to squash the urge to do it again, because somehow that itch just hadn't completely been scratched. To add to that, they only had sex about half the time they got together. Don would hope and hope and hope and be disappointed then disgusted at himself. Even with all of Alexei's understanding, Don still couldn't bring himself to ask for sex. Alexei had gotten used to Don's strange passivity during sex, to his sudden freezes and his need to be fucked every single time.

However, at some point Alexei would get tired of Don's quirks, both in bed and out. Then there would be arguments and pain.

For the moment, the only real pain in Don's life, far beyond sore muscles from intense workouts, was Charlie.

They didn't really talk these days, or ever be alone together. They only saw each other for cases or when Don and Alexei came over for dinner with his dad.

Don missed Charlie. He remembered how he'd been terrified when he'd realized, so long ago at the hotel, that continuing a relationship with Colby would mean cutting Charlie out of his life. It was strange that it wasn't a jealous Colby that kept them apart, but a sort of fragile peace, an acknowledgement that they couldn't be near each other with all that had happened between them.

Don didn't know if they'd ever be able to be close again.

When he thought about that, it made him profoundly sad.

So he didn't think about it.

He moved through his life, rebuilding his body and his career, and hoped that nothing big would disturb his hard-won equilibrium.

When it came, it was very small.

Chapter Text

Part 66: Charlie makes a phone call--

Charlie leaned on the railing over the small creek and looked at the piece of paper in his hand. It was crinkled and worn from being carried around in his pockets for too long. It didn't have a name, just a phone number but Charlie had thought about calling it so many times. He'd avoided using it for over six months. Today, it was his last lifeline.

Taking a deep breath, Charlie dialed the number on his cellphone.

"Dr. Sullivan's office," a man answered crisply.

Charlie's stomach sank. "Um, I think I have the wrong number." Desperation drove him to ask, "Is there a Sandy there, maybe?"

"Sandy? Well… Please hold."

Charlie listened while soothing hold music played. Had he dialed the wrong number? Had the bartender at the hotel where he'd stayed with Don written it down wrong?

"Dr. Sullivan," a woman said. "Can I help you?"

"Oh," Charlie said dully. "I was calling for Sandy, never mind."

"Wait!"

Charlie paused in the act of hanging up and put the phone back to his ear.

She asked, "You're calling for Sandy? Who gave you this number?"

"She did. Though it was a while ago and maybe she…"

"Charlie? Is this Charlie?"

Charlie started. "Um, yes."

"Wow, you finally called, was wondering if you ever would."

"Did she… tell you about me?"

"No, this is Sandy."

"But you don't sound like her."

"You mean how I talk?"

"It's made up?"

"No. It's real, it's just… Let's start again. Hi, I'm Dr. Sandra Sullivan, PhD. I sometimes moonlight as a bartender at some more exclusive resorts, where I go by the name 'Sandy' and I use my childhood accent and phraseology."

"Why do you change your speech patterns?" Charlie asked, curious despite himself. "Is it a persona or an act?"

"It's called 'code-switching,'" she said. "Where language signals to the brain how we relate to the world. Both are me, just in separate ways. Think of a child who speaks one language fluently at home and another at school just as easily. She's not putting on an act."

"Huh," Charlie said, wondering if this would relate to his cognition work.

"Would you be more comfortable with Sandy?" she asked.

"Yes, I think so."

She cleared her throat, then said, with a pronounced drawl, "Well, ain't it a treat to hear your voice. I haven't heard from you in a coon's age. I'm gonna close my eyes and pretend I'm not in this stuffy ol' office of mine."

"Thank you."

"Now spill, honey. I've been worrying my little head about it for months. What happened when you left us that day?"

Charlie sighed. It had been nice to be distracted for a moment from his life. He reminded himself that in his conversation with Sandy at the hotel, she had been supportive, even after knowing he was in love - and having sex with -his brother. Charlie needed someone to talk to and this was all he had. "Don went back to Colby. He went back to his abusive boyfriend. And Colby whipped him then broke up with him."

"He what?" Sandy said, sounding startled.

"Broke up with him. Said Don was a drug and ruining his - Colby's-life. That Don was weak and poisonous and he needed someone strong."

"Sheeit."

"I remember it clearly, Colby asked Don 'what kind of man would let someone whip him with a belt?'"

"That's momacked up. What kind of man would whip another with a belt then be blaming it on him?"

"Apparently an abusive jerk."

"So what did Don do?"

Charlie sighed. "Well, I made the mistake of assuming since Colby was transferring out to Quantico that Don would be safe."

"Oh no."

"He went off with a man that he'd been with many times before, but this time his friend brought a friend and when his friend's back was turned, that new friend beat Don up really bad, broke some ribs and he had these horrible whip marks everywhere."

"Why did he whip him so bad?"

"Something about his wife running off with his best friend, it didn't make much sense. Don didn't fight back because he was in some sort of restraints and then he, well, thought he deserved it, because of how he'd cheated on Colby with me."

"Deserved it… He didn't defend himself one bit?"

"Well, he did tell the guy his safe word. Said he'd never used it before. But the guy didn't stop until his friend came back and stopped him."

"I assume Don took this all as his just comeuppance. How did you find out about it?"

"Don called me from the hotel, I'm the one who took him to the ER. I think the ER doc might have gotten through to him a little bit, though he still didn't press charges."

"He trusts you a heap to let you see him like that."

Charlie shrugged through she couldn't see it. "I'm glad he called me. Though nursing him through recovery was rough. He had to be dried out too, no alcohol while on the meds. I know…" Charlie swallowed and forced himself to continue. "I hid the ammo for his gun. He asked me about it, so I know that he was thinking about… it."

"No surprise. Thank the Lord you were there."

"Yeah. So then just as Don was healed and ready to go back to work, he-I was staying at his place to help him-he came on to me in the middle of the night and God, it was good." Charlie let himself remember for five seconds the last time he'd had sex with Don. He had to ration out the time he let himself think about it or else he'd never stop.

"Did he seem angry at himself for givin' in?"

"Not that I could tell, just sort of. Well, we both were resigned that it couldn't happen again."

"And did it?"

"No. I moved back home and Don went back to work. That was about six months ago."

"What's happened with him since?"

"He… I set him up with a friend of ours, a really good guy that we've both known since we were kids. Don went out with him, first time ever dating a guy, and they really hit it off. They spend all their time together now, doing sports and… other stuff. I think they could be classified as boyfriends. Don's health seems to be really returning, and he seems happy."

"That's good news!"

"Well, Don's still in the closet though. He just tells everyone at work that Alexei is his 'personal trainer buddy.'"

"Not as good, but still really good. You can't see me but I'm grinnin' like a possum eatin' a sweet tater."

"Yeah." Charlie looked down at the little stream running under his feet. He calculated the amount of snow melt that had to happen in the Sierras for this much water to reach Los Angeles. Or maybe it was a scheduled water release from the reservoirs.

After a moment, Sandy asked quietly, "Charlie, why are you calling me up? Is it just to tell me how Don is doing?"

Charlie wondered if the quantity of water was sufficient for the fish population and whether they had factored in mud saturation.

"Charlie? Are you still there?"

"Yes."

"Why did you call me today? It's good what's happened with Don, isn't it?"

Charlie clenched the phone tightly in his hand.

"Charlie?"

With a shuddering sigh, Charlie said, "I'm dying."

"What?"

"Not in a specific, diagnosis-based way, though every living thing is dying daily from cell deterioration from the moment of conception."

"So you…"

"I can't eat, I can't sleep, I have this pain in my stomach that has no verifiable cause. My doctor ran a bunch of tests and finally asked me about my mental state. I told him that I have a coworker that I'm deeply in love with but it wouldn't be appropriate for us to have a relationship because of our positions at work, so I set him up with another man and every time I see them together or even think about him I get these stabbing pains in my stomach. He told me that psychosomatic pain was real and referred me to a therapist."

"Did you go?"

"And tell them what? That I'm in love with my brother? That I say I love him but I can't let him go even to be happy with another man? That I struggle to eat anything and I walk for hours every day but I can't get away from my brain that asks over and over why I can't be with him?"

"Oh, Charlie," she said softly.

"Previously in my life, when in periods of extreme stress like my mother's illness and death, I overeat and gain a lot of weight. I then need to go on a lot of hikes to get the weight off and feel like myself again. This time I'm not eating and I'm still hiking and I've lost weight instead. I can't sleep at night unless I'm completely exhausted. My doctor gave me sleep medication but it makes me foggy the next day so I can't do my job."

"Do you still take the pills?"

"Sometimes, when I'm foggy anyway from lack of sleep. Don still calls me into cases, you know, for the FBI. When we work together, he doesn't even look at me. I never see him unless his boyfriend or my dad are around. He's cut me out of his life and I never knew anything could hurt so bad. I just want it to stop."

"Charlie," she said sharply, her drawl vanishing. "Are you thinking of hurting yourself?"

"I already hurt."

"Do you have a plan?"

He sighed. "No, I'm not going to kill myself. I have too much work left to do in Cognitive Emergence and even my old nemesis, p vs np."

"What's that?"

"Unsolved math challenge that I swear I will solve someday."

"Are you sure that you aren't going to hurt yourself?"

He sighed again. "I think about it, I believe the phrase is 'suicidal ideation,' but I won't. No matter how much it hurts." He added in a low voice, "No matter how much I wish that option was open to me."

"Oh, Charlie," she said, her drawl returning. "Honey, I'm sorry."

"What am I going to do?"

"Get yourself talkin' to a therapist."

"I am."

"I mean face to face."

Charlie grimaced. "Even if I told this therapist that I had an incestuous relationship with my brother, even if this therapist didn't condemn me outright, they'd tell me that I needed to get over it, move on."

"You think I'll be tellin' you different?"

"No. It's the logical, maybe even correct thing to do. But I can't get over him. I can't even think about dating another man."

"You need a heap of help to get over it, help a therapist can give you."

A flash of rage and he was shouting into the phone, "But I don't want to get over it!"

"I know, hon. I know."

"God, I love him so much," Charlie said, his voice now quiet and shaky. "I was so determined to get him a boyfriend and make sure he was happy. I thought that it would be enough for me. But now that I've done it, I can't stand it. How can that be love if I don't put his needs above my own?"

"It's okay to still feel low about it."

Charlie shook his head in frustration. "He's all his life given up everything for other people. Why can't I make it about his needs and not my own?"

"You already are."

"Yes, but…"

"You haven't talked to Don about any of this, right? You're callin' me, you're takin' hikes, you're not bothering him and his new man. That's self-sacrifice. You don't need to beat yourself up for not being over the moon about it."

Charlie stared down at the stream. "I suppose."

"Look, hon, I know it's not going to be easy. You boys played with fire, and those burns are going to take a long time to heal."

"I don't regret it."

Sandy said, "Healin' might take longer than a snail drunk on molasses crawling up an ice hill in January, but it'll happen."

It took Charlie a moment to tangle that saying out, then he sighed. "I told you I don't want to get over him."

"I know," she said gently. "That love is dug in deep. But you need to find a way to live with how things are now."

Charlie watched a leaf move down the stream, calculated its path, its reaction to obstacles.

"Charlie?" Sandy asked. "Were you hopin' I would say somethin' else?"

"Yes," he admitted.

"What were you hopin' for?"

"I don't know… Just something to…help me survive this."

"You're a man with a lotta love," she said. "You'll find someone else."

"Hmm."

"Ring me up anytime, sugar. Especially if that changes about you needing to solve the world's math problems before you meet your maker. I've got your number now, if I have any brain fevers about how to help."

"Okay."

"Now, I'd love to spin the yarn, but I have to go. Next appointment is knocking on my door."

"Okay."

Charlie ended the call. He watched the stream for a few more minutes, concentrating on holding back the tears. He didn't know what he hoped Sandy would say, but he'd hoped it was different than the same thing he'd already been trying to convince himself.

He slid his phone into his pocket and found a granola bar there. His father had started pushing food on Charlie whenever he saw him, out of hope that Charlie would eat something. He pulled out the granola bar and looked at it. Immediately he felt those pains in his stomach.

He put the granola bar back in his pocket. He'd calculated the minimum number of calories required to continue to exist and he hadn't hit today's redline yet. He ate yesterday, anyway.

He realized he still had something in his hand. It was Sandy's phone number.

With a sudden rush of anger, he balled up the paper and held it over the stream. He kept it there, his fist trembling, as he thought of all the things that Sandy should have said - that he and Don were meant to be together, that Charlie should fight for him, that the world could go to hell if they tried to keep them apart. Instead, she had given him back all his own arguments wrapped up in colorful sayings.

Sighing, he pulled his hand back. Smoothing out the paper, he put it back in his pocket.

He turned away from the railing, then waited for a wave of dizziness and light-headedness to pass.

Then he squared his shoulders and set out on his first hike of the day.

Chapter Text

Part 67 - Don's new life is shattered

Don shouldered the front door of his apartment open as he carried in a grocery bag in one hand and his mail in the other. Shutting the door with his foot, he set the groceries and mail down on the table. He put his badge and gun away, yawning a little as he did so. It wasn't that late, but it had been an intense day on a case. He was pleased however with the outcome and not particularly disappointed that he wouldn't be seeing Alexei this evening. Alexei was doing the last editing touches on his latest documentary - about the only thing that kept him from a workout and from Don.

Getting a six-pack of beer from the bag, Don ran through his now automatic calculation of whether he could have a beer. He hadn't drank yet today, so he could leave one for bed, and enjoy one now as reward for his tough but successful day. His newest team member, Vincente, had shown a real flair for undercover work today. Don really liked having Vincente on his team, much better team chemistry than Colby had ever had, but it was possible that it wasn't the right position for Vincente himself.

Don thought about that as he got out one beer, then put the rest along with some milk and orange juice in the fridge. He stuck some veggie burritos in the freezer. Alexei would approve. He opened the beer, took a few swallows of it, leaning against the wall. He congratulated himself on thinking about Colby calmly, from a team leader point of view. He hadn't thought about Colby before that for weeks. He squashed his thoughts about the other person he avoided thinking about at all costs.

Setting down the beer, Don wandered over to look at his mail. Mostly junk, his cellphone bill, and… Had it really been six months already? Don opened the letter from his apartment management. It was his six-month lease renewal. As usual, they were raising his rent. They raised it every chance they got, inching it up from…

Don stood very still, holding the letter in a tight grip. The floor beneath him dropped away, leave him cold, spinning, falling…

He turned around and, still holding the letter, walked back out the door.

He didn't think as he drove as fast as he could to Alexei's. His mind was a whiteout blank, a tense icy pressure, as if a great wall of ice was threatening to burst.

He let himself in the door at Alexei's and made his way to his studio. He stood there, silent, and looked at Alexei's back as he sat in his chair at his computer.

After a moment, Alexei jumped and turned around. "Don, what are you doing here? I thought I told you tonight I needed…" Alexei frowned. "What's wrong?"

Slowly Don unfolded the now-crumpled letter from his apartment manager. His voice sounded distant as he said, "Got my rent raised today."

"Wow, is it that bad?" Alexei said. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

"I have, sort of."

"What?"

Don held the letter out to Alexei who took it.

Alexei read it and said, "That's not that big of a… Whoa, is that what you pay total? Damn, you can't even get a parking space in LA for that. Here I was about to suggest you move in with me, and you have that nice place for only that much?"

"You asked me once," Don said, his voice still quiet and calm. "How I scored such a nice apartment. The answer is my rent used to be zero. Or rather, I didn't pay in money. My landlord took his rent in sex. He used to fuck me about once a week, always on the floor of the front room. He only stopped because he went to prison for raping another tenant, one who wasn't willing to pay his fee. I was the one who caught him on surveillance camera raping the man across the hall. When he went to jail and a management company took over the apartment complex, I'm sure they realized I hadn't been paying rent the usual way. I don't know if there were others. They probably didn't want people to realize their landlord had a habit of fucking his tenants for rent, so they started from zero and have been slowly raising my rent ever since. I pay on a six-month lease so here's the new bill."

"Wow," Alexei said softly. "So whenever you get the rent bill from them you think of how this guy used you?"

Don shook his head. His neck felt stiff, tight. "No, he didn't use me. I was willing. Though I feel guilty for letting the man think it was an okay way to collect the rent, and so demand it from the male college student across the hall and rape him."

"So you feel guilty?" Alexei asked. "I don't know if you should take-"

"Guilt isn't my problem."

"Then…"

"I would let him again."

"Let him?"

"Even though he is a rapist, even though I watched that video of the student screaming at him to stop, even though it's been years and I'm with you now. If he walked in my door tomorrow and told me to pull down my pants and get on the floor, I'd do it without hesitation."

"He still has that much power over you?"

Don looked at Alexei for a long moment. The ice wall trembled, shook… shattered. And the truth came rushing out.

"No, because I am a whore."

Alexei jerked back. "Shit, why would you say that? You're not a whore."

"I am. And I don't care who is doing what to me - beat me, crush me, use me - as long as they fuck me. Don't pretend to be surprised."

"I knew that you had…history that you hadn't worked through, but that doesn't mean-"

"It's been really nice to be with you," Don said, his throat tight. "And pretend."

"Don," Alexei said, his voice gentle. "Charlie told me just a little about your history before we went out. How you'd never been in a relationship with a man who treated you well. That you had some damaging ideas about what it meant to be a bottom."

"Damaging."

"I'm glad that you can finally talk to me a little about it. That's really good."

Don eyed him. "Good?"

"Yeah, I've been waiting for you to be ready." Alexei gave him a wry smile. "The timing could have been better, but yes. It's real progress."

"Progress," Don repeated unsteadily. "I just told you I used to pay rent with sex and would do so again and you said it was progress."

"It is." Alexei held up his hand. "Hey, if you don't want to talk to me about it, that's cool. I get it. I know some great counselors that you can talk to. Try them out, they can help you."

Don gritted his teeth. "Who said I wanted help?"

"Sorry, sorry," Alexei said. "That was rushing it, yeah."

"You don't seem to get it," Don said. He needed to make Alexei understand. "It isn't about one guy, it's about every guy who ever asked, who ever told me to bend over. I do it. Because that's who I am."

"You've been sleeping around on me?"

"Uh, well, no."

"Then you've changed."

"No, I haven't, I just have been on hold. Soon I'll mess up, I always do."

"Maybe you won't."

"Maybe I want to!"

"Hey, hey," Alexei said. "Let's not talk about it anymore tonight. How about a beer?"

Don shook his head. "No, no. I've got to go."

"See you tomorrow?"

Don clenched his hands. "I don't know. I've been… Tonight I realized that I've been fooling myself. I can't have a real relationship with a man." He gave a harsh laugh. "No, with anyone. I'm too broken."

Alexei said quietly, "There's help, Don."

"Not for me."

"Yes, for you."

Don shook his head sharply and asked, "Do you love me, Alexei?"

Alexei opened his mouth and shut it again. They'd never used that word with each other.

Don plowed forward, "Do you love me? I know the answer, because no one could. Colby told me he loved me, but it was a lie. Say it."

"Don, please," Alexei said. He held out his hand. "I could love you so easily, but you won't let me. I was just waiting for you to let me."

"I don't love you," Don said flatly.

Alexei grimaced.

"You know why?" Don continued. "Because you respect me, you like me. I am trash and you think I'm worthwhile. At least Colby knew I was a whore and treated me like I deserved."

"Don't say that…"

"It's the truth."

Alexei's eyes were damp. "God, Don, I didn't know."

"Yeah," Don said tiredly. "I cover it up well."

"I mean, I didn't know you thought those horrible things about yourself. Please, let me help you."

Don looked at Alexei for a long moment. "If anyone could have helped me, it's you. You're a good guy. You deserve someone who's a good guy. Thank you for everything you've done for me."

"Don, please…"

"Goodbye, 'Lex."

"Don!"

Don turned around and walked back out of Alexei's apartment, away from any pretense that he could have a normal life. The last six months had been a charade, a cruel glimpse of what a healthy relationship could look like. He'd only been kidding himself, and stringing Alexei along.

As he got in his car, he planned to go to his apartment and drink the rest of that six pack of beer. Then he started heading towards a bar where he could get shit-faced drunk. Then he turned in the direction of a bridge that he could jump off of.

But when his eyes cleared of tears, he found himself driving towards the only place that he could go. The only place where he'd ever felt whole.

Home.

Chapter Text

Part 68 - Don finds home is no respite

Don's hands shook as he unlocked the front door of his childhood home. Thoughts he was trying to keep at bay just one more minute kept intruding. He'd broken up with Alexei. Why? Because it was a sham. Why? Because he-

He got the door open and hurried inside.

"Dad, I'm home!" he called.

He made a beeline for the kitchen. But in the fridge, all he found was container after container of labeled pre-made meals. No beer.

"Dad, where's the beer?"

He shuffled the containers aside, trying to find at least one bottle of beer. He needed a lot more than one bottle, but it would be a start.

"Dad's not here," came a soft voice from the doorway.

Don didn't turn around at Charlie's voice, just kept searching. "When's he going to be home? Do you know where the beer is?"

"I think we're out."

"Shit," Don sighed. He really should have stopped somewhere before heading here. He just wasn't sure he could hold it together long enough. "At least there's still the hard stuff in the cabinet, right?"

"There might be some beer in the garage, but not cold."

"I'll take it. Where's Dad?"

"He and Penny are at the Grand Canyon, remember?"

Don nodded, vaguely remembering a trip his dad and his girlfriend were planning to take to Arizona. Charlie had talked about a famous observatory in Flagstaff. He half turned, still not looking at Charlie. "Check for the beer for me, will you?"

Charlie didn't reply, just disappeared out of the corner of Don's eye. Don went over to the cabinet that had the hard liquors in it for guests. He got out a bottle of scotch and a shot glass and splashed a generous amount in it.

He tossed half of it down his throat, and grabbed the counter, shuddering. It had been a while since he'd drunk anything harder than beer or wine. Not since the getaway with Charlie…

Quickly, Don tossed the rest back and waited for it to calm his shaking. Slowly he started feeling a little bit of warmth.

"No beer, I'm afraid," Charlie said from behind him. "I think Dad took the last six-pack in the RV with him."

"It's okay," Don said, and pouring himself a second large glass of scotch.

Charlie hesitated, then asked quietly, "Everything alright?"

"No," Don said, gripping his glass tightly. "I broke up with Alexei."

"Oh."

And there was such a wealth of conflicted emotion in his voice that Don looked over at Charlie.

Then he really looked at Charlie, for the first time in months.

"God, Charlie, have you been sick?"

Charlie's face looked sunken, his eyes huge. His clothes hung loosely on his body and his hair was dry-looking and frizzy. He held onto the kitchen door frame as if he needed it to keep himself upright.

Charlie said, "I'm fine."

"Like Hell!" Don snapped. "What's wrong?"

Don set down his scotch and went over to Charlie. "Tell me! You're ill and no one told me." A horrible thought hit him and he grabbed Charlie's arm. "God, do you have cancer?" Flashes of his mother's death went over him.

"No," Charlie shook his head, though even that seemed to make him dizzy. He moved away from the doorway, forcing Don to let go of his shockingly skinny arm. "I just haven't had… much of an appetite."

"For how long?"

Charlie smiled faintly. "Five months, two weeks, three days and approximately 20 hours."

Don stared at him. "What happened five months, two weeks ago?"

"I saw you kissing Alexei."

"…what?"

"That night, when he first came over for supper. I saw you kiss him in the solarium."

"That made you stop eating?" Don shook his head. "Charlie, I thought you wanted us to get together."

"I did, I do."

"But…"

Charlie sighed and lowered himself to a chair. "It's very frustrating. I want you to be happy but I get this pain in my stomach whenever I try to eat. My doctor did a bunch of tests then explained to me about psychosomatic illness. I eat enough to get by."

"It doesn't look like it!"

"You sound like Dad."

Don frowned. That explained the ridiculous amount of food in the fridge. His father was trying to encourage Charlie to eat. How had Don missed Charlie's decline? Maybe because, even when they were in the same room, Don couldn't bear to look at him.

"You… broke up with Alexei?" Charlie asked. "What happened?"

Sighing at the reminder, Don reached for his scotch. "It was inevitable. It was nice while it lasted. But I can't hold it together for long."

"You slept with someone else?"

"No, just…things caught up with me."

"What things?"

Don dug the letter from his landlord out of his pocket. He handed the letter to Charlie, picked up his scotch and went out to the family room. Charlie followed slowly behind him, reading the letter.

"I don't understand," Charlie said. "It's just your lease renewal. It was one of the bills that Dad and I helped you pay when you were…injured. They raised your rate then too. It's still far below market rate."

"Did you ever wonder why it was so below market rate?"

"A little."

"Do you remember several years ago when my apartment building manager was convicted of rape?"

"Of course."

"I never told you that it was my neighbor he raped, and it was my security camera tape that got his conviction."

"Okay…"

Don took a swallow of his scotch, then another. He didn't really want to explain this to Charlie. He knew too much about Don's failures as it was.

After a long moment of silence, Charlie asked softly, "Did he rape you too?"

Don gave a harsh laugh. "No, it was entirely consensual."

"Oh?"

Don sat down on the couch and took another swallow of scotch. Charlie followed and sat gingerly on a nearby chair. He looked fragile.

"Charlie, you stopped eating… for me?"

Charlie shook his head firmly. "No, this isn't your fault. I'll…get over it."

"I'm not worth it," Don said.

"You're worth anything. Everything."

"No, no, I'm not. You don't get it." Don realized that Charlie was going to have to hear the details to understand. "My old landlord, he would come over and fuck me whenever he wanted. It was usually right when I got home - it didn't matter what time a day or night, he'd just show up. He must have watched my parking space for when I got home. He would come bang on my door. I'd open it up and then I'd get ready. He always wanted me on my hands and knees on the front entrance carpet. I don't know why. It was my responsibility to have lube and condom ready. He didn't kiss me or anything." Don gripped his glass. "I would get completely undressed, then stretch and lube my asshole while he called me fag and pussy and piece of shit. As soon as he decided I was ready, he'd get behind me and shove his cock in. Then he'd fuck me while scratching and pinching my back and shoulders and ass. He'd leave deep scratches and bruises all over me. After he orgasmed, he'd take off his used condom and put it in the middle of my back. I had to stay in position until he left. Then I'd jerk off myself. I'd lay on the carpet for a while until I got up the energy to get that condom off my back and clean up." He looked up and held Charlie's eyes. "Then I'd hope that it wouldn't be too long before he came back again."

"Don…"

"That's who I am. Not worth starving yourself over."

"How did these monsters keep finding you?" Charlie said angrily. "How do they find you?"

Don gave a one-shouldered shrug.

"I don't understand," Charlie said. "If your landlord is in jail, why did this letter make you break up with Alexei?"

"Because," Don snapped. "Because if he came knocking on my door right now, even seeing on that video what he did to my neighbor, I would grab the lube and condom and get on the floor. Nothing's changed."

Charlie looked at him for a moment. "You were hoping that something had changed? With Alexei?"

Don tossed the last of his scotch to the back of his throat. A welcome warmth was spreading through him, trying to fight back the sick feeling in his chest. "I'm too fucked up for a relationship. I was just fooling myself that I could have that kind of a good relationship."

"Alexei has been treating you well then?"

"Yeah. He even… He never asked me why I was so messed up. When I told him about the landlord, he said it was a good thing, a breakthrough. He wanted to help me get help."

"That made you break up with him?"

Don stared at his empty glass. "He doesn't love me."

"Really? I always though he-"

"How could he love me, he knew I was an ass whore? He knew that much, that was obvious."

"I love you," Charlie said quietly. "And I know a lot more."

Don waved his hand. "You have to love me. You're my brother."

"That's not why I love you! At least not the whole of it."

"And how could I respect Alexei anyway if he loved me, knowing what I am?"

"You don't respect me?" Charlie held up his hand. "Right, right, you think that I only love you because I'm your brother."

"What else could it be?" Don asked, standing back up to refill his glass. "I shouldn't have broken up with Alexei, he fucked me regularly, after all. Not as much as I need, of course. Only Colby has ever done that."

Charlie made a distressed sound and Don said tiredly, "No, I don't wish Colby was back. When I was with him, my fitness level really went downhill."

He stood up and went to the kitchen to get the bottle of scotch.

"That's it?" Charlie called. "That's the only thing that bothered you about the way he treated you?"

Don walked back into the family room. He set the bottle of scotch down and stared at it. "No, Charlie, the worst part was he tried to keep me from you."

"Only you can do that," Charlie said. "No one else could stop me."

Don started to reach towards Charlie then took hold of the bottle instead. He poured himself a third drink. "You might want to go elsewhere, then. Because I am going to get incredibly drunk."

"Then what?"

"Then pass out."

"Then what?"

"Then hope I never wake up."

Chapter Text

Part 69: Charlie chews on the problem

Charlie sat helplessly and watched Don drink. When Don had walked through the door just a few minutes ago, Charlie had been in the solarium. He'd just been sitting there, staring at nothing. Not think about math, not thinking about anything. He'd definitely reached a point where a lack of nutrition was starting to affect his mental capabilities.

When Don had called out that he was home, Charlie had felt the now familiar mix of joy and dread. He loved to be around Don but it hurt terribly that Don wouldn't even look at him.

Then Don had finally looked at him, and it had all been for the wrong reason. He'd talked about Charlie's weight loss, not about how much he missed Charlie. Then Don had shared that terrible story about his former landlord and what he used to do to Don. Charlie could only ask the plaintive question, 'How do these monsters keep finding you?'

Now Don had started seriously drinking, with the hope he'd black out and never wake up.

Charlie sat on the chair nearby and twisted his hands together. He tried to think strategically, figure out what to do to get Don to stop downing the scotch like water, but his brain was failing him. He'd pushed his body too far and now, when he really needed it, his body was taking its revenge.

Charlie blinked, trying to pull his mind back from fanciful wanderings.

"Don…" he started.

Don looked up at him mid-swallow and made a questioning noise. Maybe some part of him wanted Charlie to stop him? If Charlie could just think

"Do you want something to eat?" Charlie asked, surprising himself. "There's a lot of options in the fridge."

Don eyed him, obviously thinking that food would slow his plan to get black-out drunk. "I'll eat if you eat."

"Oh, okay," Charlie said. He stood up, squeezing his hands into fists at his side. He didn't know if he could eat, even if he tried, but maybe this would keep Don from the scotch for a little while.

They made their way to the kitchen and Don opened the fridge. "What looks good?"

"Nothing," Charlie said, but picked a container at random. It said, 'Pot roast.'

"I hope Penny cooked that, not Dad," Don said, his voice only slightly slurred from drinking. "His pot roast is terrible."

"Yeah," Charlie said. He could already feel the pain starting in his stomach.

They got out some plates and warmed up a serving for each of them in the microwave. Taking their hot plates to the dining room table, they ate in silence. The food might have been good, Charlie couldn't focus on it enough to tell. He had hoped to just push the food around on his plate, but Don was watching him intensely, and only ate a bite when Charlie did.

The pain felt like knives stabbing through his stomach and Charlie felt sweat dripping down his forehead. But each bite that went into Don's mouth was a bulwark against the alcohol and Charlie kept eating.

Lift fork. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.

Charlie was shaking from the pain, his body slick with sweat.

Lift fork. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.

He tried to keep his face calm, his movements fluid. Was he fooling Don?

Lift fork. Chew. Swallow…

"Oh, God," Charlie moaned. He dropped his fork, shoved his chair back, and staggered out of the room.

He barely made it to the bathroom before throwing up. He leaned over the toilet and threw up everything that he had just laboriously put in his stomach.

As he was clinging to the toilet, he felt Don's hands on him. Don held him up as he vomited again. Tears ran down Charlie's face as it felt like he was emptying yesterday's meager food as well.

When he finally stopped, he realized Don was talking.

"Oh God, Charlie, God, I'm going to fix this," Don was saying. "Just hold on. I'm going to fix this."

Charlie sagged against the side of the toilet, panting.

"Hang on, hang on," Don said. He wet a washcloth in the sink then wiped Charlie's forehead.

Charlie mumbled a thanks.

Don rubbed Charlie's back as he wretched a few more times but not even bile came up. Don continued to wipe Charlie's forehead in between.

After a few moments of nothing, Charlie finally sat back.

"You done?" Don asked.

"Think so," Charlie whispered around his raw throat.

"Hold on, I'll be right back."

Charlie closed his eyes and waited. It wasn't long before Don was carefully lifting him to his feet. "God, Charlie, you weigh nothing." Don put his arm under Charlie's shoulders. "I've got a bowl in case you think you're going to throw up again. Let's get you to your bed."

Charlie barely opened his eyes as Don maneuvered him up the stairs, down the hall, and into his bedroom. Don laid Charlie down on the bed and put the bowl near his head. Don then helped Charlie change the shirt that he'd gotten vomit on. Don made a hissing noise as he saw Charlie's body more clearly. He quickly pulled the shirt back over Charlie's torso.

Don sat down on the side of the bed and brushed damp strands of hair out of Charlie's face. "I had no idea things were so bad."

"First time I've thrown up," Charlie said softly, his throat still raw.

"Let me get you some water." Don stood up and left the room.

Charlie dozed until Don returned with a glass of water. He also had Charlie's phone, some fresh washcloths, and a small bowl.

"Just rinse out your mouth," Don said. "Don't try and drink now."

Charlie followed instructions, spitting into the small bowl that Don held next to him. Charlie lay back. Don put the glass and the bowl aside then returned to stroking Charlie's forehead. It felt nice.

Don asked, "Remember when I…broke my ribs and you were helping me after I kept throwing up?"

"Of course," Charlie whispered, his eyes half-closed.

"Of course, you do." Don sighed then said wryly, "I guess we Eppes brothers tend to swallow our problems."

Charlie gave a soft chuckle.

Don said, "You took good care of me then. I'm going to take care of you now."

Charlie opened his eyes fully and look up into Don's face. He felt Don balancing on the edge, that if Charlie just said or did the right thing, that Don's brotherly touch would turn into something more.

Charlie struggled to pull his wits together. "Don, I…"

Charlie's phone rang. Don frowned and reached for it. Then his frown deepened.

"It's Alexei."

Chapter Text

Part 70: Don answers the phone, then makes a surprising call

Don had been brushing the wet bangs away from Charlie's pale face - how had it gotten so bad without Don noticing? - when Charlie's phone rang.

With a grimace, Don remembered that he'd turned off his own phone an hour ago and maybe this was work's way to try to find him.

But one glance at the phone told him it was a more personal crisis.

"It's Alexei," Don said to Charlie.

Don answered the phone. "Hi."

"Charlie, have you heard from Don?" Alexei asked in a rush. "He's not answering his phone and I'm really worried about him. He left my place and hour, hour and a half ago, and he was in a-"

"Hi, it's me," Don said.

"Don!" Alexei said. "I was so worried about… Why are you answering Charlie's phone?"

"He's not feeling well," Don said.

"Sorry to hear that but I'm glad to hear you. Are you okay?"

Don ran his hand through his hair. "I'm, um… I'm okay. I just drove around for a while then came here."

"I'm glad, the way you left earlier made me afraid that…"

"Yeah." Don sighed. "I'm sorry, Alexei, that I went off on you earlier. This letter from my landlord just brought some things home to me."

"Those things that you said about yourself. They're not true."

"Yes, they are," Don said. "And they're as true as they were when we got together. Being with you was really good, but it also let me pretend that I'm not really fucked up. We got my body back in shape but the rest of it is still shit."

"Then we can work on that together!" Alexei said. "Or you can work on it and I'll support you in any way I can. You don't have to do it alone."

Don looked at Charlie. "I'm not alone." Charlie gave him an encouraging smile.

"You have your family, I know. And they're great, don't get me wrong, even if Charlie only occasionally looks up from his math to notice anybody."

"Oh, he notices," Don said. Alexei would be astonished how much Charlie noticed, about Don at least.

Alexei continued, "But more support is always better."

"I know."

"You've got to get out of that apartment. I know it's dirt cheap but it's not good for you. You could stay with me, if you want, at least until you find another place."

"No, I'm moving back home." Don didn't know it until the moment he said the words. Charlie's eyes grew big. "At least for a while."

"Okay, but that doesn't mean that you and I can't see each other still."

"You deserve someone who isn't broken, someone who can be out with you and the world."

"But I want you!"

"I'm not there yet. Maybe I'll never be, I don't know."

"How much time do you need? A week, a month, a year? Take all the time you need."

Don smiled sadly. "Thanks, but I don't want you waiting for me to get my act together. Send me the info on those counselors you mentioned. But don't wait for me, 'Lex. Find somebody worthy of you."

"Don… Can I at least check in with you, make sure you're okay?"

"As a friend?"

Alexei sighed. "Just as a friend. I'm going to miss you. In many, many ways." He forced a laugh. "Don't let all the hard work on your fitness go to pot again."

"I won't. Thank you. You're a good friend."

"I liked being more."

"I did too."

Don hung up the call and sat staring at the phone. Why couldn't he be with Alexei and still work on getting better? Wouldn't that be the smart thing to do?

"You're moving back home?" Charlie asked eagerly.

Don looked at Charlie, who was starting to regain color in his face. "Yeah."

"That's great!"

"At least until I can get you back on your feet."

"Okay, I will get better as slowly as I can."

Don had to chuckle. "No, don't do that. Just get better."

"With you around, I will," Charlie said softly.

Don looked at Charlie, at his too-thin but still familiar face. Charlie was slowly starving himself out of love for Don, but still not asking anything in return. Don's chest felt tight, the back of his throat tingling with unshed tears.

He leaned over and placed a light kiss on Charlie's lips, pulling back before Charlie had a chance to respond.

Don gazed down at him and saw that look that he'd remembered from their getaway - Charlie's eyes, his whole face, full of absolute longing and desperation. Alexei had never looked at him that way. Colby never had. No one ever had but Charlie.

Don leaned down and claimed Charlie's lips again, but this time he didn't pull away. The kiss started out soft and soon turned fierce, though he could feel the weakness in Charlie. Desire swept through Don's body from head to toe and he lay next to Charlie and they kissed and kissed, barely taking a breath. His hands rested on Charlie's shoulders and Charlie held on to his forearms.

And slowly, there it was, hot and sweet. The connection that Don spent his life searching for, that before Charlie he had only gotten while being fucked. It was there, just in a kiss, and he knew he could never go back to Alexei, back to anyone. He was going to drown in Charlie and die, or drown in Charlie and live, he didn't know which.

Finally, he lay quietly by Charlie's side, stroking his hair and looking into those bottomless brown eyes.

"Charlie, I missed you." Don didn't say anything about his determination to always be with Charlie. It was too fresh, too shocking, and was already fading as reality rolled in after the kiss.

"I missed you, too," Charlie said softly. There were questions in his voice, but he didn't ask. Don was relieved.

"I'm moving back home. And I'm going to take care of you until you get better."

"Will you kiss me again?"

Don felt his face redden. "Charlie, you aren't well. And you know I have to… You know I need…" A sick flush ran through him. He'd just told himself that he'd always be with Charlie and already his whorish needs were demanding he find someone else.

"Do what you need to do," Charlie said, though his cheeks were pale.

"God, Charlie…" Don said hoarsely. If Charlie's selflessness was what love was, Don knew for a certainty that he'd never been in love.

Don shook in head in wonder. "I'll be back in a bit. Call out if you need me."

Don felt Charlie's eyes follow him as he left the room. He went downstairs, picked up their supper, then cleaned the bathroom. He got on his knees and scrubbed the floor where Charlie didn't quite make it to the toilet in time. If Charlie had to throw up again, he wanted it to be in a fresh bathroom.

He got some more washcloths, just in case, then went back upstairs. Charlie was asleep, clutching a bowl with a bit more bile in it. Don grimaced, then took care of the bowl and got Charlie a clean one. He wiped Charlie's mouth and face with a wet washcloth. Charlie stirred, mumbling.

Don looked down at Charlie and thought about the bottle of scotch downstairs. Sighing, he kicked off his shoes and climbed into bed next to Charlie. Carefully, he pulled Charlie into his arms. Charlie felt so fragile.

"I'm going to fix this," Don whispered. He didn't know if he was referring to Charlie or to himself, but at the moment, there didn't seem to be a difference. "I'm going to fix this."

He didn't know how, or if it was even possible, but he had to try.

"Hang in there, baby brother. I'm here."

Chapter Text

Chapter 71: Charlie questions his memory then Don questions their father

Charlie woke feeling warm but disoriented. Someone was snoring softly beside him. He turned carefully - he had gotten used to moving slowly to deal with the constant dizziness - to find Don.

Charlie stared at him for a moment, unable to remember how Don had gotten there. Was Charlie dreaming?

Charlie swallowed and found that he still had the aftertaste of vomit in his mouth. Oh right, something about trying to stop Don drinking so he'd forced himself to eat and thrown up. Then Alexei had called…

But why was Don in his bed?

Wait, Don had kissed him. And said he was moving back home.

More past that, Charlie couldn't remember. Oh, Don had strongly implied that since he was no longer with Alexei, he would have to get his sexual needs taken care of elsewhere. Because Charlie was too sick to do it.

Charlie sighed, hating his body that punished him for loving the wrong person.

No. Charlie shook his head slightly. Don wasn't the wrong person, never the wrong person. Society was the one with the problem. Don was everything.

Charlie scooted closer to Don and closed his eyes again.

 

When Charlie woke much later, the sunlight streaming into his room, Don was gone. Was it a dream after all? Had Don not come over last night, not broken up with Alexei?

"Hey," Don said from the doorway. "Been reading up a little on what you should eat. Pot roast was definitely not on the list."

Charlie blinked at him. "Hi."

"Good morning, buddy." Don came and sat on the side of the bed. "Today we start. We're going to go slow. Just have a little at a time." He handed Charlie a small glass of apple juice.

Charlie sipped it carefully. "Don't you have to go to work?"

"It's Saturday."

"Oh."

As Charlie sipped more juice, he tried to remember if he'd taught his classes this week. Was CalSci even in session right now?

"Everything is a little…foggy," Charlie said.

"You remembered Dad was in the Grand Canyon."

Charlie looked down at the bed where he and Don had slept together. "Good thing."

"Yeah." Don smiled and brushed Charlie's hair back from his forehead.

"Did I… Did you…break up with Alexei?"

"Yes," Don said, his smile fading.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Don said, putting his hand gently on Charlie's forearm. "I need to be here right now."

Charlie finished off the apple juice. Don took the cup away and handed Charlie his phone. "Dad's been calling. You had him muted."

Charlie grimaced. He didn't even listen to the voicemails waiting. Instead, he dialed his father.

"Hi Dad," Charlie said. "Sorry, my phone was out of power."

"Not likely," Alan Eppes said. "Did you eat last night?"

"Yes…" Charlie said. "Don came over. We ate pot roast."

"Oh?" Alan said in surprise. "More than one bite?"

"Yes."

Don took the phone from Charlie.

"Dad, why didn't you tell me it had gotten this bad?" Don demanded. "He looks like a starvation victim!"

Charlie could hear only one side of the conversation.

Don continued, "Yeah, he ate some pot roast, but then he threw it all back up. Yes, that's what I said. Are you sure he hasn't been doing that behind your back? Yeah, you're probably right, there would be evidence." Don looked at Charlie. "Dad, remember back… Back when I got hurt, you said maybe I should move back home? I'm going to do that. Immediately. Why? Charlie needs me. Okay, yes, I also need to get out of my apartment."

Don shrugged. "Look, there was stuff… But I don't want to talk to you about it like this. Yes, yes, when you get back. But I… Look, I broke up with Alexei. No, he… I just have some stuff to work on and I didn't want Alexei…waiting. Maybe, maybe we'll get back together on down the line. He's a great guy, I really like him. Maybe we'll get back together."

Charlie felt his stomach pains start. Don reached over and grabbed his hand. He mouthed 'no' and shook his head.

Charlie smiled and his stomach settled.

Don continued to talk to their father. "I can't believe I didn't notice. Have I really been not coming back that much? True, I've been a little distracted." He squeezed Charlie's hand. "No more. I'm here now and I'm going to help Charlie get through this. Why didn't you tell me it was this bad? Okay, okay. When will you be back? Oh, that's a long trip. Maybe I can even get him eating pot roast by the time you get back. No, you don't need to come back early. How is he even teaching his classes like this? Oh, he did? He's sick enough to take medical leave and you didn't think to tell me?"

Charlie frowned. That was why he didn't remember classes.

"Sorry," Don said. "I know I've been busy. I just…Dammit, Dad, he looks like Mom did, towards the end. Okay, not the very end, but heading there. I know, but I'm here now and I'm going to fix this. Yes, yes, Dad, you can trust me. I'll keep him eating. Okay, enjoy your trip. Say hi to Penny for me. Here's Charlie."

Don gave the phone back. Charlie had to fumble a little to hold the phone and not let go of Don's hand.

"Hey," Charlie said.

"Were you going to tell me that you threw up?"

"Well…"

"Never mind. I'm glad Don's there." Alan said, "I don't know what happened with Alexei. I'd actually hoped he'd move in with him. Anyway, we'll talk when we get home. Right now, you just need to listen to Don and start eating. You have a doctor's appointment coming up on Tuesday, right?"

"Right," Charlie lied.

"Okay, good, maybe Don can take you to it."

"He's got to work."

"He'll make the time."

"Okay."

"I want to enjoy this trip, but I'm worried about you. I probably shouldn't have even gone, but I convinced myself that things weren't that bad. Now you're throwing up?"

"Don't worry, Don's here."

"That's good."

"Yeah."

"Take care of yourself, I'll call Don tomorrow for a report. I expect to hear that you've been eating, hear me?"

"Yes, Dad."

"Good. Talk to you later."

"Goodbye." Charlie hung up and dropped the phone on the bed. Even that short conversation tired him out.

"Medical leave?" Don asked.

"Yeah." Charlie looked at his hand still in Don's. "I don't remember asking for it. Or did Millie suggest it?"

"Wow, you're really out of it."

"Nutritional deficiency. I've been trying to eat enough to…"

"Stay alive?"

"Yes, it's a more complicated calculation than I realized." Charlie frowned. "I didn't allow for diminished mental capacity."

"That's more than a little terrifying," Don said softly. Then he lifted Charlie's hand and kissed it. "I'm going to get you some more apple juice. It seems to have stayed down. Then some crackers."

"Okay." Charlie's eyelids were drooping closed. "In a minute."

"Sure, buddy," Don said. "You just rest a little. I'll be right back, okay?"

"Mmm."

Charlie barely woke up when Don returned. He heard him set a glass and a plate on the side table.

Then Charlie felt Don lay down next to him and gather him into his arms. Charlie happily settled into his warmth.

Maybe when he woke again, he could think about breakfast.

Chapter Text

Part 72: Charlie goes off track and Don realizes his difficult path -

When Charlie awoke, Don was still there. That was a lovely surprise and Charlie had to remember all over again what had happened last night when Don had come over. Don had broken up with Alexei, then drank until Charlie stopped him with food. That had led to Charlie throwing up and Don taking care of him. Later, Don had kissed him, very thoroughly. Charlie had slept well with Don's arms around him. Charlie's happiness dimmed when he realized that was as far as it was going to go, at least for now. He was too sick.

Charlie slowly rolled over to look at Don, who was sitting next to him working on a laptop.

"Hey, buddy," Don said. "You feeling up to eating breakfast?"

"As long as it's not pot roast," Charlie said, carefully putting his hand on Don's leg.

Don patted his hand and said, "No, I don't think I'm going to want pot roast again for a long time. Not after cleaning it up off the bathroom floor after a short trip to your stomach."

Charlie grimaced. "Sorry, I-"

"Don't worry about it," Don said. "You've done the same for me." He pointed to something on his laptop. "Now, I've been studying up on what you need to eat to get better. Remember when you did that for me?"

Charlie nodded. His memories that contained Don seemed to be the strongest.

Don said, "You gave me steak and sweet potatoes and talked about specific vitamins and something about collagen. Was pretty good. We're going to have to go a different route with you. Start with some apple juice?"

Don pointed to a glass next to the bed. Charlie sat up slowly to see that there was also a plate of saltine crackers there. As Don watched, Charlie drank the juice and ate a few crackers.

"Good start," Don said. "How's your stomach?"

Charlie waited a moment but the stomach pains didn't start. How could they with Don smiling at him like that? "Okay."

"Good," Don said. "Now let's get you some clean clothes on, those smell a little rank."

Charlie sniffed at himself, wondering if the loss of smell could be another side-effect of malnutrition. Don got him a fresh shirt and jeans, then swore under his breath when he saw the state of Charlie's naked body. Charlie kept his eyes on Don and let Don help him get dressed.

Once Charlie was dressed, they went down to the kitchen. Charlie sat at the table while Don went through the fridge and the pantry, muttering to himself and writing things on a piece of paper.

"Okay," Don said after a while. "I've got my grocery list. Now I'm going to go by my place and pick up some things- change of clothes, shaver, stuff like that. A suit for Monday. Then I'll go to the grocery store and get some food for your stomach. I could eat the stuff Dad packed the fridge and freezer with for weeks, but you need to go easy. You'll be okay while I'm gone?"

"Of course," Charlie said.

Don eyed him but said, "See you soon." He touched Charlie's cheek then headed out the door.

Charlie sat at the kitchen table for a few minutes, listening to the echo of Don's leaving. He pictured Don driving to his apartment and getting a bag, then filling it with clothes. But somehow, when Don left the apartment, in Charlie's mind, Don didn't head to the grocery store. He had left some stuff at Alexei's and needed to go by there. Then when Don got there, he and Alexei had a long conversation. After a while, sitting there next to his lover, Don's needs came to the fore. Soon, they were kissing, then undressing, then Alexei was fucking Don over the back of the couch. Charlie, with his eyes closed, could see it clearly. How Don looked, how he felt, when Alexei gave him what he so desperately craved, what Don would go to bruising lengths for…

Charlie's hands were wrapped around his stomach as the pains shot through him. The apple juice and crackers were threatening to make a return appearance. He couldn't get rid of the image of Don, bent over, his face flushed, Alexei driving into him…

So Charlie did what he'd done so many times in the last six months when the stomach pains overwhelmed him.

He put on his shoes and went for a walk.

 

"Can you get the door, Charlie?" Don called, juggling bags of groceries.

There wasn't any response, so Don set one bag down and got out his keys. After opening the door, he carried the bags into the kitchen, calling out, "I'm back. You resting?"

He didn't hear any reply and frowned. "Charlie?"

Nothing.

Alarmed, Don went through the house but Charlie wasn't there. He checked the garage too, though he knew that Charlie hadn't been doing a lot of work lately. Completely empty.

He got out his phone and dialed Charlie. He quickly followed the sound of ringing, only to find Charlie's phone on the front table, with his wallet. He looked outside, but yes, Charlie's car was still there.

"Where are you?" Don growled.

His glance fell on the shoe area near the door and he noticed that Charlie's walking shoes were gone. Could he have gone on a walk? No, that didn't make any sense, he could barely stand up because of his weakness.

Still, the evidence was clear. Don ground his teeth. He couldn't even go after him without knowing his route. Don shook his head and went to get the rest of the stuff from the car.

 

Charlie looked up from his stupor and found that he was walking up his sidewalk. His stomach pains stayed muted, if he didn't think about Don.

His path up the sideway was weaving, but he was unable to calculate the trajectory or even remember what that shape of a wave was called. Reaching the door, he pulled out his house key and aimed it at the doorknob. He noted distantly the phenomenon of the key hole shrinking while the key grew.

Then the doorknob wasn't there any more and he frowned at the empty space.

"Dammit, Charlie, where have you been?"

Charlie looked up to see Don standing there. "Whatcha doing here?"

"Shit," Don said, "You look like hell."

Charlie let Don lead him inside and shut the door. "I could use some water," he allowed.

"You could use a whole lot more," Don said. "But I'll get you some Gatorade."

"Went on a walk," Charlie mumbled. "Do you need my help on a case?"

Don muttered under his breath and helped Charlie to a chair. Obediently, Charlie sat and waited for Don to pour him a glass of orange-colored drink.

"Where did you go?" Don asked. "I came back from the grocery store and you were gone."

"Walk." Charlie drank some of the Gatorade. It tasted good, which he remembered was a sign that he was dehydrated. He nodded thoughtfully.

"Walk?" Don snapped. "You can hardly stand, why are you going on a walk?"

"Walk every day. Every time it happens."

"Every time what happens?"

"This route is 5.8 miles. Sometimes I go up into the hills for a real walk."

"Charlie," Don said, putting his hand on Charlie's arm. "Every time what happens?"

Charlie looked up at him. "Every time the stomach pains start."

"So you're not only eating, you're exercising like crazy. No wonder you've lost so much weight."

Charlie's hands went to his stomach and the Gatorade threatened to crawl back up his throat.

Sitting in the chair next to him, Don gently put his hands on Charlie's. "Why have your stomach pains started again? I thought they were about me and Alexei."

Charlie grimaced. He remembered now how Don had gone back to Alexei. How they'd had sex because Charlie couldn't satisfy Don's needs.

"You seemed okay when I left," Don said. "Did something happen? Did you throw up again?"

Charlie shook his head. He gripped his stomach tightly.

Don continued, "I hurried back, but I wanted to make sure I had everything from my list. And I needed everything for work on Monday."

"I understand," Charlie said. "You needed to stop by."

"Stop by what?"

"You needed it. I understand."

"Needed what?" Don said in exasperation. "Bread, rice, applesauce, a clean dress shirt, what?"

"I can't give it to you. I understand."

"Can't give-Wait, you think I went back to Alexei? For a quick fuck?"

"I understand."

"Then stop understanding, because I didn't go to Alexei's," Don snapped.

"You told me how much you need it. I understand."

"Charlie!" Don said. "I didn't go to Alexei's! I went to my apartment then the grocery store, then came home to find you gone!"

"Walking helps the stomach pains."

"Charlie…" Don took hold of Charlie's hands, pulling them away from his stomach and folding them into his own. "I didn't go to Alexei's place. I wouldn't do that to you when you're in this state. Alexei and I are through, I promise."

Charlie looked at his hands in Don's and struggled to comprehend what Don was saying. Finally, he said, "Why are you home from work? Do you need my help?"

"Oh, Charlie," Don said with a sigh. He squeezed Charlie's hands and stood up. "Let's get you some lunch."

 

Charlie lounged on the couch, nestled against Don's side. Lunch had been bland and light. It had stayed down and now Don was watching a sports show with his arm around Charlie. While Don had prepared and served lunch, he had discussed what Charlie would be eating for the next two weeks. That was a nice round timeframe and was also how long their father would be gone on his trip. Don talked about particular foods, timing of meals and snacks, a conversation with Charlie's doctor, and zero walks. During lunch, Charlie had also remembered things like being on medical leave and the other details of the last six months. Don had been constantly reassuring and the stomach pains had stayed away.

Feeling comfortable and clearer than he'd been in weeks, Charlie thought about the current situation. It was strange how it mirrored what Charlie had gone through when Don had been beaten and gotten his ribs broken. Charlie had been afraid to leave Don alone, even disposing of his bullets for his sidearm because he feared Don was suicidal. He remembered how helpless he had felt and how determined to do whatever needed to be done to get Don healthy again and back on his feet. He had such a hard time understanding how Don could do such damage to himself, think so little of himself.

The parallels were obvious.

Charlie sighed quietly and snuggled closer to Don. An important difference between then and now was that Don was letting Charlie touch him - and touching him in return. It wasn't sex, but it was immeasurably better than the void that Charlie had been living in for the last six months.

"Don?" Charlie said.

"Yeah?"

"Hi."

Don chuckled softly and tightened his arm around him. "Hi. I'm here. Why don't you rest a little?"

"Yes, boss," Charlie said and closed his eyes.

He wondered how long the stomach pains would stay away.

Or to phrase the question a different way…

How long he could hold on to Don.

Chapter Text

Part 73: Charlie begins his recovery, but can't forget Don's own addictions

Saturday passed in a pleasant haze for Charlie. He dozed off and on, with Don always nearby. Don regularly fed him, boring small meals that stayed down, and then let him doze again. At one point, Charlie woke up to see Don working through some case files. He was making notes on paper then typing something on his laptop. Charlie lifted his head and tried to read what Don was writing. His vision kept fuzzing out though. Don noticed him looking and told him gently to go back to sleep. Charlie didn't resist and closed his eyes again.

Don finally woke him up to say that it was time to go to bed. Don reassured him that he'd be there. After a quick snack, Don helped Charlie up the stairs and into pajamas. They climbed into bed and Charlie, exhausted just by those simple actions, fell quickly to sleep, the wonderful feel of Don's arms around him.


Sunday he felt a little more alert, but the day passed in a similar way. Don helped him take a much-needed shower, shave, then get dressed. After breakfast, Don settled them into the family room and turned on the TV. Charlie took his place, lying down with his head on Don's lap, and took his first nap of the morning.

By afternoon, and several small meals and naps later, Charlie felt alert enough to ask Don what case he was working on. Don explained it to him, then waited with a hopeful air, but Charlie wasn't able to offer any insights. Disgusted by his weakness, Charlie turned his face away from the case files and closed his eyes.

For dinner, Charlie made the effort to sit at the dining room table. Don served him some sort of soup that had been deemed acceptable from the meals prepared by their dad's girlfriend, Penny, before they left. It wasn't that tasty - cooking was something that Penny did more out of duty than enjoyment - but it filled up his stomach and stayed there. Don ate a veggie lasagna thing that made Charlie slightly queasy to look at.

After dinner, Charlie surprised and thrilled both of them by offering an idea about Don's case. It wasn't a big idea, or involve any math on Charlie's part, but it meant that his mind was still there, despite all the damage that Charlie had done to his body.

At this sign of alertness, Don asked him some questions about his doctors and tests. Charlie was able to remember some. He admitted to Don that he'd canceled a doctor's apt he was supposed to have on Tuesday. Don promised that he'd call on Monday to schedule a new one. Even if the stomach pains stayed away with Don around, and psychosomatic illness seemed to be the right diagnosis, Don wanted to talk to Charlie's doctor about how to help Charlie continue to recover.

They sat on the couch and watched yet another sports show. Charlie leaned against Don, gathering his energy for the going to bed process. Don's arm around him continued to settle and warm him.

After Charlie's last snack - Charlie was beginning to hate apple juice and saltine crackers - Don helped him upstairs and into his pajamas. Don turned out the light and took Charlie into his arms. Even with all his naps during the day, Charlie quickly fell asleep.


Charlie woke sometime in the night. The moonlight was streaming through his window. He lay there, thinking about the moonlit night at their hotel retreat, and gathering up the nerve to offer the restless Don a blowjob. Charlie's mind wandered through all the things that had happened between that night and now, from sex to revelation to fights to pain. He gazed at Don's face in the moonlight and wondered how long Don could continue to spend so much time with him. How long Don could keep his needs at bay and take care of his broken little brother.

The name 'Alexei' crossed Charlie's mind, and he felt a shadow of a stomach pain. To stop it, he reached out and touched Don's cheek. Don didn't react, so Charlie ran his finger down his cheek. Don jerked and opened his eyes. He looked around but when his eyes landed on Charlie, he smiled.

"You hungry?" Don said, his voice gravelly.

Charlie shook his head and moved closer. Their lips met softly. Charlie scooted even closer and Don turned towards him and wrapped his arm around him. They kissed long and slow, befitting the moonlight. Soon their hands were moving over each other's bodies. Charlie could feel the work that Don had put into his body, with it much firmer and more defined than when Charlie had last touched him. His hands slipped downward towards Don's ass.

Don began to kiss him harder and he slid his hand in between their bodies. His hand reached Charlie's groin and Charlie felt a vague stirring in his cock. Very vague.

With a sigh, Charlie lifted his hand from Don's ass and pushed Don's hand away from his groin.

"I think my body decided reproduction isn't necessary for my survival," Charlie said.

Don made a pained sound and withdrew his hand. When Don began to move away, Charlie grabbed his shoulder and held him close.

"Not you, though," Charlie said.

"Charlie, I…"

"I can tell you've been working out. Show me?"

Don looked at him for a moment then pulled his shirt over his head. Charlie gave a hmm of approval and ran his hand down Don's chest. He wanted to say something more about Don working out but was afraid that Alexei's name would come up and his stomach would start hurting again. Instead, he leaned forward and kissed Don's neck. He kissed his way downward, stopping for a moment to suck on each nipple. Don's breathing hitched and his fingers combed through Charlie's hair.

He reached Don's waistband and tugged at it. Don pulled off his shorts and underwear, revealing a hard cock. Charlie took it into his hand, holding it lightly, and looked up at Don.

"May I?"

"You don't have to," Don said, his voice a little ragged. "You don't have to."

"I want to," Charlie said.

That was mostly the truth. He was looking forward to wrapping his lips around Don's cock after so long, feeling the head slide over his tongue. But there was a part of him that felt he needed to do this, needed to take care of Don's sexual cravings, at least to a small degree. He couldn't imagine what Don's life was like, to be constantly goaded by his insatiable sex drive. It spoke to Don's character that he was as restrained as he was.

Don lay on his back and Charlie leaned over him. He took Don's cock into his mouth and began working it in and out. Soon Charlie's braced arms, weak as they were, began to shake.

Don must have felt his shaking, because he quickly turned on his side and scooted so that his pelvis was at a better position. Charlie smiled and returned to sucking Don's cock. Don's hand stroked Charlie's hair and face.

Charlie could tell Don was nearing orgasm quickly. That was good, Charlie didn't know how long he could keep this up, even though he was enjoying it.

Don's hand tightened in Charlie's hair then he was pumping his cum between Charlie's lips. Charlie swallowed eagerly until there was nothing left. He released Don's softening cock, gasping heavily.

"Charlie, you okay?" Don asked.

"…yeah…" Charlie managed. He lay with his cheek pressed against Don's hip until his breathing evened out. "I'm fine."

He looked up at Don in the moonlight and smiled. "Just wanted a late night snack."

Don chuckled. "Happy to provide."

"Yeah…" Charlie's eyes were drooping closed. "Good job…"

He heard Don move away and get dressed. Then Don tugged Charlie back up straight on the bed, his head on his pillow. Don pulled Charlie into his arms and Charlie was off to dreamland.

The taste of Don still in his mouth.

Chapter Text

Part 74 - Don lies to his team, Charlie lies on a couch

Riding the elevator up to his office Monday morning, Don took a deep breath and prepared to lie to his team.

Charlie was downstairs in his car, under penalty of death to not move until Don returned. Don wasn't sure if the threat was enough to keep Charlie in the car, but Don needed to prepare the way first.

Don's mind wandered to the blowjob that Charlie had given him last night. It had felt good, of course, but Charlie had been so weak he hadn't even been able to get an erection himself. Don knew that Charlie wanted to blow him, but Don was afraid that some of Charlie's motivation was his fear that Don would go back to Alexei if Charlie didn't satisfy him sexually. It revolted Don that Charlie was worried about that when all he should be worried about was getting better.

It revolted Don because he was afraid Charlie was right.

The elevator door opened and Don blinked quickly, reminding himself of his task. He'd have to skirt as close to the truth as possible - his team was skilled at sniffing out liars.

He walked across the office floor, nodding a good morning to everyone he saw and saying, "Quick announcement in the conference room."

Soon he had a trail of agents and support staff as he headed for the conference room. He waved for Liz, David, and the new agents, Nikki and Vincente, to join them. Don remembered with a start that he'd been thinking about how to make sure Vincente stayed challenged, before the bottom dropped out of Don's life with the arrival of the letter from his landlord. He shook his head. He'd be able to go back to normal concerns at some point, but not now.

When he got to the conference room and checked the group gathered, he decided that there were enough people here to make sure the message spread to the whole office.

"Morning, everybody," Don said with a smile. "Just wanted to give everyone a heads up at once." He let his smile drop. "I don't know if you've noticed but it's been a while since my brother, Charlie, worked on a case or even came by the office to visit." That got some surprised but thoughtful nods. "Well, I'm afraid he's been really sick." He held up his hand at the sounds of dismay. "We've been really worried about him but Charlie didn't want me to share it with anyone here while the doctors were figuring out what was wrong." Some protests, especially from the experienced agents that knew Charlie well. "The good news is the doctors finally think they've got it figured out, and with the right medicine and diet, they think he can make a full recovery." He smiled back at the relieved expressions. "The crucial thing he needs is absolute rest.

"Now why I'm telling you this is because my dad, who's been taking care of him, is out of town for the next two weeks. Ideally, Charlie would be at home, in bed, but he won't rest unless there's someone making him. So he's going to be coming to work with me and I'm going to put him in the back breakroom and close that off to everyone." There was some low grumbling. The back breakroom had a couch that many agents used to catch quick naps on long days. "I know it's a pain, but it's just for two weeks and Charlie needs it. You all know what Charlie has done for this office - well if you're new and you don't know, ask around and you'll see that he's a helluva important unpaid consultant." Don let a small amount of his anxiety show through. "And my little brother." The grumbling stopped.

"This illness has taken a huge toll on him and I know everyone is going to want to check on him and say 'Hi,' but I'm asking you-Charlie's doctor is asking you - to not talk with him at all, let alone ask him the fun math questions that everyone likes to toss at him. He needs rest - mental and physical. That's the way he can get better the fastest…and return to helping us on cases."

There was a faint laughter and nods. "No talking to him. Zero, okay? That's all, thanks," Don said and nodded for people to go back to their work. They left the conference room, talking in clusters. Hopefully Don's explanation was holding together.

"Wow, why didn't you tell us?" Liz asked.

Don turned to see his four agents - Liz, David, Nikki, and Vincente - all looking reproachfully at him.

"Sorry guys," Don said. "We were really scared for a while that Charlie had cancer." Without a qualm, he played the sympathy card. "You know my mom died from cancer. We didn't want to tell anyone until we knew. And then it turned out to not be cancer, we were just so relieved."

"What is it?" Vicente asked.

"Gastrointestinal." Don waved his hand. "Led to severe nutritional deficiency. I don't remember the exact term, I was too busy being happy it was treatable."

"Diverticulitis?"

"Um," Don said. That was one diagnosis he'd considered but didn't want to have to explain why Charlie wasn't on a liquid diet. "I don't think so. That doesn't sound right. I know the doctors were talking about viral versus bacterial infections, and how you might not know which one it is." That seemed general enough. "As long as he gets sufficient rest and lots of small, steady meals, he should recover."

"You said he was on medication? Which one?" Vicente pressed.

Don shrugged. He'd forgotten that Vicente had a medical background. "Little white ones?"

"Okay… Antibiotics?"

"I really need to go get Charlie from the car," Don said. "He…wanders. He's really not himself right now."

"Ouch," Liz said.

"Do you need a hand?" David asked.

"Check and make sure the back breakroom is cleared out? That no one has stacked the couch with file boxes or stuff?"

David nodded and left the conference room. Don quickly did as well. He was worried about Charlie, and also worried that if he made up more details, he'd get himself into trouble.

As he rode back down the elevator, he started to sweat. What if Charlie had gotten out of the car and gone on a walk? He would never forget how it felt to come back from the grocery store on Saturday and have Charlie be missing - then what Charlie looked like when he finally returned--Dazed, stumbling, empty-eyed, shaking.

Don reached his car and was relieved to see Charlie still sitting inside. His eyes were closed. He was probably tired out by the effort this morning to get dressed and presentable, even if Don was helping him with every step. Don knocked lightly on the window and Charlie started.

Don opened the door. "Okay, buddy, let's get you upstairs and settled in."

"What's the case?" Charlie asked sleepily.

"No case, not today."

"No case?" Charlie said with a faint smile. "The FBI run out of bad guys?"

"Yep, all out." Don didn't press to see if Charlie was teasing or really didn't understand. The mental vacancy scared Don more than anything. Charlie had always had an agile and active mind. It sometimes drove Don crazy. Now he wished more than anything for a long, esoteric lecture that only ten people in the world could understand.

Don got a backpack full of supplies from the trunk, then helped Charlie out of the car, across the parking garage, and into the elevator. He stood with his arm around Charlie's skinny shoulders as they rode up.

He kept his arm around Charlie's shoulder when they got off the elevator and begin to make their way across the office. Don heard the shocked whispers as they walked by. Don shushed people with a glare and a cutting gesture with his free hand. Charlie had a faint, vacant smile on his face and didn't try to talk to anyone.

They made it to the back breakroom. David was still inside, clearing out some trash. His eyes widened when he saw Charlie but he didn't speak. Don nodded his thanks and David left the room. Don shut the door and settled Charlie onto the couch.

"Okay, buddy," Don said. "Welcome to your home away from home. I'm going to check on you as often as I can. Don't leave the room without me, ok? See that back door? It's a little bathroom, so you don't need to leave this room."

Don began to unpack the backpack. "I've got a water bottle here and lots of little snacks. I'll put some things in the mini-fridge too, okay? Just pick whatever appeals to you. I'm going to call your doctor today but this is all I know to offer you right now. When I check on you, I'm going to see what you've eaten. Try to eat something, okay?"

Charlie looked at the food with obvious lack of interest. At least he'd eaten some oatmeal this morning - because Don spoon fed it to him.

"I've got a blanket here for you. Lay down on the couch?"

Charlie did and Don laid the blanket over him. Charlie's eyes fluttered closed, no doubt exhausted by the efforts of getting here.

"I'll be back soon," Don promised.

He leaned down and brushed his lips across Charlie's forehead. That seemed brotherly enough. He wanted to give Charlie a real kiss, but he had to assume that there was surveillance everywhere in the office. It was beyond crucial that he give no hint of his more intimate relationship with Charlie.

Don looked down at Charlie for a long moment. Then he sighed and turned away. He didn't know how he was going to be able to concentrate on his job today. All he wanted to do was hold Charlie and take care of him.

"I'll be back soon," he repeated, then with one last look, left the room.

Chapter Text

Part 75: Charlie listens to instructions and Don instructs his listeners --

Charlie stared at a packet of nuts and tried to remember where he was. He was lying on a couch in a room, but it didn't look like a home. Like an office breakroom? Don had brought him here…

The FBI secondary breakroom! Smiling at his memory returning, Charlie reached out for the packet of nuts. Don had said he'd check to see if Charlie had eaten anything, so Charlie opened and mechanically ate the nuts then drank some water. Somehow it was required to eat for Don to come back, and Charlie wanted Don to come back.

He looked at the clock on the wall, but he didn't know when they'd arrived, so he didn't know how long he'd slept. Had Don come back while he was asleep to check on him and he'd missed him?

Agitated at the idea that he'd slept through Don's visit, Charlie sat up and looked around. There wasn't a lot to see, it was a room designed for tired agents to catch some quick sleep during long cases. There were several comfortable looking chairs, a small coffee table, a mini-fridge, a water cooler, and this couch. The room had two doors, one marked Bathroom and one marked Exit. Charlie contemplated the Exit door for a moment then slowly got up and went to the bathroom.

He used the bathroom and returned to the couch, shaky from the effort. He lay back down on the couch and just closed his eyes for a minute.

 

Two hours and fourteen minutes later Charlie opened his eyes. The nut package had been thrown away. Don had been here and he'd missed him! Grumbling, Charlie sat up. There was a note on the table in Don's handwriting.

Talked to Dr. Ray. We have appointment to see him tomorrow. For now, please drink yogurt in fridge.

There wasn't a time on the note, so Don could have just left or it could have been two hours ago. He needed to have drunk the yogurt before Don got back! Charlie quickly stood up from the couch - then regretted it as the room swirled around him. He collapsed back on the couch, breathing hard.

He waited until the room settled, then tried again. The room stayed steady, but he wasn't sure he could take the steps required for him to reach the mini-fridge. He had apparently used up all his energy earlier to get to the bathroom. What was the ratio of nut calories to usable energy?

Smiling that a math question had occurred to him - though he wasn't able to solve it yet, Charlie decided it was a waste of his little energy to worry about verticality. He got on hands and knees and crawled across the floor to the fridge. Opening the door, he found the 6-pack of drinkable yogurts that Don had gotten Saturday. He'd never liked the taste but he had his instructions. Feeling virtuous, he took out two bottles. He sat on the floor and drank one after another. He had to sit for a minute to make sure the yogurt didn't come right back up. To calm his stomach, he pictured Don returning, Don smiling at him, Don touching his cheek. When it looked like the yogurt would stay down, Charlie crawled back to the couch. He placed the two empty yogurt bottles next to the note, like trophies.

He climbed back up onto the couch and waited for Don to return - with his eyes closed.

 

When Charlie opened his eyes again, the yogurt bottles were gone. He groaned in frustration that he'd missed Don again. He sat up to see if Don had left him another note. To the earlier note was added the words, Good job, buddy! I'll bring lunch for us next time.

Charlie grumbled loudly and closed his eyes again. This time, though, he wasn't able to drop off to sleep. He lay on the couch and watched the clock. His brain sluggishly tried to start analyzing time and motion. It didn't get very far, but it was nice to feel like his brain was still there somewhere. He lay on his back and counted squares in the ceiling.

By one o'clock, he couldn't stand to wait any more. Don must have gotten caught up in a case and forgotten lunch. Charlie pushed aside the spurt of annoyance that Don would choose his job over him. Don's dedication to helping people was one of the many reasons that Charlie loved him.

Charlie stood up slowly and the room stayed where it should be. He walked over to the Exit door and opened it. So far, so good.

He stepped out into the hall and tried to remember where this breakroom was in relation to Don's desk.

"Dr. Eppes! Wait!"

He blinked and looked into the office across the hall. There was a young woman that he couldn't remember if he'd been introduced to before.

"Um, hi?" he said as she got up from her desk and hurried towards him.

"Hi! I'm Agent McDonald. Tammy. I don't know if you remember me."

Charlie shook his head. "Hi. I was just…" He started to edge down the hallway.

She shifted to block him with an apologetic smile. "Agent Eppes gave me very specific instructions. I'm not to let you leave the breakroom. If you show up, I'm to give you… Hang on." She held up her hand and backed into her office, keeping her eyes on him. "Wait a sec."

Charlie watched her, hoping it was another note from Don, but she came back with a tablet.

Tammy said, "I spent the morning loading videos on it. 'Restful' videos, he said. I tried to put a variety of things on there that were restful, but one man's restful is another man's stimulating, so who's to say? Some people find nature shows restful but I tend to start thinking about climate change and deforestation and-" She winced. "Sorry, Agent Eppes says I'm not really supposed to talk to you. Something about 'mental rest' and here I am chatting away about-" She grimaced and tried again. "There's baseball, sailing, classical music concerts, painting, dogs, even one of just a fireplace burning. Let me know if you have any technical issues. I'll be right across the hall all day. All the next two weeks, in fact."

Charlie took the tablet and looked at it. He then gave her a half-smile. "Don assigned you to be my jailor?"

"I, uh, well…"

He smiled fully and shook his head. "It's okay. Some other day I'd love to talk about mathematical models for climate change, but not today."

"No," she agreed, looking chagrined. "And I'm to tell you that if Don gets called away for lunch, there's a sandwich and some juice in the fridge. And that you should eat it all."

"Did he get called away?"

She shrugged. "Looks like it. He's been here a bunch of times this morning, but not for a few hours."

Charlie nodded and, with a sigh, turned back towards the breakroom aka his jail cell. Tammy gave him a cheerful wave. Charlie saw there was a sign on the door that said, 'The Breakroom is unavailable until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.'

That's what Charlie was, an inconvenience.

His shoulders hunched, Charlie returned to the breakroom and shut the door behind him. He set the tablet on the couch and checked out the mini-fridge. Indeed, it now had a ham and cheese sandwich and orange juice that hadn't been there earlier. He got out the sandwich and juice and set them down on the table. He turned on the tablet and scrolled through the videos. Selecting a replay of the 1993 World Series Game 4 between the Blue Jays and Phillies, he started the video and opened his sandwich. He wasn't sure that Tammy realized that it was the World Series game known for most runs and hits, so a lot of action, but it was a game Charlie knew well, so he supposed it was restful after all.

Some time later, he'd finished the sandwich and juice and even some potato chips that had Don had left this morning. The game was still going on, so he set the tablet up sideways and lay down to watch the remainder. Whenever he watched baseball, he pictured Don in his uniform, and his mind would drift off pleasantly. Since he was a teenager, he'd watched most baseball games with a full-on erection. This time was no different, and he found his body trying to stir. He tried to calm himself, knowing he wasn't ready for that yet. Finally, the effort of talking, eating, and becoming aroused was too much and even a lively baseball game couldn't keep him awake.

 

Don sat in the FBI surveillance van, grumbling to himself.

David looked over. "You see something?"

Don shook his head. "Just didn't plan on spending the afternoon watching Nikki sit on a bench and drink yet more coffee and watching Vincente run laps around the park."

"Mo should show up soon," David said. "All the intel says he will."

"I know…" Don stared at the monitors. They were out here to catch a very dangerous man and they had solid intel that the man would show up at the park to meet someone today. Normally Don wouldn't mind hanging out in the van and watching Vincente in his little running shorts and tight tank top. Vincente was a very attractive man. He was even more pleasant to watch, in Don's mind, because Vincente was happily married and not about to be interested in Don. Usually, Don could just appreciate Vicente's form and wait for their quarry to show. Not today, though.

"Tammy will take care of him," Liz said from Don's other side.

"Take care of…?" David started, then grimaced. "Right. Yes, I forgot about… Tammy will take care of Charlie."

Don stopped himself from saying, I want to be the one to take care of him. Instead he said, "I know. It's just… My dad had been kinda shielding me from how bad it was. I didn't really know until it was my turn to be in charge."

Don couldn't tell them the truth, of course, and it was so much worse. He didn't know how bad Charlie had gotten until he was forced to look. He would have avoided Charlie for longer, if his dad hadn't gone on a trip. Maybe avoided him until it was too late, until there was no coming back from the state he'd put himself in.

No. And that was the worst part. Charlie hadn't put himself in that state.

Don had.

Charlie's stomach pain was all due to Don's selfish desire to have a normal relationship with Alexei. He'd tried, and it had been really nice, but it had been a sham. Thank God he woke up from that before Charlie was too far gone.

Don knew that he wasn't a man who could have a normal relationship. He was too fucked up. But that didn't mean Charlie had to suffer for it.

"There's Mo!" Liz said.

Don felt the burst of adrenaline that always came when a criminal was spotted, and his brain kicked into high gear to direct his team.

And Don was able to focus on his job for a while.

Chapter Text

Part 76 - Charlie relaxes and Don relapses

It was almost 4 o'clock before Don got back to the office. He didn't even stop by his desk but headed straight for the breakroom. He stopped with his hand on the door and turned to the office across the hall. Agent Tammy McDonald, an impossibly perky junior agent, was standing up from a desk. She normally had a desk in the bullpen with everyone else, but she'd be installed in this office for the next two weeks.

"He came out at 1:03 pm," Tammy said. "I gave him the tablet that I'll filled up with as restful as videos as I could find. I also informed him about the sandwich and juice that was in the fridge."

"And?" Don asked.

"He took the tablet and returned to the breakroom."

Don eyed her. "Did you guys talk?"

She flushed. "I tried to keep it to the minimum."

"That's good," Don said, then took pity on her. "I know you'd love to talk more with him, especially about his statistical modeling. He'll love to talk endlessly with you about it, once he gets healthy."

"Yes, sir," Tammy said with a smile. "I look forward to it."

Don nodded then opened the door. Charlie was sleeping, so Don shut it carefully behind him.

"Good, good," Don murmured as he found the empty containers for the sandwich, potato chips, and orange juice. He checked out the tablet that was propped up on the table, then grinned as he saw what Charlie had been watching. Don had suggested to Tammy that she put some baseball on there, and the game Charlie had on was a fun game to watch, unless you were a Phillies fan. Tammy would have no idea that Charlie had a serious baseball fetish and that Don was his favorite fantasy player.

Don touched Charlie's cheek. "Hey, buddy."

Charlie blinked and lifted his head. "Don? Did I miss you again?"

"What?" Don laughed. "I'm right here. Sorry about lunch. Got a last-minute stakeout."

"Did you catch him?"

"Yeah. Nikki did one of the neatest takedowns I've ever seen. Didn't even spill a drop of her coffee."

"Good, good," Charlie said, lowering his head back to the couch. "I ate all the lunch."

"Good job. How's your stomach?"

Charlie looked up at him with those big brown eyes. "Fine, now that you're here."

Don wanted to lean over and kiss him, but restrained himself. He wouldn't put it past someone to have put secret cameras in here, hoping to catch a private liaison. Instead of a kiss, he brushed a curl back from Charlie's face. "I can't stay long, of course. But let me… Hmm, I think I had a sandwich in the regular breakroom. I'll be right back."

"I keep being asleep when you come."

"I know. I'll wake you up this time."

"Promise?"

"Yes."

Don got up and quickly left to get his sandwich and some coffee then hurried back. Charlie did have his eyes closed when Don returned. He put his hand on Charlie's shoulder. Charlie jerked back awake and smiled at him.

"Okay," Don said, sitting on the floor near the head of the couch. "I'm gonna eat my lunch, even though it's almost dinner time, and you're going to tell me all about the 1993 World Series."

"Prefer pinstripes," Charlie mumbled.

Don chuckled. "I know, buddy." He leaned forward and murmured in Charlie's ear. "I'll wear them sometime, just for you."

Charlie's eyes opened wide. "I'll remember you said that."

"Do," Don said with a laugh. "Now, I bet you don't remember the final score."

"Jays won 15-14."

"Or the ERA of the winning pitcher."

"Tony Castillo, 5.06."

"Or the on-base percentage of the Phillies," Don said, going further into baseball statistics.

".449."

"Or the Jays player with the highest average leverage index," Don pressed.

"Ed Sprague, 3.92."

Don grinned. "See, I knew that amazing brain was still in there."

Charlie looked at him for a moment then smiled back. "Hey, yeah. It's a start."

"More than a start. What's more mathy than baseball?"

"Mathy?" Charlie laughed.

Don smiled, feeling hopeful for the first time in days. Charlie was still in there. "Now, break it down for me. Which player made the fatal mistake?"

 

After Don ate his sandwich, listening to the pleasant sound of Charlie rambling on about baseball, he settled Charlie back in to watch another baseball game. This time it was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between the Twins and the Braves, a low-scoring but still exciting game. Tammy had worked hard on the tablet, with a lot of good relaxing videos, but Charlie was most interested in baseball. That didn't surprise Don - and he had to damp down his arousal when he thought about Charlie's confessions about his baseball kink. Don was going to have to be sexually frustrated for some time. He didn't want another blow job like the one Charlie gave him last night, because it had obviously been a lot of work for Charlie. Don sent angry thoughts to himself about his selfishness. He could go without sex for a month or so, right? His stupid cock gave a reproachful throb and Don gritted his teeth. Maybe he could just check in on Alexei to pick up some things he'd left at Alexei's place…

He gritted his teeth harder at the wave of self-hate that washed over him. Charlie had relapsed at the thought that Don might go back to Alexei, and here Don was actually contemplating it. His hands trembled as he patted Charlie's blanket and stood up. Charlie was already asleep, worn out from talking as Don ate. Don went to the little bathroom attached to the breakroom. There he locked himself inside and leaned over the toilet. He breathed heavily as his sandwich threatened to come back up. He hadn't thrown up since he'd gotten his ribs broken, since he realized that he'd willingly get beaten again if it guaranteed a fuck. Now he was endangering Charlie's fragile recovery for a quick sex relief. If he went to Alexei now, Charlie would never believe - never should believe - in the future when Don claimed he hadn't gone out for a fuck. Charlie's stomach pains would return and he would stop eating again and it would be Don's fault again.

But goddamn him how he wanted to…

Don closed his eyes and breathed as deeply as he could. He focused on the image of Charlie's gaunt face and brittle hair. He repeated over and over that Charlie needed him to be strong this time, though Don had been weak all his life. He didn't need it today, didn't need that connection and fulfillment that was lifeblood to him. Didn't need it… Finally, his stomach settled. No Alexei today. No other men today, tomorrow, or ever. He could wait until Charlie was healthy. He could do this.

He didn't really believe himself, but at least he felt able to get through this day. He straightened up. He went to the sink and checked his face. He looked pale but okay. Leaving the bathroom, he stood and looked at Charlie for a long time. This is what mattered now. This is what Don needed, to see Charlie getting better.

He took a few more deep breaths and reminded himself of the case that he was working on. Thoughts of interrogating Mo got his head back into work mode and he was able to leave the breakroom and head back to his desk.

One day at a time.

Chapter Text

Part 77: Charlie looks up at Don, while Don looks down on himself

Charlie had finished the long ten inning World Series game and was looking for another to watch when Don came to take him home. It was earlier than Charlie expected, but Don assured him that his team had decided it was best for their suspect to spend the night in lockup and interrogate him in the morning. Charlie wished he could watch that interrogation instead of any baseball video. He'd always enjoyed watching Don work. Don had an earnest but smart style that brought a surprised confession from many a suspect. Some other time, Charlie promised himself, and let Don help him out to his car.

At home, Don made them supper - Don from one of their dad's girlfriend's many casseroles and soup for Charlie - then they relaxed on the couch. Don was watching some sports show and running his fingers through Charlie's hair. It was so soothing that Charlie felt his eyes closing for his sixth nap of the day.

"I wished I could touch you more at work," Don said. "But this is good."

Charlie blinked his eyes open. There is something else that could be good… Charlie shifted the hand that was on Don's thigh and began moving it towards Don's crotch. Don stopped it firmly.

"Not tonight, Charlie," Don said. "I want it, believe me, but not now. We can wait for a while, right?"

"I can just…"

"No, not until we can both participate."

Charlie sighed. He wanted the feel of Don's cock in his hand. But Don wanted to be fucked, and nothing short of that would be acceptable. Even Charlie's blowjob last night hadn't satisfied him. Don didn't understand that Charlie didn't need orgasms of his own to enjoy things. He loved making Don feel good. And if he made Don feel good enough, Don wouldn't need to go elsewhere.

Charlie felt a sharp pain in his stomach. He clenched his teeth until it passed. When he could speak, he said, "I just like touching you. I don't need to participate. Just let me do this."

"I'm not… I don't need it. I can just wait."

"You only want to be fucked," Charlie said with a sigh.

"No! I…I mean, yes, sort of, I like that but I also like…" Don's hand clenched and unclenched in Charlie's hair. "God, Charlie, I'm not going back to Alexei because you can't fuck me today."

"Or tomorrow?"

"No!"

Charlie didn't reply. He wanted to believe Don, but apparently part of him did not because pains were shooting through his stomach.

"I only want to be with you," Don said.

Charlie closed his eyes and tried to keep his breathing smooth to not show his pain.

"You know what?" Don said with a forced-sounding laugh. "It was a stressful day. I wouldn't mind a little stress relief." He picked up Charlie's hand and put it where it had been heading a moment before - Don's crotch.

Smiling in relief, Charlie opened his eyes and began running his hand over Don's groin through his jeans. He went slow, savoring the permission to do this. His stomach pains faded. Soon he began to feel the shape of Don's erection. He rubbed it up and down through the denim, looking up at Don's face. Don was looking down at him but his face was unreadable.

Charlie tried a joke. "I only had soup for supper. I need some meat."

Don smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes.

Charlie turned back to his task. He could make Don feel good, he had the skills - if he could just summon the energy. He continued to rub Don's cock through his jeans. He'd always liked how tight Don wore his jeans, allowing Charlie to catch glimpses over the years of erections. He never thought he'd get a chance to get his hands on that erection.

And he was planning getting more than his hands on it.

Charlie unbuttoned Don's jeans and slid down the zipper bit by bit. Don's erection bulged out and Charlie stroked it through his white cotton underwear. Charlie felt the warmth of it through the cotton, a warmth like no other. He liked men, he liked cocks, but this was Don's so it was special. This must be his favorite cock in the world.

No… Charlie stifled a giggle. His favorite cock was his own, or how else would he be able to fuck Don?

His urge to giggle faded as he realized his own cock was still soft, even though he had been rubbing Don's erection. Normally Charlie's cock got hard with even the idea of touching Don.

He pushed the fear aside that he'd done permanent damage to his body. Don had given him permission for a blow and that's all that mattered.

Charlie sat up slowly, checking his head but the dizziness stayed away.

He smiled at Don. "Take off your underwear and jeans?"

Don gave a silent nod and stood up. Charlie got carefully to the floor.

"Charlie," Don protested. "You're not up to-"

"I'm okay," Charlie said. "I like this angle."

"If you're sure…"

Charlie got to his knees and waved to the couch. Don slowly got undressed from the waist down and sat back down on the couch, his knees to both sides of Charlie.

Charlie ran his hands up Don's thighs, his eyes on Don's already hard cock. He stroked Don's legs for a while, just admiring this closeup view of Don's cock. Before the sex at the mountain retreat, Charlie hadn't seen it since puberty, since before he thought about a cock as anything but a way to urinate. It was a particularly attractive cock - thick, long, and with a perfectly-shaped head.

"Charlie, if you're too tired…" Don said.

"Just enjoying the view," Charlie said.

Don gave a startled laugh, which trailed off into a groan when Charlie leaned forward and licked a long stripe up that lovely cock. Holding the cock gently, Charlie rubbed his cheek against it, but not too hard - his cheeks were already stubbly even though Don had helped him shave this morning. He moved the head of Don's cock up and over his face, rubbing it against his nose, his eyelids. Then he licked it with the flat of his tongue.

Charlie shifted his position on the floor, then begin in earnest. He licked and slurped, running the edge of the head around the inside of his lips. He pulled off and covered Don's cock with saliva, then sucked him in deeper. With one hand he cradled Don's balls, with the other he braced himself. Don's hands rested in his hair.

Feeling alert by all the napping he'd done that day, Charlie was able to bring some of his considerable cock-sucking skills to bear. He knew it wasn't all about depth, but also knew when taking a cock in deep felt good. But before he'd given that cock - and Don - even half of what they deserved, Charlie started to tire.

No longer backing off, Charlie began to push Don towards orgasm. Don's hand tightened in his hair and his legs trembled. He made a warning sound. Charlie sucked harder, reading himself.

With a moan, Don came, jamming his cock into Charlie's mouth and pumping his cum down Charlie's throat. Charlie swallowed eagerly, pulling Don's cock in further. Don rocked against Charlie's mouth for a long while before coming to a shaky stop.

Sucking gently, Charlie let Don's cock slide out of his mouth. He kissed it then Don's thighs and stomach.

Leaning with a happy sigh against Don's thigh, Charlie looked up at Don's face.

All color had drained out of Don's face.

Charlie swallowed a few times before he could talk. "Don? What's wrong?"

"I'm such a whore," Don whispered, not looking at him. "I should be able to go without it for a while."

"Maybe, but I don't want to."

Don looked down at him. "But you didn't get to…"

"It makes me feel close to you."

"You're not doing it because…you're worried I'll go find someone else?"

Charlie smiled sadly. "Can't it be both?"

Don looked at him for a moment. "I guess."

"Help me up," Charlie said.

Don quickly leaned down to help Charlie back to his feet. Charlie swayed a little then sat heavily on the couch. Looks like the equation was six naps equaled one blowjob and no more.

Don picked up his clothes and got dressed again, his face turned away. Charlie saw Don swallow convulsively several times.

"Want something to drink?" Don mumbled.

"Sure, some orange juice," Charlie said.

Don nodded and left the room.

After a few minutes, he returned with a beer and a cup of orange juice for Charlie.

"Only my second beer for the day," Don said, his face calm and with returned color. "Keeping my alcohol intake low still."

"Good," Charlie said, accepting the juice. "I'm proud of you."

"Thanks."

They drank for a moment in silence. The TV was still running some sports talk show and they both pretended to watch it. Charlie finished his drink and set the cup aside. He waited as Don steadily drank his beer. Charlie was so relieved that Don's heavy drinking hadn't returned. That had been scary to watch.

Don finished his beer and took the empty bottle and juice cup to the fridge. He returned and sat next to Charlie.

Don ran a hand over Charlie's hair. "It's getting time for bed. I know you're tired."

"I am," Charlie agreed. He looked at Don, at the strain that was still in Don's eyes.

Since Charlie had only said it once, and it was something that needed repeating, Charlie said, "I love you, Don."

"I love you, too, buddy," Don said with a faint smile.

"I meant romantic love," Charlie pressed. "Not just familial love. I love you both ways. Do…you?"

Don sighed and dropped his head back against the couch. "I don't think there is such a thing as 'romantic love.' Familial love? Yes. Love of country and stuff like that? Yes. Romantic love doesn't exist."

"What do you mean?"

"It's just… It's just sex and companionship and lying to ourselves."

Charlie grimaced. "You think I'm lying to myself?"

"I…" Don stared off into space for a while, then said quietly, "No, I don't think you are. I think you love me, romantically. I think that I'm just the one who lies to myself."

"What do you mean?" Charlie said, putting his hand on Don's arm.

Don looked down at Charlie's hand. "I think that for me it is just sex and companionship. I've said, 'I love you' so many times in my life, but I was really just saying, 'I want to have more sex with you.' All I've got is the need for sex. You've got so much more."

Charlie squeezed Don's arm. "I think you're selling yourself short."

"Thanks for thinking that," Don said. "But…yeah. I don't love you, Charlie, not like that, because I have never loved anyone like that, ever. I'm not capable of it."

Charlie sighed and leaned against Don. "You are."

"I wish you were right." Don wrapped his arm around Charlie. "I wish to God you were."

Charlie nestled against Don, suppressing the urge to argue. How do you argue against such an idea? Don was capable of love of all kinds, Charlie knew this in his bones. He'd observed Don all his life and Charlie had never seen anyone with so much compassion for others and so little for himself.

They sat silently for a while, watching the TV but not really seeing it. Finally, Don said, "Time to get you to bed."

"With you."

"Of course. For now. Until Dad gets back."

Charlie shook his head. He didn't want to think about that now. "I like sleeping with you."

"Yeah," Don agreed with a faint smile. "It's nice."

"So," Charlie said as Don helped him up the stairs. "Back to my breakroom prison tomorrow?"

"Eventually," Don said. "But first, we have an appointment with Dr. Ray." Don's hand tightened slightly on Charlie's arm. "And I plan to read him the riot act for not helping you sooner."

"Don't blame Dr. Ray. I lied to him about a lot of things. This isn't his fault."

"No, it's mine," Don said flatly.

Charlie stumbled on the stairs. "Wait, what?"

Don steadied him and continued them up the stairs. "But if I can put a little blame on Dr. Ray, I may not explode."

"Wait, Don, this isn't your fault!"

Don stopped and glared at him. "Then who the hell's fault is it?"

"Mine!" Charlie said. "I'm the one who can't deal. My fault! You had a good thing with Alexei and I had to screw it up because I'm obsessive and stupid and selfish and-"

"Charlie, stop!"

Charlie was swaying, the stairs wobbling under his feet. He grabbed his stomach with his free hand.

"Dammit!" Don snapped. "Let's get you to bed."

Charlie let Don half-carry him up the stairs and down the hall to his room. Don lowered him into the bed and Charlie turned away from him, curling up into a ball. He felt Don lay down on the bed behind him, then wrap his body around Charlie's.

"Hey, hey," Don said, in that calming, earnest way that he'd used so many times in Charlie's life. "Come on back to me, buddy. We don't need to argue about this. Not now."

"Why would you think it was your fault?" Charlie said, his throat feeling tight with tears.

"Because… because I wanted to go to Alexei today. Because I'm a whore."

"But you didn't…?" Charlie asked, pain shooting through his stomach.

"No, hell no."

"Good."

"But I wanted to, that's enough."

"No!" Charlie turned his head to look at Don. "Wanting to, I understand. This is how you have been trained to deal with your needs since the beginning. It takes a while to learn a new way."

Don was silent for a moment, then said, "You're too understanding."

"No, I'm not. If you'd gone to Alexei for sex, I would have totally gone crazy and made you…" Charlie shook his head and continued bitterly, "I would have done nothing but thrown up and gone on a walk."

"Oh, Charlie," Don said, wrapping his arms around him and burying his face in Charlie's neck. His muffled voice came, "I hurt you."

Charlie made himself pause instead of immediately denying it. "In a way," he admitted. "But…" He gave a wry laugh. "I'm sure there's some song lyric that fits, something about how love hurts. I don't care, I still love you. We'll get through this. Together."

Don pressed his face against Charlie's neck for a long while, holding Charlie tight.

Finally, Don murmured, "I don't deserve you."

"You do," Charlie said fervently. "You do." Charlie pushed his hand under Don's and entwined their fingers. "You actually deserve a lot more than me, a lot more than a neurotic, obsessive brother that can't even-"

"Charlie!" Don said, "Stop. I said we weren't going to argue about whose fault it was. Not now, maybe never."

"But…"

"You need to rest," Don said firmly.

"…ok," Charlie said. He was tired out even by the short argument. At least his stomach seemed to have calmed down, due to the way that Don had been holding him and Don's reassuring words.

Don got out of bed and went downstairs. He came back with crackers and juice and put them by the side of the bed. "In case you get hungry," he told Charlie and turned off the light.

Don settled into bed and took Charlie back into his arms. Charlie cuddled with a happy sigh against him.

Don kissed his head. "Goodnight, Charlie. Sleep well."

"Okay," Charlie murmured, his alertness quickly fading. "As long as you're with me."

"I'm here," Don said.

As Charlie drifted off, he heard Don whisper, "I just don't know if I'll be able to stay."

Chapter Text

Part 78: Charlie and Don go to the doctor

Charlie sat and looked at the floor as Don and Dr. Ray talked over his head. Dr. Ramakrishnan, aka Dr. Ray, had been Charlie’s doctor on and off since he moved up from a pediatrician. Dr. Ray had been shocked by Charlie’s condition when Don had brought Charlie in this morning and now he and Don were discussing what to do about it. They’d tried to involve Charlie in the conversation but gave up when he just mumbled or shrugged. He didn’t want to be here, he wanted to be home with Don. He was embarrassed and uncomfortable and just the trip to the doctor’s office was exhausting.

The morning had started off well. Any morning that Charlie woke up in the same bed as Don was a good morning. Don had gotten Charlie dressed and fed him yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast. Don had held Charlie’s hand and the stomach pains had stayed away.

Don had then called into his office, having a long conversation with David about some ongoing investigation. Charlie had been happy to just sit and watch Don walk around and listen to his half of an animated conversation. Charlie knew that eventually he’d need his brain to start working again, and at some point he’d be panicked to realize just how bad his mental state had been, but he didn’t care yet. Not when Don was nearby.

Don had told his office he’d be in soon then driven them to Dr. Ray’s office. Now they were discussing diets and tests. Dr. Ray wanted to put Charlie in the hospital but Don was trying to head that off. Dr. Ray asked if Charlie had seen the therapist that he’d referred him to. Charlie shook his head no and looked at the floor some more.

Don put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder. Then Don started to spin out a long, complicated story about this coworker that Charlie was obsessed with that Charlie couldn’t have a relationship with. Charlie remembered vaguely telling Don about the lie about a coworker he’d told Dr. Ray, in order to explain his psychosomatic symptoms. Charlie couldn’t exactly admit he that the person he was obsessed with his brother. Don continued the story but saying that the coworker was moving out of the department after this semester, and since Charlie was on medical leave, Charlie wasn’t seeing “her” as often. Don said he had been removing any triggers for her out of Charlie’s life and Charlie was doing much better on that front. Don was being his most charming and persuasive that Charlie didn’t need further psychological treatment or a hospital, that Don’s care would be enough. Dr. Ray was skeptical, but he would give Don one week to show improvement in Charlie or else he would insist on hospitalization. As it was, he was going to require bloodwork and he saw problems, he’d put Charlie in the hospital anyway. Charlie managed a relieved smile at Dr. Ray and promised to follow the doctor’s – and Don’s -- instructions completely.

They left with half a dozen pages of printouts. Don and Charlie got in his car then Don drove around the corner and parked under a tree.

“Whew,” Don said, smiling crookedly at Charlie. “That was close.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said. “I do not want to go to a hospital.”

Don turned to face him. “You’ll do everything he said to do?”

“Yes.”

“Eat and tell me if you throw up?”

“Yes.”

“If you take off on a walk once, I will tell Dr. Ray to put you in that hospital.”

“I won’t.”

Don reached over and stroked Charlie’s cheek. “Dammit, Charlie,” he said huskily. “This scared me. I thought I knew how bad it was but I didn’t really know. Why on earth you would do that for me—” Don stopped himself and ruffled Charlie’s hair. “Let’s get you a snack then get that bloodwork done.”

Two hours after that they left a local laboratory where they’d gone to get Charlie’s blood drawn. It had been a struggle. After an hour, Charlie had managed to give up enough blood to satisfy the lab tech. The tech had told Charlie he was dehydrated and insisted on him drinking several juice cans before he was allowed to leave.

Looking grim, Don stopped at a grocery store. He left Charlie in the car and came back with more juice and items from the doctor’s food list. Charlie looked at all the food and groaned. He would have a hard time eating all this even if he ate all day. The expression on Don’s face made him swallow his complaints – and some pomegranate juice. Don didn’t have to remind him that they only had one week for him to show improvement or it was into the hospital. That’s if the bloodwork turned out okay.

Finally, they got to the FBI office. Charlie collapsed, exhausted, onto the couch in his break room, not even bothering to complain about being put back in jail. His jailor, Agent Tammy MacDonald, was still getting instructions from Don when Charlie drifted off.

 

Don paused at the doorway to the break room. Charlie didn’t look like he’d moved, even though it had been four and a half hours since Don had left him here. Tammy had checked in on Charlie, but said she’d never seen him awake. Don hadn’t wanted to be gone so long, but since he’d basically taken the morning off, he’d had a lot of work to make up. Don quietly shut the door behind him. Charlie looked so skinny. Don wanted to take food and put it straight into his body – which is what they would be doing in a hospital, he realized. Maybe he was being selfish, wanting to take care of Charlie himself instead of letting professionals do it. He just felt like it was his fault that Charlie had gotten into this state, so he had to do anything to get him out of it.

Grimacing, he looked at his watch. He had a conference call with the Las Vegas field office in 10 minutes so he couldn’t linger. He went and crouched down next to Charlie.

Touching his cheek, he said, “Hey, buddy.”

Charlie blinked and licked his lips. Those lips looked dry, but the lab tech had warned him that severe dehydration couldn’t be solved all at once. Don went to the little fridge and got out some mango juice and a turkey sandwich.

“I don’t have long,” Don said as he helped Charlie to sit up. “That gas station money laundering case is heating up.”

“Did they catch the guy?” Charlie asked.

“No and it’s starting to look bigger than we thought. We even—” Don paused. “I’ll talk while you drink that juice and eat that sandwich.”

Charlie grumbled but he began to chew and swallow the sandwich. Don continued his narrative, putting in as many math-related details that he could think of. It was hard to tell if Charlie was following what he was saying, or if Don could have been speaking French for all he understood. Don kept a smile on his face and talked until the clock told him he needed to leave. He kissed Charlie’s forehead and said he’d be back as soon as he could. He felt Charlie’s eyes on him as he left.

Two hours and 13 minutes later - Don had been counting - Don paused with his hand on the knob to the break room. Tammy, who was sitting in the office across the hall, smiled and nodded to him. When he paused further, she came out.

“He’s awake,” Tammy said. “This morning I made sure his tablet was filled with new content. He seemed to like the baseball the most, so I put more of that.”

Don chuckled wryly. “He does like baseball.”

“I checked on him at 5:17. Since your last visit, he’s had 12 ounces of orange juice and 10 ounces of miso soup. I warmed the soup for him.”

“Thanks,” Don nodded. He’d given Tammy the doctor’s printouts and asked her to make sure that Charlie kept pushing fluids. It was beyond the scope of her job to be asking her this, but Charlie was considered a member of the team here. Besides, she got a cushy private office for two weeks and time off the usual grunt work that the most junior agents had to do. Still, it galled Don that anyone had to take care of Charlie but him.

“He, uh…”

“Yes?”

She smiled sheepishly. “He had the strong request that we get softer toilet paper for the bathroom in there.”

“Ok,” Don said. “I’ll get some tonight. Did he ask for anything else?”

She shook her head and Don hid his disappointment. The Charlie he knew, a healthy Charlie, wouldn’t have been satisfied to stay in a room all day with just baseball videos and miso soup.

“A day at a time,” Don said, more for himself than her.

“Of course.”

Don opened the breakroom door and went in. Charlie was sitting up, watching a video. He looked up and smiled when he saw it was Don.

“How are you feeling?” Don asked.

“Like a camel.”

“You checking the color of your urine?”

“Yes, Nurse Eppes.”

“Almost clear yet?”

“…no.”

“Okay, more fluids.”

“Ugh…”

Don sat down on the couch near Charlie. He wanted to put his arm around Charlie but wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep it brotherly. “Dr. Ray called, the bloodwork came back. He says you’re only staying out of the hospital by the skin of your teeth. And he’s going to have you do it again in one week and if the tests don’t look better…”

“Into hospital,” Charlie said gloomily.

Don patted his knee. “What are you watching?”

“Recent game. Twins and Tigers, Oct 2009. The AL Central tiebreaker.”

“I remember that one.”

“Pretty good.” But he set the tablet aside. “How is the gas station case?”

“Eat something while I talk?”

Charlie sighed but didn’t protest when Don opened the fridge and got out a protein smoothie. He swallowed it down with a grimace. Don filled Charlie in on developments, but he had the feeling that Charlie wasn’t really interested, he just wanted Don nearby.

After a few minutes, Don said, “I’ve got maybe 45 minutes of work left to do today then I want to go downstairs and workout. That okay, buddy?”

Charlie dropped his eyes and nodded. Don resisted the urge to say anything further. On the off chance that Charlie wasn’t thinking about Alexei, Don didn’t want to bring him up. But Don needed to keep up with his hard-won physical fitness and he didn’t dare leave Charlie alone at home to go to a gym. Fortunately, the office building had a gym and Don always kept workout clothes here, just in case.

“After I’m done, I’ll come get you and we can go home. Think about what you want for supper, okay?”

Charlie nodded again but didn’t look up. At least he wasn’t grabbing his belly, like he did when the stomach pains got bad.

“See you soon,” Don said with forced cheerfulness and left.

 

Charlie was watching a baseball game but he was thinking about Don. Well, he was always thinking about Don, but this time he was remembering a moment from their mountain resort. It wasn’t one of the pleasant moments that Charlie usually replayed endlessly. It was the morning after the first time, the morning after Charlie had coaxed Don into letting Charlie suck his cock in the middle of the night then Don had demonstrated the hand-n-hump. Don had been horrified the next morning, panicked, and hid in the shower. Then he’d grabbed his running clothes and left, presumably to the resort exercise room. When he’d returned to the room, over an hour later, he had looked horrible. He was soaked with sweat, grey-faced and trembling. He’d obviously run himself into the ground to try to get away from the memory of what had happened between them.

Charlie pictured Don downstairs in the gym. Was he running away from Charlie still? Charlie knew that Don would never admit that he was, but Charlie and his problems would make anyone would want to run away. Charlie also knew how damaging to Don was Charlie’s inability to let Don have a good relationship without him. Charlie had tried so hard to let Don go, stepped aside for Alexei. His body had refused to do it. Now that Charlie knew that Don was the love of his life, Charlie literally couldn’t swallow losing him.

Charlie put down the tablet and picked up his coconut water. He knew Tammy would be in to check on him soon. He took a drink, set it down, picked it up again and took another drink.

Charlie felt like he was in a race.

Would his health improve enough fast enough or would he be put in the hospital?

But that wasn’t the race he was the most worried about.

Would Don be able to hold out until Charlie could have sex with him or would Don go back to Alexei first?

Don was working out downstairs. How long until Don missed his exercise partner, his sex partner? Charlie could be neither right now.

Dammit, why couldn’t he have let Don stay with Alexei…

Charlie sipped his coconut water and remembered another moment from the resort, right after Don had come back from running himself sick.

At that time, Don had pushed past Charlie and gone to stare out the picture window at the winter mountains. Charlie had stepped around Don and gotten a good look at his face.

What was on Don’s face had sent a cold stab of fear into Charlie’s chest. Charlie had seen this look before, though not from Don. It was the look of a suspect who had stopped caring about anything, who saw no escape, no hope, no future. It was the look of a suspect who was about to raise his gun, force the FBI’s hand. It was the look of a suspect who was about to deliberately walk into a bullet.

Charlie shuddered now, remembering it.

Was Charlie forcing Don to choose him, forcing him into a relationship that had no future?

Charlie set down the coconut water and laid down on the couch. The anger and self-hate that pulsed through him was like nothing he could ever remember. Was this how Don felt? How did he survive it? And why could Charlie not stop making it worse?

Charlie closed his eyes. The race he was running suddenly seemed pointless. The most he could help Don was to not be here at all.

Chapter Text

Part 79: Charlie goes down and Don lifts him up

Don hurried down the hall towards the breakroom, his hair still wet from the gym showers. He'd rushed through his workout, worried about Charlie. Don knew that Charlie associated exercise with Alexei, and that made sense. It was Alexei that got Don back into shape after the damage that the heavy drinking and the relationship with Colby had done. But now Don needed to keep it up. It wasn't just vanity or health concerns, he needed to be fast and strong for his job. There had been many times when his physical fitness had saved his life, whether he was wrestling with a syringe-holding psycho or dodging bullets. His time with Colby had been a long gamble, both with his safety and his team's, and he wasn't going back to that.

Don had to admit, though, that he missed Alexei being on the treadmill or weight machine next to him, encouraging him to push through. Sports with Alexei had been great fun too. Don wondered if he'd ever be able hang out with Alexei again. Probably not, with the way Charlie thought about him.

When he got to the breakroom door, Tammy stepped out of her office.

"He's asleep. He finished his protein shake, ate some cheese and crackers, and drank half a bottle of coconut water."

"Good."

Tammy hesitated.

"What is it?"

She looked towards the breakroom door. "He seems… I don't know if he's in pain or if he's just tired, but he seems…" She shrugged uncertainly.

Don hid a grimace. Couldn't Charlie just let him workout without making a big deal out of it? "Thanks, I've got him now. See you tomorrow."

"Goodnight," Tammy said.

Don let himself into the breakroom. He shut the door behind him then looked down at Charlie. All his irritation vanished. Charlie was curled up into a tight ball on the couch. Don went over and knelt beside the couch. "Hey, buddy."

Charlie curled himself up tighter.

"Are you in pain? What do you need?"

No answer.

Don bit back a sigh. He stroked Charlie's hair. "Hey… Charlie, hey." Maybe there was a little loosening of Charlie's tight ball. "I know I don't smell that bad, I took a shower."

Charlie's eyes stayed closed but he made a soft sound that showed he was awake.

Don kept stroking Charlie's hair. He tried to find something comforting to say. "I missed you this afternoon, buddy."

Charlie cracked an eye.

"Yeah, I wish I could have had you sitting next to me all day."

Charlie opened the other eye and looked at him doubtfully.

"I know that sometimes when we were kids I didn't want you around."

"Sometimes?" Charlie asked, in a voice that sounded rough with tears.

Don kept the smile on his face. "Okay, a lot. But I like just hanging with you now. I couldn't stop thinking about you today."

"Because I'm sick?"

"Some," Don admitted. "But just… you scared me, Charlie. It's helped me realize how much I want you in my life, how much I'd miss you if we weren't close." Don lowered his voice to a whisper. "Remember, that was the worst thing about Colby, that he tried to keep me from you."

Charlie's eyes o