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08 December 2005 @ 03:01 am
Numb3rs Fic: Magnet and Steel  
Posted to numb3rs_slash


Title: Magnet and Steel (Sequel to First Thoughts)
Series/Universe: Last Call
Pairing/Characters: Don/Charlie/OMC/OFC
Rating: NC17
Spoilers: UP, Counterfeit Reality, Identity Crisis, Sacrifice
Summary: A wild night out leads to a quiet talk and a big decision
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


"You can just crash at my place. It's no big deal."

Charlie froze up for a second as everyone stared at him.

"Um, yeah sure. I can just crash at Don's. No problem."

The rest of the team gathered up their coats to head over to Gonzalez. As they walked towards the elevator, Don tugged on Charlie's sleeve and pulled him back out of earshot.

"Something wrong? Do you not want to go to Gonzalez? Because I'll take you home now if that's what you really want."

"No," Charlie said, in a low voice. "It's just that when I went to Gonzalez last Friday night..." Charlie called out to the others in front of them. "We'll take the next elevator. See you over there!"

"You got drunk and..."

"Yeah, I remember. Really no need to remind me," Charlie said curtly.

"So, are you worried you'll run into Argyle?" Don snickered. "Worried I'll find out if Argyle's a man or a woman?"

"Don, Argyle's a guy."

That shut Don right up.

"His partner, Chris? She's a woman."

Don recovered enough to nod.

"But no, that's not what I'm worried about. It's just... Last time I stayed at your place..."

Don tensed up, but tried not to let Charlie see it. Since Charlie had been gone in the morning, he had no idea if he still had his arms around his brother when Charlie woke up. Neither had brought up that night in the past week, so Don had simply assumed that he'd gotten away clean.

Charlie had made that same assumption himself.

"You know, never mind. Crashing at your place is fine." Charlie started walking again and hit the call button for the elevator. "I'll just sleep on your couch."

"You don't have to do that," Don said lightly. He looked at Charlie a bit more closely and tried not to get nervous at how agitated he seemed. "You sure you don't want me to drive you home?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Charlie stepped into the elevator and stared at Don. "Coming?"

Don got into the elevator and pushed the button for the parking garage, no longer as relaxed as he had been just a few minutes earlier.

+

Gonzalez was loud and particularly rowdy that Friday night, especially for a cop bar. Don had carefully watched how much Charlie drank, but lost track of him for about an hour or so later in the evening, only realizing it when Charlie plopped down in the chair next to him.

"Hey, buddy. Where've you been?"

"Talking to a friend."

"Charlie, everyone you know is at this table."

"Not everyone."

Charlie glanced over his shoulder and looked pointedly across the room. An attractive blond man was holding center stage with a group of cops around him, listening to the story he was telling.

Don grabbed Charlie by the arm and pulled him away to an empty stretch of bar where they could talk without being overheard.

"That blond guy?"

"Yeah. That's Argyle."

Don looked at the man again, then back at Charlie. A feeling rose up in him he couldn't name, but he squashed it back down immediately - something Don had become quite good at over the years.

"So... So you fucked that guy?" Don finally managed to ask.

"Well, if you're going to argue semantics, I guess you'd have to say he fucked me. Of course, if you're really going to argue semantics, then you should say he fucked me while I fucked Chris. Which, I suppose, could also be described as him fucking Chris using me. Using being the operative term evidently."

Don's hands unconsciously tightened into fists. "And yet you went and hung out with him for an hour?"

Charlie shrugged. "I knew they were a couple when they first propositioned me. It was naïve of me to think I could be a part of what they have."

Don suddenly remembered how sad he'd been for Charlie that night, left on the outside again. Charlie had always been the outsider. Always too young for everyone around him, even as an adult he was still having trouble finding a place for himself.

Don clapped a hand on Charlie's shoulder. "That's okay. What's done is done, right? You found out what they were really like and it's all over now."

"Well..." Charlie hedged. "Argyle said Chris is going to be here in about an hour. He asked..." Charlie looked embarrassed, not wanting to say more.

Don withdrew his hand and ran it through his hair in frustration.

"How long have you been into guys?" Don asked quietly.

"I've been into people my whole life, Don," Charlie said, drawing himself up a bit defensively. "I don't judge anyone on the basis of gender or race for that matter. Chris is black and that's fine with me."

"I don't care if she's plaid," Don said, annoyance creeping into his tone. "You..." Don cut himself off and shut his mouth for a moment. He let out a sigh and softened his voice a little. "I just wasn't ready to find out that you were bi and into group sex the same night. I'm sorry. I want to be supportive, but it was more than I was ready to hear all at once."

"Well, it's not like I'm a regular swinger or anything," Charlie said uncomfortably. "I'm just more open than most people."

"Open's fine. Open's good," Don said. "I can be open."

"Can you?" Charlie looked Don straight in the eye and Don felt a little chill at the directness behind that simple query.

When he didn't answer, Charlie turned around and flagged down the bartender to order two shots of tequila. He handed one to Don and took the other for himself.

"Liquid courage," he said. "Here's to being open... Whatever that means to you." Charlie touched his glass to Don's, then downed his shot all at once.

"How many of these did you have in the last hour?" Don asked when he saw Charlie put a hand out to steady himself.

"Does it matter? I'm not driving. You've only had beer so you're okay with one shot. Go on!"

Against his better judgment, Don downed the shot, much to Charlie's delight.

"Come on," he said, pulling on Don's arm. "I'll introduce you to Argyle."

+

Charlie had been right about one thing. Argyle was definitely into Don.

Despite his initial reservations, the tequila had loosened Don up considerably, and he had easily fallen into an animated discussion with Argyle on the role of private security.

Charlie seemed content to watch both men engage in verbal sparring and did so until he nudged Argyle and pointed to the entrance.

Don noticed both men smiling and turned to look. A slender and lovely dark skinned black woman had walked into the bar. Don could tell, despite her small frame, she was not a woman to be trifled with. He wondered if she was armed, and if so, where on her outfit she'd managed to conceal her weapon.

She spotted their group and walked over to them. She greeted Argyle with a kiss before moving to stand between Argyle and Charlie. In lieu of a proper greeting, she whispered into Charlie's ear and he simply smiled and said nothing.

Chris looked between Charlie and Don for a second or two. "Let me guess. You're Charlie's Fed brother."

"That I am," Don said, flashing her a smile.

"His name's Don, pet. I think I like him."

"Charlie said you would."

Chris walked over to Don and walked slowly around him, in appraisal.

"See something you like?" Don teased.

"The question is..." Chris stopped behind Don and whispered into his ear. "Do you?"

Don looked in front of him at Argyle, then over at Charlie. He reached for Chris's hand and pulled her around to stand in front of him. "Maybe," he said, playfully.

Don let Chris's hand go and she stepped backwards until her back came up against Argyle who automatically enveloped her in his arms.

"Our place has better tequila and it's close by," Argyle said, addressing them both, but Don more than Charlie. "No strings, no expectations... Let's just hang out and see what happens. How does that sound?"

Don looked over at Charlie who'd ducked his head down. When Charlie glanced up at him from under his curls, Don was certain that regardless of his answer, Charlie would go.

"Sure, sounds fine to me."

+

Argyle hadn't lied. Their studio was close by and their tequila was excellent. Don had two shots with Chris, but made Charlie stop after one. Argyle had stopped after one as well, else Don was sure Charlie would have made a fuss about it.

From the time they'd walked in, Don had been touching Chris in one way or another. Argyle flitted between all three of them, but had spent most of his time with Charlie, keeping his contact with Don mostly casual.

Once the drinks started to kick in, Argyle settled himself down on the couch with Charlie, while Don and Chris relaxed on the bed a few feet away.

Despite what was going on with him and Chris, Don found he couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight of Argyle slowly undressing Charlie. He'd been going painfully slow, button by button, as he licked and kissed Charlie's neck.

Obviously quite drunk, Charlie had merely melted against Argyle, his eyes almost closed as he reveled in the sensations.

"You like to watch?" Chris's voice in his ear brought Don back around to her. He turned to lay on his back as she hovered over him.

"I like a lot of things," he said. He slipped his hands underneath her shirt to caress her belly and she simply pulled the shirt over her head and threw it aside. She made quick work of her bra as well and Don's hands glided up her body to cup and caress first one breast then the other. "This is definitely something I like." He pulled her down to his waiting mouth as she ground against his hips.

Between Chris's warm body and the pleasant buzz he was drifting on, he lost all sense of time. His shirt had come off at some point and Chris had ended up naked. She stopped for a moment to strip him the rest of the way, and he let his head fall to the side while she worked the buttons on his jeans.

He drew a quick breath when he saw that Charlie was naked on his hands and knees as Argyle pumped into him from behind. The flood of sensation it brought up in him was so overwhelming, he almost came in his boxers.

Chris stripped them off him last, and when she licked her way up his thighs, he could barely hold himself back. She slid a condom onto him and once she was done, he rapidly flipped her over, angling them on the bed so he could see her and Charlie at the same time.

Chris wrapped her legs around Don and that was all the invitation he needed. He slid into her easily, hearing her moan blend with Charlie's.

Don started thrusting, at first slow, but then in time with Argyle's movements. He held himself up with one hand and used the other to stroke Chris - first her breasts then finally between her legs.

After splitting his time between both of them, Don finally gave up watching Chris - whose eyes were closed now anyway - and exclusively watched Charlie. His face, always incredibly expressive, was even more so during sex. The way he looked and sounded... it was intoxicating. The voyeuristic aspect, coupled with the fact that it was his brother he was watching, finally pushed Don over the edge. He quickly upped his efforts and Chris joined him with a string of curses on her lips.

Don collapsed on top of Chris, spent, but still unable to tear his eyes from Charlie and Argyle. Argyle had clearly overwhelmed Charlie, who seemed completely undone. Eyes unseeing, he was little more than a rag doll in Argyle's hands. When he reached over and took Charlie's cock in his hand, Charlie almost immediately began to convulse as a powerful orgasm ripped through him. Argyle let loose with a loud shout as well, and Don watched in wonder as they both came apart in their combined climax.

+

Once they'd all recovered, Argyle brought Charlie over to relax on the bed with Don and Chris. Chris immediately went to Charlie and the two of them curled up together, touching lightly and kissing languidly.

Argyle settled himself down behind Don. "Relax," he told him. "Close your eyes for a while."

Don obeyed, closing his eyes and allowing Argyle to pull him back to lean against him as they lay back to front. Argyle ran a hand over Don's nude form, first cautiously then a bit more confidently after Don failed to protest. Once Don let out a deep breath, Argyle began to kiss his neck as well.

"Being with a woman is wonderful," Argyle whispered, as his hand lowered to graze Don's thigh. "But being with a man can be even better. Your brother knows that." Argyle's hand shifted to slide across Don's abdomen, tracing the line of hair that ran down from his navel. "Men know what men like," he purred in Don's ear.

Don didn't stop him, so Argyle let his hand drift lower, dipping his fingers into Don's pubic hair. "Just look at them," he said.

When Don opened his eyes, he saw Chris had settled between Charlie's legs and was licking him back to a full erection.

"Now imagine I'm doing that to you," Argyle said, lowering his hand to Don's cock. "Or... If you'd rather..." Argyle dropped his voice to the tiniest whisper. "Imagine it's your brother sucking your cock." He felt Don twitch in his hand and smiled. "Whatever works for you," he said.

Argyle made a fist around Don's cock and began to stroke him slowly as they both watched Chris and Charlie. They were near enough on the bed that Don was able to reach over and caress Chris's skin while she worked.

After a moment, she got up to fetch condoms and lube from the couch. Charlie reached a hand towards Don and Argyle - which specifically Don wasn't sure - and Argyle took hold of his wandering hand to still it. He brought it down to join his on Don's cock, encouraging him to wrap his fingers around it and take over his efforts.

Once Charlie had taken his place, Argyle got up and moved to Chris, taking the supplies from her. He put a condom on Charlie, then encouraged her to lay down on top of him while he put his own condom on.

Once they were settled, he quickly prepared Chris and held her and Charlie still long enough to press into her ass all the way.

Overwhelmed by the dual sensations, Chris let out a stream of vocalizations, mixing deities and swear words with abandon.

Don edged closer, but beyond Charlie's hand on his cock, he couldn't see a good way to insert himself into their scene. He happened to glance up at Argyle, who mouthed the words, 'kiss him'.

Don glanced over at Charlie's face and found him flushed and panting. His eyes were closed and his mouth open in a sensual 'o'. With only a brief hesitation, Don leaned over and claimed his mouth in a raw and urgent kiss. Charlie responded hungrily, their tongues dancing in each other's mouths.

As the kiss progressed, Charlie put more attention into what his hand was doing, and Don began to thrust into his brother's fist. He felt a hand slide over his hip to the cleft of his ass, and he realized what Argyle was up to only a second before he slipped a slicked finger inside of Don.

Charlie shifted his grip, adding a slight twist, just as Argyle's finger stroked inside him. A white-hot explosion tore through him, as both actions tipped him over the edge at once. Caught between their hands, there was nowhere he could move that didn't stimulate him, and he rode out the violent aftershocks until he lay limp from exertion.

Once both men removed their hands from him, he came back to himself quickly to find the three of them still falling short of their own release.

Don picked up the discarded lube and looked at Argyle, who simply nodded and smiled. Don slicked up one of his own fingers and then a second as an afterthought. He moved over Argyle, who was lying on top of Chris and Charlie, and used his hands to part his ass cheeks. He slid the first finger in slowly, the second more so. Trying to remember what Argyle had done to him, it took him a moment to locate the right spot.

Once he did, Argyle gasped and clenched around him, his response transmitted through Chris down to Charlie, who gasped as well. All three of them started to move in concert and Don waited for them, moving his fingers in and out as he tried to sense the right moment to stroke again to send Argyle over the edge.

He didn't have to wait long. Chris finally shed all semblance of control and allowed her body to be rocked to orgasm by both men inside her. Don stroked his fingers inside of Argyle, who cried out and grasped Charlie's hips. Don pulled out of Argyle and quickly covered Charlie's mouth with his own, swallowing Charlie's cries as he felt him shudder violently then fall still.

Argyle made a point of kissing all three of them once it was over. He helped Chris peel herself off Charlie and brought her to the other side of the bed with him. Argyle wrapped himself around Chris in a possessive, almost protective manner, a fair distance away from Don and Charlie.

"Tonight was great, both of you. It's really late though, and I'm sure you're tired. Don't you think you two should be getting home soon?"

Don turned to Charlie and despite how well he hid it, he understood how he must be feeling the same way he felt the last time, being so casually discarded after such an intimate event.

"Soon," Don agreed. "But not just yet." He moved to lay beside Charlie, wrapping himself around him almost identically to how Argyle was with Chris. Charlie relaxed gratefully into his arms and when he turned his head up to smile at him, Don leaned down and gave him a soft kiss.

"You guys throw a good little party," Don said. "But what happens here, stays here. Understood?"

Both Chris and Argyle nodded. "Absolutely."

+

Don drove home slowly, aware both of the amount of alcohol he'd had and the fact that Charlie was nodding off in the passenger seat next to him.

Again Don had to finagle getting an inebriated Charlie into his apartment, only this time he was far gentler about it.

Once inside, Charlie immediately started to unbutton his shirt.

"I know..." he said. "Shower..."

"You'll feel better afterwards," Don said kindly. He made sure Charlie made it to the bathroom, then set about warming up the shower.

When the shower was finally ready, Charlie was still almost fully dressed.

"Need a hand?" Don asked.

"Just give me a minute."

"Sure," Don said, feeling a little awkward. "I can just jump in the shower myself... At least get mine over with."

Don shed his clothes quickly and got into the shower. He soaped up and rinsed off, then quickly shampooed his hair as well.

By the time he got out, Charlie was ready to get in.

"All yours!" Don said, a bit too brightly.

Charlie just nodded and pulled the shower curtain closed behind him.

Don dried off, put on a fresh pair of boxers and got into bed.

He lay on his back staring up at the ceiling, unsuccessfully fighting off the thoughts careening around in his head.

He heard Charlie exit the bathroom and open up a bureau drawer. He turned to ask him to leave his wet towel on the hamper only to find he didn't have one wrapped around him. He stared a bit longer than he had intended to at his brother's naked frame, but looked away just as he closed the drawer.

Charlie put on the boxers he'd pulled out and walked silently over to the other side of the bed. He got in and lay down on his back facing the ceiling as well. Don turned out the lights and paused before he said anything.

"Charlie, are you... Are you okay with what happened tonight?"

The darkness of the room seemed to swallow up his words, and Don waited in the silence that followed, fighting down a nameless anxiety.

"Well," Charlie began slowly. "I knew what to expect this time, but somehow it didn't make it any easier when they tried to get rid of me right afterwards. I think that kind of rejection is always going to hurt."

"That's not what I meant," Don said. "I meant with me, you know, being there. With what happened between us."

Charlie shifted to lay on his side facing Don, who mirrored the movement and faced Charlie.

"We kissed, I touched you, you touched me... It's nothing we haven't done before."

"Well yeah, but that was a long time ago. We were just teenagers back then."

"Still..." Charlie said. "Not without precedent. But having you there during sex? That was different. Not as weird as I thought it would be, but definitely different."

Don flashed back for a second to the visual of Charlie on his hands and knees with Argyle and swallowed hard, feeling his heartbeat race.

"Yeah... Quite the experience."

"Well, you did say you were open," Charlie mused. "I guess I just didn't believe you." He looked at Don closely. "Just tell me one thing. Did you go because you thought I would go regardless?"

Don looked away for a second, but finally met Charlie's eyes. "Yes," he said simply. "I knew you'd go even if I turned them down, and for some reason..." He shook his head slowly. "I didn't want you to go alone, not after they'd hurt you the last time. I didn't want that to happen to you again."

"And you thought if you went... what?" Charlie asked quietly.

"I could look out for you." Don's voice was almost a whisper.

Charlie sighed and rolled over onto his back. "You're never going to see me as anything but a little brother, are you? I'm thirty years old, I've been sexually active for well over a decade, and yet you decide I need a chaperone for a threesome."

"No..." Don reached out a hand to grasp Charlie's shoulder. His bare skin was still warm from the shower and Don agonized when he felt a slight flinch at his touch. "It wasn't like that at all. Believe me..." The grip on Charlie's shoulder loosened and turned into more of a caress. "I think I just... I think I just missed being close to you, and it seemed like a way to be a part of who you are now, rather than just remembering the past."

Charlie took a deep breath and let it out. Don could feel him relax under his hand. "I missed you too," he said softly. "You have no idea."

"Then tell me..." Don urged, moving to lay closer, but still not touching except for the hand grounding them both.

"All my life..." Charlie began, his voice distant, almost wistful. "You were always there but not, like... like a journey I could never finish, a destination I could never reach no matter what. Don Eppes was the sun in my solar system and I was caught in your gravity, drawn to you like a magnet. Only I could never close that last distance between us."

Charlie paused for a moment and Don didn't push him to continue.

"Everything good I learned, I learned from you. After Mom and Dad made their lame attempt at teaching me the birds and the bees, you came along and told me what sex was really like. You taught me how to kiss and when I got older, you taught me how to masturbate. That summer before we both went away to college... Whenever Mom and Dad would leave us alone, you'd take me to your room and we'd give each other hand jobs. God, Don... I figured for you it was just a convenient release between girlfriends, but for me... Nothing was better than having your hands on me. I trusted you... I knew no matter what, you'd never hurt me."

"Except I did," Don said, his voice filled with regret. "Sometimes I'd reverse my polarity and repel you."

Charlie smiled and laid his hand on top of Don's. "It's just like you to see where I was going with my metaphor. But no, I never blamed you for pushing me away at times. I know now it was a normal part of us growing up. You needed to be independent and I had trouble staying away from you. You were my big brother and I practically worshipped you. Why would I not want to have you around all the time? I, on the other hand - the annoying brainy baby brother - was definitely someone you needed to get away from sometimes. I understand that now."

Don opened his mouth to protest, but Charlie stopped him. "No... This isn't about that, so don't go there. Just let me keep going, okay?"

Don stayed silent so Charlie started up again.

"Then we both went away to college. Mom went with me to Princeton and she saw how hard it was for me. I could tell her I missed you, but she could never understand to what extent. She knew I was lost, but just chalked it up to me being in college with thousands of strangers, all far older than me. She couldn't know. I felt... adrift... I had no tether to the world, no one to ground me. Mom and I had always been close, but without you to orbit around, I kind of floundered for a while."

Don's hand squeezed Charlie's shoulder briefly and Charlie's hand squeezed back in response.

"I eventually found my feet, of course. After a while, academia felt like home, and I knew I'd want to stay and teach. I finally grew into my own self as an adult and as a mathematician. I didn't need you around to fulfill that part of me that had been empty."

Charlie stopped for a moment and Don could tell by the change in his breathing he was having trouble going on.

"Then Mom got sick," he whispered, his voice almost cracking with emotion. "And I got lost again. I guess I never realized how much I depended on her until I had to face the possibility that she might not be around any longer. Suddenly you're home after being away half my life and I... I didn't know what to think. I couldn't deal with losing Mom and having you back in my life as well so I just..." Charlie wiped at his eyes briefly and Don's chest tightened both from the painful memories and watching Charlie relive them before his eyes. "I just avoided both of you, everyone really. I spent two years going through the motions of living while our mother was sick. Three months of it, I spent in the garage ignoring the whole world. God, I felt so weak..."

"Charlie, no..." Don had no real words to offer, but couldn't bear to hear Charlie in so much pain.

"It's okay, Don. I... I got through it. I’m not proud of how I handled it, but I came out the other side in one piece so... It's just over now. But once I did get past it, I had to face the fact that you were sticking around. You didn't leave after Mom died like I thought you would."

"I couldn't just leave you," Don said sadly. "You and Dad are all I've got now. You're important to me, far more than any job could ever be."

"I was glad, really. Don't get me wrong. It just made my life... complicated. Suddenly you're around and I'm drawn to you again. That magnet never weakened, I guess. You were just too far away for me to feel the pull. Then you were back and I started feeling that familiar tug again. Wanting to be with you, around you... Wanting you to want to be with me... Then we started working together. Man, I thought nothing could be better! You finally liked having me around. You finally appreciated me for my abilities." Charlie turned to face Don briefly. "You were finally proud of me."

Don moved in closer and laid his arm across Charlie's chest to grasp his other shoulder in a sort of hug. "I was always proud of you," he said quietly. "I just wasn't good at showing it."

Charlie laid his hands on Don's arm, as if to hold it in place on his chest. "I tried to make you proud... always...." He turned back to stare up at the ceiling again as he tried to compose himself.

"So, working with you was great until I realized it wasn't enough. I still had a void in my life that I couldn't seem to fill. Being around you wasn't enough, but it wasn't like there was anything more to ask for. I found out about Kim... I mean, I knew you'd dated and had girlfriends, but I never knew you were engaged. Somehow finding out you almost got married... That just made you seem further away from me, like I didn't really know you and never would. You'd become this different person and I didn't have a place in your life like I did when we were kids. Sure, we'd always be brothers, but I had to learn that we'd never again be as close as we were growing up."

Charlie shifted to lay on his side facing Don, yet held Don's hand in place on his shoulder as he moved, so it remained there in his new position.

"Tonight... It was like that summer before college again. We were close, we were in tune, we were connected... The seventeen years that passed since then just fell away and you were with me again, really with me."

Charlie smiled at Don, his expression a cross between happiness and sadness.

"When the night ended, and they tried to make me leave... You were there to make it not hurt so badly. When you wrapped yourself around me like Argyle had to Chris... I felt like I belonged, you know? Like I wasn't unwanted or unwelcome."

"Charlie..." Don moved his hand from Charlie's shoulder and laid his palm against his brother's cheek. "You should never have to feel unwanted."

"Yeah," Charlie said, almost shyly. "I know... I just... I knew something was missing in my life and last week... I guess I should have told you this before, but I didn't want to admit it. When I crashed over here, I woke up and I was... We were..." Charlie looked flustered, but Don let him continue. "I woke up feeling really great and then I realized I wasn't in Chris's or Argyle's arms... I was in yours. I kind of freaked out, worried that you'd catch me. I fell back asleep later, but when I woke up again..." He ducked his head sheepishly. "I was back wrapped around you. I guess I couldn't help it. Evidently, the magnetic pull is even greater when I'm asleep than when I’m awake. I got up and left after that. I didn't want to risk you waking up before me, so I just got dressed and went home."

Don smiled and tugged at Charlie's chin to make him look up at him. "You didn't think I'd find out, huh?"

Charlie tried to look away, obviously embarrassed. "If you'd woken up to find us like that, you'd have..."

"Just gone right back to sleep the way we were," Don interrupted him. "In fact, I'm the one who let it happen in the first place." Charlie looked at him, surprised. "I let you come over to me when you first fell asleep because it seemed to be what you needed to get through the night. It was supposed to be strictly platonic, but I admit when I woke up, that wasn't how it felt and that was a shock to me. My response was similar to yours when I first woke up. I felt good... really good. I felt like I had a lover in my bed and I'd missed that feeling. You said you knew you had a void in your life, well I didn't know I had one as well. No clue. Not until I fully woke up and realized who the 'lover' who was sleeping on my chest actually was. Once I got past the shock, I realized how good it felt to feel wanted again, to feel loved for the lack of a better word. You looked so happy, content even. I just remembered how upset you'd been before we went to sleep. You seemed lonely and rejected. All that was just gone. Erased. You looked so peaceful..." Don lowered his voice to just above a whisper. "You looked like you felt like you belonged there. I couldn't push you away. I could never do that. So, I put my arms back around you and fell asleep again. When I woke up next, you were gone."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Charlie asked softly. "You never said anything."

Don shook his head. "Charlie, you were so drunk that night you could barely stand. I just figured... I don't know, but I tried to tell myself that you must have thought it was one of your lovers from earlier. When we were at the office and you were hesitant about spending the night over here again, I kind of freaked out a little. That, more than anything, explains why I ended up drinking way more than I normally do. I hate feeling uncertain and out of control so I just... "

"Yeah..." Charlie agreed, nodding. "You know I don't drink like that very often."

"No, but when you do it scares the crap out of me. Every time you get drunk..."

"You have to come bail me out?"

"I feel like I don't know you," Don said firmly. "I want to believe I understand you and I know about you, but then you throw me for a loop and it really bothers me to feel like you're suddenly a stranger."

"I'm not a stranger, Don," Charlie insisted. "It's still me."

"Not a stranger?" Don huffed. "I've known you for your whole life - thirty years - and I never knew you were into men as well as women."

Charlie hemmed a bit. "So other than when we were younger... You've never even touched another guy?"

"Well..." Don admitted reluctantly. "There were some road trips when I was playing baseball where a few guys would - God, I hate this term - daisy chain hand jobs. We knew it was just to relieve the pressure and wind down when we weren't in a position to get any otherwise. We just never talked about who among us might be gay and who was straight."

"Don't ask, don't tell?" Charlie chuckled.

"Hey, we felt better not knowing, trust me. You work better as a team if you're not distracted by the thought of your right fielder checking out your ass behind you."

Charlie had to laugh at that. "I see your point. But nothing past that?"

"No," Don said, shaking his head. "It never even occurred to me. I was just expected to grow up, find some nice girl, get married, and have 2.5 kids."

"But you didn't." Charlie's tone shifted back to serious. "Kim..."

"Yeah, Kim..." Don said, his voice tinged with melancholy. "I loved her, I'm sure I did, but it never felt like enough. I think that's why it hit me so hard, you know, waking up that way? I never had that with her. I never had that feeling of warmth and connectedness with her. We were great together, but as two separate people in one house. She made me happy, sure, but she never made me feel... complete. I just figured that would have to happen over time. Then... Well, you know how that ended."

Charlie nodded silently. "I had girlfriends over the years, and boyfriends too. None serious enough that we were ever going to commit long term. I guess I never found my missing piece either."

"Well, we might one day or we might never. There's no way of knowing. The question is, I think, what do we do in the interim? What can we do to be what the other needs?"

Charlie bit his lip. "I honestly don't know. I wish I could say that the connection that would fulfill me wouldn't include sex, but that is the way people connect on the deepest levels. I realize it's not just about sex, but sex is a part of it that can't be ignored. You've already said that you're not into guys..." He shrugged. "That kind of leaves us at an impasse."

"Not necessarily," Don said. "Okay, so I don't really have any experience with guys, or rather I didn't before tonight other than with you, but you were right about Argyle. I was kind of into him. Once he got me to loosen up, I liked him touching me. I thought it would be weird, but it wasn't. I actually would have done more with him if he hadn't literally handed me off to you to go to Chris." Don looked Charlie in the eye. "I did say I was open, didn't I? You just didn't believe me."

Charlie looked contemplative for a few seconds before he spoke. "Don, there's a huge chasm between a straight man saying he's open and having gay sex with his brother, so yeah, that goes on the list of things that would be hard to believe, don't you think?"

"Point taken," Don said. "But like you said earlier, it's not like there's no precedent. We had shared sexual experiences as teenagers and managed not to get fucked up by them. This would just be taking it further, reconnecting... Considering we're both sexually active adults now though, it would end up being more than just mutual hand jobs."

"You really want to do this?" Charlie asked softly. "For me?"

"For both of us," Don replied. "Remember I'm missing something too. We can be there for each other. We just can't ever let anyone know about this. They wouldn't understand."

"No, but I do," Charlie said, reaching between them to give Don's hand a squeeze. "They'd think it's about lust, but it's not. It's about being wanted and needed. It's about connecting with another human being and finding a place where you belong, where you'll always be accepted and loved. I want to give you that."

Don smiled and squeezed back. "Me too, buddy." He stifled a yawn, but couldn't hide it. "Look, it's been a really intense night and we've both had a lot to drink. I think we should sleep on this before we try to take it any further. That sound good to you?"

"Yeah," Charlie said, smiling. He let go of Don's hand to pull the covers up, then adjusted his pillow. He shifted positions three times before Don just laughed.

"Come over here." Don put his arm out to Charlie and he quickly moved over, putting his head on Don's chest as Don wrapped his arms around him. They settled easily into the same position they had been in the last time they slept together.

"I like this. This is nice," Charlie said contentedly.

"I like it too." Don leaned down slightly and placed a kiss on the top of Charlie's head. "Try to get some sleep, okay?"

"Yeah, I should. If I don't fall asleep soon, I'm going to get turned on pressed up against you like this," Charlie said slyly.

Don groaned. "A third time in one night?"

"I'm quite the dynamo," Charlie joked. "What's the matter? You too old?" He poked Don in the side playfully, but Don quickly grabbed his hand and held it tightly.

"You sure you want to pick a fight with me? I seem to remember as kids I always won."

"No, no!" Charlie laughed. "Truce!"

Don chuckled. "Good. I guess you really have learned a thing or two growing up."

"Hey, I said everything good I learned was from you."

Don smiled and tightened his arms around him. "Charlie..." he said a bit tentatively. "Regardless of what happens between us from now on, I want you to know that I love you, okay?"

Charlie sat up a little and looked at Don. "We're brothers first. No matter what happens, I'll always love you."

Don nodded, touched. "Now sleep," he said, brushing a curl away from Charlie's face. "We'll talk more in the morning."

"Okay." Charlie settled back into Don's arms and sighed. "I could get used to this."

"Me too," Don said warmly. "Now close your eyes. I promise I'll be right here when you wake up."

"Promise?" Charlie asked, his voice already tinged with sleep.

"Promise."

=
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 8th, 2005 12:20 pm (UTC)
Author Notes
Very special thanks to sydian who got casually asked for feedback and turned into a beta.

Thank you so much!

I promise to go forth and find betas so I'm not putting too much pressure on you as my sole editor.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
it only burns when I breathe: don&charlie_breathless_shantalanadevilspikedluv on December 8th, 2005 02:04 pm (UTC)
Just a suggestion, but you may want to include the other pairings in your header.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 8th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC)
Oops! Nice catch! That's what I get for copy and pasting headers from another fic. Mea Culpa!

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
One Part Exuberance; Two Parts Obsession: eppescest foreverpenguingal on December 8th, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC)
YAY! I was hoping for a good sequel to your last story and this was definitely more than I'd hoped for. Had me squirming in all the right places, in the good way. :D I like the little back story you give Don and Charlie. Very well-rounded and quite nice.

And, I owe you feedback on Honey and Roses, which was so warm and rich I had to take a couple days to revel in it first :D
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 8th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC)
/glows/

Thank you so much! I've had this one (and the next two) done for ages, but I kept getting distracted writing new fic (which is always more fun than editing existing stuff!), so it didn't get published until now.

I was hoping for a good sequel to your last story and this was definitely more than I'd hoped for.

Oh, there's more than even *I* hoped for! This series has almost gotten out of control! Right now there's four *more* stories in this series (two written and two started), which brings the total to *nine*. In Being There (next up) I finally descend into Special Hell (hee!), and in Remembering I give Don and Charlie's teen years backstory in a half and half fic (half in the past, half in the present). The next two, Everything (which might end up being everyone's favorite) and Turnabout are only just started, but they're already giving me ideas for more.

/looks around/
Is there an off switch for this muse? ;-)

Honey and Roses...
Perhaps you can explain to me why it has captivated so many people. I look at the number of comments it's gotten (and granted half are mine!) and shake my head in wonder because I can't figure out what makes it any different than any of my other fic...
/shrugs/

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
(no subject) - penguingal on December 8th, 2005 09:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on December 8th, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 9th, 2005 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 9th, 2005 04:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 9th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Karen: Charlie (Numb3rs)byrons_brain on December 8th, 2005 06:33 pm (UTC)
WOW, amazing sequel... please you have to continue this...

P.s, I've just discovered I hate the thought of anyone but Don touching Charlies (sad fangirl I know).
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 8th, 2005 09:03 pm (UTC)
Well good news!

As far as continuing goes, you're in luck. There are four more stories to look forward to, at least.

I've just discovered I hate the thought of anyone but Don touching Charlie

Not to worry. From this point on (unless my muse gets any more crazy ideas *past* the threesome and foursome I've already written) the series is just Don/Charlie.

I'm glad you liked it.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
(no subject) - byrons_brain on December 9th, 2005 11:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on December 9th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Silvia: togethercordy1979 on December 8th, 2005 09:19 pm (UTC)
what a great series, it's really awesome :) at least four more to come?! - that's terrific...

It's about being wanted and needed. It's about connecting with another human being and finding a place where you belong, where you'll always be accepted and loved. I want to give you that.

awwww...so beautiful *sigh*
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 8th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, four! And decent sized ones at that. I think Being There is eight pages and Remembering is twelve (according to Word so YMMV ) so that means... Ugh, that means twenty pages to edit. /wilts/ Don't worry, I'll have them up as soon as I can...

awwww...so beautiful *sigh*

I know! Where can I get someone to give me that? /pouts/

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
T.: carmine smokingmonkeyfun1 on December 8th, 2005 09:33 pm (UTC)
Emma, Emma, Emma
I felt like such a voyeur this time. This was HOT and incredible. I think seeing how jealous Don was/is of Argyle and Chris touching, kissing and otherwise being with his Charlie, was such an awakening for Charlie.He is surprised that Don cares beyond Charlie making a bad decision. It was an awakening for Don too, now that I think about it. They were okay with their "innocent" teen-aged fondling, but were afraid of their grown up need and desire. This is such a lovely discovery series you are writing. Please,continue to let us see how the brothers find their way into each others minds and bodies. I know I'm rambling, I hope I've made some sense.
T... who thanks you for your talent, yet again.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 8th, 2005 09:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Emma, Emma, Emma
Oh, you made plenty of sense, don't worry.
/reassures T and offers her cookies/

It's always interesting for me to see my fic through someone else's eyes. I like to leave some things open for interpretation so when folks see them just slightly differently than I do (and sometimes even totally differently) it really expands my view of the story and informs my sequels.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
Re: Emma, Emma, Emma - monkeyfun1 on December 8th, 2005 10:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Emma, Emma, Emma - emmademarais on December 8th, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cat_willow (Jan): dagsi-charlieeppes14storyteller.gifcat_willow on December 9th, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
Oooooh, I love this wonderful sequel!

I see Argyle and Chris as the antithesis to Charlie and Don. Sure, A & C are skilled at *doing* sex and at bringing other people off physically, but are they not more emotional predators who use sex to get their manipulation fix? I have no problem at all w. group sex, but there's something cold, sad, and eerily malevolent about what they do. Are they missing something crucial between them that makes them take a potentially powerful comedown moment w. someone else and crush it? "Come into my parlor...." The parlor looks nice, but is there really anything of value in it, and will you get out unscathed?

So Don and Charlie are reconnecting. They had such a nice talk! And now they're recognizing together that they need one another in ways they (or Don at least) couldn't accept before.

It's about being wanted and needed. It's about connecting with another human being and finding a place where you belong, where you'll always be accepted and loved. I want to give you that.

I expect that they'll learn that they have even more than that. They're more than "human beings," they're more than simply "brothers with benefits," they're more than a mutually accepting resting place till they find their true mates. They're it. They're the end product. Lovers.

(Of course, I may not have gotten any of that right.... *g*)
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 9th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC)
I see Argyle and Chris as the antithesis to Charlie and Don.

Oh good! A juxtaposition of A/C and D/C!
/rubs hands together in anticipation/

In SIN and M&S A/C had to be written very carefully. They couldn't be so horrible that Charlie wouldn't go back for a second time, but they couldn't be allowed to fulfill anything in him other than the basic sexual impulse. To their credit, they are upfront about what they are offering. They offer sex with no strings attached, and they do a good job of it. No one is mistreated or left wanting *during* play. Argyle even makes a point of paying attention to all three of them in the beginning of this fic, and ends with a kiss to each of them. At their core though, A/C are self-centered and shallow. There's no depth, no real emotion. Even their interactions with each other show that their relationship as a couple appears to be built on mutual attraction, not love and caring.

Since there's no caring, they don't even think twice about the effect their assumption that Charlie is just going to leave afterwards would have on him. They invited him over for sex. The sex is over. Time to go home so the hosts can get some sleep. To them it's like telling your last party guest it's time to go. The intimacy of what they've just done is moot since they're really not in it for the intimacy (nor really capable of true intimacy).

Charlie, OTOH, needs so much. Sex is only a portion of what he's lacking, but when it's offered, that part of him that's always seeking would agree to it, hoping it will stave off the emptiness inside. Maybe for him it does, in the very short term. But suddenly he's cold and alone and left on the outside again (literally and figuratively because I couldn't resist ), and that's actually worse than if he'd done nothing. Still, he craves being the full focus of someone's (read Don's) attention and sex is a powerful way to obtain that, even if it is only temporary. So when Argyle shows up again, he's willing. Of course, he blames himself for how the last time turned out. He chalks it up to his own naivety, not Argyle's thoughtlessness.

Don only just realized that he'd been missing something in his life, while Charlie's known all along. This, and their vastly different life histories, means his POV is *drastically* different from Charlie's. Normally so in control, he allows himself to drink more than normal so he can put aside his worries about Charlie and just lose himself in the sex. Whatever his reasons were for going along with Charlie, things change once the play begins. He's helplessly drawn to Charlie even when a naked woman is undressing him. For a straight guy this should be a big clue. ;-) That he chooses to watch his brother during sex instead of the woman he's with seals the deal. While what they are lacking in life is more of an emotional connection, I wanted it to be abundantly clear that Don already has an attraction to Charlie, and it's not just Charlie who wants the sexual part of their new relationship.

So now we have two brothers who are both willing (and able - not like A/C) to provide the emotional connection the other needs. Put them in a bed together and see what happens. ;-) Rational Don explains it away as an extension of their youthful indiscretions and Charlie, who always sought out Don's attention, now has a chance to have it for real.

They're it. They're the end product. Lovers.

I think what readers will see when the series continues is the incredible ease with which D/C become lovers - a true couple - complete with playful banter, romance and physical affection. Don has been around since Charlie was born so they share a closeness that people who meet as adults could never match. They love each other already, so adding this dimension comes effortlessly, especially to Charlie who has worshipped Don all along. Both men are incredibly tactile, emotionally sensitive and thoughtful to begin with. All they needed was the reason to act that way around *each other* versus someone they were just dating.

Oh man, somebody stop me! Make me shut up now before I spill the complete plots to all four upcoming sequels *and* share my holiday punch recipe!

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
(no subject) - cat_willow on December 9th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on December 9th, 2005 07:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
melissimamelissima on December 9th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)
Lovely, as usual. I loved it when Don said, "soon," and went over to cuddle Charlie! Perfect.

BTW I will beta for you, if you like.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 9th, 2005 03:09 am (UTC)
Yay! Betas! /feels all warm and fuzzy inside/

Email me and I'll send you out the two fic I have done already for your perusal and comments.

Many thanks,

Emma DeMarais
Cearesceares on December 9th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
Lovely addition to the series. Very hot and yet still the nice bits of emotional bite that make it much more than an pwp.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 9th, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
Thank you... I'm not anti-PWP, I just like more of a challenge... /smiles/
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Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 9th, 2005 03:28 am (UTC)
Well, since cat_willow already brought some of this up, I went nuts on her reply. You should go check that out. ;-)

Amazing how a little fic about Charlie drunk in a bar morphed into a series with threesomes, foursomes and kink galore.
/stares at her muse who just shrugs and smiles wickedly/

I asked my new beta sydian in a moment of insecurity if I should cut this fic in half and present the sex and the talk separately. Thankfully she knocked some sense into me and I left it in one piece.

The story of Charlie's neediness wouldn't have been told as well if the two parts were split up. If the crux of the series is that both of them need the empty place inside of them filled, then showing how unfulfilling mere sex can be points out how difficult it would be to get those needs met simply by dating or, in Charlie's case, 'screwing around'.

He goes back to the couple that hurt him the first time around 'cause he's craving that closeness. (I really don't think the physical sex is the main part for him, it's the emotional side to it, even if it is brief with these two)

Well attention can feel like affection, especially during sex. They lavish attention on him, make the effort to make him feel good... Why would he not like that? Oh yeah, because it's just as empty as the rest of his love life. It's just easier to delude oneself *during* that it's not empty.

And Don seeing this and going with him to shield him is actually very IC, even if it's taking it a little further than the CBS ever would :P

CBS! ROFL! Oh man, I wonder how much they *really* know about what folks like me do with their primetime characters. /snicker/

One thing that won't change is Don's big brother instinct. He's a protector - it's so ingrained in him he made it his life's work. Now he's just got more of a reason to protect his brother.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais




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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 9th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 12th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 12th, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
memprimememprime on December 9th, 2005 02:05 am (UTC)
I loved it! BTW, let me know if you need a beta. ^^
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 9th, 2005 03:38 am (UTC)
Are you kidding? I *always* need betas. There is no such thing as too much help when writing fic. There is, however, too little and that's what I've been suffering from, so feel free to email me if you have time to take a look at some fic for me.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
Regsnake~DeuceMaxwellhakainokami on December 11th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
best sequal ever :)

I go study now. If I can anyway. Functional Analysis is not nearly as ...interesting.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 12th, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)
LOL! Thank you!

I think you'd have to be studying Human Sexuality to even remotely compete in terms of being interesting on *that* level. ;-)

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
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Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 13th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC)
You were gonna limit yourself to numb3rs? I'm sure there's more fic out there that needs reporting

Yes, but I don't want to work *that* hard! I think there's enough Numb3rs communities out there for me to *look* busy enough for a full time job. ;-)

I cannot for the life of me remember the meaning of statutory

Wikipedia - Statutory Rape

It's more rape by the letter of the law vs. non-consent because there can actually be consent from the minor involved, but given a minor's supposed inability to make adult decisions, their consent is pretty much meaningless.

For example, in fic where Don is 18 and Charlie is 13, any sexual contact would be considered SR since Charlie is not at the age of consent and Don is legally an adult.

Aww thanks honey. Something near the mudpit/Wrestlingarea, thanks :)

How about oil wrestling? You can see more that way vs them covered in mud.
(Always thinking!)

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
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(no subject) - emmademarais on December 13th, 2005 08:36 am (UTC) (Expand)