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[personal profile] niq
Content some readers may find to be disturbing. Exactly what the title says, only extremely unbetaed as I wrote this instead of, you know, sleeping. Rated CITRIC ACID REACTION.
Charlie is tanned and lithe and almost painfully thin, muscle stretched over a frame suddenly too large.


Charlie is sixteen and in his senior year at Princeton and Don is twenty-one and in his senior year at UCLA. It's spring break, Charlie and Mom are home. Charlie is tanned and lithe and almost painfully thin, muscle stretched over a frame suddenly too large. His halo of hair has gone from ragged dust-mop to beautiful curls; it begs to be tangled in one's hands. Don isn't sure when Charlie grew up but he's pretty sure he doesn't like it. He certainly doesn't like the looks his brother is getting from everyone suddenly and it feels like something more than jealousy, more than one more thing Charlie has that he doesn't.

Charlie kisses him in the car on a parent-mandated bonding session they'd been sent out on. His lips are soft but the kiss isn't. Don won't admit this, not to himself and not to Charlie, but he presses into the kiss for just a moment before turning away.


Don quit the minors after a year and a half, twenty-three and terrified of staying and never making it past single A ball. He went to the FBI with his 3.7 GPA and an engineering degree which makes him look smart if you don't think to look over at his genius kid brother. He told his parents at Christmas dinner which probably wasn't the best idea but Mom keeps the peace the way she always has and Charlie looks at him with something akin to adoration in his eyes. "You'll be great," Charlie says, sincerely, wide eyed and innocent. "You always protected me in high school," he says, self-deprecating.

Don wants to hit something, anything, hearing that crack in Charlie's voice. He looks down at his hands. "Yeah, I guess so."

Charlie runs a hand over his neck and Don sees flashes of red when he notices the dark bruises just under Charlie's collar. He runs his fingers over them, silently, slipping in between Charlie's fingers, and something hot coils deep in his belly as Charlie's lips part slightly and his eyes unfocus.

When Charlie whispers his name, Don drops his hand like his brother's skin is on fire.


Two years after they assign Don to a field office, the FBI assigns Don and Coop to a manhunt; they catch the guy in record time. The FBI keeps them together and keeps assigning them manhunts because they're good at it, the best.

Don calls Alan once a month, when he remembers to and he feels up to being harangued by his Dad for not caring that his parents are worried sick about him, running all over the country after criminals.

He doesn't talk to Charlie much. When he does, he listens to his kid brother babble about lesson plans and lectures and how strange it is to be teaching now, how he's younger than most of his students. He keeps his hand clenched by his side when he listens to Charlie because if he doesn't... Don isn't sure what. But the one time he didn't, his hand drifted to his lips, drifted to his thigh. He hadn't let it drift any further.

Don prefers talking to Coop. They're not complicated.


Don is a very, very good instructor. He's got the field experience and he's got the patience and he's got the steel. The Academy doesn't want to let him go when he requests a transfer out--tired of the fresh young faces that come in, tired of breaking them down and rebuilding them cold and hard--but he has enough favours to call in that they give it to him. Albequerque is wonderful, desert and possibilities.

It feels like death. Kim Hall is perfume and a promising future. She tastes like sweet, rotting fruit, cloying and heavy; he doesn't tell Charlie. He doesn't even tell his parents.

Charlie calls him. "Mom's sick, Don," he says, and there's no weight to it, like maybe she has the flu or a cough. But he and Charlie haven't talked in years. Not since that time Charlie had been in Virginia for business, some conference, and stopped to visit Don. They'd gotten drunk and Charlie had said some of the things they never talked about, had said 'I love you.'

Don feels the weight of the phone in his hand like it's the weight of his gun. "I'll be on the next flight to LA," he says and hangs up. He packs his bag, calls the office, lets them know he's taking family leave.

Kim looks at him like she knew he'd never really been hers in the first place.


LA is a city of smog, choking its inhabitants to death. The emissions laws have cleaned it up, you can breathe the exhaust straight from the tailpipe and it's cleaner than the air was back in the 70's, but downtown still chokes you with fumes and atmosphere.

Watching their mother die was like suffocating under the smog, like the cancer took form and walked among them. When she passed it was like it had rained, sharp and clean; the air clear again. Charlie came out of that damned problem and they could talk again, sometimes. Eventually he brought his brother in on some financial cases that their forensic accountants couldn't make heads or tails of.

All the things that had passed between them, brothers and jealousy and something else, it seemed to fade into nothing; they were a family, they were a team, they'd found a good place.

Except the dark things that skittered behind Don's eyes had found another home in Charlie and they were both being consumed and somewhere after the fifth appointment with the shrink who seems determined to break and shatter every last thing Don has built up to protect everyone around him--probably to put him back together right but it doesn't matter now why--Don snaps.

Charlie gasps under him, shocked when Don throws him against the wall, shocked when Don kisses him roughly. Whimpers under Don as he hisses terrible things to Charlie, dragging Amita into the mud.

Charlie should be turning away, should be furious, and if he were Don could stop, maybe, but he's leaning into Don like a plant looking for sun. Don tangles his hands into Charlie's short hair, bites at his kid brother's jaw, tears apart every good and clean and normal thing Charlie's built for himself, and it's everything he's ever wanted.
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December 2012

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