Cause and Effect

by Jane Davitt

A/N Contains sibling incest.

"Do you remember the first time you masturbated?" Charlie asked Don, deliberately couching the question formally. The shadows of Don's apartment, lit by nothing but the spill of light from the kitchen and the muted TV seemed to make asking anything possible, but baby steps…

Don took a longer than usual drink from his beer, with Charlie counting each swallow, the simple act a needed distraction from the visual of Don's neck, stretched taut, Don's mouth a tight wet circle around the bottle's neck.

"Never did," Don said finally. "They told me I'd go blind and I didn't want that." He grinned, dirty and conspiratorial. "I just jerked off. No one ever said that was bad for you."

Charlie returned the grin with a perfunctory twitch of his lips. "You still had a first time." First times implied a 'one' in the mix, but they weren't numbers but events, a ball formed from hundreds of pieces of knotted yarn, a cloud, its edges diffuse.

"Sure, I guess."

Charlie baited his hook with silence, knowing that it would be juicy enough to get Don to bite and snap. Don could tune out Charlie's babble, but never his silence.

Don caved after a slow count in Charlie's mind reached nine. "I was, God, I don't know how old I was. Eleven? Twelve? It was good. Isn't it always?"

"It was for me," Charlie told him and felt a quiver of doubt deep down. This was…this was risky. Don wasn't that drunk, after all. Fatigue, not alcohol, was slurring Don's words and making his movements languidly exaggerated and careless. Don was wearing a lot of the bottle he was drinking from after tipping it up and missing his mouth in a spectacular froth.

"Yeah?" Don didn't sound interested, but there was a visible tightening of his fingers around the neck of the bottle. "So when did the infant prodigy start down the slippery slope to hell?"

"May 19th. Two-thirty in the afternoon or thereabouts. I was twelve. Just average, I'm afraid."

"Huh." Don considered that in a silence of his own, then raised his bottle in a toast. "Well, congratulations on discovering why God made arms that length."

"Thank you," Charlie said and let a few beats go by before adding, "I should have said that to you back then, too."

Don's face knotted with confusion, a bewildered crumple of non-comprehension. "Huh?"

Crunch time. Number crunching, because there were so many different ways this could go and not even he could predict them all, peer into the future and choose the path leading to something so darkly, dizzyingly exciting that he was close to losing the ability to breathe in rhythm.

"I used to follow you around. Copy you. My big brother." He shouldn't have said the 'b' word, but he couldn't really expect Don to forget what they were, after all. "That summer, I'd changed my room around, remember? I wanted to optimize the floor space."

Don laughed, looking more relaxed now. "Mom gave you hell, because you had stuff at all those weird angles and she couldn't vacuum in there."

"Yeah, well my bed and yours were head to head. I used to lie there and listen to you snore at night. That afternoon, I lay there and listened to you jerk off. I did it with you."

"What?" Don's voice cracked like a whip. "You did what? Charlie, that's so fucking freaky, even for you --" Even for him? Ouch.

"I don't see why. Isn't the circle jerk an established male bonding ritual?"

Don blushed, a hot streak of red across each cheek, a vein pounding in his forehead. "I wouldn't know, okay? Jesus, Charlie."

"I wanted to watch you, too," Charlie said. "I could hear you, though, and that was good. I went into your room afterwards -- you left to play baseball at the park, think -- and I could smell you, spunk and sweat, so…so grown-up and I lay down on your bed --"

"Not another -- don't say --" Don got to his feet, swaying, his head shaking back and forth like a bull maddened by flies, about to charge. "Shut up, Charlie, okay, just shut the fuck up for once in your goddamn life --"

"And I did it again," Charlie said without mercy. "I didn't ejaculate as much that second time and it almost hurt, left my balls aching, but I couldn't stop myself. Not when I could still feel how warm the sheets were from where you'd lain on them."

"Why are you doing this to me?" Don sounded like a man close to begging. Charlie stayed where he was, sitting in Don's chair, in Don's apartment -- with Don's bed close at hand.

"Last week. That's why." Don blinked and Charlie nodded. "That bullet split the air between us. Hit the board I'd been writing on. It could have killed either of us and I decided that it was time to tell you…this. How I feel about you. That I want you that way. Sexually. You already know that I love you."

"You're my -- you're my baby brother, Charlie. You know this isn't gonna happen and you know why. It's wrong. Sick."

"Under most circumstances, for most people, yes. Maybe." Charlie slapped his hand against his chest. "But I'm special. I'm different. People have been telling me that since I was three. Younger. I get to be different this way, too." Did he sound arrogant or logical? Did he even care?

"No. No, you don't, Charlie. You just don't, okay?" Don licked his lips and visibly gathered calmness around him. "I knew last week bothered you more than you said. We need to get you to counseling, buddy. I know a guy --"

"This isn't a cry for help." Charlie felt a familiar irritation rise. Okay, maybe that was why you weren't supposed to fall in love with your brother -- too easy to push buttons. "I've felt like this for years, but I knew it wasn't the wisest course of action so I held back."

"Yeah?" Don stepped closer and poked his finger into Charlie's chest, leaning way over to do it. Charlie stared deliberately, blatantly, openly at Don's groin and saw without surprise that Don was half-hard, the outline of his erection unmistakable. "I, I, I -- it's all about you, like you've just got to say you want this and I cave, the way I always do. Well, newsflash, bro, I'm not gay. So even if you were just any guy, I still wouldn't be interested."

"Since when are you not gay?" Charlie said, spacing the words.

"What?" Don jerked upright and spun away, his hands rubbing through his hair, an incredulous smile on his face. "Since always, Charlie, since --"

"I used to like looking at your stuff," Charlie reminded him.

"Poking around in it, you mean."

Charlie shrugged. They'd always defined that activity of his differently. "I found your porn really early on. Both sets."

"Both -- what?"

"You had some tame stuff. Playboys. You hid them, but only just well enough. I think you weren’t really that bothered if Mom or Dad found them. It's normal, right? They'd have shaken their heads, maybe even laughed about it. Their son growing up. The other ones, the ones you used when you jerked off, those you hid really well. I could tell that you weren't really into the ones with women in. The pages weren't thumbed or creased. I intuited that there was a second set. It took me a day or two of searching to find it and when I did --"

Hard bodies, hard eyes, hard cocks…Men doing thing to each other that Charlie hadn't known were possible. Lust swamping him, a thick, heavy wave of it, doubling him over as he climaxed, his dick soaked with come, his pants stained dark. Too risky to add his shorts and pants to the laundry. He'd had to use the garden hose on himself to hide the evidence, inventing an experiment about flow rate and velocity and making a mud bath of a section of the lawn in the process.

"You little shit," Don said flatly, all cold-eyed and dangerous. He hauled Charlie up by his shirt, a one-handed single powerful heave that left Charlie helplessly off balance for a moment, staring into Don's eyes. Don's other hand closed around Charlie's throat.

"You can have me," Charlie mouthed, volume lost in the suffocating press of Don's hands, both of them now, strong fingers digging in knowledgeably. "I mean it. I'm yours."

Don's hands tightened and darkness rushed in, sparked with flashes of light, but then the pressure eased and Don's thumbs stroked lightly, slowly over bruised skin, and it was like matches being struck on his skin. Heat and friction. Flames.

Charlie sucked in air in graceless whoops, his eyes watering as he refilled emptied lungs.

"I could hurt you so bad," Don said contemplatively. "I wouldn't need to leave a mark and no one would believe you."

"You could hurt me more by walking away," Charlie told him when he could speak. Don released him as if he'd been waiting for that signal but stayed where he was, so close that his breath tasted warm on Charlie's face. "Shutting me out again."

"You're wrong," Don said and that could have applied to so many things, even Charlie himself, but he decided to take it as face value.

"I'm never wrong."

"About math stuff? No, I'll give you that. About people, though, Charlie? All the time. All the fucking time. You see us as -- as quantifiable."

Don spat the last word out, literally, leaving Charlie's face specked with saliva in four places, tiny dots of moisture, and made it sound like an insult.

"What about Amita? Huh? How does she fit into your screwed up version of Happy Families?"

"I like her," Charlie said slowly. "I like her very much. She's intelligent, beautiful, kind…She's just not you. There's no depth to what I feel for her."

"She's perfect for you --"

"Don't," Charlie said, his voice sharp with anger. "Don't tell me what I want, who I need. I'm a man, not a child. I get to decide that for myself."

"Not when it's me. Not then."

"Just this once," Charlie whispered and put his hand on the swell and jerk of Don's cock without applying pressure, curving his palm to fit. "I need to know what it's like with you. I could have died -- you could have died -- and I wouldn't ever have known. If you can't see how unbearable that thought is --"

"Take your hand off me." Don's voice was a hoarse rasp.

"Step back," Charlie countered and this could have been any argument, any year of their lives, neither of them backing down, playing chicken until they both crashed and burned.

He waited and when Don stayed where he was, his chest heaving with deep, painful breaths like a runner at the end of his endurance, Charlie took down the zipper of Don's jeans and flicked open the button.

"Charlie --" Don raised his hands and let them fall, hanging empty at his sides.

"You remember the story about the grain of rice and the chessboard?" Charlie said, his fingers exploring, curiosity uppermost for the moment. Don's cock was shaped like his within basic parameters, but its dimensions and the angle of his fingers meant that it felt different enough to be a challenge to work harder, thicker.

"Double the grains on each square until you own all the rice in the world?" Don asked, sounding doubtful, as if he wasn't sure about even something that basic right now with his hips moving, slight increments, nothing much, but it meant that his cock was shifting, sawing across the plane of Charlie's palm, scoring it bloody without leaving a mark.

"Something like that," Charlie said, sacrificing accuracy for once, though he saw the number 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 in his head, shining brightly. "The way I feel about Amita is around square four. You're the sixty-fourth square."

Don put his hand over Charlie's and brought everything to a stop. "You really want this from me?"

"I think the fact that I'm doing what I'm doing demonstrates that, don't you?"

Don gave a choked laugh that sounded like a man in pain. Charlie knew that sound. He'd been around too many people with bullet holes in them not to know it really well.

"Well, you know where my bedroom is, don't you?"

Charlie felt his world lurch and splinter, reassembling into a different shape, a kaleidoscope spun by a child's careless hands. With legs that felt stiff, wooden, he walked ahead of Don to the bedroom, to the bed.

Don followed him, crowding close enough that when Charlie turned, Don's mouth was waiting for him, his hands reaching out. They didn't talk much after that. Don stripped them both, with efficient, flattering haste, kissing Charlie too often for Charlie to catch his breath, slick, wet kisses, hard enough to make him expect the new penny taste of blood in his mouth, not just two flavors of saliva.

He was pushed to his knees and fed Don's cock, huge, when it was inside his mouth, which made no sense, but it was still true. He slurped noisily, embarrassed by the sounds he was making, and laved it with his tongue, his eyes closed because the dark smatter of hair across Don's belly was too real to look at, a freckle showing dark between the crisply curling hair, a wisp of cotton tangled there from a towel, maybe. Don tasted clean, like water.

"Good," Don whispered from an unimaginable height above him. "That's so good, Charlie. Don't stop."

The carpet was rough against his knees and Don's thighs were like rock under the tentative press of his hands.

"Touch me," Don said. "You can. If you want."

Charlie wasn't sure what that meant. His eyes leaking tears from the repeated jabs against the back of his throat, he moved his hands up and down before finally reaching up and back to cup Don's ass. Don spread his feet wider and moaned, a rich, dirty sound, as Charlie dug his fingers in, squeezing the solid flesh. Charlie felt Don's fingers trail over his face, stroking through the tears and the drool.

"God, yeah." Don reached back and took Charlie's right hand, bringing it up to his mouth. With a detached wonder, Charlie felt his fingers being sucked wet and then Don was -- oh.

"In me, Charlie. Put one in me. Please. I like it like that. One now, two later."

Charlie took his mouth away from the insistent press and retreat of Don's cock and drew the first deep breath he'd been able to take in what felt like hours. His hand was trapped in Don's and Don was tugging at it, trying to get Charlie's damp fingers into the crevice of his ass.

Charlie broke free, scrambling to his feet. "I can't -- I can't."

"You want me to fuck you?" Don said.

To be done to, not the doer… Charlie nodded his head jerkily.

"Hands and knees on the bed then," Don said and kissed him again, his tongue smooth and small and limber after the thick column of his cock. "Show me what you've got, Charlie."

Grateful for the fact that they'd turned on no lamps, so the room was close to dark, Charlie positioned himself on the bed, his cock betraying him, shocked to limpness by Don's agreement to all this.

Don was behind him a few moments later, after a rummage through the drawer of the bedside table. Charlie knew what Don was holding even before it was dropped beside him on the bed.

A cool, slick finger pushed into his ass without warning and he yelped, high and shocked, pleasure burning him as much as shame.

"Oh, you like that, huh?" Don sounded pleased. "That's it. Ride it. Take it deeper, Charlie. Hell, take two."

He took two, then three, the uneven shape of Don's fingers pressing against the flexible space inside him in odd, uncomfortable ways. He could hear himself murmuring something that turned out to be a list of primes when he thought about it later, but at that moment they were his security blanket.

His ass was invaded, split wide by Don's sheathed, slick cock, and he screamed, losing his place, tears sliding, slipping free. Oh, that hurt. Like fire and metal not flesh and latex. Don was hurting him and that just wasn't what Don did --

It never really stopped hurting. One finger had felt good, but being fucked, Don's cock rammed into him hard, over and again, Don's breath hot on the back of his shoulder, that just hurt.

"So tight…" Don moaned. "God, so tight, Charlie."

Charlie stared blindly down at the sheet and mapped the topography of the folds, pointlessly, because his hands were flexing, clawing at the sheets, creating new folds every few seconds.

Don came, with a panted out ululation that, yes, Charlie remembered from that long ago summer, and pulled out soon after, giving Charlie a moment of exquisite relief before the ache in his ass returned full force.

Don smacked his ass affectionately and collapsed beside him, smiling. "Want to shower first? Go on, go ahead."

Charlie got off the bed with difficulty, moving as he would when he was eighty, assuming he ever reached that age.

"You asshole."

Don hummed and stared up at the ceiling, still smiling, though there was something wrong with it. A funhouse mirror smile.

"You knew you weren't supposed to say yes -- you knew I didn't want -- not really. Not --"

Don turned his head to look at him. "Yeah, you did. Don't fool yourself. Until it started being real, at least. Sorry to blow your kinky little fantasy wide open."

"So why didn't you stop?" Charlie gestured down at himself and felt the waste of the moment like a kick to his balls. All that and he hadn't even gotten to come. Hadn't even enjoyed it -- except he'd felt the possibility of pleasure hovering just out of reach. "You had to know I wasn't enjoying it."

Don shrugged. "I'd have stopped if you'd asked me to. You didn't. And I know you, Charlie. If I'd left you with questions, we'd be doing this again a year from now. I don't want that. This way, we're both certain of where we stand. You'll hate me for a week until your ass stops burning every time you sit down or take a shit, but you won't be wondering. You're scary when you wonder about something."

"Don --"

"And now I know too," Don added with finality and turned his back on Charlie and all the questions Charlie had, because he hadn't enjoyed it, no, but Don -- Don had wondered? Don had wanted -- "Don't use all the hot water."

The shower was definitely appealing for several different reasons, but Charlie got back onto the bed and curled up next to his brother.

"Charlie, go away."

"I'm sorry," Charlie said, hugging the stiff, unwelcoming body of his brother until Don gave in, turned over, and let Charlie cling to him.

"Shh. It's okay. You're still dealing. I get that. It's over, it's forgotten."

The depth of Don's generosity was appalling. Charlie choked on guilt and felt tears well up that he refused to allow to fall. Don hated it when he cried, seeing each tear as either a play for sympathy or evidence of his own failure to protect his baby brother. No tears. "I didn't know. That you wanted this."

Don settled them comfortably, his arm under Charlie's neck, their bodies close but not tangled like lovers. "No reason why you should. Hell, mostly, I don't. It's not some doomed obsession. It's just now and then something happens and I think, yeah, Charlie's hot, I'd do him, and I remember you're my brother -- no, that's not true, that part I always know -- and I go and get drunk or shoot things until the urge to nail your ass goes away again." He squeezed Charlie's shoulder with his hand. "Tonight, you were closer than my gun or a bottle so that strategy didn't work. I'd say I was sorry, but I'm not."

"You don't have to be sorry," Charlie said. "I pushed you and I didn't think it through."

"I'm sorry I didn't stop when I could see you weren't into it," Don said after a moment. "I guess I kept hoping you would be."

"I liked parts of it," Charlie told him. "I might have liked more if you'd taken things a bit slower. I've never done any of that before and I --"

Don's arm stopped being a comfortable pillow and became rigid. "Never done what?"

"Blow job -- on that end of it -- anal sex on either end…" Charlie shrugged as best he could in a prone position. "It was all a lot more painful or awkward than I'd imagined, but I liked the kissing and, uh, your finger."

The bed rocked as Don pulled his arm from under Charlie's head and sat up. "God, Charlie, I didn't know. I assumed -- well, I assumed that over the years you'd…"

"I'd found a male partner to experiment with? Maybe one who looked like you?"

Don flushed. "It's what I did. Not often, but sometimes. It didn't help as much as shooting things, if you want to know."

Charlie closed his eyes and groaned. "God, how did we get like this? So…bad at getting what we want even when we both want it?"

There was a long pause then Don said diffidently, "Do we? Want it?"

Charlie squirmed, feeling twinges and complaints from parts of his body that he wasn't usually aware of. "I don't want to do that again anytime soon, sorry, but if this still counts as a continuous event, then maybe, since we're here, doing it, still in the moment --"


Charlie leaned in and brushed his lips over Don's half smile. "I didn't come."

"No," Don corrected him and his hand moved, cupping, gripping, stroking and Charlie gasped, his breath and body shuddering as he hardened again. "You just didn't come yet, Charlie."

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