Third Base

by Jane Davitt

"I wasn't out, was I, Lassie?" Spencer asks for the fourth time, and, for the fourth time, doesn't wait for an answer before resuming his tirade, mostly, not entirely, focused on Henry's umpiring abilities. He's stalking around, weaving his way between Carlton's furniture like -- Carlton doesn't know what Spencer's like. Nothing is like Spencer. He's a force of nature in the throes of a tantrum and it's exhausting watching him and not a little embarrassing.

If Carlton wasn't so secretly pleased to see him, to be the one Spencer turned to, he might point out that Spencer's giving spoiled toddlers a bad name. Might intimate that most people knock on doors, not climb through the window Carlton had left open -- it's now firmly closed -- to allow some evening-fresh air into his home.

Might even ask why Spencer's girlfriend isn't the one with numb ears, if only to see the blankness flood Spencer's eyes for a moment before he remembers that, yes, he has a girlfriend.

Finally, Carlton's had enough. Spencer's not here to rant, not really, and he's got better things to do with his night than listen to Spencer expose his father issues with an awe-inspiring, terrifying thoroughness.

He clears his throat and says, "Spencer." He says it again, then snarls out, "Shawn, get your ass over here."

Shawn pauses, blinks, glances around as if there are a multitude of people Carlton might have been addressing, then smirks. "Spankytime, Daddy?"

That had been once. Once. Carlton breathes deep and slow and tries to push the memory away until later. He can't handle -- he can't deal with it when Shawn's in front of him, sauntering over just slowly enough to cancel the eagerness in his expression. Can't linger on images of heat and noise and the frightening certainty that he and Shawn were in complete accord for once, partners.

Carlton stares at him until Shawn flushes and his gaze shifts away by a fraction of an inch.

"I don't know if you were out or not. When I saw you'd chosen grandstanding over the team, I stopped watching."

It's a lie. Carlton never takes his eyes off Shawn now that he's out of reach finally and forever. He's not lying about all of it, though. He'd been so enraged that there really had been a mist in front of his eyes, blurring his vision. God, he'd wanted to go over there, grab Shawn by the arm and haul him over--

"Yes, but I was--"

Carlton doesn't even stand, just reaches up, takes a handful of Shawn's shirt and hauls him down so that Shawn's sprawled face-up across his lap.

He wraps his arms around all that hot, trembling energy -- how Guster guessed Shawn was on something is beyond Carlton. Shawn's like that all the fucking time -- and holds it still.

This takes a while sometimes. Sometimes Shawn fights and struggles, even as his hands are bruise-tight on Carlton. Tonight, Shawn doesn't struggle, he's just stiff, unyielding. Carlton sighs and gentles his grip, strokes Shawn's hair, but that doesn't work either.

"I'm not going to do it," he says through gritted teeth, the words muffled by Shawn's hair. He won't kiss Shawn now; he's too aware of O'Hara's rights to trespass like that, but if his lips sometimes brush over Shawn's hair, it's not a kiss. Not really.

God, he misses kissing Shawn.

"Need you to, Lassie. I deserve it."

For Shawn, that's honest. And surprisingly brief.

Carlton shakes his head. It brings his mouth against Shawn's temple where the skin's hot and smooth, a pulse beating strongly. He could drag his lips down to the scratch of Shawn's jaw, the soft tenderness of his earlobe...still not a kiss...

He knows he's Shawn's only port of call when it comes to this, but everything's changed now, everything's different.

"I can't."

Shawn naked, in every way possible, plaintive, pleading, chastised... The pleasure Carlton gets from the act itself; so simple, that rise and fall of his hand; so perfect each crisp, hard slap...

The fleeting peace he sees in Shawn's eyes at the end when Shawn twists around and buries his red, tear-wet face against Carlton's shoulder...

He wants it. Shawn's as close to begging for it as he can go.

"I can't," Carlton says steadily and shudders as if he's jumped into icy water because that means that Shawn's going to slid off his knee, walk away, find someone else. "Please," he says and it's a whisper, shamefully quiet.

Shawn moves, but it's only to straddle him, his face so close that Carlton tastes Shawn's breath, clean and sweet. "I could call Juliet. Ask her if it's okay with her."

The knowledge that Shawn might do that very thing is almost enough to make Carlton forget his scruples and apply his hand just where it can do most good, but he settles for a glare.

"Poor Lassie," Shawn murmurs without a shred of pity and bends forward to kiss him.

Carlton doesn't turn his head away.

This is his punishment for letting Shawn down and he endures it, even when Shawn's tongue flickers briefly against his, playful, taunting. He can't hold back a groan of pained pleasure, though.

"Attaboy," Shawn says, quoting Carlton, and Carlton closes his eyes, seeing the ball Shawn had struck rise high, curving beautifully against the sky...

He doesn't open them until he's sure that Shawn's really gone and won't see the way Shawn's aftershave has made them water.

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