ladygray99 (ladygray99) wrote,

The Delicate Brothers – ACT 1 (14/17)

Title: The Delicate Brothers – ACT 1
Author: ladygray99
Rating: NC17
Chapter 14/17
Series: Whitman
Characters/Pairings:Charlie/Colby, Don/OFC, Alan/OFC, Ian/OMC/OFC, Megan/Larry, Tarry Lake, David Sinclair, Matt Li.
Word count: 6,453
Warnings/Spoilers: Threeways, spankings, shaving, sexual discipline, gross descriptions of crime scenes, masturbation, medical stuff related to pregnancy and childbirth, original characters. Discussion of a hate crime, and attempted suicide.
Summary: Life progresses, life happens, life perseveres, and life is better with someone by your side.
Notes: Master Notes for Story. Sorry for such a long delay. Life happened then kept happening.
Beta: None, feel free to point out typos of which there are many I am sure.

Chapter 14

Ian felt like it should be snowing. Waiting in front of Martin's apartment building he felt like it should be colder and he should be stamping is feet in the snow. Instead he was in LA and it was a pleasant 62 on Christmas Eve.

He spotted Martin's painfully generic grey sedan coming up the road. It was so average it was easy to spot if you knew what you were looking for. Martin pulled into his building's small parking lot.

Ian waited, still kind of wishing for snow.

Martin came out of the parking lot and up the walk looking as immaculately dressed as ever, despite it being the end of the day. With his brief case he also carried a cheap black plastic bag. It was the type Ian associated with liquor stores and he wondered what was in it. Maybe a bottle of liquid holiday cheer?

"Hey." Martin greeted with a smile.

"Hey there." Ian was suddenly aware that he had been clutching the small package in his hand maybe a little too hard and was worried he may have wrinkled the blue wrapping paper. "Sorry I didn't call, but I was passing through and just thought I'd see if I could catch you."

"Well you are the master hunter Agent Edgerton and you seem to have caught me."

"Um... Merry Christmas," Ian said quickly holding out the gift. Martin looked startled. Ian suddenly became worried. He hadn't really been sure about getting Martin something but they'd known each other for almost five months and the perfect gift had dropped into his lap, well onto his foot. Maybe Martin didn't celebrate Christmas. They'd never discussed religion but surly he'd at least appreciate the sentiment even if Ian had gotten the winter holiday wrong. Unless he belonged to one of those religions that didn't do holidays at all but in Ian's experience those religions also didn't do alcohol either and he and Martin had gotten beers together.

Martin carefully took the gift. "Thank you. Um..." Martin reached into the black plastic bag and fished out a receipt, quickly shoving it in his pocket, then he held out the bag to Ian. "I didn't exactly get a chance to wrap it."

Ian took the bag. There was a solid weight in it. "Can I look?"

"Only if I can open mine."

Ian smiled and reached into the plastic bag. He pulled out a can of gun oil. "Wow." Ian recognized the brand. It was manufactured in Switzerland and only exported in small amounts. Ian usually had to order it from a supplier in Europe when he could scrape up the funds for an order big enough that they'd be willing to ship overseas. He grinned at Martin. "Should I even ask how you found this?"

Martin just smiled his creepy NSA smile. "I have my sources."

Ian made a little gesture towards the gift in Martin's hands. Martin opened the wrapping carefully, not tearing it but rather slipping his long thin fingers under the tape. Ian had somehow known Martin would be one of those people who did that.

His face was difficult to read as the paper revealed a book. It was a first edition, hard back copy of A Scanner Darkly, with dust cover. It had fallen off a table in a flea market while Ian was tracking a guy.

Martin looked up, a broad, truly genuine smile on his face. Ian had to brace himself a little. That smile made Martin look simultaneously much younger and very desirable. Ian suddenly felt like a pervert and stomped hard on the urge to reach out and touch Martin's face.

"Thank you, Ian. This is great."

Ian smiled back. "Well it sort of jumped out at me. Thought you might like it."

"It's perfect."

And then there was awkwardness. "So um... have you got any plans for tomorrow? Charlie's putting on a bit of a shindig. All comers welcome."

"I'm waiting for someone to try to commit suicide." Martin answered quite plainly.

"You're what?"

"Every single year someone I'm a handler for tries to kill themselves on Christmas Eve, without fail. I'm starting to believe they all get together behind my back and draw straws."

Ian knew he shouldn't really believe that but from the bits and pieces he'd learned about Martin's job he'd worked out that Charlie was actually one of the saner people Martin dealt with. Someone, somewhere, had worked out that Martin had almost saintly patience at times, so over the years Martin had been made responsible for over 40 scientists and ex-spooks that the NSA needed to keep tabs on but were considered difficult to work with, and they were scattered from Monterey to the Mexican border.

"Maybe you'll get lucky this year."

Martin's phone rang. He checked the caller ID and quickly held it up for Ian to see. It read Cedars-Sinai ER. "Hello Agent Sherwood speaking." Martin rolled his eyes. "Yes I am... I see." Martin mimed hanging himself. "I understand... No I'm afraid sedation is out of the question... If you sedate Dr. Moore then you and your staff will be spending the holiday being debriefed by an NSA agent as to the exact content and wording of anything Dr. Moore may have said under sedation and I'm sure you have other plans... I do not joke about matters of national security." Martin checked his watch. "I will be there in 25 minutes. Until then just keep him strapped down." Martin hung up his phone and sighed.

"Maybe next year?" Ian offered.

Martin just shrugged. "At least I'll have something to read."


Alan brushed leaves from the base of the headstone and lay down a heavy bunch of roses. Then he sat down next to the headstone in the thick grass. A fat brown sparrow pecked at the earth a few feet away.

"I miss you," Alan said. It was always the first thing he said. "Mattie's getting big. I wish you could see him. Walking and talking. Fascinated by everything. Trying to eat everything. He reminds me of Charlie at that age. Well Charlie on his good days at that age. The boys are doing well. Don's just great with Mattie, he loves that little boy so much. And he's not letting the job eat him like it used to, I don't think so at any rate. Charlie is, well, he's Charlie but he seems to have more good days than not. You should see what he's done to the house. Christmas tree, tinsel, he even found real holly and mistletoe somewhere. He's trying to keep Colby happy. Those wretched people he's related to are managing to hurt him from a thousand miles away. Even his own mother, so Charlie's really trying to give him Christmas. Larry's counting down the days until Megan is due. Just a few weeks now. I'm torn between being happy and terrified for him 'cause, well, you know Larry."

Alan plucked a piece of grass and twirled it between his fingers.

"I've... um... I've moved in with Kathryn. Well we moved in with each other, well I got a condo. Charlie and Colby really needed their own space. Um, anyways. I..." Alan felt a burn build in his throat. "I still miss you. I still love you. I don't want to be in love with anyone else but I know that's not what you wanted for me. You always took such good care of me, of all of us really. Never knew what you saw in me. Just counted my lucky stars every day. Still do."

Alan took a deep breath.

"I think you'd like Kathryn. Well maybe not right off. She spent so much of her life just surviving I think she still has a hard time remembering that she can do more than just survive now. In some ways I wish I could have met her a long time ago. Not that I would ever trade a single second with you. I just think her boy, Ian, I think he really could have used a father. That wasn't really Kathryn's fault. She was a baby with a baby. She certainly did better than most."

Alan was quiet for long moments just running his hand over the grass. "I wish you could be here, love. I wish you could see Mattie and Anne and Colby. I wish you could see how happy our boys are. How close they've gotten as brothers. The amazing, good work they do with each other. All the people they help and save."

Alan leaned against the large head stone. "I miss you. I wish you were here."


Martin sat down next to the hospital bed. The occupant stared at the ceiling, his arms and legs strapped to the bed.

"Dr. Moore."

"Agent Sherwood." The man in the bed replied.

"Hanging Daryl? Really?"

"Seemed like a good idea at the time." Dr. Daryl Moore said with a shrug.

"Couldn't you have called me before trying to string yourself up?"

"Then I wouldn't get lots of fun drugs for Christmas, could you scratch my nose?" Martin scratched the doctor's nose. "Thanks. Besides it's not like either of us had better offers for the holidays."

Martin looked at the book in his hand. "I suppose I shouldn't argue with you there."


Colby was being nuzzled. He was half asleep but someone was definitely nuzzling his neck. He cracked open one eye.

"Wake up," Charlie said mid nuzzle.

"What time is it?" Colby mumbled. It felt too early.


"Why are you waking me up?"

"'Cause it's Christmas morning and we're supposed to run down stairs and open the presents Santa left in the middle of the night." Colby pulled open both eyes. "Well that's what they do in the movies."

"I highly doubt that Santa came," Colby mumbled his voice still feeling rough with sleep.

"You'll never know unless you get up and go down stairs." Colby shut his eyes again and groaned. Charlie was obviously not going to let this go. "Coffee is already hot in the pot."

Colby sighed and sat up. Charlie hopped up and tossed him his dressing gown then rushed from the room. Obviously he'd already had a cup of coffee himself. By the time Colby made it down stairs Charlie was waiting next to the tree holding two big cups of coffee. And, in fact, it did appear as if Santa had come in the middle of the night since there were several presents he didn't remember being there the night before.

He breathed in the sweet smell of coffee mixed with pine. He traded Charlie one of the cups for a kiss.

"So how do we do this?" Charlie asked.

"Since it's just the two of us I think we can get away with one gift at a time."

Charlie grabbed a couple of pillows from the couch and they sat down next to the tree. Charlie pulled the first gift from under the branches and handed it to Colby. "This is from David."

Colby took the square gift wrapped in Santa paper. David had managed to swing a trip back to New York for the holidays. He must have given it to Charlie before he left. Colby unwrapped it to find CDs from a couple of obscure little country groups he liked.

Colby set the CDs aside and handed a package to Charlie. Charlie grinned and tore into the paper. Once he got into the box he made appreciative little ooing noises. It was a set of pens with mother of pearl inlay Colby had found at an antique store. The real seller had been the matching slide rule that went with it. Not that Charlie had ever actually needed a slide rule but he did have a sizable collection of them.

He leaned over and gave Colby a kiss. "Thank you."

"Thought you might like it."

"You know me too well." Charlie reached under the tree and handed a good sized gift to Colby. Colby quickly unwrapped it and found himself making similar ooing noises. It was a sizable set of hooks, feathers, line and all the other things needed to make good fishing flies and lures. "Dad helped me pick it out since I do not fully understand the fine art of standing in cold water and throwing string at fish."

Colby pressed a good kiss to Charlie lips. "It's perfect."

He handed another box to Charlie. He had put it under the tree at the last moment since the contents were a little fragile. Charlie pulled off the wrapping, broke into the cardboard box, pushed aside the tissue paper, and gave a little gasp. "Oh Colby, it's beautiful." Charlie carefully lifted out what looked like porcelain, shaped into an opening lotus blossom. The edges of each petal were painted with gold and the flower was opening to reveal an Epicycloid spiral.

It was one of Kathryn Edgerton's creations and it was merely paper and lacquer. While Kathryn taught water colors her real talent was for taking paper, lacquer, bits of wire and glue and making it look like the finest work of wood or clay. Mattie had gotten his hands on one of her bowls during a visit and crushed it easily. Don had been horrified but Kathryn had only laughed insisting that her work was worth little more than a piñata, less since you didn't get candy when it broke, and two days later an identical bowl had sat on a slightly higher shelf.

Colby had heard Charlie making appreciative noises over a flower piece she was working on so had commissioned a similar one. He had also insisted on paying Kathryn double since as far as Colby, and everyone else was concerned, she didn't charge nearly enough for her work.

Charlie turned it around in his hands. "I actually saw Kathryn working on this last week. She asked me if I liked it."

"What did you say?"

"I said I was very envious of whoever was getting it."

Colby laughed and Charlie quickly got up and put the bowl on a high shelf away from the eager hands of a small child. "I'll take it to my office after the break. It'll look nice by the window."

When Charlie sat back down he handed Colby a small gift. Colby quickly got into it having a theory as to what it might be. He was right and pulled out a very nice watch, replacing the most recent one to be killed in the line of duty.

"And that is supposed to be water proof down to 30 feet and water resistant down to 50, so the next time you take a swim in the harbor..."

"I'll be able to tell what time it is." Colby finished slipping the watch onto his wrist. He looked at it. It had all the usual stuff a good men's sports watch had but there was an extra button. "I wonder what this extra button is?" Colby mused aloud.

"Ah," Charlie stood up quickly. "Pull it out, give it a half turn and push it back in." Charlie then rushed upstairs. Colby looked at the watch, pulled out the button, turned it and pushed it back in. The watch didn't seem to do anything. Charlie came back and handed his phone over to Colby. On the little screen was a map with a blinking dot over the house.

"You can track me?" Colby asked feeling more than a little unsure about that.

"It's like the panic button Richard Branson has in his watch but with way, way better encryption and the information comes straight to me." Colby pulled out the little button again, turned it the other way and pushed it back in. The dot on the screen vanished. "If you end up on another Chinese freighter or something stupid like that I don't want to waste time doing math to find you. I just want to find you."

Colby couldn't say no to the earnest and slightly scared expression on Charlie's face. He certainly hadn't objected when Martin had finally talked Charlie into carrying a panic button, even if the information didn't go straight to him.

He leaned across the short distance and kissed Charlie softly. "Thank you."

"Oh, I have one other thing; it's kind of for both of us." Instead of a gift Charlie handed Colby an envelope.

Colby opened it and pulled out some papers. "Cooking for Couples?" Colby read.

"I thought it would be fun. And we could both use a couple extra dishes in our culinary repertoire." Colby couldn't really argue with that. They were both getting better but they were also still ordering take out four nights out of seven. "Also thought it might be nice to get out and do something as a couple that doesn't involve blood splatter." Again, Colby couldn't really argue.

"Sounds like fun."

He put the papers back in the envelope and reached under the tree for one last gift himself. He handed it to Charlie. He had debated about getting it and had debated even more about giving it to Charlie but over the last couple of months Colby had felt more in control of his inner darkness and Charlie had taken to slipping into a submissive space far more easily and for longer stretches of time.

Charlie opened the box and pulled out a hairbrush. It was simple, unadorned, antique and carved in one piece from the bone of some animal that was now probably endangered. The handle was thick and round, the back flat and heavy and the bristles firm. Colby had tried to tell the lady at the antique shop it was for his mother but she had just smirked at him in a way that made Colby blush to his toes.

Charlie drew in a long breath. He turned the brush over in his hands several times, examining it carefully. When he looked back up his pupils had blown wide. He licked his lips. "You know my father isn't coming around until noon?"

"I know."

Charlie carefully handed the brush over to Colby.

"Why don't I meet you up stairs?"

Charlie gave a quick nod and sprinted for the stairs. Colby took his time placing the opened presents back under the tree, then taking the coffee cups to the kitchen. By the time he got to the bedroom, brush still in hand, Charlie was naked and standing for inspection, his back to the door.

Colby, still taking his time, looked Charlie over. His skin was far more pail than when they first met, but Charlie hadn't gone out without being completely covered for a few years now. There was a fading bruise along his ribs from a fall. Colby would have been suspicious but he had witnessed the frantic student crash into Charlie, sending them both flying. Charlie's hair was carefully pulled back. Even dry it came half way down his shoulder blades these days. He had even taken to wearing it in a tight braid on occasion.

Colby slid up behind Charlie and ran his hand along the subtle curve of Charlie's hip. In a way it was more possessive than if he grabbed Charlie's ass or cock. He felt a soft tremble slide through Charlie's body. He brushed aside Charlie's hair and kissed the back of his neck. Charlie drew in a soft breath.

Colby backed away and went to the toy box pulling out everything he planned to use and laid it all neatly on the bed. He picked a cock ring and ball spreader first. It was a particularly nice one of soft brown leather that held both Charlie's cock and balls in quite an attractive manner. It had been getting a lot more use since Colby had taken to shaving Charlie regularly. While the extreme sensitivity he had right after a shave wore off after a couple of hours he still had difficulty keeping control for at least the first 24.

Charlie held himself still as Colby strapped him in with practiced ease. Then Colby dragged over the chair from Charlie's desk. It was of sturdy old wood with a high strait back.

"Hold the back."

Charlie grabbed the back of the chair but did not move his feet, leaving himself spread open and easily accessible.

Colby picked up lube next. He covered himself and a couple of fingers. Charlie was relaxed, even in the slightly awkward position, and opened easily, pushing back onto Colby's fingers as much as he could.

"Feet together."

Charlie brought his feet together raising his backside up a little higher. Despite their height difference Colby could just manage to get into Charlie in this position owing to Charlie being long legged and Colby being long in the torso. Colby bent his knees a little, grabbed Charlie's hips and pushed in. Charlie groaned and pushed back. Colby kept a firm grip on Charlie's hips and let himself fall into a comfortable rhythm. There was no rush and no finesse needed. Just the familiar feeling of Charlie's ass warmly gripping his cock.

Colby wasn't sure how long he'd been going but he noticed a slight burn growing in his thighs and a warm tingle at the base of his spine. He picked up speed and force and with the encouragement of Charlie's groans and whimpers emptied himself deep into Charlie.

He took a deep breath to steady himself then quickly pulled out and replaced his cock with a short thick plug. He stroked Charlie's trembling back. "There. That will keep my cum in you where it belongs."

"Thank you, sir." Charlie's voice was clear but soft.

Colby stroked Charlie's back for another moment before picking up the hairbrush. It had to have been made for a man originally. The handle was thick and round and fit easily into Colby's hand. Colby sat in the straight backed chair. The back and seat had thick padded leather for comfort.

"Over my knee."

Charlie draped himself across Colby's lap, spreading his legs and gripping the legs of the chair for balance. Colby didn't bother with a warm up or warning, simply brought the flat of the brush down on Charlie's backside with a loud slap. Charlie jumped then began to melt across Colby's lap. Colby was careful not to use his full strength since the brush was an antique, but instead concentrated several strikes on one spot before moving to the next. The skin shifted from pail white to pink to red. Every so often Colby would make a point of striking the base of the plug. Each time Charlie's moans would change to a gasp and he would grind his erection into Colby's leg.

Once Charlie's skin was cheery red Colby flipped the brush over and brought the stiff bristles down across the tender skin. Charlie cried out squirming in Colby's lap. Colby put a steadying hand between Charlie's shoulder blades. "Shhhhh. You're doing so well. I want you to feel this. I want you to feel this right through New Years."

Colby knew the red he was laying down with the hairbrush was really only superficial and would be nearly gone by evening. Colby put the brush aside and picked up the short heavy strap of leather he'd left in easy reach.

He laid it for a moment against Charlie's spine until Charlie realized what it was. Then Colby drew back his arm and brought it down hard. Charlie jumped and cried out and the strip of bright red skin almost instantly shifted towards purple. Colby brought the strap down five more times. Exactly what was needed to cover Charlie's backside.

Colby dropped the leather and brushed his hands gently across Charlie's body. Charlie was panting and trembling, a thin sheen of sweat covering his back. "So good." Colby whispered. "So very good." He slipped a hand between Charlie's legs and removed the thin straps of leather denying Charlie's release. Charlie whimpered every muscle drawing tight. "It's okay." Colby wrapped his hand carefully around Charlie's smooth cock. "It's okay, you can cum now." Charlie begin to move, slow at first, driving himself into Colby's hand and along Colby's thigh. "That's right, that's right. Let me see you cum." Colby gave Charlie's cock a squeeze. Charlie's head snapped back and hot fluid filled Colby's hand.

Charlie went limp nearly slipping from Colby's lap. Colby caught him and lifted him, laying him carefully across the bed a sleepy smile on his face. It wasn't even nine yet so Colby pulled up the blankets over Charlie. He would take out Charlie's plug in the shower but for now it could stay. He put the lube back on the night stand, the strap back in the box, wiped down the leather on the chair and placed the hairbrush on the dresser where Charlie would see it every morning.


Alan felt wonderfully sedate. The house was warm and full of good cheer. The last light from the menorah had flickered out into six pools of wax but the Christmas lights were still blinking away merrily.

The turkey had been pretty good. A little over done but Charlie had insisted on doing it himself so it wasn't bad for a first attempt. Larry had insisted on providing the mashed potatoes. Several years of white food had made him quite culinaraly adept at some things. Mattie had discovered peas and seemed to truly enjoy them even though using cutlery was still optional. Megan had only taken four trips to the bathroom grumbling each time that Charlie really needed to put in a second bathroom on the ground floor. Anne and Kathryn had made dueling apple pies and Colby had produced an ice cream churn from somewhere producing a vanilla ice cream to top it all off.

And the best thing of all, as far as Alan was concerned, was that they had gotten nearly all the way through the night without anyone's phone ringing. Everyone was on call, even Ian, who had seemed a little preoccupied through dinner, but his phone had remained silent along with Don's, Colby's, Megan's, and Charlie's.

Just as Alan was considering the merits of a second helping of pie a phone rang. Everyone quickly looked at each other before Don reached into his pocket and excused himself from the table.

Alan watched as Don became very still in the other room. Whatever he said was too soft for Alan to hear but he hung up the phone and came back to the dining room.

"Someone threw a molotov cocktail at the steps of the Wilshire Temple." Don's voice was strangely calm. "No real damage. LAPD picked up a guy two blocks away. Wants us to have a chat with him, make sure this isn't the start of something bigger." Alan felt his blood rush in his ears in a deafening combination of anger and fear. "Anyone want in on this with me?" Half the table stood up. Don pointed to Megan. "No. Sit."


"9 to 5 until you're hatched."

Megan scowled and sat back down but Alan knew there was no way she would have won that argument. He blood pressure had been a little high during her last check up and the only reason Megan was even still on desk duty was by promising Don she'd only do short days.

Colby and Ian were already suiting up and Charlie was sliding his laptop into its case with the same look that Colby and Ian had sliding their guns into their holsters. Don gave Mattie a kiss. Mattie's face was serious, obviously knowing that something had changed. It was almost a mirror image to Don's. Don gave Anne a kiss next. "I'll ride in with the guys and you can take the car home."

"Be safe."

Don flashed a smile. "Always."

And with little more than that Don, Charlie, Ian and Colby disappeared into the winter night.

Colby looked through the mirror at the suspect LAPD had picked up. There wasn't a lot of question about guilt. A half dozen security cameras had seen the skinny shit throw the thing and he'd been picked up smelling of gasoline and went on what was apparently an impressive tirade when he was picked up. The shaved head and swastika prision tattoos helped the overall impression of guilt.

"Let me talk to him first," Colby said. "I look like a good 'ol boy."

"You think he'll talk to you?" Ian asked.

"Nope, but it's Christmas. I feel like playing good cop. And maybe fucking with the kid's head."

Don snorted. "All yours."

Colby grabbed a soda out of the fridge first. It was a Fanta Orange. He didn't know anyone who actually liked Fanta Orange. If anything the overwhelming sugar always made him thirstier every time he'd had one.

He pushed his way into the interrogation room. The kid tried to give him an angry defiant look but it didn't really work since the kid was twitching, obviously already jonesing for whatever his drug of choice was.

Colby sat. "Merry Christmas."

"Fuck you, pig!" the kid spat.

"Yeah, that's original. What are you on?"

"I ain't on shit."

"Tell me what drug you're on so when you go to lock up the doctors can give you something so you don't completely flip out."

The kid was silent.

"You're in for a long night any which way."

"I told you I ain't on shit!"

"Which is why you're pail, clammy, and shaking."

"Sugar." The kid mumbled.



Colby snorted. "Oh yeah, the reich would have taken you in a heartbeat."

The kid snarled.

Colby took out the can of soda. "So I bet you would really like this."

The kid grabbed for the soda but his hands were cuffed to the table.

"First I need something from you, I need the names of associates, friends, contacts and a list of any holiday plans they many have."

The kid was silent.

"Trust me kid. I'm the one you want to talk to."

"What? We're playing good cop bad cop."

Colby grinned. "Sort of. We're play a game called good cop, bad cop, worse cop. In case you haven't guessed I'm the good cop. Bad cop is waiting in the wings and he ain't happy about being here. And worse cop... Well the last time we left worse cop in a room with a kid for five minutes he confessed to so much shit he's doing 250 years without parole. So, do you want to talk to me or should we see what's behind door number two?"

Colby could see the wheels turning in the kids head.

"Oops. Too late." Colby got up and walked out taking the soda with him. Don walked in.

Colby carefully rubbed the back of Charlie's neck even as he was hunched over a keyboard. "How are you doing?"

"Trying not to be sick."

"You know we have computer techs who can do that."

Charlie scrolled through yet another cash of hate mongering websites that he'd pulled off their suspect's computer. "Yeah, but I'm faster."

The office was nearly empty so Colby dropped a kiss on the top of Charlie's head.

Charlie sighed and closed his eyes for half a second. "You can tell Don I'm not finding any evidence of some sort of grand plan or even official connection with any particular group. Looks like a lone gunman on this end. He can ask the profilers what set him off."

"That's about the feeling Don's getting. Lots of second hand rhetoric but nothing specific to any one organization. Hell, Ian growled at him and the kid nearly pissed himself."

Charlie snorted. "Want to see the sad bit?"

"It gets sadder?"

Charlie clicked on a file labeled Stuff. It was filled with big breasted blond women doing some pretty kinky things. "Nothing to surprising here. But do a little digging..." Charlie clicked on file after file going deeper and deeper until he opened the file where all the pictures were of naked, pretty young men, mostly Asian. "Bet you ten bucks as to which one of these files gets used more."

Colby took the mouse from Charlie and closed the file. "Come on. Let's see about going home and celebrating our relative non screwed-upness."

Don tried to slip into bed without waking Anne but her eyes fluttered open. "Everything okay?"

"Everything's fine," Don whispered. "Go back to sleep."

Anne shook her head and sat up a little rubbing at her eyes. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. It was just a fucked up kid, two weeks out of prison for car thefts, who couldn't think of a better way to spend the holidays than going back to prison. DA will get him on arson, hate crime, few other things. He'll go back in, come back out, go back in..." Don pressed a soft kiss to Anne's forehead. "Sorry about ditching out on the last bit of Christmas."

"Well you have three more nights of Hanukah to make it up to me." Anne gave Don a quick kiss. "Besides, you nearly made it through dessert and got to see Mattie open his presents."

"I'm so glad we don't have down stairs neighbors."

Anne laughed. Nearly everyone, for some reason, had gotten Mattie blocks, and building them up high and knocking them down was already a favorite game. From Grandpa Alan he'd gotten a set with arches and triangles just right for the budding architect and engineer. Charlie had found a set that had numbers on them as well as some fairly advanced mathematic notation, just in case. Sasha had found a set that looked like branching tree trunks. Mary had found a set with Hebrew letters. Colby, possibly to counteract Charlie's blocks had gotten a good old fashion set that just had regular letters on them. That still made for a lot of blocks.

Ian had come through with a complete set of Dr. Susse. The books all looked second hand but seeing as how they were probably going to get chewed on anyway it didn't really matter. Don had gotten his son a proper baseball. Mattie did his best to chew through the stitching before becoming more interested in the wrapping paper, which also got chewed on.

"Maybe he'll become a famous architect and build grand buildings."

Don thought about it for a moment "Or he might end up one of those explosive demolition guys."

"I hear they make good money too."

Don pulled Anne close taking deep breaths, letting the smell of her hair and skin sooth him. Anne rubbed slow circles on his back. "It's not often this job really makes me mad."

"I know."

"And it's not even like we got to take down a big organization or something. Just a kid who practically wanted to get caught then nearly pissed himself when we leaned on him."

"Even one is a victory."

"I know. Just remind me of that once in a while, okay?"

Anne hugged him tight. "I promise."
Ian stared at the ceiling of Charlie's guest room. Charlie had offered it to him for the night rather than waking up his mom and Alan. Actually Charlie had offered it to him for any time he swung through town.

Usually between jobs he stayed with his mother. He did that either because he needed to check over and/or threaten the current boyfriend or because his mom was alone and didn't mind the company. Now there was Alan. Ian hated to admit it but he liked Alan. Alan encouraged his mother's art, helping her turn their semi enclosed balcony into a studio, and he treated her like a lady without being patronizing. And Charlie had not so subtly dropped a hint that maybe Alan was planning on going farther buy telling him that the Craftsmen was still really the family home and he was always welcome.

Ian tried to picture his mother married. He tried to picture her married to Alan Eppes. Well they were already cohabiting quite comfortably by the looks of things. The entry hall of the condo had pictures of him, Don, and Charlie. Someone who didn't know better might almost believe the three of them had grown up together. Ian chuckled a little into the dark. He wondered if he would have been the one with some sort of eldest child martyr complex while Don picked up middle child neuroses.

Still, that left Ian in his potential step brother's spare bed. Alone.

Ian had hoped that Martin would call, or text or something. Rosie and Robert had called to say marry Christmas but Martin was presumably still by the bedside of a failed suicide.

Ian flipped onto his stomach. Why should he care if Martin calls? Martin's just a friend. Just a guy he grabs coffee or beer with and bitches about the joys of working for the Federal Government. That was it. He was on the same level as Colby. He wouldn't be getting himself all worked up if Colby didn't call on his birthday or something.

Oh who was he kidding. It had been a while since he was with anyone. Rosie and Robert almost didn't count. He was so detached from the rest of the world when he was with them it was almost like he was someone else. He wondered to himself if he still had Nurse Andrew's number somewhere. Ian smiled a bit at the memory. Andrew had been warm and fun and flexible. Sadly, at the time, he'd been too tired and too stressed to really appreciate what Andrew was offering.

Ian flipped back over on his back and gave in to his own patheticness and tried to dredge up a little holiday fantasy, but somehow nursing scrubs kept morphing into black suits and white shirts with black ties.

Ian sighed into the dark and wondered to himself what Martin looked like under those suits. He pictured trim and pale with flawless skin. He'd never seen Martin's hair without gel but he pictured it slightly long and soft, falling into his eyes. He pictured Martin's smile and something roared up in him. He reached into his shorts and squeezed his cock. In his mind he held Martin to his chest even while driving up into him. In his mind Martin trembled against his chest whispering his name. In his mind they kissed and Martin tasted like brandy and apple pie 'cause it was Christmas. Ian came silently into his hand.

"Fuck," he whispered into the dark.

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