Patterns Of Play


Rating: Hard R
Notes: This was written for jigofspite's birthday (sort of). It was also betaed by her. Takes place sometime in early season four (around 406 or after, maybe).



East of Eden was on television, and Brian was sprawled on the couch, and Justin was on the floor near him with his legs stretched out under the coffee table. There wasn't any conversation, just a comfortable, rapt silence, both eyes on the TV. Cal Trask struggled to earn the love of his father on AMC Classics, and Brian's throat tightened a little watching it.

Then Justin's fingers were on his, a tip tracing the hard curve of Brian's thumbnail. Smooth calluses, the reward for endless hours of drawing, lined the side of Justin's middle finger, and Brian rubbed over them. He closed his eyes, fingers memorizing the curves, contours and creases of Justin's palm, the rough edges of his nails. Remembered how they felt scraping over his back, or cutting into the skin of his wrists.

Justin's eyes were still on the television when his fingers slid between Brian's, fitting perfectly, grasping a bit tighter than necessary. James Dean painted the screen in black and white, and for once Brian considers that being like him might not be worth it.

Lips brushed Brian's knuckles and in one fluid movement, he pulled Justin up to lie on top of him. Justin laughed - his smile and the light that came with it broke apart the discomfort and quiet - and started to say something, but it died away, forgotten, when Brian kissed him.


Shining curls of light were floating to the floor, through the swaying arms and bodies of the crowd. Lights were blinking in and out of different colors and the catwalk overhead was shuddering with both the thump of the music and the more insistent thump of dancing feet. Brian frowned and squinted around the dark hollow of the dance floor, trying to spot blond hair through the waves of pink, green, purple and blue. He was about to give up, irritably brushing confetti out of his hair and turning toward the bar, when he heard laughter in his ear, felt lips on the hinge of his jaw. Could only be one person.

"Found you," Justin shouted over the music, and Brian didn't bother to remind him that Justin was the one who'd wandered off; he just grabbed the hem of his tee shirt and pulled him back toward the floor.

That luminous smile was back, and he couldn't help but return it, thumbs hooking in belt loops and nose already nuzzling short, soft strands. Smoke, sweat, something a bit like what radiance would smell like, if it had a smell. Justin jerked away with a laugh that the music drowned out, hands already cupping Brian's face and hips kissing his briefly before shying away. Teeth nipped Justin's bottom lip, both reprimanding and begging, and he relented. Fingers dug into Brian's hair, a tongue played over his palette, and a maddening rhythm of grinding started up. Justin, unashamed and still smiling into their kiss, slid a leg between Brian's, and groaned noisily enough to be heard when Brian's hands slipped between denim and clammy skin, pawing at his hips.

"Fuck this, let's go home."



Brian was on a business trip to Atlanta, trying to convince himself that he was tired and that was why he didn't feel like going out to the club. He was horny too, though, and the two ideas didn't correlate. Horny, but dreading the idea of picking up a trick. There was something gentler he was aching for, something that knew it's way around the intricacies of his body, that had the confidence and enthusiasm to make it work.

He sat on the edge of his hotel bed, half dressed and staring at the carpet. His fingers twitched and his feet shuffled a little, aimlessly, trying to resist it. He didn't need it. Didn't.

But of course he did, and after several minutes of scrubbing a palm over two-day old stubble, he caved.

"Hello?" Sleepy and thick. Hair a mess, probably, and blinking at the darkness.


"... Brian? Did you get back?"

"No, I leave in the morning."

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing." A painful pause, and then Brian was simultaneously forcing the words out and tugging at his hair for being so stupid. "How are you?"

The sound of sheets rustling, and there was every hint of that stupid fucking smirk in Justin's voice when he answered. "I'm fine. I was sleeping."


"I miss you. How's Atlanta?"


"Mmm. Had all the guys there already?"

Brian rolled his eyes, falling back on the bed and tugging open the button and zipper to his dress slacks. "Not yet. I still have tomorrow morning, though."

Stifled yawn, and then an even more stifled laugh. "And the plane ride."

"Mmm," Brian grunted, rolling the heel of his palm over himself and sighing into the phone.

There was another long silence until Justin spoke up, soft and low. "Bri, are you jerking off?"

"Was about to," he admitted, coiling his fingers around himself, the other hand tugging his pants a bit farther down his hips, phone pressed between his cheek and shoulder. The fingers were too large, the palm too cold, the movements too sure, too clean. He wanted clumsy and small and hot and Justin kissing him while he did it.

"Oh. Why didn't you just..." But Justin let that thought fade, knowing by Brian's silence that the reason was too embarrassing to tell. "Wish I was there with you."

Brian scowled up at the ceiling and then forced himself to close his eyes, whispering without intending to. "I wish you were, too."

"Although I'd probably suck you off, not a hand job."

"Thank God." His voice came out clipped and gruff. When Justin sighed into the phone, Brian's head filled with images. He smiled. "Sunshine?"

"Don't call me that when we're... I hate it when you do that," even though his voice is smiling again, the thickness was back, changed somehow.


"I'm fucking the shit out of you when I get home."

"Thank God." Justin's laugh was gentle, just the sort Brian needed, and he wracked up a two hundred dollar phone bill that night.


For all intents and purposes, Brian and Justin were grown men. Adults. At least, Brian played one at work, and Justin played one at home. Mature, capable and responsible. Sophisticated men, who just happened to be playing a rather loving-yet-violent game of footsie underneath Debbie's kitchen table.

"--A new lecture from this fantastic writer this Sunday," Ben was droning on, unaware that he had just narrowly missed losing a knee cap in the name of Justin and Brian's PDA. Debbie smiled, piling three pieces of garlic bread onto Ben's plate. "That's wonderful, sweetie."

"Ow! Fuck."

The table froze, all staring at Justin, who immediately pretended like he'd bit the inside of his mouth chewing on his pasta primavera. Actually, his shin was throbbing from where the heel of Brian's shoe had just gotten him, but it might have been rude to say as much.

"What's the matter, baby? Here, eat some more," Debbie said resolutely, as if more food would solve everything.

"Bit the inside of my mouth," Justin mumbled, rubbing his right cheek and glaring at Brian.

"Guess we'll be using the left side tonight, honey." Brian smiled, both devious and warm at the same time, and Michael clicked his fork loudly against his plate. "Would you two mind not talking about your sex-life while I'm trying to eat?"

Brian grimaced as the toe of Justin's sneaker hit his calf, and Ben continued on about the wonders of Michael Connelly's book The Narrows as though he hadn't been interrupted.


Thursday morning came, and Brian found himself propped up in a stool at the counter of Deb's diner, looking like death warmed over and staring moodily into his coffee. Justin bustled past without noticing him at first, too busy looking annoyingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while getting a fresh pot of coffee. Brian's head drooped, and his hand moved up at the last moment to catch it, palm pressing hard at his temple. Everything looked glazed over, and his head was pricking with pain from the early morning light.

This was Justin's fault. Of course he hadn't made Brian take E or drink all that Jim Bean, but he'd definitely contributed to the measly two hours of sleep Brian had managed.

"Hey, waiter," he barked - at least it should have been a bark; it came out as more of a disjointed mumble. "Can I have some more coffee, please?"

"Since you said please," Justin mused with a grin, tipping more steaming liquid into Brian's already half-full cup, only spilling a little. "My, don't we look peaky."

"Fuck off."

"Aww. Poor baby." Justin leaned over the counter to give him a pout. "Does Brian need a nap?"

"I can't wait until you're thirty-two," Brian grumbled darkly, refusing to look at him.

"Why? So you can be forty-four?"

Brian's eyes flashed with a murderous stare and Justin balked a little, straightening. His expression faded, though, when Justin's eyes met his squarely. Justin put the pot down next to Brian's cup and walked off without a word. Feeling an unusually strong pang of guilt, Brian started fishing around in his pockets for his money and cigarettes.

When he looked up, there were two Tylenols waiting next to his cup. His eyebrows knit together and he looked over his shoulder, where Justin was walking up to a full booth with his pad of paper out. Brian's fingers closed around the pills and Justin glanced back at him.

Their eyes met again, and Brian cocked an eyebrow, turning in his seat so Justin could see him swallow the pills. They both smiled and Justin went back to his order. Brian left a ten-dollar tip.


Lately, it always started like that. With a smile and kiss. Maybe there would be linked fingers, or a brush of one knee over the other, but the kiss was where it began.

Where it ended too.

Justin squirmed a little from underneath him, sucking hard on Brian's tongue. His hand found its way into Brian's underwear, and they both made wet, throaty noises. Brian's mouth fell away from Justin's, leaving a loud whimper in its wake. Lips pressed to Justin's pale neck, first lightly and then with force and suction.

"Fuck, Bri."

And there was a mark, like Brian's lips had burned it onto his skin. Like Justin was his to mark.

The next few moments skipped and jarred, his urgency clouding the details; Justin's underwear vanished, the lube and condom made their obligatory appearance, and Justin's thighs squeezed him when he started to fuck him. Brian's eyes dropped down between them as they moved, watching the muscles in Justin's legs and stomach tense up. He shuddered then, involuntarily, and crashed his hips toward Justin, tilting as he did so and groaning at the fireworks of feeling that sprang up over Justin's face.

They kissed again, sloppy and wet, all teeth and tongue. Justin pulled on his hair, whimpered his name and arched to rub his cock a bit harder against Brian's stomach. The sensation sent another shiver through Brian and he winced, muffling his emotion against Justin's mouth.

Swallowing the 'I love yous' became second nature.


Justin was curled up on his side, back pressed closely to Brian's chest, fingers clinging to the arm around him even in sleep. It didn't matter, though; Brian wouldn't have moved his arm even if he could.

He remembered. He remembered meeting Justin, taking him home, and fucking him. He remembered the shower after, and the baby in between, and the ride to school following it all.

He remembered his name, having never fucked a Justin before - at least not one he could recall - and certainly never a Justin like this one. This Justin, who almost broke into tears the first time Brian made him come, who took a hit to the head like a hit to the heart, who broke a part of Brian that he hadn't even known existed, and who had given it back with super glue and a sincere "I fucked up."

If anything, Brian had been surprised that Justin remembered him. Maybe he was something of a low-scale celebrity in the gay circuit, maybe his fucks were legendary, but Justin hadn't seemed to remember those things. He'd been concerned with the way Brian held him in the early morning, or the way he shaved - cheeks and then chin - or how he could come a bit too quickly if Justin ran his tongue up his neck at just the right moment. Those were all things Brian had been quite happy for his fucks to forget, or never even find out to begin with.

Justin had them plotted, like points on a map, and he never let Brian live it down. He knew, and he was on top of it. And when he'd come back from Ethan's stale brand of love, he'd made it clear that whatever he didn't know would be discovered soon enough. Someday.

Brian squeezed him, tentatively, like he was fragile or fading. It was always a bit surreal to wake up next to someone who fit him like a piece of a puzzle and still felt so awkward in some respects. Surreal things were hard to trust. Love was surreal.

Patterns of play were developed early on. The basics of intimacy and attraction were whittled down to simple gestures and signs. Each part of a whole. Each bit as important as the last. The foundation of a friendship and... maybe yes, partnership... it built itself off of those patterns.

Brick by brick, touch by touch, light by light, the patterns formed like constellations across the sky, or splatters of ink - irreversible - on blank paper.

Brian had taught Justin everything he knew. Except how to dance, of course.

Justin would teach Brian everything else.