Change Ringing

The bells in Munich are large and noisy; Sunday morning is the worst, as they chime again and again, calling the faithful to church and awaking the not-so-faithful. The sound of them reverberates through narrow alleyways, bounces off dirty building walls, thuds into the one room and Alfons wrinkles his nose, screws his eyes shut as though that could drown the damn things out. He'd pull his pillow over his head, but he doesn't have his arms free; a small (but surprisingly heavy) blond is draped over him, face buried in his collarbone and snoring loud enough that he almost drowns out the bells.

There's a funeral going on, Alfons thinks, eyes still closed as he listens to the rhythm of the Holy Mother church two blocks away. He remembers the way those bells had rung when his parents died; he dressed in an uncomfortable, ill-fitting black suit, the hearse, the horses and those god-forsaken bells, booming loud enough to make his head ring. He'd always blamed those bells as the reason why he didn't cry, at that funeral; couldn't focus, with that racket right behind him and nothing to do with the burn in his chest that wasn't connected to the rot spreading through his lungs.

He wonders if the bells will sound for him, soon; he's running out of time, tries so hard and it just slips through his fingers like the eggtimer Joseph's wife broke the other day, while he was over collecting some tools; remembers watching it fall, shatter, glass and sand all over the floor and Joseph shaking him and asking—

You all right, Alfons? You're kinda pale—

—and he wasn't, isn't, won't be. Edward had taken him home, had locked them in and told Alfons that he was going to have a day of rest if it killed him—Edward doesn't understand, doesn't know that Alfons has no time to wait, no time to spend relaxing. Alfons is only human, and the seventh day means nothing; Edward needs to go home.

He needs to go soon, too, and Alfons can't say that. Can't say to the blond what he feels, can't—can't breathe when Edward is around, wants the blond gone because his chest hurts, same way it did at the funeral. Hates it when Ed kisses him (kisses like arsenic, but oh god so addictive) because Edward doesn't want to be here, wants his little brother, cries in his sleep and Alfons watches and wishes he were enough—is not selfish enough to clip his friend's wings, and so does all he can to make Ed go, to help him get what he wants. Drags his knuckles through Ed's hair and nips at his throat and thinks—

I should have resisted—

—but there is no resisting Edward, not him, beautiful and missing pieces like mother's favourite china doll ('Why do you like that one best, mama, it's broken!') patched and scarred and with a mouth that tastes like sugar-coated poison, and Alfons wants (wishes) needs (craves) more and can't have it.

He hates Edward for that. So beautiful. Golden hair and tiny hands, one cold plastic; cocky grin lapsing into (FALSE) concern—leaves him breathless and scared and feeling like mother and father (left) died all over again, chest hurts twice-over and the sickness is just one of the two. Self-inflicted, both of them; too obsessed with his dream, messed with things he shouldn't have and paid for it with lungs like coals; loved someone whose heart belongs to someone (somewhere?) else and lost.

This old doll? It's my favourite because my mother gave it to me, sweetheart, and if you had a sister I'd give it to her—

—but he never had a sister, never had any siblings, and the doll ended up paying for his trip to Transylvania; can't understand Ed's obsession (in-fa-tu-a-tion) with his brother. Is jealous of the boy who shares his name, despite himself. Wants Ed to go back to him so they can stop, stop living this double-life, so he can stop wanting something which is so close but not his. Might as well seek to claim a cat, to cup water in a sieve; can't control Ed, brash and brilliant and a sweat-slicked figure beneath the sheets, eyes hazy and soft and father would be appalled, oh god, it's a relief he won't see the man in heaven, won't have to explain to him how comforting his lost friend turned into sin.

The bells will chime when he dies, atheist and sodomite or not; Joseph, at least, will see to it that he gets a proper funeral. And he hopes that Edward is not there; hopes that he can make Edward go, give him back to his sibling before then. Because he is so stupid; rather than help Edward adapt to this world, this dull, horrid world where someone as bright and golden does not belong—even the flowers Gracia sells pale in comparison to the boy who he sleeps with every night—he seeks to return him to an Eden that may or may not exist. Foolish boy, risking hellfire and damnation for the sake of someone who doesn't love him back, addicted to his poisonous kisses or not; death is closing in on him and he hacks up more and more blood into the washbasin with every morning, should stop this behaviour, this twisted mockery of love before he is truly damned, kisses or not.

... but he doesn't want to give them up, not for anything; the taste of arsenic is golden, addictive, even it does pave the road to hell.