Cosmic Imbalance

"No," said Ed, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Yes," Al replied, gaze not wavering, bronze to Edward's golden.

"Al, we can't even afford a stray right now," Ed pointed out, and sighed. "I'm sorry, but he's gotta go. We'll find a good home for him, okay?"

"No, it's not okay!" Al spat, clutching the small black kitten closer to himself. "It's cold and dark and raining, and there are thugs roaming the street—brother, have a heart! He could be killed! He could become kitten stew!"

Ed took a deep, steadying breath, and wondered why this sort of thing only happened to him. Cosmic imbalance, perhaps? Punishment for his sins? Although, in his defence, Mustang had a lot more and seemed quite proud of himself; sloth, greed, lust, pride...

"Al," he said, and then the rest of his sentence was interrupted when Al thrust the kitten towards him. Reflexes had his arms closing around the damp, foul-smelling bunch of fur (only thing worse than wet cat, Ed thought, scrunching up his nose, was wet dog) as the kitten dug its claws into his chest and arms in an effort to keep itself from falling. "OW!" Ed managed, as a claw slipped through his jacket to score a thin, bloody line dangerously close to his nipple, "Al! Watch it next time, idiot!"

Al crossed his arms over his chest. "His name is Frankie," he said, "And he's staying."

"His name is gonna be 'dumped on the doorstep' if you do that again, Al," Ed replied sourly. "These things have sharp fucking claws."

"You just don't like cats," Al pointed out. "And you're unnaturally grouchy, brother. It's like you're eighty, not eighteen."

"AM NOT!" Ed snarled, painfully aware of how immature he sounded; the kitten in his arms abruptly began to vibrate, and he nearly threw it to the floor with a yelp of surprise before he realised it was just purring. "That," he said, when he'd recovered from the surprise, "Was freaky."

"It's just a kitty," Al pointed out, edging closer to his brother to scratch behind the kitten's ears. He pressed himself against Ed's shoulders, bronze eyes wide and fixed on the cat as it purred, happily, and craned up against his fingers; Ed could only blink at him, at the warm, gentle happiness etched onto his brother's face.

"Well," Ed said cautiously, shifting his weight so that Al had to lean against him more in order to reach the purring little creature, "I guess we could keep it for a little while."

Al's eyes widened, hope lighting the bronze. "Oh, really? Brother, that would be wonderful!"

Ed cleared his throat, caught off-balance by the wash of feeling those words and that expression invoked within him, and said, "Okay, then. But you've gotta look after it. And we're not calling it Frankie, Al, that's a really moronic name—"

"And when would you suggest, brother? Fluffles?" Al raised his eyebrows, but leaned closer and scooped the kitten out of his brother's arms, raising it to brush his nose against its. "No, brother, he looks a Frankie."

Ed pursed his lips, but decided not to argue with the looked of contented satisfaction on Al's face. "Fine," he said; "The damn thing's probably hungry, and there's some lamb in the fridge. It's your pet, you look out for it."

Al smiled, transferring the cat to his shoulder; and then gripped Ed's shoulder, leaning in to plant a kiss on his cheek. "Thank you, brother," he whispered in Ed's ear, before swinging the cat around. "Let's go feed you, hmm, Frankie? You must be hungry!"

Behind him, Ed self-consciously rubbed at his cheeks, still burning with the force of his blush, and tried to stop himself from smiling. "No problem," he said, too softly for Al to hear, and shoved his hands into his pockets. Yeah, like he could hold up against Al for long, anyway. His brother had always known how to manipulate him; the best he could do was maintain some pretense of control. "He's not allowed in the bedroom," he said. "I'm not having a damn cat putting me off my stroke, Al—-"

"Stroke?" Al's incredulous tone, the unspoken challenge as he stands from the kitchen floor, the kitten tucking into a heap of chicken scraps, could not be left unanswered; so Ed took a few steps forward, closed his automail fist in the collar of his brother's shirt and yanked him down for a long and bruising kiss.

"Yeah," he said, giving Al a gentle shove in the direction of the aforementioned room, "I have one, smartass, wanna see?"

Al put out an arm, catching himself on the kitchen doorframe, and wrapped an arm around Ed's neck. "I'd like that," he breathed, lowering his head so that his breath puffed out, hot and moist over Ed's lips; "I'd like that very much."

"Bet you would," Ed replied, and pushed himself up on the balls of his feet, closing the last inch between them to catch Al's mouth in a hot, crushing kiss. Al kissed back, relinquishing his grip on the door frame to greedily comb his fingers through Ed's hair, to run inquisitive fingers up under Ed's shirt and over his back, tracing scar tissue and heavy muscles, finally coming to a rest on the rough scar tissue surrounding the automail port, as he drew back and nibbled on his brother's bottom lip.

"Thanks for the kitten, brother," Al whispered, and smiled, still threading his hand gently through Ed's hair. "I really appreciate it."

Ed returned the smile, feeling something inside his stomach flutter happily at the expression on Al's face, and leaned forward to let Al support his weight. "It's not a problem," he said, and kissed Al again. "Hey, Al, you know something?"


"Frankie's still a fucking terrible name."

"Brother," Al scolded, but only absently. "Watch your language. And no, it isn't."

"Bloody well is," Ed insisting, toning down his language somewhat, but not refusing to relinquish to Al in this, too. "I mean, Frankie? Seriously?"

"I like it," Al protested, and frowned. "Maybe I could...?"

"You could what?" Ed demanded, mistrustfully; but Al interrupted the question with a nip at his brother's throat, just under the jawline.

"Does it matter?" he asked, mildly. "It's my kitten, I can name him whatever I like. Now, are you going to show me your stroke, or am I going to go have to practice mine alone in the bathroom?"

Ed blinked at him, and then blushed furiously as Al's meaning became clear. "I'm sure it won't come to that," he said, through his blush, and gave Al another insistent little shove. "Go on, then." Al captured his brother's wrist, and half-lead, half-dragged him to their bedroom.

"Now," he said, when they shut the door behind them, "I'm going to show you a few things..."

They both went quiet and still, however, when the plaintive mewling of a cat issued forth from underneath the bed. Al bit his bottom lip, resolutely ignoring Ed's smug glare, and fished Frankie out from underneath the bed. "Fine," he growled, the kitten still mewling in his arms. "You have a point."

"Nothing more disturbing than feline voyeurs," said Ed, tone unnaturally cheerful and bright. "Unless you count certain human ones, of course."

Al rolled his eyes at him, and evicted the kitten. "You made your point," he said; "Now be quiet and get undressed, brother."

"Why, Al," Ed said, batting his eyelashes at his younger brother—or at least, attempting to bat his eyelashes. Mostly he just looked like something had flown into his eye. "I love how you speak to me—"

Whatever he was about to say, however, was lost when Al pounced on him, knocking them both flat on the bed. And since he didn't continue bitching once Al finally got him undressed and finally began doing some highly illegal but thoroughly enjoyable things to him, Al took that as proof that, when it all came down to it, Ed didn't mind the kitten too much.