He wasn't sure when it began happening.

All that Alphonse could remember was the way it felt the
first time, waking curled about his brother's sleeping form: the tightness in
his chest, the heat coiled low in his stomach, the uncomfortable throb between
his legs, slow and sharp and needing. And for the space of several seconds,
his mind had refused to process anything but the realization that, lying as
he was, he could feel the whole length of Ed's body beside him, soft and warm,
with nothing between them but a few pieces of fabric.

He'd jerked away as though burned—rolled onto his back
with eyes wide and heart pounding.

Because he'd known about this sort of thing, certainly—
had heard it spoken of while he was still a hollow suit of armor, wont to be
mistaken for much older than his actual age.

But knowing and understanding were two different things
entirely, and there was an immediacy to the feeling that he'd never expected.
A need to disentangle himself from the covers and do... do something
about it, before his brother woke and turned to face him.

Because Alphonse was positive that somehow, the older
boy would take one look at his face and know, as though every nuance
of want had been painted bright and clear for him to see.

Almost, Al had left the room.

Wouldn't it be easier, after all, to slip from beneath
the blankets and return to his own bed, all but unused for the past month? To
deal with a new and somewhat unsettling sensation without having to worry about
what his brother would think, were he to discover it?

But that, he'd been forced to acknowledge, would be unfair
to Ed: waking the next morning to find that, for the first time in a long while,
half the bed was empty, his little broher gone in the night without a word.
And lately, the smaller boy's nightmares had been tearing him apart.

So Alphonse had resolved himself—because if all he could
do to make it better was be there when his brother woke, offer comforting words
and gentles touches, then the boy would make sure to see it done.

And he'd simply have to learn to ignore this peculiar
new ache.

Alphonse woke panting, trembling on the edge of a precipice
of which he wasn't even completely aware.

All the boy knew was that it had never been this bad before,
never quite this shade of desperation tinging his body's insistence that he

And so he did, a shallow lifting of hips that was more
instinctual than anything else—but the motion was enough to scrape constraining
fabric over too-sensitive flesh, and Al bit his lip in response, battling down
the wave of feeling that washed over him.

Beside him, Edward turned in his sleep—made one of the
quiet sounds that his little brother had come to recognize as a herald of bad
dreams. "Al," the smaller boy murmured, shifting restlessly.

A nightmare, Alphonse's mind thought feverishly, even
as guilt cut through him at the realization. It's just a nightmare.

So why, he wondered hazily, did hearing those noises make
it worse?

He didn't remember much of the dream when he came gasping
into consciousness—just his brother's eyes, warm gold and lidded with a lazy
sort of desire.

Ed's mouth had featured prominently as well—and a part
of Alphonse had enough sense to wonder, with a distant sort of alarm, when his
unconscious mind had decided for itself exactly the way the other boy's tongue
would feel, wet and scalding, if it were to work its way over his skin.

The whimper was out before he could stop it from leaving,
and it was only then, when it was too late to call it back, that he realized
his mistake. Those same golden eyes were watching him from less than a foot
away, turned a murky hazel in the darkened room.

"Hey," Ed said quietly, watching him with focused intent.
"You alright?"

He managed to nod in response, forced what he hoped was
a reassuring smile. "I'm fine, brother."

But he wasn't—not really. Not when every nerve in his
body was screaming at him to close that little bit of space and start recreating
the scene from his dream. Not when Edward was darting out his tongue to wet
his lips, and just the sight of it was enough to send tendrils of fire rushing
through a body already tense with need.

Not when the smaller boy was reaching out a hand like
that, so carefully, as though he expected the contact point where fingers met
cheek to burn.

It did, Alphonse thought dimly—maybe not Edward, but
the younger boy felt the heat from it flashing thick and heavy all through him.

"Your nightmares must be contagious," he managed after
a moment, quite unable to keep himself from nuzzling into the touch. But at
least, he told himself by way of consolation, his voice sounded normal—much
calmer than he felt, certainly.

And when Ed leaned forward to wrap him in a brief, tight
hug, ruffled his hair before pulling back with a tired, worried smile, the stab
of guilt at causing him unneeded concern wasn't as strong as it ought to have

Because the places where the boy's hands had been still
tingled, sharp and sensitive, and all other thoughts were buried beneath the
impulse to put them back.

Alphonse took a long, shaky breath, and set the urge aside.