Edward Elric was going insane.
Oh, there had been times before when he thought that life had pushed him just a little bit too far—but this, the boy was certain, would finally be the end of him.
Because he could still taste Alphonse's lips on his own, soft and wanting—and even if it had been just another dream, the feeling lingered, stirred a burn that seared lazily across every nerve in his body.
Not that it helped, the boy reflected quietly, that he'd somehow managed to twist about in his sleep and end sprawled across the bed on his stomach; the new position had turned what would've been a difficult situation into one that was nearly unbearable.
Because waking to the feel of the mattress pressed firm against him had very nearly been enough to drive the boy over the edge.
And then he'd rocked his hips forward, unable to stop the motion, and every scrap of coherent thought had gone toward the searing, soul-deep gratitude he felt for one simple fact: at very least, Alphonse was a habitually early waker.
Which meant that when he jerked forward in short, shallow thrusts, helpless against the need to transform pressure into friction, his little brother wasn't there to see him bury his face into the pillow and suppress a groan. Wasn't there to see the tremors that wracked his whole body or the painfully visible effort it took to pull away from the contact before he made a mess of his pajamas.
Ed clenched his teeth against the gentle rub of fabric-on-flesh as he sat up, took a moment to gasp a few breaths of air and take stock of the situation.
He strained his ears for sounds of motion from Alphonse in the other room, relaxed just marginally when he heard running water. That would put the boy in the kitchen, as he usually was late-morning, cleaning up the dishes from last night's dinner.
Which would give him a clean shot at the bathroom.
The surge of relief that rushed up behind that thought was incredible, and the boy was on his feet just seconds later, spurred by fierce need. Because it had been far, far too long since he'd managed to steal a moment alone, and if he didn't do something about the all-consuming ache between his legs, he might very well—
Ed had reached the bathroom door before he realized the problem with the situation, a testament to how distracted he truly was.
But by the time his mind had caught up with the fact that the door shouldn't be closed—had so much as registered that the running water was much, much too close to be coming from the kitchen—the sound had already stopped. And by then the door was swinging open, and Alphonse stood revealed within its frame.
He couldn't help it—not when the towel hung low on his brother's hips like that, revealing smooth, tempting flesh. Not when the younger boy was still wet from his shower, droplets clinging to his hair and running down his face and chest and legs and—
Quite suddenly, Ed found himself biting down on his lower lip, struggling just to silence the moan that threatened to leave him at the sight.
"I'm sorry, brother," Al was babbling in response, face flushed a lovely embarrassed scarlet. "I thought you were still in bed."
And then the boy ducked back inside, leaving Ed to stare at the blank white of the door—but the image of his brother's body had burned into his eyelids, lingered there as though he'd looked too long at the sun.
This was getting ridiculous, Ed thought furiously to himself.
It was one thing for explicit dreams to play hell with his senses, after all—the boy had long ago resigned himself to the nightly torment as something that couldn't be helped—but it was quite another for that arousal to carry over, just as suffocatingly thick, into daily life. For him to begin dwelling on inappropriate details about his brother in ways that more often than not left him frustratingly hard and plenty embarrassed.
Like the way the sunlight caught in Alphonse's short, fine hair, made it glow a shade just darker than gold. Or the way one side of his mouth quirked up before the other when the boy smiled. Or how warm his brother's hand was, when it lingered on his shoulder like that, a casual, friendly touch.
And they were all things Edward had noticed before, certainly; Al had been the most important person in his life for as long as he could remember, and small details like this were embedded so deeply within him that the knowledge came as naturally as breathing.
But never before had every tiny facet of everything his brother did been so utterly, achingly tempting. And never before had the older boy had occasion to think that it was downright dangerous how lovely Al was, a graceful, unwitting attractiveness that made everything he did hazardous to watch.
And the worst part was that, while Edward struggled hourly with the desire to simply grab the boy by his collar and drag him down for a kiss—and wouldn't it be sweet and hot and good? Ed's mind offered hopefully—Alphonse seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that anything was wrong.
Which was probably not a bad thing.
Because lately, it was all he could do to keep from jerking away at physical contact, and walking the fine line between suspicion and embarrassment was a painstaking battle of will.
But try as he might, the boy couldn't quite keep his mind from the image of his little brother, framed by the bathroom doorway and wreathed in steam, or from the blurrier sights offered by his dreams. And bit by bit, Ed felt the tenuous hold on his control beginning to slip.
Across the table from him, Alphonse spooned up a piece of cake, carried it to lips that were a slightly deeper red than usual with the thick glaze of the strawberry topping.
The little shudder of want that came, unbidden, as his brother's mouth closed over the treat couldn't quite persuade the boy to tear his gaze away, no matter how the rational part of his mind was raging that this would only make things worse, dammit. Because Al was licking his lips, tongue pink and moist, eyes falling closed in an expression of bliss that had Ed hardening merely at the sight.
"You haven't even touched your cake, brother," Alphonse scolded mildly. There was concern evident beneath the words, and if the older boy had been less distracted, he might have felt guiltier over the fact. "It's really good—you should try some."
Ed glanced away sharply, felt his face flush. "Oh—yeah. Sorry."
Eating, the boy noted as he fought to force the color from his cheeks, was going to have to be added to the list of things that it was dangerous to watch Alphonse do.