Justifying Substitution





Al closed his eyes, tilting back his head as the air ruffled through his bangs, pushing them away like a lover's hand, a lover's breath. The book was heavy in his lap, the corners biting into his thighs, but he ignored it, blocked out how it felt because this was so much better. Imagining. Pretending. Believing.

Out there, out there, just need to find the right key to the right cage.

I dreamed you, brother. I did. I brought you to life in a dream sweeter than the life I'm living here.

Falling back into the sun-warmed grass, Al smiled to the skies, offered them his hopes and dreams on a gilded platter of golden eyes. Someone was standing over him to the right, someone small and who walked with a heavier step on one side, and sometimes when he closed his eyes just right, when he squinted and listened to a different voice in his head, he could pretend, pretend...

Is it wrong if it's keeping me sane? Is it wrong to play the games that we do?

An apple was shoved down into his face, a sphere of shifting autumn colors of yellow and vibrant red, and with a little blink, gloved hands came and took the offered gift, holding it close to his chest. Wrath stared down at him without the customary dark expression that rounded the edges of his eyes, and slowly sat down, the automail giving the slightest creak that signaled a lack of oil.

"Winry will kill you if she hears that," Al stated, his words quiet as he moved to sit up. "You know how she gets when she hears you haven't been keeping up on the maintenance."

Wrath made a little noise, something noncommittal, before he grabbed the youngest Elric's shoulders and pulled that blonde head into his lap, metal fingers immediately tugging the clasp from the hair and letting it shimmer down across his legs. Silver and fitting. "She won't know if you don't tell her." One finger, a flesh one as pale at the moonlight on white-capped waves, prodded the apple, before tapping against Al's smooth brow. "Eat."

The mortal, the brother, the human, smirked a little and laid his cheek against one of Wrath's calves; Brother probably felt the same way, cold and hard and uncomfortable, and oh, how he wished he could remember! Al leaned into it a little more, down deeper until a line from a plate was pressed across his cheek like a scar, wearing it like a brand that came from lover's lips; anything to be closer, closer and remember laughter and smiles and tears and victory and tragedy. "I had breakfast."

"Toast isn't breakfast." At least, Wrath was fairly sure that it wasn't; he had never had to indulge in the conventions of "food". There was another tap and like a magic button, hazel eyes opened and looked up at the sin, at the dark image that wasn't really Wrath but a wonderful negative photograph of what Al truly wanted. "You need to eat. Be healthy."

There was a little protest from the youngest of brothers, but his teeth tore through red peels and down into the watery meat of the fruit, feeling the juice dipping down into his chin and underneath, a sticky sweet stream. Wrath's hands were on him, already wiping it away like a—motherbrothersiblingfamily— lover, the fingers soft and gentle, flesh and rough and perfect in their flawed way.

And he was trapped between the two figures caught in the same body: the past in the form of humanity, and then that which he couldn't recall, of rainstorm cold and hard lines. Wrath was everything he wanted and a teaser for something even more, some part of godly divinity that he could only hope to touch.

Wrath was the reminder of what he couldn't touch. Wrath was the negative for the light he sought.

And though he knew it was cruel, that it was unfair, that it torturous, how could he not? How could he not leech onto him and suckle him dry? How could he not use him for the here and now, even if most of it was subconscious?

I don't mean it! I don't! I just need your help! And you like to help me, don't you? You told me you did, told me that you would do anything to help me! It's not my fault! It's not! You said! You promised! You offered!

The core was snatched away from his lax fingers, and Al found soft lips against the tips of his digits, suckling the juice from them fearfully. The alchemist simply smiled, curling his hand and wrapping it around the other's chin gently, the rounded curve of his thumb running over the other's lips, running the length like an oval racetrack. The breath was cold, ragged, nervous, and it was cute enough to make him see Wrath for what he was, what sort of grown child he had turned out to be.

I'm sorry for what I do to you, and I hope that someday, someday you understand.

Because, I would do the same for your mother as I would for my brother.

On the inside, we're all the same pathetic sins.