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Penitence


The first time was not a night of magic or fireworks, not something dreams were made of, not something that either of them planned on repeating again.

Alcohol, the sweet nectar of most problems, most instances, most traumas and early morning regrets, had flowed like water down from jugs, and together, they had taken in the bitterness until it had long turned sweet, then tasteless all together. Limits were discarded, boundaries shunned like hurtful words, and the party in someone's long-lost honor was soon a blur of color and lights and faces that seemed all too eager to jump into the fray.

Roy had been the first to offer to walk the poor brothers home, then Havoc, and finally Armstrong. Dismissing all, the siblings leaned on each other limply, and staggered out the door, leaving the collective group to play in their intoxicated games.

The shuffle home (for surely nothing in how they moved could be considered a true walk) was a black hole in their memories, something devoured and lost in the belly of the alcoholic beast. They stumbled through the door, giggling, laughing, snickering, and two pairs of boots that matched were kicked off and left at the door. One brother went to the kitchen for another nightcap; the other found a path to the bathroom to comb long hair that was a hint, a ghost darker than that of his sibling's.

"You look nice wit' your hair down like that, ya know," came a smooth, nicely slurred words, and the silver comb was dropped in the sink with a noisy clatter. "You look like me."

"That was the point." There was a crooked smile in the mirror, lopsided with Hops and Barley, and the bronze regarded honey. "I wanted... needed you close."

Shuffling footsteps, then arms wound, knotted around him, caught in a web of comfort and worry. "I'm always here. Never goin' anywhere again."

There was a moment of nothing, no breath, no weightlessness, no sounds and no thought, just that vision of the mirror, loose hair tangling with the counterpart's, the darker eyes staring over the shoulder to see buttered irises. Dry lips were bathed in a tongue, and fingers gripped the sink in front of him.

Wrong. Right. They didn't know, didn't understand, couldn't and wouldn't. When did brotherly, family love stop being that and crossed the line? When had things changed and moved, shifted twelve paces to the left?

These weren't things that siblings should be thinking about. These weren't the moments that time should be playing with, shouldn't be fingering and using, toying trinkets of emotions that had been in turmoil for years. These weren't the actions of blood, weren't the dreams of the conscious, of the coherent.

And when the first, frightened kiss fell on forbidden fruit lips, there was a stifled whimper, a mewling in the back of cursed throats.

wrongwrongwrongwrongwrongwrongwrongwrong

"Brother..."

"Shhh." And he had thought about it, while in Munich, while in the throes of his companion's bed there, Alphonse his ironic little name had been, leaving him to wonder, to crave, to need to know...

Was this a reaction to his love for that Al, that sweet and intelligent and cunning creature that had shared passion under industrial skies? Or was that, that liaison, a reaction to the love he felt for his brother, for the life he had left behind, for the bond that never wavered, simply strengthened?

There was no moment in the bed, or the couch, even the floor; he pushed his younger brother onto the sink, hefted him up to sit on the edge as he kissed him, as he connected on every level. They had kissed when they were younger, smaller, curious to see why Mothers and Fathers the world renowned did such a thing, but then it was a silly dare drugged by the summer heat and the fields of daisies; now there was a drunken, fumbling passion that slid into the fingers, into the trembling lips, and answers to ageless questions laid out before them.

They said nothing more, fumbling with zippers and belts, with fabric and skin, rushed by fear and anticipation. Would skin taste the same at lips, that sweat of alcohol leaking through, that failsafe? Would their touches match from their heritage, from their genes? Would they hate one another in the morning, disgusted by acts heightened by the calming lies of intoxicants?

Nothing would happen, nothing would change, right? No consequences, no loss. Nothing. Just a night, a single night to show the extent of love and life and happiness. Just a moment, a wrinkle in the smooth nylon of time, something to sate the lonely nights, to... to...

Rationalizing tasted so bitter.

"B-Brother?"

"Shh..."

The chest was thin, was small as he kissed it, fluttering with frantic, nervous breath as he worked his way down to mismatched knees on the floor. Strong thighs wrapped around the older's shoulders, and he was taking him in, pulling at passion down deep into the warm cavern of his mouth. His clumsy teeth brushed over sensitive flesh, and there was a painful hiss before it was smoothed away by the slow laps of an inexperienced tongue.

What am I doing? What am I doing?! He's going to hate me, going to fucking hate me, and he'll leave me, leave me and I'll never see him again! He doesn't know, doesn't know that this isn't the love we should be sharing, doesn't... doesn't fucking know how wrong this is! I'm taking advantage of him, of my own brother. I'm sick! I'm fucking sick! He's gonna... gonna...

Fingers, smooth and flesh and all ten, wrapped in the long strands of a bright halo, and regret drifted out the window on a sigh and a moan, a final thought to be lost among the voyeur stars.


Edward was the first to awake, the drill of a headache as it soaked through his temples, and like a survivor in a war, he sat up and surveyed the damage with disbelief, with agony, with sickness. The world was a casualty, the shrapnel embedded in the air with stale moans, the wreckage in the long-gone taste of sex in his mouth. Below him, he watched: a slip of a nude leg, strands of blonde hair seeping over the pillow, the childish fingers that used to hate to put worms on hooks when they fished down by the river...

And he defiled it, perverted it, tainted it down to blackened roots. He had manipulated the only one that mattered, the only one that...that would...would ever matter.

He had ruined him!

When Al woke an hour later, listening to the sounds of coughing and bile from the bathroom, it was easy to mistake it for the sounds of a busy, happy night among friends.

But he knew.

He knew.

Bare legs curled up to his chest, and by the time that Edward crawled from the bathroom, eyes red rimmed with grief masquerading as illness, Al had cried himself back to an uncomfortable, grieving sleep. Mingled prayers reached the ceiling, begging for waking nightmares to be a distant dream, and maybe, maybe someday they would be heard.

But not before a memorial of broken souls could be erected.