chapter 4.

He hadn't realized he had been about to fall asleep, but he was awoken suddenly by a feeling of pressure on his abdomen.His eyes opened in shock, only to see his favorite face looming above him.Heiderich was straddling his stomach, his knees on either side of his hips, his hands on either side of Ed's head as he arched over him.He hadn't lit the lamps so his face was illuminated only by the orangey gaslight filtering through the curtains.In this light he looked not his usual pale self, but rather, lit from within.His eyes were wide and shiny, and his mouth was a hard, set line.

"Where the hell have you been?" Ed asked, a nervous flutter in his stomach.He had never seen Heiderich look so commanding."I was worried about you."

Heiderich looked at him with that fierce face again.

"What have you done, you maniac?" he said, and Edward realized with a start that his voice was strangled by panic, that the shine in his eyes was tears."I didn't want you to do that, for me.He was a bastard but he didn't deserve to be killed!"

Ed struggled to sit up, to get out of this suddenly vulnerable position, and push Heiderich off him, but for once Alfons seemed formidably strong, animated, he supposed, by fear and panic.

"I didn't do it, you idiot!I went there to kick his ass and I found him like that!"

Alfons sat back over Ed's hips and slapped his hands over his eyes."Oh, my God, you're lying!You really are insane.Oh my God."

Ed reached up and grabbed Alfons' wrist, trying to pry it away from his face.

"Is that really what you think of me?" he asked."You really think I could....?"

Alfons let his hands drop.He bowed his head but Ed could see that he was crying.He seemed dizzy and unfocused.

"I've never....blood was coming out of his head..."

"Yeah, I know..."Ed rubbed his thumb gently over Alfons' wrist."I wish you hadn't seen it."

So many thoughts went through Alfons' head at this moment.The dead Klaussen, Edward, Edward....all the way back, after seen Klaussen dead....all he could think of was, How could Edward do this?He seemed such a good person, sometimes, and others, a coiled snake, a viper, a cipher...he hid so much from him, he didn't really know him at all.All those crazy lies...maybe some of them were true, or partly true.Maybe he hadkilled someone, maybe he had had enemies.It didn't seem possible, in his heart of hearts he thought him kind and good, and even if he rarely showed it, for real, capable of the love like he obviously had for that faraway brother-whom Alfons secretly assumed was actually dead-but maybe Edward really just was a raving madman after all. His head swam.

When Edward asked him to get off he felt a sting of obstinacy.

"No.I think I'll stay here."He felt a pang of satisfaction at his current dominance.Edward was obviously worn out, tired, and for once, he felt stronger, though he couldn't for the life of him explain where this sudden robustness had come from.

Provenance of his current state aside, he would no longer ask questions.He wanted to sit on top of Edward. He wanted, in fact, to savor the medicinal fantasy that he had been feeding for the past couple of hours, that being, that Edward was so crazy in love with him that he had killed someone to protect him.

He certainly had never been loved like that before.He felt a bit unhinged, and still under the influence, probably, of his medicine, which had those spiky traces of morphine in it that he found made him quite fearless when he overcame the torpor.

Edward made as if to protest but Alfons clamped his hand over his mouth.With his other hand he began to unbutton Edward's vest.He protested but then stopped soon enough, so Alfons removed his hand from his mouth.Already Edward's lips were parting, his eyes were starting to close; he fell under the spell so quickly, really he was so weak.The shirt was open and when Alfons touched his tongue to one hard pink nipple Edward squeaked and shuddered and Alfons felt a sweet little shiver of power.He was really just a simple little thing.He just liked to be licked.Alfons moved his tongue around the nipple, then worked it gently with his teeth.Edward moaned and shuddered again.

Alfons liked that, the shuddering part.

He began to work the buckle on the strap holding Edward's arm in place.This was strictly forbidden; Edward didn't like him touching the arm, afraid he would break it, he said, or hurt him taking it off wrong, but really Alfons thought it was because he had a little bit of lingering shyness over it.When Edward raised his left hand to stop him, Alfons slapped it away.

"I'm doing it," he said forcefully.The hand retreated.With the strap undone, the artificial limb still showed some resistance to being separated from the shoulder, and Alfons found himself holding it by the wrist, the rest of it still attached to Edward, until he would pull the harness off.

Edward looked up at him and his eyes were different from the usual: very, very soft, a little damp, Alfons thought.Wide, but not trusting.

"Go ahead, take it off," he said.

Alfons hesisted. "I don't want to hurt you."

"It would take a lot more than that to hurt me."

"Like what would hurt you, then?" Alfons asked challengingly.

"Nothing you could do to me."He turned his head to the side.

Alfons' body burned at that challenge.He felt incredibly aroused and bore down on Edward with his hips.His prisoner, however, seemed distressed.His face still turned to the side, his cheek was spread with red and his mouth set. Angry?Alfons couldn't tell.He found he didn't care either, and applied himself to removing the harness and the artificial arm, while Edward refused to look at him and didn't resist as Alfons moved his other arm, his head, pulled the thing off and flung it off the bed, and it landed on the floor with a clatter.He saw Edward's eye wince a little.

"If you break that..." Edward said in a low, threatening voice, but it tapered off as if he didn't have enough determination to finish the sentence.

"What? You'll kill me?"

Edward hissed and his mouth became a tight line.

"You are a liar," Alfons announced, squeezing Edward's ribcage between his knees.

"Is that so," said Edward in his faraway voice.His head was still turned and he gazed at the wall, as if he didn't care where he was.

"Yes.I can hurt you."He leaned over and pressed his chest to Edward's chest and his cheek to Edward's cheek."I know I can hurt you." Alfons pushed himself up and ran his finger across Edward's collarbone and traced the spot on his right shoulder, where his arm should have been."I know exactly what to say."

Edward closed his exposed eye, and Alfons rose up again.He began to apply himself to undoing Edward's belt and trousers, unbuttoning his flies in the space between his own legs, then rose a little to push them down Edward's thighs, leaned backwards and pulled them off by the cuffs.Edward's stockings sagged around his ankles, one real, the other that putty-colored rubber-looking thing that Alfons rather hated.He released the catch and pulled it off, letting it fall, he turned back to stare down at Edward.

"This is what I think of you: I think you're totally insane and messed up and it's just as well we can't let anyone know about us, because I'm embarrassed that all I can get is a fucked up cripple."

Edward's eyes came into focus and caught his with force.Suddenly his eyes flashed and his expression became fierce.He practically spit out his next words:

"I don't care what you think, you fucking loser.But no matter what you believe, I've NEVER lied to you."

Alfons sighed."Then that means you're insane."

Edward huffed."Believe that if you want. I don't care anymore.Now get the hell off me!"He started to buck and struggle, bringing his hand up to hit at Alfons, but Alfons caught Edward’s hand and began to bend it back toward his wrist.Edward struggled some more, but his position was that of a butterfly pinned to a board.

“Get the fuck OFF!”Edward roared, nearly succeeding in pushing him off.

Surprised to find that he was still pushing Edward’s hand back toward his wrist, Alfons felt his eyes begin to sting.How mean he was being!He let the hand go.He didn't want to cry."I don't want you to be crazy," he said.

Edward panted and let his hand fall behind his head.

Alfons sat still on top of him, staring down.He suddenly felt terribly sorry for what he had just said.It wasn't really true, not all the time, but still...he knew Edward wouldn't like this, but he was suddenly moved with remorse and even pity for him.This didn't make him feel any less, it made him feel more.Protective, passionate, lucky to have him. How horrible he'd been!He moved off of him and quickly, before Edward could resist, put his arms around him and held him to himself.He half wanted it to be true, that Edward had killed Klaussen for him, but how awful...he felt so sick and weak and stupid, and sorrier still, for having said something so mean.He pressed his face into Edward's neck and grabbed at the back of his hair with his hand.

And then, he felt Edward's hand at the back of his head, pressing gently, and he felt Edward's breath on his neck.

And then Edward said softly, "It's all right.Don't worry, I'll stay with you."

Say it, Alfons told himself.Just tell him.

But all he did was squeeze harder.

Edward had never known Alfons to act like that.As he held him, after that ridiculous rant, he felt a knot of panic in his stomach.Seeing Klaussen must have really knocked him for a loop; he had to remind himself that Alfons hadn't seen the stuff he had, hadn't known before what it was like to see someone dead from violence like that, how horrible it was.But there was something else, and that dread that had been growing in him over the past several days had more of a shape now: he knew because when Alfons' face had been pressed to his, he had smelled what he assumed was that medicine that he had seen sitting on the shelf in the kitchen.

It hadn't been nice to hear, what Alfons had said to him; it was as he had feared. Still, he gave him a pass for obviously being on some kind of drug; but he also knew that it had probably just loosened his tongue.Still, he was mature enough to recognize that passion was ambivalent-sex wasn't always beautiful, and it was stupid to imagine that it was.It was probably the same for love.

Alfons clung to him like...he would have preferred to think "as if he loved him" but it was more like "as if he were drowning."He seemed to be wanting something.That feeling of being expected to say something important was palpable.Edward didn't know what it would mean for them to declare love to one another.Despite everything, it seemed, if not premature, odd.They were still two men.Didn't they really believe that ten, twenty years from now, they'd be married to wives and have children and be like everyone else, that this was just what his father might call "a youthful dalliance"?Wasn't "I love you" something people said to each other when they wanted to get married?

All he could manage to choke out was that he wasn't going to leave him, not right now, anyway.Not until they straightened all this shit out, not until Alfons was well, not until a Gate opened up in front of his face and he could leap through it and be shot of this awful, soul-sucking pit of a world.

But as they clung to each other, wrapped around one another, welded together by invisible forces, he could feel only the urgency of nature.Alfons fell asleep against him, and he didn't want to move and break their bodies apart.Like magnet to metal, they were seamlessly attached.

The sound that kicked Edward awake, while the room was still dark, was that of a bang, a clatter, a congress of footsteps that entered his dream but in a moment pulled him into the waking world.Alfons stirred next to him, but was obviously in a deep sleep, and he pushed him away from himself the moment the bedroom door flew inwards and banged against the wall.

There were shadows of men, three he thought, against the dark doorway.Edward nearly swooned with panic; there was nothing to be done.

"God in heaven, what a scene," one of them said, stepping toward the bed.He tsked a few times as he came closer.Ed decided that he could do nothing but sit up straight and look the man in the eye.It came as quite a shock when that man turned out to be Metzger.

"What the hell-" Ed began, but Alfons chose this moment to sit up and open his eyes.His mouth opened in shock, but nothing came out.

The two men by the door remained silent, but Ed was aware of their staring as he tried as hard as he could not to wither in their glare.Metzger looked down over them for a moment longer before releasing a sigh and stepping backwards and turning on his heel, striding toward the door.

"The two of you are such a disgrace I can't even look at you.We'll wait outside here while you get dressed.Then come out.We need to talk."

"Why the hell should we listen to you?We're not at work now," Edward growled.

Metzger turned in the doorway.Affecting bemusement-something that Edward found particularly irritating-he smiled and said, "I don't think you're in a position to refuse me anything.Just do as I say."

He pulled the door closed behind him.

Alfons didn't stir but sat, shocked."What do you think he wants?" he finally said.

"I dunno."Ed fastened on his arm as quickly as he could, then reached for his leg.Alfons seemed to be moving in slow motion, buttoning his wrinkled shirt, pausing to look at his shaking hands."Calm down," Ed commanded as he pulled on his trousers.Then he crawled across the bed toward the window."We're not talking to them anyway.We're leaving."

"But they're going to try to stop us-"

Ed sighed.Alfons just didn't get it, he was no good at being spontaneous, and he was certainly no good at disobeying orders.As Ed pulled the window up, cold air rushed into the room, and Alfons shivered.

"Take your coat," Ed said, grabbing his own off the end of the bed.

"But..."Alfons stood at the side of the bed with his coat open, his hair sticking up every which way, a bright stain of red on each cheek.He looked feverish and conflicted.

Ed stood up on the bed so that he loomed over him."Listen, you want to go out there and be accused of killing Klaussen?Or wait for them to drag us off somewhere?They're not the police, and they're up to something.Are we gonna let them mess with us, or are we getting the hell out of here?"

Still, Alfons paused.Ed felt like belting him across the face, but he felt sorry for him; he had no idea what to do with trouble.He reminded himself that he was also not feeling his best.He knew how that felt, how hard it was to rouse oneself when you're in pain and all you want to do is stop feeling, not go out into the cold and run.

Ed stretched forward and held out his hand.

"Come on," he said."We'll be fine.I promise."