It took some practice in the mirror when his brother wasn’t around—okay, a lot of practice—but Al finally figured it out. There was a trick to it. He had to let himself almost drift into shut-down mode, the quiet and still state that Ed persisted in calling sleep, but carefully step back from it right at the brink. He could still see, was sensible—but the telltale glow in his mask’s eyeholes would be doused. It was really the only way he’d found to spy on his brother, and it worked like a charm as long as he kept perfectly still and silent.
That was the hard part, really—not making a sound, not the slightest indrawn “breath,” unnecessary but still habitual, not tilting his head to get a better view. It was oddly torturous, but too thrilling to give up. It was in Ed’s best interest, after all. From what little Al had been able to glean from twenty-year-old books in the library with titles like “Your Changing Body” and “Becoming a Man,” his brother would benefit from the release of tension, and Al knew he’d never do it if he thought he was awake. It would be just like Ed to deny himself because he still felt guilty about the armor.
Of course, his brother could relieve himself just as easily if Al were actually “asleep,” but on the other hand, would he really want to deny his little brother an educational opportunity? When Al finally got his body back, he’d have to know what to do with it, after all.
None of the reasoning quite explained why Al enjoyed watching so much—but he tried not to think too hard about that.
So Alphonse settled himself down on the floor in the corner between the head of his bed and the wall, not facing Ed directly, but turned toward him enough that most of the action would be visible. Ed had been getting...busier...lately, and the show kept getting better and better the longer he fell for the trick. Last night he’d left the sheet off altogether, bunching his pillows up against the footboard of the bed to hold them in place while he straddled them. It was a daring position, from Ed’s point of view—hard to explain away or cover up if Al should wake unexpectedly—but worth the risk, judging by Ed’s muffled moaning.
“Goodnight Al,” Ed murmured, snapping him out of his thoughts.
“Goodnight, Brother,” he replied, and carefully slid down toward unconsciousness. By the time he’d brought himself back from the edge, his brother was already naked.
There was something extremely satisfying about Ed’s body. Maybe because he covered it up in so many layers, hid the automail when they went out in public, sweated through summer heat with jacket and coat and leather still on. Looking at Ed, Alphonse could almost imagine what his own body might be like now, if he had it. Hopefully taller, and without the automail, but maybe that same golden tan, smooth and toned, hairless except for the shine of blonde on his forearms and shins and a little thatch of it between his legs. A body that could flush with heat and shine with sweat, rosy nipples and fingers that could grip around a darkening, stiffening cock, as his brother’s were doing now.
Most of the time, Al had noticed, if Ed were taking himself in hand, it was the left. He used the right once in a while, but that was always a slower, more calculated experience; with the left, he could get his business done and get on with the equally appealing business of sleeping.
Tonight, it was the right. He’d thrown the sheet off and sprawled crookedly across the mattress, one knee up and leaning against the wall, the other flattened on the bed. It was as good a view as Al had ever seen; Ed just kept getting more and more brazen. Light strokes over his belly and the insides of his thighs, cupping the dangling sack that held his testicles (what a strange thing, testicles were, and Al so wished he knew what that delicate-looking skin felt like to touch), a thumb up the underside of his penis and circling around the head.
Out of the corner of his vision, Al could see his brother tip his head back, lips parting. Right-hand nights were always a little more intense, it seemed—maybe the lack of sensation in the automail made the touches to his cock more exciting?—and Al watched him carefully as he gripped himself again, pulling in a slow and easy rhythm.
For a while he watched Ed’s face, tried to understand what the dance of his eyebrows and huffs of breath meant, trying to learn this secret language of his brother’s pleasure. Al had never touched himself like this, when he was still a flesh-and-blood boy. It just hadn’t occurred to him; they had so much else to do. Now he regretted not having any frame of reference, any idea of what made Ed’s eyes squeeze shut when the pace of his hand increased, what made him bite his lip and grunt as his hips rocked up into the automail’s grip. All Alphonse knew was that when he watched, he thought he felt something too—a fluttering where his chest should be, a tightness where his stomach once was. A ghostly longing he couldn’t identify, and hadn’t figured out how to fully satisfy either.
Ed groaned from somewhere deep in his belly, snapping Al back to the present; he was dripping, panting, his flesh hand clenched in the sheets—things were moving faster than usual. Much faster, if the curl of his toes and the flare of his nostrils were any indication. The moments before Ed came were always a little surreal for Al; the height of pleasure looked, from the outside, so much like pain, and it was so hard not to lean forward, touch him, do what little he might be able to do to help—
And then Ed arched up hard, limbs trembling. “Ah, ah! Al!”
Alphonse watched his brother come in ribbons across his belly and chest, watched him pant and pump himself dry.
I don’t...I don’t get it. Those books said that people have fantasies and stuff, but...
Finally Ed slumped, boneless, eyes closed. “Al,” he murmured.
Is he...dreaming, or something?
“You’re awake, aren’t you?”
And Ed turned to look right at him. Al couldn’t stop it—he squeaked.
“What? I mean, um, I just woke up, Brother, you, you, you shouldn’t sleep with your tummy out, I always tell you—”
“Thought so,” Ed interrupted with a sleepy smile. “So you figured out some trick to keep your eyes from glowing, pretty clever.”
Al got up, waving his hands in true Elric fashion. “No! What? My eyes aren’t glowing? Maybe there’s something wrong with me, um, I should go do some, um, research!”
Ed yawned. “Calm down. You don’t have to lie. You’ve been watching me for weeks.”
Well. I guess the cat’s really out of the bag now....
“How...how did you know?” Al asked, trying to sound casual and not completely mortified, sliding back down to his spot on the floor.
“The library said we had a book overdue—‘Alone Time and You,’ or something. So I figured you were curious.” Then he shrugged and turned over to face Al, still uncovered, his cock draped lazily over his thigh. “And then I just started feeling like I had an audience.”
“Well, you know, you’re so tense all the time, I wanted to make sure you...um, and yeah, I guess I was curious, I mean, my brain is fourteen—”
“You like it.”
It wasn’t a question; Ed was watching him intently, the corner of his mouth quirked up. Al never could lie to his brother when he looked at him like that. He nodded, miserably.
“You know,” Ed said into the silence, stretching out a hand to trace the Flamel on Al’s armor shoulder. “You don’t have to just watch.”