Because We’re Brothers

It all started when Al kissed Ed.

Mommy had been coughing a lot lately, and that day, she fell asleep in the hammock in front of the house. Ed ushered Al away from their sleeping mother because it was a very warm night and she seemed comfortable, and told him that tonight they would have to put themselves to bed. They went upstairs and giggled while they changed into their pajamas and splashed water at each other when they washed their faces and wrestled to see who would get the top bunk that night until Ed was howling on the bedroom floor for Al to have mercy and stop bending his arm back. But they both climbed up to the top bunk to read together for a while, until Al was yawning and Ed was rubbing his eyes every few words.

"I think it's time for bed, Al," Ed said through a yawn, and Al nodded, catching his brother's yawn. "I'll tuck you in."

Al grinned and snuggled down into the covers, looking up expectantly, and Ed pulled up the sheets and the blanket to Al's chin, even though Al would kick them off soon because it was hot. Mommy was always saying that it was the thought that counted, anyway, and Ed liked tucking Al in. "Okay," he said, bending over to tuck the blanket around Al's shoulders. "Goodnight, Al."

"Goodnight, brother," Al said, and he leaned up a little and kissed Ed on the lips.

For a moment Ed was stunned, then he sat back and wiped his mouth. "Al!" he said sharply. "Gross!"

Al sat up, ruining his brother's tucking job. "But Mommy kisses me there!" he said in protest, distraught.

"It's different when it's Mom," Ed said with a scowl, but he looked at Al's face, and he softened a little. "You don't kiss a guy on the lips. Guys don't kiss each other there," he said in explanation.

"But Mommy says that's where you kiss when you love each other," Al pouted, sticking out his lower lip and drawing his brows together. "I love you, brother."

Ed pouted a little too, but he couldn't argue with Mommy-logic. And besides ... "I love you too, Al," he said, and after a little while, he smiled. "I guess it's okay because we're brothers."

Al brightened, and he returned Ed's smile. "Will you tuck me in again?" he asked hopefully.

"Of course," Ed said authoritatively.

That time, he was the one that kissed Al, but Al kissed back. And it was okay, because they were brothers.