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Alphonse looked at Alfons, blue eyes met bronze and for a moment there was a silent struggle between them.

'"I knew him first," said Alphonse after a while.

"He's not my brother," parried Alfons.

They were quiet again. Alphonses eyes narrowed. If looks would kill Alfons would have been in the grave. Actually, if Amestris medicine were a bit less effective Alfons would have also been in the grave, but thankfully this new world had many things Alfon's old one lacked. Alchemy, automail, and also little red stones that, for reasons that made Alfons' scientific mind absolutely break, cured illnesses even the most advanced antibiotics couldn't touch.

To think they'd crossed the countryside to find that very stone using a carriage, complete with horse.

This world was very strange, but perhaps strangest of all was the morays. The woman who lived in this house wore nothing but a black strip of cloth across her ample bosom, and his younger self stood with absolutely no embarrassment and claimed his lover, his lover as his own.

Alfons had sweated bullets for Ed. He'd lied in smoke filled bars, and said that Ed had a girlfriend. He'd hunted down lubricants in seedy stores that catered to the most iffy of clientele. He'd made excuses for the times when Ed, forgetting where he was, grabbed his hand and pulled him close in public.

"He is my cousin," he'd told the men who worked so diligently with him on the rocket. "He's from America. Kisses mean nothing there."

Alfons had EARNED Ed's love. He'd protected the young man, who seemed to understand absolutely nothing about what was acceptable and what would get you beaten to a pulp. He'd spent hours patiently explaining that while men did touch, and kiss, and do other pleasurable things in the night, that they did so silently, so the people in the surrounding apartments woudn't know. So that when the lease came up there wouldn't be some excuse to kick the two of them out.

Alfons had abandoned his own people. He'd climbed into a rocket at risk of his own life and he'd ridden it threw a hole in space and time that promised to tear his very existence apart. Ed was HIS. Bought and paid for.

There should be no need to justify his relationship to this upstart.

"He IS my brother," said Alphonse, as though that justified his claim stronger.

Fuck. It was possible there was no taboo in this weird world over sibling incest. That seemed crazy, but then a lot of this world was crazy. It was crazy that a military would allow a twelve year old to run around without escort of guardian across the countryside doing its bidding. It was crazy that children as young as ten assisted in surgery. It was crazy that creatures that were stronger, older, more powerful, and less destructible than humans wandered the countryside and yet were neither worshiped as gods nor hunted down as demons. That Alphonse might want his own brother as a bedmate made perfect sense in such an environment.

"I'm closer to his age," said Alfons, taking a step closer to his rival.

"Actually," countered Alphonse. "Looks aside, I'm only a year younger than him. You are what,? Five years older?"

Again the odd physics of this world reared its head. Alphonse looked thirteen years, far to young to contemplate a relationship with anyone, much less another man, much less his brother. And yet, despite his looks, he remembered every second of his 17 years. And though in his own world the calendar read 1923, here the date was only 1917.

"I'm taller," said Alfons, knowing it was lame, and damn it why did he even have to have this stare down. Yes, yes, Alfons knew that Ed was waiting to get back to this boy—man—but Ed's affection wasn't fake. Ed wouldn't have told him to jump into the rocket ship if he hadn't wanted Alfons with him. He wouldn't have told Alfons to come if he didn't love him. Ed had walked right past Noa who had gone down on her knees for passage and he'd spared her nothing but a sad look. But when it came time to climb into the rocket, Ed had said, "Get in."

He wouldn't have said that if he didn't love Alfons. He wouldn't have said that if he were just planning on dumping him when they did arrive in this world.

"I am his lover," said Alfons. "I have been for three years, Al. I know he loves you, but he loves me, too—just in a different way."

And for a second his younger, smaller, more world worn double stepped back as if flinching from a blow. The bronze eyes darted to the side. The stare was broken.

Alphonses voice was softer when it came. "He would have been mine."

And suddenly Alfons felt sorry. "No. He's always been his own." Alphonse had worked just as hard to be reunited as his brother. It was in some ways unfair. Still—"He chose to stay with me."

"Yeah." This time Alphonse's voice was almost inaudible. "I know."