"But brother," said Al. "I thought you liked stew." His high voice was tinged a bit with disappointment, and Ed flinched. "I made it just for you, to cheer you up."
"It's fine, it tastes great," said Ed quickly, not wanted to make Al upset. He had after all cooked it just for Ed. Maybe it was some form of an apology, or an attempt to wash away the events of the last two weeks. Al knew stew was his favorite.
Still, he couldn't stomach more than a sip. "I'm just not hungry, that's all, Al."
Al took off his apron and walked over to where Ed sat at the table. "You have such a high metabolism, brother. You have to eat." He pulled up a chair next to Ed's. "I can't have you getting sick, Brother. You have to stay healthy." He reached over and touched Ed's braid. "After all, without you I'd be lost."
Ed tried another spoonful. His stomach clenched. "I'm sorry Al," he said at last. "For what its worth, I never meant for this to happen to you."
Al's eyes hardened. "Are you saying you don't like how I am?" Al's fingers tightened on Ed's braid. "Are you saying you don't like me anymore, Brother?" Ed winced as he felt the strands begin to tear from the roots.
"No!" said Ed quickly. "I love you Al. I will always love you." Ed looked into Al's purple, slit-pupiled eyes. He can't help what he is, Ed thought. I let this happen. I deserve this.
"Then show me," said Al, letting go of his hair with a last tender caress. He brought out the key and reached down and undid the cuff that bound Ed's remaining ankle to his chair. "Show me how much you love me, Brother."
Ed didn't resist as he was hoisted up over Al's shoulder and carried into the bedroom.
The stew, forgotten, grew cold.