The Curious and Covert
WARNINGS: M FOR A REASON. That means graphic sexual scenes. Self-beta'd. Feel free to point out any errors. Thanks. :)
There was always a normal supply of Ed-sized boxers in the wash, and not-so-normal amount of Al-sized boxers in the wash. Ed rarely noticed these things, as he rarely (read: never) actually did the laundry.
Al knelt beside the washbasin, elbow-deep in suds, bubbles tickling his cheeks and his nose. His hands slipped on plastic clothespins, the sun was crisp and bright - perfect for bleaching out whites. They strung cotton string across the awning of their balcony, and from there, everything from Ed's military jackets to Al's socks dried and fluttered. There weren't many balconies like theirs in Downtown Central. You can take the boy out of the country, as it is said, but as long as laundromats were three blocks and five cenz too expensive, and as long as they continued to spar, trecking back home with grass stains and mud, as long as Ed's automail sometimes leaked grease when he was too careless in oiling the joints, Al would continue to wash their laundry by hand. Line-dried laundry was nicer, he thought, as he pulled dry clothes down to make room for newly-washed ones. It smelled of fresh air and sun. Put on, straight from the line, it warmed the skin comfortingly. He sorted the dry, clean clothes - folding, hanging, delicates, quickly shoving his one or two boxers at the bottom of the hamper. More of a habit now, than anything, considering how utterly obtuse his brother could be.
Underwear, he'd quickly decided after returning to his hypersensitized body, pinched, bunched, and insinuated itself in scratchy folds and wrinkles into rather intimate places he did not want scratchy folds or wrinkles. The added 'bonus' of Ed laughing at him for picking a wedgie resulted in scrapes and a fair amount of mottled blue and green bruises. The time he walked to Central Headquarters to visit his brother, convinced his underwear would soon chaff his penis off, was probably the last straw. He remembered bunching up his boxers and shoving them into the trash can in the bathroom, blushing furiously for days afterward.
Now, he hardly gave it a second thought, save to shove away his two pairs of boxers at the bottom of the hamper, and that was more habit than anything.
"Lunch, brother?" He asked as he crossed the livingroom into their shared bedroom. Ed didn't look up from his book, not even when Al yelped and the hamper tipped precariously.
"You can't eat 'mm' for lunch." Al called from the depths of their closet, frowning at it thoughtfully. Their few personal possessions had, somehow, still manage to be set in utter dissaray. Hangers tangled together in seemingly physics-defying contortions, shirts hanging by the seam of a shoulder, pants by the cuff of their ankles. "We really have to organize this closet soon"
An annoyed tick began at the corner of the youngest Elric's mouth. Ed was just Ed, mad genius, loving brother and asshole rolled into one. Al reached his hands into the hamper, paused at the linen texture of Ed's uniform, the silk of the gold, decorative braids on the shoulder, all very warm. He buried his cheek deep into it, and inhaled. It was so normal, to keep a house. Their house. Ed just looked at him strangely when, weeks ago, he made a fool of himself for tangenting off, prosaic, about the smell of the sun. It was in Ed's coat, though, a whole hamper of sun-smell and sun-warmth.
"Al, what are we having for lunch?" Ed stopped halfway into the room, frowning, making the so-very-shallow lines of age, unsuited to his ninteen-year-old-face, more apparent. They could make him look dignified, as well - if he wasn't dressed in a pair of highwater pajama pants they just never bothered to toss out, Al's kitty slippers (bought as a novelty, only to be used when normal household slippers somehow got lost), and two pens stuck in his ponytail. "Are you smelling my jacket"
"Savoring the bouquet of your body odor, brother." Al deadpanned. "After all, I didn't just wash two week's worth of laundry, and no, it isn't that same two week's worth of laundry I'm putting away - OUR two week's worth of laundry - in our closet - that I am putting away"
"But why are you smelling my jacket?" "I'm smelling the sun in your jacket"
"Oh, that again?" Ed rolled his eyes. "Al! Lunch"
"Order something in." Al said, briskly, shoving a hanger onto the shoulders of Ed's uniform. "I have to finish the laundry, organize this wreck of a closet, clean the kitchen and the bathroom because I cannot do these things during the week, my thesis deadline is coming up-"
Ed snatched the jacket and hooked the hangar onto the bar in the closet, having to roughly push aside the aformentioned physics-defying tangle of hangers to do so. Al, vaguely, wondered if that single act of laundry-dom would make Ed spontainiously combust, or fantastically implode. No, rather, Ed turned to him with a very level, rational look. "Look. Sun. Let's go. You can smell it outside all you damn well please." Ed's lips curled into a sarcastic smirk. Al began to shake his head, and Ed none-too-gently pulled him up to his feet. "I'll help you later. Promise"
Ed never wheeldled or plead. He just frankly, bluntly stated things and still somehow remained convincing. They threw on shirts and pants that smelled vaguely of ticklish soapsuds and warm sun. As they stepped onto the sidewalk, Al knew the half-empty hamper of laundry would still be waiting for him when he got back. Ed literally dragged him to their favorite eatery, and didn't complain when Al latched onto his arm to avoid being swept into the crowd.
They passed the corner of Third and Mirella. No one went down that small street, not in the day. Al blushed heavily and hid it in his brother's arm.
"I'm thinking about going out tonight." Al said, casually, as he speared another bite of Ed's breakfast-style potatoes.
"What happened to 'I have all this shit to do so I'll starve Ed'?" The words said in a horrible immitation of Al's unbroken voice, whined into the rim of Al's iced tea.
"What happened to you doing housework sometimes?" Al snipped back, taking the cheap, plastic tumbler from Ed's grip and taking a sip of his own. Ed decided sausages might go well with guacamole and sour cream, things which generously smothered Al's grilled chicken and chips. Eating was always an awkward affair, limbs and forks and spoons reaching across the table to sample, steal, share, and take back food. Off-white sugar scattered on the cheap, faux woodgrain laminate, ketchup dripping onto the vinyl, torn-and-patched seats.
"What happened - "Ed stumbled, gesturing vaguely with his fork, trying to spear a retort that just wouldn't come. "Where are you going?" A few booths behind them, a baby cried. In the back, dishes clanked, and some upbeat, generic song played from the radio sat on the bar counter.
"I just like going out. It's interesting to see things at night - the lights, the barbeque stands. I can get you something? Or do you want to come"
"Nah." Ed refused. Al knew he would.
The waitress called him 'sweetheart' with an annoying coo when she stopped by to give them their check, and Ed, she called him 'sir'. The string of bells tied to the front door clattered as they left. Ed swung an arm over his baby brother's shoulders, said nothing about Al's barely-controlled impassive facade. The arm around Al's shoulders slid low, gloved fingers drifting through his ponytail. Al was pulled by his small waist close to Ed's side. He breathed in deeply, and began to smile in the stifling heat of Central summer.
"I think you're dating someone." Ed frowned at the way the words left him - he'd meant to sound teasing. It was, instead, somber and factual, mildy detached.
Al laughed, gathering his long, loose hair behind him. It caught the lamplight, flicked its glossy sheen of blond and caramel as he pulled it through a rubber band. "Why do you say that"
"You go out every weekend." Ed grumbled. "Every Saturday night." His frown deepened. Al's eyes, wide and honest, lit with amusement. Ed knew he sounded like an old, dejected dog, gone grey and uninteresting. "Not that I'm saying you shouldn't." He said, quickly.
"Brother, don't be silly." Al buttoned his shirt with nimble fingers, nimble fingers with neatly-kept nails. "Who would date me"
The bedsprings creaked as Ed fell back and thumped his head into a pillow. "Not this again"
"It's true!" "I'm not Winry, Al. I don't know what to tell you"
"You don't have to tell me anything." Al said, testily. "I'm just stating facts"
"'Anything else for you, sweetheart?'" Al mimicked, indulgent, condisending tone and all.
Ed covered his face with his bare hands, mussing his bangs. "Sorry." He said, plainly. Al's footsteps were dull against their worn carpet, and his body, light on their mattress. Al pried Ed's hand away from his face, stubbornly, by the wrist. He leaned close, then, and kissed his brother's angular cheek, scratching his lips against the stubble there because Ed never shaved on the weekends. "Hey." Al entwined his fingers into the steel and joints of Ed's automail. He lay his head beside his brother's, and smiled when Ed cracked an eye open. 'I love you.' He mouthed, and Ed groaned as if he'd heard a particularly bad joke, eyes shut and turning his head away. He couldn't hide the pleased flush on his cheeks.
Al laughed, a pure, honest sound. The mattress creaked and bounced as he wiggled his way to the edge and stood, tugging at Ed's automail hand gently, diverting attention back to himself. "I'll get you something"
"Don't need anything." Ed grumbled, shaking Al's hands off of him. "Go, go on your non-date, stop bugging me"
"Okay brother." Al's voice was light and airy, amused. "I'll be back soon."
"Be careful!" He called after Al's retreating back, right before the door closed.
"I will be!" Ed waited in the stillness after the click of the front door's lock. He rolled to his side, then, and pressed his cheek into the warm sheets where Al had just lain. The joints of his automail creaked and scraped as he curled them into the cotton sheets, bringing them to his nose. Al smelled of soap, sunshine, human musk, skin. He curled his fingers tighter, the joints screeched in small, individual utterances. He sighed and stood, stepping over the half-empty laundry basket, searching through the medicine drawer for the small tube of machine oil in their empty, silent kitchen.
Down the small side-street of Mirella, right where it intersected with Third street, it seemed to be another world. Signs were bright - neon, neon pink, glowing red, gaudy paint on plastered storefronts. Gutters filled with trash. Al ducked his head, staring at the sidewalk, its cracks and black, round circles of old chewing gum. People brushed against him, elbows and hips. Women wore stilettos and miniskirts, as bright and gaudy as the storefronts, as their make-up, and purred cliches to men trying to seem inconspicuous in their heavy jackets and broad-rimmed hats in the stiffling heat of Central summer. He knew people stared at him. His small frame. His young face. Frowned, probably, in their minds, chastising a mother he didn't have anymore. A sultry voice called after him 'Baby, are you lost?' in high, concerned tones that circumvented her carefuly-constructed purr. He ignored it. Storefronts smelled so human, spitting out curls of cigarette smoke that stung his eyes and made his lips taste of secondhand tobacco. Music, heavy bass, like a heartbeat put into sound notes and speakers, clashed from one establishment to the next. People smelled of alcohol. Men with their shirt collars askew, lipstick on their necks.
Further back, it wasn't quite so overt. Maybe the people there were used to being discreet. He wasn't sure. The storefront signs weren't as flashy or descriptive. Particularly the one he chose - and had chosen, for the past few months. It was plain. Well-lit. No windows. White walls, red carpet mottled with wear. The first time he went there, he had said 'yes' to one of the concerned women. He panicked, put on a face of confusion, maybe a bit of fear, and stammeringly asked for directions to the shopping center even though he knew perfectly well where it was. She tugged self-conciously at her skirt and he looked hard at his shoes while she spoke. He practically fled.
The second time, he had the guts to actually look at the women. He found them terrifying. He got as far as the storefront he now frequented, hessitated, kept walking, and got himself well and truly lost.
Now, he stepped in, his head down, ignoring the curious, hasty looks of men much older than he, at least in body. The woman who ran the register no longer gave him odd looks and questioned the validity of his age verification license. She took a cursory glance at it, handed it back to him, and let him pass. His fingers used to shake when he tucked it back into his pocket.
He didn't look at the toys lined up on grid racks against the walls, all odd-colored phallic shapes. The magazines stacked on leaning racks, face-out, boldly displaying tongues and penises and breasts. He squeaked when he first saw them, whirled around, only to be faced with bits of leather that went around necks and ankles, wrists and penises. Now he glanced at those leather things, and tried not to laugh at himself for how utterly curious he was.
There were stalls in the back, flimsy, wooden plywood constructions. Small, red lights mounted to the ceiling above each door, rusty, old, tin coinboxes behind each narrow door. He slipped in, and locked the door, breathing a heavy sigh. There was a chair he never dared sit on, a stack of magazines untouched, all glossy-new with bright print and brazen displays. The lighting was soft. The silence, almost opressive, yet comforting in that tiny, tiny booth. There was always a period, as he removed his gloves, unbuttoned his sleeve cuffs and rolled them up to his elbows, when his numbness and impassivity came crashing down, dragging his naivete with them. Leaving him with near-hysteric wonder at what the hell he was doing here again, which came too close to remembering a particular blond-haired, age-lined fascination.
He'd learned about them by listened to people at his brother's work. Not them, as in people, but them as in an establishment and people. Perfect anonymity. Good sex. The best places. They always tried to never talk of such things around him, because he 'was' thirteen, he was Fullmetal's brother, he was a kid.
Back when he thought rubbing against the mattress when Ed was at work as dirty and sinful, they whispered, when they thought he couldn't hear - 'Mirella and Third. Small store, wood sign, kinda easy to miss." Then vulgar things with terms he didn't even understand. These men weren't like General Mustang or his brother, or even Leuitenant Havoc - they were plain, at times, masculine, at others, but quiet, quiet and composed. Sneaking into the more adult sections of the library was easy enough. Sometime in the weeks between rubbing on the mattress and actually putting a hand on himself, he learned 'blowjob' actually meant felatio, et cetera, et cetera. Reading about it - about sex, he would constantly correct himself - just made the ache worse. He was hardly satisfied with the tangy-sweet juice of strawberries and the gentle steam on his face of Central's streets in the morning hours. Not anymore.
Then he found less of an encyclopedia or medical study and more of a how-to book, riddled with odd gramamatical usages, cheesy innuendos and horrible prose. But it was a how-to book, and he devoured it, looking over his shoulder now and then, ready to shove the flimsy paperback under his copy of 'Greidman's Anatomy of the Human Brain' should anyone come close to looking over his shoulder.
He knew where lips were supposed to go, what tongues were supposed to do, where to touch and rub and pull. How to stretch the anus to accommodate toys or a penis (he wrinkled his nose at this, and dismissed it as odd). Diagrams, roughly-drawn, accompanied these things. A woman on her back, a man on his, tongues entwining, technical as any furniture-assembly booklet.
It was dark, and someone was on him. On him, skin to skin, hair at the crook of his neck. He felt his body pressed deep against the mattress. He wondered, vaguely, why his brother wasn't disturbed at all with this, as the person above him began to lick at the pulse of his throat, splaying large, blunt fingers on his chest. Touched a nipple, oddly, with just a fingertip. The calouses of his hands pressed and scraped against the soft, new skin of Al's thighs. Held him under his knees, tickling him, making him laugh. Hips jammed, roughly, against his own. Something heavy and hard and familiar pressed into his crotch, hands slid down to his hips and pulled him up by his butt, rubbing the areas between their legs together, and it felt so, so good.
The man opened his eyes. They were gold.
"Brother!" Al squealed, eyes open, hair sweaty, forming an odd-shaped halo in the nighttime lights of Central filtering through the slats of their blinds. "Wassit?" Ed grumbled from his side of the bed, not really awake at all.
"I - I - nothing."
Al reached for his blanket, intent to do just that. The front of his pajamas stuck to his penis and thighs, seeping through the soft hair that had just barely began to grow between his legs. "Need to use the bathroom." He mumbled. Ed snored, and kept snoring while he went for a change of pants. Al could, maybe, believe a God was looking out for him by blessing his brother with the deepest, most unbreechable sleep. He hastily washed his soiled garments when his brother left for work, and didn't think on it again.
Not until that afternoon, when something - taste, maybe, scent of Ed's sweat on the back of their couch, something he didn't know until he thought back on it - set itself deep beneath his skin. Al burried his face into it, inhaling deeply, fingers curling into the armrest and tongue gently scraping against the lint and fiber of the couch fabric. He parted his lips, dropping his book carelessly as he pressed his cheek close, his lips felt so, so good as they rubbed against that human patch of scent. His back arched. His hand touched his belly, familiar and warm, but not too familiar, exciting. His knees parted. How quickly he'd gotten lost into sensation, his eyes closed, his mind wild, sliding his palm between his legs and hitching a gasp. It was standard. Routine.
He rubbed, faster, and faster. Slid his pants to his ankles and parted his knees, gangly and awkward. No one to see, nothing to feel self-concious about, he slid his hand between his legs and gripped himself. Experimentally, he pushed a fingertip against his nipples - noticing, suddenly, how they became hard and pushed against his shirt. He rubbed, his knees jerked up, then spread out, his hips lifted. His hand between his legs became wet with precome. So wet, and the scent of his sex became so very potent. Color formed behind his closed eyelids, as he wiggled his chest into his own hands, lifted his hips into his other hand, the off-red color of the sun through his eyelids, then dark, then mottled colors, brighter, beautiful. His lips parted. He loved the way his tongue felt on them. Loved the way the muggy, hot air felt on them. The scent of their home was so impossibly male. His tongue curled to touch his upper lip. His mouth felt empty. The color consolidated to a face, a face with lines where there shouldn't be, too young in skin and grins to have lines. A face with a maturing grin, and a strong jaw, and gold eyes -
He really didn't think about that for a while. Not when orgasm seized him in such a powerful way he cried out and jerked his hands away from himself. Still, his muscles tightened, an impossible, amazing thrum. Seconds only, annoyingly fast. Little signals of 'more' shooting through him, from his middle to his back to behind his eyes to his open mouth as he cried out. Then, suddenly, his body relaxed. He slumped back onto the couch, closed his mouth and tasted his own semen on his lips and tongue. He looked down at himself in disbelief, his softening penis, his spread legs. He lifted a trembling hand to his cheek, closed his mouth fully and swallowed as he wiped. An off taste, a thick texture, bitter in taste, rich in texture, salt in his mouth. It wasn't disgusting, but it was, and he was startled to find he liked the smear of come on his cheek, thick and hot even as it began to stick and become dry.
He couldn't look at his brother all day that day. He went to bed early, feigning illness. Ed doted on him the entire night, in his own grumpy, overly-worried, bossy manner. Al didn't dare look at him, but the automail on his cheek felt so, so normal.
Normal didn't last long. Al screwed his eyes shut in the midday silence of their apartment and tried to think of Winry. When that didn't do anything save for a cursory interest, he thought of Miss Hawkeye, albeit shyly, as if the woman could read from a distance of miles any overt and lewd thoughts. Miss Hawkeye was pretty, firm in the set of her lips, the warm color of her brown eyes all cool professionalism. She was smart and strong, and, he supposed, had an attractive physique. Certainly Mustang and Breda and even Havoc looked, at times, although no one dared say anything - except maybe Mustang -
Mustang was - hmm. Dark. Exotic. He had a nice voice, and sharp eyes that could make anyone (excepth is clueless brother) feel as if they were being emotionally disected. He was tall, and broad-shouldered -
Al whimpered, silenced it with a lip between his teeth. His body seemed to agree very much with the idea of Mustang. He jerked his hand away and stared at his stubborn erection.
Tentatively, he leaned his head back, slowly. Swallowed a thick lump in his throat, and thought carefully about Mustang. Thought then, about Havoc. Different, but both so very male. Big, rough hands. Broad chests he wanted to curl into. His hips jerked, his erection leaked, he squirmed and resumed his session with a detached, chilly dread in his stomach.
He came when he thought of Ed.
Of course he knew what a homosexual was. Technically. No one ever said anything about them, but everyone always told each other about so-and-so got married, and it was always a man and a woman. He knew, from observing herds of cattle and puppies and mallard ducks in Rizenbool that animals sometimes did 'things' with each other, regardless of gender.
He also knew they'd impregnate their own sisters. It was hardly a comforting analogy.
In the library, an old, worn copy of 'Human Sexuality' said that, intuitively, all people are attracted to their parents. Al wrinkled his nose and his thoughts, guiltily, turned to the obscure image of his Father and the pure image of his Mother and found the idea impossible.That was it, then, Al thought as he closed the heavy book with a loud 'thud' that seemed to echo through the library and, in his paranoid mind, draw attention to him. He hunkered down in his chair, casting a fleeting look up at the towering bookcases.
The thought occured to him between listings A,c - A,g. Ed was basically his parent. That didn't make things less creepy, if only more. Still, Ed was his caretaker, his father-figure, playing the ill-fitting role of caring mom when he was sick, recovering from his transmutation. This was normal. HE was normal.
'As children, our perceptions as far as what is acceptable, pleasing, even attractive are formed by the rules and habits of our figures of authority - namely, parents. While physical attraction to similar physical attributes may not coincide, it is not uncommon for women to compare parts of their husband's personalities or skills to their fathers, or men to compare similarly between their mothers and wives. Far from incest, this natural shaping of our world as children inherently affects the way we perceive the world and others as adults. Similar to morals, values, and manners, faithfulness to this ideal may or may not remain a concrete role in a grown adult's life or decisions.'
So he was the odd duck in the pond, so to speak. All he had to do was pursue other wants, other interests - other, he thought hessitently, other men, and this thing with his brother would fade. Normally. He fussed with his jacket as he thought, the label of it, flipping it between two fingers like a coin. The faded label said 'Extra Small'. He scowled. This would be a challenge.
Three days later, he heard about Third and Mirella.
Al shook his head firmly, shaking off the thoughts of why he was there, for what reason, and deposited coins into the box. The vague hum of the lightbulb above his stall started. The room smelled fetid, old come, sweat. It was stuffy and hot in there. A fascismile of human. He breathed it in, deeply, and waited.
He was shaking as he deposited coins into the coinbox. He couldn't believe in the anonymity of a small, inconspicuous hole and plywood booths. He edged to the glossy pictures of men and women in the magazines, so unlike the almost diagramic drawings he was used to. It was too much. Too realistic, but ultimately two-dimensional. He stepped away, letting a cover fall closed slowly, taut in its new binding. His back hit the side of the stall. There was hardly room to move.
The door of the stall beside him creaked on its old, rusty hinges. The light, red and dull, began to glow. It lit everything in the surreality he felt, his eyes in sync with his mind. There was a grunting, gasping sigh, the sound of a zipper. The man wore dark slacks, he was pale, his hands were large and bare. That's all Al could see through the small opening between himself and this stranger.
The shuffling of shoed feet, a tilt of his hips. Al squeaked and backed, again, into the opposit wall. He'd never seen a circumcized cock before. The man chuckled lowly. He had a nice voice - gravelly, but gentle. "First time here?" He said, low enough that it was hardly noticible. These rooms were silent. Usually. No one spoke.
"Y-yes." Al stammered, before he could think about it.
"You sound young." There was a coldness in the near-silent hiss of his voice, and another hand, with elegant cufflinks, began to pull his trousers up.
"No." Al had stepped close, taking a deep breath. "I'm eighteen. I-I just "
"You sound young." The man said with finality, zipped up, and left. Al grit his teeth and uttered a shaking breath. Asshole! He thought, ignoring how distinctly Edward-like the thought was. He should just go home. He really, really should just go home -
"Hey." Someone whispered, from behind him. He turned and found a hole on the other wall of his booth, someone jacking off in clear view. Al opened his mouth to speak. Closed it. That had proven itself to not go well.
Al knelt, then, and bit his lip when the stranger stepped close and eased his hard, flushed cock through the hole. He fumbled in his pocket for the rubber - he knew all about safe sex, thanks to the book 'Sex and Practicality by Dr. March Vyers' - and he knew how to put it on. It wasn't all that interesting to masturbate with. Still. He knew what sexually transmitted diseases could do to someone. He wasn't about to take that risk.
It wasn't neccessary to steel himself. There was an odd hessitation at the back of his mind, but it just seemed so natural to touch as he rolled the contraceptive - he snickered, mentally, at that - over the length of hard flesh. Maybe it's because he had one too.
He heard a hitched breath on the other side of the wall. He pressed timid fingertips against the head, gently sliding the condom material over it.
"It's okay, you know. I like your voice." The low, hushed whisper wasn't oily, didn't rumble with lewdness and innuendos. It was strained, younger (twenties, maybe?), and honest. "Like a girl. No offense."
"Well. Um." Al cleared his throat, bringing it down to an equal whisper. "I-I'm not offended. You like it?"
"Yeah. S'hot." A shaking breath. "Really fucking hot. Usually all ugly guys here."
"I don't think so." Al said, kindly, and drew close, breathing heavily on the man's offered dick.
"You're sweet." The man said, chuckling, and gasped at Al's first tentative lick. "God, suck me "
"Okay." Al whispered, wrapping his hands around, and hips lips around the tip, and sucked, experimentally, first the tip of the condom, then sliding his lips over -
"Squeeze it a little harder"
Al wrapped his fingers around, and did, just a little. He thought of what he liked, what he didn't like. Rubbing beneath the ridge, up to the tip, back down, fascinated by the way precome made the condom stick to skin, wrinkle and slide over it at the tip. His hand squeezed and released, he soon realized, to the subtle thrum of blood beneath the skin.
Al inhaled a shaking breath. Oh.
That scent. That human scent. His heart beat, heavily. He startled, but kept his hands still as the man began to slide in and out of the circle of his fingers. Faster, steady, then suddenly the man stopped and the condom filled with thick, white semen. Thicker, more than his own. He rubbed his cheek against it, remembering how his own felt, sticky on his face. Then jerked back, realizing how weird the man must think he was.
Instead, he pulled back, zipped up his pants, and left. Just like that. The light above the now-empty stall continued to glow red. Al soon learned that's how it usually went. He expected shame, uncertainty - not the incredibly grounded, -human- feeling of arousal and satisfaction. He smiled to himself, just a little, timid to express, even to himself, much of anything
The light above his booth went out. Something in the coinbox buzzed. He yelped and scurried out of there, barely remembering his gloves. Halfway home, he remembered he had more change.
"Where were you?" Ed snipped, glaring at what was supposed to be dinner, but more of a congealed mess on the stove.
"Out." Al said, simply. "For a walk"
"Damn long walk." Ed scraped at the pan so viciously the spatula nearly bent in half. "How the hell do you cook an omelette"
"It's ten at night, brother. What are you making an omelette for"
"I saw you make it. Looked easy enough"
"Well." Al sighed, hanging up his coat. "At least you didn't transmute it"
"Yeah, yeah, I suck, I'll kill us all with my cooking, help me out, will you?" Ed laughed, turning to look at his brother. Al smiled at him. Something clenched in his chest. He looked down. Ed was broad-shouldered and just a few inches taller. He stood with an easy, confident stance. Al saw these things, with the exact same clarity as before 3rd and Mirella.
Timid whispers and timid touches turned into shy swipes of his tongue, then heady-scented, full skin and flesh inside his mouth as he experimentally suckled. Condoms didn't taste great, but he wasn't about to complain on something so trivial. It wasn't difficult. It wasn't difficult to try things, when they couldn't see his blush if they failed. It wasn't difficult to be enthusiastic, when they couldn't see his youth and judge him on it.
He still felt bad for the one guy he accidentally bit. It was kind of his fault for shoving it into his mouth without warning, though.
This one particular night took a little longer than usual. Maybe these men had kids, out for summer vacation - they couldn't slip away in time. Al preffered to think they were all single, but he knew it was a naive belief. If the finger that traced the crude-hewn hole between them had a band, he wouldn't respond.
This one wore a dark coat, why did they always dress in dark colors? He never knew. He wore jeans and a t-shirt. Simple things. The man closed the door firmly behind him, stood beside the opening Al was peeking through at a distance. Feet apart, practically pushing his awakening erection against the hole before it was even unclothed. Al knelt, reached through, and touched it. Ran gentle fingers up and down its length. Upon seeing his small hands - slender fingers, small palm - he groaned. He must've been straight, he must have been expecting a man with thick wrists. It was quick work, comparatively. Al usually didn't prefer quick work, but most straight men were like that. Rushing it, so they can go back to denying. Al found he preffered to curl up on the floor, one hand braced on the wall, and let himself savor their scent, first. Run the tip and bridge of his nose up along the underside, lick the tip, wrap his lips around it and let them slide up and down over the ridge. Press the flat of his tongue against the v-shaped underside, slide the tip of his tongue to press and wiggle against it. Take as much into his mouth as possible, suck.
He breathed onto it, the wide, hissing result of a gasp. Let it run over the parted corners of his lips, tongue swiping at the tip.
The man pressed against the partition between them deeper, maybe pushing his entire body against it. He hummed as he took it into his mouth, content. It was a pleased sound, a sound he made when Ed brought home their favorite take-out, or when the sun hit the bed just so that there was a warm patch of bedding to sleep in.
It was completely by accident that he found men also liked it. The vibrations, he quickly concluded. The man hissed, shakily, barely audiblce behind the plywood. Al sighed, loud enough for him to hear. Favorite take-out, sunwarmed bedding, sensory. He licked plates and utinsils and his fingers and his lips when he ate, he could lay in the sun for hours if Ed let him. Basic sensory. Primality. He wiggled the tip of his tongue against the tip of the man's cock, a high flush on his cheeks. He never thought of the picture he must make, only this. Only scent, and heat, until he breathed it into his blood.
It was over. Quick work. The man pulled back, and, as they sometimes do, stuck their fingers, short nails, blunt tips, wide knuckles, through to him. Inviting him. Al leaned down and playfully nipped at them, rubbing his cheek against them like a cat. He gently pushed the fingers back onto the other side. He didn't want to be touched. It just seemed - it seemed wrong somehow.
The light above the other stall went out. The coinbox buzzed. The hinges creaked. The stall beside his was empty. Al waited for a few more minutes, waiting for his own time to run to the last coin. His mouth ached wonderfully, his throat was dry. They sold water at a seedy liquor store he bought condoms at. It was always odd, opening that door. The lighting was different - more real - the displays, frank and gaudy, the men with faces and individuality. They didn't look, neither did Al. It seemed to be customary, there.
But one did look. He had on a dark trenchcoat, a hazy look on his face. He was young - in his twenties, maybe. An average twenty. Real. He looked at Al, took in his build, his hair, his face, his lips, and grinned openly. 'Glad I got you.' He whispered, lowly, as Al passed him at the doorway and let himself out onto the sidewalk. He felt the skin of his cheeks become warm, pleasantly so.
"My ass you're not dating anyone." Ed glared at him, arms crossed, when he came back at eleven at night.
"What?" Al whispered, thickly, the tendrils of guilt and panic creeping up his spine, as they usually did when he came back home. Moreso, until they reached his brain, it seemed, feeding him all these horrible scenarios -
"You're blushing like crazy." Ed hissed. "What? She kiss you or something"
Al laughed. Perhaps he laughed too much, but relief just felt so, so good. "Brother, no. No, not at all. It's just a little hot in the building, that's all"
"Uh-huh. Right." Ed slumped onto the chair at their desk, pointing at the phone. "Winry called"
"Oh?" Al's heart sank. Distance costs for the phone were rather hefty. They didn't hear Winry's voice too often. "What did she say"
"I told her. About the catch in my shoulder"
"I thought that went away"
"Yeah, well, it's back. I slept weird or something. Anyway, she something about muscles and knots and disrupting the port - some shit like that. Basically, we have to find me a masseuse." Ed looked as if the entire city had come crashing down on his head, dragging the corners of his lips down with it.
"Brother." Al put his hands on his hips, scowling.
"Does she have ANY idea how much that costs!?" Ed snarled, glaring at the phone as it was the harbinger of ill tidings. "Or how much that sucks-"
"Like I don't have to deal with her upgrades and maintenence enough as it is, now I've gotta go twice a week- "
Al gave up, walking around to the back of Ed's chair while he listed all the many reasons why a massuese would be a very bad idea. He stared hard at the mahogany, worn grain of the backrest, memorizing the pattern of fluid, twisting line and circular knots. His gentle hands found the knots in Ed's shoulder - they weren't hard to find. It did, however, take a bit of muscle to work them out, and Ed's shoulder was warm and firm beneath his shirt. It was a familair place, where automail met man in a circle of rough scars. In the three weeks at the hospital, his body new and gasping and raw, Al saw it in his sleep.
"Better?" He asked, too cheerful, leaning over in a cascade of sorrel-brunette hair, with flushed cheeks and shy, down cast eyes.
"You never realize how much it hurts until it goes away. Fuck yeah, that's good - " Ed groaned, his throat deep, structured shapes, his adam's apple bobbing.
Al looked away, stepped back a bit. Tried to remember something other - a deeper voice groaning encouragement, the charming smile and compliment he got only half an hour ago. Ed's hair was soft and thick as his own. It pooled on his wrists, around them. Al swallowed something thick and heavy that had lodged itself in his throat. Ed relaxed and sighed, deep from his chest, content. His eyes, closed, and the knot of pain that had almost become a constant smoothed, making Ed look nineteen. Al pressed his lips to the crown of his brother's head, and whispered "Have you eaten yet?"
Ed stared, blandly, at the door as Al closed it behind him. The same thing. Every Saturday. He was half-tempted to follow his brother, covertly, but if Al was dating someone then that was good, right?
But what girl deserved his little brother? Al was exceptional. Kind and intelligent, caring, honest, brave and tough as nails. Talented, affectionate, as good a cook as he was a good scientist. An amalgam of everything anyone could ever want, wrapped up in a beautiful face and graceful body. Even if that body was still thirteen years old.
Ed groaned and slammed the heel of his palm against his forehead. It was difficult to remember that Al's body was that age. Maybe it was because of the fact that Ed knew, knew without a doubt, Al wasn't that age. Maybe it was the way Al carried himself, without the awkward, unsure gangliness of a typical thirteen-year-old.
Maybe it was the way he spoke, his quiet manner, eons of wisdom and knowledge in the space between his teeth and words. Who, indeed, deserved his little brother? No one.
The apartment smelled of Al's cooking - some kind of chicken and pasta. Al had taken to cooking before he left, so Ed wouldn't go hungry. It was good, as usual. The kiss on his cheek burned, the one Al gave him before he left. Ed grit his teeth. How long will the goodbye kisses last? How long will Al continue to cook for him? It was Saturday night now, then maybe Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings will be added to that, then three days. Al's dumb cat slippers will be on someone else's doorstep, his potted plants and messy notebooks. The kitchen cabinets will be cluttered, the sink full of dishes, the phone will ring good morning or good night instead of open, welcome arms.
He stood, angrily, his footsteps heavier, more purposeful than usual. The water in the sink ran, cold then hot then scalding. Fine. Dishes clashed. Soapy water spilled onto the counter, the floor. Al was probably kissing that girl. A glass broke in his automail, shards digging into the joints, grinding and screeching as he moved his fingers.
He turned off the water, shook his hand over the trashcan, the spark and glitter of shards falling, sharp, into the basket. Al wouldn't depend on him forever.
Ed couldn't depend on Al forever. He'd visit. He'd be the best man at their wedding. He almost vomited into the trash can.
'Trauma can often circumvent normal relationships, Major Elric.' The military psychologist told him, when they got back to Central. Ed saw the open book. 'Intimacy Difficulties' one headline said. 'Social Withdrawal', said another. 'Incest', said a third.
He snarled and walked out. Mustang had to pull strings to forge an okay on his psychological evaluation.
Mustang was a damn good fucking liar.
Ed gripped the edges of the tall wastebasket, for want of some anchor. Even the goddamn trash can was clean. Fuck.
He narrowed his eyes, breathing heavily. Al was in love. Fine. He could - he could do the same thing. He was just being irrational right now.
Who the fuck would want a man of half-metal, with a heart to match?
He finished washing the dishes, numb. He needed to just - just break it. This irrationality. Some center. There was a breeze, bringing in through the open glass sliding-door of their balcony the smell of greasy spoon restaurants and cheap Xingese knock-off fireworks. The laundry on the line fluttered. The warm, warm wind filled their apartment, pseudo-breath, nonliving. A premonition, almost.
He grabbed his keys and wallet. Left. Just left. The empty apartment continued to pretend to breathe.
He kicked a piece of trash, balled-up and half-wet, sending it sliding on the pavement.
He ignored the skanky women cat-calling him, offering him deals. Deals, of all things. The music pounded in his ears, seeming to shrink into his brain. The lights reflected off the glassiness of his eyes, painfully bright, bright against the dark nooks and crannies of worn-down, trussed-up buildings. Part of him wondered what the hell he was doing here, how he ended up in that part of town that was practically a petrie dish for STDs.
He scowled. Women hung off the arms of men, utterly enamoured, some ugly as sin, some beautiful, most horribly structured and fake looking. Some people looked normal. Just - normal. Normal jeans, girls in somewhat fancy halter-tops, hair and make-up - normal. It was unsettling. Comforting. He wasn't so odd, he was the same, the same as the other men his age, dressed in plain button-up shirts and slacks or jeans, without make-up on their collars or a prostitute in their laps. Laughing. Reasonably drunk.
"Hey." He almost ran into the her. Stopped short of smothering his face in her chest. Pale skin, black, flimsy dress, small, firm breasts with perked nipples. A genuine smile on her lips. He saw the neon of the storefront lights glint and skitter over her gloss-wet lips as she spoke.
"Come with me. There's a nice bar just around the block." She said looping her hand through his arm. She paused, feeling the unyeilding automail, then smiled - a beguiling smile, charming and sweet. "Well, that's a shame, isn't it? Don't frown like that. You're still very cute"
Ed's eyebrow twitched. "I don't do automail play." She said, easily, as she led him further down Mirella. "But I know a girl who does. You'll like her - she's pretty, knows what she's doing, you know. Very exotic looking. Nice girl, good prices. I can call her over, if you want?" She looped both arms around Ed's automail, trying to entwine her fingers into it. Glass shards creaked between the joints.
"This is my stop." He grumbled, shaking her off and turning, entering the first store without a goddamn neon sign.
Ed was glad he remembered his identification. His glare just dared the woman at the counter to question it - whatever, they rarely did these days.
He paused, utterly befuddled at the overt plainness of the store. Racks of magazines, toys - some which utterly confunded him, odd shapes he couldn't imagine going anywhere near the human body. Some of them too damn large for what he thought they were sed for. The hell? Oh, he wasn't an idiot - he was a soldier, and the majority of his sex education came from raunchy jokes and bawdy limmericks. Soldiers were idiots. Informative, but idiots.
There were stalls in the back, in a little half-room where the lighting wasn't so bright and clinical. Informative idiots indeed.
He curled his fingers around his change. Not much. Enough, maybe.
Plywood doors. Cheap things. Red lights when he deposited his money into the old, tin coinbox. He stilled as he saw the new, glossy magazines. Untouched. He opened them, flipped through them, utterly uninterested. They were a rude awakening, as rude and frank as their pictures. "The hell am I doing here." Ed whispered to himself, seeing but not entirely comprehending a very vivid threesome. His voice thick, the sound stopping at his lips and that was it. The silence there was oppressive. The room smelled horrible. He took off his gloves and lay them on the shelf beside the magazines, wary to touch anything. Odd, the one thing he wanted was a large pack of disinfectant wipes.
A small movement caught the corner of his eye. God, this was the shit these people were talking about? It was just a goddamn hole in the partitions. That's all, edges filed down so your dick won't get splinters. It was almost funny. Except a slender finger traced the edge of it, just before actually intruding onto his side of the partition. Ed knelt to look, curiosity overriding any pretense of arousal.
Usually he'd 'serve' one man, two at most, then go HOME. It was getting late. Instead, he had just finished a very lengthy (and less than cheap, on both their parts) blowjob. The man's groan when he came was positively beastial, and rattled into his tongue and bones. Now he stayed, knelt, stifflingly hot in his clothes as his mind took him places he wouldn't dare think about in 'normal' life.
Great. Now he was segmenting his life. He bit his lip and remembered, legs spreading as he rubbed himself through his jeans. It was unsatisfying, but he could wait until Monday.
Just as he was getting ready to clean up and go home, no doubt to either a sleeping or pissed off Edward, the booth opened. Al peaked. Unlike every other man, this one shuffled his feet and dallied, seemed hessitent to even touch his pants, much less unzip them. He was actually looking at the magazines. Who the hell goes in the booths to look at magazines?
This one wore black, form-fitting pants. He was muscular. Short. Like him. Like Edward.
Al shook his head viciously, attempting to dislodge the thought. Strong, muscular thighs. A sure stance. An easy way of being, no matter where, or how odd. This was certainly odd.
He found himself tracing the circular shape of the gap in the partition between them before he could stop himself. The man noticed, almost immediately.
Al pulled his fingers back. Great, hopefully he wasn't offended. His vision became only black pants as he approached. Then the man began to crouch down -
Al hissed and turned his back, pressing it up against the come-stained opening, blocking the view.
Before Ed could even see anything, the person on the other side pressed either his chest or back or ass, for all he knew - clothed - against the opening. Ed frowned and stood, glaring murder at it. Fine. There was another one on the opposite divider. Asshole must have caught a glimpse of his automail hand. He stood and went back to the magazines. People he didn't know, faces contorted in what, he supposed, they thought was appealing. They just looked ridiculous.
Al breathed a heavy sigh of relief as the man walked away with a derisive snort. Still. Still, he wanted. Wanted to make this one feel good. Wanted to know what his penis felt like, his scent -
Maybe, he thought, maybe he needed a more direct approach. He whined, just on the verge of piteous, and rubbed his lower lip onto the edge of the opening, belatedly realizing how utterly disgusting that was. He almost recoiled, wanting to wipe his mouth with copious amounts of rubbing alcohol. Might as well, he thought, and flicked his tongue out, teasingly.
He leaned back warily, at an angle, in case the man tried to look again. He shook from his recklessness. The hum of it rising through his body, he could feel it in his sweat.
Ed blinked, utterly at a loss when he saw a hint of a full, pink lower lip, then a sweet, pink tongue. Real. Flesh and blood, not flat and glossy and utterly unappealing. He kept his automail hand behind his back as he approached again, well out of sight. "The hell am I doing?" He muttered, near silent, complying with the secrecy of the place. His flesh hand fumbled quickly with his zipper, and he heard a breathy, pleased sigh from the other side of the partition. He stroked his cock into full hardness, easy to do with how little he jacked off. He kept firmly in his mind the softness of that lip, the pink of that tongue.
The man on the other side hissed an inarticulate whine. Was he really that turned on by this? All Ed wanted was a fucking blowjob without some woman clinging to his automail. His automail - not something just anyone could touch, unless it was at the end of his fist. And he wasn't about to beat up a prostitute. That was almost too mean it was funny.
Still, he wasn't about to object if whoever it was found his cock appealing.He glared at the opening then looked down at himself. "You've gotta be fuckin' kidding me." He muttered, again, in near-silence, hefting himself onto the balls of his feet to comfortably stick his dick through. That was awkward, awkward enough to make him lose a little interest. He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, red in the light, and tried to stop wondering what he was doing there and waited for what was promised.
Al watched as the half-hard, uncircumcized cock came to full erection. There weren't a lot of those, really. Central had standard hospitals everywhere, he figured that must be it. Rizenbool, now, childbirth was done at home, and circumcision rarely done unless for religious reasons.
Then the man eased his erection through the opening, and Al pressed it, gently, between his palms. Thick in girth, heavy in weight. He allowed himself to rub his cheek and nose against it, inhaling deeply. It was a raw scent. An incredible scent, male, flesh, musk. He risked it, foolishly, and rubbed the tip on the curve below his lower lip, dangerously close to his mouth. He thumbed under, where foreskin attached to the actual shaft, gently slid it over the man's erection until he was almost too hard to accomodate that kind of play. It was fascinating to watch him harden, such a basic, interesting function.
There was a hiss, and the plywood creaked as the man pushed against it, deep and firm. Urging. Al kissed the tip and sides, wet and open-mouthed, an almost comforting gesture, reassuring. So warm, so very warm and the skin was so soft against his lips, and when he licked his lips, the taste - he gasped, wantingly, feeling so clearly the ache between his legs, in the pit of his stomach-
-Lips to skin. A cold chill set in his limbs, rationality screaming at the back of his mind. Careless. So, so stupid!
Ed grit his teeth as he felt skin, so warm, and so damn soft. His breath, a rattling, unsteady sound as he bit back any encouragement, word, vocalization that would give him away. No one needed to know the Fullmetal Alchemist did this - not when he was still getting update letters from the kids in Youswell, for fuck's sake.
There was a pause on the other side of the partition. He felt shaking, unsteady breath on his dick. He hissed in frustration, halfheartedly slamming the side of his fist into the plywood. Goddamn it -
Al jumped at the loud thud. The partition rattled on its brackets. He heard the dull scrape of fingernails on it, blunt fingernails, hard fingertips. Al dug into his pocket for the stupid, stupid contraceptive, rubbing his cheek against him, inhaling deeply, exhaling, shallow, trembling. The corner of his mouth brushed it, so close to his lips but not quite his lips, not quite his mouth, warm, sticky. Al licked his lips nervously. His fingers found nothing - in his pockets, on the shelf where the magazines were stacked. Damn, damn, damn -
He curled his fingers around it, then, feeling in his palms the man's weight and heat and - he licked his lips, sighing, malcontent. He watched his hands slide up and down, watched precome drip from the swollen slit to insinuate itself between his fingers. He breathed, breathed until his chest hurt, unable to get enough of that scent -
The fucking tease was giving him a handjob? The hell? He could've done that for free at home. Oh, sure, it felt good - better than good, in an uncertain way, to feel someone else's hands. Good enough that he decided to not just zip up and go home. He sighed, and didn't mean for it to sound impatient, not like he was paying this guy or anything. Good enough to stay. He glared at the plywood inches from his nose, felt the arch of his foot begin to hurt, his legs cramp, glared as if to see right through the damn partition. Good enough to stay. He compared Breda's stories, Mustang's stories, hell, even WINRY talked about her casual dates and that was beyond terrifying and scarring in a 'Who's ass do I have to kick now!?' kind of way. Even Havoc didn't resort to this. Dumb, drunken, 'I want something on my dick and I don't care what' military rookies did this kind of shit.
Good enough to stay, and that's it. He let his head fall against the plywood with a loud, finalized 'thunk', feeling like an utter idiot in the red, humming light of his tiny booth.
Al paused when he heard that low, deep sigh. It wasn't so much a sigh of anticipation or content - this one was monotone, resigned, impatient. He resumed, trying to dismiss it as his own imagination. He tried, really, he did. He touched all the places he'd normally lick, curled his fingers around all the places he'd normally purse his lips on, slide and suck. There was nothing forthcoming. No deeper flush, no drops of precome.
He licked his lips, over and over until they were slick with spit. He knew the statistics. Some where reasonably comforting. Some were so far out of his favor they had scared the piss out of him. Numbers were only numbers, it seemed, when he leaned forward and kissed the head of it with an open mouth, sliding his tongue along it and finally tasting him. A jolt went through his thigh and crotch, he pulled back and took a shaking breath.
Ed's fingers curled and dug, flat, harsh, into the wearing finish of the partition. Curses poured from his lips, only shaping them with his tongue and teeth, because whoever it was apparently went fucking insane and Ed could not at all complain about it.
He rested his forehead against the partition, breathing heavily, sharp, uneven, barely controlled exhales. He felt lips - just slightly chapped, wet lips - wrap around him, sliding back and forth right there, tight and so fucking good. Small hands on his dick, slender fingers playing with his foreskin in a gentle, persistent way. If not for the callouses, the blunt nails, the way this person understood what was good, what wasn't, he'd think it was a girl on the other end. Could be. Right then and there, he didn't give a damn.
The person hummed, contentedly, and lapped at the tip of his dick - precome, maybe. The thought and vibrations of it made him thrust forward, not able to DO much with his hips already pressed against the plywood, but god-damn -
Enthusiasm was what it was. Like this person thought sucking cock was the best way to spend a Saturday night. It was flattering, moreso, it was incredible. Slide of lips and press of fingers, rolling of a wet, hot tongue from root to tip, a high, desperate sigh over the head. Then hot, wet suction, eager mouth, eager, writhing tongue, the sound of wet skin to wet skin -
Suddenly, the man stilled, his cock throbbing and hard in Al's mouth. Something pulsed, wonderfully hot, the scent of sex spiked higher and higher, and then a bitter taste, thick wetness in his mouth. Against his throat. He pulled back, swallowed, breathing down with incredible focus a cough. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth, rubbing with his hands, and, my God - whoever he was was either particularly repressed or particularly virile, because Al hadn't seen that much come before. He moved to the side after the second and third spurt landed on his face, his lips, some of it uncomfortably close to his eye. He watched it, heard the man's knees knock into the partition as he came, hissing in a voice unidentifiable. Finally being able to taste and smell this base humanity, almost mindless instinct, he sat, in a daze, when the man pulled back and seemed to hessitate.
Al let his fingers linger at the edges of the opening. He heard harsh breathing. In tune with his. Then a zipper, and blur of black clothing. He saw an empty stall. Flopping bodily against the partition, he stared, the toe of his boot in a puddle of come, come sticky and wet between his teeth, sticky and drying on his cheek, the place between his neck and shirt collar. It was utterly satisfying, and also -
"Idiot. Idiot, idiot, idiot." Al hissed to himself, scrubbing furiously at some stranger's come with the paper towels in a cheap rack on the wall. Scrubbing it off the always sticky, filthy floors of the stall, and off of himself.
Al slept on the couch, not really sleeping at all.
He smiled when he saw the empty sink, the clean dishes haphazardly put into the dishrack. Gleaming forks and spoons seemed to mock him. "Brother, thanks for washing the dishes!" He called, his voice low and shy. It was two in the morning. His brother was nowhere in the apartment
He showered, in monotone. Closed his eyes and stilled himself on the couch, blanket tucked high under his chin. He watched the door. Listened. Felt his body uncoil in relief when he heard keys at the doorknob, two hours later.
He feigned sleep, even when Ed unneccessarily pulled the blanket up around him, tucking it around his body, gentle and slow in movement. As if he were so precious. The warm cotton around his ankles and his waist seemed to mock him. Ed left, flicking the lightswitch off. Down the hall and in the bedroom, old bedsprings creaked.
The livingroom wasn't particularly large. Its white walls towered in the moon and city light.
Al felt that lingering nausea of worry and panic all week. Ed fretted at his pale, drawn complexion, bitched to Winry about his 'weird behavior', almost dragged him to the doctor's office. Only the fact that Al could, and always would, beat Ed in a spar saved him from the potential humiliation of a doctor's poking and prodding.
Every ache became a mental rush of halfbaked consolation. Every odd, dry patch of skin, every time he chewed the dry skin off his lips and felt it sore. His heart beat, rapidly, and his hands became cold.
"Aren't you going out tonight?" Ed asked, across the table, stew in his mouth, on his lips.
"Nah." Al tried to sound lighthearted. Such an attempt only created monotony.
"Why? Something happen? Did you two break up?" Ed began to bristle, his teeth baring, if there was something worse than taking Alphonse Elric away from him it would be breaking his little brother's heart.
It was difficult to remember that Al wasn't so delicate, even in 'matters of the heart'. "No, brother." Al rolled his eyes. "I'm just getting tired of it. I'd rather stay home with you!" He said, with a grin.
"I wish you'd just tell me the goddamn truth"
"I am, Brother." Al said, slowly, patiently. "Fine. You'd think "
"Brother, come on. I'm not dating anyone. Anyone who'll date me is probably actually thirteen years old, you know. I'm not about to do that." Al said, making a face that was so full of distaste it was almost comical.
"Point." Ed agreed, deflating. "But I have to go somewhere"
"Oh?" Al's voice was small.
"Later, don't worry. We'll spend all day together, right?"
"Good stew, Al." Ed said around a mouthful, if only to break the silence. Al just nodded, worrying his lip, warming his hands on his coffee mug.
Ed left, acting jittery and awkward. Maybe Ed was seeing someone, Al thought moodily. He remembered skimming over a passage about psychological projection - you knew you were doing something wrong. So, you reflect that realization on other people. Seeing your wrongs in them. Laying the blame on them. Denying anything is wrong with yourself.
That didn't sound like Ed, though. And it was one of the things he loved about his brother. The accountability. His perception of reality that was almost to the point of chivalrous honor. It was charming. Used, right now, to charm some girl. Al let his head fall back against the couch. Accountability. Right. It was his fault for not being there. His fault for being so secretive. Al had a life outside of Ed. Ed, in turn, built a life outside of Al. It was normal.
It made him want to cry.
Forget normalcy, he thought with the sting behind his eyelids. Forget trying. Ed wasn't there. For all he knew, Ed would bring home a pretty girl and everyone would spout congratulations like champagne or shaken, popped soda. Al would be seen with a boy, because he would eventually find someone who was honorable like Ed, with a brash grin and a mind, maybe not as brilliant, but close. She'd be on his arm and he'd be on whoever's, they'd pass each other, greet mildly, invitations for Christmas - Al stood and rubbed furiously at his eyes, breathing hard. That was a long time away. Years away. He didn't want to be alone. Those - those men were there. Al, in an empty apartment, waiting for an evasive brother, and for who knew how long?
Ed hedged around Mirella and 3rd for a while. Once was something. Twice was an outright sign.
Word seemed to have gotten around to the prostitutes, because no one propositioned him - the freak with glass shards in his automail and a fetish for sex booths. It was a comfort to him to find his personality hadn't changed that much - he didn't give a fuck about what they thought. He set himself firmly and stepped into the crowd, avoiding eye contact, looking down at the sidewalk - don't talk to me, I won't talk to you. It was a busy weekend, maybe due to the upcoming holiday. Revelers, rubberneckers, curious and blushing.
He promised Al. He'd be back soon. Just go in, do what he had to do, leave. His lips curled in ill humor. Like taking a piss in a public restroom. The analogy was frighteningly clear.
Same store. Same booth. Same clunky old sound as he paid with coins. New magazines, with the most current date, same smell, same small fingers at the edge of the opening. He grinned this time. This was just too, too easy.
Whoever it was behind there went wild and unfettered the second he got those warm, small hands on his cock. He wasted no time in foreplay and teasing like the last. Suddenly engulfing his cock in hot, wet suction, squeezing between palms and fingers and breathing, lips moving against the head, almost pleading without words.
Same man as the last time. Al still remembered the way his come tasted. His scent, the memory of it, refreshed with new, unabashed arousal. He already took the stupid risk once. One risk, then another, one that didn't matter. So he let himself go. Just that once. Let himself feel every second of it. Narrowing down the here and now to taste and the pressure in his mouth, against his throat, making him gag, pull back, but even that couldn't taper his enthusiasm. He continued his almost wild actions, hearing the same fist slam into the partition, hearing hissing none-whispers and feeling the shift of strong, powerful hips and legs.
Whoever he was, he was obviously much more into it than the last time. He came, rediculously fast, with a sudden jarring thrust against the plywood between them and a moan choked back before voice could meld with breath. Al was stubborn about it. About the whole thing. He wanted to swallow all of it. Each drop. Vengeful in his determination, although reason was lacking in the furrow of his brow and the almost aggressive way he sucked and licked.
His own excitement ebbed as come filled his mouth, forced its way down his throat, hot and bitter, salty, sticky between his lips and against the roof of his mouth. He swallowed once, twice, before his body lurched and he had to turn away, throat protesting, eyes watering as he coughed, a wet sound on wheezing breath.
The last few seconds of Ed's orgasm was interrupted by hacking, wheezing breath. He frowned, quickly pulling back and zipping himself up, cringing at the wetness caught between himself and his boxers. Whoever it was hacked again. Okay. Well. Maybe he shouldn't have thrust like that against him. Ed wouldn't know for sure, but he was pretty certain that generally was frowned upon.
He felt like his five-year-old self, about to get caught for fucking up. Or his twelve-year-old self, turning in what he knew to be a perfectly shit report to Mustang. Such comparisons were extremely surreal.
He heard a whine from the other side. A miserable sound. He stepped back uncertainly, left the stall even with a decent amount of money still in the coinbox. He remembered seeing a liquor store across the street. He figured it would only be polite to give a guy a bottle of water for uh...making him choke on his come.
Ed started snickering as he paid, ignoring odd looks cast at him. Surreal. The entire fucking place was surreal. He was buying water for a stranger who had choked with his come.
He hid his face behind his bangs and tried so desperately not to laugh, only snigger like a madman as he walked back into the porn shop.
The fucking porn shop.
He had to bite the brown paper bag to keep from laughing too loudly.
The man left. Al hadn't noticed it, not until he stopped choking and could breathe. Then the light above his stall went out, the coinbox buzzed. He was certain that if something had broken him of this little habit, choking on come until it had a permanent aftertaste would be it.
He wiped at his lips, had to spit on the paper towel to get the majority of it off of his face, the corners of his mouth and his chin. He didn't feel righted, no matter how he fussed with himself, but for once he was ready to go home - constantly lagging laundry and all. He stood, coughing shallowly one more time. He opened the door, and heard a 'thunk.
"I'm sorry!" Al squeaked, stopped halfway out the booth, and stared. His feet would not move.
Blond hair. Gold eyes. A displeased face, with a grumpy, dramatic frown. He knew these things. Knew them well.
Ed looked at him. Just looked at him, and the frown curled into a snarl. He moved like a territorial beast, jerking the stall door open until it almost flew off its hinges. He stood, still and bristling, as he saw the empty stall. "How long were you here." Ed's voice was low, and eerily calm.
"I - I "
"Alphonse, how LONG?"
"N-not long "
"Give me a time"
"I said." Ed whirled on him, his eyes narrowed to slits. "Give me a time"
The look on Al's face. The white smear drying at the corner of his lips.
Al shook as he watched his brother storm to the front door. Ed paused, halfway there, whirled around and couldn't quite meet Al's eyes. Al felt the automail fisted into the collar of his shirt, and he was dragged, unfeeling, through the store, onto the sidewalk, jostled and knocked into crowds. It was in the calm of their street, in the dark quiet of the apartment stairwell, in the utter stillness of their apartment, then Al could only feel naked, bare, humiliation sinking into his skin, its skittering cold driving out any, any thought of everything before.
"What were you doing there?" Al pressed himself against the closed front door, the front door Ed currently held his shoulders against. He felt small, meager. He looked away, covering his face with his hair. Ed shook him, shook him until the burning, consuming anger of his brother seemed to meld into the marrow of his bones. "Tell me"
"I could ask you the same thing." Al whispered, words thin through the knots and weights in his gut and throat.
"Mine. Was only twice. This is what you've been doing, isn't it?" A sudden jump, from shaking, controlled whisper to a near-scream. "ISN'T IT"
"Yes." He didn't need to look to see the disgust in Ed's eyes. It was there. He felt it, in the intangible, intimate space between them.
"Four months, Alphonse." Ed whispered, drawing in sharp, hissing breaths through bared teeth. His automail hand curled and curled around Al's shoulder until it hurt, and Al didn't say anything about it. "Four months. Four FUCKING months!" He turned away, pushing Al into the door. Walked into the middle of the living room, aimless. He ran his hands through his hair, snagging strands in his automail, wrecking his ponytail. "We need to get you tested." His voice, low and harsh. Nothing about him. It was never, ever about him.
Al, his heart just wouldn't calm down. The rapid beating, painful, frightening. Odd, the overwhelming feeling of affection and love and everything he tried to burry and push away in the debauchery of Mirella and Third. He rubbed his shaking hands over his face, detached, in a way, unable to comprehend that it all crumbled, and so quickly. "I-if..." He took a deep breath, but his voice was small. "If y-you don't have - If you don't have anything, neither do I."
Ed stilled, stilled his thrumming, fidgeting posture. "I don't believe you." He said. Blandly. Factually.
Al didn't know he was actually crying until he felt tears on his skin. "Why?" He asked, uncaring how his voice sounded so pleading and needy. "You always said I couldn't lie worth anything, right? Why would I lie, Brother? Why"
"You sure did a damn good job of it, recently." Ed spat.
"I'm sorry!" He rubbed his eyes, furiously, how could he cry, how could he hurt, when he had no right. Betraying himself in a way, and as he did, he betrayed his brother too. Selfish. "I'm sorry! I - I don't know what I was thinking, I wasn't-"
"Fucking hell you weren't, Al! Do you know what could have happened to you?" Ed suddenly was there, looking him in the eye, the lines of age deepened by his scowl and the firm set of his lips. "Do you!? Let me tell you. Let me fucking tell you. You could have - you could have gotten sick. You could have been beaten. Raped. Some - some sick fuck could have played all nice, I know how trusting you are, lured you home with him - " Shaking, uneven breathing. "You deserve better than anything there"
"Don't you too, then?" Al whispered, a hollow, broken sound.
"We're not talking about me." Ed scrubbed his fingers through his hair, again. Strands tore and wound into the joints and edges of his automail. "Why couldn't you just wait? Just wait. God, Al, I know - I know, you - you look thirteen, but that won't be forever. It won't."
"Wait for what"
"To fall in love. To live normally. Al, goddamnit - don't do that!" He snapped, roughly pushing his automail hand against his brother's cheek to stop him from shaking his head so feverently in denial.
"Yes you can - "
"No, you don't understand. I can't!" Al pushed his hand away, reckless in the off-kilter tilt his little world had taken. "I can't, how can I, when I keep comparing everyone to you"
Ed's eyes widened, and he stepped back from Al, his hands pulled away as if they had been burned, even his unfeeling automail. It glinted, cold. Automail couldn't tremble. Ed's flesh hand did. "What have I done to you?" Ed whispered, harsh, dry words.
"No. Just. Just stay here! Don't go anywhere!" Ed was gone. The bedroom door closed. Locked. Symbolic, really. Locks couldn't stop an alchemist.
The door opened, with a blaze and crackle of ozone and alchemic light. Footsteps, warm and bare over the carpeting of their bedroom. The mattress dipped, a body, small, vibrant, real, lay beside him. Ed opened his eyes, and looked into Al's hardened, determined ones, silver in the monochrome of moonlight.
"Imagine having someone." Al said, softly. "Someone who lived through everything you did. Understood it, perfectly. Understands why you're the way you are, now. Who - " His voice wavered, his teeth grit, little flashes of white behind his pink, soft lips. "- who lives in pain, every day, because he saved you. And then, begin to like someone - love someone, maybe - someone else. But every day, you know that, no matter how much you might like them, or love them, they never did what that other person did. Probably even couldn't, if it came down to it." Al closed his eyes, a glisten between his eyelids, in his lashes. "I tried. I tried as much as I could, with what I could do, now. I can't"
Ed breathed in. Al's scent, the tickle of his lose hair against his lips, nose, and cheek. "I - I don't ever want to be apart from you, brother." Al sighed, as if everything, everything in the world suddenly righted itself when Ed wrapped his automail around his waist. A shift, then, and a weight on him, a comfortable, grounding weight.
"Anyone kissed you?" Ed spoke, gruffly.
It was soft, at first, little more than a brush of hard, dry lips against his. There was a taste, of breath from one to the other, and more, as lips parted. Just a little, then wider, an open gasp, the wet brush of a tongue, deep inside Al's mouth, a whimper that traveled through Al's lips into Ed's and into his spine, brain, heart, made his automail fingers curl and uncurl, tangle in Al's hair.
"Brother." Al whispered. "Edward - " Lips together, again, an awkward interlock. "Oh - wow -" He saw Ed smirk, and brush away a strand of hair that had somehow gotten in between their mouths. He pressed his lips against the swell of Al's lower lip, against his chin, burying his nose deep into the skin, blood, and elegant shape of bone of Al's shoulders and neck. Felt, against his tongue, the tremble and vibration of Al's throat as he cried out.
I made this. He touched the tempting little strip of thigh Al bared as his nightshirt rode up. Cold automail. Al gasped, openly. Honestly. The shape of his lips, full and soft. The flutter of his eyelashes. The tongue that poked from his mouth, wetting his lips. Al's lips - he bit them, and sucked them, plunged his tongue deep into his soft mouth and couldn't, couldn't stop, as if he could remove -He sat up, suddenly, and stared, flushed cheeks, bared, wet lips, at the debauched and breathless boy before him. Rosy cheeks, hazy eyes, the nightshirt high enough to show the little mole that Ed remembered nestled in the dip between Al's hip and stomach, the skin of Al's shoulders and chest pale, usually covered from the sun. The high of his revel crashing, shattering, burning as it made its way down his being and into his gut. "What am I doing?"
"You don't want - " Al whispered, his eyes dark, dark behind peeking eyelids and lengthy eyelashes.
"No." He turned away, planting his feet onto the carpet and burying his face in his hands. "What am I doing - "
"Okay, big brother." Voice so soft and crushed. Elation crashing down to scatter, broken pieces dissolving, at their feet. Al sat up, all grace of reality. Warm breath, living, as he leaned over and pressed a kiss to Edward's cheek. "So why were you there?" He asked, boldly.
"I - "
"I told you why I was." Childish resort - you tell me, I'll tell you. Stupid how it still worked.
"I just needed - " Ed felt, distinctly felt, the reality of his own skin. His gender. His sex. Stifling close and real and goddamn humiliating. "I couldn't - " His automail flexed, clenched, unclenched, steel fingers of catching joints, his hair, Al's hair, broken strands of it beneath his knuckles.
"I always thought you were very handsome, brother." Al sighed those words, in a voice so weary and old, sliding his fingers between the shapes of metal and wire. "You shouldn't feel that way"
Ed just looked at him, disbelief potent in his scowl.
"What?" Al laughed, awkward in the silence. "It's true"
"Stop trying to get me to bed you." He snapped, the sheer obscenity of it all growing, as fuzzy incomprehension, over his mind.
"I'm not trying to get you to bed me." Al said, comfortably, testily. "I'm being honest. You're mad at me for what I did. Fine. I'm mad at myself too." He looked away, at the uninteresting wall, where their dresser sat, and a stack of books, normal things. "I don't want you to go back there"
"It's a given that you're not going back there"
"Of course, Brother." Al whispered, but it was different, different when he knew what Ed's come tasted like, the way he smelled when he was aroused. The word sounded different. More, and grounded, an ideal come crashing into the dirt and trash and regular little furnishings of earth. "You are, though." He said, almost as an afterthought, petulant.
"Al!" Ed snarled, grabbing a pillow and slamming it into Al's back. "Stop"
Al threw his head back and laughed. That earned him another smack. Al caught it, wrestling it away from Ed. Al laughed, eyes wet at the corners. Ed pounced him, he cried out, fighting for the pillow, for the chance to be close. He breathed Al in, deeply. "I'll wait for you." Al whispered into the scars between automail and human.
Al laughed as Ed's hair tickled him. Sighed as Ed found all the little, intimate details he knew and remembered and recreated. Al smiled at him, shyly, and boldly kissed him. Thirteen but not, and the most beautiful thing Ed had ever seen.