by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Not mine

AN: TWT - Timeline, what timeline? B-day prezzie for Steph-doll.

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Early on, when brother couldn't quite keep back the screaming, he wanted to touch. Stubborn, brilliant brother sought him with flesh fingers and desperate eyes, and sometimes, he knew, the screams were for him. Brother wanted to touch, to feel, to be certain he was still there - how could he know when he didn't know himself?

When he could move again, brother fussed and touched and insisted on checking and re-checking the seal, head poking into the hollow where his (was it his?) chest had been removed, rubbing his cheek against the metal, tracing the blood without touching and he only knew because it almost-tingled (where?) and he always knew when brother was crying.

He didn't quite know what to think when he woke up (it wasn't waking up because to wake you had to be asleep and he wasn't asleep, he wasn't awake, he didn't know what he was) - and brother wasn't in his bed and sleeping, brother was pillowed against his side and sleeping.

Brother was shivering because brother was sitting on the floor and balled up with his knees to his nose and his cheek pressed to his arm (arm-thing) and his blanket had fallen and barely covered his toes and it was a cool night and brother wasn't in bed where he belonged.

So he picked up his brother (eggshell, feather, breeze) and put him back to bed and ignored his whimper and the seeking scramble of his fingers as he pulled away. Closed eyes, salt-spiked lashes, and since he didn't have eyes he couldn't stare at the tear-tracks in the moonlight.

The next time brother did it, he put him to bed again, but he squirmed and latched on with both hands, so he sat by the bed and was still there when his brother woke up and clung to him again.

He hated the cold, not because he couldn't feel it, but because brother could, and brother would huddle up against him anyway even though he had no body heat to offer, even though the metal absorbed and diffused the heat and left his brother pale-lipped and shaking harder than before. And sometimes he hated the heat, in the searing sun, because brother hissed when they touched, hissed when he accidentally grazed his metal limbs with vulnerable flesh.

And sometimes he loved both the heat and the cold, because in the cold there were lit fires in grates in a old, cozy inns, and if he lay the proper distance away, brother wouldn't even wait until he was not-asleep, brother would come over with blankets and bedding and nest against his chestplate.

Brother was happiest then, he knew, because brother never had nightmares on nights like that, when it was just the two of them and the heat and double-heat of fire and metal.

He couldn't feel the heat, even when it got overwhelming and brother kicked off the blankets and used them as pillows instead. He couldn't feel the cold that was the reason for the fire in the first place.

But brother's eyes were always happy when he woke, when he turned his cheek to his chestplate and nuzzled, and just for a moment, it was warm.

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