Alfred was incapable of forgetting Mattie.
Well, alright, that was a bit of a lie. He'd certainly forgotten Matthew plenty of times. Forgotten birthdays (despite the fact his brother's was only three days prior to his own) or forgotten to call on Christmas or holidays. Hell, even as teenagers, he'd forgotten to pick him up after school, or from the mall, countless hours (not so countless, actually; specifically 87) spent getting chewed out by Francis, while both backpedaled all over town to try to find the easily misplaced boy (who'd almost always be in the food court, if it was a forgotten mall trip, reading Tolstoy and feigning indifference).
But throughout all that, Alfred never actually forgot the essence of his brother, never misplaced the tiny details—the sparkle of his violet eyes, the way his nose crinkled when he was nervous but didn't want others to know, the pleased hum he emitted while eating ice cream, the way wavy blonde hair framed his heart shaped face (and that one curl which always stuck out from his head, begging to be tugged).
Alfred knew his brother like a classic rock song, lip-synching along to his vocals. Hell, he could probably play him without sheet music; replicate the buzz of the amplifier and licks of the strings, the repetition of the chorus, the soft piano keys offset in the background.
Really, that sounded much more sexual than it should have, especially considering the fact that Matthew was his baby bro. Sure, Alfred was (relatively) comfortable with his bisexuality (not that his family, fans, or various one-night-stands knew), but it was probably somewhat wrong to haplessly toss around borderline innuendos regarding his brother.
In any case, Matthew wasn't even the full song, was he? He wasn't the mix of drums and screeching lyrics and twenty minute guitar solos. He was the piano, the odd dash of quiet beauty, serenity, class in the utter chaos of the average ballad, the harmony to Alfred's melody. Most people didn't even notice the piano section of a song, too fixated on the drums or the guitar, but Alfred always picked up on it. People really didn't give that sort of thing enough credit. Fuck, he didn't even give that sort of thing enough credit, and he was the professional musician. Credit or not, though, he still noticed. He was the kind of guy to hum along to the piano tinkering in the background of a Black Sabbath song.
Matthew had been stuck in his head long before Alfred had made it his business to market sounds—to market himself, really. Even while away from him, he'd always been playing back there, inspiring his lyrics or baselines in subtle ways. Maybe he hadn't physically listened to him speak in four years, but he could still hear him, could probably name the pitch of his laughter right now.
Kind of funny, actually. Here he was, equating Matthew to the piano, claiming his little bro inspired him, yet his band didn't even have a keyboardist.
And his lyrics were hardly maudlin; why did he always have such sappy thoughts, such empty metaphors curling around his brain, whenever he was around Matthew? Not that Alfred remembered thinking such thoughts when they were teens. Absence made the brain grow sappier, apparently.
Alfred hadn't forgotten how quiet Matthew's voice was capable of getting (after all, if he remembered pitch, he certainly remembered volume), but it certainly surprised him that his tone hadn't seemed to evolve in the four years since he'd heard him. If anything, Mattie sounded younger, hovering somewhere near twelve with the lilt to his words. Would his voice crack? God, his entire body looked like it was ready to snap in half, dwarfed in the blue scrubs he wore; why not have a cracking voice on top of everything else? The younger brother's eyes remained closed, his fingers tracing the fabric of the couch, probably attempting to figure out just where, exactly he was.
Alfred had only passed out once in his entire life (surprising, considering the crash-friendly lifestyle of a sex machine rock star), but could still feel the sympathetic tingling in his extremities on Matthew's behalf.
"Papa, my h-head hurts…" Matthew's voice actually did crack there, his brother's head swarming with images of their shared adolescence, of coaching Mattie on all the proper ways to make the most of puberty.
Like that time Matthew had woken up crying, because his sheets were all stained. Luckily his heroic older brother was there (to laugh at him) to help him change the sheets out, and awkwardly explain how normal it was—hell, if Alfred wasn't getting laid so much in high school, surely he would have been having similar dreams as well.
Would have been nice to know just who Mattie was dreaming about. Did it really matter, though? Besides, that was years ago. Alfred tugged himself out of the memories, remaining silent as he watched Francis kneel beside the scrub-clad man, rubbing a thumb over his forehead and smoothing the worry lines from his skin. "Oui, you hit your head pretty hard, Mathieu," He kissed the top of his head, cupping his cheek tenderly.
"Oh," Francis pulled away from him as his eyes opened, Matthew glancing at his father in confusion, as well as pain. Alfred glanced away, shamed as it suddenly occurred to him that maybe it had been his fault that Mattie had hit his head in the first place. What with surprising him and all. But how could he be blamed for ice? Jeez, this was a lot harder than he'd expected.
Swallowing, Alfred glanced back at his brother, whose eyes were currently touring the room, taking in the fine artwork on the walls (pictures probably an addition from Francis), before tracking their way back to Alfred.
"Oh," Matthew repeated, cheeks beginning to darken.
"Hey, Mattie!" Judging by the way he cringed, Alfred assumed his voice was a little too loud. Right, he didn't need to entertain a stadium here; just his soft-spoken sibling, and said sibling's father (and his…what? Not Alfred's father, and not stepfather. What was the word he could use to describe Francis without being forced to refer to Matthew as his half-sibling?). "God, you're clumsy." Wait…totally not what Alfred wanted to say! "You'd think living up in the Arctic would make you better on ice."
Matthew cringed, lips pressed tightly together until the skin started to turn white. "Well—"
"Anyway, guess I can't blame you too much. Being around a real honest to god celebrity probably just makes you weak in the knees." Truly, Alfred hadn't come here with the intention of being a jackass, especially not when his brother was making that obviously pained face. But these words were easier than something sentimental and touching. Besides, he had until the end of the week (at least) to make some sort of breakthrough.
Alfred realized he probably shouldn't feel the need to impress his brother, of all people. Shouldn't Matthew already look up to him?
"Jeez, you need a haircut, too." Somewhere in the middle of his quick-paced assault, he'd closed the distance between them, brushing his fingers through his brother's cotton candy soft locks. Alfred's hand lingered atop his head for a moment longer than necessary. "Don't ya get paid enough as a nursey-poo to go to a barber?"
"That's enough," Francis's silky voice sounded oddly commanding, prompting Alfred to shut up, despite the words still pressing at the back of his throat to escape.
Matthew sat up, his groan of pain the only sound in the room for a few seconds. Alfred squirmed under the oppression of the silence, but feared opening his mouth to break it just in case anymore unnecessarily cruel things escaped.
"Why are you here?" Matt finally asked, his tone not particularly accusatory, though the flicker of apprehension in his eyes was enough to let Alfred know that the oddness of this impromptu visit wasn't unnoticed.
"I wanted to visit my baby bro, of course!" Again, he found his hand in Matt's hair, brushing the follicles back and forth until he felt the other cringe. Oops. Had he accidentally hurt him? Alfred pulled his hand away, before sitting on the couch beside his brother. "Thought it would be fun to surprise you." He threw his arm around Matthew's shoulders.
"You just wanted to visit me?" Matthew scooted away from his brother, expression mostly blank. "You haven't so much as called me in four years, but you just decided, out of the blue, to visit me?"
"Yup," Alfred nodded. "Surprise!" He needed to repeat that aspect of it, make it sound fun. Who didn't like surprises?
"Surprise?" Matthew looked like he wanted to jump up, but remained seated. Probably because of his head, Alfred realized. Again, guilt kicked at his gut. Oh yeah. And he finally remembered the fact that Matthew didn't like surprises. Oops. "Surprise? Four YEARS, Alfred. Do you even realize how long that is?" He didn't wait for him to reply. "And then you finally come here and start insulting me right away? What kind of…"
"Mathieu," Francis sat beside Matthew, touching the boy's hand. Matthew glanced at his father, as though silently pleading, before he looked down, nodding softly.
"Fine. I…I guess it's better that you come late than never, eh?" His eyes rose to meet Alfred's, silently appraising him, before something akin to a smile flickered onto his face. "How long do you plan on staying?"
"Uh…couple days. Maybe a week or so. I dunno," Alfred leaned back against the couch, hands now cushioning his head. He didn't need to look at Matthew to know the face he was making. That weird disapproving look of his, judging his lack of commitment or whatever.
"You're just going to play it by ear, then?"
"Basically. It's cool if I crash here, right? It's not like you don't have room or whatever. Your house is practically as big as mine." Of course, it wasn't as big. Alfred was filthy fucking rich.
But Francis was pretty rich, too, what with his whole modeling career. Not that he did that anymore, of course, for obvious reasons. He knew Matthew's father certainly had enough money stashed away for the two to live comfortably, though, and then some.
Matthew's nursing probably helped, too, he guessed. Alfred really didn't know.
"I wouldn't know how large your house is, Alfred," Matthew's voice almost sounded icy. But that couldn't be right. Mattie was a sweetheart. Probably just that Canadian air making everything sound chilly by association. "I've never actually been invited. And you've never sent pictures."
"I think there's an episode of Cribs with my house in it," Alfred chirped. Before frowning. "No, not Cribs. That show was cancelled, wasn't it? I dunno, I think it was a VH1 show, actually. But you could have watched that."
Matthew opened his mouth to say something, but instead shook his head. "Right. How stupid of me."
"Yeah, I know." Alfred shut his eyes, already starting to feel drowsy. What the hell? It was only, like, 8 o'clock or so. It was just so comfortable and homey here. Unlike motel rooms or even his own bedroom, this was very relaxing. He could just fall asleep right now. "So I can stay, right?"
"Of course you can," Matthew was so delightfully predictable. Alfred smiled, forcing his eyes to reopen, glance at Matthew. He still bit his lip. Cute. Purple eyes glanced at him questioningly, eyebrow raising, before Matthew stood. He wobbled slightly on his feet, Alfred quick to jump up, grab his arm.
"Don't," Matthew muttered, pulling his arm away. "I'm fine."
"Yeah right. Don't worry, I'm here to help ya."
"You're the source of my problems, Al," But Matthew smiled, shaking his head slightly (before wincing, and actually allowing Alfred to grab onto him, like the hero/rocker he was).