Warnings: Incest, sex, violence and character death.
"Alfred!" He is out of his chair in an instant, with his arms around his brother, though he must have crawled to get there. Blood on his hands, warm over his fingers, sticking his shirt to his body and he doesn't care. Someone is howling like a wounded animal and it takes Matthew a moment to realise that it's him. Distantly he can hear the laughter on the air and it drives through his body like a hot spike. He can speak through the pain, his voice soft and raw. "Why…" It's all the question he can form. "Why?"
He doesn't have to ask. He knows why. Money. Money is always 'why'.
/Don't worry, Mattie. I'll take care of you./
Matt remembers the time after the accident, but only dimly. It's just as well, he thinks, because the pain of it - both physical and emotional - would tear him apart if he could recall it clearly.
He doesn't remember what happened to their parents. Oh, he knows what happened. If he ever wonders, he needs only to look at the newspaper he keeps hidden beneath his pillow. But there's nothing real about it in his mind. The only real thing is the injury that doesn't go away - the throbbing ache of his lower back and the pain in his legs that makes it impossible to stand and difficult to do much of anything else.
He needs a surgery he will never get if he's going to have any hope of a life other than slowly wasting away in this chair. And the system has no use for his plight when there are so many other 'important' things for it to be doing. Matt understands what 'important' means though.
Money is the key word. And money is something that Matt doesn't have.
The foster system kicks them out as soon as they hit eighteen and Matt doesn't feel the same grief as Alfred at the loss of the only home they've known since their parents were killed. His life is in a battered duffel bag across his knees - his few meager possessions - and Alfred. He thinks to himself that they'll be fine. They have each other - what more do they need?
Alfred cries their first night away and Matt pretends not to notice. He stares out the window of their dismal apartment, at the train tracks below, and he doesn't feel sad. He doesn't feel anything.
Matt gets a check from the government - after the hassle of needing to prove that 'yes, his legs are screwed up enough that he cannot be gainfully employed'. They give him shit about it every few months for the first couple of years - people checking in to make sure he hasn't somehow miraculously recovered his ability to walk. Matt never manages to pull a Jesus on them and eventually they stop coming and leave Matt to his slow descent.
Alfred works three jobs. None of them want to hire him on as anything but a part-timer. He doesn't get any benefits for himself, much less for his brother. One of his jobs cuts his hours down to a minimum and he starts bringing home food from work. Matthew thinks it's probably stolen, but Alfred is tired and haggard most of the time and Matt doesn't ask him questions when he knows they're barely paying for their rent with Alfred's earnings. The government check only pays for Matt's medications - that jumble of bottles that fills the top drawer to overflowing.
Alfred doesn't sleep at night - Matt knows because they share a bed. He lays awake beside Alfred and listens to his brother's breathing and feels the soft shiver through Al's shoulders that might have been crying, and he wonders why Alfred still grieves - why he still feels everything so strongly when Matt doesn't hurt at all.
When Alfred comes home one day with his hand wrapped in bandages - dozing off on the job that he no longer has because they've got no use for him broken and no interest in paying money to fix him when getting someone new is cheaper - Matt knows he has to do something.
He starts crushing his own sleeping pills into Alfred's food. There's some small satisfaction from seeing Alfred actually sleep. He shifts so he is pressed up with his side to his brothers and closes his own eyes. He doen't need those pills anyway.
The computer is Matt's only companion during the day. He discovers that even the internet can be boring after a while and he eventually doesn't bother doesn't looking for anything meaningful. Porn sites are plentiful and his cock is the only damn thing below the waist that works properly anyway, so why not?
Alfred comes stumbling in after a work shift and catches him whacking off to pictures of naked guys, but he has the decency not to say anything. He goes to the other end of the room and curls up on the bed with a bag of pretzels as Matt finishes off. It takes longer than he expects - not because of the embarrassment, but because of the empty gnawing feeling in his gut.
Even porn doesn't seem interesting after that...
Matt sits in front of his screen with his pants unzipped, fingers curled loosely around himself, and the pictures do nothing for him. He thinks of being with the guy in the picture and feels himself withering a little. Sighs. Tips his head back to stare at the blotchy waterstains on the ceiling and curses Alfred for taking his one pathetic amusement from him.
He is only a little surprised when thinking of Alfred does what the porn couldn't. He should feel guilty and ashamed for jerking off to the mental image of his brother swallowing him to the root but he doesn't. All he feels is want.
It's strange to feel strongly about something again, but it's good. He indulges in it.
The porn is more interesting when he imagines doing those things to Alfred. In his mind, he's had his brother a hundred different ways. He thinks he knows what Alfred will look like, spread out on the bed, fingers tangled in the blanket - the slight bob of his Adam's apple. His voice calling out Matt's name in that delicious agony...
If Alfred has any idea of what he's thinking, he would run, but Alfred is clueless. Alfred's world is work and Matt, and Matt wishes work wasn't in the equation.
But Alfred is doing it for him, so he can't protest no matter how much he wants to.
Knowing doesn't stop the wanting though...
It feels surreal the first time he touches Alfred.
His brother has been running tired again and though this is nothing new, it's what comes next that surprises him. Later on he tells himself that Alfred must have wanted it to begin with, because there is no way to easily hide when you're jerking off while you're in bed with someone.
...but it's not like Alfred has anywhere else...
Matt holds very still for a few moments, listening to the soft desperate grunts in his brother's throat and feeling the slight tremble of Alfred's body only a few centimeters away. And then he cannnot take it any longer. He rolls over and wraps his arms around Alfred from behind, his hands sliding low and pushing Alfred's aside. He's hard - pressed to Alfred's back - and he cannot try to hide it as he strokes.
Strangled protest for a few heartbeats, Alfred almost struggling against him before subsiding. Matt knows that Alfred cannot hurt him - that Alfred loves him too much to hurt him. Alfred lies still under his touch, the only motion is the occasional rocking of his hips into the touch.
Alfred buries his face against the pillow as he spills into his brother's hand.
Matt lets his hand slip away after a moment and Alfred is up and out of the bed in a flash, mumbling words that aren't words as he yanks his pants on. He is to the door and out before Matt can call after him.
There is only the clack of the train outside as Matt lies there, staring after his brother, his chest heaving, still hard and aching. He shivers a little inside as he raises his fingers to his mouth and tastes.
Alfred doesn't come home.
He doesn't come home all that night and when the next day rolls to a close and there is still no Alfred, Matt feels cold fear clutching at his heart.
It isn't until the wee hours of morning that Alfred finally staggers through the door. He doesn't go to bed, just falling into the only chair in the room - other than Matt's chair - and passes out for a while. Matt doesn't try to wake him. He just waits.
Relief gives way to anger. Anger burns its way into worry. Worry settles into regret.
When Alfred finally wakes up, Matt is ready to fling himself at his brother's feet - anything.. anything to keep Alfred. He can't lose him. Alfred is his only connection to the world, to emotion... to life.
He's ready to beg, but he doesn't get the chance. Alfred is on his knees beside the bed and he's crying. Alfred has never cried when he thinks Matt can see him... His shoulders shake and Matt can barely hear the words he's saying.
'I'm sorry.' Over and over again, a broken steam of words that baffle Matthew.
And then he understands. Alfred doesn't blame Matt for what happened.
Alfred blames himself.
Matt can't let it happen. Alfred hasn't done anything wrong... Matt wraps arms around his brother and kisses the tears away, feels the way Alfred shakes and whispers the words he's been thinking every hour, every day... even before he could admit them to himself...
I love you.
I love you so much.
I'm nothing without you.
Alfred's eyes are big and wet and blue, his lips tremble as he looks up at Matthew like a lost puppy. Matt wants to say more, to reassure him, but he doesn't get the chance as Alfred surges up, their lips press together and the world blurs into a hot, encompassing madness.
He wonders later, that Alfred knows how to do these things, but in the moment there is no room for coherent thought. Fingers tangle in Alfred's mop of blonde hair and press Alfred's head down into his lap, the slick heat of his brother's tongue stroking the underside of his shaft, and he comes faster and harder than he ever has with just the pornography and his own hand.
They lie side by side on the bed, naked, the covers puddled around their feet, and Matt watches the play of emotion across Alfred's face as he strokes him - slow and possessive... He files away every detail: every twitch of Alfred's lips, every small, half-choked noise, the thickness and heat of his brother against his fingers...
Alfred is surprisingly quiet when he comes, it's all in the arch of his body and the shuddering of his breaths. There are tears on his cheeks and Matt leans in to taste them on his tongue, kissing the damp trails away. Their mouths brush and Alfred's lips part for him.
It's not quite a kiss. It's more like he's drawing Alfred in - or meshing with Alfred, breath to breath, body to body. There's not Matt and Alfred anymore. They're Matt-and-Alfred.
And in that instant, there is no pain anymore. No emptiness.
For just a moment, Matt feels whole again...
Being in love is wonderful. It's everything he's ever thought sounded stupid in books and movies. Matt is faintly surprised to find that he loves being in love with Alfred. It's not hard at all... it comes so easily that Matt suspects he has always been in love with his brother.
Loving is easy... it's life that's hard.
Matt falls out of his chair one morning and twists his leg. He takes extra painkillers for the useless thing and settles in to wait for the agony to go away.
His leg swells up, the incision scar from his surgeries where the skin has been stretched thin, comes open under the pressure. The injury seeps and Matthew packs it with cans of beans he chills in the refridgerator. He sits at his computer and pants at the pain that even the Vicodin can't take away.
After a week - and mingled pleading and threats from Alfred - he goes to see a doctor.
It's very bad.
Matt sits outside the doctor's office until Alfred comes to fetch him, silent with shock and anger. He's going to lose his leg. He doesn't want to think about that... or about the fact that the option to repair his legs still exists but that simply hacking it off is cheaper. The doctors will take his leg and the government will pay for it, but to fix his leg they won't.
He's silent all the trip home, with Alfred worrying over him. He doesn't want to talk about it, doesn't want to listen to the platitudes and pity, but Alfred is on him like a dog on a bone, stubborn.
In all this time, he's never broken before. Not like Alfred. Alfred has always expressed everything - joy and sorrow and anger - and Matt has been silent. It feels like something is coming loose inside him when he finally speaks. And when that barrier is gone, it comes pouring out, grief and rage held in so long that it's gone rancid inside him. He cries as Alfred holds him, cries until he has no more tears. And Alfred just hangs on, strokes his hair tenderly and gives him his medication.
'Don't worry, Mattie' he thinks he hears in the fogginess that the meds bring over his senses, 'I'll take care of you.'
He doesn't ask where Alfred is getting the money. It's his first mistake.
Alfred's schedule changes. Becomes erratic. Matt doesn't say anything about it because it's not a strange thing, really, and his mind is on the impending date of the surgery they've scheduled to remove his leg. It can't come quickly enough... the limb hasn't recovered from the last injury - it still seeps but now there's blood and a foul smelling yellow fluid. Matt has to cover his leg with a blanket or he'd feel ill just to look at it.
So it's not until Alfred's work calls and tells Matt that he's fired for not showing up, that the wrongness of what's going on sinks in.
He plans to confront Alfred, to make his brother explain what the hell is going on.
He never gets the chance.
It's a lot of money in the bag. Matt has never seen so much money. He stares, dumbfounded, the words dying on his lips. Alfred's expression is earnest but there's something else too.
"This should be enough," He says, and Matt can hear the wrongness in his voice. There's a cold grip around his heart, like horror, and he looks up at Alfred and feels his world splintering somehow.
Alfred is scuffed. There's bruises on his cheeks, bleeding scrapes on his knuckles. Matt sees the gun tucked into the band of his brother's pants and he wants to scream but the sounds will not come.
The memory of words pressed to his throat between those needful kisses. Promises in the dark.
/...I'd do anything for you.../
But not this... please not this.
I never wanted this.
They both jerk as the door bursts open.
If only, if only...
It shouldn't have happened. It wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for him.
Matt wishes it could be as simple as apologising and giving the money back. Organized crime is not so forgiving though - not when they've been doublecrossed. Oh Alfred... what have you done...
They have their money, so there is no cursing. There's laughter instead, laughter as they shove Alfred down on the floor. Matt can't move, his muscles lock in place and all he knows is the scream that dies in his throat, the sound of the trains outside drowning out the sick crunch of bone and the wetter sounds of skin breaking. Alfred struggles at first but there are too many, he's too weak from exhaustion and stress and he goes beneath them with only the silent arch of his body in agony.
Alfred dying is like Alfred making love. Just as quiet as that.
It's Matt who screams - gone ignored by them because he's insignificant. He might be invisible for all the attention they pay him. They pull back a little as Matt draws Alfred into his lap. Broken. Broken.
That's splinters of bone beneath his palm, driving into his skin... that frothy mushiness on his fingers... he can't even think of what part of Alfred that was. Is.
Matt feels himself splintering. Matt-and-Alfred, and Alfred is slipping away from him. Going, going... gone between one second and the next and Matt's world descends into red.
He can hear them laughing - at Alfred? At his own pathetic grief? - and he feels an emotion settling into him that he has never known before - never like this. Rage clouds his senses and he screams at them. Threatens.
They find that even funnier, somehow.
He'll kill them. It's all he can think. They've taken his world away and he will kill them and the ones who sent them.. But his lunge is a pathetic thing, like a fish flopping on a dry dock, and one of them casually smashes something against the side of his head. They leave him there, half-atop his brother's cooling corpse, blood running down the side of his head.
He opens his eyes and the world swims around him. Even with his glasses cracked he can see what they bludgeoned him with. It's a photo of them. Of him and Alfred. It's shattered -
Matt croaks, reaching for it. The shards cut into his fingers and red seeps into the cracks and obscures his brother's bright smile.
Red. Everything is red.
There's a red light on the air, brightening the room, flushing the rest of the colour away. A voice he feels vibrating through him. But it's not death, he hears, though he wants it. It's all he wants now except...
"Matthew Williams of Earth."
A red ring, hanging in the air in front of him, bathing him in its light. Awareness of everything else ebbs away.
"You have great rage in your heart."
His hand, fumbling, reaching for some reason he doesn't understand. The ring slips onto his finger. It's hot - the heat surges through him. He turns his head and gasps, coughs, violent shudders wracking through his body. Tastes a hint of blood - his only warning...
Then it comes fast and thick, hunched over and shaking in agony as it feels like he's vomiting up every drop of blood in his body.
Silence. Long silence...
And then he rests his palms against the floor, feeling the blood against his palms - his and Alfred's - pushes.
"You belong to the Red Lantern Corps now."
Matt doesn't feel the grief anymore, though some part of him is aware that it's there. A tiny core of hurt sitting in his chest and easy to ignore beneath the heat flowing through his veins. Anger. The voice is there, in the back of his head, thrumming through him.
He's not helpless anymore. He couldn't save Alfred... he's lost without Alfred.
But there is still one thing he can do for his brother now.
Vengeance. The thought swells in him. His only goal. His only desire.
A kiss, pressed to Alfred's bloody lips. So tender.
Wait for me, Love. We'll be together again soon...
For now there is still business to attend to.
A/N: This happened because I was reading the Green Lantern comics and had an idea for a scene with Matt becoming a Red Lantern. Then I had to add some backstory so it didn't seem abrupt and the backstory kinda... took over a bit.
Anyway... hope everyone liked it.