Note: An AU one-shot inspired from episode 9 season 2 of Bones.





''I hate this part of the job...'' Gilbert complained bitterly as he stood in front of a certain mister Kirkland's door. His brother said nothing. He wanted to whack him for complaining, but he couldn't because that would make him a hypocrite, wouldn't it? He could only silently agree with his older brother. As surprising as it might be for most people, that specific aspect of the job certainly was the hardest, most painful part. Sighing softly, Ludwig knocked three times on the wooden door of the modest, two-storey house in front of which they stood. A short moment later, a middle-aged, sandy-haired man answered. The Beilschmidt brothers were seized on the sight. The man physically looked no older than forty, yet his eyes shined -or, more precisely, barely shined- with both nostalgic and incredibly sad expression, only seen in individuals twice his age. Individuals that had lived a life full of regret and unrepairable mistakes. Ludwig's throat tightened considerably, particularly shaken by the man's aura.

''How may I help you, sirs ?'' The short man said in a shallow voice, a faint british accent detectable. Gilbert spared his younger brother a short glance when the latter didn't reply. He instantly saw the blond's uneasy expression and decided to take it from here. It was this feeling of protectiveness and brotherly affection kicking in again. It had been years since it had been so acute. But ever since the affair they've been working on...

''I am agent Gilbert Beilschmidt and this is my brother Ludwig.'' He said calmly, digging into the inner pocket of his suit and taking out his FBI badge. ''Are you mister Arthur Kirkland ?'' Arthur froze then, Gilbert noted, the man relaxed. His shoulders seemed to have been relieved from the heavy burden he had been carrying for years now. But they weren't just relaxed; they had simply fallen. Not only the burden had been lifted from those shoulders; the little, tiny little bit of hope, too, had been taken away. He knows. Gilbert thought sadly. He still had to say it, though. It was part of the job.

''We found your sons.''


Five years before...

''On the count of three.'' Alfred smiled mischievously, looking at his younger brother -him being the elder by exactly seven minutes. It wasn't much, but hey, he was still the elder! ''You ready ?'' He added, wiggling his eyebrows slightly.

''Yeah.'' Matthew replied, a little smile gracing his lips. He chuckled a little. He couldn't deny his own excitement. It wasn't much, just friendly competition, and it was childish, but it was fun.

It had been like this since as long as they could remember. As one could guess simply by looking at them, Alfred and Matthew were twins. And very special twins at that; they were actually identical mirror twins. It was fitting, really. They were opposite, like someone facing the mirror; they looked exactly the same, but it was still a reflection, not a copy. They were also like mirror images in a more literary sense of thinking. When one faces the mirror, they may see things that the aren't. For Alfred and Matthew, it was not different.

As a perfect case of mirror-image twins, one as like the reflection of the other. Same height, same facial features. Alfred was right-handed, Matthew left-handed, same embarrassing birth mark; on the right butt-cheek for Alfred and on the left for Matthew and their hair whorls were spinning opposite directions. On top of that, Matthew has -not so surprisingly as a mirror twin- situs inversus; where major internal organs are mirrored from their normal positions. This special congenital condition had never been discovered until the twins' twelfth year, when Matthew developed and later operated for appendicitis; the appendix, of course, being on the lower left instead of the lower right side of the body. People with situs inversus were not endangered in the least; they could live perfectly healthy lives. Cases in which diseases had been developed from this condition were extremely rare. Alfred knew it was silly to think so, but somehow, it made Matthew seem more vulnerable to him. He felt as though it was his fault if Matthew was like that, and for that reason, he promised himself he'd always look out for him. It was a promised that Arthur and him had silently agreed to.

Still, when it had been discovered, it had considerably changed the dynamic the two young boys shared. Matthew had always been the less confident, more modest of the two by nature, but he never had never seen himself in lesser light than his brother; they were the same, they shared everything, did everything together, they were equal. Since that discovery, though, and the opening passage through adolescence, Matthew began to question himself. Was he simply a false copy of his brother ? The reflection in the mirror rather than the pair ? The weirder, wrong version of Alfred ? The one people overlook ? He was used to people unable to identify them -hell, even their own father had a hard time with that-, but confusing them, were people just mistaking him for Alfred all the time ?

Alfred held those short years of confusion close to his heart; it had been hard on him to see his beloved brother always question himself and slowly isolating himself more and more into his own world, almost fading into invisibility. Arthur, worried Matthew would become unhealthily introvert, had sent both his sons for therapy. Kind doctor Elizaveta had been a great help; she managed through discussions and games to gradually bring the two brothers back into the complicity they shared. She had told Arthur that the boys had done all the work and that it was mainly thanks to Alfred.

''He's a very good brother.'' She had said, smiling fondly as she looked at the two blond boys not too far away chatting animatedly. She had turned to Arthur. ''Do you know what he told Matthew ?'' Not waiting for an answer, she went on. ''He said 'It doesn't matter what others think, Mattie, because when I look at you, I see you and I'll never mistake you for someone else.'''

That simple statement had been enough to bring Matthew out of his little bubble. They were finally back on equal grounds.

After that, their bond became even stronger and from then on began the two brother's quest. The quest for performance and perfection. Unlike their younger days, it wasn't a competition between the two anymore. It wasn't about Alfred versus Matthew, it was about Alfred and Matthew. They didn't want to stand compared to the other, they wanted to stand out together. They would be the very best at what they did together. Even though, they always were aware of the fact that they were two different people; Matthew even let his hair grow out a little -the closest thing to rebellion he ever did- to make it easier to distinguish the two. Alfred thought it was fine, though, his brother looked good with longer hair.

They continued to follow the same path; same classes, same hobbies, same sports, until it almost became an obsession. And, as the expression would have it, while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Now at the early age of seventeen, the two were now prime university students, double-majoring in chemistry and genetics.

Which finally brought us back to the Student Lounge where Alfred and Matthew were having lunch. They had just gotten back their respective copy of their advanced calculus class and -like after every exam- they would show the other their copy at the same time, expecting the other to have the exact same grade.

''One... two... three !'' Both handed his copy to the other and the two grinned. As expected; the exact same grade. ''You didn't get a hundred.'' Alfred said smugly.

''Neither did you.'' Matthew chuckled, quickly scanning his brother's copy. He frowned. ''... but you didn't do any mistake.'' He looked up to his brother with a questioning gaze. ''I didn't get number ten right... but you got everything right... how's that possible ?'' He asked, looking back and forth from the exam to his brother. Alfred smiled sheepishly.

''Look on the first page...'' Matthew blinked, but did as told. He continued to frown.

''There's no-...''He froze, then looked at his brother, eyes wide. ''You forgot to write your name ?'' He asked loudly. Well, as loud as his voice allowed him to be.

''Hahaha... oopsy.'' He scratched his chin.

''Don't 'oopsy' me ! Come on, Al, how could you do something stupid like that ? You're lucky the teacher likes you and didn't give you a zero !'' He handed the other's copy back.

''Hey, don't take it that way. We got the same grade, didn't we ?'' He grinned.

''That's not- ! Argh, seriously, Al... you never forgot to write your name before, so what happened ?'' Alfred opened his mouth to explain himself but Matthew cut him, finally understanding. ''You... you didn't.'' He stated; it sounded both like an accusation and denial. There was a long silence. Alfred smiled sheepishly again.

''Perhaps I did ?'' He said tentatively.

''You did it on purpose ? Are you retarded ?'' Matthew cried out, arms flailing around. ''You knew I wouldn't get it right so you didn't write your name so that we'd get the same grade ? Seriously ?''

''That's my bro, almost as sharp as me !'' He joked, laughing in triumph. Matthew stared, disbelieving, and slapped his forehead. Hard.

''That was really risky, Al.'' Matthew scolded, sighing. ''I know we promised we'd always try to have the same grades, but I didn't think you'd take it so seriously.'' He added, arching an elegant brow.

''Bah... Mister Honda always takes one point off for every mistake, big or small... I knew it'd turn out that way.'' He winked at his younger brother, who slapped his forehead again.

''You could have simply skip number ten or something... it would have been less risky.'' Matthew mumbled. Alfred snorted, earning a glare from his twin.

''Pff, I've still got my pride, bro. I knew the answer, so I wrote it down. 'Proves I'm more intelligent than you !'' Alfred laughed out loud again. Matthew, though, just stared, completely unimpressed.

''Al... you know that forgetting to write your name makes you look way more stupid than getting a wrong answer would, right ?''


In the underground garage of their University, the two siblings were heading towards their car.

''Hey, Mattie.'' Alfred smirked, grabbing his sibling's shoulder solidly, bringing him closer as they walked along the street. ''Wanna switch places for Braginsky's class ?''

''No way, Al, we're too old for that.'' Matthew said, smiling. He knew his brother hated the teacher and he also knew that ever since kindergarten, when Alfred hated a teacher, he'd play pranks on him with the help of his twin. They pass for the other, they'd rudely correct the teacher when they confused them even he actually got it right and they'd play various pranks and put the blame on the other until the teacher would give up and just let them be (or just punish them both). Matthew had always accepted, he just couldn't say no to his brother. But now perhaps it was enough.

''You're no fun, Mattie.'' Alfred pouted, loosening his grip on his brother's shoulder, but still not letting go. He stopped walking. ''Crap.'' He cursed under his breath. Matthew turned to him, blinking.

''What ?''

''I think I forgot my notebook in class...'' He trailed off, opening his bag to confirm his suspicion.

''You can always study with mine.''

''Nah... It's just upstairs anyways and I'd rather go and fetch than having it found by the janitor...'' Matthew snorted.

''Eh, you got porn in it or something ?'' Matthew teased. Alfred looked at him smugly and, wrapping an arm around his little brother's neck, whispered.

''Maybe I do.'' Matthew blushed, not expecting this as an answer. Alfred burst out laughing.

''Jeez, Mattie, I wouldn't put porn in a chemistry notebook; that's just lame, man.'' He patted the other's shoulder. ''I'll be right back.''

''I'll wait for you in the car.'' Alfred nodded and went back towards the stairs.

Not halfway through the staircase, Alfred stopped. He frowned, suddenly feeling unwell. Something was wrong, he could feel it. Listening to his instincts, he turned around and went back down again. He stopped after three steps. ''What's wrong with me.'' He laughed to himself, turning to go back up again, only for the unease to set back in his guts, stopping him. He looked hesitantly down the stairs. ''Damn it !'' He cursed loudly and went down as fast as he could, skipping every second stair. He sped once on the first floor of the garage and pushed the door open violently, letting the door slam against the wall loudly. Ignoring it, he continued to run. As he turned the corner, he stopped dead at the sight in front of him. Two tall individuals, both dressed in black holding his brother in place as a third one slammed a cloth to Matthew's face, making him lose consciousness.

''Hey ! Stop !'' Alfred cried out. He screamed so loud he felt his throat irritate instantly. He resumed his sprint toward his and his brother's car. His cry had alarmed the attackers; one had ran to a black 4x4, one had taken Matthew and got into the back seat of their car with him while the third man went to the driver's seat. Alfred was let desperation and adrenaline fuel his legs as he ran and, it was certainly a miracle, managed to reach the back door before the men could even close it. Wanking it open again, he punched the stranger in the jaw and took his unconscious twin from him. Unable to hold him solidly, he fell back with his brother on top of him. At this time, the driver had gotten out of the car...


Matthew woke up with a sharp gasp and the only think he was aware of was pure darkness. He stayed frozen in place, breathing in and out in fast, shaky breaths. He blinked his eyes, realizing that he was awake and that the darkness wouldn't go away. ''W-Where...'' He said weakly. He moved his arms around, feeling and trying to figure out his environment with his hands. He quickly recognized it as his car and turned on the light. He panted, blinked, then... ''A-Alfred ?'' He slowly turned his head to the side, looking at the driver's seat, but it was empty. He felt panic rising up inside of him again and turned around. His eyes widened, horrified the the view of the unconscious body of his brother. He crawled to the back seats and grabbed his brother's shoulders and shook them gently, tears gathering up in his eyes. ''Alfred ! Wake up, come on ! A-Alfred !'' His voice broke as tears fell. ''Alfred... wake up !'' His voiced weakened a bit. His shook him a little harder and was relived to see his brother stir awake. Tired blue eyes fluttered open, clouded by confusion. Matthew let his tears fall free and let out a long sigh of relief. Alfred groaned in pain, and rubbed his eyes tiredly. Suddenly, he felt his brother's arms around him, bringing him into a tight, very tight hug. His blurred vision slowly cleared his self as his mind did too.

''Mattie ?'' He asked, not quite understanding what was going on, though still returning the hug. His only answer was his brother's sobs. ''Hey... Mattie, what's going on ?'' He said softly, caressing his brother's back in a reassuring gesture, but he was still only replied with sobs. He was about to ask him again when he actually noticed where they were and the state in which they were. He slowly looked around; nothing could be seen through the windows. He suddenly was aware of a sharp pain on his ribs, soon followed by a rather strong headache. ''Where are we ?'' Matthew tried to pull himself together and released his brother from their embrace. He wiped away the tears and looked at his brother, distressed and confused.

''I don't-I don't know...'' He replied, feeling stupid and useless.

''What happened ? How did we get here ?'' Alfred felt a thousand questions congesting his sore brain. He massaged his temple for a short second, trying to remember what happened.

''I don't know...'' Matthew repeated, feeling his voice failing him again. ''We were in class... and then...'' He felt a headache kick in as well. ''No... class had ended... we were... we were...'' He trailed off.

''We were going to play tennis...'' Alfred added, earning a nod from Matthew, who also seemed to remember. ''And then...'' He couldn't remember anything beyond that.

''Did we have an accident ?'' Matthew asked, panicked. He tried to pushed the door open, but found himself unable to.

''But it doesn't make sense... the airbags didn't burst out and... and I wasn't even in the driver's seat... what the hell...'' He trailed off, stopping himself as he saw Matthew was unable to open the door. He turned to the door beside him, trying to open it as well, but it was impossible. ''What the...'' He pushed the electric button to open the window. Dirt began to fall in; Alfred quickly closed the window. ''Fuck !'' He cursed loudly. ''What's going on !'' He took the dirt in his hand, looking at it. ''... Matt...'' He slowly turned to his brother, who was still trying to open the door, oblivious to what his brother had been doing. Matthew turned to his brother. Following his elder's gaze, he looked down Alfred's hand and what it held. Their gazes met. There was a short silence, heavy with questions to which they both knew the answers.

''We're... buried alive ?'' Matthew said softly, throat tight from the fear. Alfred only stared, heart torn painfully as he looked at his brother. The fatality of the statement and the sheer fear that was present in Matthew's voice was like torture to him. As he saw his little brother's eyes water again, Alfred remembered the promise he had made to himself. He took his brother's cheek safely in his hands and made sure that the younger bland was looking at him.

''Mattie, don't panic, okay ? I'll get us out of here. Don't worry.'' He stated simply, waiting for an answer. Matthew bit his lower lip nervously and nodded hesitantly. Alfred offered him a shaky smile in returned then quickly looked around, relived to find their bags still in the car. He quickly grabbed one and opened it. He took out his cellphone. The batteries had been taken out. ''Fuck !'' He cursed, hitting the seat in front of him in frustration.

''Same for mine...'' Matthew said weakly, showing his own cellphone to his brother. Alfred crawled to the front, ignoring the sharp pain again and looked at the dashboard.

''Fuck, fuck, fuck !'' Alfred screamed again, falling back beside his brother. ''The GPS's gone, which means the police won't find us through satellite.'' The was another long silence.

''Who would do this to us ? And why ?'' Matthew asked, covering his face with shaky hands. Alfred reached out to him and wrapped him into a protective embrace.

''Shhh...'' He kissed his brother's head, then force his brother's gaze to meet his. ''We're more intelligent than whoever sick fucker did this. We'll get out of here.'' He said in a confident, calming voice. ''Just don't give up.'' Matthew nodded, still biting on his lower lip. He took a deep breath, then looked around.

''The car must contain about... fifty... no... about sixty cubic feet of air... there's twenty percent of oxygen in the air... we're two... which means...'' He closed his eyes, placing his hand to his forehead, trying to figure out the equations. ''Fuck, by brain isn't working.''

''Mattie, calm down.'' Alfred said, squeezing his brother's shoulder. ''Take a deep breath...'' He instructed patiently, smiling a little when Matthew did as told. After calming down, Matthew looked through his bag and took out his notebook and a pen, quickly scribbling down a series of equations. He looked down his watch.

''Class ends at four... it's six thirty-five right now... if it took an hour for us to get us here... we've been unconscious for one hour and a half.'' He said aloud, allowing him to concentrate better on his equation and also informing his brother of his theory. ''Considering the average speed at which we breath... the amount of air we breath... we've got about...'' He trailed off, calculating. ''We've got roughly ten hours and a half of oxygen left before we fall unconscious.'' Alfred nodded, then tried to come up with a theory of the actual reason they got here.

''There wasn't a collision or an accident... we lost conscious, we've got memory loss... it can only mean we've been drugged. Our missing GPS, our cellphone... this is too well-organized. It was done by a pro.''

''It's an odd, complicated way to do it, but I think we've simply been kidnapped. We're being held captive and the kidnapper must have asked for a ransom...'' Matthew trailed off.

''That's in the best-case scenario... Let's hope you're right and that it not just some crazy serial killer.'' Alfred stated gloomily as he emptied his bag. Matthew looked down, unable to say anything. ''Let's look at what we've got.'' Alfred suggested. Matthew nodded and began to look for anything they could find.

''We were heading for the sport centre... so at least we've got water.'' Alfred said as he took out a couple of bottles. ''And we've got energy bars and towels.''

''We've got notebooks... books... pens... calculators...'' Matthew emptied his own bag. ''A camera... a lighter...'' He leaned forward , reaching for the dashboard and opened the compartments. ''A first aid kit, a flashlight, napkins, a penknife... I... I think that's it.'' He turned back to his brother, the aforementioned articles in his hands.

''Open the first aid kit.'' Matthew promptly executed the task. ''Good...'' He smiled a little, showing a small bottle of Advil to his brother. ''Ibuprofen.'' He stated, taking a bottle of water and swallowing down a couple of pills. Matthew looked at him worriedly.

''You're hurt ?''

''Nothing serious.''

''Show me.''

''It's okay, Mattie, it's nothing-''

''Show me !'' Matthew repeated, louder this time. Alfred blinked, a little taken aback, but nodded. He pulled up his shirt. Matthew nibbled on his lip again.

''... that's a really nasty bruise you got there...'' Matthew stated, feeling guilty for not checking on his brother for injuries in the first place.

''It'll be okay.'' Alfred smiled, letting go of his shirt. ''What about you, are you hurt ?'' Matthew shook his head. ''Good.'' He handed a bottle of water to him. ''You should drink.'' Matthew looked down at the bottle, not really thirsty, but still took it. There was a short silence as Matthew sipped on his water, mind elsewhere, and Alfred nursed his injury the best he could.

''It's a wonder the electricity still works.'' Matthew muttered to himself. Alfred nodded absentmindedly. Unable to resist to his curiosity, Matthew crawled to the front and opened the radio. ''It works...'' He stated softly again. ''Our cellphones would probably get the signals, then...''

''If they had batteries.'' Alfred corrected. Matthew turned his head to him, smiling.

''I could hotwire them to the horn and send a text message.'' Matthew suggested, suddenly feeling very confident. Alfred grined, nodding.

''A direct current 12 Volt will burn out the circuits in a 4.2 Volt cellphone in a microsecond, though... better jury-rig a resistor.''

''... smart.''

''I know, right ?'' Alfred's grin widened. Matthew chuckled and hugged his brother tightly.

''Thanks, Al.''

''For what ?'' He chuckled, patting his brother's back.

''For staying so calm and so brave. I don't know what I'd do without you.'' Matthew confessed, snuggling into the embrace. Alfred tightened his grip around his brother's waist and kept him close for a short while.

''I'll prepare the resistor and you take care of the horn.'' Alfred instructed. Matthew nodded and went to the driver's seat.

''It'll have to be very short. We'll use seepdial to reach dad... but what should we write ?'' The younger twin asked, messing with the wires. ''We don't know anything helpful about our location.''

''Hmm... car ?'' Alfred suggested.

''Too vague... and our car is buried; if they look for a car, it'll be useless.''

''How about '10h' ? Our time left of oxygen... it's kinda morbid, but...'' Alfred laughed sheepishly.

''Again, too vague. Maybe he'll think it's some appointment or that we sent the message to the wrong person... we want a short message that will make him understand we kneed help so that doesn't delete it and directly contacts the police.'' Matthew explained.

''Yeah, that's true.''

''We could simply write 'sos'.'' Came Matthew's suggestion after a short pause.

''That'd be good.'' Alfred said, finally done with his improvised resistor. Then, a realization hit him. ''What if he doesn't know we're buried alive ? We could send 'buried'. That'd be a good clue; that way, even if the police trace our message, at least they'll know what to do then. It's an odd enough message for dad not to delete it.''

''That's a good idea.'' Matthew turned to him, also done with the wires. He smiled. ''Plus, we've got two cellphones.''

''Alright, let's try !'' Alfred said, plugging the cellphone to the resistor and the resistor to the horn.

''It wont work long, but let's hope it works.'' Matthew said more solemnly. He put his hand on the horn. ''You give me your go when you're ready.''

''Go !'' Matthew instantly pushed on the horn, holding it and making it cry. ''Come on, come on, come on...'' Alfred pressed as he waited for the cellphone to actually open. When that was done, he hurried to the text menu and typed in 'buried'. Before he could finish the message though, the cellphone died; sparks coming out as well as a little bit of smoke. ''Fuck !'' He cursed loudly, hitting on the empty seat in front of him frustratedly. Matthew turned to him, face falling.

''It's okay, we still got my cellphone.''

''Fuck... only two letters left.'' He cursed. ''We should go for your simple 'sos'.'' He sighed.

''Yeah, let's do that. Don't worry, okay ?'' Alfred didn't reply, still incredibly frustrated. Matthew handed him his cellphone and they repeated the operation.

''Jesus...'' Alfred cursed again, damning the cellphones for taking so long to open. He quickly typed in the message and pressed the send button; just then, the cellphone died. He stared down at the device silently.

''Did... did it work ?''

''... I don't know.'' Alfred looked up to his brother uneasily. He hated it when he was unsure of something. He fucking hated it. His twin stayed silent, not knowing what to say. He looked away, a bitter taste in his mouth. He wanted to hope for the best, but it was so damn hard. ''Come here.'' His brother's calm voice brought back his attention. He turned to him, smiling a little when he saw his big brother waiting for him with arms wide open. He crawled on the back seats again and buried himself in his brother's arms again. At least there he felt safe. ''We did all we could. Now what we gotta do is survive for as long as possible.'' Alfred said calmly, stroking his brother's hair. Matthew simply nodded, unable to say anything as his throat felt tight.

They stayed like that for what felt like an eternity to them. The fear seemed to make time slow down and so did the heavy silence between them did. Neither knew what to say to reassure the other. Neither were naive enough to tell the other that everything would be fine, but they certainly wouldn't give up hoping either. Both were thinking 'at least we've got each other', but they didn't need to voice that out. It was factual, it was an evidence, and the warmth their bodies shared as they embraced was enough to make the other understand that truth. The truth that they were still alive right now and that they were together like they promised.

If they had remembered what happened in the garage... for sure Matthew would feel guilty for bringing his brother into this, and fore sure Alfred would be thankful for following his instincts and not leaving his precious brother alone in this hell. But that wasn't the case and it was probably for the best. That way, all they could concentrate on was each other's warmth and nothing else.

As time passed, Alfred felt the need to hold his brother tighter. The pressure and fear was getting to him and all he could cling to was his twin. He thought of all the things they had done and all the things they were supposed to do in the future. He thought of his deep feelings for his twin. On this life and death situation, his affection for his brother seemed to change. It felt more real and deeper. He felt desperate and demanding.

Slowly, Alfred massaged his twin's back then gradually went up to the shoulders and then the neck. Their gazes met and he felt his face heat up and heart beat fast with both excitement and confusion as he stared into bright blue eyes. Eyes that were looking at him with a strange mixture of fear and love. He hesitated for a second, but he realized the fear wasn't caused by him, but by the uncertainty of their survival. The thought reassured him. He knew his brother well and there was no doubt about it; Matthew would never fear him. He always had and always will have the unconditional faith and love for him. And so, just like in the garage, Alfred decided to follow his instincts. His right hand staying on the back of Matthew's neck, the other settled for a soft cheek, the fingers gracing the pale skin as they moved. Alfred swallowed nervously and, without even asking himself if this was right or wrong, leaned in to lay a long and tender kiss upon the other's sweet lips. Reluctantly, Alfred broke the kiss and looked at his brother. Although Matthew definitely seemed surprised by the action, he hadn't protested and his eyes showed no sign of disgust or anger. Only surprise.

''... wha...t ?'' Matthew voiced out, blushing deeply. Alfred chuckled quietly, feeling a little embarrassed; a feeling the usually confident young man was not used to.

''... asphyxia causes mental confusion.'' He offered, smiling sheepishly. Matthew simply looked away, still blushing, but Alfred could see the little smile on the corner of his lips. He threw his arms around Alfred and hid his face in the crook of Alfred's neck, feeling embarrassed as well.

''Still making jokes at a time like this ?'' He chuckled. Alfred tightened his grip and closed his eyes, contemplating the agreeable sensation that the feeling of Matthew's moving lips against his neck provided. How he loved his instinct; his most reliable companion after his brother.

And they were back to their previous silence. This time, though, it felt lighter and their misfortune more bearable.

''I love you, Mattie.'' Alfred said after a while while.

''Me too.'' Matthew answered with a trembling voice. He grabbed his brother's shirt tightly and leaned his head on the other's chest. He sighed softly. He let his eyes wander, until they fell on the camera that had fell to the ground earlier. ''Should we...'' He hesitated. He didn't want to sound like he was giving up, but... ''Should we tell dad too ?'' Alfred blinked then looked down to Matthew.

''How ?'' He simply asked. Matthew broke the embrace and fetch the camera. He showed it to his brother.

''We could leave him a message. If the police doesn't find us in time...'' He trailed off, throat tightening again. Alfred looked away, biting on his lip. A part of him didn't want to, but he knew this was probably their last chance to tell their dad. And if he didn't grasp it, he knew he'd regret it even after his death. And if they did indeed die, then this was probably the best gift they could give their father. He took the camera and turned it on. It was meant to take pictures, but it could make films of decent quality as well.

''What do you want to tell him ?'' He asked his brother, who kept avoiding his gaze.

''I... I don't know if I can do this...'' Matthew said weakly, shoulders trembling.

''You have to... think about dad.'' He took his brother's hand and squeezed it tightly. Matthew nodded and Alfred pressed record, making sure he could capture both his and his brother's face. He swallowed nervously and looked toward Matthew; the latter wasn't looking at the camera. He turned his attention back to the electronic device.

''Dad... we just wanted to tell you that we love you a-and...'' He stopped, swallowing hard again, finding it harder to talk all of a sudden. ''and that we know that you love us too... so live on without regrets... and...'' He looked down, not knowing what to say. Matthew shyly looked up to the camera and hesitated before opening his mouth.

''We'll say hi to mom for you.'' He smiled a little, wanting to appear strong and brave to his father. ''I love you dad.''

Alfred blinked, then smiled fondly at his younger twin before turning to the camera. He let a second or two pass before ending the video. He put the camera away. Matthew broke down in tears and launched himself at his brother again, letting loud sobs coming out. Alfred clung desperately to him, his whole body shaking. He gritted his teeth, trying not to let tears fall down. He couldn't. He kept noise from coming out of his mouth. He had to stay strong. He had to. For both his brother and father.


''How much time do we have left ?'' Alfred asked, arms still securely around his sibling.

''About six hours.''

''Damn...'' Alfred muttered. ''We need more time... we need more oxygen.'' He looked around. ''I know !'' Alfred cried out, startling his brother.

''Wh-what ?'' Matthew asked, blinking.

''The air bags !''

''You're a genius, Al.'' Matthew smiled.

''I know !'' Alfred laughed, grabbing the penknife, and repositioned himself. Grabbing the hem on the back seat solidly, Alfred began to kick on the dashboard as hard as he could until the air bag burst open. ''Fuck yeah !'' Alfred exclaimed triumphantly and did not lose another second before piercing the bag with the knife. He repeated the processed on the driver's wheel. ''It's not much... but at least it's something.'' He smiled to his brother, who nodded in return.

''Yeah...'' He smiled softly. Then, he blinked, eyes lightening up. ''We got a spare tire in the trunk, don't we ?'' Matthew asked.

''Damn, I love my bro.'' Alfred chuckled. He turned around and pulled down on of the seats, easily getting access to the hatchback of the car. He lifted the compartment where the tire was hidden and pierced it as well, letting the air go free. He settled the seat back up and turned to Matthew, smiling still. Matthew looked away shyly, eyes falling to the various objects on the ground.

''I need the camera batteries and the preservative powder from the first aid kit.'' He said calmly, another idea coming to him. Alfred stared, slightly confused and smiled widely. Damn was he proud of his brother.

''Soda, ash and lithium. You're going to make a carbon dioxide scrubber.'' Alfred stated. Matthew nodded.

''I'm gonna make some oxygen.''


''How much time ?''

''Four hours.''

Alfred cursed under his breath. Time was running out. This couldn't go on. He had to do something. Anything. He couldn't let his brother die. Surely... there must be a way to save time !

Alfred bit his lip, trying hard to come up with some kind of plan. He held his brother close, breathing slowly into his brother's soft hair. He closed his eyes for an instant, concentrating hard. When he opened his eyes again, he saw the penknife. He stared at it. Stared and stared.

He let go of his brother, eyes not leaving the object, and took it. He opened it and stared again.

Matthew stared at his brother, confused.

''There's no airbag left, Al. And no spare tire.'' He explained patiently, afraid his brother was slowly starting to brake down. When his brother finally looked at him, Matthew was seized. He breath stopped. His brothers eyes. They were dark and serious. They weren't scary, though. They were just... extra-lucid. He had never seen Alfred looking so determined and sure of himself in his entire life.

''If I kill myself, I'll double your survival time.'' Alfred stated. Matthew gasped.

''What ? Are you crazy ?'' Matthew cried out loud, throat sore and heart mercilessly shattered into pieces.

''I'm perfectly lucid.''

''No, you're not ! You're out of your mind !'' Matthew continued, eyes gathering up again in his eyes. ''Give me the knife.'' He said firmly, extending his hand.


''Give it to me !'' He cried out again, more desperately this time. He gritted his teeth Alfred did not budge and when his expression stayed stoic, Matthew started to panic. He launched himself at him and grabbed the hand that was holding the knife and tried to steel it from him.

''Stop it ! Let me go !'' Alfred ordered, trying to escape from his brother's solid grip.

''No !''

The two began to wrestle, bumping their arms and head everywhere as the space was cramped. Matthew manage to take the upper hand as Alfred fell onto his back. The older twin was quick to act, however, and he rolled over, causing him to fall on top of his brother, who was to the ground, tightly trapped between the seats. It had been a bad and clumsy fall.

''Aarrgh...'' Matthew groaned in pain. Alfred's eyes widened in horror and quickly helped his brother up; penknife forgotten as it fell.

''Mattie ! Oh God, are you alright ?'' Alfred asked, frantic.

''Nng... y-yeah...'' Matthew moaned, holding his right arm tightly to keep the blood from flowing. Alfred quickly grabbed the first aid kit and wanked it open, grabbing the bandages.

''Let me take care of it.'' Alfred said, cursing himself for being so careless. He was supposed to save his brother, not kill him, god damn it ! He leaned closer to his brother, wanting to take a better look, but the other turned, back facing him. Alfred stared. ''Mattie...'' He begged, voice quivering. ''Please...'' He sighed a little in relief when Matthew finally turned to him and let go of his injured arm so that he could clean and bandage it. There was a long silence between them. ''I'm so sorry, Mattie... I didn't mean to hurt you.'' Matthew still wouldn't look at him. ''Talk to me, Mattie... please. I'm so sorry.'' He cupped his brother's cheeks between his hands, meeting with broken, watery eyes. ''I'm so sorry...'' He trailed off again.

''It hurt, Al...''

''I know, I'm-''

''It hurt when you told me you wanted to kill yourself.'' Matthew explained. Alfred stayed silent. He sighed before speaking up again.

''I still want to do it.'' He corrected, voice soft and calm. Matthew squeezed his eyes shot, choking on a sob. Alfred hugged him tightly and stroke his hair, hushing to calm the other down.

''Why ?''

''I want you to live.''

''So do I.'' Matthew said between quiet sobs, clinging to the other's shirt.

''I'm your big brother. I have to protect you to the cost of my life.'' Matthew raised his gaze. He wanted to glare at him, but the tears and the sheer distress he was feeling weakened him. The sadness he was feeling as he was hearing his brother's words overcame the anger.

''That's ridiculous, Al. And I'm not interested in surviving if that means you have to do this to yourself. I want to be with you, Alfred.'' Matthew begged. He felt sick and selfish. Alfred was determined to give his life for him. He was willing to sacrifice himself so that he could live longer. And him ? It had never even crossed his mind. He had just wanted to stay alive with his brother. And if they were meant to die here, he wanted to die with his brother.

''I can't do this to you, Mattie.'' Matthew shook his head desperately, denying every word Alfred was saying.

''No, no, no ! You can't do this to me !'' He cried, tears falling freely. ''You can't leave me alone here. You can't leave me !'' Alfred stared.


''Al ! You promised we'd stay together !'' Matthew added, clinging to anything he had to convince his brother. ''You can't leave me here alone... What if they find us soon ? Before the time's out ? I could never forgive myself. You have to stay with me, Al... please...'' He buried his face in his brother's chest, sobbing loudly. Alfred looked sadly down to his crying brother. He took the younger blond's chin between his fingers and kissed his cheeks tenderly, then the forehead... he wiped away the tears with his thumbs and smiled fondly at him before laying one sweet kiss on the other's moist, trembling lips.

He pushed his brother away gently and quickly grabbed the penknife and brought it up to his neck. Matthew gasped and was about to grab him, but Alfred stopped him with a loud, threatening bark.

''Don't move, or I'll slit my throat.'' Matthew froze in place, staring, helpless and hurt. Alfred let out a shaky sigh. ''Listen carefully, Mattie.'' He started, waiting for the other to respond. Matthew chocked on his sobs again. Closing his lips tightly together, he nodded weakly. ''I'm doing this for dad too... if you can get out of here, at least he'll have you. You'll be there for him, won't you, Mattie ?'' Matthew nodded weakly again, tears trailing down puffy red cheeks. ''Even if they find us before the four hours run out... even if they never find us... to me, it's still worth it. I'd do anything for you, Mattie. I love you so much.''

''I love you too !'' It sounded both protesting and desperate.

''I know.'' Alfred smiled.

''Th-then let me do it !'' His twin begged, but Alfred shook his head, denying the request. He took his brother's hand tightly into his own; that was when Alfred realized his own hands were trembling. He was scared beyond wits. So goddamn scared.

''Close your eyes.''

''Al...'' Matthew begged.

''Close your eyes, Mattie.'' He repeated, keeping his voice calm. Matthew closed his eyes. ''Don't open them.'' He instructed. ''Don't open them until someone finds you, okay ?'' That was a ridiculous request to ask, but he really didn't want Matthew to see him dead. He was such a sweet, fragile, sensitive creature. Al really, truly wanted to protect him as long as possible; he really wanted to protect his precious little brother's innocence and spare him from the horrible sight.

Matthew nodded.

Alfred squeezed his brother's hand tighter.


Back to the present...

''When we found the... them..'' Gilbert corrected himself; he cursed himself mentally for his mistake. He wouldn't forgive himself if he left the word 'corpse' slip from his mouth. ''... they were holding hands and were leaning against each other.'' He continued in a calm voice, feeling his own throat tighten a little. He had been incredibly touched by this affair, especially since they were two brothers. He had also been incredibly impressed by the boys' intelligence when the forensic scientist and other assistants had told him how they had tried to send messages and how they had found -and even created- oxygen. He had told mister Kirkland every detail the doctor had told him. He wanted to show the man that his sons had fought until the very end.

Arthur was staring, seemingly at nothing in particular. His expression was unreadable. He was looking at his sons' belongings that had been found in the car. Then, with slow, careful gestures, he looked through them; opening the notebooks and other textbooks one after another. He trailed his fingers on the cellphones that had tried to contact him; he thought of the messages he never got. His eyes fell on another notebook. He opened it and instantly recognized Matthew's handwriting. It had always been a little clumsier than his older brother's. He turned the pages carefully -as if afraid to damage them- and thought about how it was a waste for two good, young, intelligent men to die so cruelly. On the last page were the equations Matthew had scribbled down in the car. Arthur didn't get half of it, but all that mattered was that simple '10,5 h' at the end.

''We... also found this.'' Ludwig said as he fetched a little envelop from the inner pocket of his black suit. ''Inside is a SD card in which your sons left a message for you.'' He handed the older man the envelop. ''We apologize for looking at it; we wanted to verify if there was some kind if clue inside.'' He quickly added.

Arthur stared down at the envelop, eyes wide. He slowly extended his hand and hesitated before taking it. He was afraid the envelop would disappear under his touch. He rose his gaze to the two young agents.

''Thank you.''


Gilbert sat in the small living room of the apartment he shared with his brother. Ever since he had left mister Kirkland's house a few hours before, he felt as if he had forgotten something. He felt like he should have said something more.

''You alright ?'' Ludwig's voice suddenly brought him back from his musings. He sighed.

''Yeah, yeah... don't worry.''

''I'll take a shower first.'' Ludwig said, turning his back to him, exiting the room.

''Hey.'' Gilbert called to him.

''... yeah ?'' Ludwig turned around as he opened the door to the bathroom. Gilbert stared, not knowing what to say. He had just felt like calling him. As if... to keep him from leaving him.

''... nothing.'' He looked away.

Ludwig rose a suspicious brow then shrugged before entering the bathroom. When he heard the water running, Gilbert sighed. He really wasn't good with sentimental crap. There were just things he couldn't avoid. He and his brother had always been close, but nothing special. They were so different... aside from their jobs and like for beer, they shared nothing in common. Both were not very- or rather, not at all expressive when it came to emotions like love, affection, kindness...

The Kirkland brothers case had really shook Gilbert. He felt like he could never be the same again.

Taking out a small piece of paper from his pocket, Gilbert then took out his cellphone. He dialled the number written on the paper and wondered what the hell he was doing.

''Hello ?'' An accented voice echoed.

''Mister Kirkland. Agent Gilbert Beilschmidt here. Sorry to bother you.''

''Not at all. Can I help you ?'' Gilbert said nothing for a moment and Arthur didn't press on. He just waited patiently.

''What Alfred did for Matthew...'' Gilbert started hesitantly. ''I think he did the right thing.'' There was a long silence.

''I think so too.'' Arthur replied in a calm voice.

''I really admire him. He taught me a lot... I just wanted to tell you that.''

AN: Not exactly the best kind of story for Holidays, eh ? Lol I was really hesitating at one point; I was thinking of letting Matthew live... but I think this ending's better- I just think separating them would have been even more cruel.

I know there aren't much details about what exactly happened to Alfred and Matthew -why they were kidnapped, why they were never found, etc. I didn't want to focus on those things and I like it this way - I like it when there are misteries haha. If you're curious, though, you could watch the episode ! It'll probably help a lot. Or I might write a sequel or something... anyhoo!

I'm really not good with angst and so on... so I really hope I didn't do too much or too little... I'm always afraid of exaggerating or not giving justice to heavy emotions and notions like sadness and sacrifice... so your feedback would be really appreciated !