Disclaimer: None of the characters/story line belongs to me.

He looked outwardly blank as I presented myself as his bother in law, but something conflicted lurked beneath his expression.

The news didn't look like it had pleased him, and he didn't pretend otherwise. It hurt; the rejection was expressed with his usual honesty, only making me want him more deeply, but I kept both my love and pain out of my face, smiling at him pleasantly. It was essential that I was pleasant, that we established a good relationship; it was the only thing that mattered.

I'd given up on trying to fight with my curse a long time ago, my love for him, another man.


But he seemed to sense that there was something wrong about me, avoiding my eyes at work, and leaving when I went to his place, no matter how frequently.

Perhaps he could tell that when I looked at him I was imagining him pressed against me, naked and shivering. It was fantasy that haunted me relentlessly, despite my knowledge that it would never be realized.

To be close to him as a brother would have to be enough for me, at least that's what I tried to convince myself.

I thought of the future, the image of us laughing together, smoking at family gatherings as we grew older, and as he grew in to a man. Then someday a wife would appear beside him, and the children she bore him.

I would hate her. Hate her more than anything in the world, and she would be insensible of it, as I smiled at her on the surface.

At the very least I could hope that he would make an arranged marriage, and that it would be loveless.

Just like my marriage.

He could belong to her officially, if she didn't have his heart.

The depths of my own selfishness no longer even surprised me.


Sometimes at work I'd see him watching me, when he thought I wasn't looking. I wondered if he could remember me from that night in the rain, the night he'd first come into my life and touched my heart.

It was the first time I'd fallen in love, and it had shocked me to my core, shredded every value I'd had.

I'd always been a cold man.

When his father offered me his daughter in marriage I'd almost laughed out loud, it was so ridiculous. He would probably strike me if I told him that I'd prefer his other child. Even so I'd accepted, knowing full well what I was subjecting her to. So long as it could bring me closer to him, I didn't care.

If he knew what I was like he would truly hate me.

That he already seemed to dislike me was bitter enough, I had no idea how it would feel if that turned to disgust, and I had no intention of ever finding out. Nothing could be worth that.


Despite this my composed mask began to crack. At work one day I found myself suddenly begging him not to hate me outright. He looked shocked, just how I felt, at my lack of control. I received no direct answer, but he offered me something better, I little piece of himself, by telling me why he drew. It was in order to make things his own, something new for me to learn about the one I loved.

I was glad to know he had a possessive streak too.

It wrenched at my weakened self control, and I gave him back the art book he'd dropped at my feet all those years ago in the rain. I searched his face as he took it, wondering if the memory could establish some connection between us.

Whether it had affected him at all.

The shock on his face masked everything else.


The next day he didn't show up to tour the chapel with us for my wedding on the following day. And in a last panicked act before my fate was sealed, I risked his father's disapproval by asking to stay behind. He didn't seem suspicious though, only hammering in how unnatural my love was, to the point that it was inconceivable to a normal man. I could feel his sister staring after me as I left, and was shocked by how guilty it made me feel.

It was a relief that I was still capable of that.

He was sleeping in his room, a frown on his face, looking truly beautiful.

I actually trembled resisting the urge to kiss his full lips, and uncover more of his smooth white skin.

The strength of my own craving made me feel truly dangerous. His innocence only emphasizing my perversity.

I forced my eyes away from him and they found out his sketch book. I snatched it up greedily, pouring over the familiar drawings before flipping open the last page in trepidation.

There was nothing there, and it shocked me, feeling intrinsically wrong that after all these years the book should never be finished. It was still in the front of my mind when he started awake, and before I could even begin to defuse his justified panic at finding me in the room I was asking him about it.

He'd ripped it out. That wounded me, clashing with my preconceptions about him. Then the truth spilt out of him, in a guilty trickle, and my hand had lurched for his bin before my mind had even fully caught up.

It was a miracle my figures remained steady as I held open the sketch of what he wanted most. Staring at my own captured features my head span. It felt like there'd been some crucial mistake. Was I really allowed to be so happy?

Then suddenly, finally, he was in my arms, as I'd never thought he could be.

I pulled him against me, so much warmer than I'd imagined, so much more real.

To hear his voice, and feel his trembling fingers, it was the sweetest pleasure.

His eyes as they met mine were stripped bare, the dismissal I'd always found in them actually a mask, and in reality, they burned.