It's a little scary, honestly, how sweet, deceptively so, that Vincent looks while sleeping.

Gilbert finds himself drawn to the edge of the bed where Vincent is sprawled, limbs easy and relaxed and soft in slumber, his hair a halo of gold streaked in a touch of red here and there, a depth of color amongst the waves that only added to the aura of warmth that his little brother could exude, no matter how fake it may have been (or real it may have been, when the man was lurking at his side).

His brother is beautiful. Gilbert can't deny that – never has, never will, and finds himself often a little awestruck (and envious) with the easy grace that Vincent carries himself with. His brother is nothing like him, and he nothing like his brother, and perhaps that is why they find themselves drawn together, again and again and again and why now, of all times, while the man is resting so peacefully and he should just leave him be, Gil can't help but reach out a hand and touch, thread his fingers through the impossibly soft waves of Vincent's hair and watch him stir with a soft, content sound, as if he knows (and damn it all, Vincent always does know) that it's Gilbert, Nii-san, without even opening his eyes.

Sometimes, Gilbert wishes he could feel the same way.

Simultaneously, he hates the red string of fate that binds them, as brilliant and crimson as his little brother's misfortunate eye. He recalls, even though it is not so vividly, all the times they were on a street corner, down some ally, or underneath an alcove in an attempt to seek shelter from the freezing rain, and how he wishes, all of those times, that he could have left Vincent behind and begun a life anew, suffering and pain free.

But he could never leave his brother, because Vincent is his brother, no matter the hurt that continues to ache between them to this day.

On a day like this, when the New Year rolls through and around, snow falling out beyond his brother's window through shredded curtains and a fire, crackling lowly in the bedroom's fire place, Gilbert realizes that none of this will ever change. It hurts him. It hurts him deeply, to think that he is hurting Vincent so equally much by rejecting him, but what Vincent feels for him is wrong. It doesn't matter if Vincent looks like a bloody angel while he sleeps, reaches out for him even in slumber as he is now, curling delicate fingers about his arm and clinging so desperately to him.

It isn't so difficult to remember that Vincent hurts him, too, on a regular basis. Keeps things from him. Lies to him. Gilbert is far from stupid, even if he isn't sure the what or why behind the things Vincent lies to him about.

Even still, in moments like this, when Vincent sleeps so lovely and softly, clinging onto his arm like a scared child, Gilbert can almost forget. He can almost love Vincent like Vincent wants him to, and can almost understand the need to be by his side, protecting him and caring for him as Vincent undoubtedly wishes he would.

Almost.