Rating: PG-13 for this chapter. NC-17 overall
Want an Xmas card from me? Reply to this post.
29109 / 50000 words. 58% done!
Holy crap, I don't think I've put this much out in one day in a looooooonnnnggggg time. Eventually, they will stop being dumb and just get naked already. In the meantime, there is reluctant snuggling and stuff. :D
Ed opened his eyes, startled to find nothing in his field of vision. The world was cast in a dull yellow sheen, entirely empty before his gaze. Still, his chest tightened, recognizing this for what it was, though there was no familiar gate in front of him.
And so you return, yet again?
Why was he even here? There was a reason, had to be. He was certain he hadn’t come to confront the gate on a whim. Whatever it was hung just out of reach, close enough to taste, though he could not quite grasp it.
What, pray tell, do you think you might offer this time? What is worth the cost of going home to your brother?
Al… That was why he was here. He fought for coherence, made himself turn around to face the gaping maw of the open gate. A thousand eyes stared back at him, waiting for one slip up, one false step that would send him careening into their clutches.
“What to you want?” he growled, challenging the gate, because it was the only option left to him.
You have nothing to offer. Would you sacrifice all you have left? There will be nothing remaining when you reach the place from whence you came. There will be no trace of what you were to even show your brother that you tried to come home. You will simply cease to be, a sacrifice for a lost cause. Step away while I’m still willing to let you.
The words were silent, thunderous in the back of his mind though he never actually heard them. It urged him to give up, offered him a truce if he would just walk away. He could not, though, not when Al needed him.
Ed didn’t remember stepping forward, but he was surrounded, the darkness stifling, writhing all around him. Fingers wrapped about his limbs, hold him still, pulling in all directions. It felt like being shredded to pieces, though his body looked to be intact. Searing pain rushed through him, steadily rising until he couldn’t stand another moment.
“Please, no more,” he begged, asking for mercy from beings with none to give. They did not let up, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he swore he could hear someone else, that he wasn’t alone in his. He couldn’t make out the words, no matter how desperately he tried. Then, suddenly, there was warmth against his back, chasing away the cold, clammy fingers of the beings that inhabited the gate.
He tried desperately to focus on that, that one ray of light in the darkness around him. If he could just concentrate on the contact that didn’t hurt, maybe he’d get through this.
The gate was having done of it, and lashed out again, full force. Ed screamed in agony, writhing in the emptiness, and felt as if his very mind were being torn asunder. He was shattering to pieces, alone again and it hurt so much.
Something ripped across his back, and he could feel the blood flow. It was enough to jar him from his nightmare, left him blinking in the dark, groaning in pain and trying to make out his surroundings. He was back in the room Edward had made up for him, and there was his double, sitting on the bed beside him. Wait… why was Edward here?
“Fuck, I’m sorry,” his alter mumbled. He looked then, watching in sleepy, morbid fascination as blood that seemed to be his own dripped onto the blankets. He shook his head, trying to clear the sleep from his mind, finally realizing that he was actually injured and hadn’t just imagined it.
“What the hell just happened?” he demanded, groaning in pain when he tried to move.
“You…were having a nightmare and you would have woken up Al, so, uh, I was trying to help. I forgot about the spike on my automail,” Edward replied softly, as if the dark and his guilty conscience made him afraid to speak any louder.
“How bad is it?” Ed asked, afraid to acknowledge anything else about what Edward had said. He tried to reach back and feel for himself, but the effort left him hissing in pain.
“I can’t tell. I’m gonna turn on a light,” Edward warned. Ed shut his eyes against the brightness that assaulted him, but it still hurt. He hardly noticed Edward returning until there were fingers pressing gingerly to his back.
“I don’t know, maybe we should take you to get it stitched up. It’s a clean cut but it looks like I got you pretty good,” Edward mumbled, pressing a stray sheet to the wound trying to stop the bleeding.
“What? No! I hate needles and hospitals and stuff! I mean, if it’s gotta be sewn up, can’t you do it or something?” Ed squawked, only the pain across his lower back keeping him from waving his arms to try and get his point across.
“I’m not doing that! I hate needles too, you dumbass,” Edward growled.
“Here, hold this,” he ordered, grabbing Ed’s hand and pulling it back to press against the sheet on his back. It hurt, but it was better than bleeding all over the place, he supposed.
“Where are you going?” Ed asked, watching Edward stalk out of the room, but his double didn’t answer. After a moment, he returned with towels and a bowl of water.
“Lay down,” he said, looking vaguely uncomfortable. Ed did as he was told, nearly jumping when Edward returned, plopping down neatly on top of him, knees pressed into the mattress along each of his hips. Ed growled in pain as the sheet was eased away, pulling slightly at the wound.
“Sorry,” Edward murmured, sighing as he pulled the sheet the rest of the way free. Ed could feel the blood still running down his side until his double wiped it away with a warm, damp cloth. Something soft was pressed against the gash, but he didn’t really get the chance to think on it as warm fingers slid a bit jerkily up and down his back.
“What’re you doing?” Ed asked. He had to admit, it felt nice in spite of his injury, and part of him really wanted Edward to keep doing it. On the other hand, he felt almost like he was leading himself on by wishing for it to continue.
“I need you to relax,” Edward offered in reply, his words sounding a little strangled. Ed wanted to ask why, but decided it was probably best to just leave things be. He settled against the pillows with a heavy sigh, trying to forget that the weight on top of him was Edward.
A human hand petted, up and down his back, across his shoulders. Edward wasn’t really massaging, just offering some sort of contact. It did the trick, though, and Ed found himself lulled half back to sleep before he even realized what was happening.
It didn’t occur to him to ask what Edward was doing when he stopped, pulling both his hands away. There was a soft clap of flesh against metal and mismatched hands pressed to his back, in the general vicinity of the gash. There was a blinding flash of light and then Edward was slumped over him, a heavy weight against his back.
Ed wriggled free, shoving Edward off of him and nearly panicking in light of what his double had confided in him. Edward was not dead, though, merely worn out, his eyes blinking blearily up at Ed.
“Are you okay?” Ed asked, looking his double over for any sign of injury, though he knew there would be none.
“Fine. Tired ‘s all,” Edward slurred in response.
“What’d you do that for?” Ed demanded once he’d established Edward wasn’t in any immediate danger.
“Didn’t mean to hurt you. Fixing my mistake, I guess,” Edward mumbled, already half asleep.
“Idiot,” Ed growled, getting up to look in the mirror anyway. The wound was all but gone, a faint line where it had been. He turned his head to look back at Edward, who seemed to have happily usurped his bed, messy sheets and all.
“I’ll go…sleep on the couch,” he mumbled, reaching for the light. Edward opened one eye, his lips twisting into something indecipherable. When he finally answered, he spoke as if it were physically painful for him.
“Come here,” Edward whispered, closing his eyes again without really looking to see if Ed had been listening.
Ed considered it for a moment, the potential that this would lead to him doing something stupid. All in all, though, it’d been a horrible, strange night, and he figured he could reward himself with this at least. He shut out the light, padding lightly back to the bed.
Edward said nothing when he kicked the bloody sheet away, reaching to pull the still clean comforter up around their shoulders. He didn’t comment when Edward’s arm coiled around him after a while, his double’s face buried against his shoulder. After all, they could just sort it out in the morning.
Ed opened his eyes, tilting his head to work the stiffness from his neck. He nearly jumped when his vision was clouded with…things that were neither his pillow nor the wall he was facing. Golden hair that wasn’t his drifted across his cheek, and after a moment, the bronzed blurry thing in front of him registered after a moment as Edward’s chest, ebbing away into the dull steel of his automail port.
Ed panicked at first, trying to remember how he’d ended up here, and slowly it came back. He tried to squirm from Edward’s grasp, but only managed to work his way upward, so that their noses were very nearly touching, before his double’s arm tightened, tugging them closer together.
He had to admit, it was an oddly comforting thing, to wake up next to someone else. It didn’t disturb him as much as he thought it should that it was Edward he was looking at. His double looked rather peaceful, his face half burrowed into the pillowed, lips parted faintly.
There, that was the whole reason Ed had nearly gone to sleep on the couch anyway. It was hard to look at Edward’s lips, inches from his own, and not want to close the distance, to find out, just once, what it was like. He fought the urge for a while, but didn’t want to move, either, basking in this one little thing he’d been allowed for as long as he could.
He knew he should just get up, before the temptation got to be too much. The longer he stayed like this, the more it hurt that it was no more than an illusion. After all, Edward wouldn’t even be here except he’d been too tired to move. Ed tried to forget what had brought his double into his room to begin with. It meant nothing. Edward just hadn’t wanted him to wake Al. There was nothing more to it.
Edward’s lips moved slightly, murmuring soft, not quite words in his sleep. He was close, so very close, and finally, Ed couldn’t resist. He leaned forward, closing what was left of the distance between them.
The press of his lips to Edward’s was so fleeting, it hardly qualified as a kiss. Still, he barely managed to keep from reaching up and pressing fingers to his own mouth. Edward seemed to genuinely not noticed, slumbering onward, oblivious to what Ed had done. Ed jerked back slightly, relaxing only when he heard a soft snore from his counterpart.
Edward squirmed beneath the covers, inadvertently pressing closer to his double. Ed swallowed hard, but it was impossible to ignore the warmth of Edward’s chest and hips pressed flush against his. Ed squeezed his eyes shut, silently pleading for his body not to respond.
“How’s your back,” Edward muttered sleepily, seemingly oblivious to the way they were touching.
“F…fine,” Ed answered, scooting out from under Edward’s arm now that his double was awake and didn’t have a death grip on him. His movement seemed to draw Edward’s attention, and his alter flushed slightly, sitting up once they were no longer touching.
“Sorry about last night,” Edward muttered, “I was just... I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“It’s okay. I mean, you were trying to help.” Ed shrugged, reluctantly dislodging himself from the covers. Whatever spell had fallen over them before, it was shattered now that they were talking. He grabbed his clothing without another word, excusing himself in favor of a shower. When he returned, Edward was already gone.