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24 July 2006 @ 03:59 pm
[sortasmutfic] "Favored"  
Fiction: Favored
Author: keishiko
Pairing: Elricest
Genre: angst, semi-smut, a poor imitation of fluff ^.^;
Rating: R
Warnings: Armor!Sex (*gasp*). Non-anime-based. And shifting tenses, which are very much open to correction (present tense is a pain! x_x).
Word Count: about 1800.
Summary:


Favored
by Mirune Keishiko




Alphonse will realize, some time later on, that it is Winry’s gift that starts it all tonight: the old faded photograph she says she found when she and Auntie Pinako cleaned the attic, the one where she and Edward are only two years old and he is still a tiny, sleepy-eyed infant, whose tiny dimpled fist Trisha Elric raises to wave at the camera.

For now, as Edward turns out the lights and crawls shirtless into the other bed on this sweltering summer night, the memory of a springtime picnic under the cherry trees makes Alphonse wonder, lends him an audacity he rarely wields against an older brother already so susceptible to unwonted suffering. And when that courage threatens to slip away as slyly as it came, Alphonse chases desperately after it with hasty reason—it is, after all, his fifteenth birthday, and Ed has been even more attentive than usual; indulgent, even, considering that he made hardly any protests when Alphonse coaxed him down to the city pound, and complained only halfheartedly when his little brother unleashed a mewling mass of restive kittens upon him. About his hair, mostly, that it would reek of unwashed cat; and I swear, Al, if you even think of smuggling just one of these home I’ll—!

Indulgence—yes, for Alphonse who seldom asks for anything from a brother who usually gives it before he has to, this is what he hopes for, as he turns on his side to look at Edward from across the room.

Ed in the old photograph is skinny for his age, little more than bright eyes and brighter grin—Alphonse remembers his father once quietly joking to his mother that his son looked like a big blond head on a beanpole, to which Trisha had reacted with mortified amusement. But it seems the years of training and traveling and of gracelessly shoveling formidable amounts of food into his mouth have paid off: Edward, sitting up in bed shaking his hair free of its braid, is breathtaking—proud and powerful and strong and sure, and if he habitually sticks his tongue out when he yawns, it only seems to highlight the wild grace that otherwise enhances his every move.

Still, it takes a while for Alphonse to make up his mind. Ed looks so peaceful already, sprawled bonelessly across and on top of his rumpled sheets, that if Alphonse hadn’t indelibly known that a sleeping Edward is a snoring one, he might have tried to fool himself into saving his question for later. Or, possibly, never.

Through the window between the two narrow beds the moon is full and incandescent; silver light washes the lithe, muscled form like seafoam, and for a moment Alphonse isn’t sure if he is more envious than simply appreciative.

“’Niisan.”

Edward mumbles into the mattress. “Yeah, Al?”

“What did I look like?”

He looks up, then—meeting Alphonse’s gaze for just a moment before he looks away. “‘Do,’ Al. What ‘do’ you look like.”

He’s patient, Alphonse is. Especially with an older brother as volatile as his, one who’s already tensing despite the seemingly lazy spread of his limbs across the sheets—Al, who has been watching Edward since the day he was born, knows the sudden clench, the taut lines of muscle and sinew that give him away.

Poised to strike, poised to flee. Alphonse speaks gently. “What do I look like, ‘Niisan?”

“Um. Well.” An abrupt rustle of bedclothes from across the room. “Why the hell are you asking, anyway? It’s late.”

“I just... want to know.” Perhaps he is not so unlike his brother as others might say: deliberately testing the most delicate of things, daring them to break beneath his weight. “It’s not like you keep a lot of pictures around or anything.”

Ed’s voice is half muffled by his pillow; the other half is muffled by his hair. “You’ve seen ‘em all anyway.”

“I was ten.” Al wonders if even he can pull this off, even on his birthday. “Unlike you, I think I’d have grown in the last five years—”

His mirth, when Edward oh so predictably explodes, is part relief—the humor was a gamble he seems now to have won, and Ed allows himself to be pacified quickly enough. When silence descends again, it’s lighter than it was mere minutes before—although Al begins to resign himself to his original question never finding a response.

Well, so much for indulgence. He had slim chances to begin with anyway, at best, and perhaps it really is better for his brother not to answer. Iron chafes dully against fabric as Alphonse settles into his bed, dangles his too-long legs over the end; soulfire-eyes wink out.

“Your hair was—would be a little darker. Kind of brownish. You’d keep it short, and your bangs would stick up all over the place when you woke up in the morning.”

Al is wide awake again in a moment.

“You looked—you’d look—like Mom. You always did.”

The way you look like Dad, guesses Alphonse, knowing better than to say it out loud. Something feels oddly tight in him, though he doesn’t waste time wondering what that could possibly be. For how could a soul in a hollow suit of armor feel... breathless?

“Your eyes would be... They’re a lot softer than mine. Darker. Nicer. People would like you looking at them—they’d open up to you in minutes, they’d know they could trust you. You wouldn’t even have to really say anything—they’d just come right up to you and start making friends.”

Humbly he thinks that his brother might be laying things on a little thick—his ‘Niisan loves him, but also tends to exaggerate, and Alphonse is a modest boy. But he has the strange feeling that any movement, any sound other than the cicadas, will break the spell, and then Edward’s soft—reverent?—voice would crumble from the summer-moist air like a fevered dream; so Alphonse says nothing, goes on staring up at the ceiling where the spotted shadows from the trees outside sway gently back and forth.

“And you’d have a great smile. When we get your body back, Al, you’ll see what I mean. The girls would be all over you.”

Ed’s chuckle is watery. Al freezes up. He doesn’t even dare turn his head, but the uncertainty clutches at him just the same, ice-cold and uneasy. Should he move? Go to his brother? Pretend he heard nothing?

“We’d still spar, of course, so you wouldn’t get fat or anything. Anyway you never used to eat like I do. You actually chew your food.” This time the hitch in Ed’s laugh is beyond hiding. Alphonse strains to see, without looking like he’s looking—but then Edward abruptly turns over onto his side, hunching beneath the sheets, a morosely curved back all that his little brother can see from his side of the room.

“You’re fifteen now, and you get a lot of exercise, so you’d...”

Alphonse doesn’t need a body to know when someone is speaking around a lump in their throat.

Much to his surprise Edward hardly resists him at all, rolls limply onto his back when Alphonse reaches for him, and gold eyes drift up to meet soul eyes in the darkness.

Alphonse could have caught his breath. From the look on his face, his brother might have been seeing flesh and blood, not a blank iron mask.

“You’d be beautiful, Al,” Ed whispers, good fingers tracing the imagined lines of a delicate cheekbone across the helmet. His cheek is red from the scrape of rough bed linen against tears. “You just wait. You’d be beautiful.”

At first Alphonse can only stare, uncomprehending. His brother lies pale and bare and supple in moonbeams; how can he speak of beauty as though it were alien to him? Soft light catches in the grief that draws Ed’s face, and Alphonse raises a hollow hand to smooth them away—it suits Edward better to smile or laugh, and infinitely more so when he leans into Al’s touch like that, all shuttered eyes and unfurrowed brow and almost curving mouth.

If I could look anything like you, ‘Niisan...

Alphonse doesn’t even realize that he’s spoken aloud until Ed jerks up to stare at him. The stark astonishment in those liquid eyes stirs in the younger brother an answering confusion, and a strange, building anger.

“If I could look anything like you—” Alphonse’s voice is stronger now, clearer—marveling, worshipful, insistent, wanting his brother to see what he sees, what he’s been seeing right in front of him for the past five years.

In both brothers something dim and distant tells them they should be shocked, outraged, when Alphonse follows without even really thinking the silken path that leads him down his brother’s body, and a trembling Edward holds absolutely still beneath his touch; but nothing is said, nothing moves, it seems everything at that moment is holding its breath and waiting. And when Ed vaults half off the bed with a stuttered cry as Alphonse’s fingers slide lower, the younger brother knows only that Edward has never before looked quite so beautiful.

At any other time, perhaps, Ed would fight him—shut down, grumble, plead his shame and guilt for responding so hungrily to the images of a boy he hasn’t seen or touched in years. But today he can refuse his brother nothing; tonight he buckles without another word before Alphonse’s ministrations, hisses encouragingly when his little brother hesitates for fear of hurting him; and when he comes—shuddering body lunging desperately off the bed—the pure, unguarded satisfaction in his voice, illuminating his face, is something Alphonse has rarely seen since they were children.

Alphonse’s fifteenth birthday slips quietly past with Edward sleeping nestled against his brother, as though determined through sheer force of will to find comfort despite chill, unyielding metal. Ed snores, his long hair tumbling down over his face and fluttering with every breath. As the hours inch on toward sunrise Alphonse doubts that he will ever weary of this sight of crushed golden strands and delicately furled body.

It will be enough, he thinks with a ghost of a smile, to touch him, to be touched by him, to warm him, sate him; to bring him joy like this, and cradle him in living hands that will know sweat and strain and slippery need.

He’s looking forward to it. He raises his head to look out the window, past the nightstand with the shadowed lamp and the photograph in its shiny frame, and waits for the sky to grow light.


owari


...I hope you enjoyed... I was desperate to get something halfway decent written in this unexpected long holiday we suddenly have in my neck of the woods... Unfortunately I think I really did only make it to halfway decent. T.T Still, I hope this was somehow acceptable.

(If I get enough feedback *koff* and free time someday (sigh... darned school!), I'd love to get back to this and whip it into better shape. ^.^;)

(cross-posted to a couple other comms)
 
 
Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: Ooshima Michiru - FMA OST 3: "Tsuioku"
 
 
 
Mookimo0ki on July 24th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Wow...
That is really, really sweet...
I swear, you almost reduced me to tears..
I would love to read more from you..^^
keishiko on July 25th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
^.^ i'm glad you enjoyed it.
all_who_i_amall_who_i_am on July 24th, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
OMG! This is very beautiful and also very well written. Very delicate, I'd say. Adding this to my memories - hope you don't mind.
keishiko on July 25th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
of course i don't mind! it's an honor! =^.^=
Megan: [sasuke] prodigyinutsuki on July 24th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
This is an absolutely stunning piece of work. I applaud the raw emotion that you've managed to capture in so few words, and I'd be estatic if you continued this~

Kudos to you for being absolutely brilliant. <3
keishiko on July 25th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC)
*blushes* i'm just happy you enjoyed it!
Nauta Pharetra: EdandAlpharetra on July 24th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
Awwww...you really did reduce me to tears!
Very beautiful, sweet, and so very sad.
keishiko on July 25th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC)
eek... sorry about that... *offers tissues*
l_p_e_rsonl_p_e_rson on July 24th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the read. Happy to read more.
keishiko on July 25th, 2006 11:46 am (UTC)
i live to serve. *bows*
Cats on Mars: happy dance2nd_ascention on July 24th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
you know I am impressed. I have never really read fic like this before with the ed x al pairing...mostly for fear of what I might find hahaha! But I very much enjoyed this. It was lovely and well written. Bravo!
keishiko on July 25th, 2006 11:46 am (UTC)
ahh, thank you very much! ^__^ and your icon is too funny! ^_^