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For the Love of My Brother


Part Four

Previously in the past…

By now, just four years after meeting William, he was my brother in every way. We could talk about almost anything, our parents, troubles at school, even our personal grooming habits, but this subject fit into that little category of almost. So I left him a note on the cover of one of the videos I liked best, that said, “More of this, please.”

I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it wasn’t the videos I wanted.

It was something much, much better.

After the note, a part of me felt embarrassed, like I shouldn’t have said anything and wished I could take it back. The other part was worried he didn’t see it and I spent an hour looking under our desk to see if it had fallen onto the floor.

Then Will suddenly became mysteriously busy, and would be gone almost all night, only coming home after I had already fallen asleep. I was sure it had to do with my note but he never said anything about it. Other than never being home and not having any time to spend with me, nothing really changed.

Except, that was everything to me! My whole world changed. But to Will it seemed to be nothing. Just business as usual. And then, there was Friday.

Friday was the day we always set aside to get together and read over the video store’s weekly newsletter. Then we’d spend hours at the store picking out a week’s worth of movies. So I knew something was really wrong when he didn’t bother to show up.

Instead I ended up sitting in our darkening living room for hours and watched dejectedly as my parents came home on a high from whatever was the new thing that week. They didn’t even know I was there, if my dad’s hand up my mom’s skirt was any indication. Or maybe they did and just didn’t care. With my parents either was possible. Thankfully, they collapsed through the door to their bedroom before I had to resort to fake gagging noises, as a teen of my age is supposed to do in those situations.

Too bad for me, I didn’t feel like a real teen. I was just a big faker, like Will. Up until then our secret was something we shared. But for the first time since finding him, I felt alone.

I waited up for Will until the sky started to brighten and then I finally gave up. I tired to tell myself that it wasn’t a big deal. That he must have forgotten because he was so much busier these days, with prepping for the SATs and college, trying to write essays to impress admission boards. But I knew I was lying to myself. Especially since he did all that stuff from home. If he was out of the house, then he was spending his time in ways not academic in nature. When he eventually did get home, the sun was streaking through the crack in the curtains and I was just too tired to argue about it.

Later that week, he came home early enough to make dinner for me. It was the first time we really had a chance to talk. Except that every time I tried cautiously to bring it up, he avoided me. He’d either burrow into the fridge, claiming to look for something that he never found or he’d bang the pots around so that if I wanted him to hear me, I’d have to shout above the noise. Something he knew I wouldn’t do. With each attempt I made, he became more agitated and angry.

Finally done cooking, he dropped the plate of spaghetti in front of me, making the noodles flop over the sides, and growled out, “Here.”

The crack of the plate against the counter made me jump, the surge of adrenaline making me bold, “Come on, Will! Is the bug that crawled up your butt planning on a permanent residence? ‘Cause gotta say, not liking it.”

He met my eyes for the first time that week and his gaze wasn’t filled with the usual pride or love but with cold, frigid emptiness. “What!” he snapped.

I flinched and shrank away from him, hitting my back sharply on the counter. Even though he had never hurt me, I couldn’t stop the fear from creeping in.

He cringed and reached for me but at the last second pulled back, his head dropping as he rubbed the back of his neck and mumbled, “It’s nothing.”

I wanted to say, ‘What’s wrong? Talk to me. Tell me what’s going on. Don’t hate me-I love you-I need you-I take it all back! Watch whatever you want, just don’t ignore me, please!’

But none of that stuff came out. Every attempt I made at the truth died, wedged in my throat. The silence weighed heavily on us. He stood there, hands in his pockets, and swayed on his feet as shifted his weight, looking at anything else but me. He wasn’t angry or accusing, just waiting. If he needed space, I was going to give it to him and hope that he wouldn’t abandon me.

It broke my heart but I turned around, sat at the counter, and with a shaking hand picked up my fork. Even though my hunger was long gone, I shoved the food into my mouth, hoping he’d leave while I was still holding up. I bowed my head low over my plate, in an imitation of not wanting to get the sauce down the front of my shirt, and tried to swallow around the burning lump in my throat. The air around me shifted as Will padded closer to me, the closest he’d been in the last week. I did my best to hide my face, twisting it to the side, and shut my eyes, not wanting to see the faux marble countertop swirl into a blurry sea in front of me.

“Xander, it’s too much. I c-can’t-” his voice cracked then died under a strangled sob, but before I could turn around, he had run from the house, slamming the door behind him.

I managed to get the noodles down my throat before I dropped the fork and gripped the sides of the counter as the sobs took me over. I figured he’d be gone all night. But since I wasn’t sure, I tried to stifle my crying and quickly ate as much of the dinner as I could. The thought that it was possible he’d never cook for me again spurred me on. I wanted to savor this last meal but I was too upset and was just lucky enough to be able to taste it at all. Then I crawled into bed and cried silently into my pillow, not caring that my face would be red and swollen with lying on the wet material all night.

The next afternoon, I came home and everything was gone. The movies, the magazines…even the Kleenex by the bed! Was he insane?! I used those for other things besides…that. I had to blow my nose too. What a drama queen!

But after my initial shock, reality set in, and my heart sank. I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. I knew then that he’d seen my note and didn’t like it. He must be just as embarrassed about this as I was. By bringing it up, I had shut the whole thing down.

I threw my books onto the bed and paced around the room. Fear clawed at my insides. Stupid! I was so stupid! What had I done? I ruined everything! Would he stop talking to me? What did he think of me?

I worked myself over, calling myself every bad name in the book, until I was almost to the point of tears. Finally exhausted, I fell back onto my bed and hung my head into my hands. When I opened my eyes I saw the edge of something shiny stuffed in between my mattress and the frame. As I pulled it out, I realized it was a crisp new glossy magazine. The cover and title made it clear exactly what kind of magazine it was.

Inside the front cover a Post-It was attached and it read, “Pick a page.” My body took off at full speed before my brain had a chance to say, ‘Hey, wait a sec’. I couldn’t catch my breath and started to sweat and pant. My heartbeat sped up to a rapid-fire pace. I was getting hard at just the thought that he would help me somehow.

I looked around the room, making sure I wasn’t being watched, and then clutching the magazine to my chest ran into the bathroom, slamming the door closed behind me. I was wound so tight, my heart racing, the hair at the back of neck standing on end; every nerve ending was at red alert and all because of a little note in a simple magazine. But it meant so much. He’d seen my note and wanted to help but instead of just hit-and-miss guessing, he was asking me what I wanted most. It was more than I hoped for.

I flipped through the magazine furiously, not even quite sure what I was looking for. Aside from the odd article about sex toy safety and care, and a large section of personal ads, page after page contained different bondage pictures, all with men, either nude or wearing special costumes or harnesses. Some pages had one big image while other pages used several smaller images. Usually these images had a recurring theme to create a scene. There were several pictures with men on their knees, faces in masks, being lead around on chains. Others had men tied to objects. These images were nice, but not what I was ultimately interested in.

I wanted contact, lots of it.

I landed on a full-page image. A man, naked, sprawled over the lap of another, hands bound together above his head, hips thrust forward in between the legs of the other, with his ass a bright, vivid, bruised red. The other man had one hand in the bound man’s hair, tugging his head back and the other hand rubbing between his ass checks, grasping for his balls.

This was it! I had struck gold. Nothing made me hotter than this.

I wiggled against the lid of the toilet and realized there was no way I was going to be able to leave without relieving the tension. I creased the page open and set it carefully on the counter, then quickly undid my zipper, and pulled out my swollen, dripping erection. With my eyes riveted on the image of that red ass, I quickly tugged at myself, rocking my hips roughly, imaging my bottom to be the same color, loving the denim pull and scratch against my skin. A quick flash in my mind of my brother bringing himself off, hips thrust up, head bowed back, mouth open slightly, tongue licking his lips, and I was done.

Ignoring the pang of shame over that last moment, I cleaned up the best I could and placed the note on that page. Then decided to earmark it, just in case. I hesitated but finally closed the magazine, walked out into our bedroom, and set it under his pillow, hoping he’d understand.

Nothing happened for several days. I was slowly going insane waiting for him to tell me what it was I had picked out. A movie, a magazine…what did making me pick a page mean? He still wasn’t talking to me, wasn’t masturbating, at least not at home, and we weren’t hanging out together. What I thought was a breakthrough was just more torture. I wanted to pound on him, I was so frustrated! Every time I’d try to bring it up, after a lot of talking myself into it, he’d just say wait…like I knew what we were waiting for!? Then he’d rush off, never saying where he going or when he’d be back. It didn’t make any sense. Why not just bring home the movie I wanted? Or pop in an old one, at this point I didn’t care anymore.

Finally the night came when, at dinner, our parents said they were going away for a week. That was nothing new but I looked across the table and my brother had this huge smirk on his face. Instantly I realized what he had been waiting for. I couldn’t figure out why, but he wanted them gone. Maybe he had something big planned. Would we watch it on the big screen television in the living room with the surround sound, blankets sprawled out over the living room floor? Oh, that would be nice. I got excited just thinking about it and stiffly ate the rest of my dinner trying to ignore the devious looks my brother was sending me. If I caught sight of him, it only prolonged the time it would take for me to leave the table.

The next afternoon, I came home from school and heard what I thought were sounds of a new movie coming from our bedroom. I was thrilled! Finally, he’d come through. I ran into the room and froze.

It wasn’t a movie. Instead it was my brother and one of his favorite ‘friends,’ Liam. Liam was a grade A asshole, who thought he was better than everyone else and that the world owed him something. Unfortunately, the student body agreed and he won every award, every popularity contest, and every girl’s heart. I’d always thought he was just a jerk.

They were re-enacting the page from the magazine perfectly. Will was tugging on Liam’s hair, pulling his head back, and furiously slapping his ass. Liam wiggled back and squealed with each blow, then thrust forward into my brother’s spread thighs. When Will saw me, he brought his hand in between Liam’s cheeks and started roughly squeezing his balls, thumb stabbing up into his hole as Liam pushed back and moaned.

I was incensed. I’d never been angrier at my brother than at that moment. This was supposed to be mine and he was using it to please that creep? In my own bedroom! When they’d been together in the past it bothered me but now, after what we did together, the hurt went much deeper. How dare he bring him here! I’d never felt such white-hot rage before. It took over me, boiling my blood, tunneling my vision to a dark red pinpoint.

I lashed out, wildly throwing my backpack at them. Will’s hand flew up, away from Liam’s ass, to bat it away and on impact, one of the pockets burst open, spewing papers around the room.

“Hey!” Will yelled, “What the…I thought-” then he snapped his mouth shut, glared down at Liam squirming in his lap and then back up at me. He brutally shoved Liam off of him and stood up, erect penis bobbing.

The vision of my brother hard, commanding, in control, seared into my mind as I ran from the room, fear and shame swamping my brief excitement. I always did my best to stay out of arguments with my brother and now I’d been violent! What was wrong with me?!

I ran to our parents’ room and locked myself in. Squatting by the door, I wanted to get my body under control, but it was convulsing uncontrollably with rage and fear. Holding onto the doorknob with one shaking hand and covering my mouth with the other, I tried to stifle my harsh panting. I wanted to hear if they were going to come after me.

I heard stomping going down the hallway and then bare feet skidding across the tile in the front foyer leading to our kitchen. Then there was a squeak as our parents’ liquor cabinet was opened, and ice being thrown hastily into a glass, and then the splash and pop as warm alcohol was poured over the top. Only a moment of blessed silence passed before there was more trampling down the hallway toward the kitchen. Relief washed through me as I realized they were more interested in what was happening between them than me.

Then Liam bellowed, “I wasn’t finished!”

Will was strong, he never backed down from a fight but he wasn’t the best fighter, so he never started them either. I knew he could stand up to Liam but his voice was shrill as he yelled, “That’s just your tough luck. I am. So get out!”

“You fucking cock-tease!”

I jumped as I heard fist meet flesh with a whap. Then everything happened so fast. First there was glass shattering and a sharp oomph right before a guttural roar, then they both grunted as they crashed to the floor, followed quickly by the sounds of squeaking shoes, clothes ripping and cries of pain. I never had any doubt that my brother would win. He was tough. No one beat him.

There was a startled yelp and then silence, followed by a disbelieving, “Oh, god, oh, god.” A single set of feet scurried around the room for a second, then there was the jiggling sound of keys, and finally the front door slammed shut.

Then silence fell.

I was terrified. What if he never forgave me? Just because his friends stopped coming over didn’t mean they never would again. Why did I assume they never would? Why was I so mad at something I knew he’d done before? Was I jealous? No, I couldn’t be. He was my brother, I didn’t feel that way. I didn’t. I knew it was wrong. I was sure of it. But I was…I was jealous! He was mine. I hated his friends and never wanted him to see them again.

He was mine!

My mind was going crazy trying to understand what I did and why. Then my legs started to cramp and glancing at the clock I realized I’d been crouched there for a half an hour. Why hadn’t my brother come to yell at me, or drag me out and call me stupid for ruining his plans? I should have trusted him. I should have just let him tell me what to do. Where was he?

My curiosity won out over my fear. I cracked open the door and peered down the hall. From just the little crack, I could see my brother’s bare feet lying on the tile in the foyer surrounded by glass. A jagged cut ran down one foot, blood pooling at the base. He was so still, and I couldn’t understand why he’d be lying on the cold tile instead of his bed.

My stomach curled in on itself as I realized that maybe my brother was hurt. I couldn’t fathom it, but just…maybe.

My entire body shook, my teeth chattering together as I fought away the nausea. I crawled down the hallway, on my hands and knees, and onto the tile. The closer I got, the more terror I felt. I ignored the pain as glass cut into my palms and knees. I was only focused on getting to my brother.

I struggled up to him, sobs now taking over my body. I could barely see through the tears clouding my vision. I looked down at him and saw blood and alcohol splattered on his face and neck. Blood was pooling into his left eye from a deep gash through his eyebrow and also coming from his nose, which slid around his lips before traveling down his cheek to splash onto the tile. I collapsed over him, choking on my own tears as I tried to wake him up, pulling at his clothes, spreading our blood together over his face and hair, cooing to him and petting him.

I’d never been more scared. He was everything to me and now he was hurt. It was all my fault. All of it. I never should have been born. What I wanted had hurt my brother. I’m dirty and wrong.

I started begging for him to be all right, to forgive me, to take me with him. I’d do anything to have him back, just to not leave me. But he didn’t move, didn’t wake up, and didn’t make everything all right. When I realized I couldn’t drag him back to our bedroom, I crawled up on top of him and wrapped my arms around him. Laying my head against his chest, I took what little comfort I could from listening to his steady heartbeat and slow, even breaths. Then trying to match my breathing to his, I cried myself to sleep.

Part Five

Previously, in the present…

“Bloody hell, what’s wrong with you!” he yells, trembling above me once the fire is out.

“Wrong?” I mumble, pain seeping back into my world. Blinding, searing pain. I know I’m going to pass out, the room is starting to spin and things are getting blurry, watery. That can’t be my brother with tears streaming down his face. My brother doesn’t cry. I’m the bad one. Those must be my tears.

“You tell me,” I say, as I wince and buck, fighting the nausea. “What did I do wrong?”

Then I close my eyes against the pain and slip into sweet oblivion.

I’m standing on the foot of the stage at the local club, naked.

Arbitrary nakedness? Check. Must be a dream.

Phantom ska music is wafting through the speakers and Spike’s leading Will as they dance together below me. One is a platinum sex god, and the other a soft, tender, lanky teen, their bodies showing only jubilation and delight as they hop, jump, kick, and spin effortlessly through the empty club.

But every time they turn so I can see their faces, I see that their bodies lie. Their faces tell a different story, one where Will is saddened by a cruel betrayal and Spike is furious.

Over the years I’ve had similar dreams. The club and music are new but the scene of Will and Spike being two very different people who are both disappointed in me? That’s something I’ve carried with me since I was kid. I never figured out why. I’m sure it has something to do with the not so healthy relationship I’ve cultivated with my brother, but I try not to analyze it too much.

I’m just glad the dreams only happen every few years or so. I’m always on edge for days after. I’ll flinch if Will or Spike comes near me and then I’ll be clingy the very next moment. Will always comforts me by saying I’m crazy and that he’d never be disappointed or angry with me. But no matter how loving and reassuring he tries to be, the irrational fear takes a few days to work itself out.

The dream continues and I watch helplessly as they turn their backs to me and face each other, my existence completely disregarded. Spike wraps his arms around Will; his eyes glaze and roll back as Will snuggles into his neck. Then they start to kiss, slow at first and then frantic and desperate, matching the music as it speeds up until it starts to sound like one long piercing note. Somehow their mouths stay fused as their dancing increases to inhuman speeds. I start to sweat under the glaring stage lights as they steadily get brighter. Soon all I can see is a white blur moving across the dance floor, all I can hear is the ringing in my ears, all I can feel is the crushing weight of being alone. Then all the lights supernova and explode, the incredible heat turning me to dust. Will and Spike don’t notice, don’t stop for a beat. Now that they have each other, they don’t need me.

Surrounded by darkness, the intense physical pain grows stronger than the emotional one, clueing me in to the fact that I’m waking up. The ringing slowly turns back into a wailing trombone and it starts to sound like music again with beats and melody.

The 5 disk CD player must have changed to one of Will’s favorite ska bands, because I can feel the unruly moshers digging a pit inside my skull and trampling down my right side. At least I know where the club scene came from now. Usually, I’m forced to watch, powerless and held immobile by invisible hands as Spike pounds relentlessly into William. Will would spastically clutch at the Superman sheets beneath him, the same Superman sheets that were on my old bed from when we were kids.

Turning my mind away from distant dreams, I sense the world around me. During quiet beats I can scarcely hear my brother muttering under his breath. I catch a few words, ‘barmy’ and ‘love’ are the top two I hear most, followed quickly by ‘kill’ and ‘him’. I force my eyes to open and see Will, now dressed in baggy sweatpants, pacing angrily in front of me, furiously running his hands through his hair.

The fire is still going but the protection grate is safety back in place. I’m lying sprawled out over the blankets, wearing just my boxers. A few pieces of gauze are held loosely on shiny glazed skin with special first aid tape. There’s a small square on my right forearm and a much larger one covering the entire length of the outside of my right thigh. They burn, they throb, they ache, like I’d been out sunbathing all-day and forgot to bring my 1000 SPF sun block.

I focus on the flames and wish the pain away. When that doesn’t magically work, I try to move my leg experimentally but the pain is so sharp I cry out.

Will is on me in an instant, his long strides bringing him to hover over me. He looks as if he wants to punch me, his arms flapping convulsively. But eventually he just clenches his hands into fists and forces them down to his sides. He is so mad the veins in his forehead are raised and throbbing. It might have been the throbbing in my own head but I could have sworn his veins were bouncing in time to the music. I have to stifle the urge to laugh. The pain helps with that.

“What were you thinking!” He chokes out as he drops down on his knees next to me. “Have you gone completely ‘round the bend?”

I’m not sure about that. It’s entirely possible. I want to reassure him but when I open my mouth nothing comes out. I work my throat trying to get something across but my tongue just refuses to budge. When I start to fear this will only make him madder, he crumbles. My big brother just falls apart. And right into my arms.

If he’d moved any faster I would have missed it, but as he swoops down and gently cradles me in his arms, I see a flash of moisture on his cheeks. If that isn’t enough to make me believe, his sniffling would. His body is shaking with small tremors above me as he whimpers quietly. He’s nuzzling into my neck, kissing me, and I can feel his tears on my skin. His trembling fingers are busy pulling at the back of my head, tugging gently on my hair, then running down and kneading my neck, only to switch direction and seek upwards again.

I want to just close my eyes and revel in the affectionate attention but I know my job is to console him. Ignoring the pain in my arm, I lay it across his back and with gentle sweeps try to soothe him. The burns can’t be that bad. What has him so upset?

He tenses suddenly, takes in a large breath, and then straightens and pulls back from me. He gently lowers me back down onto the blankets, and whispers, “You little git.” He keeps his head down, taking my hand in his and rubbing his thumb back and forth over it, “When you get better, you won’t be able to sit for a week with the flogging you’re getting.”

Despite the pain I’m in, I like the sound of that. We’d just have to be careful about my side and that isn’t really a problem. I can lie on my back and be just as good for him. I couldn’t get strapped down the way I liked, but we could work around it.

Oh sure, I might like a smidgen of pain, the fun tingly kind, but not that much. We’ve tried the whole S&M thing; whips, clamps, even cigarettes, but found that fur-lined cuffs and collars are more our style. We have the painful tools hanging on the walls and from the ceiling but it’s more for ambiance than use. I could probably take more if Spike wanted to but he just never really developed the stomach for it. Thankfully, we have plenty of time for that, especially now that it looked like he isn’t leaving me, as I suspected.

Will brings his bright eyes up and blanches at the smile on my face. His brows come together quickly in confusion. If I could see inside his mind, the cogs would be sputtering and spinning out of control, then everything lines up and slips into place and he scowls, “What the bloody hell is wrong with you!?”

I try to sit up, but he shoves me back hard and pins me into the blankets. It didn’t hurt, he’d been gentle enough, but my right leg brushes up against them and I can’t help but yelp and then grit my teeth.

He immediately releases me, nearly pulling away with enough force to send him falling backward. I reach up to steady him and he flinches away, only calming once he’s reached the window wall and turned away from me.

That’s not good. That isn’t good at all. He’s never refused my touch, not once. He might be hesitant with sex unless Spike is in charge but he always let me know how much I’m wanted. And now he’s flinching away from me as if I’m diseased.

My insides recoil in terror. What is going on? What could have happened to him while he was gone to bring about such a drastic change? Why was this happening now?

I’m trying my best to hold it together but the urge to just fall at his feet, begging him to take me in his arms is relentless. I ache for him to take me, take this out on me, and do whatever he needs to do…just as long as he stays.

I hope I sound calm but my voice trembles. “W-what’s going on?”

He doesn’t answer, doesn’t even make a sign that he heard me at all. He quickly wipes at his face and then runs one hand through his hair while the other is clenching in a fist at his side. He tries to calm himself with a few deep breaths before he finally lets out a sigh and mutters, “Nothing.” But his voice is tight and strained and I know his emotions are just as confused and out-of-control as mine.

He’s lying to me. To me! We've always been honest with each other, even when things were at their worst, he still told me the truth but now…something is bad enough that he feels he has to lie? I try to push my anger aside but I’m still so shaken by the dream and Will’s behavior is only tormenting me, intensifying the feeling of helplessness.

I lash out and hiss, “Liar!”

He whips around, fury evident as every muscle stands at attention and his eyes flare bright. His glare is like ice; he’s never looked at me like that before. So cold and brutal, so unfeeling. I have to stop myself from crawling away in fear, even though everything inside of me is telling me I should.

“Me?” He accuses, bringing a hand up to his chest. “That’s rich.” He spins back around and once again stares out into the dark woods.

“What are you talking about? What do you think I did?” When he refuses to answer, half of me wants to wait till he’s ready to speak to me, the other wants to console him. But I’m not going to get any answers with either. I have to push, even if it is the last thing I want to do.

“Will, please! Tell me what I did so I can fix it. Please!” I know I sound desperate and I am. So very desperate. I need him. I need him in every way and I wouldn’t be able to handle it if he hated me. I’m not equipped to manage life without him and he knows it. So if he is pulling away, it’s because he no longer cares, no longer wants me.

I look down at my burnt leg and realize, if that happened, if we spilt, I’d have to end it, everything. Burn it all to the ground. Behind my eyes, I watch my whole life go up in flames and have a moment of sick satisfaction about it. But then I can’t put out the blaze and it consumes me too.

Will’s soft voice reaches out to me in my hellish nightmare, “I told you to get rid of it.”

I shake myself out of it, “Huh? R-rid of what?”

He slowly turns from the window, his hands clasped together behind his back. He likes that posture when ordering me to do things not directly sexual in nature. And yet, the commanding demeanor usually has me as hard as a rock.

But the look in his eyes, it isn’t commanding at all. It’s the look of complete and utter betrayal. It holds me, crushes me, stops my breath cold. I know that look, seen it before, but only in my nightmares.

Time stops as he completes his turn, then calmly walks over to me and kneels down. A hand lands on my unburned leg and the other caresses my cheek. Instinctively, I lean into it, closing my eyes with a sigh, the tension between us disappearing. All that matters is that he’s touching me. When that happens, I feel whole again.

He's slowly working his way up, delicately gliding over the hair on my leg and then he reaches up to gently cup my budding erection. I let him take control, going limp, letting my head loll to the side and my legs fall open. The hand on my cheek moves, his thumb brushing over my lips as he leans in, giving me the softest, sweetest kiss. He tentatively brings his tongue out, running it gently over my slightly parted lips. Giving my erection a small squeeze he pulls back and with his hand still on my cheek brings my head back up, forcing me to look at him.

I don’t want to open my eyes. I want to forget any of this has happened and go back to what we were just doing. I don’t want to see that look in his eyes. It tears out my very soul but I have to obey so I eventually give in, hoping that whatever I’ve done, what ever I have failed to get rid of, that I can fix it.

Hoping that I still have a chance.

When he’s sure he has my attention, he pulls me close, and whispers in my ear, “The evidence.”

The breath catches in my throat and my heart feels like it lurches, sputters, and then dies, because at that moment I know there is nothing I can do. There are no second chances. This isn’t something I can fix.

It’s over.

Part Six

Previously, in the past…

My stomach curled in on itself as I realized that maybe my brother was hurt. I couldn’t fathom it, but just…maybe.

My entire body shook, my teeth chattering together as I fought away the nausea. I crawled down the hallway, on my hands and knees, and onto the tile. The closer I got, the more terror I felt. I ignored the pain as glass cut into my palms and knees. I was only focused on getting to my brother.

I struggled up to him, sobs now taking over my body. I could barely see through the tears clouding my vision. I looked down at him and saw blood and alcohol splattered on his face and neck. Blood was pooling into his left eye from a deep gash through his eyebrow and also coming from his nose, which slid around his lips before traveling down his cheek to splash onto the tile. I collapsed over him, choking on my own tears as I tried to wake him up, pulling at his clothes, spreading our blood together over his face and hair, cooing to him and petting him.

I’d never been more scared. He was everything to me and now he was hurt. It was all my fault. All of it. I never should have been born. What I wanted had hurt my brother. I’m dirty and wrong.

I started begging for him to be all right, to forgive me, to take me with him. I’d do anything to have him back, just to not leave me. But he didn’t move, didn’t wake up, and didn’t make everything all right. When I realized I couldn’t drag him back to our bedroom, I crawled up on top of him and wrapped my arms around him. Laying my head against his chest, I took what little comfort I could from listening to his steady heartbeat and slow, even breaths. Then trying to match my breathing to his, I cried myself to sleep.

Feather light touches. Slide of a hand on my knee, up my thigh, over the most sensitive parts of me. Breath hot on my face, my neck, dirty little accented whispers in my ear. The glide of sweat-slick skin against skin. Fingers wound and pulling at my hair. Hips thrust up and body yearning for just one more touch, just one more inch of contact…and then the surge and seize and fluid spurting, flowing out, coating our bodies, making us slick for only moments before it dried and flaked. Head raised and I was caught by his eyes, the piercing blue that saw right through me, right down to my very soul. They saw the truth and still there was only love, only right.

No wrong. No hate. No disgust.

That was why I knew it was nothing but a dream.

I was with Will and I didn’t hate myself.

I’d never felt this way while awake. For those brief moments I let myself fantasize about Will, when I let the truth seep through my defenses, the walls I put up to pretend, it was a nightmare. The disgust was almost overwhelming. I’d quickly slam the bars down over the doors and build bigger walls.

But in dreams…in my dreams, it was the one place, the one time, I could think this way about my brother and I could be free. Free to not admit how wrong it really was. Dreams were something I couldn’t control, just a part of my brain taking me on a strange trip through places and things I’d never really do, never really feel. Dreams were fiction, not real, nothing but fanciful lies. Dreams weren’t my fault. They were just something I could sit back and enjoy, free from guilt, free from fear, and free from shame.

But when I’d wake up, the beautiful dream of acceptance was nothing like my stark reality, the fear of hatred so strong I could taste the rising bile in the back of my throat and on my tongue. It was then that I had to hide my true face, so he would never see the real monster in me. Never making eye contact would mean never revealing the truth, never giving him the chance to see inside my soul to witness the demon taking over. Dreams didn’t hurt so damn much.

So that’s why I knew I had to be dreaming.

Will was standing over me, staring down, as I lay motionless on my bed. He was wearing only a towel plastered to his damp hips, a hand tightly gripping the fabric. He looked absolutely delicious, dripping wet with his curls in wild soaked clumps piled on his head.

And I didn’t feel any pain.

His gaze didn’t waver, he just continued to stare. And I stared back. I felt free. No shame, no fear, no self-loathing, this had to be a dream, so I lay still and waited to see what my mind had in store for me next.

I couldn’t tell what this dream-Will was thinking; his face was set in a neutral stare. Usually in my dreams, he was so expressive, his big bright smile radiating joy at just my presence, or his mouth twisting open in ecstasy whenever we touched. But not now.

Now, I waited.

It was unnerving, the way he was studying me; like I was one of the science class’s butterflies, pinned through, stuck to a torn piece of foam and hung on the wall. And like that butterfly, I couldn’t move. Pinned in place not by a sharp needle but by his sharp unwavering gaze. Every muscle was frozen, not in death, but by anticipation.

And so I waited.

We’d been dressing in front of each other for awhile now, and in my dreams much longer than that. I knew what he looked like; whether he was wet from sweat after a work out, or from a shower, I had no illusions that Will was anything other than the slim and toned sixteen-year-old that he was. I know I’m not supposed to feel this way about my brother, I know it’s wrong to look at him like this, but I wanted nothing more than to kneel at his feet and worship, paying homage by licking the water from his body. In my young, hormone, lust-addled brain he was a god. My god. My tongue seemed to agree as it moved on its own to wet my lips.

And I waited!

I didn’t understand. Why wasn’t he doing anything? The waiting stretched out, eternity in the blink of an eye, a blink that turned my blistering need for him into the threatening inferno it had always been.

But then, if I were dreaming I wouldn’t have this hole, this gaping wound in my chest, filled with uncertainty. I’d know his feelings, laid open before me in my dream state. But now, he was elusive, an unknowable equation, something intangible. How could this be a dream if he was so far away from me? Why would this desperate need be so blatant, so exposed? I should be inside where it was safe, where I was loved, but I wasn’t inside. I was outside, dying of exposure, laid bare to the elements, not of wind and cold but of my emotions, buried so deep they couldn’t touch me...until now. But somehow, someway, without any effort at all, Will had picked apart my protective shell, scratching, gnawing, and clawing until he’d dug them up, exhumed them, rolled them over and sliced through the thin membrane holding them in and now they were a gnarled, tangled mess writhing, slithering over me.

Then I knew. For that one bewildering moment I was Wile E. Coyote, chasing after the Roadrunner when the bridge disappears out from under me and I’m falling headfirst through the deep canyon to the raging rapids below.

This wasn’t a dream. This was real. And that meant I was trapped forever in my worst nightmare because this…with Will, this obsession, this hopeless passion and impossible love I had for was real. I couldn’t run from it. I couldn’t hide from it.

Not anymore.


I choked back a gasp, the breath catching in my throat as shivery, small trembles rippled down my flesh, leaving cold sweat in their wake. All the feelings I was afraid of…afraid I couldn’t control… swept through me all at once.

My world tilted, shook, came crashing down around me. Nothing made sense anymore. This couldn’t be real, couldn’t be true. But it was. And half broken apologies were all I had left.

But Will hadn’t moved. Hadn’t said a word. Didn’t he know? Didn’t he see the change in me? Would it be possible to hide for just a little bit longer, hide what I really felt? Every muscle in my body tensed as I held myself still, waiting, trying to keep from exposing any more than I already had.

I couldn’t meet his eyes, afraid of finding the disgust I was so sure would be there, so I kept my gaze level with his collarbone and imagined how the thin skin there would taste. Water pooled in the hallow of his throat and I hungrily followed it as it rose over the bone and raced down his smooth chest, to meld with the soft fabric clinging to his waist. But I didn’t stop there. Fueled by my forbidden knowledge, my heated gaze continued down to the bulge between his legs and I hardened against my will.

He shifted his weight sharply, his free hand coming up to meekly cover what was already covered by the towel, but held such interest for me. I dragged my eyes reluctantly up to his face, meeting his eyes for the first time since realizing my feelings for him, and braced myself to lose my brother forever.

He was still staring down at me but instead of the hate and disgust I feared, his expression was now one of worried curiosity with his head tilted to the side, brows knit in confusion, eyes searching…searching for something. Something…in me, and possibly afraid of what he’d find. What I’d tell him. What I’d reveal. But I didn’t have the answers because he never told me the questions.

I didn’t know what to think, what to feel, how to act. So I just lay there, my mind muddled and fuzzy, not quite sure what was going on or how we got here. I couldn’t quite remember but something was tugging at that back of my mind, something dark, sinister. Something I did wrong.

Then slithering, dark movement above his left eyebrow caught my eye. It was dripping wet like the fine droplets of water that covered Will’s slender body, but it wasn’t clear and clean.

It was deep red, almost black as it slipped over the ridge of his dark brow, before catching on his long lashes and finally dripping high onto his cheek. He blinked, causing more of it to splatter under his eye and then quickly brought his hand up to swipe at his cheek. He pulled his hand back to look at it and didn’t seem surprised, just calmly wiped his hand on the towel, smearing the deep red into the soft white cloth.

And that’s when it all slipped into place. Where I had seen the deep, dark red smear on white before, but then it had been splattered and ugly as it dripped off my brother’s face to pool onto the white tile below.

My brother and that sleazy creep, Liam. They’d fought. And then I remembered why.

I jackknifed up abruptly, the bed protesting, creaking as I suddenly stopped and swayed back and forth from the force. And yet, my arms were dead weight as paralyzing anger tore through me. Will stumbled back, eyes wide, a shocked gasp escaping his lips, his free hand coming up, fingers spread, as if to keep me away. Then he quickly spun around. Before I had a chance to regain control, he was gone.

Now, without Will to distract me, I finally noticed for the first time that I was lying above the covers and still in the clothes I wore to school. Not that I dressed to impress but I liked my Weird Science T-shirt. Now there were strange, moist, dark spots and smudges on it. Confused, I tentatively touched the darkest stains just below my chin, my fingers prodding into the gummy material. I realized, as I held my hand over my chest, both hands felt strange, sticky. I slowly turned them palms up and saw that I had dried blood on my hands. Will’s blood.

Fear trampled over my anger. Will had lost the fight, and even though he seemed fine, I couldn’t help but worry. What had happened while I hid like the frightened child I was? I had to find out. I had to fix this, make it right. It was my fault he had done what he did and he got hurt because of it. It was my responsibility to set things right and make sure Will was okay.

I shuffled numbly through a shower, taking only a moment to watch as the blood from my hands swirled down the drain, hoping it would also take the pain in my heart away. What had I done? What was I thinking? I shouldn’t look at my brother that way. I shouldn’t want him to touch me. My mind was whirling around, trying to keep up but all I could hear was wrong…wrong, so very wrong.

I hadn’t been to church in years, my parents not caring one way or the other what my brother and I felt religiously. But I knew, I’d been taught, I heard it all around me…I’d burn in hell for this. Burn forever. And I’d drag him down to the fiery pits of hell with me.

It wasn’t right, wasn’t normal. This obsessive fixation and attraction; it wasn’t good…for either of us. And I had no clue what William thought. Did he know? Could he see? How could he possibly know what I wanted if I had just figured it out for myself?

I don’t really remember stepping out of the shower. One second I had my head against the cool tile, letting the water run over my skin, the next I stood naked and wet, facing off with a distorted image of myself. There was a long, hand-sized streak across the steamed mirror. One hand held a dry unused towel; the other was dripping wet and tingling with cold.

I looked at my mirror image through the droplets and streaks of water, looking and seeing something that wasn’t me. Not really. My skin was dotted and rippled, lined and scarred by horizontal rain skewing my face, a blurred distortion of light olive skin within rows of nothingness. My neck twisted at odd angels, my entire face bobbing and swirling as I moved. That…that monster…that was who I really was.

That was the face no one ever saw. No one until Will. He knew. Just for that brief moment, I remembered clearly now. When the three of us were in that room, when the light above my brother’s head clicked on. Before I even realized. He knew…before I did. And he saw. He saw the monster I was…this mirror monster. He saw the monster in me! God, what does he think of me?

Whispers in my mind, something telling me to destroy, bash, mangle, make it disappear, just make it go away. Make it not exist. The true image of myself…the real me.

I jerked my arms, pulling up, and my muscles wrenched painfully as they met resistance. I looked down and saw that my hands had turned into claws, gripping the edge of the counter so tight the tendons stood out in stark relief and my hands shook from the force. Even after I released my grip, I had to make an effort to pull my hands away. There were deep, angry, red lines running the width of my palms, my fingers were stiff and moving them burned. Tiny, jagged cuts had reopened from the pressure; little slivers of blood seeped out from the shallow wounds. I turned on the faucet and let the cool water run over my palms, the fire subsiding and the blood washing away.

With my hands shoved under the tap, I stared down my mirror self, daring it to taunt me, to laugh at my feeble attempts to put this obsession with my brother aside, to pretend that it didn’t exist, that this was normal behavior between siblings. I snorted at the stupidity of it all and my mirror self snorted back. Rage swept through me. How dare he snort at me? Then I lowered my head and laughed, I was really going off the deep end if I thought my mirror self had a mind of its own.

Who was I kidding? I’d passed the deep end and dived straight over the frigid waters of Niagara Falls, cramped inside a musty old barrel. I mean, man, it’s bad enough wanting to get all sweaty and groiny with my brother, but what was wrong with me that I wanted to be spanked by him first? Of course, that should be the least of my worries. The way he made me feel, all hard and weak at the same time, it made the spanking I craved look almost innocent. I shouldn’t want to touch him, run my fingers through his hair, taste his lips. I knew it was wrong but I wanted it anyway. I needed it so badly. I needed him.

What was going to happen to me now? Will knew. And I had to face him. This wasn’t someone I could just ignore and hope they didn’t notice me. This was my brother! Not my brother by blood, but in every other way…every way that mattered. He meant more to me than anyone before. He was my best friend, my partner in crime, my soul mate, my world.

If he couldn’t deal with this…with me, what was I going to do? I knew I couldn’t hide in the bathroom forever, as much as I’d like too. For one thing, it wasn’t practical. Sure, I had water and shelter and if I continued to talk to myself, I had someone to babble and rant at until I went insane, but without food…it wasn’t looking good.


And as if had I angered the food gods by even thinking of going without, my stomach rumbled. I hadn’t eaten since school and it had to be way past dinnertime. I’d spent whole afternoon either sleeping, dreaming, or turning myself into a prune trying to avoid the inevitable.

Seeing Will…and finding a way to talk to him since I’d realized my feelings. But I still had no clue what to do or say to him. What could I say!? Somehow I thought ‘Would you like a go?’ wouldn’t go over so well.

How was this going to change our relationship? Were we brothers or was this… thing, between us, something else? Or, and my personal favorite, was it all something my sick and twisted mind thought up to play tricks on me? It was time to face the music, and wasn’t it just peachy that the Jaws theme was running through my head.

I quickly finished drying off and pulled out a pair of my favorite pajamas, an old flannel plaid set from when I was still living with my real dad. It was almost to the point that it no longer fit me. The cuffs only reached half way down my forearms and the hem half way down my calves. If it weren’t for the soft, pliable material I would have ripped it to shreds years ago.

An image of myself with cartoonish green skin and ripped plaid purple pants darted through my mind. And wasn’t that appropriate? Me and my horny hulk. I might not have transformed on the outside…but inside, Will had changed me…mutated and remade me, until I was this out of control lust monster.

And it seemed he alone was the object of my affection. Great. Why couldn’t it have been the strange new girl with the blond hair and tight sweater? Or hey, even Larry would have been a better choice. But, oh, no, that would have been too easy. And Larry wasn’t even gay!

A snagged thread caught my attention as I slowly pulled the ultra soft and ever stretching fabric over my limbs. I didn’t want this to be the night I ripped it apart. I needed the feel of it on my skin. I needed to feel safe and loved. And when my parents bought this for me, as an apology present after destroying yet another Christmas with their arguing, that is exactly how I felt. I was stupid to think it would change anything. But for that moment, I believed. It would be the last time I felt that way until Will entered my life.

I used clean scissors from Will’s desk to carefully snip the thread, then pulling my bathrobe over the pjs, I started down the hall in search of my brother. The smell of delicious but slightly burnt food should have clued me in. He was in the kitchen. I sniffed at the air and hummed in delight. He was making my favorite meal, pizza bagels and chocolate brownies.

Sometimes I loved Will for his amazing talent to read my mind. Sometimes it scared the shit out of me. But now he knew I needed comfort and that’s just what he was serving up. The ultimate in comfort food. How he knew and what that meant, I didn’t let myself dwell on. Besides, I was starving! I walked faster, the rumbling in my gut only intensifying at the smell.

As Will came into sight around the corner, I slowly padded to a stop and just stood there, watching him, really watching him. I was seeing my brother, the real one, not my dream version…seeing him for the first time. The urge to study him, to investigate and dissect his every move, every nuance, everything that I might have missed. To weigh the evidence and explore my options. The craving, needing to see…watching from afar…it became overwhelming.

I retreated back into the hallway and pushed myself against the cool wall. Arms, legs, and fingers spread as if that could get me closer…make me Spider-Man, just a fly on the wall. Using it to hide, to protect me as I peered around the side, knowing I was doing something I shouldn’t, but not being able to stop myself. Not wanting to stop.

I just wanted a moment, just a second where I could live in limbo, where I didn’t have to face him and deal with this. Where I could keep hiding, from him, myself, the truth. I never loved this hallway more.

Keeping my breathing quiet, even if it felt like my heart would jump out of my chest, I spied on him while he ran around the kitchen in drooping black sweat pants and a ratty t-shirt. There were red, white and brown splatters scattered all over the kitchen. Will was furiously trying, and failing, to keep a pot of tomato sauce from boiling over and pulling out half burnt bagels from the toaster. He dropped the hot bagels onto a plate and then flicked his hands in the air, trying to shake off the residual heat from the burnt bread.

Begrudgingly pulling on an oven mitt covered with baking kittens, he bent to take out the finished brownies from the oven. He swept the counter with the back of his bare hand, clearing away egg shells and shoving used bowls to the side as he laid the cooking sheet on the counter. I was surprised to see he’d made the brownies from scratch; he hated baking and usually reserved it for special occasions.

Which was a good thing, considering there was flour all over the floor, even a splatter of it on the wall behind his head. I could see a tuft of white next to his ear. He must have opened it using the potato chip method and it puffed up. I wished I could have seen it. The brown splatters on the wall were probably courtesy of the beater he used being set to high and having the batter whirl around before he remembered to hold the bowl and lower the setting. I couldn’t help but smile, since he did that every time.

No matter how hard he tried, or how many times I tried to teach him, my brother was a horrible cook. As long as he could keep things in bowls or whatever was in a pot from boiling over he was okay, but as soon as things got messy, they took a turn for the worse.

Not like I could blame him. He was trying as hard as he could but he was just a kid, like me. It shouldn’t be his job to take care of me. But he did it with a smile and a nod and never asked for anything in return.

Usually edible, I never complained but lately I had been doing the cooking for myself. The time it took to clean up after him just didn’t make it practical for him to cook for me. But when he did, I didn’t really mind. Even though half the time I suspected he played the bad cook just to watch me clean up the mess he made.

I liked the fact that we took care of each other…looked after one another. That we were there for each other when no one else was. That was important to me, he was important to me. And whatever this was…I could get over it. I just had to.

What mattered was that we needed each other. We were brothers. Brothers! It was our job to be there, no matter what happened, what we said, how many times we annoyed each other. That was the beauty of having a sibling. No one in the world understood you better. And I couldn’t have asked for a better brother than Will. Unfortunately, he didn’t luck out quite so well.

Here was the best support system a guy could ask for and I’m hiding from him like an idiot. The only support I had right now was the cold, unfeeling wall I’d plastered myself to while spying on the one person who loved me more than anyone ever had. That wasn’t fair to Will and certainly wasn’t fair to me. Hiding wasn’t going to solve anything and it just denied us the comfort we so desperately needed. It was time to stop hiding. It was time to bring this out of the dark and into the light….or at least as far as the kitchen.

I pulled the robe tighter around myself and walked briskly into the kitchen as if I hadn’t just spent several minutes looking at him like he was dinner.

He raised his head up, surprised, “Oh, hey. I thought maybe you’d nodded off.”

“Then why are you cooking for me? Leftover pizza bagels not so much food of the Gods. More like food of the trash.”

He shrugged sheepishly, ducked his head, and stared into the pot of unruly tomato sauce as if it held the answers to the secrets of the universe, then whispered, “Knew you’d be hungry.”

And there it was. He knew. Devilish insight masked by seemingly innocent baby blues. But I was no longer fooled. Maybe that pot did hold all the answers. It certainly answered mine. My brother knew how I felt about him so there wasn’t a reason to hide it anymore.

Except…I couldn’t quite bring myself to deal with it so openly. The urge to run and hide was so overwhelming. I didn’t feel ready to jump over that cliff yet. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be. Maybe we could pretend together forever. Hide this dirty little secret between us and no one else would ever have to know.

It was then that the empty batter bowl caught my attention. All of my anxiety and confusion vanished when confronted by one of my favorite pastimes; licking the batter bowl clean. With only one goal in mind, I rushed around the counter with childish glee and grabbed it up. Quickly indulging my sweet tooth I got through half the bowl in a few large swipes.

Will scrunched his nose in disgust, “I can’t stand how you eat that!”

“Wot?” I mumbled around my finger, then pulled it out and swallowed. “This is the best! Want some?” I dip my finger back in, swiping up a glob onto my fingertip and then shove it towards Will.

I thought I might have actually convinced him when he wet his lips with a roving tongue and leaned forward a little but at the last second, he pulled away and grabbed the bowl from me. “No more for you. You get a belly ache, don’t want you blaming me!”

“Hey!” I tried to grab it from him but he shoved it under the tap and turned on the water, destroying my treat.

I’d already jabbed my chocolate covered fingertip into my mouth. If he didn’t want it, I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. I was ready to go into a pouting fit, finger already strategically placed in the proper pouting position when I saw a large dab of batter on his thumb.

Not realizing how it would seem, I grabbed his hand with my salvia slicked one and quickly sucked his thumb into my mouth, twirling my tongue around it to get all the gooey chocolate sweetness. It wasn’t until I opened my eyes and saw the shocked look on his face, eyes wide, mouth gaping open, that I remembered what happened just a few hours ago and just where this thumb had been.

Immediately my mind recoiled in terror, shrinking away in disgust and fear. Disgust with myself, fear of his reaction, not to mention the ick factor that had me praying to highest deity that he had washed his hands before cooking. But even through all this I kept sucking because it felt so damn good to feel him like this…to have a piece of him inside of me.

Whether it was because I wanted a little dignity back and the way to do that was to show my brother just what I was capable of. Or just simply because I had achieved a rock solid erection in 5 seconds flat, I just kept sucking and hoped he would respond like I’d dreamed he would, so many times before.

Because I knew what I wanted. I wanted him. I wasn’t going to let go. He was all I had…all I longed and hungered for. I could see the lust in his eyes, smoldering deep down, under the shock. I never imagined he’d feel for me as I did for him. But I had to find out, had to pursue this, even if it meant pushing every limit I’d ever known.

I couldn’t imagine my life without him, didn’t want to. No matter what happened, we were brothers first. But this desire for him, it burned, consumed me whole, turned me inside out, then set me loose. I was helpless against its power, this need to unleash the dark side in Will. And from his inaction and glossy gaze, I knew he was caught in my web. I could play him, control him, convince him my less than brotherly desires were harmless. I was already hell bound, might as well make it a fun trip.

Will wasn’t at fault, he hadn’t done anything wrong. And yet if it wasn’t for his willingness to share everything with me, guide me and help me as I discovered myself, I wouldn’t know what buttons to push, what words to say, how to act to draw him in and sit him at my throne. An innocent prince held captive by the monstrous slave.

I was the son of sin, temptation come to rest in my very soul. And I bowed to the force, my will not strong enough to resist Will’s pure untainted heart. His very nature called to me like a beacon, crystal brilliance battling tirelessly against the darkness within me. I had a choice. I could hide in the dark forever, wallowing in my filth and depravity, wilting away until I was nothing but an empty husk. Or I could hold my hand up, shielding myself from intense light, and walk to the blazing heat summoning me, calling me by name. How could I refuse?

I was so sure that I knew how he felt. Venom and toxic disdain were sure to follow. And yet, Will never ceased to surprise me. Fighting the instinct to flee and hide…it paid off. Searching his eyes, there was no disgust, no hatred, they shone bright, heated lust sparkling in his dark gaze. I’d seen that look in his eyes before, many times, late at night, flickering television the only dim light, sounds of skin slapping and breath panting. And I’d gape in helpless wonder at my brother, mesmerized by those eyes just before they’d slide shut and he’d come all over his fist. And now those eyes were trained on me, burning away all my reservations, all my fears, all my doubts.

Problem was, I still hated myself.

Question was, did Will now feel the same?


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