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In the Lamplight

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He remembers kissing Eric for the first time when they were sixteen. He was a dumb kid, he was bored and he’d got it into his head that there was nothing else in the world he could be doing. Eric tasted like dusty old library books and chewing gum, his lips were soft and parted a little as he leaned forwards. It wasn’t the best kiss he’d ever had, not by a long shot, but... It was something special.

Heh, stupid. It was only a few moments before Eric pushed him back, glared at him like he was being his usual idiotic self, “what are you doing?”

“Kissing you,” he’d answered, and tried for his very cockiest grin. Which’d been a bit hard, when the most important person to him in the world had been holding him at arm’s length, but he’d managed it, “getting my moves on. Come on, it’ll be fun! If we move fast before your dad gets back, maybe I’ll even be able to give you a wristy-“

“Woody,” Eric had interrupted him firmly, shoved him back a little further with fists clenched, “this is wrong. We’re brothers.”

“Foster brothers,” he’d corrected a touch desperately, wriggling in Eric’s grip until the guy had sighed and clambered awkwardly to his feet, “that hardly counts-“

“It’d count to dad,” Eric said heavily, stepped away from him almost reluctantly. He still remembers the straightening of those shoulders like a gut punch, remembers the feeling of another door slamming shut in his face in painful detail, “and so it counts to me. I won’t tell him, but... Look. I think it’s best if I stay in my room until he gets back. Okay?”

“But- but!” Even now, with the benefit of years behind him, he’s not sure if that was an awkward invitation or a clumsy rejection. At the time he’d been too dumb to unpick it, had only leapt up to his feet and charged in with all guns blazing, “I’ve seen the way you look at me, Eric! I’ve seen the way you watch me when you think that I’m not looking! You can’t throw away something like that on a whim, you just can’t.”

“Woody...” Eric had murmured uncomfortably, eyes wide open.

...And, like a fool, he’d stepped forward in that moment with mouth flapping open and heart trying to jump out through his throat. But it’d been too late. Eric had already spun away from him with jaw set, and wall thrown up between them yet again.


“You better stop pretending, Woody, ‘cause it’ll only lead you to trouble,” Eric had said firmly, an exact imitation of his father, and strolled away without a backwards glance. He doubted if it was meant to be a dagger in the heart, but it sure felt like one at the time, “I’ve never looked at you that way, and... I never will.”

And even now, with all the years between them and Eric connected to him by the wrist, he doesn’t know if that was true or not.