by Bob

Lily was flirting with Joe.

It was the usual thing, sly glances and little touches. Not quite sexual harassment, though it could be, if Joe was the type to press charges. But he was easygoing, and in Marcy's opinion a ladies man (if a serial monogamist), and played along, occasionally playing back with a little wisecrack of his own. He was just like that.

Somehow, though, today was different.

Marcy prided herself on being a perceptive person, and she saw from the corner of her eye Joe's brother--what was his name? Louis?--yank Joe into his office with a look on his face that spelled trouble. She knew he was an ex-con and knew her boss--her friend--might be in trouble.

She did what any friend would do. She went to look.

And what she heard stopped her dead.


"Godamn, Joe, how can you let her do that?" Lou hisses between clenched teeth. The look on his face is hot and dangerous. His fists are clenched tightly at his sides.

"Do what?" He asks. He knows what his brother's talking about, of course. Lily. Lily and her damned crush.

"Flirt with you like that." He spits the word like it's a dead bug he's found in his cereal.

"Jesus, Lou, she's harmless." Joe tries to placate him, holding up his hands. He hates seeing his brother like this, seeing him halfway out of his skin with jealousy. He's seen it before, on his innumerable wedding days, and it always makes his stomach churn with guilt and his heart ache.

"Harmless." Gnawing on the words.

"Just a kid."

"Oh, and that makes it okay?" Glowering at him again. Blue eyes white hot. Ready to hit, or something. Which scares him--Lou's never actually gone so far as to hit him before. Jesus, Louie, he thinks, what the fuck did prison do to you?

"Look, she shouldn't do it, but she's got a crush. So. What?" He shrugs, trying to make it look easy, like water off a duck. Just a crush, baby bro, nothing more.

"Not fucking fair." He mumbles, harsh like gravel, turning away from him, clenching and unclenching his fists.

"Lou..." he takes his brother by the arms and looks at him, tries to see into those burning eyes. "Lou, come on. I love you." And he does, especially now, after almost losing him for good. Come on, Lou, he thinks, come on.

"It's still not fair." And he's right, it's not. They should be able to shout it from the rooftops and they can't, they just fucking can't. But that doesn't make it right.

"I know. I know. I'll make it up to you. I promise." He leans down to whisper in Lou's ear, secret special things that make Lou shiver sweet and burn with something besides jealousy, make him almost cry with lust. Things only Joe knows. "I gotta get back to work, okay? Hang out in my office or something. I'll be back soon." He punctuates with a soft, gentle kiss to his brother's lips. A promise.


She didn't believe it.

How could she?

She wouldn't believe it.

She couldn't.

She couldn't grasp that Joe would do something like that, something so horrible, so taboo it wasn't even within the realm of ordinary thought. There had to be some mistake. Maybe Lou wasn't Joe's brother after all, she could certainly live with that. But she'd met Lou before, some years before, at a company picnic, and he'd been introduced as "brother" then, and that didn't fit with her perception of Joe as serial monogamist, so maybe that wasn't true either, but...

How could he? How could, something had to be missing. What had he whispered to Louis, that'd made that smile crawl across his face like a live thing, made his eyes light up with blind lust, made him tense like he was ready for something, and that kiss...

No. Joe wouldn't...he wouldn't do that...not with some scruffy parolee, and especially not with his own brother. He just wouldn't.

She kept telling herself that, over and over, all day long, through piles of paperwork, through miles of signatures, but it wasn't enough.

She knew it was true.


Beer after work. A traditional thing. Laughing at Lily the newbie when she gets carded and acts indignant. Easy laughter, but Joe's tense. Lou went home some time ago, and he's eager to get back. Eager to make good on his promise. All he can picture is Lou's smile back in the office, so close their foreheads touched and they were breathing the same air, and all he can feel is Lou's lips on his. He feels numb. He wants to go home. He wants his brother.

So he excuses himself, makes the usual wisecrack; "gotta make sure Lou ain't burned the place down," and heads off.

He's not a block away from the bar when Marcy, of all people, stops him.

"Marce." He smiles, turning on the charm. She looks too damned serious. "What's up?"

"I've got to talk to you, Joe."

"Can it be quick? Like I said..."

"I heard you."

She never dismisses him like that. Never. "So what's up?" He shoves his hands in his pockets and leans back a little, putting up a little defense, what's she got for him?

"Is Lou your brother?"

"Pf. Of course he is. Why would I lie?" He doesn't understand. What's she getting at? She doesn't ask questions like this, not of him. Not in the open. Defense rises a little higher as he takes his hands from his pockets and crosses his arms over his chest.

"I saw you in the office, Joe."

No. No. Not fucking possible. Can't be. Can't. Just can't. Everything feels too much...he remembers it, the smell of his brother, so close, the way his mouth watered, how hard he was. Not possible. She can't have seen it. "I ain't in my office much," he stalls.

"You were today. With Lou."

"So? He wanted to talk to me."

"About Lily flirting with you. He was jealous Joe, I saw him. I saw you both."

"He's been in prison seven years. Didn't get conjugal visits, apparently." Stalling, stalling like a cheap old car, oh god, she saw, she saw, she saw, she can't, she can't know, oh no, please no.

"I saw you kiss him."

A fierceness, a possessiveness takes him over, makes his skin flush hot and high. He sputters, trying to force out unknown, unready words. He just can't form them and that's good because he can't think straight anyhow, she can't have seen, she can't, she--"No--no, you, no, I, no, no, you didn't, that's not--"

"I did. Now answer me straight Joe, is he your brother?"

"Yes!" He thunders spitefully at her, immediately regretting it. Now the cat's totally out of the damned bag. His vision is blurred black and white and he can't fucking think, except oh shit, she knows, she fucking knows--

"You're fucking your own brother?!" She stares at him. Incredulous. Disgusted.

"Yes." Quite a bit softer, he can't deny it at this point. He drops his head and stares dejectedly at the pavement. He can't laugh it off and say, no, he's not my brother, that was a joke, he's my lover. He has to go full force into this, he can't just lie it away. "Yes, I am, and it ain't none of your goddamned business, Marcy." He growls. It's not. It's not her cause to carry that he's screwing his own blood relation, just the same as it's not either his or Lou's fault they fell in love with each other.

She's silent for the longest time and when he finally looks up at her she's crying.


"You're lying." She says softly, jerkily. "You have to be."

"I ain't."

"You can''re not really..."

"Marce, I am." How can he be mad at her now? How can he be mad at anyone but himself?

"You're really fucking him."

"No, actually," he sneers, suddenly and violently vindictive, how dare she assume anything about him, "he fucks me. Is that what you wanna hear? Is it?" Hating her for knowing. Hating himself for revealing. Hating, hating, hating. "That I lie on my back and let him shove his dick up my ass? Huh? Is that what you wanna know, Marce?"

She's crying again.

"What the fuck is it?" He snaps.

"I didn't think..."

"What? That I had sexual inclinations of a backwoods hick? That I was gay? That I'd let anyone take me?"

"How could you? How can you say it so easily?" She's giving him that horrified, incredulous look again, like she can't even let the thought slide through the gates of her mind. "He's your brother!"

"And I love him." He says, barring all argument. "I love my brother, Marcy. Ain't nothing gonna change that."

"How much do you love him?" She asks, a devious tone to her voice.

He knows what's coming next. "More than anything."

"More than your job?"

He steels himself. Hard. "Y-yes."

She peers at him, trying to discern the truth of his words. He feels himself shaking under her glare, under the sheer import of what he just said. A damn near twenty year career being pulled down the drain because of one stupid indiscrete moment. He loves his job, he does. Cares about his agents, cares enough to send them in prepared and avenge them when they've been wronged. Marce oughta know that.

"You gonna tell 'em, Marce?" He asks, knowing the answer.

She's silent again for a while. The tears glaze her face in the low light of the streetlamps. "I don't want to, Joe."

"Then don't."


"Is it affecting my job in any way?"

"No...but Joe."

"Policy's fuzzy on fags, you know that as well as me." He cracks a smile that he knows won't reach his eyes. He's damned to hell for this. "Look, Marce. You can hate me all you want. You can hate my brother, too. But this is my job, and I'm good at it, and if you get me kicked off I'll see you go down with me." There. The smile is a wicked one this time, full of teeth.

"I said I didn't want to, Joe." Her face hardens. "And I won't."


"I still don't understand."

"You don't fucking have to 'understand'." He sneers back. "It's my life and he's my brother." He turns from her then, and if she says anything more he just ignores it and keeps walking, ignores it like he ignores the chill in the air and the glances of passersby, ignores it all, just keeps on walking. Never once looking back.


Lou knows something's up when Joe stalks through the door, throwing his leather jacket on the floor without a second glance. He looks like death warmed over, like the condemned men he used to see biding their short time out on the yard. He has that look of damnation about him, and it scares him.

"Joe?" He asks, soothingly. "What's wrong?"


'Nothing' bangs his way into the bathroom, shuts the door, and turns on the water. Doesn't lock it, though, and when Lou cautiously opens it, he sees Joe, fully clothed, standing under the spray of the shower. The cold spray.

"Jesus, Joe. What's the matter?" He reaches in and shuts off the water, leaning against the shower stall. Bad case, perhaps. He doesn't know. Something bad, though, because he's hardly ever seen Joe act this way. And, he can count on one hand the number of times he's seen the shower trick.

Joe glowers at him, bangs dripping down his forehead, and turns the water back on.

"Suit yourself." Lou shrugs, "When you come to your senses, I tried to make nonna's spaghetti." He leaves, and from behind the shut door he hears a string of curses loud and vile enough to blister paint. But he's uneasy. What the hell is it that's making Joe act so damned weird? Joe--even serious Joe--never used to look like that when he was angry, his eyes never used to be hot with slow-to-burn, hellish fury. Waiting, listening to the curses from the bathroom, he putters around the apartment, finally settling on the sofa with a thick manual of FBI regulations.

He's half asleep with the reading when Joe emerges from the bathroom, wearing a towel, dripping on the hardwood floor. He's not cursing anymore, but Lou isn't taking any chances on that vicious anger he saw before. So he keeps reading--or pretending to read-- listening to Joe dress in the bedroom.

"Whatcha reading?"

"FBI regulations manual." He mumbles. It's really fucking boring, too. He'd do better to read the magazines for the umpteenth time. Or the innumerable old newspapers Joe has lying around.

"Stupid shit." Joe spits vehemently.

Lou winces. This anger's hitting too close, reminding him too much of Mike in prison. Every time his cellmate got angry, pain would follow. His muscles burn with the memory. He closes the book and follows Joe into the kitchen, where Joe is poking at the spaghetti. He did try, did everything Nonna had taught him. But it's not Nonna's and they both know it.

But Joe takes a glass and not a plate out of the cabinet, and Lou knows what's next. Vodka, he pulls it from another cupboard. Pours himself a measure and slugs it down hard and fast.

"What's up, Joe?" He asks, more cautious now. A second measure goes down Joe's throat before he responds.

"She knows."

"Who?" Because he knows the what. That ominous tone in Joe's voice. Thick with something sour and spiteful. She knows.

"Marcy." Another swallow. "She knows. You and me."

Marcy. The nice, if shrewdly perceptive woman at the office. She's the one who reminds him of the ever-watchful warden on his block, Ramirez. She's the one reducing Joe to monosyllables, to hard- drinking standing up in the kitchen. He's so tense that he half- jumps when the cat, Cora, curls itself about his legs. He picks her up, rubbing her ears nervously. Something to soothe.

Joe's scaring him.

Joe stares at the empty glass in his hand, then the bottle in his other hand. Pours himself another quarter-glass and slugs it back. Getting steadily drunker.

"Joe?" He asks, meekly, setting the cat down on the counter, where she proceeds to cross to the spaghetti and sample it.

"Cora..." Joe mumbles absently, halfheartedly swatting at the cat with the vodka bottle, "Cora, don't." She ignores him, like he's ignoring Lou's question.

"Joe, how does she know?" It hurts him to ask, hurts him deep down, but he's got to know, he's got to know if it was his fault, if that... the conversation they had, had anything to do with it.

"She saw us." He says dejectedly. "She saw me kiss you. In the office."

He freezes, hand clenched on the edge of the counter. "She saw?" All those words, sweet things in his ears, Joe's smile, his too- gentle lips, "She saw us?" The press of their bodies together, always such a wonderful, too-good-to-be-true secret.


She saw.


She saw.

"No." He groans, surprised at the hurt in it. It slides out his mouth like blood, all salt and oil.

"Yeah, she fuckin' saw, little bro." Joe forgoes the glass in favor of slugging from the bottle.

White knuckles, white countertop, white walls, white fridge, white, white, white, pressing down, pressing in, white like prisonblock walls, white like the ceiling and the bars and his fear, swallowing him. He wants to claw something, maybe his brother, scream at him, it's not true, you're lying, you have to be, you





But it's true. It's so...totally...achingly...bruisingly true.

"How?" He asks, taut, speaking through the white wall of sick horror.

"I told you," he barks irritably, making Lou wince, "she saw us."

"But how could she see?" He insists, trying to grasp the enormity of this, how much danger they're in, trying to see like in prison when he tried to gauge Mike's moods just by looking at him. "The door--you closed it--Joe--"

"I didn't." He says, miserably, taking another short swallow of vodka. "I didn't fucking close it far enough." His growl is wet and full of alcohol, and goddammit, Lou can smell it all the way over here, falling off him. Smell of fear and danger.

Lou recognizes the dark scowl falling over Joe's features. Frustration, fury, spite. It's a volatile, dangerous combination, like Mike in the darkness and Mike's hands coming through the moonlight, bringing fear and pain. He's panting, breath coming in short gasps, how hard can it be to breathe, oh, he knows, he knows...

And Joe's fixing that furious stare on him oh Joe please don't please don't stop it, stop...


"Stop it."


"It's not true..."

"It's fucking true, Lou. I told you."

"How can she know? Even if she saw, it's not like--like you--you didn't fucking tell her did you?" He feels the realization bubble out of the crumbled clay of his safe world, like lava from the earth, so hot it scalds in his veins, makes him itch to get out of his skin in and fly at him in a rage, you told, you told, you bastard you told her...

"I couldn't back off, Lou, she fucking cornered me!"

"You could've lied!" You fucking bastard!

"For what? She woulda figured it out."

"Maybe, maybe not. But you told her! Now what the hell does she think?" The world is grey with hate and fear. His hands are clenched tight at his sides, this rage hotter than the jealousy he felt before, burning more than his terror. "Forget that, what's she gonna say? Do you...did you...think about...what this is to other people?"

"Of course I did!" And he slams the vodka bottle down on the counter with a crash and shattering glass and the cat yowls and flies off and Lou cries out with the memory of a hundred fights between ma and poppo and the fear and a hand closing over his mouth while he gasps for breath and...and...and..."Of course I thought about it! You idiot, do you think I didn't? You think I don't wonder every night, what the fuck am I doin', screwing with my own brother? You think I don't ever wonder if this is wrong? You think I don't ever tell myself what kind of a fucking sick bastard I am?"


"Stop it."


"Shut up."


"Shut up."


"Shut up!" And he lunges at him, lunges right at his own brother, growling and slamming him into the fridge, grabbing the wrist that still holds the shattered vodka bottle, forcing it up to his throat before he looks into those eyes and realizes...

"Oh, shit."


The rage is gone, replaced by panicky fear. Joe's staring at him in dull-eyed terror. The bottle has just barely pricked his neck, just enough that a little trickle of blood is flowing down, down his (beautiful) throat.

"What the hell?" Joe's swallowing hard, glancing down at the bottle, back up at Lou, scared, really scared now, even with the rage ebbing in Lou's eyes, replaced by something he's never seen before. Regret. Real, sorrowful regret. They've never regretted anything together before.

Lou stares at the blood, at the trickle like a river like all the pain and fear inside his head. Red. Bright. Red. Blood. His hand shakes so badly that he lets go of Joe's wrist, touches the blood, feels it smear his fingers, warm and slippery.

"Joe," he whispers, very small and very meek, not even certain he actually said it at all. Blood on pale skin, red on white, stains on prison walls. He's so aware of Joe, of the rapid rise and fall of his chest, the heat of his body, the smell of him, crisp cologne and sweat and fear. "Joe..." his own brother. Nonna used to look at them and say they could be twins, and how many years ago was that? Too long...

The blood is tacky on his fingertips now. He licks dry lips with a sticky tongue.

Joe is watching him warily, ready to defend if the rage comes back. But he doesn't--doesn't really--think it will. Because Lou is curling in on himself, like tissue paper in flames, backing off, backing down. How could Lou have done that? He can feel his neck throbbing slightly over the injury. could he have said what he did to Lou? How could he have been so stupid, blurting out those horrible things? Sick, wrong...all he wanted was to keep it secret and safe. That was all he wanted. His brother. That was all. Why did the world have to go and take it? Why did he have to go and ruin it?

"Lou, I..." I'm what, he thinks, sorry? Helpless? Scared? "I..." he remembers what he said the first day Lou was back. "I love you. I'll always love you." It couldn't...shouldn't be...possible, to break something like that. "I lo--"

"I didn't mean it." Lou croaks miserably. He's dropped to the floor, his back against the counter, knees pulled up to his chin. He looked like that the first night he was back, sitting so damned lonely on Joe's bed. "I didn't mean it, Joey." He's staring, Joe realizes, at the blood on his fingers. Joe's blood.

Seven years before. Lou on the hard holding cell bench. Pleading.

Here and now. Lou on the hard tiled floor. Pleading.

Seven years ago, that sick, frightened look on Lou's face as they led him away in handcuffs.

Here and now, face twisted up with pain and regret, and Joe sees it now, like he can practically hear his own words ringing in Lou's ears.

Sick. Wrong.

He kneels down slow, glass crunching and vodka squeaking beneath his shoes. "Lou? Hey, Louie. Hey." He doesn't know what to say anymore. Funny how that works, going from being the all-powerful handler to the helpless brother of his lost lover. "Lou?" Lou's just staring at the blood still, hand shaking. Steeling himself, Joe reaches out and touches Lou's face, makes him look at him, forces his eyes off the blood.

"I'm sorry, Joey. I didn't mean it."

Stop it, Lou, you're hurting me, he thinks. Stop looking at me like that. Please. I don't know how to make it better.

Lou closes his eyes and swallows hard. "I thought you were Mike, Joey. I'm sorry. I'm so fuckin' sorry."

Mike? Who--"Who's Mike, Louie?" He runs a hand through his brother's hair, gently, almost lethargically. The alcohol makes him fuzzy.

"In prison." He says. Nothing more, nothing less. As if that'll explain it all.

Joe's gut tightens suddenly and horribly. Like a knife being twisted around inside him. Mike. In prison. Scared Lou badly enough to attack him. The possible meanings filter through his brain, settling on...

"Oh, no."

Lou's shoulders hitch with a single, harsh sob.

"No, Louie, no..."

"He had a s-shank, Joey. I didn't mean it. I didn't. But he had a shank..."

Shank. Prison knife. No. Please. Joe blinks rapidly, trying to clear his head. This can't be true. Not his brother, his lover...but Lou had needed to be in control, still did, these days. Joe realized now that his brother's breath had quickened not with arousal but fear every time he was pinned down. The emotion that dilated his pupils and tensed his muscles was terror.

"I didn't mean it." He shakes his head sadly.

"Oh, Lou..." he pulls Lou into an awkward, bent-up hug, slipping on the vodka and glass, kneeling in it, ignoring it.

"He would say..." Lou continues, voice rough and thick, "he useta say... after the first time...he said if I...cried for you...again...he'd...kill me."

Hot, protective hatred boils inside Joe's chest. He wants to kill this 'Mike', just for thinking of laying hands on his brother, let alone that he actually did it.

"I'll kill him." He growls out without thinking, and Lou tenses again. "Hey," he backs off, as gentle as he can be. "Hey. Easy. It's okay. I'm here, Lou, I'm here, you're safe, I promise..." He buries his face in Lou's neck, breathes him in, wonders what was it like to be someone else's for seven years, to be owned bodily by someone. To have your life threatened because of one cry, one name.

He wonders what it would be like, if he couldn't whisper Lou's name in the dark all those lonely seven years.

He can't help it. He wants Mike dead. He knows it's wrong, but...but Lou is here and warm and terrified and oh, you bastard, you hurt my little brother, you hurt him bad, I'm gonna fuckin' kill you, I swear it, I'll get you back for this, you hurt him, you hurt him, you hurt him...

"Why didn't you tell me?" He whispers haltingly against Lou's shoulder.

"He'll kill me." Lou voice sounds far away and hurt.

"Louie, it's okay. I'm here."

"He'll kill me, Joey." Lou's whole body is shaking now, trembling with some urgent fear.

"Take it easy, Louie. I'm not gonna let nothin' happen to you."

"Don't let him kill me, Joey." Meek. Far-off. Frightened. Not things he's ever heard his cheerful, open brother sound like before, except maybe when they were young kids. But...but Lou doesn't sound there, not all together, and Joe feels his guts twisting with that unnamable fear again.

"No one's gonna hurt you." But, a nasty voice whispers in his mind, someone already did, you idiot, that's the point. He's been hurt. Now what?

"He said he'd hurt you too, Joey. He said he'd kill you too, if...I ever...said...anything..." His voice trails off and he's shaking all over again, breath hot and fast against Joe's neck. "He said he'd kill you."

"Nothin's gonna happen, I promise Lou, I promise, it's okay..." Except it's not, no, not with Lou trembling like a branded horse under his hands, not with this 'Mike' hanging over them both like the sword of Damocles, not with everything that's happened in seven years, no, it's not okay. It's not.

"He'll kill me. He'll kill you. Oh, Christ, Joey, Christ almighty I'm sorry, I swear, I'm sorry..."

"What? What're you sorry for, buddy?" He rubs his brother's back gently, trying to soothe him.

"I told..." he moans softly, "I told..."

"And ain't nothin' gonna happen, I told you. He ain't gonna find out, this Mike guy, and even if he does I'll--" what? Kill him? He certainly wants to. "I'll...I'll keep you safe." Because that's all he's ever really known to do, from the time when Lou was born and he was just a toddler, and ma told him, 'Look after your brother now, Joseph', and he took it right to heart. "I'll keep you safe, Lou, I promise." Even though he couldn't protect him when it really mattered--couldn't protect him from jail and all that pain, all that suffering.

"He said he'd kill you." Lou leans back and looks at him with wide, wide grey-blue eyes, beautiful eyes Joe's always thought, like the Atlantic on a cloudy day. But those eyes are clouded with fear. Lou touches his neck, the throbbing bruise of his wound. "I don't want you dyin', Joey."

Oh, God, but he could kill 'Mike' for this, for turning his beautiful, wonderful brother into some half-shade of himself, for turning a happy, easygoing man into a hunted, hounded shell. He could kill him, he really could. He grits his teeth against the thought. "I ain't gonna die."

"I'd miss you, if you died." His voice is far away sounding again, and the look in his eyes is even worse. Dull. "I think I'd kill myself." He says, very soft, looking down, then up at Joe, like he's searching for something.

"I..." he pauses, trying to swallow the import of Lou's words. "I... ain't gonna die, Lou."

"I wanted to kill myself. In prison. But I missed you."

"Oh, Lou..." because that's all he can say. He can't...he won't think about his brother as a nameless corpse in a pauper's grave, stolen away by the state of California. Won't think about how Lou could've done it, maybe a shank to the wrists, or get himself, he can't think it, he just can't. "Oh, God, Lou..."

"I missed you too much to die."

"Oh, Jesus Christ, Lou." He hugs him tight, tighter, just trying, as hard as he can, to keep him safe.

"I missed you. I useta cry for you, even after he threatened me, he... I...he...he got me with the shank once. He fucked me real hard, and I was cryin', and I kept...kept saying...'Joe, Joey, help me...'"

"Lou..." "...I just kept sayin' it, and he got so mad he...he cut me...he beat me up real bad, Joey. I had to go to the infirmary...but..." this punctuated by a scattered little laugh, a harsh, disturbing sound in the stillness, "but he was waiting when I got back. He was still there." A fierce, frightened grin. "I couldn't get out, Joey. I couldn't get away. I can't. I can't do it...I...I..." he breaks into shuddery, dry, heaving sobs.

"Shh, it's okay, it's okay Lou..." he feels like he's been saying those same words for ages.

"Look what he did to me, Joey..." Lou lifts his shirt and Joe grimaces. "Look." A deep, diagonal furrow runs from his flank to just below his belly button, right across his abdomen. He's seen it before. He didn't want to ask, because every time he touched there, Lou's shaking hand would brush his and he'd curl away. He didn't ask because he didn't want to see the deep, sick fear in Lou's eyes, twisting his face. Now he knows and it's worse than if he'd asked, because if he'd asked he might've just gotten 'a fight' for an answer, but now he knows, he knows everything behind it, not just a fight, an attempt at murder.

"Oh, Louie."

Lou turns away from him, staring at some point far off beyond the distance.


"Yeah, Joey?" He looks back up. Pain floats like angel feathers in his pretty blue eyes. Joe can't stand it.

So he kisses him, brushes his lips so light his body tingles with it, seeking, something, maybe an answer, maybe a hope, so he just keeps kissing him with Lou's arms wrapped tight around his body.

Lou takes it further, kissing back hard, harder, searching for his own set of answers, pushing Joe back into the fridge, grabbing his upper arms in a fierce grip.

"Mmm...hmm..." he murmurs, "ohh, yeah...Joe..." strings of pleased monosyllables.

"Wanna fuck me, Lou?" Joe gasps as Lou gropes at him.

"Ooh, yesss..." He hisses, kissing hard like he wants nothing more than to eat Joe right down to the soul. He gropes and grasps and grabs, gulping down lust.

"C'mon, buddy. Bed." Joe forces them both up into a stumbling, tottering walk, each half straddling the other to get the contact they crave, fumbling towards the bedroom. They don't make it half as far--ending up thudding onto the old, creaky couch, nearly busting a spring. Cora, her nap interrupted, hisses at the both of them and they just laugh, laugh and kiss some more.

Lou tugs at Joe's shirt, slides his overshirt off his shoulders and his wifebeater up and over his head. He's up and straddling Joe's hips, staring down predatorily, stripping off his own t-shirt and dropping down, grinding as fiercely as he can as he does, dizzy with the heat and the sweet, honey-drizzling lust between them both, practically drooling into his brother's mouth as they kiss, kiss, kiss some more.

"Oh, Jesus yeah, yeah, oh, yeah..." Joe groans.

"Jesus ain't got...a damn...thing to do with it..." Lou shivers, panting, running his hands up and down Joe's bare sides, he can't get enough of him, no, never enough, not enough trying to erase the memories always trying, always...he thrusts his hips and soft-light-lazy dizziness spirals through him. "Love you. Love you." He growls and grumbles and licks his way down Joe's throat, harsh with stubble, down to his chest and nuzzling through the thick, wiry chest hair. Joe just arches his back and moans, low and loud and unabashed.

Lou grabs a nipple between his teeth and sucks and tugs and Joe's eyelids flicker and flutter and oooooh, fuck Marcy, fuck 'em all, this is fan-fucking-tastic oh Lou just get it over with already, oh, Jesus Christ...his tongue and mouth's everywhere at once, licking lapping sucking twisting tormenting. Joe cries out and grabs at the upholstery, twists and grinds and Lou gasps and arches and flops back down on top of his brother, and their mouths are together again, hips grinding, lips sucking and oh, so good.

Joe's skin is flushed and his pupils dilated, he's breathing hard and fast, sucking and gulping and grasping for Lou. He finally plants both hands on either side of Lou's bony hips, tugging at the waist of his jeans, popping the button and unzipping him, all the while Lou's mouth locked on his, and the instant hand touches dick his brother bites down, hard, hissing and whimpering.

"Oh, fuuuck..." he moans, lapping at the blood. "Fuck yeah."

Joe tickles the base of his brother's dick with his nails, lightly grazing him, just so light, and Lou thrusts blindly into him, and oh, hell yeah he's making good on his promise. He'll make Lou cry with it yet, writhe with it, grind into the rhythm of their breath and heartbeat and it'll be so damned good, better than good, better than the best.

"Wanna fuck ya'..." he growls, nipping Joe's neck. "Wanna fuck ya' bad, Joey..." voice cracking on the last syllable as Joe's thumb strokes his balls. "Oooh, god, yeah..."

"Jesus..." he groans. He unbuckles his belt and shoves Lou up. "Up. Gotta...get undressed, buddy..." he takes off his shoes and socks, hops out of his pants clumsily, strips off his boxers. "There." He's hard as a rock and Lou's eyes are glazed as he's staring at him, and he sits back down on the rough upholstery of the couch and let's Lou crawl all over him.

"What'a we got?" He mumbles. By this meaning "lube".

"'s in the fuck--fucking bedroom--fuck--" as Lou licks him all over from his chin to his balls. "Fucking Christ yeah..." he throws his head back, stares at the starry patterns that dance on the ceiling with each hot downstroke and the slippery-cool feeling of saliva drying on his body.

But then Lou's gone and his voice chases him (body's not goin' nowhere, not no how no way...) with a string of curses.

"Lube." Comes the grunt back.

And then there he is again, a warm, sweaty weight pressing down against his body, and he spreads his legs for him, Lou not bothering with the finger routine, just shoves right in and ah, oh, god--

"Jesus, that's good, oh, fuck yeah Lou, fuckin' hell yeah..."

In and out, drive and down, slick slippery warm hot boiling through his skin, fuzzy spirals dancing at the base of his spine, in and out, in and out.

"Love you so fuckin' much, Joey..."

He comes. Hard. They both do, each all over the other, Joe feels it running down his legs and knows that's gonna be a hard stain to get out, but who the fuck cares it's Lou, it's his fucking brother and he loves him and fuck 'em all to hell...

Little stars dance in his eyes.

It's that good.

"Jesus." He groans.

Lou is lying on top of him, panting hard, sweating. "Wanna go to bed now?"

Joe laughs, laughs a silly, sleepy, satiated laugh. "Sure, buddy. Whatever you want."

"I'm tired." Lou says and props his chin on his hand, elbow resting on the armrest of the sofa. He kisses Joe lightly, lazily.

"Okay." Joe smiles into the kiss.

They drag each other to the bedroom, the alcohol catching up with Joe, Lou just slippery in the head with sex, barely bothering to strip out of his jeans before flopping down beside Joe in the bed, pulling the comforter over the both of them.

"Love you," he mumbles sleepily. "Hate Mike."

"I hate him too, buddy."

"Gonna be good this time, Joe." He yawns. "The best."

"I'll bet, Louie, I'll bet."



"Fuck Marcy. We'll move to Vermont if we hafta."

Joe, Joe just laughs. And it feels good, too. Lou's right.

Fuck 'em all.


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