She almost resisted him when he tried to move her away; but his actions were gentle, and kind. The blond was treating her like a delicate Xingese vase, and the thought sent a small rush of gratitude and love straight through her chest at the notion. Still, having the ring taken from her hand - stiff and somewhat sore, now, from holding it so tightly - was something she almost whimpered at in response.
But she’d trust him. He hadn’t made her let go.
Her first response at the mention of that underwear made her want to scowl and flush up red: the latter she did. Yet his explanation of the events caused her to laugh instead, her cheeks still bright read but her eyes somewhat bright, if a little swollen from her crying spell.
"I thought you were laughing," Cait finished, aware that he might not be able to fill in all the gaps yet. "at me in particular. And then you proposed." Further warmth filled her stomach, and her eyes lidded somewhat once more, this time in contentment.
They snapped back open to full awareness when he asked for a new promise: clean hands. Shockingly, he included himself in the bargain. Her gain was to be a permanent place by his side, and such an offer was so brilliantly tempting and fitting to her wanton love that the brunette would have accepted in a heart beat.
It would not be so easy, however. For either of them. The trail of blood had become an addiction, partially in order to blot out Catherine’s chiding voice from the back of her head - and also due to the nature of her being. Homunculi were not live people, not really. Killing was their be all and end all, given they were walking corpses. But Alphonse wanted to try and play happy families with her.
Catherine would have scoffed.
Cait, however, swallowed hard, craning her neck back to meet him square in the eye once more, her love and doubt intermingling and almost confusing her.
"I want to," She confessed quietly. "I believe people call it… ‘cold turkey’?" Her head bobbed to the side somewhat, as if recalling a phrase from her human life. "But I am afraid…" 'that I lack the strength. The girl bit her lip, ignoring the split she tore open in the process. ”What if I fail?”
Her laugh brought a flutter to his heart and he couldn’t help but give her a brief smile in return. He had truly missed the musicality of it; it was a melody that sang in his entire being every time she did it. With it now, a piece of him in the back of his mind was tempted to reach down and sweep her off her feet, kiss her while swirling her around as he had done so many times before. The brightness of her presence had him hoping that they could drop this messy business, share a bed once more, and live as though she had never left.
The flutter in his heart because to fall as he began to wonder how many times he had made her laugh, compared to how many times he had made her cry, or yell, or shun him. And it finally sunk when the topic at hand was addressed, and Caitlin voiced her doubt towards his proposition. When she tore the skin of her lip from biting it so hard, drawing a few droplets of blood, he pulled up the sleeve of his shirt slightly to cover his hand and wiped it away with the cuff.
No more blood.
"You won’t," he replied, lowering his hand to touch her chin once the blood was washed away. "You won’t fail, because I won’t let you. If there’s anything I’m set on not letting you do, it’s that. You can stay, you can leave, but you will not kill. No more pain, no more blood.”
"And in return, you won’t let me fail. We’ll protect each other. This is our vow, Caitlin," He moved his thumb, stroking the skin of her face. "whether we manage to ever get married or not. This is it. This is all I ask, all I will ever ask.
"And if I fail, whether it be by allowing you to kill or allowing myself to kill, I’ll be the one to leave. This I promise. So you will not fail, because I want to stay by your side."
|7 months ago||15 notes|
At once, her grip around his mid section loosened. But she still kept her hold on his shirt, the knuckled hand resting in the small of his back.
All the while, Cait’s sobs heaved on and on, softer than when she’d screamed at him and bashed her head into his chest. She realised, distantly, that her forehead ached somewhat; but it didn’t matter at the moment. Physical hurts could heal. If she’d let him walk away in pieces, his memory tearing itself up, that would never have even scarred from the open wound it would have caused.
Alphonse’s heart was irregular in her ear - she almost tensed up, clutching at him tighter, but remembered with a late realisation that his body was instable due to the Human Transmutation he had committed. Yes, the same one he had done in order to bring her back. She’d hurt him, she realised - and he was hiding it. For the moment, Cait was grateful.
"I’ve got you," The brunette repeated, her voice down to a whisper. She opened her eyes, staring off to the side of the lounge, listening as the thrum in her ear slowly but surely began to steady itself. Her sobs had been forgotten, the sound almost hypnotic to her ears. The grief was present, however, in the light trembling of her frame as she held onto him - ironic somewhat, given she couldn’t have conjured such shaking moments ago when discussing the bloodlust.
She waited further, partially to give him time to breathe, and realise he had no choice in her decision - she was staying by his side. Partly also because his hand in her hair was comforting, and helped to steady her and she was steadying him.
"… Lacey," The girl murmured after a comfortable silence between them. "Caitlin Lacey." It was almost like deja vu, repeating her name aloud to Alphonse Elric: just like the day they’d met. Except he was older now, and she was pressed up against him in something of a deadlock, refusing to let him go.
He knew her surname now, didn’t he? That was one step back towards his memory. And Cait would stay with him until it came back. And beyond.
"You’ve got me," he echoed her, running his hand down to stroke her hair. "You’ve got me. I’m sorry, Caitlin." He rested his ear on the top of her head, hearing the gentle beat of his own pulse begin to slow.
"I’m sorry, Cait," he repeated, lowering his hands to her waist, resting them there. "I’ll let you stay, and I won’t make you swear."
She was warm, so much warmer than him. After a quiet moment of embrace, he melted into her, leaning into her weight carefully and bending down to kiss her ear. How could he have denied this contact he had craved so desperately, tried to turn her away in an act of self-destruction? He began to wonder if it was that monster inside of him, whispering for him to break down and volunteer to lose himself… or if he was truly that weak and selfish.
Whichever it was, it did not matter. He would not make her leave. If she wanted to stay, to help and love him, then he would welcome her with a loving embrace.
When his heart had slowed, when he could finally breathe again, he released his hold on her and reached behind his back to take her clenched fist. Delicately, as if her fingers would shatter if he pried too hard, he uncurled her fingers one by one and took the ring from her grasp. He held it before his eyes, admiring the beauty of the band and the red jewel upon it. It looked still brand new.
"Lacey," he muttered to himself, putting the name to memory. "Caitlin Lacey. That’s it, I remember." He smiled down at her, white teeth glinting, forgetting the pain for just a moment. "I remember I was upset and you put on lacey underwear to show me. I laughed because it was your surname. I think you got offended because you thought I was laughing at you, I can’t…" Remember, was what he was going to say, but he silenced himself. He didn’t want her to know just how much he had lost.
"Caitlin Lacey," he repeated again, lowering the ring but keeping it in his own grip. "I won’t make you promise to stay. But I ask a promise of no more blood. From either of us. If you swear that much, whether you choose to stay or not…" He slipped the ring back onto her finger. "Then it won’t be Lacey anymore. Swear me that much, and you can leave whenever you like, no questions asked."
|7 months ago||15 notes|
The wince was enough. She barely noticed the way she held her own breath, waiting for him to pull away and stare at her, horrified. But he did not, despite the bite of his nails in her cheek. She prayed inwardly that it left no mark, that he would not berate himself for it later.
Rather, Alphonse looked as if he was falling backwards inside his own body. A sudden fear for him gripped the girl, and she wanted badly to reach out and hold him close, soothe that sudden distress evident in the lines of his lips and the flare of his nose. Yet he moved first; his hand shifting to her hair, his mouth flat out refusing to allow an oath on his life. And she was stunned if even more afraid, because she couldn’t remember him acting like this before.
He started gasping like a wet fish on land - Cait’s hand uncurled itself from his shirt, hovering upwards for the arm in her hair as if to steady him. But as she did, he moved it away - almost snatching the ring from her free hand, which caused her to whimper at the loss. Thankfully, the Homunculus left it in her own hands, using his own as an anchor to keep it tucked away, curled up and out of sight.
There was an odd sense of relevance to that gesture.
She knew instantly - though she loathed that she knew so quickly - to whom Alphonse was referring: Infamy. The other half of his mind, split in two a long time ago by her, no less. And he was ‘losing’ to it. her curled first curled further, the ring pressing against the flesh of her fingers unkindly, but she paid it no mind. They could fix this. Hadn’t they always anchored each other to the remains of their sanity? Just as he had stalled Catherine, she would stall Infamy.
… But he would not let her. Cait’s mouth opened wide in a resemblance of shock and surprise, but she felt more grief than either of those - he couldn’t remember her last name? Would he soon forget her, as well? Would he leave and never come back?
'As much as I want you to stay, I won't let you.'
He didn’t give her time to process the words. The blond moved in, pressing his lips to hers - mouth closed in instinct, reacting to the memories more than anything. There was one that shot through her mind, clear as day: she had never remembered it so vividly before.
|A cool hand cupped her chin, tilting her head upwards and forwards; she found her cheeks colouring from the sudden eye contact, from the sincerity of his sweet, unsinful words. Her immediate response was to move her free hand to his pristinely white shirt, fingers curling into the silky material whilst listening, almost awed - practically elated - to the speech that he was giving her.
That’s why I love you.
“Alphonse,” Cait breathed, her eyes watering with happy tears - something that the girl hadn’t experienced since she was just a child. ”I’ve never seen you as anything other than human.” And she, too, spoke the sincerest of truths; for in their first meeting, he was a boy of doubt and innocence; and their current one, a man inflicted with love and a wanton need for her by his side.
She truly felt as loved as he said she was.|
Alphonse let her go, pulling back from her warmth, his hand letting go of her fist. She heard something shatter in her ears, beside the aching ring of a gunshot and the spasm of pain in her chest. Someone was falling, and it wasn’t him, it wasn’t-
Caitlin Lacey heard someone cry out in pain, a keen sound that wanted to make her shudder: she realised it was herself. The brunette threw herself at Alphonse as he finished moving away, wrenching her arms around his mid section tight enough to hurt: she could not let go. She would not let go. The hand with the ring was knuckled against his back, trembling. Her forehead butted against his chest hard enough to hurt herself, and she pushed it hard, as hard as she could - as if she could knock the taint and sadness and fear out of him by doing so.
“I’ve got you!” She all but screamed into his shirt, her face wet and red and swollen with fresh tears.
“I’m not going to let go!” Cait ducked her head again, harder, clenching her uncurled hand into the back of his shirt. Her heart hurt, and she was sure his hurt too. Blood lust was a foreign memory in the back of her head, almost hazy - she knew it would haunt her later, once she had calmed down - and Alphonse was the only thing in the world that mattered. She’d fix him. Or die trying.
"I’ve got you!" The brunette’s voice softened, still something of a shout - but no longer raw and hoarse. She headbutted his chest one last time to make a point - and then turned it to the side somewhat, leaning against him like a dead weight to hold him down.
Because she wouldn’t let him leave like this.
The cry had caught him by complete surprise, and Al found himself scanning their surroundings to find the source of whatever had hurt her. But when she ran forward, clinging to his waist as if for dear life, he realized it had been the words that came out of his mouth that hurt her, piercing through her heart as they had done to his. The same injury that had caused her death an eternity before.
The force of her embrace knocked the air out of him. He stumbled backwards, but was held in place by her dead weight on him and her incoherent sobs into his shirt. In a brief moment, all the reasons he loved her flooded into his being. He loved her passion behind everything she cared about, including himself.
He lifted a hand to pet her hair, but was caught off guard once more by her head slamming into his chest repeatedly. She must have forgotten about his condition entirely, and he didn’t want blood spilling from his mouth onto her as her reminder. So as liquid iron rose up the back of his throat with every collision of her head with his chest, he swallowed it down and focused on trying to breathe. He hoped she could not hear the pounding of his heart in an inconsistent pattern, with her face pressed to his chest like this.
I’ve got you, she had repeated over and over. He felt weak in the knees and sick to his stomach; he didn’t have the right to let her do anything. She did not belong to him, and she could do as she pleased, he realized. If she wanted to be with him, she had the right to make that decision. He didn’t have to let her do anything; all he could do was accept her.
At least he was no longer drowning. The thought of that gave him hope; maybe she could help him without risking her safety, and they could have some semblance of happiness together.
"Cait," he rasped. "Caitlin, you’re hurting me."
That was all he said. He pressed his hand to the back of her head gently, though, to let her know that she did not have to let go entirely. That he didn’t want her to let go. All he needed was to be able to breathe, and get his erratic pulse back under control.
|7 months ago||15 notes|
He was looking at her. A knot in her chest eased up when his eyes - however angry and betrayed they were - caught her own and held the gaze.
She was aware of his hands on her shoulders, holding firmly but delicately if such a thing was even possible for someone like him; but he’d done it. The chill from his fingertips seeped through the silk of her blouse, but the girl cherished the feeling despite the shiver it would send down the spine of anyone else. For the both of them, it was touch. Connection. All of which soothed away a bit of the pain.
How dare she indeed. Cait knew without a doubt that Alphonse would never stop loving her, and that was perhaps the problem - given that she was afraid she might not know herself anymore. But selfish as she was, Cait was glad. She held on to the knowledge that he would never stop, took it as a lifeline to try and calm herself down so she could explain. Where would she even start? How could she tell Alphonse, the man who called himself a monster by taking lives and protecting the remnants of her own, that she was following down the same dark road?
So lost in his eyes and her turmoil of thoughts and excuses, the brunette did not realise the blond was crying. It registered quickly when his hands left her shoulders - his thumbs moving to her cheeks, stroking them softly and wetting themselves with her still flowing tears. Cait’s breathing hitched, and without awareness she leaned into his cold touch. How she had missed this. How she had left to hide in fear and missed this…
"Alphonse…" She spoke with a deep longing that had been shut down in the hollow of her heart while she’d been away. The fingers in his shirt squeezed the material tight, as if he would walk away and stop when she spoke up once more. How could she swear something so terrifyingly huge on his life when there was still the chance that, love and all, he might look down at her with revulsion and horror and disappointment and-?
Worse yet, what if - to protect his love - he left her? A fresh sting of pain made itself known. Cait inwardly cringed at how, if the roles had been reversed, she would have screamed and shouted and cried at him, too. He was only right in his actions. He was barely ever wrong.
She had to tell him! And yet she was still so afraid. The brunette thought her heart might race, her palms might sweat and her skin might tremble with anxiety. But they did not.
Her love of ‘this’ - this horrible thing she was - prevented her reacting with further shame. It did, however, prompt a fresh well of tears.
"I know you wanted to protect me," Cait choked, not quite referring to leering eyes or bullets in guns. "From you, from ‘this’-" She paused, staring at his ruffled hair, both wanting and dreading his eyes lifting to look at her. "But it’s too late for that. It was always too late for that…"
The brunette’s eyes lidded somewhat, still wet and red rimmed. She watched him through her fuzzy vision, wondering how the blond would take the news that she, too, was now a murderer. He’d never learned what had happened to the woman of the house she’d stolen for them.
"If you’ll stay with me, despite ‘this’-" Cait stopped, swallowing for a moment to try and find the right words. When she spoke again, it was soft and resigned - as though she expected his anger and shock and disappointment. "… If you’ll love me and let me stay, despite the blood on my hands. Then I’ll… I’ll swear. On your life.”
He’d suspected of her bloodlust. He knew that large houses didn’t fabricate out of thin air, yet he had not pressed her on the topic in fear of angering or upsetting her. He knew vaguely of her past, and between that and being so close to him and his own violent tendencies, it was only a matter of time before she followed in his footsteps. Still, hearing it confirmed, spoken through her own lips… It took everything within him not to break down onto his knees and weep. The only acknowledgement he made known of his pain was a wince and a slight digging of his fingertips into her cheek, as if it was the only thing holding him in place.
Yet the confirmation of his fears must have snapped him back to reality. How could he be so selfish to ask her to stay, when he knew that his presence would only make her bloodlust stronger? How could he remain hers when having him in her life only fed a monstrosity in the both of them? He could not accept her promise to stay.
He felt as if he was drowning in his own mind, and he knew that feeling all too well. He was running out of time.
"No," was his reply, lifting his head to look at her once more. "No, I won’t let you swear. I won’t let you stay. I don’t have the right."
He removed one hand from her cheek and placed it into her hair, letting the silken strands flow between his fingers like water. He still felt the drowning in his head, and physically gasped for air as his grasp on reality. When he reached the end of her hair, in one fluid movement, he took her left hand into his and removed the ring from her finger before pressing it to her palm and curling her fingers around it.
"I’m losing, Cait," he confessed, his hand tight around her curled fist. He did not tell her what he was losing at, but he knew that she would know. "You worry about me seeing you like that, but I won’t let you see me like this. I won’t let you watch me fade, transform into the monster I’ve always been. I won’t let you let me hurt you again."
She was his tie to humanity. And when she left, that tie broke, and over time he was slowly falling into complete darkness. The amount of time per day he had control over his own body, over his own thoughts, was decreasing steadily. Without her, Al was dying. With her back, perhaps he could grab hold once more. But it would not happen overnight, he knew, and he would rather completely lose himself before he let himself have the opportunity to strike her again during the long process it would take to regain his control.
He would rather fade away then let her hurt herself trying to fix him.
"I’m losing to him, Cait," he repeated. "Not losing just control… I’m losing all of myself. I…" He swallowed. "I don’t even remember your last name. So no, I won’t let you stay. As much as I want to, I won’t let you."
So please let this be goodbye, he thought to himself as if she could hear, before leaning down to press his lips to hers.
And when he pulled away, the familiarity of warmth made him wish he had told her he would let her save him.
|7 months ago||15 notes|
It was almost sickening when he described his version of events. He believed she had left because of him? Hardly so! Her desire to protect him from her total corruption had been the first reason for Cait’s flittering nature. She could see how, however, that both resorts may have hurt him equally. So what was she to do?
Yet it was too late. He’d spoken the forbidden words that her mind had tried to deny each time she thought of returning, almost too afraid to come back. You can keep the ring. It was a gift. And one of his cool hands took her own - it was trembling, when had she started trembling? - as if to placate her; perhaps calm the overwhelming storm of emotions raging inside.
The wind left her lungs for a moment, resulting in something of a choking sound. Her shoulders stiffened. Her hand going rigid in his own.
"You can’t." The whisper was barely audible. But the act of voicing aloud her denial seemed to divert some of the agony from her feelings to her voice, and the brunette raised her head upright, uncaring of her wet and flushed cheeks in her desperation.
"You can’t!" She almost gasped the words out like a mantra that might save the cancelling of their engagement. "It was supposed to be our promise! No - our eternity! You told me it was forever." She hated how volatile her head had become, how the former calm and restraint had burst open to an angry, unhealing welt of scars and fears. "You can’t." The pain bubbled over. It was too much.
Cait drooped somewhat, the tension leaving her shoulders. But her eyes were bright amid the tears, and there was a strong sense of want and urging in her gaze. Her other hand moved without her notice, fisting its fingers in the front of his shirt.
"It’s not you," The brunette blurted, the words tumbling out unbidden in the heat of this moment. "It’s me. It’s just me, Alphonse! I don’t want to leave you alone. I like - I love being with you! But I have to get away. You can’t see this.” Whatever ‘this’ was, she had not specified, yet the mere act of voicing ‘this’ horrified her to the extent that Cait stopped speaking, the desperation melting away to horror and fear.
He hunched down as she gripped at the front of his shirt, his eyes wide open in shock. When she had looked up he had seen the dampness in her eyes and her cheeks, and along with it, felt the shattering of his heart. He lifted his hand to his mouth and coughed quietly, slyly wiping the red droplets left behind onto the fabric of his pants to prevent her seeing.
He wanted to reach up and wipe her tears away, just as he had done so many times before. But his mind was in a battle with his heart, and he couldn’t help but repeat her last words in his mind over and over.
“‘This’?” He whispered, his frown slowly turning into a scowl. “You don’t want me to see ‘this’? Then what is the point, Cait? Tell me. Tell me then what is the damn point of us being engaged if you’re not going to let me be there for you. If you’re not going to let me help you with your struggles. And on that note, what could you have possibly done that I haven’t done worse, hmm?”
He released his grip on her hand and lifted both arms to grab her shoulders, squeezing firmly enough to portray his hurt and frustration, yet gently enough to not harm her.
"And how dare you reprimand me for ending our ‘forever’?” he hissed, his eyes narrowing. “Forever doesn’t leave. Forever doesn’t abandon its own promise, let alone twice, Cait. How d… dare…”
He wondered how long their eyes had been locked by this point. He wondered how long it had been since the pain welling up in his chest had begun to spill out of his eyes and onto his cheeks. He wondered when his hands had moved from Cait’s shoulders to both sides of her face, rubbing her dampened cheeks with his thumbs in small circles.
He lowered his face towards the ground, allowing the tears to bead up at the tip of his nose and drop onto the ground below.
"This is your last chance, Caitlin," he muttered, failing at his attempt to keep his voice even. "Leave now, or promise to never leave again. And if you swear to never leave again, you will swear it on my life.”
|7 months ago||15 notes|
He avoided looking at her face the entire time. Somehow, that smarted much more than everything else had - the silence, the push, the dark brooding glare - the lack of eye contact had them all beat. Severely.
And the he asked her to go.
She ducked her own head down for a moment, surprised and almost ashamed of the welling in her eyes at his words. It was the response she deserved, the girl reasoned; and he was all but right. He shouldn’t have to suffer like this. But it didn’t stop the pain in her chest, where her heart used to sit.
Cait wanted him to hold her. She didn’t deserve that; instead, the brunette kept her face down, hair hanging in delicate, yet thick strands in front of her - protecting her face from his should he glance at her finally and see she was almost weeping. She couldn’t bear to hear him scoff at that, given that he was the one who should be rightfully crying!
"I don’t want to leave you," Cait whispered, voice faint like the shell of a memory. "When I disappear - Al… phonse, you are always on my mind. But I have to remove myself from the situation before-" She cut off.
He might know of her joy of blood, but he did not yet know of her succumbing to it.
"Before… before what? Before I hurt you again?" he replied, finally lifting his eyes to look at her. But she was not looking at him, so he glanced at the reminding scar on her neck, and he felt his heart sink. "That’s what I’ve been afraid of. That’s what I’ve been thinking of. ‘You know, Al,’ I’d say to myself, ‘it’s for the best. You can’t hurt her this way, and your own pain of losing her doesn’t matter.’ And then…"
He dropped the stub of his cigarette to the ground and smothered it with the sole of his shoe.
"And then you come back. Out of nowhere. Again. Fucking again, Caitlin. And then I just remember every god damn reason I’m so in love with you.”
"Please just leave before it all comes flooding back. Because if I love you again, we’ll both suffer. You…" He reached forward and took her hand gently. "You can keep the ring, though. It was a gift."
|7 months ago||15 notes|
Oh. Of course. Alphonse was upset with her. Rather, he was more than a little angry with her current drop-in drop-out attitude - especially given it roused its head again after their engagement.
She couldn’t blame him for that. It still stung to be pushed away though.
However, Caitlin Lacey had never been one to give up without a fight. Thought she was missing several traits in this walking corpse, that one sometimes lingered on and sparked her former will.
"You’re angry." Cait stated it bluntly, the cheer and love void in her face. "I’d offer to go, but I don’t want to." She would not give him another reason to brood further - lest he regret their engagement. "I’d apologise, but I can’t promise I won’t disappear again."
Al inhaled deeply through his nose, then took the cigarette out of his mouth and flicked it off to the side. A small bit of ash landed on his shoe, so he looked to the ground and hit the toe of his shoe against the ground, using the action as an excuse to remain silent yet longer.
After too long had passed, he lifted his head, but kept his eyes to the ground.
"Then leave," he muttered. "You say you don’t want to go, so I’m telling you to. If you can’t promise, then just spare me the pain… and the hope. I can’t do it again, Cait."
He lowered his head again. “Just leave me,” he whispered before putting the cigarette back between his lips.
|7 months ago||15 notes|
Al remained still and let her give her affection. He did not smile at her, nor did he return any similar action of love; when her brief kiss to his chin was finished, he crossed his arms, gently loosening her embrace and pushing her away with the simple motion.
Once she was down, he pulled a cigarette out of the pack in his shirt pocket and lit it before lifting it to his mouth.
Besides that, he did not move, and he did not say a word. All his did was look down upon her darkly, a frown on his face and his arms tight to his chest, knowing that she would fully understand his response. Whether or not she accepted it, though, he wasn’t sure if he cared.
|7 months ago||2 notes|