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Slow Burn

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He awakened in the night, trembling and broken out in a cold sweat, lost in the throes of his chaotic consciousness. The aftereffects of the nightmare still lingered, no manifestation of his troubled senses but rather a monstrous recollection destined to forever haunt him, mind and soul, twisting and clawing its way into the darkest reaches of his heart.

Once his body began to calm down from the sudden shock of the dream, Nick Jones released himself from the bed sheets tangled around his legs, raising himself into a sitting position. The room was dark and the heat was overwhelming, filling the cramped space with a stale, stifling air. Summer had come that year with a beastly vengeance, smothering humidity hovering over the city in a thick blanket of balmy heat.

The cramped apartment was shadowed in the dark of the night as he made his way across the bedroom, the monotonous black only broken by the view from his twelfth-story window, the stars obscured by the lights on the horizon, creating the impression of a Christmas tree shining in August. The only sound disturbing his reflections was the low hum of the overhead fan, providing little relief in the heat as his wife-beater clung like a second skin to his sweat-soaked torso.

New York, the dirty, loud, sprawling mess twelve stories below him, didn't quite feel like home, though it was more of a fit than Gainesville. The only real home Nick had ever had was not a place but a person. She was his beginning, his middle, his end; his life, his breath, his home. The reason for which he would live or die. The very reason he was still alive.

His low laugh rumbled darkly, no humor to be found in the sound as he drew back from the window. It was thoughts like that that kept getting him into trouble in the first place, he inwardly grumbled, throwing himself down on a lumpy chair in the corner. He laid his head back and his eyes strayed to stare blankly at the stained ceiling.

For far too many nights, he had lain staring at this ceiling, entertaining himself sleepless evening after sleepless evening by watching the rings of light on the ceiling or finding patterns in the cracks in the wall.

He groaned, rubbing a hand over his buzzed head. This thing was slowly, but surely, driving him crazy. Nothing seemed to deafen the ache, the longing , the pain, the screwed-up side of him that lusted for his own goddamned sister. After Ambrose, their only real source of support and comfort had been each other, and they ended up wanting, needing, too much.

He had escaped hell only to be sentenced to his own private purgatory. Worst of all, he had been the one to make the choice, forsaking logic for masochistic torment when he followed Carly to New York.

He could still remember how this had all started.

He was trembling as he awoke. His face was slick with tears, trailing unchecked over flushed skin as more of their counterparts gathered in his eyes. His breath was ragged and uneven, his heart thundering in his chest as he willed his body to calm down.


Nick's head shot up from his pillow, his eyes adjusting in the darkness to meet the concerned gaze of the other bed's occupant. Moonlight filtered in through the room's sole window just behind her, illuminating russet waves of hair falling around her shoulders, giving her an ethereal look in the pallid luminescence.

Her skin seemed to glow, porcelain flesh his fingers itched to touch, her long legs, exposed as t-shirt she had borrowed barely came down to her thighs, swung out from under the comforter as she sat up to face him.

"Nick? You alright?"

He nodded dumbly, averting his eyes from her as his traitorous mind grappled both with the lingering traces of his nightmare and the illicit attraction he harbored for his twin.

They'd flown up to NYC the night before, armed with sleeping bags and duffels to spend their first night in their new place, their belongings to be shipped that weekend. They had arrived at the apartment, an unimpressive place but hospitable enough to suit their needs, only to be informed it was lined up for fumigation and would not be habitable until the end of the week. So, for now, they were bunking down in a nearby motel, sharing a room with twin beds.

He really should have known better. But Carly hadn't wanted him to be far, and like everything else regarding Carly in the last few months, he had given in without a fight.

Any trace of thought immediately dissipated for Nick as slender arms suddenly slipped around him, the bed creaking under the addition of her weight as she sat beside him. "You're not okay…please don't lie, Nick," she whispered into his ear.

"Carly," he grunted out throatily, fighting to keep himself unresponsive to her embrace, "Go back to bed."

She eyed him closely, studying him, blue eyes imploring and defiant as they locked with his, her head shaking to refuse him. "No. I heard you talking in your sleep…thrashing around. Talk to me. Don't pretend."

"Carly," and his voice dropped an octave, the dark quality to it sending shivers through her as he repeated his command with more authority, "Go back to bed."

The pupils of his eyes were dilated, the blue of them nearly obscured by the black, and the effect of them were mesmerizing. She swallowed hard, the hands previously trying to comfort him fisting in the material of his wife-beater.

"No," and she watched him scowl with her refusal, the severity of his expression having the resolution of her resolve wavering, not wanting to push him. But then she felt the muscles beneath her fingers quiver with tension and she remembered the mutters and the thrashing that had woken her in the first place. "Why won't you talk to me? You've helped me all those nights when I had nightmares. Why don't you let me help you?"

"You need to go to bed. Now. If not…"

"If not…" she prompted, her breath hitching almost painfully as she met his eyes again, glittering with something she couldn't quite read.

"If not…I'm going to do something we can't take back."

His gaze fell from her eyes to her lips and he was suddenly leaning forward, so close that his eyes were all that filled her vision, dark and full with what she recognized now as the same feeling coiling in her belly. It was the same feeling that heated in her blood with his proximity, that had her knees feeling weak and her mind blank of anything but him every time he was near.

Desire, hot and potent, burned between them…almost a palpable entity in its intensity.

Carly licked her lips, shifting closer. "What if I don't want to take it back?"

Nick seemed to tremble against her, closing his eyes. "Then," he said simply, his voice husky and pained, "We're both done for."

She watched him, her stomach a jumble of nerves and anticipation as she glanced at him demurely through the fan of thick lashes, biting her lip in a gesture that earned a low, throaty whisper of "God, Carly," from him just before he wrapped his arms around her, pulled her into his lap and crushed his mouth to hers.

His lips moved over hers hungrily, his tongue demanding entrance she gladly granted, and dear God, she was drowning with no hopes of surfacing any time soon. His hands splayed across her back, pushing her flush against him as he kissed her ever the more urgently.

An intense heat spiraled in her blood, settling in her abdomen and humming through her head, fuelled on as she felt him harden through the thin fabric of his boxers, instinctually rolling her hips against his arousal. He groaned low in his throat, plundering her mouth ever more insistently as he kissed her again, his weight pressed her back to the bed.

She mewled with pleasure as the spike of ecstasy that shot through her as he rocked into her, and she pushed against him, eager for more of the feeling. Aching to feel more, he shucked up the t-shirt to her hips, sliding his hands up the creamy skin of her legs and thighs. He tore his mouth from hers, trailing heated kisses down her neck, and she squirmed against him, made soft sounds of pleasure that left him feeling dizzy and utterly empowered as she begged him softly for more, something more…anything more.

"Nick…please…" She lifted her hips to his once more, rubbing wantonly against him as he obeyed her request, sliding down her underwear, urging her to lift her arms so he could pull the t-shirt over her head. She lay back against the sheets, completely bare to him, and his eyes roved over her, feasting on warm, sun-kissed flesh and soft curves his mind couldn't have even began to imagine.

He leaned down to nuzzle her neck as he whispered how beautiful she was. Her smile was infectious, Nick finding himself grinning rather boyishly despite the warnings running through his mind. His sister, his twin, was lying naked beneath him, subject to his touch and his lusts.

"Carly…are you sure about this?"

She guided his lips back to hers to cut off his line of speech. "Shh," catching his lower lip between her teeth, earning a low growl from him as he nipped at her in return, placating the sore spot with a deep, earnest kiss, "I want this. I want you."

He placed a kiss just below her ear, obediently rearing upward to allow her to pull his wife-beater over his head as she reminded him quietly she was the only one naked, and by the time his boxer shorts joined the small pile of clothing on the floor, the naked length of his body covering hers like a human blanket, he was too far gone to care about anything but her.

He had lain there that night for hours after she had fallen into slumber, just listening to the sound of her breathing and reveling in the warm body spooned against his side. Guilt and disgust warred with sated euphoria in his mind, and he found it to be a fruitless battle. He couldn't hate himself for this anymore than he could have hated the act between them…something he would have given his life to savor just once.


The sleepy voice broke through his reflections, causing him to turn toward the source of the noise, the sleepy-eyed figure lying in the bed he'd vacated before. "Can't sleep?"

Nick nodded, managing a soft smile as he took in the sight of her. She was slender and slight beneath the pool of bedsheets, a deceptive impression with the womanly curves vaguely outlined beneath the thin material his hands itched to feel again- her face angelic to his sight, , with her warm blue eyes, curls tumbling around her bare shoulders.

Her mouth curved into a smile, the look in her eyes so close to pure adoration, and his heart picked up, surrendering to the urge to go to her once more. Carly watched him cross the room with long, fluid strides, the length of him moving with a perfected, feline grace.

He was a beautiful man, her brother, tall and strong, sculpted muscles rippling beneath his skin. The rugged attractiveness of him was as appealing to her senses as the gentle quality to his eyes, his smile as he climbed back into the bed. He grazed his knuckles against her cheek, responding to her silent inquiries with a nearly inaudible whisper of her name, "Carly…"

She leaned into his hand, kissing his palm. "How long have you been up?"

"Maybe half-hour. I couldn't get back to sleep."

"Wanna talk about it?"

"Nope," he stated, stretching out beside her, extending an arm to pull her closer to him.

She hummed knowingly as she cuddled into his side, reveling in the perfect way she fit against him. "Thought so." That was her Nick, strong and stoic. "Hey, Nick?"

"Hmm?" he murmured against his pillow.

"Since you were already up…" she trailed off slightly, watching Nick's eyes lock on her fingers, currently trailing coyly up his chest, "You're probably not all that tired, right?"

In response, his arm tightened around her, levering her body over his as he pulled her atop of him, beautiful blue eyes darkening as he smirked. "For you? Never."

His kiss was soft, just the light brush of his lips gliding over hers, and then she could taste him, the incredible heat of him as he cupped her jaw, exploring her mouth with deep, heated kisses that left her shivering and aching for more.

She shifted against him, straddling him and his hands shot to her hips as he realized her intentions, shaking his head. "Don't rush, Carls. Don't ever wanna rush with you."

He punctuated each word with a kiss against her skin, and he found her breast, his mouth closing over one erect nipple while his hand molded to the other, listening to her soft mewls of pleasure as the calloused fingertips of his opposite hand explored the contours and curves of her body. Carly felt him harden against her hip, and then he was sliding his mouth downward, their angle awkward as he reared up to get to her, her still straddling him, but neither of them cared.

He sucked at her hipbone, his tongue circling her navel, and Carly arching against him pushed him back at their odd angle, Nick settling himself back as he gripped her hips, resisting the urge to just thrust forward and drive himself inside her.

He wanted to taste her, smell her, all the time…imprint himself into her skin; feel her become a part of him. It was a frightening, yet exhilarating, thought, and one he couldn't completely shake.

And then he was sliding into her, slowly filling her, and her head dropped back, her hands clutching at his shoulders for balance. "Oh God, Nick…" his hips jerked upward, and she cried out, rocking against him in response.

It was over sooner than he would have wanted, the ache of needed release eventually trumping the urge to stay forever inside of her, feel her tighten and shake around him, hearing her breathless moans in his ear.

Their bodies were already so worked up with each other, a few short thrusts, her hips grinding into his, determined to make them one, and he lost it. She soon joined him over the edge and her cry of his name was like the song of angels greeting in the dawn.

And that dawn was something rapidly approaching, something neither of them could prevent from happening- both of them wanting the night to go on forever for different reasons, for want not to relinquish her lover's embrace, Nick for not wanting to shatter the illusion they'd built up so cruelly for themselves. Tomorrow would have them pretending this didn't keep happening, fooling themselves into thinking they were ordinary siblings. By morning, they would play make-believe that they had never crossed the line, never committed this taboo.

Nick finally fell into slumber a couple of hours before the sunrise, and this time, it was Carly's turn to watch him as he slept. It was the only time since they were children that she ever saw him appear so peaceful, his defenses completely dropped.

As children, she and Nick had been incredibly close. They were attached at the hip, partners in crime. The last was quite literal, pulling harmless pranks and getting into other childish mischief. They made a brilliant team, able to tell what the other was thinking and working off one another perfectly. They were together in everything they did and they preferred it that way.

By the time they reached their teens, Carly's curiosity about the world outside their little bubble won out over Nick's familiarity. She made girlfriends and took an interest in boys. Nick had balked at the changes and by the time Carly had her first serious boyfriend at fifteen, the damage was irreversible. Nick began acting out, angry and hurt, turning their old mischief into something criminal, and the divide between them became a chasm.

Ambrose changed things. They went through hell and back, saving each other, and though their relationship was repaired, something else changed. Something different sparked between them, a desperate kind of desire. By day, they were siblings, by night, they shared their bed and their bodies. While Carly longed for the lover she knew in the dark to still be there in the light, every look into Nick's eyes, full of love but so much guilt, had her swallowing back that desire and continuing with their façade.

With a regretful sigh, Carly reached out, her fingers softly brushing against the serene features of her twin's face, and her smile was bittersweet as she whispered to him, "We'll take care of each other, won't we, Nick? I won't lose you, too, right?"

With Nick deep asleep, her only answer was the silence of the night.