The air feels cold against Al's face, and even colder down his naked back.
"I'm not thirteen," Al said, as if reading his mind.
He had started to wonder if it was Edward or himself that was farther out of reach at the moment.
"He misses me," came the quiet whisper, a hope that maybe this madness would end, that maybe, maybe, he could be released, that he could go home.
"Oh my," the woman smiling broadly. "How CUTE. You are purring."
And when the next words followed, barely loud enough to be heard, the General was surprised by the force behind them.
Sometimes Roy would just hold him for an hour or more, late at night, blind comfort.
His first thought was that there was something fundamentally and frighteningly wrong with him.
He had to force himself to remember that he hadn't even known what Alphonse had been like in the flesh, but he was fairly certain that he hadn't been a polished and polite doppelganger of his older brother.
Sometimes Al thinks that somewhere back in the Armstrong family tree lurks an alchemical accident in a sequin factory.
He made the slip-up not whilst in the throes of passion, but rather, sitting quite peacefully at the kitchen table, watching the slender blond cook.
Al crouches down on a dune looking down on the camp and draws an array in the sand, thinking of Gunnar with a dull pang of grief.
It was not fair to the boy to get tripped up by what he looked like, especially not when he had avoided it for so many years already.
Roy wondered how far Alphonse would go to prove his point.
If he would permit himself to be honest, Alphonse would admit to Roy that he hates the rain, too.
He could ask so many things at this point. About sex, Ed, himself...
He didn't need chalk, or ink; hell, if anything, blood was a better medium for this purpose.
Dear Ed: I miss you more than you can ever know.
In the weeks that followed, the Major General begged, borrowed and stole minor assignments, anything to keep that brilliant mind occupied and the company close.
"It's not that easy, Roy. You see, it's my fault he is this way. He honestly doesn't want to hurt me. He loves me..."
I'm going to kill Ed when he gets back, Al told the General. I just thought I should tell you in advance in case there's paperwork.
Al turned out to be damnably difficult to seduce, but Roy wasn't about to back down from the challenge.
This, too, was a pain that Edward had inflicted only on himself, but neither Roy nor Al had dared to say so.
"One of us was going to betray the other tonight."
Al sits in a doorway puzzling absently over the problem of what array to draw to bandage his arm before he bleeds to death.
Contrary to popular opinion, Roy Mustang was quite skilled at dealing with emotions.
"For the last time, we are not having this conversation!"
Staring, he couldn't tell the difference aside the eyes, aside from the cloudy sunlight of his hair, just a whisper darker than his beloved's.
The sun was up. It was time to start the day, but Roy felt exhausted.