"I'm not your brother," he told the sleeping figure; it rang hollow.
They kissed only once. She tasted like ashes and brine.
"I know how things work, sir," the boy continued, laying the watch across his lap.
I really don't like this body, he thought sadly; if he'd had a face to pout with, he would have.
"As you can see," she said to Mr. Elric, wryly, "Appreciate them while they're at this age, because they turn into teenagers in the blink of an eye."
There was something almost funny about the surprise on Roy's face.
He had never dared to dream that things could get better, astounded as he'd been by the way air tasted spilling over his tongue...
He had lost everything in a heartbeat, on a chance, and deserted his brother, although against his will.
It made only a semblance of sense, but she understood that the whole truth would be revealed when Ed could be led from this graveyard of the years he had lost.
The easiest way to destroy an enemy is to destroy those he depends upon.
Always on Al's face was that soft, sad expression, paralleled by the fierce unyieldingness on Ed's.
Everything — Ed's wishes, his remaining dignity, even his trust — was going to have to come second to Ed's life.
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.
Ling. Ambitious, greedy Ling. He deserved what he got.
I had offered him something he couldn't deny, something he couldn't refuse: the blink of salvation and a flesh-and-blood body for his brother.
"Listen, bastard... Do you always have to do things the hard way? You never, ever make it easy for me."
And if she listened carefully enough, she could hear Edward reading in a low voice to a gurgling Alphonse.
Ed had confessed that he had no idea how the relationships had started.
"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.
He underestimates the little things, like how long it will take him to put his socks on in the morning, and she comes up the stairs when breakfast is long since over to find him crouched over a torn stocking, blinking back furious tears...
"We ought to have a toast," Ed says, frowning into the depths of his bottle. "They always do when they're having a drink in someone's memory."
Roy Mustang was shipped back home last week. Neat as a parcel of vegetables with the stamp upside-down on the crate.
"I'm not thirteen," Al said, as if reading his mind.
The lilacs would wither all too soon, but until then she intended to indulge herself, carrying the scent of home with her wherever she went.
The sweet morning snaps like a fragile pane of glass and Al is sobbing, the sounds tearing up out of his chest and throat before he can stop them.
It was so, so much easier just to go hungry than to try their hands at something she'd done so well.
There was gold in the middle of midnight, and Envy smiled over his satisfaction.
This is the smell of ozone from a lightning strike. This is fear.
"Beautiful," he purred again, a smile curling the edges of his lips, and Roy shivered despite the heat.
Ed's birthday had passed a little over a month ago, while they were still with Sensei.
"Each State Alchemist gets two subordinates; one foot soldier and one sniper," the General droned, organizing the files into a neater state in their folder and walking over to hand them to Mustang.
In the winter months the ground was too hard to dig ditches, so instead they chipped rocks.
"Don't go to sleep," he murmurs into Ed's hair, and thinks of their mother, long ago, telling a story about spinning straw into gold.
"Oh, he's probably just studying too hard to notice you knocking," Winly said at first.
On the day the Fuhrer died, it snowed.
He didn't play anymore, not with reports to file, books to read, notes to scratch out.
Humans are so greedy, the Truth had told him in his dreams; and for all his airs and graces, he is no exception.
It does not occur to him until later — years later — that this might be considered a case of sexual abuse.
You hide it well behind your bluster and your sulks, but the workings of your mind are at once cunningly devious and ruthlessly simple.
He was glad his expression rarely reflected what he felt on the inside.
Half the apple pie was still on a cracked plate on the windowsill, covered with a bowl so it didn't go stale before tomorrow, because it was all he had in the house.
Red. It looked strange on him, the red did, strange and somehow distressing.
It wasn't easy to imagine how he had been mistaken, because Al could swear that even from a distance, a hanged man looked very different from a tent post.
Mustang fell into a kind of trance whenever he killed with his flames -- snapping his fingers continually, sometimes so fast that both his hands blurred.
"I have to spend a year at Northern Command, and you can't come with me."
"But we're going to be late on her birthday," Ed fretted, and Al had to suppress a long-suffering sigh.
...but he must take a moment to compose himself, all the same, before he can look through the small window.
Before this war, he'd never wiped human blood off his automail.
"If I do not, I might begin to love you, whom I should hate."