On the day the Fuhrer died, it snowed.
For a few minutes they sat in silence, looking out over the sun-dazzled water. There didn't seem to be much to say.
But he's traveled like this before, and the hope that it won't end in failure a second time is, at this moment, enough.
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...
"Honestly, Fullmetal, I'm beginning to think that you're more trouble than you're worth."
Dear Ed: I miss you more than you can ever know.
"You report here every Monday at eight o'clock in the morning, on the dot, and call me every other day. You fail to report or call, and your ass is grass."
Screaming or crying would have been appropriate. Edward Elric didn't care about propriety. He was laughing.
"Apparently their mother never cautioned them to stay away from strangers with cars."
They'd been on the run so long, Ed had long since lost track of the last time he'd slept in a bed instead of in an abandoned barn, or under a hedge.
It's not the same at all when the patient choking back cries of pain and thrashing against the straps is her friend and playmate and brother.
Fear kept Al's metal arms at his sides, shaking slightly with each of Edward's pained moans.
Twenty-one days, and it all falls down.
What kind of stupid creature would walk willingly and calmly to its own violent, brutal death?
"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."
It was a game they often played, what would they do once they got their bodies back.
"Listen, bastard... Do you always have to do things the hard way? You never, ever make it easy for me."
"It's different when it's Mom," Ed said with a scowl, but he looked at Al's face, and he softened a little.
There would always be this silence in the air, stifling, thick, foggy and almost opaque, and I would watch from the mouth of the hallway, hands in front of me, our kitten, Unsere, threading through my legs.
Winry had scraped a promise out of Ed.
Now the eyes were dull, the gold frosted, and bitter lines caged his mouth.
Breathing. Fuck, he did it every day of his life, why was it so hard all of a sudden?
PR, we need PR, he kept telling himself, but at this point he didn't think he could string more than two sentences together.
Heaven is this: a short, crisp October day, the clear sky a great bowl above them, the amber valley a chalice below.
He always put his tongue in his cheek when he fired his weapon, and bit down when he grimaced at the aftermath.
You want to break him just once; see what he really is beneath that cool exterior.
This is the smell of ozone from a lightning strike. This is fear.
"If I do not, I might begin to love you, whom I should hate."
He had lost everything in a heartbeat, on a chance, and deserted his brother, although against his will.
She hasn't learned not to weep — only to weep without tears.
"She loved him," Ed said. Crack, snap. Another flower joined the pile.
"If you hadn't messed in the mud to get the cat," he pointed out, "your hands wouldn't be so cold. Give me your other."
His ruse works; Ed dismisses him - with a harsh, impatient rejoinder that he isn't finished yet - and devotes his attention to his brother.
It's almost as though Al is the blind one, seeking to memorize his brother's features by touch.
He reminds Alfons of himself, in a way, back after he'd been first diagnosed with his illness; when he used to get up and stare at his face in the washbasin mirror every day and think, I am too young for this.
But still they see, from the languid, liquid (inhuman) grace of her walk, the sway of her movements, the tattoos on her skin that she is something not quite human.
If she cries, he may have to kill her. He can't stand that sound any longer.
Before this war, he'd never wiped human blood off his automail.
If Ed had his way, his allowance (and all of Roy's salary) would be spent entirely on the most expensive brand of dog food to have ever existed.
I really don't like this body, he thought sadly; if he'd had a face to pout with, he would have.
Al waited to say something until Ed's hair brushed his shoulders.
The nurses knew all about these interludes, of course, but it was not something they could do anything about.
His vision was misted...almost comfortingly so. His hands were slathered in salve and bound with gentle gauze.
He looks like he wants to scold Ed for swearing, but is afraid to; at the thought, Ed forces his expression to soften, and gives his little brother a wan smile.
Ed liked him this way -- so why did it make him so furious to have to deal with Al caring one way or another about him?
It made him feel useful, and needed, even if the truth was his help wasn't entirely necessary. It made him feel like someone would miss him when he was gone.
She accepted the label and its implication without argument, lifting the revolver and sighting along its barrel.