He hates the military. Maybe he doesn't. Roy and straight-line thinking aren't on speaking terms anymore, though he likes to pretend.
The advantage to being so distinctive-looking was that sometimes Edward didn't have to look for people; they found him first.
"Ah, Alphonse-kun, I was wondering when you would wake up."
Alphonse worried, but was rapidly won over by his brother's promises.
He's getting so awfully, awfully tired of pictures, but they won't just stop coming.
"I'm not thirteen," Al said, as if reading his mind.
As much as he loved his family, Alphonse Elric wouldn't have traded these moments alone for anything.
He runs out of ink halfway through the page, and with a quiet sigh dips his finger in the inkwell...
"Your arm," said Al, smiling apologetically. "It's kind of heavy."
It's almost as though Al is the blind one, seeking to memorize his brother's features by touch.
Edward doesn't come back the next night, or the next.
He knew, as he had never known before, his own body; the strength and flexibility in every limb, every joint, every bone.
This, too, was a pain that Edward had inflicted only on himself, but neither Roy nor Al had dared to say so.
And if she listened carefully enough, she could hear Edward reading in a low voice to a gurgling Alphonse.
All the alchemical skill in the world didn't matter, he was learning, when it came to something like this.
Heaven is this: a short, crisp October day, the clear sky a great bowl above them, the amber valley a chalice below.
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.
"Would you like a blindfold, Mr. Tucker?"
All he had to do was snap his fingers. Again. Again in this endless night of terror.
"Honestly, Fullmetal, I'm beginning to think that you're more trouble than you're worth."
Roy was far from at ease and he could not sleep, and so, instead, he watched Edward, feeling anxiety and guilt sink claws into his belly and tear into his mind.
He was afraid, so afraid, that something would go wrong, but he couldn't let this go.
This is not how normal people behave, Ed's mind warned him.
The tree was wobbly, but with a few kicks and shoves Ed got it to stand up in the corner by the window.
PR, we need PR, he kept telling himself, but at this point he didn't think he could string more than two sentences together.
His first thought was that there was something fundamentally and frighteningly wrong with him.
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.
"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."
Before this war, he'd never wiped human blood off his automail.
That was when the nightmare had begun, when the world had become stone walls, sterilized laboratories, and lights so bright as to make little red capillaries snake across both boys' eyes.
"Fuck, I have a gang," Ed breathed in horror, about to take a seat.
"Stop that," he snapped, flicking the tap on. "Change into something a little more appropriate. You're not him, brother."
How do you find someone who barely existed in this world now that they're gone?
"You should know better than to behave that way, Envy," said a voice against his ear, and he felt the warmth of breath as it feathered over the side of his face.
Red. It looked strange on him, the red did, strange and somehow distressing.
"She loved him," Ed said. Crack, snap. Another flower joined the pile.
This is far more effective, Roy thinks grimly, than any threat of physical violence against his own self.
"But we're going to be late on her birthday," Ed fretted, and Al had to suppress a long-suffering sigh.
"No one shuns their duty in Xing," she said, firmly and leaving no room to brook argument, the way her elders had always passed the maxim to her.
As it got later, Al could hear the night in the strange world deepen. Nights of terror, here, a country full of dead people.
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.
Riza looks straight ahead. "Personally, I found during my time in Ishbal that nothing stops a career faster than a bullet between the eyes."
It's a paradoxical situation; Alphonse is closer to Edward than he has ever been, yet somehow he feels as if they don't know each other at all.
But it was through the hands that you cooked, and with a false hand Ed found that the cooking didn't come as easily anymore, didn't taste quite like Mother's.
He did not expect an answer even though it was true that Wrath was more likely to speak to him than anyone else, even Winry.
Ling. Ambitious, greedy Ling. He deserved what he got.
Ed began to understand why some people talked to themselves.