With a sense of rising dread, Alphonse raised his fist to pound for admittance, worry tinging his voice. "Brother? Are you alright in there?"
This was getting crazy. He knew that his college years ran equivalent with his sexual peak, but honestly?
It is to such a morning that Alphonse wakes up, light pouring in through the blinds and over the bed sheets.
"That's what you said last time. And the time before that. And," he added, dragging the feather upward with maddening slowness, "The time before that."
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.
How do you find someone who barely existed in this world now that they're gone?
...when he presses his hand against the scraped array and wills it to activate, he can't help but send a whispered prayer to it. Please work. Please, please...
A collection of 100 word ficlets.
Al can see his handwriting -- which closely resembles the marks a tap-dancing spider might make if it fell in an ink pot first.
There were many things that Edward Elric didn't want the world to know, secrets to be protected at all cost.
Boys shouldn't do this, either with their brothers or with any other boy.
His brother seemed to like it when the leather left marks, a residual token of ownership, even when the collar (by job-dictated necessity) had to be removed.
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.
"Are you saying," Al inquired, slowly, "that you never believed that I didn't blame you?"
There was something extremely satisfying about Ed's body.
As always, there was a spark of hope in the younger Elric's expression, and it dug its claws into him as it had every day for the past eight months.
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.
The only other tradition that was better than eggnog to Al, was that of mistletoe.
"You paid for him to have sex?" Mustang says incredulously, putting his pen down on the table top and shoving the form away. "You bought him a prostitute?"
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.
"You know we need to catch that train to Central, and you were being unreasonable. If we're late getting back again, General Mustang's going to have a fit."
The house rumbled gently, as a cat purrs, and Alphonse tied off the braid, pressing his hands to Edward's scalp one more time before dropping them to his side.
"Up," said the demon, as the blinding force of a million suns illuminated its frame and set an evil light to its 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.
"Yeah," Fuery chips in, "you're always the one to stop Ed from doing weird stuff, not the other way around."
Sweet nothingness, just feeling, no Stone, no pesky mental commentary or guilt, and just this goddamn sensation that eclipsed the sun.
Al didn't complain about his brother's occasional delinquency, so Ed didn't have room to complain about Al's taste in boyfriends.
It is somewhat odd that two brothers can be so different, yet so close.
"Get out of the kitchen, brother," he snarled, waving the spatula threateningly. "I'm still cooking, damnit."
The desire to go wandering again, to never settle down... it worried Alphonse.
He's a pessimist with an ego seven miles long; he's a scientist, too, doesn't approve of Al's books.
"It's blue!" Edward announced with the voice of desperation.
His tone was all weary patience, as though explaining to a child why candy was out of the question until after dinner.
Not many people are close enough to his brother to have seen either of the first two with any sort of frequency.
Alphonse settled for a barely audible sigh and hoped that his brother knew what he was doing.
In the summer they competed at climbing through the twisting branches, risking life and bruises to collect baskets of fruit and bring them back home.
Apparently, years of stress had jaded Ed into thinking that if things were looking good now, then something terrible must be around the corner.
It is snowing in earnest by the time the fire has begun to burn low, but neither boy wants to move to add more wood.
He would ask questions, even though Al knew he didn't particularly care, simply because he liked seeing Alphonse so animated about something.
See him move, see him train, see him jump into that air and swing his leg in a complete arch before he lands heavily to the ground in a perfect execution of Sensei's teachings.
Sometimes Al thinks that somewhere back in the Armstrong family tree lurks an alchemical accident in a sequin factory.
For an instant, a look passed between them, and Alphonse could almost imagine that he saw his own emotions reflected within the eyes of his brother.
When there was no answer, he tried again, but gave up after that. It wasn't like Ed would get eaten by a rabid saucepan, or something.
"I know," Ed replies, and grins. "I mean, I can totally see why. Nobody else kisses the way I do."
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.