Yes, something was amiss, and Roy Mustang was going to find out what.
Because he had said one year; and dammit, he meant it.
ROY: [calmly] If drinking means acting like an idiot the way you are, I'm going to pass.
“Um, you must’ve learned that from Colonel Bastard. You’d better not be flashing that at the nurses. Or at me, ever, ever again.”
Ed's arms swept out, taking in the street and the buildings, the grass and the trees and the sky -- "the world and our own minds to understand it! That's all!" Isn't that enough?
At night, curled shivering on the layers of musty damp leaves under the glimmering stars, Ed lay silently and thought of unspeakable unknowns...
Not a fairy, then, Alfons thought in disappointment. The fairies in stories weren't usually so foul-mouthed and excitable, anyway.
He's getting so awfully, awfully tired of pictures, but they won't just stop coming.
He's seen quite enough of the military hospital in Central, and much as he likes the nurses, he was still glad when he thought they were through with it.
The advantage to being so distinctive-looking was that sometimes Edward didn't have to look for people; they found him first.
"I want to bring father back for her," Al had whispered the week before Christmas fell.
The staff look at each other, look at their automail bottle-opener, and prepare to duck.
He even dragged out his Best Manners for the occasion, the ones his mother had taught him so long ago.
But he still flinched away from that metal skin, and held his own burning automail arm a little further from his body in hopes that he would not bump against it.
"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."
Ed began to understand why some people talked to themselves.
Ed remembered that Al's first word was 'Mama', and his second one was 'Niichan'.
And while he didn't know the Niisan that had been to hell and back again with a grin on his face, he knew his Niisan, and he knew that prison was not at all where he belonged.
Ed imagined Al's expression would look something like Fletcher's did right now.
"You know it's a good thing I heal almost immediately, because otherwise I'd be so sore, I'd never get anywhere in the story."
Stay observant! Amestris needs you!
And if he did forget mom's face, what would be next? Her voice? Her smile? The color of her eyes?
"Honestly, Fullmetal, I'm beginning to think that you're more trouble than you're worth."
But he glanced behind himself for Winly, and it was a terrible, bittersweet thing.
It hurt, somehow, to know that there was no one now who could see past the mask if he didn't want them to.
If Al hadn't known how often the older boy feigned unconsciousness in order to stave off these visits, he might have been fooled.
"...That is an order, Fullmetal, and I will have you court-martialed if you refuse."
Even Hawkeye could be caught off guard, and the men moving in too late, even five seconds too long, too far away.
If she cries, he may have to kill her. He can't stand that sound any longer.
But the harsh light of early morning sharpens the hard angles of desperation on Al's face so instead Ed smiles, all teeth, and lies, "Of course."
It was a big world out there, full of more possibilities than either of them could dream of.
It was only after the sheer sensation had abated — only when he felt on solid enough ground to focus on the subtleties of life once more — that the habit began to catch his attention.
Some of the details he needed, of course, they wouldn't have; no non-alchemist would know. And most of the details they had, he didn't want.
He remembered finding himself asking why the Fullmetal Alchemist would be the one to patch his own clothes.
"You're late," Ed tells him flatly. "You should have been here one minute and forty four seconds ago."
This really was turning out to be a day of surprises, thought Roy.
Bravado. Make them regret they ever talked to you.
Al's slightly hollow voice positively echoed with embarrassment but he bravely soldiered on...
That day, Ed had pulled his hair out of a braid and tied it up into a neat ponytail.
Hadn't he survived a month on a deserted island when he was ten, equipped only with a little knife and one pair of shorts? He was tough. He was rugged. He could fall asleep anywhere. He could totally do this.
He decided, then, quite firmly, that he wasn't ever going to drink coffee again, with anybody. It was too risky.
He was only human though, and he had given into his rage at having to deal with Edward's dysfunction--and now Edward was gone, and it looked more and more like he might not be coming back.
He can still feel in his cheeks the faint scratch of beard against skin when his father kissed him there.
"When I walked in on you in the bath, Edward, I wasn't expecting Al to be there too."
The only problem was that Ed didn't know what the heck "getting some" was or what he was being congratulated for.
Car broke down again, couple kilometers out of the city, so they had to walk for a while, until Alfons couldn't speak for the coughing.
Winry had never gotten to appreciate the leather pants in her current position as the person who got to unzip them.
"Just who're you calling..." Edward's voice stuttered to a halt as he saw where the man was pointing. "...short?"
For in equivalent trade, everything has value and therefore everything can be taken away.
Tomorrow: having to talk to fucking Hohenheim. The day after tomorrow: the apocalypse. No pressure, eh?