The staff look at each other, look at their automail bottle-opener, and prepare to duck.
"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."
There was a loud crack, like the sound of several chopsticks simultaneously being snapped in two, followed by the sound of something heavy falling, the object hitting the ground so hard the earth literally shook beneath Ed's feet.
Of course he came through the window.
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.
"When I walked in on you in the bath, Edward, I wasn't expecting Al to be there too."
Alphonse worried, but was rapidly won over by his brother's promises.
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.
You'd have to be inhuman not to quake in fear when she stares you down.
What he remembered of ice cream, more than the taste, was how messy it had always been.
It would be a shame if the future Fuhrer got himself killed over something as trivial as a chess game.
An alchemical reaction of the most ancient kind: sitting down to eat as though filling the stomach could replace the gap in one's heart.
It was kind of ironic, and kind of inconvenient, that Rush Valley, the capital city of automail, was also hot as hell for half the year.
And there was a certain look they shared, the one they both used when they thought Ed was being unreasonably stubborn.
Alphonse had thought that he must have the bravest brother in the world.
Tomorrow: having to talk to fucking Hohenheim. The day after tomorrow: the apocalypse. No pressure, eh?
Fear kept Al's metal arms at his sides, shaking slightly with each of Edward's pained moans.
Brother likes to pretend that he doesn't care what goes on in the military unless it directly affects him. Or, you know, directly offends him. One or the other.
That was the problem with girls these days... they just didn't know how to deal with a little pain.
It was a lousy day, depressing and the color of the sky on his way home reminded Ed of the color of the Gate and he just felt helpless and sorry and lonely and bad.
Ah. Fans. He preens slightly into his coat, sits up just a little taller on his haunches. Fans he knows how to deal with.
"You don't think doing grown up things makes you look older?" Ed said after a while.
Ed opened his mouth, and then closed it. "Visibility is that important to you, huh?" he said.
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.
"Just who're you calling..." Edward's voice stuttered to a halt as he saw where the man was pointing. "...short?"
"Oh, what would YOU know? said Winry. "You've never looked at a girl in your life."
But he glanced behind himself for Winly, and it was a terrible, bittersweet thing.
Because he had said one year; and dammit, he meant it.
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.
He didn't play anymore, not with reports to file, books to read, notes to scratch out.
It was just as his body heat was beginning to bring the sheets up to a reasonable temperature that the noise caught his ears- an ugly scraping sound, unnatural and harsh in the silence of early morning hours.
Bravado. Make them regret they ever talked to you.
If Al hadn't known how often the older boy feigned unconsciousness in order to stave off these visits, he might have been fooled.
There was one thing that Edward had missed above all others.
That day, Ed had pulled his hair out of a braid and tied it up into a neat ponytail.
Stay observant! Amestris needs you!
They were good boys, and smart, and she trusted them to stay mostly out of trouble. Mostly.
This is the smell of ozone from a lightning strike. This is fear.
Ling was an expert at this shit, he really was: making Ed feel too bad to say no to him, throwing out weird, cheeseball compliments that made his cheeks fire and froze his brain before he could brush them off
Yes, something was amiss, and Roy Mustang was going to find out what.
He can still feel in his cheeks the faint scratch of beard against skin when his father kissed him there.
It was the last moments of the change that had always held Ed rapt, had always thrilled him with the knowledge that whatever came into being, every tiny detail of it, was his creation.
Al's slightly hollow voice positively echoed with embarrassment but he bravely soldiered on...
It took you long enough to make your call. I was beginning to think you'd forgotten how to work a phone.
It didn't really sink in when you saw the thing, all clumsy dangling wood and leather straps, like the arm of a marionette in a kids' puppet show.
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?
He even dragged out his Best Manners for the occasion, the ones his mother had taught him so long ago.
"Well, I guess she can't keep him away from every bitch in heat around this place."
When the lines didn't matter, when the lungs weren't working in labor of sweet industry worlds, then it was so easy to see where they might be all born of the same blood.
Even Hawkeye could be caught off guard, and the men moving in too late, even five seconds too long, too far away.