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Moments Between Reality


It was a moment of pure weakness, and for that, he would
always regret it, hate himself for it.

The words had spilled out like someone had opened flood
gates, and sitting there afterwards, blinking the thick, golden lashes, he had
wondered what had compelled him to tell him the story in the first place. He
didn't know why he had chosen to tell of a place where alchemy was real, real
and alive and a breathing entity in the lives of so many. He didn't know why
he had expected those blue eyes of this imposter to understand, to comprehend
what he was saying, why he was saying it, that it was true, true, true,
goddammit!

He didn't know why they wouldn't just believe him, why
they couldn't have faith in his expressive amber eyes as he waved his one good
arm around in broad strokes. He didn't know why they would do this to him, why
they would stare with sad eyes and sad lips, with mouths turned down for the
frowns that came. He didn't know why they would put him through this.

And when they came, ministers of the state health,
when they came and put him into the car, he thought he might have cried, thought
he might have pleaded with Blue Eyes to stop this insanity (what a funny word
to use), thought he might have begged him to believe in reason. But what reason
was this, these words of days and ways that couldn't ever be true, of humans
created and immortal stones?

He wailed in the car, thrashed and screamed and wanted
to destroy all that came close. Home. Home was where he needed to go. Home where
Al was, Al in the cold armor, in the cruel confines of steel, and he needed
to let him free! Why couldn't they comprehend this?!

When the halos of lights slowed, when the car began edging
instead of speeding, he clawed at the floor and let his shoulders hunch up.

Why. Why. Not a question, not a worry, but a state of
mind. Why.

Why this place.

Why this time.

Why Al.

Why him.

Why the lot of it all.

He was pulled out, and unfiltered, unrestricted air slid
over his cheeks, his lips, through the mussed blonde hair. Tilting his head
back gave him a moment of reprieve, before he was yanked, pulled through doors
that shut behind him like the gates of Hell...or just The Gate in general. Were
they really all that different?

Shoved into the long, gleaming hall, rickety lights swinging
from unsafe cables overhead, he could hear their voices, their murmured tones.
Processing. They were going to processing. He didn't know what that meant, didn't
care really; his thoughts were back with them, they who sent him here, they
who called this down on him. How dare they. How dare they not trust him.
The family he had adopted...

His lashes closed as he walked blind, a little limp in
his step from the false leg, barely noticeable to anyone but himself. He could
hear them talking, hear them as they spoke as though he wasn't there, but there
were only several inches between the goons that flanked him. Teeth were grinding,
the anger growing, bubbling to a teakettle surface, and he had to wonder if
he would ever be let go.

Alchemy had no place here, and so to him, did freedom.

Into the room he was lead, nudged (pushed he would
have said), and a woman with a cold eyes behind small glasses stared at him
as best as she could through the myopia. One of the men shoved him into a backless
chair, had to nearly restrain him as he started screaming that the hands were
tight, too fucking tight, and didn't they know that he could break his arm?

The questions started, almost immediately, and the crisp,
clipped voice broke the hold of hysteria long enough for a moment of rationale
to break through. What was his name? Where was he? What year was it? What was
his birthday?

What did he mean, 'his brother in armor'?

What military reigned?

Why was he here?

"Because I didn't have a choice," he whispered, his lips
dry, cracked. Why wouldn't they give him water; he had asked so nicely for it
a few hours ago. "Because the Gate made me."

The scratch of lead over paper riddled the air with accusations,
before her dead eyes gazed over at him once more. "What is 'Envy'?"

He hated the question, the gaze, the exploratory answers
he was expected to give. Holding his right arm to his chest, cradling it, he
glowered and spoke through grinding teeth. "Some creature that needs to die.
The reason I'm here."

More writing, and he ached to see what it said, what they
thought. He scowled, slouching a little in the chair, breathing air too thick
for his small lungs to process. Nothing was said while she scribbled mystery
words, nothing broke the silence other than the gritting, grinding script over
paper, files, folders that would make up his life, his history, his future.

"Second wing," came the disinterested, bored tone at long
blessed last, and she handed the file to one of the escorts in white. "Give
this to Dr. Ligure after you put him in room three-oh-seven. It's a single.
We'll work him in with the others later.

"And don't forget to stop by and see Ilsa about the dosage
for tonight."

The chair was traded for a long, lonely walk down an echoing
hallway, and fears were given wings to drift on.


The blue eyes stared through the window, watching him,
watching the figure as he took the pen over the white walls, drawing circles
and sigils, serpents and crosses. Al swallowed the lump in his throat, his fingers
running over the glass, twirling little lines over it, following the motions
the boy in the room, that sweep, that arch, that heady twist.

He said nothing, not when the doctor was talking to his
father, not when he sat there and half heard the terms being tossed around,
that there were complexes and guilt, that "envy" had gripped his heart in a
tangled, mangled claw and thus, had become personified, landing him in this
world of make believe.

He had even tormented himself to believe his arm, his
leg...weren't...real. Metal. Cold. Something that couldn't feel, couldn't hurt,
couldn't wither. And to compensate for it with an unconscious limp...

Anti-psychotics. Drugs. Therapy. Institutions. Aggressive.

Al closed his eyes, resting his forehead on the cold glass
with a drawn out sigh. His brother, his poor Edward...how couldn't he believe
in the reality? How couldn't he see...what was right in front of him?

Hohenheim hand fell onto his shoulder, gripping it warmly,
trying to pull his son away from the scene, from the torment. Their time was
over until the next day, and then they could speak to him, finally exchange
words, could ask him how he was enjoying himself, if he... he was getting better.

Al pressed his lips to the glass, feeling it warm beneath
his mouth, and for a moment, he thought, he prayed, that Edward would turn,
would see him there, would blink those golden eyes and recognition would filter
through. He wished, he wished, he wished...

But the pen rose, a sharp line born onto the painted,
eggshell walls, and Al Heiderich turned his back on the scene for the last time
that day, his steps thick with longing pain.