Ed held Al close and looked out the window of their small room at the moon. It reminded him of home—their real home, not this prison where they'd been living the last 5 years.
Ed could feel his brother's tight grip, his hands balled into the small of Ed's back. The shuddering sighing of Al's breath against his shoulder. Ed patted his brother's hair, as reassuringly as he could. "It will be ok," he said. "The chimera's didn't get the letter. They didn't catch up to me until I was most of the way back."
"I don't care about the letter," Al said. "It doesn't make any difference. The military didn't come for the first five, they aren't coming for this one." Al leaned back and Ed saw the pain in Al's eyes. "I'm really mad this time, Ed. I told you not to do it. He's going to punish us again."
"Only me, " said Ed, his stomach clenching.
"You know it will never be only you."
Al was right. They were a pair and no matter how much they might protest that it was Ed's idea to escape, Greed wouldn't believe it. And lately Greed had been getting more and more exasperated with Ed, resorting to ever more cruel punishments as a way to crush his rebellion. Greed knew that Al's welfare was closest to his heart, and he had in the past punished one of them physically, in an attempt to control the other.
"Have you ever considered I might not want to leave," Al said softly.
Ed heard it, but didn't believe it. Al couldn't have possibly forgotten what it was like before. The way they used to wander the hillsides of their tiny home town. How they'd watch the stars at night. How they'd once had the entire WORLD to explore.
Al couldn't possibly want to resign himself to being Greed's Alchemist for the rest of his life. To only go where Greed sent him. To only do what Greed told him to. To perform whatever alchemical job he was told, without question as to why, or who, or how it would effect anyone else. Killing people is what their alchemy did. Lots of people. In horrible ways. How could Al be ok with that?
It was true, as long as they played by Greed's rules, he was generous with them. They never lacked for food or books. Greed even took them on trips, showed them museums and allowed them a vacation by the ocean. But lately Greed had been harsher on them—largely because of Ed.
There were goddamn BARS on their window. Their door was locked at night. So Greed might dress them in silk and the sheets on their bed might be the finest cotton money could buy, it didn't mean much if you couldn't walk out the door whenever you wanted.
I'm not a child anymore. I can't see myself being under this THING forever, and I certainly won't let Al be.
"I wonder what he'll do this time," murmured Al. "Usually he doesn't wait this long before telling us what he'll do."
Ed pressed his lips together with determination. "I won't let him do anything to you, Al, I promise."
But Al lay down on the bed and rolled away to show his back. "You can't make me promises, brother. You can't save me. Just give it up already. I have."
Ed curled up and looked at the moon. It looked like it was inches beyond the glass. How could something so close be so far away...