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His Own Strength


Edward was having another nightmare.

They'd been slowly becoming less frequent, but since his automail had only been attached a little more than a week ago, the pain coursing through the young Edward Elric's body kept him from falling into a deep, peaceful sleep. So, the nightmares came. And Al watched helplessly.

The one thing Alphonse really wanted to do right now was hold his older brother. Somewhere, in a deep part of him that he didn't expect to still be there, Al longed to console Edward. If he still had flesh and bone for arms, he would have done it already. Fear kept Al's metal arms at his sides, shaking slightly with each of Edward's pained moans. It kept him rooted to the spot, hovering over Edward's side, wavering between instinct and reason.

What if I hurt him? Al remembered all too vividly the one time he'd reached for Winry's hand, only for her to cry out in pain and yank it back. He didn't know his own strength anymore, and even though he meant his action to be gentle, he still hurt her. And he could easily do the same to Edward.

Alphonse looked down at his older brother, now so strangely frail in the bright moonlight, tangled in a twisted web of damp bedsheets. The elder Elric let out a broken cry, another tear streaking down his wet cheeks, a moaned whimper of his mother's name slipping past his lips.

"Nii-san..." Everything that Al considered human inside him yelled to reach out to his brother and console him, comfort him, help him through this tough time. But I don't want to hurt him...

Edward suddenly let out a strangled cry and bolted upright. All Alphonse had the time to do was gasp as Edward threw his arms around his wide neck-guard, his tear-stained face pressed against the broad part of Al's chestplate. He sobbed quietly, his arms tightening with each choked breath, as if they were the only things keeping his younger brother where he could reach him.

If Al could cry, he would be crying along with his brother at this very moment. Instead, he just lifted his large metal arms and wrapped them carefully around a waist that he didn't remember being so small. If he was holding Edward too tight, the latter didn't notice. Al sighed softly in relief, and simply held his brother until his broken breath subsided once more into the soft rhythm of sleep.

And there they stayed, completely still, until the sun rose.