The hospital bedsheets were heavy on his limbs when he woke, and rasped along his skin when he shifted, and it was amazing, and scattered the remnants of his dreams like dropped marbles. He remembered sleeping now that he’d done it again, and he remembered this too, the first moments of wakefulness before he even opened his eyes. His eyes. He had eyelids, with lashes, and they were glued closed with gunk. He forced them open, blinked, lifted his arm and felt the twinge of the IV in the back of his hand. Even pain was fascinating, and he flexed his fingers to explore the sensation before laying his hand back down and raising the other to wipe his eyes clean. The goop and sleep-grit made his eyes burn a little, and even that was thrilling, and he chuckled a little to himself at the thought.
“What’s so funny?” his brother said quietly, and Al turned toward the sound. The high moon outside the window bleached Ed pale where he sat on the edge of his bed, his hair spilling over his shoulders in a shiny fall. His eyes looked bruised purple and shadowed in the dim light, but he was smiling very softly.
“I was just thinking about how I’m sort of a masochist now,” Al replied, turning gingerly on his side to watch Ed. “Even pain feels really good.”
Ed swallowed hard at that—Al could hear the gulp, could see his Adam’s apple bob, and copied the swallow reflexively to see what it would feel like. Then his brother crossed the small distance between their beds and sat carefully beside Al, reaching for his face, brushing his bangs back and rubbing the pad of his thumb over Al’s cheekbone. “Don’t use that as a pickup line, okay? You’ll wind up with some chick with a penchant for riding crops.”
“Might be more fun than a chick with a penchant for wrenches,” Al teased, and as Ed flushed and sputtered, he ran a hand up his brother’s wiry right arm to rub his fingertips along the automail scars and the bits of metal left behind. “Feels funny,” he murmured, then “I’m glad you got it back.”
“Glad I got you back. That’s all that matters.”
“Ed...I’m sorry about your leg. And your...and your alchemy.”
Ed bent to press his forehead to Al’s, eyes fierce. “I’d do it again. Don’t be sorry, I’d do it again in a heartbeat to get you back.” His mouth twisted, and he closed his eyes, and something shuddered through him. “I’m so glad you’re back.”
Tears were warm, Al discovered, and felt a little like rain when they dropped on you from someone else’s eyes. He curled a skinny hand around the back of his brother’s head, rubbed little circles against his scalp with his fingertips.
Felt a little like rain, and tasted like salt, and scoured them finally, finally clean.