Wrath hung around the house like a ghost...the restless undead, weighted down with clanking steel (in a distinctively modern twist on the old imagery, the marker of sin and penance was in the form of automail limbs in this specter's case, rather than the oft-portrayed heavy drapery of chains), his darkened eyes betraying nothing as he watched the others go about their business.
He'd disappear for weeks, and no one knew where he went; he never spoke of it...and indeed, it was difficult to get him to speak at all most days. The only heralds of his reappearance in the house were the brief flashes of skin white as hoarfrost contrasting with the untamable spill of black hair as he prowled noiselessly through the hallways and around the yard, and the soft creak of the floorboards as he lingered outside of rooms, skittish as a half-tamed animal. He came and went as silently and unpredictably as one of the many stray barn cats Alphonse had adopted and begged Winry to look after in his long wandering absences.
He was, Al reflected one afternoon, almost complete unable to ignore the presence hovering in the doorway and watching him as he composed another letter that would (and could) never be sent, much like the Cat from a story he'd read when he'd barely been old enough to do so, a tale that told of the first taming of animals: Wrath was the wildest of all wild animals who walked in the wet wild woods by his wild lone.
Sighing, Al replaced his pen in the inkwell and turned in his seat, and his patient eyes sought out and met the homunculus's slitted ones, catching them wide and startlingly transparent for a brief moment...and then long, dark lashes swept down and threw shadows into the depths of them, and his face smoothed out as blank and emotionless as a bank of newfallen snow.
"Yes?" He did not expect an answer even though it was true that Wrath was more likely to speak to him than anyone else, even Winry. Al did not understand this odd favoritism—Winry gave him a working arm and leg and a place to stay, but Al had given him nothing, nothing at all...at least not that he could remember. "You don't have to keep your distance like that...like I'm some kind of threat. You can come in, if you want."
The Sin hesitated, sucking his lower lip in a little, and then padded in on mostly bare feet until he stood awkwardly at the corner of the table, looking more like a child than he had in long months, shyly hiding behind his long hair and looking almost nervous, as though Al was intimidating.
Al smiled encouragingly. "That's better." He smoothed out his piece of paper and skimmed over what he'd written already, then began to reach for his pen. "I know it's silly, to write these letters; Brother will probably never see them. When I find him again, I can tell him everything I want to say, and these won't be necessary, but...until then..."
The ink-drenched nib touched down on the letter and resumed scritching across it, each word building up a bulwark against the overwhelming, threatening doubt that his quest was futile—he'd had no new leads on his brother's whereabouts for six solid months—and that he was wasting his time searching for a city of gold that had long since sunk into the sand. Each sentence was a line of prayer fortifying Al's faith, his hope, his unwavering love, reminding him that though now he saw through a glass darkly, in the end all would be made clear.
His diligence and devotion would be rewarded. One did not give so much and get nothing in return...but sometimes...sometimes, he needed to remind himself of that.
"Until then," Wrath's voice was raspy from disuse, barely over a low growl. His flesh hand drifted over the address at the top of the page as though able to feel the power of Al's spilled emotions through the bold penstrokes. "You'll write. For him. For you. For everything that can't be said."
Alphonse startled and looked up, golden brows rising as he studied the black-clad lean form still leaning his hip against the edge of the table; Wrath was so close-mouthed that it was surprising to even hear him speak at all, much less say something so oddly perceptive, and for a moment Al wondered what else was going on in that strange, inhuman mind...then he glanced back at his letter, brow furrowing. "Things that can't be said..." he echoed, feeling suddenly, painfully, every second of the past year's frustration, every aching heartbeat of loss, the enormity of the chasm of time and space between him and his beautiful, beloved brother. His shoulders slowly slid down, and the pen felt heavy and cold in his hand.
Even if he sat here and wrote nonstop for the next five years; even if he wrote in every language that existed, adorning the page with exotic, free-flowing polysyllabic poetry in graceful foreign scripts; even if he wrote in his own blood—blood that surely called across the years and miles to him who shared it... Even then, Al was sure that he could not say everything that was in his heart and soul.
Cool steel fingers raked lightly though his bangs, following through them to curve down along his cheek—the barest brush of metal tickling along his skin—and then under his chin to turn his head up. Wrath leaned in to stare into Al's face, reading his expression with quick flicks of his eyes before meeting his bewildered gaze steadily, and then something...something bafflingly human...moved in the violet depths for a single breath. It was so unexpected and fleeting that Al couldn't even begin to categorize it, but he felt his face warm with flush in response.
"Yes," the homunculus murmured thoughtfully, cool thumb rubbing back and forth over Al's reddening cheeks. "There's so much that can't be said, isn't there?"
"Wh-what does that m-mean?" Al stammered. Wrath's nearness was unnerving, but it was his cryptic words that really flustered the blond; though they were nearly the same as the ones he'd used before, the Sin had clearly changed the subject, and oh, he was still staring into Al's eyes like the alchemist was the only thing in the whole world... Like...like he was...
"Alphonse..." The name dripped from his lips like his tongue was cut and bleeding from the formation of the sounds that comprised it...but then suddenly Wrath jerked away, backing up so fast he almost stumbled. He shook his head, mouth twisting in an unhappy little frown.
"No. It's nothing," he said then, voice pitched low and monotone. He was already stalking out the door. "It's nothing important."
"W-wait! Wrath!" Al pushed himself up out of his chair and reached out toward the hastily retreating homunculus, but by the time he made it to the doorway, Wrath was already out of sight and the house quiet and still. He was already gone, walking the wet wild woods all by his wild self, and Al could only wonder how long he'd be gone this time...and if he came back at all, it was very likely that Al would be away—it might be a long time indeed before their paths crossed again.
When I find him again I can tell him everything I want to say, but...until then...
The blond leaned against the jamb with a sigh and scrubbed at his blushing face, then turned back to the table and slumped into his seat, staring at his unfinished letter.
After a moment, he pushed the half-filled paper aside and laid a fresh sheet out; he dipped the pen delicately into the well and let the excess ink drip off, then touched the nib down on the top of the clean page, the salutation flowing across the header as he began a new communication.
Until then I'll write. For everything that can't be said.