Edward still finds it strange sometimes, that life has come to this.
Three boys and a man, two boys and the man from one world, the other boy from another. Once, they were all in their own separate worlds, driven with singleminded determination towards their goals—power, technology, the restoration of self. Somewhere, somehow, all worlds converged, and four lives now reside beneath one roof.
Ed has to hand it to the former Colonel: he runs one hell of a sick ward, albeit unintentionally. It couldn't have been easy for the man to take care of three ailing boys, all of whom tended to downplay the extent of their aches and pains (whether from pride, in Edward's case, or whether from sheer politeness, as with the other two), while also dealing with a war.
He's still dealing with one war, as is Alfons, but house and hearth are settled—at least as settled as they can be with three boys up on their feet at last, milling about restlessly and sometimes arguing and annoying the hell out of one another, worrying over each other's well-being. The Major General intercedes sometimes, points out that Alfons is right, that you're limping and you may want to stay off that foot for awhile longer, Fullmetal, to which Ed assures that said foot is good enough to stick up his ass if he doesn't shut up.
And he doesn't, habitually, but Edward never makes good on his word.
The shadow of the ongoing war looms in the distance, but Edward and Alphonse try to go through their days without unease. Relax, the doctors said. Relax. Rest.
War can wait. For now, there is Alphonse—Alphonse whose body has been returned to him, Alphonse who is beautiful and warm, who curls up beside Ed each morning, causing his brother to give thanks (not to anyone or anything, but simply a generalized Thank You) for such amazing simplicities as the heat of breath ghosting across his cheeks. Alphonse is perfect.
There is also Alfons, busy Alfons; always studying and working and planning, always smiling shyly at Edward. Alfons who damn near coughed out both lungs the first time he and Ed kissed. He's still tense and fretful and he still apologises too much, but he takes his medication without gratuitous prompting and his blue eyes now shine with greater confidence. Ed has come to realize how painfully like and unlike one another he and Alfons are; both are geniuses, yet both grew up stunted in certain ways, in internal ways. They have much to teach one another.
Lastly there is Roy Mustang, who has risen in the military ranks and is as busy as Alfons. This is the most perplexing part, for Edward, because often he thinks, how in the hell did I end up with...? But he decides it's better not to ask into this, because Roy was with Alfons when Al and Ed returned, and Al is with Ed, and one way or another, they're all together, as surreal and weird as it is...and it feels natural. Good. It feels a hell of a lot more right than four people being together ought to feel, or so Ed thinks.
He is grateful, unspeakably grateful, that Roy took care of Heiderich and Alphonse while he was away, and he needs the stability that the older man can give. Things have changed. So much has changed in his life. He needs something to be as it was before; he had to come back and find home, familiarity, and it is here.
Like old times, Ed thinks, when they talk, argue, get into battles of will. But the fiery edge of the boy's temper is duller now; he listens more, respects more, appreciates more.
The Major General remarks, well, well, seems you're all grown up, Fullmetal.
Ed smiles tensely, lies back sweaty and flushed against the sheets; oh, he is all grown up, he assures as he lifts his hips and angles himself accordingly. He is all grown up, and one of these days, he'll go and fight in the war, fight side by side with the man he once competed against. He's not looking forward to it, not to war, but he's never been one to sit and wait and see how everything turns out. He's always gone after his own destiny. Equivalent exchange and all.
His breath and all his words are taken with the first thrust.
This is how it is, how it always is. Four people, four souls, one into the next. Ed tugs Alphonse's hair, runs his tongue along the tip of Alfons's cock. Who is with whom and when differs; it depends, but limbs unfold, sprawl everywhere, tongues and mouths and kisses are delivered generously; hands—most flesh, one metal—travel all over the place, stroking and squeezing, up chests and thighs, down abdomens, but even when Ed closes his eyes and gives into bliss and rapture, he always knows exactly whose fingers are wrapping around him at any given time.
They're all very different: golden eyes or blue, black and grey, autumn-hued and spring-toned, dark as winter rot and bright as sunshine, sky, and summer. But no matter their differences, they have this in common. This home, this life, the past and the future. Four futures into one. Alchemy could've never predicted it, really.
Alphonse was with his brother from the beginning, for as long as Ed's memory stretches. Same blood, same goals. They've always been together; they'll always be together. And Ed is grateful, can't express in words how grateful he is; he pays in smiles and kisses, and with his limbs—flesh and automail—with every part of himself, and that, he hopes, is enough.
There are days when he catches the Major General and Alfons Heiderich sprawled out together on the oversized sofa, sleeping, foreheads touching, breathing heavily...sometimes even snoring. Alfons is a damned heavy sleeper. Nothing short of an earthquake can wake him on some days, as Ed knows from his own failed efforts, but the great part is that nowadays he knows Alfons will wake up eventually—will open his bright eyes.
Ed never appreciated that before. He sees his folly now, and knows better.
In a way, they have all been handed second chances.