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Therapy


A bloodcurdling scream startled Warrant Officer Farman into a run down the dormitory hallway. The voice, of course, was quite distinctive; but he couldn't imagine what had made Major Elric yell like that in the middle of a normal evening.

He burst into the boys' room to be faced with a sight he'd never expected to see. Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, was flopping like a beached fish on the room's floor, half-clothed, with his brother looming over him, foot planted firmly on the middle of his back and holding his arms behind him.

The brothers ignored him momentarily, the younger boy's attention focused on his older sibling. "Are you ready, Niisan?" Al exclaimed, taking a firmer grip on his brother's wrists.

Edward grunted, and squirmed a bit. "Just do it, Al," he said through gritted teeth. "Braced as I ever will be—"

"Okay, on the count of three—one—two—"

On three, the armored giant pulled sharply upwards on Edward's arms; there was a hideous snapCRACKgriNDpop from Edward's shoulders and back that made the hair rise on Farman's neck. Edward yelled bloody murder again, thrashing for a moment before Al released him to flop down on the floor again.

"There, that's better, isn't it?"

"I'll be able to tell in a minute, but I think so. Ow."

"What in God's name is going on here?" Farman exclaimed, wondering if he ought to intervene. With two younger sisters himself, he knew well that siblings quarreled, but never to this extent.

"Oh, hello, Officer Farman," Alphonse said, turning and bowing creakily at the man. "Er, it's nothing serious. A little bit of physical therapy, is all—"

"It looked like you were trying to dismember him!"

"Oh, no, not at all!" Al exclaimed, so shocked and hurt that Farman immediately regretted his words.

At that moment, though, Ed grunted, got his hands under him, and pushed himself to his feet. He moved easily, fluidly, bending his spine, and rotating his left shoulder joint. "Feels good, Al," he said, and rotated his neck experimentally. Another teeth-grinding crack. "Yeah, this oughta do for now."

"Er..." Farman started again...

"Niisan was careless," Al explained, turning back to their guest. "He spent the whole train ride to the last mission sleeping instead of stretching—"

"How the hell was I supposed to know I was supposed to be stretching?!"

"—so after all the running, jumping, and fighting he had to do, by the end of the mission he'd gotten himself into knots, and he didn't stretch again afterwards—"

"All I wanted was some rest, for cripes' sake!"

"—and he stiffened up," Al finished, with a quelling glare at his brother. "Niisan, you ought to know by now to stretch before every mission, like Sensei taught us, you never know."

Ed sputtered, flailing around. "I needed the sleep!"

"Yes, and if you didn't stay up all night reading—"

"It's for our research, Al!"

"Research? Is that what you call those magazines?"

Warrant Officer Farman let himself quietly out.