He can do the math; he knows that with two of them and only one of her, there's no good way for things to come out even.

He knows that childhood plans and wishes don't always work out; he wouldn't expect her to remember something he said when he was five and she was six. He knows, intellectually at least, that the girl next door is not the only girl in existence, and that probably they'd someday marry other people entirely and she would too, because life just sometimes works out that way.

All their lives and plans were put on hold after that night, they had to be; his came to a screeching halt, and Ed put his aside to come with him and search for the cure, the key to restoring their bodies. He was grateful for that, much the way he was always grateful to Winry for treating him the same, just the same as it had been before, not shrinking away from him like he was a freak. Even if he knew he was, as long as she didn't look at him that way, he thought he could bear it.

It puzzled him when Winry showed up; it was dangerous where they were, and uncomfortable, although of course he was glad to see her. Always glad to see her. Always glad.

Glad that she was around to help his brother when the automail became too much trouble. Glad that someone was around who cared about him and remembered the way he used to be, the way he would be again, someday soon, someday.

They still do have friends and people who help them but it's not the same, they don't really know him or see him and apart from Winry and Ed there's not really much else for him. He loves them both, somuch, his friend and his brother who does everything for him, is everything for him, is always there for him, and he never ever takes that for granted. But Winry is still special.

It startled him, scared him even, hearing them talk through a window one day, and realizing that no matter what he'd thought, Winry's life had not been put on hold when theirs had been. When Al's had been. Winry was moving forward, with her own plans and dreams and lives.

And so was Ed.

It startled him and scared him a little and he was afraid of being left behind; he wanted her to wait, that was all, wait until he was himself again because it would just be so stupid for him to try and, what was the word, court her when he was like this. No girl would want that, not even Winry.

He was almost glad when things got bad, when Ed made Winry go home, promised her they'd be careful and he wouldn't be hurt; and she went, and they went on together...

And he's himself again (a little young, but that's okay) and everything is so wonderful. He's just so glad to be free, to be himself again, not ugly and awkward and cold and hollow, but himself again. He wants to smell and taste and touch everything, and he's a little preoccupied just getting used to things. There's so much he's forgotten, he's remembering it piece by piece, and it takes him a while; it's a good thing they have a place to stay for a while (home; that's something else he'd forgotten.)

Ed's hair looks like gold and smoothes like warm silk, as beautiful to feel as it is to see. He wants to touch Winry's hair, too, just to compare them, and to see if hers feels as lovely as it looks, too. He's been looking for a chance to ask her. He doesn't want to miss it.

But he guesses he's taken a little bit too long to ask her, or maybe it wouldn't have mattered, because she's moved on in the time he's been away, and so has Ed; and they're out tonight, together. Ed was grinning like an idiot when they left, and Winry laughed and her eyes glowed and so did her skin, pink with happiness, and Al wanted to know how it felt, except he very much suspects that's not an option any more. He's missed his chance after all, somehow; or maybe it just never came.

It's to be expected. He supposes. He stayed the same while they moved on, he was a freak in armor when she wanted a boy, and now he's quite a bit behind and it would be silly to expect her to wait if she didn't even know she was supposed to be waiting. And it's not some random stranger, it's Ed, and he owes Ed so so much and this is just not the sort of thing he could ask him to give up, not after everything.

There's two of them and only one of her and he supposes that it's her decision anyway; at least two out of three people get what they want. And the two most important people in the world still love him, he knows this, and he loves them somuch and he wants them to be happy and he knows that doing that means letting them have their own life. Letting them go.

The house is very empty when they're gone, and the hours are cold; Al fills them up practicing the things he'd forgotten.

Tonight, he remembers how to cry.