The Drawing Down

There was, Alphonse had always thought, a sort of peace that came with the evening hours—a slow settling of the day before, a gradual release of everything that had been and gone.

And though he hadn't had as great a sense of it when bound to the armor—it had faded away, like so many other sensations, to an insubstantial land of evanescing things—he'd clung as best he was able to the fond memories wrapped up in it, recollections tinged orange by the setting sun or shadowed with the dusk of the approaching night.

There were precious few remaining, now, dimmed with the passage of time and the years that he'd spent lacking a flesh body, but he kept them close to him all the same—pulled them out and turned them over in his mind now and again, as though they were prized trinkets secreted away in a box somewhere.

A little boy lay stretched on the grassy banks of a quick-running stream, cheekbone stinging with the bruise that his brother's fist had landed. He didn't hear the footsteps approaching—didn't realize that he'd been looked for until a tentative hand touched his own and startled eyes turned to see that someone had settled beside him.

Two small pairs of hands were filthy with the rich soil, helping their mother tuck the last of the flowers into the earth as daylight faded from the sky. She promised them cookies for their consideration, and the boys tore off for the front door of their home, her laughter echoing behind.

Seated in a comfy old chair by the window, a child hunched low over the book on his lap, fighting the dwindling light to make out the next passage. A lamp flickered on with teasing words he couldn't quite recall; his brother nudged him aside so that they could share the chair, leaning on his shoulder to see the pages.

There were more beyond that, but not many, and not nearly so complete.

He knew, for instance, the flash of Edward's grin in the approaching twilight; the vision of storm-clouds, backlit with an intense, glowing orange; thinking that if the night was as cold as he suspected it would be, he'd slip into his brother's bed to keep warm.

And sometimes, watching the sun set from the window in their kitchen, Alphonse wished that there was more. Regretted that every now and then, when they reminisced about things long past, his brother would laugh at a joke that was meant to be shared but wasn't. Wondered, without really meaning to, if things would be different were he to recall how the world had seemed before he knew all the terrible things in it.

And Edward, the boy often reflected, had something of a gift for determining when his thoughts would start to wander down paths like these.

Because he couldn't begin to count the number of times that mismatched arms had slid between his waist and the kitchen counter, pulling him back until he could feel the warmth of his brother's chest through the fabric of their clothes. Couldn't start to guess how often the smaller boy's reassurances had been felt as soft breath against his ear, or how ridiculously regular it was for him to be astounded by the emotions in those golden eyes when at last he turned around.

And when Edward, inevitably, circled the flesh arm around his neck to draw him down for a kiss, it amazed him that such a simple gesture could steal his breath away, over and over again.

By the time his brother pulled away, the light from the setting sun spilling through the window to make his eyes glimmer deep and bright and beautiful, Alphonse had always decided that the new memories would more than make up for the ones he'd lost.