Disclaimers: (sing it with me now!) No, they're not mine, no they're not mine, though I've taken them out to play! But everyone should know, dear, that I don't own them, so please, don't take my money away ...

-to the tune of "You are my Sunshine"

Spoiler warning: Takes place directly after Episode 15: Ishbal Massacre. This is also based mainly on the anime, though there is a slight mention of a detail available only in the manga. However, at the time of posting, I've only seen up to episode 18 of the anime and read up to chapter 10 of the manga. (All Hail Toriyama world!). So for any inaccuracies based on future revelations, I humbly apologize.

A big thank you, as always, to the ever patient Imbrium, who acts as a superb beta, a supreme "kicker in the butt" and a stern stopper of any and all self pity parties. She also bakes a mean brownie!

Dedicated to Rebekah, because I think she would have liked it.


It is odd that so many of them are atheists. They know the soul must exist; concrete proof confronts them daily in the heavy, clanking tread that crosses the threshold of the Central office. They know it in the strange glow of eyes where no glow should be. They know it in hollow reverberation of a young child's voice emerging from a suit of armor much too large for a child.

They know it because of Alphonse Elric, younger brother of Edward Elric, exists, and if he can exist, then so should a soul. For what else could dwell within the armor?

Most of them still remain atheists, however.

Alphonse wonders about himself, sometimes. Is it a miracle or is it a sin to have done what he has done, to have followed his brother so far, to keep following as he does now? Though it is easier, perhaps, when religion is stripped away. Easier to believe that the universe has set laws: when something is taken, it is given back in some other form. Easier than believing that life is based on the whims of an unknown creator. Better to create things with ones own hands; better to have control. It is what his brother believes, in the end.

Easier too, especially in the aftermath of their battle with him, after understanding what an overflow of faith can do.

Equivalent trade, after all -- if alchemists can harness such energies, then those who believe powers other than alchemy should be able to do the same. All of them tread a dangerous line between believing too much and not believing enough.

Yet, sitting in the rain, he does not know what he believes. He only knows that his brother is still beside him. Still breathing. Shuddering slightly -- perhaps from the rain or from the shock of losing his arm. Is it a miracle or is it a sin to be able to sit immobile, while his brother shivers?

Tonight he will have to make sure that someone gives big brother an extra blanket. Tonight he will have to make sure that older brother does not sleep with his stomach exposed to the world, vulnerable.

He, himself, has no stomach to expose. He needs no blanket. Tonight he has no power to move on his own, but he will still make sure that Edward is warm, somehow. It is not faith, it is not a belief, but it is a certainty and that is enough. His brother will be warm, soon.

In his one, remaining hand, his brother cradles a piece of paper. It is small and delicate, threatening to tear even as careful fingers tease it open. He could barely make out the words before the paper is quickly crumpled again.

National Central Library
1st Branch
The genuine truth behind truths.
-Tim Marcoh

Truth behind truths.

The raindrops echo against the armor, bringing the faint memory of touch through the steady pulse of sound. He can almost imagine then, what it was like, before. And he knows what can drive an overflow of faith, in either alchemy or religion. He knows which side he would fall on, if his brother had lost more than just his arm today.

He knows he exists. He knows he can still perform alchemy, knows that the power has to come from somewhere ...

But, in the end, he does not know about his soul. If equivalent trade is the balance to alchemy, then what exists to balance religion? He tries not to think about it. He can almost understand, briefly, why some choose not to believe.

For what is on the other side of faith? What else could dwell within the armor?

The rain falls. Reverberates. But his brother is the one who shivers.




I was ambushed by this piece when I was feeling rather sick, and thus could not fend off the rabid plot bunny. It's not my fault. I was drugged I tell you. Drugged! It's also so short that I don't know if it's worth posting, but oh well.

Anyways, main writing points I'm concerned about: Do I capture Al's voice? Also, did it make any sense? Or is it too pretentious? Neither angst nor brevity are among my stronger points, so I am a little worried about this piece. It's rather different from anything I've written previously.

As always, reviews, flames, offers of a straight jacket and/or one way trips to a padded room are welcome! Heck, fling cows, fart in my general direction, or blow your nose at me, if you so choose. I can handle it. I'm a fanfic author. Why do you think I write in this outraaaaageous accent?

Question to self: Can writing even have an accent? Nevermind.

And as always, thanks for reading.

psst: Anyone have an extra holy hand grenade? There's another bunny waiting in the wings ...