A/N: This one's just a silly, cliche'd one-shot: short and sweet. (So sweet, in fact, that it's scary) It's a post-restored Al, but there are no spoilers. This is just a possible-scenario fic that crept into my mind a long time ago. (Even I, unfortunately, have not yet finished the series. So don't spoil it for me!)
You know what? I think there should be a category for fluff. Then, the non-romantic fluff like this would have a genre. (Because this is just brotherly cuteness here. I just can't get enough of that stuff! It's frickin adorable!)
What I Miss Most
"Brother? I can't sleep." Came the gentle voice from Edward's doorway. He sat up in his bed, staring at the boy, who leaned against the post, staring forward shyly.
"Uh, what's the matter, Al?" Ed replied, still a little bit shaken being able to see his brother again, or to hear his voice while not echoing from a metal shell. The tremendous drain from the transmutation response hadn't been the only thing affecting him that day.
"I just... I don't know," the shorter boy stared outward again, with his shiny green eyes filled with awe and innocence, "I guess... I forgot how."
"Eh?" Ed replied, sliding his legs over the edge of the bed, and patting the mattress, inviting his brother to sit. Al complied, and sat himself besides the blond alchemist, staring at the floor as he settled.
"For the last four years, I never really was able to sleep. You know that. I would just lie awake, and think. Now... I guess I can't find anything to think about to get to sleep. Funny, isn't it?" Ed nodded in mild understanding. He studied his brother's peaceful expression, trying to understand how he remained so composed after having just been through such a painful and joyful ordeal. For somebody who'd just been born a second time, he was incredibly unaffected. But then, Al always was the level-minded one.
"Brother, can I sleep with you tonight?" Al's question caught Edward with more than a little surprise. They hadn't slept together since they were young; maybe five or six at the most. They would lay their blankets on the floor, make tents, giggle and entertain themselves with silly scary stories they made up themselves. It all stopped when Ed declared he was too big for such things. There had only been one time after that; after their mother's death, on a night when neither of them had the energy to go elsewhere, and they'd fallen asleep on the living room sofa, holding hands and lullabied by Al's mournful sobs. There was a sense of deja vu to that night, as Ed processed his brother's childish, but perfectly reasonable request.
"O-okay," Ed replied softly, moving over to make room. His little brother shifted and burrowed under the covers.
Al couldn't remember the last time he'd felt like this. A warm wave of nostalgia swept over him. Suddenly, everything in the world was right. Everything they'd done to bring him back was worth it.
His older brother just lay there, still in amazement that it was possible for this even to exist, and in fear that perhaps it was a dream; that his recreation wasn't real.
He was again taken a bit by surprise, when Al drew closer, pressing his face against his brother's shirt and breathing relaxedly.
"What are you doing?"
"... Smelling," Al replied, in a nonchalant way.
"I almost forgot how you smell, brother. I almost forgot how anything really even has a smell. People, places, air, everything has it's own distinct scent. You take those things for granted when you have a sense of smell."
"Ah." Ed replied, taking this thought into consideration. Al had spent the day, observing the tiniest of things; the warm loaf of bread that Pinako baked, the tickle of faucet water and sudsy soap, the grains and splinters in the wooden kitchen table beneath his fingerpads, scratchy and smooth all at once. He had even caught him simply staring at his own hands for several minutes, tracing circles over his palms, scratching at his fingernails, admiring the elasticity of his skin as he pinched and pulled at it.
"You missed being able to smell, Al?"
"Mm." He nodded, closing his eyes in thought.
"I bet you also missed being able to eat." Al giggled a bit at this comment.
"Yeah... It was wierd, eating again. But you guys fed me so much, I thought I might get sick."
It was true. They'd pampered him with all sorts of good foods, and made him blush as they insisted he eat more and more.
Edward had sat at the table beside him, unable to eat himself, caught up in the excitement. But he really had been trembling to restrain himself. He'd already had to bite his lip uncountable times to prevent himself from crying, and it took tremendous will power not to hug Al hard enough to suffocate him, and never let go. Even at the lunch table he was fighting the urge to cut up Al's food for him, wipe his mouth like a baby; to give him all the silly affection he possibly could. But he resisted. He didn't want to shock his brother by acting like things were so different, or embarass him by behaving so affectedly.
Now it seemed needless to have done that. There he was, Alphonse Elric; fourteen years old, and requesting to be comforted, like a child after a bad dream. It was a very un-manly thing to do. But then, with all the things they had been through together, masculine pride was about as significant as a gold egg to a starving man.
Unexpectedly, a small tremble emitted from Al, as he choked out a tiny sob. Edward was once again taken by surprise, his brother suddenly shedding tears in the midst of nothing more than fond recollection of memories.
"A-Al," Edward stuttered, reaching out to brush the tears out of his eyes. Al stopped his brother's hand, and chuckled lightly through his glittering eyes.
"Sorry," He apologized, sniffing once, with a weak smile showing through, "I just miss this feeling."
"No- well, yes, that too. But... I missed it so much; being here with you, brother. I miss touching you. Feeling the warmth of your body."
Al had confessed this to him once years before. It was the deja vu creeping in again. And now, he was so much closer to Al. He had had every opportunity to hold his brother, to close the gap, to take away his fears and make him feel alright, and yet he hadn't done it. Why on earth not?
"Al-" Edward managed, before his voice cracked. He felt his own eyes watering. When he realized that the lump in his throat was preventing him from speaking, he knew he had to just let his actions talk for him. He tightly encircled his brother in a calm, protective, tender embrace.
Neither of them spoke. Neither of them needed to. Words were insignificant at a moment like this, when they both were at absolute peace, this ultimate nirvana, where they knew they needed nothing more. All their years of effort, of suffering was worth it for this moment without words.
They slowly drifted off to sleep, side by side, holding hands, in their deeply knitted trust, and that feeling encircled them, bound them- that feeling deeper than just familial duty that kept these brothers together.
It was pure and uncorrupted love.