Elricest-hints. PG. Alternate Timeline. Sap.

Breathe
by Maaya

Everything felt astonishingly…natural. Breathing. Eating. Smiling. Touching. The most wonderful reunion with his human body had been the warmth. To feel his body heat, as well as someone else's against him. Especially the latter.

Alphonse snuggled deeper under the covers and breathed out a sigh of exhaustion. He relished the thought that he could feel his brother's arms around him, both were human, both were warm. They were close, no, he felt how close they were. There was a big difference between knowing and feeling. Alphonse was probably the only one who could say that from experience.

Something poked the back of his hazy mind, a creature of guilt. It whispered to him; said that while Edward had felt Alphonse's hard steel body for years, Alphonse himself had never been able to feel the cold automail limbs his brother had been punished with. Edward had felt the cold alone for so long.

It was a little amusing if he thought further about it. Alphonse felt guilt because Edward alone had felt everything, just like Edward felt guilty about the same very thing, only in an opposite way….

His head hurt if he thought about it for too long.

At that notion, Alphonse was overwhelmed with a frightening curiosity. What had changed when he got his body back? His brain, did it change anything about him, compared to when he'd been a soul?

Alchemists said that humans were made from the flesh, soul and memories…what was the body to the soul and memories? How much of Alphonse lay in the body? Or was it the opposite? If Edward had taken back the body instead of the soul, perhaps that would've been Alphonse too, an Alphonse made of flesh and blood and heart and brain. An Alphonse homunculus – human without soul.

It really was funny. When he had been in the suit of armor, he had sometimes doubted his real body, and now when he had his real body, he wondered about his soul and memories.

He sighed, but couldn't quite bring the dry humor into it.

Edward's arms around him had been slack, but now they stirred, as the older brother stretched.

"Nng...Al?" Edward groaned. "You still awake?"

Alphonse smiled guiltily in the dark. "Ah, sorry, brother…I think I've forgotten how to sleep."

Edward was quiet for a while. Alphonse enjoyed the sound of both their breaths melting into the quiet.

"That's stupid," Edward said, then, and stretched again. He caressed Alphonse's skin with his fingers absent-mindedly. The fingers were rough, the touch gentle, and it felt very much like the big brother Alphonse knew. "Just go to sleep."

"I can't," Alphonse complained, but he closed his eyes anyway. And eventually, he did fall asleep.

end