Not The Same
By Henrika

Henrika- Thanks to Terry McElrath for catching my typo in Concern. This is more based on the manga timeline, but it really doesn't matter to tell you the truth.

Young Winry sighed as she watched the hulking armor that was Alphonse wheel Edward away from the dinner table and disappear around the corner before she began clearing the dishes. She glanced at the place settings and sighed again. There was Granny's plate: empty, as well as her seat. She had excused herself early to work on a rush auto-mail order. Her own plate was empty as well and she stacked that on Granny's.

Alphonse didn't have a place setting. They had given him food accidentally for the first few days after that night the brothers had shown up on their doorstep. But Alphonse would stammer and apologize and gently remind them that he couldn't eat anymore. And then he would make a little choked noise and Winry would get the feeling that he was crying, even though there were no tears. And he apologized for the littlest things, like Ed dropping his spoon or that he had forgot to wipe the mud off his armored feet after coming in the house (He had tripped over his own ungainly feet.) It wasn't that Al hadn't always been a polite boy, because he had, but it was the fact that he apologized for everything that upset the girl.

Her eyes settled on the last plate on the table. It was practically untouched, only small bites were missing where Al had coaxed his brother to eat. Edward scared her now, though she'd never admit it. Seeing his mangled body that night had terrified her. Sure, she had seen people with missing limbs, but not people that grew up next door to her, not someone who was her friend. But it was when he woke up and stared at her with those lifeless amber eyes that used to be so alive that she realized everything had truly changed. That really terrified her.

And he was so silent, so very silent. She had wondered for a time if he had lost his voice when once she had walked outside the brother's closed door and heard Ed whispering apologies over and over to Al.

She picked up his plate and set it on the other two, lifting the stack. These weren't the same boys she had known as playmates. There was something terribly wrong besides the fact that Ed was missing an arm and a leg and Al had no body,

And Winry hoped that whatever happened next would bring the spark back into Edward's eyes and make Al stop apologizing. As she began washing the dishes, she hoped something would bring her friends back to her like they had been: whole and playful and happy.

Henrika- Sheesh, you just hurt for those two. Review please!