The Tenth Yard
The explosion left Ed feeling very…off. He lay on the ground dazedly, his stomach and legs throbbing, his head pounding, and feeling so terribly cold.
It was Al, here to save him, the way Al always did. He had failed again, hadn't he? Who knew how long it would take him to recover this time?
Every day that passed was another day his brother was stuck in a suit of armor, another day Al had to tolerate his frozen, uncertain existence.
The last of the rubble was carefully cleared off of him, and he was pulled gently into Al's cold metal arms which were so very warm.
"I'm freezing," Ed said around a tongue which seemed terribly thick all of a sudden. Al would be worried.
Mustering his mental reserves against the pain, he tried to move away from his brother's arms and sit up. It hurt so damn much.
"Wait, Brother, don't move!" Al said worriedly. "You stupid idiot. Your leg's broken badly; wait until the doctor gets here!"
Ed stared up at Al's armor, which seemed rather blurry. A broken leg? He'd broken limbs before. It didn't feel like this. "My leg?"
"Yes," Al said exasperatedly. "And you hit your head on something too. That's what you get for rushing into action every time."
He had been stupid again, hadn't he? It wasn't right. He tried to do his best for Al, to fight as hard as he could, but he kept on getting hurt. "I'll be more careful next time," Ed mumbled guiltily and twitched slightly, though he heeded Al's warning not to move. He wasn't in a rush; he could wait a few more minutes for the doctor.
"That would be nice," Al said dryly.
Ed allowed his head to fall to the side slightly. There was something wrong here, he thought fuzzily, but he was so tired it was hard to think of it. "I'm cold," he said again. "And tired. How much longer?" he whined breathlessly.
"Silly brother, it's barely been a minute. Just rest meanwhile, ok?"
It was wrong, something was off; Ed knew it in his very bones. But with Al next to him, holding him, everything had to be ok. Al would protect him. Al wouldn't lie to him; if there was truly something wrong, Al would tell him. "I'm gonna…close my eyes a bit, 'k? I promise…when I'm fixed up, I'll get back to the Stone. I'll find a way for you…"
"I know you will," Al said, patiently, determinedly, as he did every time.
Every thing was fine.
Ed allowed his eyes to fall shut, his cheek against the warm metal of Al's forearm. His breathing evened out peacefully, a small smile on his face.
Al didn't move, only watched helplessly as his brother relaxed, his breaths came less and less often, until his body was still.
He felt a yawning hole tear inside him, his brother slowly stiffening in his arms, even though he couldn't feel anything. Couldn't feel how the dead body slowly became cold, or how the blood dried and caked. The wind that teased through his older brother's hair didn't reach him, but he knew it must be cold. How could anything in this world possibly be warm or bright or beautiful when his brother lay dead, his body practically torn in half?
Al couldn't move, because the tears that so desperately wanted to fall wouldn't. He couldn't cry, and the ache inside of him grew and grew until it was a scream that tore its way out of him, though he couldn't feel it in his throat; he didn't know if he truly screamed or it was just his imagination.
It was finished. Everything they had hoped for, worked for, dreamed of, and imagined. The only thing left to comfort himself with as he waited for his time in this borrowed shell to run out was that Edward had died with a smile on his face, safe in the knowledge that he would restore his brother.
This pain was a small price to pay for that.