"Welcome home!" she had said three days ago, upon their arrival.
He had smiled then, and allowed a ,'Thank you,' to slip past his lips, and walked into the house. She skipped down the stairs to greet him properly, and they hugged briefly. They sat down to lunch in which he described some of the parts of his journey that wouldn't get him too harshly reprimanded, and whilst they spoke, his younger brother played outside with the dog.
Shortly after lunch, the check-up began, and she gave him hell about how rough he was always being, and how he had to be more careful. He gave her a goofy grin and said that he would, because he was afraid that she would hit him if he just scoffed at the lecture, like he wanted to.
Work was done, and soon, everything was better. He could move around well enough to get by, but he could never quite get rid of the empty feeling he got when he looked at his arm, his leg. He knew his brother felt the same way, gazing into a pond, or passing by a mirror. Somehow, he could imagine a smaller version of his brother in there, hugging his knees to his chest, waiting for someone to release him from his prison.
She had caught his forlorn gaze, and asked him if he was alright. He had smiled then, too, and said that he was okay, he had just gotten lost in his thoughts for a moment. When she asked what thoughts those were, he simply replied, 'Thoughts,' and walked upstairs, claiming that he was tired now; it was too late anyways. A glance at the clock revealed it to be nine at night.
The next two days continued in the same manner, but work was not done, it was maintenance instead. During these times, he would talk with her, and would smile and laugh, and she would lecture him again and again to be more careful. The smiles were all fake. The laughs should have been sobs.
Now, here they sat, just the two of them, resting in the grass on the hill that he and his brother had sat upon so many years ago, when they were children. The sun was beginning to dip below the distant mountains, spilling colours into the sky that reminded him of flames.
"We're leaving tomorrow," he said in a voice just above a whisper.
"But– why? You just got here!" she protested. Desperation crept into her voice, and hearing it was like someone slamming a pick into his heart, chipping away at it, piece by frozen piece.
"We still have a ways to go, even though I'd like to think that we're close," he explained in a voice that did not betray the pain he felt. "And I won't rest until we achieve our goal."
"Even if you need the rest?"
"That's not healthy," she said. Her voice was shaky now, although she tried to hide it.
"I don't really care."
"Well I do!"
He turned to face her now, and she had done the same. Her hands were in front of her chest, clutching the invisible strings that tugged at her heart, as though to create some slack and relieve the stress a little. Tears were in her eyes, and as his own eyes widened in surprise, they escaped and created a thin trail down her cheeks. Before he knew what was happening, she had thrown herself into his chest, gripping the loose black shirt he wore, and burying her face into the cloth. He felt her sobs follow quickly after, and they seemed to travel through his flesh and into his body, only to become trapped there and rack his entire being with pain. He placed his arms around her and hung his head so that it met gently with the top of her head, and the smell of her shampoo drifted slowly into his nostrils. He could not help but breathe deeply and relish that scent, which seemed just so pleasant to him.
"Do you have any idea how much I care about you?" she mumbled between sniffles and sobs. "We've known each other since we were kids, and we were all we had, because the adults were too old to understand us, or so we thought. If we got sad, they would just grin and say something like, 'It won't last forever,' or whatever. But they never understood just how much those things hurt us. And so, we relied on each other, the three of us.
"But now, you don't come to me for anything other than to fix your broken limbs! Why don't you let me try to fix your broken heart, too? Maybe I don't have all the right tools, or all the knowledge, but I can try! And I can learn! But you don't let me near it, and sometimes it feels like you don't let me near you. I've been told that you don't even cry anymore, even when something really bad happens, let alone when you leave here. But I do... I cry every time you leave. Somehow, you seem to just not care, or you've created a barrier around you, so those kinds of things don't affect you.
"But they've got to have gotten in, somehow. I know that you're not impervious to the pain you claim you no longer feel, even if you don't feel pain when you leave here, you must other times. Yet you do nothing about it. You keep it locked away, or something, and that's not healthy at all! It's going to eat away at you, and it's probably doing so now, but you just grin and bear it, but everyone who knows you well enough can tell that none of those smiles are real."
She paused for a long while, trying to control her breathing, and then she was taken over by more sobs, and he felt those, too. They attacked his insides relentlessly, and he felt like his body would explode. He tried to control the shaking his own body had succumbed to.
"I'm not asking that you stay forever," she said finally, quietly. "I know that you have to leave eventually, and I've come to accept that. What I'm asking is that you stay for just a little while. Take a break. He would understand, he really would, I'm sure of it."
"It's not broken," he whispered shakily.
"What?" she looked up at him, and was shocked to find tears welling up in his eyes."My heart isn't broken. It's frozen. It's become a rock of ice, and that's why I don't feel anything. It's because my heart is numb, and can no longer feel the pain that everyone else feels."
She pulled away from him, just a little bit. Slowly, she placed one hand, made rough and marred slightly by the hours she committed to manual labour, over his chest. She watched her hand in what almost looked like wonder, and smiled lightly at him.
"I can feel it. It feels like it's warming up already, just by telling me that. I can help you get it back to normal. I can help you warm it up."
He shook his head.
"I can't afford to cry or be totally affected every time something bad happens. I can't always sit here and be like a little kid. I have to make everything right, first."
"But it's hurting you to not be able to cry when you want to, isn't it?"
He remained silent.
"I know it is. You don't always have to play the tough guy. It is okay to cry, especially if you really want to. There's nothing wrong with it at all."
"I just...I feel like, I have to be strong, for him. But I can't be strong if I cry. And so I keep it in as best as I can, so that he can have a rock, someone to rely on, that won't break down when he needs me most."
She was not sure how to respond to this, and so she just nodded, just to tell him that she understood. Without warning, he crumpled, drawing his knees close to himself, tucking his head in the space between his legs and his chest. She was startled by this action, but she slowly moved, and lifted his head, despite his struggle, onto her lap, where she undid the braid that held his long locks captive and ran her fingers through his hair. The tears in her eyes were drying now, and she smiled as she stared into the sunset, which was at its end now. She felt his body shiver, and she brought her gaze to him with that smile.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm a little cold," he commented, his voice shaking as visibly as his body was.
"Would you like to go back to the house? I can make us some tea, if you'd like. And I'm sure that dinner will be ready so-"
"Not like that."
She stopped, her smile fading as the true meaning of those words came to her.
"I'm a little warmer than I used to be, but I'm still a little cold."
"I know. It's okay. I can help, but only if you want me to. You've only been home for three days, after all, and there's only so much that can be done in that short time. If you stay a little longer, I'm sure you'll warm up just fine."
"You're wrong," he repeated quietly. "I've only just gotten home."
She could not suppress the gasp that rushed into her throat, then. Still, she smiled, and bent over so as to kiss his hair gently.
They stayed that way for hours after, silent. The sun disappeared behind the mountains and the stars peeked out from behind the cloak of the sky. The moon snuck up behind them, and was halfway to it's highest point before the chill of the cool spring evening caught up with them. They walked back to the house together, hand in hand, although he kept his eyes on the ground. Looking at him with help of the moonlight, she recognized that he was fighting with something inside of him, trying to decide whether to keep true to the only thing he had known for years or to believe her words and emerge from the deep recesses of his heart in which he kept himself. She smiled as she watched him, and knew that she could only hope that he would choose to let her in. But he was home now, and he knew that, and that would help him in his decision. For now, she could only guide him, because the choice was his.
The next day brought his departure. He had not changed his mind about leaving at all, much to her disappointment. He explained it with a small shrug; 'I already bought the tickets, and I can't very well just waste the money, right?'
She cried as he stood there, just beyond the porch, and without telling her legs to do so, she rushed to him, catching him in a tight embrace. After a moment's hesitation as the surprise drifted away from him, he placed his arms around her shaking shoulders.
"I don't want you to leave," she said softly.
"I have to," he replied quickly. A part of him wanted so desperately believe that that wasn't true, that he really didn't have to leave, that he could just turn around and decide to stay here for a little while longer. His sense of responsibility would not allow him that luxury. "I'll come back. I promise I will. As long as you promise that you'll wait for me, I'll come back."
He smiled and turned, walking down the drive with his brother, towards the train station. A single tear rolled down his cheek. His brother could not help but notice, but said nothing.
The best part about coming back is the knowledge that someone will be there, waiting for you.
Well, I guess I haven't really posted in a bit of a while, but I've been a bit busy, so please forgive me. Finally, I got inspiration for a short story, although I know I should be finishing up The Sins That Bind Us. I'll get to it. Eventually. I just need inspiration for that. And maybe some motivation.
In any case, it was an interesting story to write, since I honestly cannot stand Winry (Don't kill me, Winry fans, I beg of you) . I'm not so sure why, but I just thought I'd play with the relationship between Edward and Winry. Ok, I lied. I do know why I did that. Whatever.
Finally, I want to say that it's not fair, because I seem to write a lot better when I'm in the clutches of depression. That is wrong. Very very wrong. -sigh- We will not stand for this.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed this emo-based story of ours. Thanks for reading, and until next time, Ja ne!