The Pursuit of Happiness
Author's note: I've noticed that I have been forsaking the poor Elric brothers - especially Al - for quite a bit. So in attempt to remedy this, I wrote this short drabble, hoping Al would forgive me. Plus I felt Ed could use another metaphorical kick in the butt.
The poor guy... I do so enjoy doing that to him...
The faucet turned on, and sounds of morning routine began to echo through the apartment as his older brother muddled his way to the bathroom. Alphonse sat at the kitchen table, humming as he absently searched the newspaper for today's weather.
Some people liked to read the obituaries. Alphonse liked to read the weather forecasts. The boy had often thought to himself that if it weren't for the Stone and their quest to get their limbs back, he'd probably dabble in weather alchemy; he was privately very fond of the idea of transmuting a rain cloud and setting it to follow people.
However, experimenting with air currents requires a very deft, patient and delicate hand. But while it was perhaps not the ideal teaching method, spending four years in a metal suit with only the vaguest recollection that this can only bend this far, that's too much pressure and ow, Al, that's cold has given Al a conscious mastery over touch, and a supply of patience that had been absent in the ten-year-old beforehand. There's a world of difference between touching someone's skin as opposed to poking them in the eye, and after a long, long time, Al had become an expert at calculating just that, so that he could even touch an uneasy sleeper's face without waking him up from his slumber.
When Al had first been adjusting to the armor, he'd made many - so many - mistakes. He couldn't even touch his brother without him flinching away.
He'd felt so guilty for it, too…
But everything was fine now. They'd both grown up, learned, suffered, hurt, and now they could finally relax and laugh at it all. They've certainly long earned it. Alphonse was of the firm opinion that it was far past time to try their hand at some happiness of their own. They had the time, they had the luxury, and they had each other, so come on, let's go out and get what we want instead of what we need, because life can only be so unfair.
…This argument didn't really get anywhere with the Fullmetal Alchemist, however, who was still very much against getting a cat – just one, he'd only wanted one – for his poor, lonely, 'oh for heaven's sake, Al, stop it with the goddamn puppy eyes' little brother.
And yet whenever the short blond sensed his brother's distress, he would make that stupid face, like suddenly the world had decided to rest for a bit on his back, and he would say timidly that hey, maybe this wasn't such a good idea, and Rizenbul is very nice this time of year, why don't you go and stay with Gran and Winry for a bit, just until things get a little better, and the younger boy would be forced to forget the kittens and shove some common sense back into that fluffy yellow head before the idiot decides to do something needlessly reckless, like look for the Stone in order to transmute Alphonse to his proper age, or fix General Mustang's blind eye because it's all my fault, Al, everything's my fault, I'm sorry I exist, I'm sorry I failed, but I'll fix it, I'll fix it, Al, give me a chance, don't you understand?
There was a low, curious growl from the bathroom, and, with a brief glance, Alphonse skimmed the room for potentially harmful/throwable objects in the vicinity one last time before returning to hum contently to his newspaper.
"'I am angsty, hear me roar'? 'Beware the shorty, he bites'? 'I hate cute things'?"
Oh, Alphonse understood very well.
His brother was a moron. A stupid, short, stingy moron with a guilt-complex.
People like his brother just couldn't be happy. Oh no, people like his brother needed happiness to be shoved down their throats with a spoonful of sugar and a nice, liberal dose of sedatives. But the things that can make one person happy are so diverse, and at times so trivial, that it is impossible to predict or know for certain how to cheer up someone.
Even if that someone is yourself.
It can come from absolutely anything. A new coat. A job well done. Children's laughter. A smile from a dear friend. The way light dances on a glass window. A simple pat on the back. Laughing again. A hot bath.
…And sometimes, Alphonse thought in satisfaction, all it takes is to write.
Preferably across your brother's forehead, with a permanent marker.
"JUST WHO WERE YOU CALLING SO SHORT HIS BROTHER WOULD HAVE BETTER LUCK WRITING ON A GRAIN OF RICE THAN ON HIS FACE??"
"...I didn't write all that…"