Disclaimer: I do not own, nor will ever own, FullMetal Alchemist or the characters within.


His Brother's Voice

"Brother."

The single word spoken in a soft hollow tone could stop him faster than anything else. His whole world revolved around that one single word and the person who spoke it. Edward had, and would again, do anything, sacrifice everything for the one who called him Brother.

Ed was always amazed by just how much emotion and feeling Al could put into that one word. He always knew exactly what Al meant every time he said it.

"Al."

Edward rarely called his brother by anything but his name. To do so would be a rebuttal of his existence. A sign that Al was not a whole person, that the empty armour was indeed empty and not the loving, temporary, shell of the most important person in his life.

Every time Ed said "Al" he was really saying "brother" and "I promise".

"Edward."

When Al used his given name he would tremble inside. It was almost like hearing Teacher. He knew his conduct had become near unforgivable when Al spoke his full name. Al was his restraint, his conscience, his stability.

"Alphonse."

Recognition and regret always coloured the name in his mind. Ed rarely used his brother's full name. It had become a treat, a luxury for him, the one moment when he allowed himself to remember what his brother really looked like. He saw the large eyes and soft face that his brother no longer had. He saw the wide smiles, the brief frowns and above all, the innocence that had always shone on his face.

Alphonse was the word that meant 'reason to live' to Edward.

There were silences between them that were filled with unspoken thoughts and fears. The deeper darker fears that grew teeth and claws when given life through speech. The brothers knew not to speak of them. When the fears of never hearing the other again, of losing each other, of the losses already shared drove them into a need to just feel, to be reassured by each other's presence.

Those were the nights when touch became their language. When Ed would lean against the cold armour and feel it gradually warm under him and Al would braid his hair over and over again. Soothing rhythms for them both.

Only once had they talked of the dark places within and both Ed and Al had agreed that they never wanted hear their voices sound like that again. The silence was their way of acknowledging the shadows within each other and also their refusal to let the shadows ever keep or hinder them in their search.

And in the morning they would run, haphazard and laughing, through the halls to the Colonel's office for the next lead.

"Al!!"

"Brother!"