I don't own them.

The only thing that makes sense is moving forward – Fullmetal Alchemist

They weren't really "back to normal," they doubted they ever would be, really, and they didn't want to go back. They didn't want to forget.

Frank had made one change to the house since he had 'inherited' it, and that was to move the queen-sized bed from his parents room into his (he had enlisted the help of Joe, Biff, and Chet for this), because Joe was still having nightmares and he didn't want to sleep in his parent's room.

A week after Joe's sudden disappearance and Frank's outburst, three important things happened on one day. Frank turned nineteen, for one.

Joe, after making plans with Callie and most of his and Frank's friends, had thrown a very large, very loud party at the beach. For one long, glorious afternoon the brothers forgot that they were now orphans and had fun with their friends, who had all chipped in to buy Frank a new motor to replace the failing one that currently occupied the Sleuth.

The second important thing happened later that night, when Frank and Joe, accompanied by Mr. Shaw, Callie's father and a respected lawyer, made their way to the local courts to start the process of finalizing Frank as Joe's legal guardian.

The third thing happened around midnight that night, when Frank woke up from a violent dream. His arm automatically groped sideways for his brother and reached into thin air.

Remembering vividly the events of the previous week, Frank forced himself to stay calm. It wouldn't do either of them any good to blow up at each other. Not when they'd come so far.

Making his way downstairs, Frank saw a glimmer of light out of the corner of his eye. The door to his father's study was slightly ajar and a light was on inside. Frank pushed the door open, and was not surprised to find his brother sitting in the chair previously occupied by his father, crying.

He didn't say anything, and leaned against the doorframe, watching his brother's tears drip steadily onto the floor. It was five minutes before Joe finally started speaking.

"I...I keep on expecting them to come back." Joe's voice was hoarse, and his blue eyes sparkled with tears as they met Frank's, who merely said, "I know."

He did know. Every story he'd ever read as a child proved that his parents should be coming back to life any day now. One of Frank's earliest memories was of his mother sitting on the side of his bed, saying the same words at the end of every day, And they all lived happily ever after. He was waiting for his happily ever after, and it hadn't come yet.

Joe wiped his face with the back of his hand and stood up, one hand folding around a picture of their parents on their wedding day. Frank pretended not to notice. "Do you think it'll get easier, Frank?"

Frank didn't know. He'd been asking himself that every morning when he woke up with the ache like a wound in his stomach. He answered his younger brother slowly, enveloping him in a hug and leading him back up the stairs.

"I don't know. But we just have to keep going to find out."

Fin.

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