A low whistle and his furry bed companion's sudden movements roused him from a light sleep. Dull light leaked in through the cracked doorway, widened now to dog-width. Small clanking moves raised gooseflesh on the back of his neck. Staying in the shadows, he peered through the crack. His blue eyes squinted as they alighted on a flash of metal. Pupils dilated he followed her movements as she climbed the stairs to the whistler. A hand reached out of the shadows to greet the dog. He looked up to the hands owner, alarm filling him as he only spied two shining red eyes. They stared back and he pushed farther into the shadows. A door opened somewhere down the hall, jerking the red eyes away from him. Deep shame filled him as the owner whispered to the dog.
"Come on, Den. You need to let the Major sleep and Granny is probably cold."
The shame was followed by guilt and sorrow as he watched the boy with his furry friend ascend the stairs and pass out of sight. How anyone who heard the gentle voice of Alphonse Elric could still be alarmed by that sad child was beyond his comprehension, and yet he just had been. It was just like him, though. He knew it was his weakness, pitying people. From the moment he'd first seen the Elric brothers, injured and crouching in the rain, the young Colonel Mustang and his men taking care of things, he knew something was going to change. If he was completely honest that was why he had escorted the boys home. He needed change; he needed to make up for his past failures. His thoughts almost strayed from there to his long list of regrets when bare feet on the wooden floor got his attention.
He stepped closer to the crack, trying to see who was coming. Long, wet, blond hair swung past his door. Miss Winry Rockbell. He liked this child, this girl, the instant he saw her. She reminded him of his older sister, the way she was before the military, the war, and the cold of the north. She was strong, but sweet, with a genuine affection and concern for all around her. He'd wondered, while he was here and learning more about the brothers, if they could really return home. The sound of padding stopped with a slight rustle, halting his thoughts.
He risked opening the door a little more, so he could have a full view of the room. His lips broke into a smile his mustache couldn't completely cover at what he saw. Winry Rockbell had resumed her seat at the head of the couch the Fullmetal Alchemist was sleeping on. The boy's feet still hung off the edge, though he had at some point rolled back over onto his back, knocking the blanket to the floor. Winry was busy running a comb through her long, fine hair and was completely unaware of any discomfort her occupation was causing the sleeper. He had to try extra hard to keep his family's spying technique in form as he watched the boy's nose crinkle in irritation. Miss Rockbell was oblivious as her hair grazed Edward's face, gently tickling.
He jumped slightly when a golden eye opened, glaring straight at him before jerking up to the ceiling. He watched in amusement as the eye crinkled, a truly happy smile lighting up the boy's face. The girl remained unaware as she fought with knots on the other side of her head. A flesh hand rose, the owner relaxed and thinking no one was looking, and gently pressed the tickling tresses to pink lips. He felt the mix of emotions rise up again as he watched the boy gently kiss the hair before tying the strands into knots. Had this child really remained so innocent?
"Ed!" An indignant whisper was followed by a sound like a mix of a child's giggle and a man's chuckle. "You just live to mess up my hard work, don't you?" The whisper went on, a girlish giggle after giving away the mocking nature. "Only because I know you like to do it over again." A boy's whisper, deeper with sleep still muddling it up answered. When Edward shifted again the blue eyes widened. The boy had actually used his automail foot as leverage and pushed up, his head coming to rest in the girls lap. As the children began to undo the tangles in each others hair while continuing their whispers he backed away. He lay back in bed, taking care to keep the single golden lock that graced his forehead in a perfect curl. He couldn't fix the things he did in his past, but maybe; just maybe, he could help those brothers return home safely. The day with the children replayed in his mind, blocking out the usual nightmares as he drifted back to sleep. The gentle voice of Alphonse Elric waking him in the morning.