"Ed!" Winry said in exasperation. "Just let her do it. It won't even hurt."

"You're not touching me, and that's final!" He scooted backwards, eyeing both of them warily. "Stay away from me with those sheep shears, you sadistic witch!"

"Ed, they're just scissors, and I'm just going to give you a trim," Pinako said in exasperation, her legendary patience wearing thin. He'd been resisting strongly all week, but she'd had enough. She frowned at the young boy, whose stubborn steak had not lessened when he became a patient.

In fact….

It had gotten much worse.

He'd always complained about the taste of milk, and made a huge ordeal out of drinking it – but he had always drunk it, in the end. Now, he refused to touch the stuff, and no amount of coaxing or threatening would change that. It seemed he would be the same way about haircuts.

"At least let me trim the bangs," Pinako reasoned with him. "It's been 4 months, and they're getting in your eyes. If you want to grow it out in the back, that's your choice…."

"No, you don't understand. I'm not letting you cut any of it. It's my hair, dammit, and I'll keep it if I want to!"

"If you don't trust me Ed, just say so. I'll get Winry or Al to do it…"

"No, not you and not anyone. How many times do I have to tell you? I don't want a haircut. None. Not at all. As in, leave my damn hair on my head, where it belongs! What's so hard to understand about that?"

He was shouting now. There'd be no reasoning with him today. She'd get Al to try tomorrow. There wasn't much Ed wouldn't let his brother do now….

"Brother, why won't you let Aunt Pinako cut your hair?" Al asked timidly, afraid of setting his brother off, but just as tired of his shenanigans as the Rockbells.

"Are you deaf? I don't want my hair to be any shorter. I like it growing where it is, on my head. I can't understand why everyone is so intent on chopping it off!"

"Well, it's just that most people…get haircuts," Al floundered.

"You're one to talk; you've got a three-foot pony tail." Ed swatted it with his left hand for emphasis. Alphonse was sitting on the floor next to his bed, looking out the window. He paused, trying to figure out what was really bothering Ed.

"It will take a long time for your hair to grow that long!"

"What? Are you saying I'm too short for a pony tail? Just cause you're taller than me now doesn't mean…"

"Now? I was taller than you before."

"You were not! You've always been my little brother! I remember when you were small enough that I could…"

Al twisted around to look at Ed, and his brother went quiet.

"Sorry, Al," he mumbled into his pillow, the guilt raw in his eyes. Al didn't like it, but didn't know how to make it go away, either. Talking about it didn't seem to help, so he pretended he didn't notice and got back to the topic at hand.

"If you want to grow a pony tail, you can. I just don't know why you'd want one."

"Al, when…when I…when we…" He trailed off, hopelessly. They sat in silence for awhile.

Finally, Ed restarted. "Al, I know this isn't going to make much sense to you. But…I've lost my arm, and my leg. I wasn't supposed to have those things taken away from me. I just don't want to lose any more. I know that's not fair, when you've lost more than I ever will…"

"Don't say that, Brother. We've both lost a lot."

"So, can I keep the hair?"

"Yes, Ed. You can keep the hair as long as you want. Just make sure you can see," Al said quietly. He would call off Pinako and her shears. He understood better than Ed gave him credit for.

Author's Note: It struck me, in both the anime and the manga, that Ed had short, boy-cut hair when he and Al attempted the taboo…but when he shows up to join the military, he has his signature braid. Basically, it seems he grew it out rather quickly…and stopped getting his hair cut about that time. I wondered why that might be.